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Categories : blogs i read, book review
Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, OK. Under his leadership, LifeChurch.tv has become one of the country’s first multi-campus churches, with over fifty weekend worship experiences currently at eleven different locations throughout the United States.
Craig is one of the few mega-church pastors that actually responds to his blog. When you read his blog, he actually reads it and even comments back. What a concept! He also takes certain weekends where he prays for those who read. I had the privilege of meeting him for a few moments at Catalyst back in October. Craig is real and it comes through in his blog, his Biblically inspired messages and his books. I read Chazown last year and it really inspired me to find out who Craig was. I began listening to his messages and reading and participating in his blog. Craig is one of the most passionate and dynamic speakers I have ever heard. I’ve always been a huge fan of Andy Stanley but Craig is now up there with him in my book. Craig’s message on Practical Atheism was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.
Now to the book Going All the Way. This is a great book about preparing for a marriage that goes all the way–in other words a marriage that lasts! This book had me literally laughing out loud as I read it. He gets you laughing and then sticks you with an important point. Then he gets you laughing again. But through it all I was challenged Biblically to have a marriage that goes all the way.
Craig is open about his life before Christ and how it was filled with promiscuity. Then God rocked his frat world when he was forced to lead a Bible Study because they were on probation. Even though he was not a believer, God used His word to penetrate Craig’s heart and Craig accepted Christ. Then Craig decided because of his past he would “date” Jesus for a year. When it was finally time to start dating in a Biblical way many girls thought he was too out there. One young lady told Craig he needed to date a girl named Amy Fox. He said “fox” was a sign from God. Anyway after a few months Craig finally called Amy and left a message on her machine that was actually played at their wedding.
” Hey you Christian Babe, take me to church or lose me forever!”
Yes it is that kind of book. Craig deals with preparing for marriage, engagement and what to do after you get married. By the way he and Amy have 6 children because Craig says his wife can’t keep her hands off him! He talks about remaining pure before marriage or if you were like him and messed up that God can begin again today. This will be a book I will use for pre-marital counseling in the future. It was a great read and I highly recommend it to those who are single and feel you will get married someday, those who are married and want a better marriage, those who need improvement in your marriage and pastors to use in counseling.
Going All the Way receives 4.71246 hockey sticks out of 5. (That’s for Phil Hoover)
BTW: I’ve had a little extra time to read this week.
Comments : 8 Comments »
Categories : book review, grace
Yesterday I met with a local pastor who has been a good friend and has planted a growing “Grace-filled” church in the area. He gave me the book Grace Walk and asked me to read it. I couldn’t put it down and finished it last night. I realize this book has been around for 12 years but I had never read it nor heard about it until recently. The ironic thing is one of my wife’s best friends and homeschooling mom had just given the book to her for us to read.
The author, Steve McVey, was a rising star in the church world. He was a successful pastor who had led his denomination in Baptisms when he was called to pastor a turnaround church in the Atlanta area. He felt he was up for the challenge and tried everything he had been successful in Alabama. Finally he was giving a state of the church address the next day and lay face down crying on his floor. The church was not doing well and he realized that he had been in a “performance” mode and not a “Grace” mode. He repented that night and told his church that the next day. He then began a journey of a “GRACE WALK.”
I could relate to much of what he was saying. I recently preached a message on Mary and Martha and how Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better when she sat at the feet of Jesus instead of helping Martha work. Life is about living with Jesus not doing things for Him. Martha was actually distracted from Jesus Himself! (Luke 10:38-42)
Here are some choice quotes:
- Polishing your performance is not the answer. Some of the most miserable people are drowning in a sea of religious activity (p.22)
- It was a thrilling day when I came to understand that Christianity is not rules and routine, but a relationship. (p.24)
- Walking in the flesh is simply relying on your own ability instead of on God’s resources. (p30)
- Being preoccupied with serving Christ more than with Jesus Himself is a subtle threat to every Christian. (p. 38)
- I began to really understand my identity as a Christian–that Christ is not simply in my life, but that He is my life. (p. 68)
- Many modern church members are absolutely exhausted from their efforts to serve God. (p. 73)
- Any approach to Christian living that focuses on keeping rules as a means of experiencing victory or growing spiritually is legalism. (p.80)
- If you really want to live a godly lifestyle, the focus of your life must be Him. Not church, not religious activity, no a moral lifestyle, not obeying His commands. Just Him! (p.89)
- Any person whose Christian life is centered on service is doomed to a life of frustration. (p. 95)
- Grace choses people as a priority… Law insists on service. Grace inspires it. (p.151)
- Grace causes one to see people instead of prospects. (p.151)
I truly enjoyed this book and I give it 4.75 hockey sticks out of 5.
