When Parenting isn’t Perfect

parentingJim Daly is a man that I have grown to respect through his work at Focus on the Family. So I was excited to read this book on parenting.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment, dedication, and discipline. It’s too easy to sit the kids in front of the TV, phone or tablet and let them babysit our children. At the same time, it’s also easy to be legalistic, overbearing and prohibitive. If only it were easy to have the perfect balance, then you could be the perfect parent. But as Daly points out in this book, there are no perfect parents and striving for perfection can leave us empty and drive our children away. So, what Daly has hoped to accomplish through this book, is not to tell us how to be perfect parents but how to parent in spite of our imperfections.

Too often we quote Proverbs 22:6 and use it as a proof text that if we raise our kids the best we know how, when they are older, after they settle down they too can become just like we want them too. But the point of that verse is to raise children according to their personalities, drives and abilities. To equip them to function as God has wired them, not as we think they should be and that is essentially what Daly advocates for in this book.

So, through personal illustrations and helpful guidelines, Daly explains how perfection is the enemy of parenting and laughing, talking and connecting with your kids is what is truly important. He also encourages us to embrace the messiness of parenting. We’re not always going to get it right, and our children will not always respond as they should but what we need to learn as parents is that kids just want us to be present and not perfect.

No matter what stage of parenting you may find yourself in, this book is a helpful and needful reminder that God’s grace is a perfect example to follow in our parenting and Daly does a good job of explaining how.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Gospel According to Paul

I have been a fan of John MacArthur for more than 20 years. I don’t know if “fan” is the correct term to use but whatever he writes or whenever he speaks, I find myself drawn to reading and listening what he produces. As with everyone, I don’t know that I necessarily agree with his opinions on everything but when it comes to expositing the Word of God, I believe him to be a trusted source. Needless to say, I was excited to receive a copy of John MacArthur’s newest book The Gospel According to Paul from Nelson Books. I was given a copy of his book The Gospel According to Jesus about five years ago, and it helped me immensely in my understanding of Jesus’ ministry shown in the gospels.
After a lengthy introduction and a brief history on Paul’s life before Christ, through seven chapters, MacArthur walks the reader through the principles of the Gospel from Paul’s life and letters.
As only MacArthur can do, it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the information presented in each chapter. If there’s one thing that MacArthur does well it’s giving you more information then you thought you could ever know about something. It’s that thoroughness that separates MacArthur’s books and sermons from everyone else.
As he begins in the first chapter, he outlines what the gospel is, walking the reader through Scripture, before pointing out our condition and need for the gospel in chapter 2. For chapters 3 and 4, he tackles the issue of faith and works and what our responsibility is in believing the gospel. Chapter 5 deals with the cross and Christ’s atoning work and transitions in chapter 6 to our reward based on Christ’s death and resurrection. He closes out his main body of work in chapter 7 with an instruction on grace: what it is and what it isn’t.
Again this is a very thorough work on the gospel and quite different from its predecessor The Gospel According to Jesus. There were times when I felt like I was reading the longest gospel tract in history but at other times I found myself engrossed in the topic at hand because of the insight I was gaining.
I may be a bit biased because of my appreciation for John MacArthur and the help that his teaching has been over the years but this new book The Gospel According to Paul would make a fantastic tool for small groups and even personal study.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Search for Power

 It’s a natural tendency for individuals to rely on their own strength and power when it comes accomplishing the task set before them. This is never more true for pastors and ministry leaders who have been tasked with shepherding the flock of Jesus Christ. The problem with that is, as pastors and ministry leaders, we’re not supposed to rely on our own strength and power. We’re to rely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. So there is always this struggle between doing what I want and think verses allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide in all directions.

This is the focus of The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel.

By interviewing “sages” of the faith like Eugene Peterson and J.I. Packer,  and using James 3:13-18 as a guide, they outline the need for wisdom that comes from above, versus worldly wisdom that comes from below. The advice and wisdom that they share in this book is nothing new but is still an area of importance that needs to be focused on because of our human tendency to look to culture as the standard instead of Jesus Christ.

I was reminded many times through the reading of this book of the beatitudes that Jesus taught on the Sermon of the mount and how effective they can be for impacting the world around us.

The underlying truth throughout this book is that Jesus is to be our model in every aspect of our lives. And Goggin and Strobel do a good job of painting a biblical picture of how power is possible through weakness. All in all, this book is a challenge precisely because it asks us to give up all the temptations of worldly power for the power of the cross.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Good isn’t Good Enough

I’ve followed the ministry of Pastor Bryan Loritts since his days at Fellowship Memphis and I was excited to hear of his new book, “Saving the Saved.” As the son of pastor Dr. Crawford Loritts, Bryan grew up in the church surrounded by the culture that so many church people grew up in.

savedWith that background in mind Bryan addresses an issue that is rampant throughout the “churched” culture. The issue is, is that our security and salvation is tied up or contingent upon our morally based choices and behavior. That somehow, we must earn God’s favor and our position before Him.

In Saving the Saved Bryan confronts the performance based beliefs that so many “church people” hold onto so dearly using the gospel of Matthew as a guideline and backdrop for what God’s message truly is. In this book, he leads the reader through what goodness isn’t as well as what goodness is and looks like. But unlike many books, he doesn’t stop there. He offers practical everyday application on what it looks like to live free in the security of a relationship of Jesus Christ.

Through humorous anecdotes and personal recollections Bryan shares the transition from merit-based religion to life changing freedom that can only come from the good news that we are free in Christ and loved not based on our doing but by God’s choosing.

