Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Take Your Best Shot by Austin Gutwein

This is the story of Austin Gutwein, an adolescent who, in 2004 as a nine year old, felt moved by God to do something to help AIDS orphans in Africa. A conversation with a staff member from the relief organization World Vision crystallized Austin’s desire and gave him direction through one simple question: “What do you like to do?” Austin had a passion for basketball, even though he wasn’t very good at it. He decided to have the equivalent of a personal walkathon, a free-throw marathon called Hoops for Hope. His idea caught fire, and thousands of these are now held in a many countries, raising millions of dollars for Africa.

Austin tells his story in a very thoughtful, engaging way, with a fresh approach to some old ideas. His word picture of “expiring milk” to describe the fact that everything but people and the Word of God will perish is brilliant. Skillfully woven into this book are two themes: Austin’s story and how your story, whatever it is, can be used by God in good ways, even if they are small ways. Austin even makes the point that God is big on small, secret ways.

Take Your Best Shot is both interesting and challenging. Each chapter is followed by better-than-usual thought-provoking questions. Biblical truth is well presented.

Take Your Best Shot is aimed toward a younger audience, but it has something beneficial to say to everyone. At the least, it shows what can happen when one young boy gives his all to God, not unlike the young boy with the loaves and fishes in the Gospels.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah

In the midst of a world that seems to move faster and faster in a downward spiral, how is a Christian to manage well? Dr. Jeremiah offers sound, basic comforts from the Word of God which also serve as challenges to one's character and growth. The author expounds on our ability to stay calm, compassionate, constructive, challenged, connected, centered, confident, consistent, committed, and convinced when life is hard, whether situationally or relationally.

While this is a very basic book with little new to challenge the mature believer, the author makes some fresh points. An example is his description of what diligence produces—stability, vitality, and reality—and the results of a lack of diligence—a lack of spiritual power, perception, and privilege. Dr. Jeremiah speaks simply and deeply, at times holding old concepts in a new light, such as defining vitality as “abundant mental and physical energy,” demonstrating how those can be characteristic of godly people no matter their age.

This book serves as either a good primer for a new believer wondering what difference Christ can make and as a good reminder for a seasoned believer who may want to “gird up their loins”, in the words of the KJV, for what appear to be tough times ahead.

I recommend this book, as it conveys biblical truth about being secure in Christ in a difficult time.