Category : Books

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Book Review: Cracking Your Churches Culture Code

CultureCodeBook 23 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Cracking Your Churches Culture Code (by:Sam Chand)

Link to this book

Instant yearly read for me.
Love the concept and respect the chances he takes in this book trying to convince us that what he is saying really does carry such significant weight.
When I first read the opening chapter which said, “Culture is more important that vision.” I thought no way. But once he unpacked everything it was the only explanation for what I have witnessed over and over throughout life. I’ve watched so many great people with great vision seemingly beat their heads against a wall for years and never seem to really get traction. Sam reveals that a seed is only as good as the soil. Put a good vision in bad soil and nothing happens. Put good vision in good soil and the possibilities are endless.

Really love the questions at the end of the chapters as well. Makes it perfect for staff reading and processing.

From Amazon:

Strategies for transforming a toxic church culture

Why is it that the best strategic plans and good leadership often are not able to move churches in the desired direction? Sam Chand contends that toxic culture is to blame. Quite often, leaders don’t sense the toxicity, but it poisons their relationships and derails their vision. This work describes five easily identifiable categories of church culture (inspiring-accepting-stagnant-discouraging-toxic), with diagnostic descriptions in the book and a separate online assessment tool. The reader will be able to identify strengths and needs of their church’s culture, and then apply practical strategies (communication, control and authority, selection and placement of personnel, etc.) to make their church’s culture more positive.

  • Discusses how to diagnose the state of a church’s culture
  • Reveals what it takes to put in place effective strategies for creating a more positive church culture
  • Author served on the board of EQUIP (Dr. John Maxwell’s Ministry), equipping five million leaders world-wide.

This important book offers a clear guide for understanding and recreating a healthy church culture.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Read it, process it, then… read it again.

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Book Review: Start With Why

51g77Ak+DtLBook 22 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Start With Why (by:Simon Sinek)

Link to this book

This book is great for anyone in leadership both in the business and non-profit circles. It really helps when you’re working “on” your organization not just “in” it.
We have a tendency of getting so busy making the next sale or pulling off another Sunday that we can forget about keeping the ‘big rocks’ in play.
Simon Sinek challenges us to step back and make sure our WHY is still at the center of our bullseye. If not, take the time to re-align ourselves.

From Amazon:

“A powerful and penetrating exploration of what separates great companies and great leaders from the rest.”
-Polly LaBarre, coauthor of Mavericks at Work

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Really good, challenging read for business or top-level leaders. Not sure if it will really benefit non-leaders other to create discontent if you see your organization isn’t heading in the right direction. Some are in a position to make positive strides toward change. Some are, unfortunately not.

Why

 

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Book Review: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High

Patterson1401946REPRINT-2:Layout 1Book 21 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High (by:Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler)

Link to this book

This book has become a yearly read for me. I’m learning that crucial conversations are all around us. Unfortunately we don’t realize it until it’s past. This book helps you become more aware of the conversation and how it can become life-giving or at least not toxic as well as giving you the

From their website:

Introducing the New York Times business bestseller that’s transformed organizations and changed the way millions of people communicate. With more than 2 million copies sold, this book—now in its second edition—gives yo

tools to not feel so intimidated.

u the tools to prepare for high-stakes conversations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, and make it safe to talk about almost anything.

Get unstuck with best practice skills for high-stakes interactions.

The authors of Crucial Conversations didn’t set out to write a book on communication; rather, they

began by researching the behaviors of top performers. They found that most of the time, top influencers were indistinguishable from their peers. But as soon as the stakes grew high, emotions ran strong, and opinions differed, top performers were significantly more effective. What the authors observed during this study and captured in this runaway bestseller is a distinct and learnable set of skills that produce immediate results.

More than 2 million people and 300 of the Fortune 500 have used the skills in Crucial Conversations to successfully navigate life’s most challenging conversations.

Now it’s your turn. Learn the simple, yet powerful, skills in this book and realize significant improvements to both your relationships the results that matter most.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.sharedmeaning
Recommendation: While this book can technically be for everyone, it isn’t a casual read. I wouldn’t try to ingest this like a James Patterson ‘eye-candy’ quick read.  It’s best to be taken a chapter at a time. Mostly you’ll be stopping anyway to process and take notes.

