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Book Review: The Way of the Shepherd

Author: Kevin Leman
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Way-Shepherd-Ancient-Managing-Productive-ebook/dp/B000SEPHKQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945642&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Way+of+the+Shepherd%3A+7+Ancient+Secrets+to+Managing+Productive+People
Genre: non-fiction
RatingMust Read

Publisher Bio

Find inspiration and a fresh perspective on the art of leadership in this account of a cub reporter who lands the interview of a lifetime and walks away with the keys to exceptional leadership. When the reporter meets with the most respected CEO in America, the businessman shares the seven secrets he learned long ago from his mentor—an eccentric but brilliant professor who taught him proven management principles that, while ancient in origin, are applicable in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world.

The Way of the Shepherd is a compact, heart-warming story dotted with humor. It will teach you how to lead the people close to you so they will view their work as a calling rather than merely a job, a place to belong rather than a place to work. It shows leaders how to infuse work with meaning and how to engage, energize, and ignite their workforce and gives employees a better understanding of what makes for a quality work experience.

It is a powerful metaphor for leaders that reaches back 5,000 years. It is . . . The Way of the Shepherd.

My Observation

Simple, instructive book. I have always thought one of the greatest ways to understand leadership is to understand the life of a shepherd. Over and over again, the Bible calls us sheep. Therefore, the best way to understand how to lead others is to understand the way of the shepherd. I’ll break this book down into bite sized forms at a later time. Definitely worth reading and reflection.

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Book Review: Gospel Centered Counseling

Author: Robert Kellerman
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Centered-Counseling-Equipping-Biblical-Counselors-ebook/dp/B00J1UJ8QW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945626&sr=8-1&keywords=Gospel+Centered+Counseling
Genre:  non-fiction
Rating: If You Have Time (Rating System)

Publisher Bio

Everyone talks about the personal ministry of the Word, but how do we make one-another ministry truly biblical? Gospel-Centered Counseling equips readers to change lives with Christ s changeless truth. It does so by examining life s seven ultimate questions and then guiding readers on a journey that explores the biblical, gospel-centered narrative of:

The Word: What is truth? Where can I find answers? The Trinity: Who is God? Can I know Him personally? Creation: Who am I? What makes people tick? Fall: What went wrong? Why do we do the things we do? Redemption: Can I change? How do people change? Glorification: Where am I headed? How does our future destiny impact our present reality? Sanctification: How can I help? How can I change lives?”

Bob Kellemen builds on the foundation of the written Word and provides a gospel-centered resource for understanding people, diagnosing problems, and prescribing biblically-based solutions.

Gospel-Centered Counseling is the first volume in The Equipping Christian Counselors Series, a comprehensive relational training curriculum for the local church that provides a model for equipping God s people to change lives with Christ s changeless truth. This two-volume series weaves together comprehensive biblical insight with compassionate Christian engagement.”

My Observation

This book gave me more to think about than any I have had in a long time. There were parts of this book that I agreed with completely and part that seemed dangerous. The part I loved was how to see all issues we deal with as a chance for God to bring healing into our lives. The dangerous part was when the author says that medication and any form of therapy other than prayer does not work. It is dangerous to say that God can only move through one form or another. The truth is God can move in any way He deems necessary to make people whole. Definitely felt conflicted when putting this book away.

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Book Review: Being Leaders

Author: Aubrey Malphurs
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Being-Leaders-Authentic-Christian-Leadership-ebook/dp/B00CA0VTXA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945614&sr=8-1&keywords=Being+Leaders
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: Should Read (Rating System)

Publisher Bio

What makes a leader a Christian leader? Too many churches and parachurch groups operate under secular leadership principles and strategies without considering what Scripture teaches. In this accessible and comprehensive book, leadership expert Aubrey Malphurs articulates a working definition of Christian leadership based on the Bible and his own extensive research.
Malphurs begins by defining a uniquely Christian leader from the inside out, from godly character and commitment to pure motives and a servant attitude. He examines the leaders of the first-century church and then discusses qualities such as credibility, capability, and influence that are essential for successful leadership. Each chapter contains helpful questions for reflection and discussion. The appendix includes numerous audits to help readers evaluate themselves on various leadership components.
Being Leaders is the first book of a two-part series on leadership. The companion book will address the how-to of building leaders.

My Observation

This is a great book on the ‘art’ of leadership from a Christian worldview. It would make a great textbook for leadership classes.

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Book Review: The Measure of Our Success

Author: Shawn Lovejoy
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Measure-Our-Success-Impassioned-Pastors/dp/0801014603/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945473&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Measure+of+Our+Success
Genre:  non-fiction
Rating: Must Read (Rating System)

Publisher Bio

Using Scripture, personal examples, and case studies, Lovejoy leads pastors back to their first love, and in doing so he leads them toward a more effective and joy-filled ministry.

My Observation

Great book about proper expectations in ministry. Our job is to make God proud and nothing else. It reminds me of a great quote by Larry Osbourne. He says that he reminds himself all the time, “You have nothing to prove and no one to impress.” This book helps every pastor find the truth north for our limitless ambition.