Comments : 12 Comments »
Categories : book review
This is another book that needs to be read by all believers. It is not an enjoyable read, but sometimes the truth hurts. Gabe Lyons was a VP for INJOY, John Maxwell’s organization. He was the co-founder of the Catalyst Conference and to everyone he had it made in ministry. But something was stirring in his heart. He couldn’t help but wonder what non-believers really thought about Christians and how did it hurt believers efforts to share Christ with them. So Gabe did the unthinkable, he resigned from Injoy and called his friend Dave Kinnaman from the Barna Research Group and said he wanted to Barna to research what Non-believers think about Christians. Their research wasn’t intended to be a book but their findings were so sobering they had to write this and I’m glad they did.
You don’t have to agree with the findings but it doesn’t matter because this is what non-believers think. Mosaics and Busters (the generations that include late teens to early 30-somethings) believe Christians are judgmental, anti homosexual, hypocritical, too political and sheltered. The book really made me think. I pray that I never become a stumbling block to someone accepting Christ because I act unChristian. This book is a must read.
I highly recommend unChristian and give it 4.69 hockey sticks out of 5.
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Categories : book review
This book review has been a few weeks in coming. I hesitated reviewing it publicly for until now. You will understand tomorrow. This is a book I bought so I’m not under obligation to review it but I felt I needed to share it with you.
This book is a must read. Dr. Thom Rainer is the President of Lifeway and Eric Geiger is an Executive Pastor in South Florida. They did extensive research on why some churches seem to be growing more than others. The basic point to the entire book is get SIMPLE.
According to their research the churches that were seeing life change and growing spiritually and numerically were ones who were “SIMPLE.” They don’t have a lot of programing. They usually have Worship, small groups and they encourage their people to minister during the week. They say no to a lot to help people grow stronger in their faith. They want people to spend more time with their families and neighbors.
I remember when I was on staff at a highly programed church in Atlanta when this up-start church called Northpoint got up and going. I was never home and was “doing” ministry sometimes 5-6 nights a week. I would pull in my driveway and wave at my neighbors and never got to know them. However I heard that Northpoint was growing and “all” they did was have Sunday morning worship, small groups off site and encouraged their people to “Invest & Invite.” But I thought how could a church minister without programs? How could the people grow with so little to offer them?
Then one night I was at an Atlanta Falcon’s pre-season game with some men from our church. By the 4th quarter there wasn’t much going on but I overheard a pretty young single woman in front of me talking about “her church.” I leaned forward to listen some more. She did not appear the “church” type during the game but what she said changed my ideas forever. She said that she wasn’t the church type but Northpoint was changing her ideas about God. I don’t know if she ever became a follower of Christ but she wouldn’t have stepped foot in most churches.
Simple is in. Look at Google and Apple Computers. We complicate the Christian life by making it about what we “do” rather than what Jesus “did” when He died for our sins.
I highly recommend SIMPLE CHURCH and give it 4.7 hockey sticks out of 5.
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Categories : book review
I was asked to review 3:16 by Max Lucado for Thomas Nelson. I have read most of Max Lucado’s books and was really looking forward to reading this one for several reasons. One, I like his way of writing and two, because I love John 3:16.
Honestly, I was disappointed. I hate to admit that because it is hard to say anything bad about a book that is written about the greatest verse in the Bible (my opinion). I was disturbed at first when I saw t-shirts, hats and other 3:16 goods that were for sale. John 3:16 says that God loved the world that He “GAVE” His Son. It doesn’t say He marketed His Son. That is just a conviction of mine. I understand that people have to make a living but to market a verse that talks about salvation just didn’t set well with me.
I think that this book would have been fine had it been one chapter. But it seemed like fluff to me. The first half of the book Max breaks down the verse. He cross references lots of Scripture which I appreciated. The second half of the book was a 40 day devotional. I don’t know but the 40 day concept has run it’s course with me. It pains me to say this because I love Lucado’s books. But this one just didn’t do anything for me. Maybe it is because I’m reading UnChristian at the same time and it is so powerful. But for whatever reason, I did not enjoy reading 3:16. I’m glad I didn’t pay $24.95 myself and would not recommend it. Sorry Max.
