Book Review: Simple Pursuit

I try to get my hands on every item I can that comes out of Passion City Church and the Passion Conferences. I am not a stranger to Louie Giglio’s life and the life he and Shelly are leaving. When the mention of a devotional from them was discovered, I knew I would have to acquire it. At first I was a little sad because I thought I had been lied because it turns out this is not a devotional from the folks in charge of Passion.

Simple Pursuit.jpg Instead of letting the leaders write all the words, Giglio and his crew have decided to let the attendees write their words. Rather than basking in the spotlight that is naturally pointed to them, Passion decided to turn the spotlight on the ones attending the conference. It is a rare thing for someone to be so quick to share the spotlight. Instead, we like to stand in it as long as possible, but I am thankful that this is not a situation like that. This is one where all are celebrated and all are encouraged to have a part.

I am not entirely sure the methodology that was used to select the daily devotions or the writers, but that is not the point. The point is this is a quality daily devotional that is allowing the future generation an opportunity to put their ink on paper and craft their words to the masses. This is a quality devotional product and could be used by anyone. One thing I like is that it is not divided by calendar date. Instead, it simply says day twenty-five or day 234. This to me works better because a person can pick it up at any point in the year and feel like they are right on time. It may make it a little difficult to follow along if you start in the middle of August, but that is where the nifty ribbon page marker comes in handy.

Overall, if you are looking for a fresh devotional and like the work coming out of the Passion conferences and such, this is a devotional for you. If not, you probably know someone that will enjoy it.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. These words are my own and have not been influenced in any manner by the author or publisher.

Book Review: Befriend

We all need friends. It seems as if college, it becomes harder and harder to find friends. After all, when is the last time you saw two guys trying to establish a friendship? The seen in your head probably looks a little odd. Truthfully, it is, but it should not be that way. Instead, we should be friends with people all around us, especially those not like us.

befriendIn his new book, Scott Sauls encourages us to seek out those who are not our normal type. They may believe a different thing than us, drive a different car, or be a different race. Either way, it is important that we strive to be seen as their friend.

Sauls’ book has twenty-one short chapters that are designed to challenge you. They will make you think about your own life and identify areas where you have not been the best friend to those around you.

For Sauls, a Christian must be a friend to all regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Through the relationships with those around us, he believes that we become more like Christ. If we do not stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we will not grow to become more like our Savior.

It is very fitting that this book was released during one of the most divisive election cycles in my memory. Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone would read and heed to Scott’s words here.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words are my own and have not been manipulated in any way by the author or publisher.

Book Review: People of the Second Chance

I could not wait to get my hands on this book. When the release was first announced, I was excited to see it happen. I have kept up with the movement known as People of the Second Chance (hereafter referred to as POTSC) for years now. I have backed their Christmas project. I keep up with what Mike Foster, the founder, is doing to further the mission. I believe that we are all in need of a second chance, or a third chance, or a tenth chance. We should never think we are beyond hope and have messed things up to the point that there is no return and probability of a rescue.

potsc

I am thankful that instead of telling stories of people who have embraced the message of POTSC, Foster takes time to tell us why it is important to embrace the mission. One of the big takeaways from the book is that we should celebrate the unloved. Rather than seeing the downsides of our experience, we are told to let the journey drive us to the arms of Christ. We know that we have experienced failure, no matter what demographic you want to place on us. Rather than letting it define us, we must find our place in Christ and allow him to mold us into becoming a different person.

If you have follow the POTSC movement from the fringe, now would be a great time for you to move into the arena of being a champion for the movement. There is only freedom and warm hugs in the movement. No matter where you are in life right now or where you were five years ago, the movement says welcome. I encourage you to get this book, read it, and then give it away. It is that important that we get this message to those around us. The more we recognize our value in Christ despite our flawed past, the better of a community we will become.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words here are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or publisher.

An Unlikely Champion

It is hard to believe that I will be thirty years old next month. A new decade approaches and I am not sure what it will bring. What I do know it will bring is a chance for people overcome their situations and become an unlikely champion. I have seen it happen in a few lives. I live in a fairly rural area where there are many people living in poverty. I know the region and its struggles and have tasted them myself.

pexels-photo-132967

Today’s post I want to talk about one individual who has become an unlikely champion. I went to high school with the individual and, at the time, he was known for his mischievous ways. He was always looking to instigate some sort of joke or spout off a comment or take some sort of action to provoke a response from those in leadership. It was not that he was a terrible guy, but rather one that liked to press the buttons.