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Book Review: Neverwhere

Author: Neil Gaiman
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Neverwhere-Novel-Neil-Gaiman-ebook/dp/B000FC130E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945453&sr=8-1&keywords=neverwhere
Genre:  fiction
Rating: If You Have Time (Rating System)
Any Warnings: some language and violent scenes described.

Publisher Bio

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.  Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

My Observation

Purely for entertainment reading. I listened to this as a BBC production radio theater. Loved it. Drew me in immediately. I do not like most of Neil Gaiman’s books based on his obsession with Norse Mythology. However, this book was very original with many twists and turns.

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Book Review: The Story of Reality

Author:Gregory Koukl, Nancy Pearcey
Genre:  non-fiction
My rating: Must Read
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Story-Reality-Everything-Important-Happens/dp/0310525047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492718092&sr=8-1&keywords=the+story+of+reality 

From the Publisher:

Biblical Christianity is more than just another private religious view. It’s more than just a personal relationship with God or a source of moral teaching.

Christianity is a picture of reality.

It explains why the world is the way it is. When the pieces of this puzzle are properly assembled, we see the big picture clearly. Christianity is a true story of how the world began, why the world is the way it is, what role humans play in the drama, and how all the plotlines of the story are resolved in the end.

In The Story of Reality, bestselling author and host of Stand to Reason, Gregory Koukl, explains the five words that form the narrative backbone of the Christian story. He identifies the most important things that happen in the story in the order they take place:

God
Man
Jesus
Cross
Resurrection
If you are already a Christian, do you know and understand the biblical story? And for those still seeking answers to the questions of life, this is an invitation to hear a story that explains the world in a way nothing else will. This story can change your life forever.

My Observation:

 Absolutely amazing. Immediately became a yearly read for me. This book does what college professors spend years trying to teach theology students how to do. It takes the highest thoughts on the biggest questions and places them on the bottom shelf so everyone can understand them. I would recommend this book for any Christian who wants a greater understanding of the big picture of God, life, evil, justice, mercy, and where we fit in all of those area.

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Book Review: Death By Black Hole

Author: Neil Degrasse Tyson
Genre:  non-fiction
My rating: If you have time (probably won’t change your day to day life)
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Black-Hole-Cosmic-Quandaries/dp/039335038X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715751&sr=1-1&keywords=Death+By+Black+Hole

From the Publisher:

“[Tyson] tackles a great range of subjects . . . with great humor, humility, andmost important humanity.” Entertainment Weekly

Loyal readers of the monthly “Universe” essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson’s talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson’s favorite essays, ?Death by Black Hole? explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry’s feeble efforts to get its night skies right. One of America’s best-known astrophysicists, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of astrophysics while sharing his infectious fascination for our universe.

My Observation:

It was good. This book is a textbook for many students jumping into the astrophysical world so I would not call it “light reading”. Death By Black Hole reveals just what level of geek I really am. I thoroughly enjoyed it. From a Christian WorldView (which the author does not share), it is fascinating to see how God has created the Universe and how we have tried to define it. I would not recommend this book for everyone but those out there who are still curious about how the universe works, it is something fun to read. 

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Book Review: The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You

Author: John Ortberg
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Me-Want-Be-Becoming-Version/dp/031034056X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715684&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Me+I+Want+to+Be

From the Publisher:

The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg—the bestselling author of When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box; God Is Closer Than You Think; and The Life You’ve Always Wanted—will help you discover spiritual vitality like never before as you learn to “live in the flow of the spirit.” But if God has a perfect vision for your life, why does spiritual growth seem so difficult? John Ortberg has some intriguing answers to that question, and he has organized his thoughts and God’s words into a straightforward and timely guide for living your best life in The Me I Want to Be. This book will show how God’s perfect vision for you starts with a powerful promise. All those who trust in God “will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Ortberg urges you to recognize your brokenness, understand that God is the project manager, and follow His directions. The author first helps gauge your spiritual health and measure the gap between where you are now and where God intends you to be. Then he provides detailed tasks and exercises to help you live in the flow of the Spirit, circumventing real-world barriers—pain and sorrow, temptations, self-doubt, sin—to flourish even in a dark and broken world. As you start living in the flow, you will feel: — a deeper connection with God — a growing sense of joy — an honest recognition of your brokenness — less fear, more trust — a growing sense of being “rooted in love” — a deeper sense of purpose God invites you to join Him in crafting an abundant and joy-filled life. The Me I Want to Be shows you how to graciously accept His invitation.

My Observation:

Where has John Ortberg been? How have I missed this author? Wow. This book spoke directly to my soul and left me stopping after almost every page to consider what was written. This book is one of those that you read again as soon as you finish it. Every Christian should read this book and grow.

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Book Review: Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live

Author: Zig Ziglar
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Better-Than-Good-Creating-Life/dp/0785289194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715615&sr=1-1&keywords=Better+Than+Good

From the Publisher:

The Ultimate Challenge: To Be Better Than Good

He has spent his life helping other people to realize their dreams and experience maximum success. Now comes Zig Ziglar’s high-impact work that calls you to the passion, purpose, and practical tools that can ignite the peak performance you long for.

