Review: Seven-Mile Miracle

I admit I have a problem. It seems like I have to read everything that Steven Furtick puts out to the world. It could be because I tend to digest his sermons in mass quantities. It could be that I feel a relative connection to him due to having heard about him many years ago. It could be that we are in the same generation and live relatively close to each other (three hours counts, right?). However, this book is not up to his usual quality. Maybe I am harsh, but I am only speaking my opinion and that is what a review is supposed to do.

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Seven-Mile Miracle is the newest release from Furtick. His other books spoke life into my life and this one did as well, but having followed him for many years, this seems like a cash grab. There is a sermon series that goes along with it (I suppose that’s the appropriate thing to do in a mega-church); however, there was a sermon many years ago for Easter by the same title. It was a visual experience that had footage of the Holy Land and even had Furtick preaching the sermon from Israel.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not setting out to bash him or the church, but this book is not his usual qualities. Sure, the seven topics he covers that pulls from the last sayings of Jesus are highly applicable in 2017. We need to adhere to the words that he writes and the topics he covers.

The one that spoke to me the most was the word of uniting. It may have been the last word, but ultimately that is the final stop on the journey for a Christian. It is the end destination on our trip. We will be reunited with our creator and will spend eternity with him.

This book is alright. If you want to read seven things that can influence your life and give you pointers on living a more complete life then this book will help. If I did not know that Furtick had already used this title before or have read his book then it probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much. It simply seems rushed to me.

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

Lacey Sturm: The Mystery

I was excited to read Lacey Sturm’s new book. I believe that she is one powerful, influential woman who is doing great things in this world. She was formerly the lead singer of Flyleaf and is now becoming known for her solo work. Her voice is unique and is definitely stronger than most singers regardless of their gender. Amazingly, her lengthier writing as a book author is just as powerful as her lyrics.

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The Mystery is actually her second book and having read the first, I knew this one would be full of powerful words. What I didn’t expect was just how introspective it would be and how gut-wrenchingly honest. Through the book she shares her past, how she met her husband, and how things have changed course. She holds very little back and you are able to see Lacey in a light that you have never seen her before. She only scratched the surface in her first book, which is why it is important to read this one.

Even if you never find yourself in situations like Lacey, and I pray you do not, you can still be encouraged by the resurrection power of Jesus that has made all the difference in her life. She holds tight to Jesus making the entire difference in her life and allowing his touch and learning to trust him as the reason she is in the place she is today.

If you were a Flyleaf fan or a fan of Lacey’s or just an average reader, you need to get this book. You see the turmoil that is found in the darkest parts of a life away from God, but also see that redemption is waiting for you right where you are.

The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any manner by the publisher or the author outside of the words contained in the book. I received a copy of the book for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

A Peculiar Glory

It is hard to imagine a world where Scripture is not accepted as truth, but we are moving in that direction as a culture. Of course, one could make the argument that we should have always been prepared to make confront these disputes as it does not make sense to believe in Scripture. Why would anyone believe the words of the Bible? It is a strong stretch to believe in them. Thankfully, John Piper has recently released a book to confront this.

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This has been compared as equal with Desiring God as one of his most influential works. I do have to agree. This book took a while to dig through mainly because page after page is rooted in Scripture. There are numerous things that need to be digested in order to grasp the full concept of the words that are written. The whole book is about how Scripture proves its own validity without any outside arguments.

The good news is that Piper does not write to theologians. He writes to the Christian sitting in a church pew. The words are easily read, even if the concept is difficult. You will be challenged, informed, and blessed for reading this book. The things that have been contained here will be a  valuable resource for many generations to come. I am glad to add this one to my growing library.

If you have the chance, I would recommend picking up the print version of this so you can make notes in the margins and highlight the sentences and paragraphs that grapple you. The good thing about most of Piper’s work is that it is accessible to those that do not have the finances to purchase it. You can find a printable version of the book from the Desiring God website, but you really should purchase a print version. It will be better for you that way.

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

Designed To Lead

To say that I am slow to post a review for this book is an understatement. However, there is so much to unpack in this book that it needs a few months to simmer. While it is just north of two hundred pages, I feel like there is enough material in here for a year or more of training. I am astonished that Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck were able to jam that much information into Designed To Lead, but they have. It is a book all about the church and its role in leadership development.

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Geiger and Peck convey the importance, no the necessity of having the church take its role seriously when it comes to leadership development. They argue (and I would agree from experience) that the church has shrugged off this responsibility for far too long and not only our churches have suffered, but also our businesses and other organizations. While some would argue that the church has no business developing leaders, that is simply a myth.

Through the book we see an outline of this process that is simple and yet overwhelming. We can see the simplicity of it, but it is easy to see the overwhelming nature of continually focusing our churches and organizations on striving to equip the next leaders. I do not know that I have encountered a better book on the church’s role in leadership development.

I like that Geiger and Peck do not simply make up their own statistics and state their opinions as fact, but rather that they use polls and other studies to support their argument. I am also forever grateful to the authors for not simply telling us what is wrong and how we are to do it, but providing necessary outlines and framework to keep our churches completing this task.