This book is a great book for the individual or for use by a small group and even for congregations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

The Color Coded Bible

color bibleI have been given the opportunity to review the Color Coded Bible (NKJV) by Thomas Nelson. I have seen many color coded bibles before but what sets this one apart is that it is for kids. This particular Bible uses a simple method of assigning colors to seven different topics or themes throughout Scripture.

My initial thought, before I received my copy, is that the Bible would be color coded throughout. But when I received my copy, I learned that there are only 1600 verses that are color coded.  This isn’t a bad thing; I was just expecting more.

What was surprising was the different Bible reading plans and index references categorized to help you find passages related to certain topics.

All in all this is a great beginners Bible for an older child to pre-teen. I am very pleased with my copy.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments

10 commandIn some form or way, everyone is familiar with at least a few of the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not steal, kill and commit adultery. But after those, things begin to get a bit hazy. Cleanliness is next to godliness, God helps those who helps themselves, and treat others like you want to be treated, are next on the list. Then you have those who refuse to believe or acknowledge that the Ten Commandments are even relevant to our time and place in this culture.
In this book, A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments, Australian theologian and scholar, John Dickson, takes a look at the ten commandments given to Moses and to show how they have affected western thought. He takes into account the fact that not everyone believes the Bible but he makes a great argument for how we all abide by these commandments in some form or fashion.
This book is a great laymen’s introduction to the topic of apologetics, starting where we all start, with the basics. There are plenty of insights and topics that would make this a great book for small groups as well as for the individual seeking to deepen their understanding on why we believe what we do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

It’s not what you think…

_225_350_Book.1738.coverIt’s not what you think. Or so the title tells us. The subtitle says “Why Christianity is about so much more than going to Heaven when you die”. Sadly that is what most people consider to be the only benefit of being a Christian. And I believe the author has struck a chord with the problem in modern evangelical Christianity. But it’s not a new problem.  And unlike most books that identify the problem with people and their faith, this one offers a realistic approach to get beyond the obvious and perceived and make one’s faith more about a relationship with the Creator.

Although it’s not a How-To book on evangelism or apologetics, you’ll find practical examples of both in this book. Bethke has given what I would call a “millennial” look at the foundation of Christianity and why it should be more than surface level in a person’s life. And that is not a criticism against millennials, I just don’t happen to be one. So some of His suggestions, interpretations and approaches seem outside of the box to me when it comes to sharing your faith or reading the Bible  for what it truly says and that can be a very good thing.

All in all, Bethke encourages the reader to grow and deepen their relationship with Christ instead of simply purchasing “fire insurance.” By using examples from Genesis to Revelation He challenges the reader to not just believe what you’ve always been told or heard but to search out the truth Of God for yourself and make your faith your own.  And to consider that Christianity is not always what you think.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Diary of a JackWagon – Inside Tim Hawkins head

_240_360_Book.1646.coverI knew from the title of the book that I was going to enjoy it.

Diary of a Jackwagon

How great is that!

I have been a fan of Tim Hawkins for a longtime and I was excited for the opportunity to review his first book.

From beginning to end I found myself, laughing out loud at every turn of the page. It was like being at one of his performances but in the privacy of my own home

Using his unique style and wit, Tim escorts the reader through a variety of topics. From Blinker fluid to the Jesus Fish, all aspects are pretty much covered. What most impresses me about Tim Hawkins and this book in particular, is his ability to laugh at himself, not just as a human being but as a follower of Christ. Christians and humor typically are not associated with each other but Tim draws us into looking at who we are really and not taking ourselves too serious.

This book is not deep theologically. It’s not profoundly philosophical. It is a breath of fresh air from the staleness of everyday life. Pick it up, read it and you’ll laugh until you cry.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Last Con

The Last Con is one of those books that’s hard to put down once you begin reading it.  When Fletcher Doyle is released from prison for trying to steal an ancient artifact, it appears that His life is finally coming together. After seven years of being apart from his family he tries to reconnect with them on a mission trip with their church. While running an errand to pick up some toiletries for his family he runs into his old partner in crime. Against his will and against his better judgment, Fletcher is forced_200_360_Book.1622.cover to choose between his family and returning to his former lifestyle as a grifter. What ensues is a story that is rich in history, suspense and intrigue.

Zach Bartels has done a masterful job at character development in this book. Each character is a story of their own and the intertwining of these characters is done in a believable way. To say that I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. I kept telling myself “one more chapter.”  I have not read Zach Bartels first book “Playing Saint” prior to reading this but it’s next on my list.

If you like mystery, suspense, action and a cast of interesting characters, don’t miss the opportunity to read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Good, The Bad, And The Grace of God

_200_360_Book.1594.coverI don’t know of anyone who hasn’t heard of Duck Dynasty or Duck Commander. Because of the enormous amount of publicity and the sheer success of the show on A&E’s network, it’s almost impossible to go anywhere and not see the products that promote their success.

But there success today is only part of the story. I have read all of the other books by the individuals that make up the Robertson clan and was eager to read the next installment in Jep and Jessica’s story.

What I like about the books that the Robertson’s put out, is that they don’t sugar coat anything and they’re not afraid to pull back the curtain and let you see the whole story. There’s an authenticity that isn’t seen much in today’s culture.

In “The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God” Jep and Jessica Robertson share their struggles, their past sin as well as their success in a way that doesn’t glorify the acts but give glory to God’s mercy and grace.

There were several times in reading about Jessica’s struggle with significance and Jep’s struggle with addiction that I thought to myself, “I don’t think I would have told that.”

But all in all, if you have read any of the other books put out by the Robertson’s, this book stays true to the same format and is told with the same gut-level honesty.

As with the rest of the Robertson’s, Jep & Jessica’s story is a beautiful reminder of who God is and what He is able to do, if we’re willing to follow Him.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”