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Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

stllewisBook 20 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Screwtape Letters (by: C.S. Lewis)

Link to this book

Link to Audiobook on YouTube.

I mean, come on! It’s C.S. Lewis! It’s great before you even open the book!
The Screwtape Letters had been recommended to me as one of the most important books I would ever read as a pastor.  That’s an extremely high standard to live up to.
The Letters did not disappoint.
C.S. Lewis will stand out as one of the greatest Christian Apologists of all time. In this amazingly creative work he single handedly laid a death blow to the mystery behind how the enemy of our soul attacks. He takes away the notion of the devil coming to us with a pitchfork and a red cape. Instead he helps us realize the cunning and subtly of our enemy and his work in those around us as well as using our own desires against us.

While the book is fictional directly, it is profoundly true in theory. The Letters really help to put life in perspective and reveals an amazing tool we have against our enemy… light. Bringing light into the darkness of our ignorance helps us not only see spiritual attacks coming but gives us the upper hand due to our information.

Love it. Love it. Worth the read. Worth the study. Worth the share.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review: Lies My Teacher Told Me

Book 19Book_Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Lies My Teacher Told Me (by: James Loewen)

Link to this book

This book was referred to me by a friend for “interesting reading”. Being a history enthusiast I jumped at the chance to read a book filled with extra facts not ordinarily presented. When reading this book I was not disappointed. There are many stories Loewen uses that in all honest I had never heard before. His main person of interest HELEN KELLER is someone who I now have significantly more respect for.
However, I’m not sure I have the same for author. This book is written in a way that really shows us the overall opinion of the education in America today. To me, it was written with a cynical criticism that praises our historical characters flaws simply because they were hidden from the general public. Does main stream need to know that while Helen Keller was an amazing woman she also made a mistake in thinking that communism was the right course of action? I don’t think so. She made a mistake in judgement. We now see that she was profoundly wrong. Loewen praises her for being different and vilifies history textbooks for not showing her true feelings.
There’s a simple answer for this… it wasn’t relevant to her story.

People need heroes. How would they feel if they discovered that no one is perfect. Even our heroes.

The book continues to act like a tabloid for history exposing all of our heroes and revealing their ‘dirty little secrets’.  So may ending take was while the information was new, it wasn’t presented in the best way possible. Maybe it would’ve been different if Loewen would’ve presented it as something to think about and less like someone revealing the man behind the curtain to show us Oz is only a man.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

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Book 18 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (by: Stephen Covey)

Link to this book

This is just one of those books. You read it and immediately begin re-reading it. So much good, applicable information. I love Stephen’s honesty as well as his process in teaching hisreaders to become the best they can be.

I love how it’s also not a quick fix. It’s a lifestyle of habits which have to be learned. The best things in life may be free but they’re not always easy.

Every leader should read this at least seven times.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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50 books in 52 weeks.

1356116829-1356116829_goodreads_miscI’ve been posting a lot of articles over the past few days in the Book Reviews section of my blog.
The reason is simple. I made a goal for myself and honestly it was a secret. I wanted to really increase the amount of books I was FINISHING this year.
I probably started over a hundred books last year and only finished ten. This year was all about doing it differently.
Therefore, I’ve come up with a goal for myself… 50 in 52.

This year I want to read 50 books in 52 weeks. Is it possible? I have no idea. It’s still better than ‘just trying to do better’. I’m like most of you and work better with a goal in mind. So, here I goal. Why don’ you try it with me?

I’ve got it broken up into categories like this…

10- FUN (fiction)

10-Leadership

10-Business

20-Non-Fiction (Biographies, Documentaries, other)

That is a sort of general guideline I’m working with. I don’t want to read nothing but leadership books but yet it’s not just going to be a bunch of science-fiction either.

It’s proven that reading anything makes your brain process information faster and more efficiently making you smarter. That’s why the top two ways of increasing your intelligence is to read and do puzzles. I’m not good at puzzles so…

Here we go.

I may work out a grading scale so you’ll know how much I have or have not liked them. We’ll see. This effort isn’t really to develop my critical skills but to merely DO what I’m always TRYING at.