As a church planter, I have already started using this book and will lean on it as our church continues to grow and we need more leaders. I also want to equip leaders outside the church to infiltrate their places of employment and this book also gives me guidance on how to do that. It is an invaluable resource that will be well worn when my life is over. I cannot speak of this book enough.

To be clear, I did receive this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. My glowing review above is my own and the words have not been altered in any way by anyone associated with the book other than the content. Seriously, get this book!

Book Review: Detours

Although I would not consider myself familiar with Tony Evans, I follow him on social media and have heard a couple of messages from him and when the opportunity presented itself to join the launch team of his new book Detours, I jumped. Through this book, we follow along with the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. We learn how he was on a detour, but God brought him to the place where he needed to be at just the right time.

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It is easy for us to see our detours as something that is out to end our progress towards a goal, but this book helps us frame these detours as a blessing. Evans does occasionally leave the journey of Joseph to supplement his words with other Scripture, but he always comes back to Joseph. I enjoyed this because I enjoy hearing new takes on a familiar passage of Scripture. I do think Joseph is the best Biblical person to describe the truth of detours. His story is unlike anything many of us will experience on the surface, but as Evans uncovers, our story is a lot like his.

Regardless of how we wind up on our detour, we should know that we are there for a purpose. One of the things that Evans mentions in the book that is something that I had never considered is the truth that often your detours are for your own protection. It does not necessarily mean that God is protecting you from someone or something down the path and has to move them, but rather it could be a timing issue. We may have things in our life that need to mature before we are ready to handle a specific situation. The detour that we are on may be used for our protection as we are not ready to face the pressure of a particular situation.

One line from the book stood out to me and I am still struggling to fully understand the depth of it. Evans says, “Trials call your faith to the witness stand to testify to the condition of your spiritual health.” Every trial that I face in life is going to be different. There may be similar trials in life, but they will all have their slight variations. The purpose of those is to testify to the condition of my spiritual health. When my faith is called to the stand in the courtroom of life, the condition of my spiritual health will be made known. The problem is that it will not only be known to me, but to those around me.

I greatly enjoyed reading this new book and encourage you to pick it up if you need encouragement in your current season of life. I was honored to have the opportunity to be apart of the launch team and receive a copy of the book for free, but I would encourage you to purchase one. My endorsement of the book is of my own and has not been influenced in any way by the publisher or the author outside of the printed words in the book.

Book Review: Nothing To Prove

Jennie Allen’s book Anything wrecked me. I hate using that terminology, but that is the best way I know to describe it. It caused me to face a lot of my own notions of what I had surrendered to God. Since that point, I try to read everything she releases. Her new book Nothing To Prove was splendid.

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Through this book we learn to prove that ultimately if we have God’s approval, we have nothing to prove. We live for his approval and not the approval of our friends, family, and people around us. Despite what others may tell us and how we may feel, that is what God offers us.

I like how Jennie forms each chapter out of a miracle of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John. While I believe in good thoughts outside of Scripture, it is always nice when an author seeks to keep their book rooted in it. Through the miracles and her own experiences, Jennie brings a fresh approach to the truth of the Bible.

I underlined plenty of lines and it took me a while to finish the book. It was not due to the book being extremely wordy or complicated to read, but rather because it needs digesting. There are some books that need time to marinade in  your brain. This is one that I constantly found myself thinking about as the day went on and when I needed to pick it up to read some more, I wanted to go back and skim over the part I had already finished.

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

I Am Thomas

Doubts come and go. There are times in life where everything is going great and then something tragic happens that somehow manages to pull the proverbial rug right out from underneath us. I have had my fair share of trying situations in the past where I struggled with my faith. I had to wrestle with the doubts of my own whether I was committed to the cause of Christ or if I should throw off the teachings.

I have learned to lean on it because during those trying times it is the only place to go. Although we would like to lean on friends, the most troubling times are often when our friends end up forsaking us. Rather than getting bitter, those times have managed to drive me to a deeper faith in Christ and his teachings.

The story of Thomas is applicable in modern times like this because we can see a man who has invested years of his life following a teacher that he hoped would be around longer than just three years. Thomas had spent time following Jesus and had expected him to produce some other outcome than a death on the cross. He had his hopes and dreams shattered after this leader died.

We will sacrifice years of our lives for friendships, corporations, and marriages and ultimately some will fail. There will be a friendship that is ruined because someone walks away. There will be a job that is suddenly gone after the boss sells the company. There will be marriages that are ruined because a spouse decides that you are no longer enough. However deep this wound may cut, this should not be the end of our faith.

When Thomas was least expecting it, Jesus appeared and comforted him. When we least expect it Jesus will walk right into our life and comfort us. It may not be when we wanted it and we would have preferred to avoided the situation entirely, but Jesus will always shop up when the time is right. We simply have to hold hope and wait on him to arrive.

Season 2 of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact Forgery premieres Sunday, March 5 at 9 PM ET/PT on CNN. I encourage you to tune in as we search for Jesus. I have linked the trailer below for your viewing pleasure.