Friday, December 11, 2015

The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend

The co-author of “Boundaries” writes now about, essentially, how to establish boundaries with those with an attitude of entitlement, which Townsend defines as “the belief that I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment.” Townsend maintains that we all, to a greater or lesser extent, struggle with this attitude, at least from time to time. The author carefully lays out a plan for addressing and even solving the problem of entitlement, beginning with a compassionate, relational approach that considers what is best for the person. He encourages us to examine the causes and effects of an attitude of entitlement in others and ourselves. He moves into the process of evaluating motivations to address the problem and then into the change in thought processes that can bring real change. Lastly, Townsend talks about the behavioral changes, such as admitting wrong, facing pain, and taking risks, that lead to fully accepting responsibility and will unhook a person from thinking they deserve special treatment. There are some biblical references and illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, but the book is more practical than theoretical. This was an excellent work and, in reality, another extension of boundary setting and boundary keeping. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program.

Friday, October 16, 2015

7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

This excellent book chronicles the lives and influence of seven great women. While I had heard of five (Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa), the life stories of most were not known to me. I was not familiar with Hannah More or Saint Maria of Paris. Metaxas effectively narrates the early years of all the subjects and then articulates how their lives affected others, from their families to wider circles and then finally to history itself. The accounts are fascinating and thought provoking. It is a book you could pick up agian and again to remind yourself of the importance of faithfulness in things large and small. The introduction itself was intriguing, where the author talks about his choice of subjects. As he considered suggestions, he said, “What struck me as wrong about these suggestions was that they presumed women should somehow be compared to men. But it seemed wrong to view great women in that way. The great men in Seven Men were not measured against women, so why should the women in Seven Women be measured against men? I wondered what was behind this way of seeing things, that women should be defined against men? Or that men and women should even be compared to each other?” It is this honesty and thoughtfulness that flavors this outstanding book, which I highly recommend. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased reviewed through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program. The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler Subtitled, “Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents”, this book half fulfilled its promise. Included are anecdotes about virtually every president since Kennedy with a few vice presidents thrown in for good measure. Few of the accounts will leave you thinking more highly of the subject. It would be well to note that half the book is dedicated to the premise that the Secret Service cuts corners and is mismanaged, a repeated point made in so belabored a way that one wonders if this was not the author’s main goal in writing this book. A typical point is made on page 231, “Much like a car that never gets regular maintenance and oil changes, the seven-thousand-employee Secret Service lurches along until a tragdy like the Kennedy assaination forces it to rectify deficiencies.” Page 248 incudes this statement: “The fact that Secret Service management has a lackadaisical attitude about securtiy and routinely orders agents to cut corners no doubt contributed to the fact that a uniformed officer with a dog thought he could get away with sitting in his van talking on his personal cell phone.” Be forewarned that The First Family Detail seesaws between anecdotes about First Families and haranguing on the deficits of the Secret Service. In my opinion, both subjects would have been better served had they been addressed in different books. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Colson Way by Owen Strachan

This book is about the example and legacy left by Chuck Colson to the Christian community, weaving together the story of Colson’s life and work with the exhortation to particularly young evangelicals to take up the causes and course of action laid out before them by Colson. Chuck Colson’s life was a fascinating one, where a gifted man, through ability and assertiveness rose to the pinnacle of power in the Nixon White House and then crashed to the bottom of the heap by way of Watergate. Colson was imprisoned in on of the most ignominious falls from grace in recent American history. But before Colson went to prison, he heard the gospel and came into a personal relationship with Jesus. After serving his sentence, Colson was called to work with prisoners, bringing the gospel to them. Prison Fellowship began, growing into a global ministry to which Colson dedicated the rest of his life. In addition to this broad calling, Colson deeply believed in what the author describes as engaging in discourse in the public square, defining and defending traditional biblical beliefs. Strachan gives a good summary of Colson’s life and then issues a call, mainly aimed at the millennial generation, to enter into the public square, continuing the discourse. The book is well written, although at times it belabors the summary of Colson’s effectiveness. The last chapter, though, is a masterpiece of writing, a call to arms for this generation to engage with and address current American culture. I would recommend this book to others. It is thought provoking and inspiring. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God by Jep & Jessica Robertson with Susy Flory