As Zig Ziglar use to say, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

 

If you have any books you would like to recommend, let me know.

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Book Review: Entreleadership

EntreLeadership_WEBBook 8 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Entreleadership (By Dave Ramsey)
Link to this book

Every business leader should make this part of their library. It’s helped me in more ways than I can write about here.
My personal favorite section is where Dave explains the difference between dreams, vision, and goals. I’ve never heard it put more plainly.

A dream is something you wish could happen but have no idea how it could be.

A vision is something you want to happen and you have a good idea how it can be.

Goals are things you have actionable, attainable plans to achieve and are charting your progress regularly.

Dave says that all three steps on this road to success are necessary but it’s important to not stay in any of these phases too little or too long.

Homerun.

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Book Review: The Lord of the Rings

lord-of-the-rings-trilogy-movie-poster-2003-1020187968Book 9, 10, 11  of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Lord of the Rings (by: J.R.R. Tolkien)
Link to this series

Just like I said when talking about the Hobbit, it blows my mind that entire college courses have been taught about these works.  At the beginning of the story Tolkien says he wrote this trilogy to provide more info about the ring which Bilbo had AND to try his hand at a long story. I believe we can all agree he did very well presenting both.

I wouldn’t call myself a fanatical fan. That title is usually reserved for people who’ve read the Silmarillion. That’s a compilation of stories Tolkien was writing when he died.

However, these books are most likely going to be a annual read for me. I usually do so during the holidays or summer when the idea is to break away from the normal flow.

 

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Book Review: The Hobbit

The-Hobbit-1024x1024Book 15 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Hobbit (by: J.R.R. Tolkien)
Link to this book

Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf. Hobbits. Gollum. It’s hard to imagine modern culture without these names. I wonder what Tolkien would’ve thought if he only knew how amazingly loved these books still are.
It blows my mind that entire college courses have been done studying these books.
I’m not going to go into any kind of explanation here. Just to say that the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are probably going to be annual reads for me for a very long time. It’s a great way to escape our world for a little while and travel through Middle Earth.

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Book Reviews: The Hunger Games

hunger-games1Book 12, 13, 14 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Hunger Games (by: Suzanne Collins)

Link to this book

This book series will always have a special place for me because we used the first movie (The Hunger Games) for part four of our series “Church at the Movies”.  The author said she first thought of the idea while flipping channels one night between soliders fighting in Iraq and reality TV. She said it seemed odd that two people about the same age were living completely different lives yet both competing for a prize. One was competing for their lives and the freedom of a nation while others were competing for their 15 seconds of fame.

While this trilogy is completely made up, it does present some great life lessons.
We’re taught to never doubt our abilities. We are also encouraged to see that given the right circumstances, greatness is waiting to be revealed in all of us. Katnis (the leading figure) never asked for everything which happened. However, she rose to the occasion.

This book makes me think of the great quote, “Some are born with greatness. Others have greatness thrust upon them.”

One person can truly change a generation if they are willing to pay the price.

This was a fun read and quite a few twists and turns. Definitely recommend it for your next vacation or down time.

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Book Review: American Sniper

american-sniper-u-s-navy-seal-chris-kyle-11Book 16 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

American Sniper (by: Chris Kyle)

Before telling you about this book it’s important to give you a fair warning. This was written by a Navy Seal. By his own admission in the book, Navy Seals are known for their colorful use of the English language. I cannot in good conscious tell you about American Sniper without first warning you that the language is adult from cover to cover.

Okay. Here we go.—>

This book is an amazing account of the most lethal sniper in American history. Chris Kyle’s honesty and transparency throughout each page is, at times, stagering.

He honestly talks about his faith, his family struggles, his guilt for those he lost in battle, and his willingness to kill the enemy without remorse.

Chris Kyle challenged me to have a clear resolve as to who we are and what we’re about. He didn’t waver on the essentials of life. He knew what he was and what he was gifted at.

Chris also earned my respect forever with his tireless outreach toward veteren’s once he retired.

He helped me understand that US veteren’s don’t want a handout but a hand-up. He also said the last thing a veteren wants is to be made to feel weak. Just treat them like the men they are.

Chris was sadly killed on a firing range in February 2013.

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