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Book Review: Simple Church 

Author: Tom Rainer
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Church-Thom-S-Rainer-ebook/dp/B004HO5J92/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945784&sr=8-1&keywords=Simple+church
Genre:  non-fiction
Rating: Must Read

Publisher Bio

The simple revolution is here. From the iPod design to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.
Multi-awarded #1 national bestseller Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. Based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.
Simple Church Examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify.

My Observation

This book is the playbook for success. So much easier to do if you are a young church though.

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Book Review: Cracking Your Churches Culture Code 

Author: Sam Chand
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Your-Churchs-Culture-Code/dp/0470627816/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945761&sr=8-1&keywords=Cracking+Your+Churches+Culture+Code
Genre:  non-fiction
Rating: Must Read

Publisher Bio

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.

My Observation

Just finished reading this with staff. Good book. So important. My favorite quote is, “Culture is more important than vision.” This is so true. You can have the best vision in the world but unless it is planted in the right culture, it will not yield any harvest.

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Book Review: Over the Edge of the World

Author: Tim Jerome
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Over-Edge-World-Terrifying-Circumnavigation-ebook/dp/B0018ND8B6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945747&sr=8-1&keywords=Over+the+Edge+of+the+World%3A+Magellan%27s+Terrifying+Circumnavigation+of+the+Globe
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: If You Have Time (Rating System)
Any Warnings: Gruesome scenes of violence when the crew of the voyage interact with Indians.

Publisher Bio

Ferdinand Magellan’s daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, prize-winning biographer and journalist Laurence Bergreen entwines a variety of candid, firsthand accounts, bringing to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed both the way explorers would henceforth navigate the oceans and history itself.

My Observation

It was actually really good. Hard to believe this was possible during that time. It’s really sad, though, that Magellan did not live to see the end of the voyage. He actually died in a trick ambush by natives to an island they came across. He also had to deal with several mutinies and such. His navigation of the globe seemed the easy part.

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Book Review: Team of Rivals

Author: Doris Kerns Goodwin
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Team-Rivals-Political-Abraham-Lincoln-ebook/dp/B000N2HBSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945729&sr=8-1&keywords=Team+of+Rivals%3A+The+Political+Genius+of+Abraham+Lincoln
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: Must Read (Rating System)

Publisher Bio

The life and times of Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and dissected in countless books. Do we need another Lincoln biography? In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin proves that we do. Though she can’t help but cover some familiar territory, her perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln’s leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln’s political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration–Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general–he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin’s fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.

Ten years in the making, this engaging work reveals why “Lincoln’s road to success was longer, more tortuous, and far less likely” than the other men, and why, when opportunity beckoned, Lincoln was “the best prepared to answer the call.” This multiple biography further provides valuable background and insights into the contributions and talents of Seward, Chase, and Bates. Lincoln may have been “the indispensable ingredient of the Civil War,” but these three men were invaluable to Lincoln and they played key roles in keeping the nation intact. –Shawn Carkonen

Team of Rivals doesn’t just tell the story of Abraham Lincoln. It is a multiple biography of the entire team of personal and political competitors that he put together to lead the country through its greatest crisis. Here, Doris Kearns Goodwin profiles five of the key players in her book, four of whom contended for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination and all of whom later worked together in Lincoln’s cabinet.

1. Edwin M. Stanton– Stanton treated Lincoln with utter contempt at their initial acquaintance when the two men were involved in a celebrated law case in the summer of 1855. Unimaginable as it might seem after Stanton’s demeaning behavior, Lincoln offered him “the most powerful civilian post within his gift”–the post of secretary of war–at their next encounter six years later. On his first day in office as Simon Cameron’s replacement, the energetic, hardworking Stanton instituted “an entirely new regime” in the War Department. After nearly a year of disappointment with Cameron, Lincoln had found in Stanton the leader the War Department desperately needed. Lincoln’s choice of Stanton revealed his singular ability to transcend personal vendetta, humiliation, or bitterness. As for Stanton, despite his initial contempt for the man he once described as a “long armed Ape,” he not only accepted the offer but came to respect and love Lincoln more than any person outside of his immediate family. He was beside himself with grief for weeks after the president’s death.