Television isn’t something I watch much, so “Duck Dynasty” is something I’d heard of but had never seen, and I was not familiar with any of the Robertson clan. I read this book, which is aptly titled, because the title and description intrigued me. As advertised, the book lays out the lives of Jep and Jessica Robertson with unflinching honesty, and theirs is a very interesting and probably typical story of a young, modern couple. If this book is anything like “Duck Dynasty”, it is easy to understand the appeal because the subjects are very human, sympathetic, and open; their story left me feeling that I really understood them, warts and all. While their openness revealed at times more than I might have wanted to know, it made the story compelling and, in the end, worth the openness. They are very likable, and their journey makes a lot of sense. Both had wonderful childhoods and went through tremendous struggles in their young adulthoods but came through them triumphantly because they came to Jesus and grew fast and strong in their faith, surrounded by supportive family and friends. The transformation of their lives individually and together stands as a testament to the power of God at work today. One mistake slipped by the co-author and editors: on page 82, Jep’s maternal grandmother is said to have died of “sclerosis of the liver”; undoubtedly it should have been “cirrhosis of the liver”. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Printer and the Preacher by Randy Petersen

Subtitled “Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America”, the biography written by Randy Petersen chronicles the lives and influence of two great men. Franklin, of course, is renowned. Whitefield, America’s first great evangelist, is not nearly as well known. Petersen effectively narrates the early years of both subjects and then demonstrates how their lives intertwined, largely due to the fact that Franklin published Whitefield’s sermons. The two men became great friends who influenced and even shaped America as she became a nation. For the most part, the book is well written, but one jarring habit of the author’s will, in my opinion, keep this book from being timeless and classic: Petersen occasionally uses current jargon which is too casual. For example, in talking about Whitefield, Petersen said, “George suddenly had to share his mother’s attention with a new, strange man. That would have been difficult even if Capel Longden turned out to be a good guy.” Chapter titles often use direct or oblique references to modern culture: “Boy, Interrupted”, “Georgia on My Mind”, and “Love, Maybe” were sprinkled among the timeless language used for other chapter titles, such as “The Education of George Whitefield,” “A Better Place”, and “The Awakeners”. This book was interesting, taught me much about Franklin, and introduced me to Whitefield. I would recommend it. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased reviewed through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Soul Friends by Dr. Leslie Parrott

This book said little about friends but much about the journey, about lessons learned from daily incidents. Occasionally arose the topic of the importance of friends, their support, comfort and influence. A better name for the book might have been “Soul Quest,” as the book’s theme seems to be about traveling well through life, mining all that experiences offer to hearts and souls. That said, it was a thought-provoking book about being mindful and intentional in present circumstances, having eyes to see and an open heart, willing hands, and dedicated mind to meet the needs of those around us, even and especially if the people and needs are unconventional. “Soul Friends” is an interesting, well written and personal book, revealing much about the author’s life. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to examine how they spend their time, energy and resources. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh

The author writes openly about the events which led to her hospitalization on a psychiatric ward while hosting The 700 Club in the 1990s. She talks in depth about her mental and emotional state, laying out the thoughts and feelings which brought her to a place where she felt she could not go on. Sheila Walsh describes the helping process provided at the hospital and beyond that brought insight and healing. She talks about her life after the hospital, how she felt and what she did. In chronological order, she lays out the events that brought her forward from major mental illness to fully functioning wife, mother, and women’s ministry leader. Her narration ends mainly in the late 1990s, with a nod toward the Women of Faith ministry she has had since then. The book also provides encouragement to others suffering from depression. It is honest and hopeful. Scripture is referenced often, and biblical principles are emphasized throughout the book. This book was interesting and encouraging. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Sheila Walsh or depression. It is a book I will reread because it is so well written. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman

If you are looking to go from being physically unhealthy to physical health, you probably can find no better book than this to be your guide. It seems sound in its approach and written to gear one toward success. It approaches the subject with a five-pronged approach: faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends, encouraging you in its core chapters to consider each of those factors in becoming successful. Faith means relying on God’s power, not your own willpower, for the changes you seek. One of the longest chapters focuses on food. Simply put, The Daniel Plan, espouses choosing the bulk of your diet from things that grow, avoiding processed and overprocessed foods. This is, on its face, an easy diet to follow. The challenge is that it is so countercultural that it will involve, for most people, a major shift. Fitness is an important component to health, and this book offers a wide range of activity in order to make exercise a natural part of one’s life. Focus concerns your mental attitude, which is to be truth-based, rooted in the Word of God. Friends, this book says, are essential to success in the fight for physical health. Likeminded people will help keep you on track. Biblical principles are sprinkled throughout this book, which presents both the theoretical and practical. It is hard for me to think of a downside to reading and implementing the principles laid out in this book. More than ten years ago, I used this approach to lose weight and ward off impending diabetes. To my knowledge, it was not called The Daniel Plan yet, but it was plant based and avoided processed foods, and it worked and continues to work. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.