I give 3:16 3.5 hockey sticks out of 5
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Categories : book review
I’ve been privileged to get to review some great books lately. My wife asked me how much I’m getting paid and I said nothing but I get free books–usually ones I’d read anyway.
Bill Hybels is one of my favorite authors/pastors/leadership guru’s. Before fundamentalists start throwing stones at me, I don’t buy everything he and Willowcreek do hook, line and sinker but his ministry has impacted me in a positive way. I’m tired of all of the accusations that have been hurled at me just because I read authors that may not suit someone’s theology. I’ve heard Bill Hybels speak in person at least 2 or 3 times. Every time I hear him I am moved by the Holy Spirit to act. I feel the same way with his books. His book Too Busy Not To Pray literally changed my prayer life 12 or 13 years ago. Becoming a Contagious Christian changed the way I shared my faith. A few years back I was in Chicago on a mission trip and a woman walked up to see what we were doing. When we told her she got excited and said, “I’m a fully devoted follower of Christ.” I asked her if she was a member of Willowcreek and she said yes and wanted to know how I knew. It was because she knew Willow’s mission statement by heart. For all of the criticism of Willowcreek and other mega-churches, they are truly impacting lives for Christ. (end of rant)
Holy Discontent is Hybel’s latest book. Hybels has a gift for challenging people to act. This book is about finding the one thing that bothers you in life and what are you going to do about it. Those are my words but that is what I got out of it. He says a lot of people find something that bothers them and they move away from it. Hybels says we should move towards our Holy Discontent–in fact we should add fuel to it so it burns even stronger. As I was reading this book I knew what my Holy Discontent was/is/ and continues to be.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.
I am truly bothered by the direction our nation is taking. When you look at Europe and see all of the cathedrals that have become museums because no one worships that bothers me. We are only a generation from losing the next generation here in the US. I think the main reason is that church has become legalistic and the emerging generation sees church as irrelevant. This keeps me up at night. It is my obsession. Now, I’ve got to figure out what is next.
I highly recommend Holy Discontent. I give it 4.5 hockey sticks out of 5
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Categories : book review, lee strobel
I just finished reading The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel that Zondervan asked me to review. Strobel was a former atheist who studied law at Yale and was the Legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. Then his wife became a follower of Jesus while attending Willowcreek Church in Chicago. (I’m sure someone will take a pot shot at Willowcreek and Bill Hybels) Strobel began watching how his wife changed and through that he became a Christ-follower and went on staff at Willowcreek and later Saddleback in Orange County, CA. (I’m sure another attack will come for that too) Anyway Strobel has has made a name for himself with these excellent “Case for…” series. I’ve read most of the including The Case for Christ, The Case for Easter, Case for Christmas and others.
This book was written to refute those claims that the church suppressed ancient non-biblical documents that give a more accurate picture of Jesus than the Gospels that are revered by Christians.
- He asks did the church distort the truth about Jesus by tampering with the early New Testament texts?
- Do new discoveries like the Gospel of Judas and Thomas tell us more about the “real” Jesus?
- Do some of these documents disprove the resurrection?
- Have some new discoveries proved that Jesus wasn’t really the messiah?
- Did Christianity “steal” its theology and stories form ancient mythology?
- Is it OK to believe that Jesus is just one way to heaven?
Strobel writes this book like a lawyer would make a case in court. Stobel does give both sides. He states what those who are trying to discredit the Bible are saying and then gives the Christian scholars a chance to refute. He also uses his journalistic skills to interview some of the best minds in the world to discover what the “real” Jesus was like. This is a fantastic book. It took me longer to read than many because it was like a textbook. You can’t skim through this book and really get the meaning. I recommend my friends Ask an Atheist, Francoise, and Geekwad to read this because I think you will be challenged to rethink your beliefs or lack there of.
[I edited my post to add that Strobel does give both sides]
I highly recommend The Case for the Real Jesus and give it 4.75 hockey sticks out of 5.
[BTW] Zondervan—see how much response I’m getting. You need to publish my book that I sent to you in July!