2. Salmon P. Chase– Chase, an Ohioan, had been both senator and governor, had played a central role in the formation of the national Republican Party, and had shown an unflagging commitment to the cause of the black man. No individual felt he deserved the presidency as a natural result of his past contributions more than Chase himself, but he refused to engage in the practical methods by which nominations are won. He had virtually no campaign and he failed to conciliate his many enemies in Ohio itself. As a result, he alone among the candidates came to the convention without the united support of his own state. Chase never ceased to underestimate Lincoln, nor to resent the fact that he had lost the presidency to a man he considered his inferior. His frustration with his position as secretary of the treasury was alleviated only by his his dogged hope that he, rather than Lincoln, would be the Republican nominee in 1864, and he steadfastly worked to that end. The president put up with Chase’s machinations and haughty yet fundamentally insecure nature because he recognized his superlative accomplishments at treasury. Eventually, however, Chase threatened to split the Republican Party by continuing to fill key positions with partisans who supported his presidential hopes. When Lincoln stepped in, Chase tendered his resignation as he had three times before, but this time Lincoln stunned Chase by calling his bluff and accepting the offer.

3. Abraham Lincoln– When Lincoln won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860 he seemed to have come from nowhere–a backwoods lawyer who had served one undistinguished term in the House of Representatives and lost two consecutive contests for the U.S. Senate. Contemporaries attributed his surprising nomination to chance, to his moderate position on slavery, and to the fact that he hailed from the battleground state of Illinois. But Lincoln’s triumph, particularly when viewed against the efforts of his rivals, owed much to a remarkable, unsuspected political acuity and an emotional strength forged in the crucible of hardship and defeat. That Lincoln, after winning the presidency, made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, was evidence of an uncanny self-confidence and an indication of what would prove to others a most unexpected greatness.

4. William H. Seward- A celebrated senator from New York for more than a decade and governor of his state for two terms before going to Washington, Seward was certain he was going to receive his party’s nomination for president in 1860. The weekend before the convention in Chicago opened he had already composed a first draft of the valedictory speech he expected to make to the Senate, assuming that he would resign his position as soon as the decision in Chicago was made. His mortification at not having received the nomination never fully abated, and when he was offered his cabinet post as secretary of state he intended to have a major role in choosing the remaining cabinet members, conferring upon himself a position in the new government more commanding than that of Lincoln himself. He quickly realized the futility of his plan to relegate the president to a figurehead role. Though the feisty New Yorker would continue to debate numerous issues with Lincoln in the years ahead, exactly as Lincoln had hoped and needed him to do, Seward would become his closest friend, advisor, and ally in the administration. More than any other cabinet member Seward appreciated Lincoln’s peerless skill in balancing factions both within his administration and in the country at large.

5. Edward Bates- A widely respected elder statesman, a delegate to the convention that framed the Missouri Constitution, and a former Missouri congressman whose opinions on national matters were still widely sought, Bates’s ambitions for political success were gradually displaced by love for his wife and large family, and he withdrew from public life in the late 1840s. For the next 20 years he was asked repeatedly to run or once again accept high government posts but he consistently declined. However in early 1860, with letters and newspaper editorials advocating his candidacy crowding in upon him, he decided to try for the highest office in the land. After losing to Lincoln he vowed, in his diary, to decline a cabinet position if one were to be offered, but with the country “in trouble and danger” he felt it was his duty to accept when Lincoln asked him to be attorney general. Though Bates initially viewed Lincoln as a well-meaning but incompetent administrator, he eventually concluded that the president was an unmatched leader, “very near being a ‘perfect man.'”

My Observation

One of the best books I’ve ever read. I cannot think of anything better to say. It would be on my list of top three favorite books ever.

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Book Review: Living In Christ’s Presence

Author: Dallas Willard
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Living-Christs-Presence-Heaven-Kingdom-ebook/dp/B00HUCPSJO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945715&sr=8-1&keywords=Living+in+Christ%27s+Presence
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: Must Read (Rating System)

Publisher Bio

Logos Bookstores’ 2014 Best Book in Spirituality 2014 Readers’ Choice Award Winner 2014 Leadership Journal Best Books for Church Leaders (The Leader’s Inner Life) A Special Award of Merit, from Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Bookstore In these pages Dallas Willard explores what it means to live well now in light of God’s kingdom. He reflects on the power of the Trinity in our lives, the meaning of knowledge, the importance of spiritual disciplines and much more. Dallas Willard offers poignant thoughts about what it will be like to transition into the very presence of Christ in heaven. This book is adapted from the talks given at the February 2013 Dallas Willard Center “Knowing Christ Today” conference in Santa Barbara, California. Each chapter is followed with an illuminating dialogue between Dallas Willard and John Ortberg. The book closes with the theme of offering a blessing to one another. These reflections form an apt conclusion to Dallas Willard’s public ministry. It is a gift of grace.

My Observation

I should be reading this monthly. Dallas Willard is an amazing author and Christian thinker. He explains the Christ-life in such a way that makes you want to be more like Christ. Every time I put this book down I found myself wanting to go into a time of prayer just to spend time with God after reading more on how much He loves me.