In the real-life stories Zig shares, drawn from nearly fifty years as a world-class motivatinal author, speaker, and businessman, you’ll discover how others have risen above fear and failure to embrace the quality of life they were meant to have. Their experiences will teach you how to accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible, even as you learn: the three pillars of the Better Than Good, life new discoveries that will motivate you for life, how to develop a strategic plan that accomplishes your goals, what often keeps good people from reaching the ultimate level of productivity and happiness, ways to form better-than-good habits that can take you to new horizons of success . . . and much, much more!

Let the master of motivating help you clear your mind of failure-prone thinking, as together with Zig Ziglar, you redefine success and take hold of your dreams. Let him inspire you to be Better Than Good!

My Observation:

I do not believe there is anyone who can encourage and motivate quite like Zig Ziglar. He has a way of making the impossible seem not only possible but fairly simple. This book is on my yearly reading list and should probably be on a monthly reading list. Everyone needs a daily dose of Zig Ziglar. 

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Book Review: Running with the Giants: What the Old Testament Heroes Want You to Know About Life and Leadership

Author:  John Maxwell
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Running-Giants-Testament-Heroes-Leadership/dp/0446530697/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715527&sr=1-1&keywords=running+with+the+giants

From the Publisher:

Motivational guru John C. Maxwell finds inspiration and encouragement in the lives of Old Testament personalities.

My Observation:

I mean, come on… it’s John Maxwell. It must be good!
Seriously though, many people forget that long before Maxwell was a world renown leadership guru, he was a successful pastor. He has said often that his reason for moving into the ‘business world’ and away from pastoring was because he wanted to reach business leaders. He said he realized the best way to win a company was to win the leader. This book was so good, I recently used it to do a message series at Real Life Church. Highly recommend reading both for leadership tips and also for devotional reading. 

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Book Review: The Longest Day

Author: Corneluis Ryan
Genre:  non-fiction, history
My rating: If you have time
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Longest-Day-Classic-Epic-D-Day/dp/0671890913/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715458&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Longest+Day+

From the Publisher:

The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan’s unsurpassed account of D-Day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

This book, first published in 1959, is a must for anyone who loves history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth.

My Observation:

As a history fan, this book has been on my reading list for a while. What I found was a few a diamonds in a whole lot of rough. The book is a great piece one of the biggest battles in history. My only issue was that I was hoping for a little more backstory as to how the day came about. Still worth reading for all the history fans. My number one takeaway was learning that Eisenhower read Western novels to help get his mind off of the war. He would obsess over the details and would use Westerns to give his mind some piece. This resonated with me because this is exactly what I do only not with Western novels. I tend to get more into historical fiction and adventure fiction. 

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Book Review: From Pew to Pulpit: A Beginner’s Guide to Preaching

Author: Clifton Guthrie
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read (for preachers)
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Pew-Pulpit-Beginners-Guide-Preaching/dp/0687066603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492715242&sr=1-1&keywords=From+Pew+to+Pulpit+

From the Publisher:

A down-to-earth, practical introduction to the ins and outs of preaching for lay preachers, bivocational pastors, and others newly arrived in the pulpit.

Recent years have seen a considerable increase in the amount of financial resources required to support a full-time pastor in the local congregation. In addition, large numbers of full-time, seminary trained clergy are retiring, without commensurate numbers of new clergy able to take their place. As a result of these trends, a large number of lay preachers and bivocational pastors have assumed the principal responsibility for filling the pulpit week by week in local churches. Most of these individuals, observes Clifton Guthrie, can draw on a wealth of life experiences, as well as strong intuitive skills in knowing what makes a good sermon, having listened to them much of their lives. What they often don’t bring to the pulpit, however, is specific, detailed instruction in the how-tos of preaching. That is precisely what this brief, practical guide to preaching has to offer.

Written with the needs of those for whom preaching is not their sole or primary occupation in mind, it begins by emphasizing what every preacher brings to the pulpit: an idea of what makes a sermon particularly moving or memorable to them. From there the book moves into short chapters on choosing an appropriate biblical text or sermon topic, learning how to listen to one’s first impressions of what a text means, moving from text or topic to the sermon itself while keeping the listeners needs firmly in mind, making thorough and engaging use of stories in the sermon, and delivering with passion and conviction. The book concludes with helpful suggestions for resources, including Bibles, commentaries, other print resources and websites.

My Observation:

Many of the “preaching” books today focus a lot on “why” we preach or the health of the one doing the preaching. That is great but this book already assumes those books are there. Instead, this book is geared to help someone with little to no experience preaching and it helps them prepare for their turn on stage. I wish this book had of been familiar to me about 10 years ago. There are countless ideas and methods that can help not only the occasional exhorter but also the seasoned pastor. This book will also help cut down on your preparation time. You will not get much out of it if you are not a frequent speaker but if you are, add this to your annual read list. 

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