After high school, he took a couple of years to find himself. That is the best way to put it, I suppose. He had a small run in with a police officer and had to fight a battle in the courtroom. Rather than letting this be his new normal and the way things would be for the rest of his life, he found mentors that were willing to help guide him to a better way of living. He had to overcome the obstacles of his past and his locality, but these can be see as excuses or a reason to put in the extra work required to make a better life.

He then enrolled at the college with the determination to not only survive, but thrive. Through the guidance of some inspirational figures around him, he managed to complete his degree in business and economics and was sought after as an employee when he graduated. He has since moved out of state, but now has a thriving career with nothing but potential in a field that is growing.  I fully expect him to be one of the most successful individuals to come out of our small town, but it was not without work.

I am thrilled that there are inspirational movies being pushed to the big screen. This Friday (September 30th), Disney is releasing a new film called Queen of Katawe and it is one that will inspire you. If you are like me, you may not have heard of the film before now. However, after watching the short clip below I cannot wait to see it for myself.

Who knows, maybe I will see you there!

 

Go by Preston Sprinkle

The church in America is in a downward spiral. You do not have to see any survey results to know this. It seems as if you can look at any church and gather the truth. Preston Sprinkle has not only reported the facts of a new Barna survey in his new book Go, but also given us ideas to combat this and compel the church to action.

go

In his writing, he does not call the current way of doing church a sin, but rather encourages us to look at other ways of gathering. As a church planter, I recognize the fact that the same old ways will not gain us ground in spreading the Gospel. I know the hardships faced by a church with a small budget while wanting to maintain a consistent outreach and mission presence.

In the grand scheme of things, I believe that the church has failed to make disciples. We may have done a decent job at getting our message out there, but we have failed to make life change. The survey results show it. Our churches show it. Preston shows us, but he also gives us hope. By taking a different path, we can see the church return to vibrancy.

It does not matter if you find yourself before the pew or in the pew, this is a book for every church member. There are common denominators between all of us and we are all responsible for making disciples.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Uninvited Book Review

I have a confession to make. I have listened to Lysa TerKeurst off and on for the past few years, even saw her in person at a conference within the past year, but have never read one of her books. I suppose now is as good of a time as any to correct this. I am so glad that I did.

uninvited

While Lysa’s new book Uninvited is geared towards women, anyone can relate to the message that she has written. I have been making it a point to read more female authors lately and I am thankful that I have had that privilege. I feel as if it has helped me become a better husband and pastor. I now give more thought to how the females in my life will take my words, but that is not the point of this post.

Regardless of how long you have been alive on this sphere going around the sun, you have felt left out at some point. It does not matter if you found yourself as a popular kid in grade school or the social butterfly of the office, at some point, we have felt as if we did not belonged. Thankfully, God has not left us in that time and has given us plenty of things to say to ourselves during these times. I am grateful that Lysa has been given this message of hope to those that feel uninvited.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

We Could Use Some Culture

I have often found that people are reading their Bible, but they do not take time to consider the culture in which the words were written. Rather than seeking to hear the words through their original culture, we tend to read it from our modern vantage point. This can sometimes lead to confusion and even frustration as we get things wrong. I am glad that there has been a study Bible released to help us bridge this gap.

cultural-backgrounds-bible

Let me be quick to say that I can already sense the mumbling coming from the mouths of seminary scholars. I know that this Bible will not address every facet of the culture and will not outline everything as neatly as you would. However, I am thankful for its existence to help educate everyday readers to the culture of the Bible.

Throughout the Bible, we are given chapter summaries, maps, and snippets of everyday life for the Jewish people that were the first recipients of Christ’s message. These are just a few of the many things that are addressed on the pages of this Bible. To fully appreciate Scripture, it helps to know the connotations in which it was written. You can relate more to the struggles that were facing the original audience and grasp a little bit more what it meant to have a relationship with God. For the relatively compact size, this Bible packs a lot of information. Could there have been more information? Absolutely, but then it would have been too big to move around. While it is still large to preach or teach from, it is not unbearable for personal study at home.

I received the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible for free in exchange for an unbiased review from BookLookBloggers. The words expressed here are my own and have not been influenced in any way.