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Book Review: The Hot Zone

Author: Richard Preston

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Zone-Terrifying-Story-Origins-ebook/dp/B007DCU4IQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945702&sr=8-1&keywords=Hot+Zone%3A+The+Terrifying+True+Story+of+the+Origins+of+the+Ebola+Virus
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: If You Are Bored (Rating System)
Any Warnings: nasty descriptions of what viruses do to the body

Publisher Bio

The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus. A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

My Observation

This was actually really interesting book about how the Ebola Virus almost got loose in America and not far from Washington DC.

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Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Reasons-Why-Jay-Asher-ebook/dp/B0054R6BFM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945687&sr=8-1&keywords=Thirteen+Reasons+Why
Genre: fiction
Rating: Don’t Waste Your Time(Rating System)
Any Warnings: Do not recommend for teenagers.

Publisher Bio

You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Observation

At this time of reading this book there is a big uproar about a new Netflix show made after this book called “Thirteen Reasons Why”. I have getting asked about it over and over. When something like this happens my usual move is to go back to the source material before making a determination. What I found was an author taking a real issue and glamorizing it. This book honestly made me sick. Suicide is never the answer. Suicide is a terrible thing and show never be glamorized. Many people who have dealt with suicide have said they contemplated ending their life was so that others would notice them. This book says that it worked. I would never recommend this book for anyone who’s even mildly depressed. The author was quoted as saying he wrote this book in order to get people talking. I think it has but not the right conversations.

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Book Review: I Can’t Make This Up

Author: Kevin Hart
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Cant-Make-This-Up-Lessons-ebook/dp/B01MYWFGRM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498945656&sr=8-1&keywords=I+Can%27t+Make+This+Up%3A+Life+Lessons
Genre:  non-fiction
Rating: Shakily Say… If You Have Time (Rating System)
Any Warnings: horrible language and crude humor

Publisher Bio

Superstar comedian and Hollywood box office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller.

The question you’re probably asking yourself right now is: What does Kevin Hart have that a book also has?
According to the three people who have seen Kevin Hart and a book in the same room, the answer is clear:
A book is compact. Kevin Hart is compact.
A book has a spine that holds it together. Kevin Hart has a spine that holds him together.
A book has a beginning. Kevin Hart’s life uniquely qualifies him to write this book by also having a beginning.

It begins in North Philadelphia. He was born an accident, unwanted by his parents. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys.

The odds, in short, were stacked against our young hero, just like the odds that are stacked against the release of a new book in this era of social media (where Hart has a following of over 100 million, by the way). But Kevin Hart, like Ernest Hemingway, JK Rowling, and Chocolate Droppa before him, was able to defy the odds and turn it around. In his literary debut, he takes the reader on a journey through what his life was, what it is today, and how he’s overcome each challenge to become the man he is today. And that man happens to be the biggest comedian in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion.

He achieved this not just through hard work, determination, and talent: It was through his unique way of looking at the world. Because just like a book has chapters, Hart sees life as a collection of chapters that each person gets to write for himself or herself. “Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” he says. “So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?”

My Observation

I enjoyed parts this book. It was vulgar but that’s Kevin. It was actually full of a guy who had nothing going for him but a dream and a will to make it happen. Lots of great wisdom here that anyone can use. The main lessons learned from this book is that talent nor opportunity is the key to success, it consistency that matters the most. Due to the vulgarity and extreme language I cannot recommend this book but I had to read about the most successful comedian in history.

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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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Marathon Training: Week One

Week One is COMPLETE!!! Yeah!!!

Musings-

This week was the first official week of my very first marathon training. Last week I did a lighter version of this week but don’t count it as official training. This week was great because everything was very manageable.  Even the long run is less than what I’m use to so things were pretty comfortable.
Very thankful to be doing this and it’s going to be a great journey.

Some people have hinted they would love to see me create a podcast chronicling my journey. If enough people show interest in this we’ll make it happen so let me know if you would listen to something like that.

That’s it for this week.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Success = Preparation + Opportunity.” -Zig Ziglar
Nobody is in the right place at the right time. If you are waiting for that moment to come it never will. There have been people though who have experienced the opportunity of a lifetime and were prepared to take it. If you prepared with excellence and keep your eyes open and opportunity to use your skills will eventually present itself. The question is if you will be ready to take it when it comes.

 


 

This Week’s Training Schedule and Results:

WORKOUT ONE- Foundational Run- 3 miles

WORKOUT TWO- Foundational Run- 3 miles

WORKOUT THREE- Foundational Run- 3 miles

X-Training- 30 minutes

Long Run: 5 miles

Total number of runs: 4
Total mileage: 14 miles

 

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