Book Review: Growing Young

growing-youngGrowing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church  by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin is a book that is great in concept and well researched and has good ideas to help churches target 15-19 year-old people. The sample size of the research is a good sample size and the fact that the researchers used churches of different sizes, demographics, and settings is also a plus for the book.

The difficulty with the book is that the concepts aren’t new and it is hard to say that there was much practical help for churches that don’t have youth programs in place or don’t have a lot of staff on hand to get the book’s suggestions off of the ground.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 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.

 

Book Review: The Raven

the-ravenThe Raven by Mike Nappa was the first of the Coffey & Hill book series that I have read and it left me wanting to go back and read its predecessor, Annabel Lee.

The Raven was easy to read but not simplistic. The plot drove the story but without sacrificing insight into the character development of the main protagonists. The slight (and not so slight) twists in the plot kept the storyline interesting, as did the writing device of having the story told by multiple characters for different chapters. When the same time frame was being covered by two different characters in two different chapters, the reader is left with a greater feeling of depth to the book and to the overall story.

Overall, The Raven is a great book and an engaging read that will create a curiosity for more of the series.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Revell Books through the Revell Reads program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 225  http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Book Review: Unlocking the Bible

unlocking-the-bibleUnlocking the Bible: What It Is, How We Got It, and Why We Can Trust It by Jeff Lasseigne is an interesting book that gives a snapshot of the historic background to the Bible as well as an overview of each book from Genesis to Revelation.  The aforementioned parts of the book are well done in a simple and straightforward manner that are easy to comprehend and easily accessible for any reader.

The middle part of the book takes up the bulk of the pages and it is full of ways to read and teach the Scriptures.  The content of this middle section would have been great if it were as brief as the other two sections of the book, but it tended to bog down the book to the point of almost being an entirely different book in and of itself.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

 

40 x 40 List (Updated 09/10/16)

40I have been challenged by my lovely wife to come up with a 40 by 40 list.  It took a few weeks to complete the list as coming up with 25 items wasn’t that difficult but the last 15 were stretching.

I will periodically update the list and my progress.

Hobbies/Crafts

  1. Finish balsa wood biplane
  2. Basement tools organization system
  3. Go sailing
  4. 1500 blog posts [This is post 895]
  5. Get violin tuned and play the violin [Rebecca got it tuned for our 5 year anniversary & I have started to relearn some old tunes]
  6. 3 DIY projects [Basement organization shelving system]
  7. Categorize and create online list of books/ebooks

Spiritual

  1. Lead 3 people to the Lord
  2. Read Charnock’s 2 volume set
  3. Read Schaff’s 8 volume set [Completed 09/07/2016]
  4. Author/co-author 3 books [Finishing touches of book 1 in process]
  5. Read through the OT 6 more times [4 down]
  6. Read through the NT 12 more times [11 down]
  7. Help plant a new church
  8. Take 4 people all the way through the Oasis/GCA Higher Ground discipleship series

Health/Fitness

16. Compete in a triathalon/dualathalon
17. Complete the Advocare 24 day challenge [Completed January 28, 2015]
18. Complete P90X
19. Complete the Recon Ron pull-up workout routine [Busted up elbow when 75% done; on hiatus right now.]

Food

20. Eat at The Pearl
21. Eat 5 new foods [1. Melt’s Winter Chicken, 2. Bananas Foster, 3. Pesto Chicken Crepe, 4. Beignets, 5. Pork Belly Sandwich]
22. Cook 6 new foods [1. Brie on the grill: Yum.; 2. Orange Spice Chicken: Too Dry; 3. Pan-Seared Tilapia with boiled red potatoes and sauteed green beans: Yum; 4. Greek Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip – Very Good and Very Easy to Make..I added extra garlic to the recipe, 5. Bananas Foster, 6. Pesto Chicken Crepe, 7. My own home brew beer]
23. Participate in a coffee cupping [09/06/14, Wonderful experience through Columbus Food Adventures]

Finances

24. Cut school debt in half
25. Double my retirement savings
26. Increase income to 2.5 times current level on July 18, 2014 (I work in a field that doesn’t pay much, so this isn’t me aiming to be rich) [Going up but not there yet]

Family

27. Become a father [Our son is due on Christmas Day!]
28. See a set of family members no longer unchurched
29. Upgrade my car
30. Upgrade our housing

Travel/Events

31. Go to the beach as an immediate family [Cape Hatteras in June 2016]
32. See Yellowstone National Park
33. Camp out under the stars
34. Go to the Wilds
35. Go Ziplining
36. Go to the Ohio cave/caverns

Professional

37. Become independently licensed as a counselor [June 20, 2016]
38. Lead a counseling workshop [Anxiety Workshop at Arlington Dental Group]
39. Have at least 20 clients a week for at least 4 weeks straight
40. Counsel 300 clients [Past & Current = 163 clients]

A Father’s Prayer

father-handThere is something exciting and terrifying about the prospect of becoming a father. Joyful expectation and dreams of what could be and the joys of caring for a new lovely soul. Trepidation at the knowledge that no amount of reading and observing and planning will ever result in my “being ready” for such an awesome responsibility of caring for someone entrusted to my care by God.

As the due date draws nearer and nearer day by day, the reality and emotions set in deeper and deeper.

While driving home from volunteering at a local community event last night I tuned into a song playing on the radio that captured the feelings and thoughts swirling in my heart and head. The song brought forth a father’s prayer that echoed in my heart and became a voice to my internal prayers.

Be Like You by Finding Favour shines forth the prayer of my heart for my son and my role as a father-to-be. Here are some of the lyrics that resonated in my heart and have been making their way out of my mouth in prayer:

Ten million thoughts running through my mind
One thing’s for sure God I want to get this right

I want to love him like You love me
give him everything I can
I want to live a life that’s holy
and be a better man
You could have chosen any body
but I’m the one You gave him to
If he’s gonna be like me
Then God I want to be like You

Cause their feet are gonna follow
where their father leads them to
so Father won’t You lead me straight to You, to You

And when my life is over
I pray that they will look back
and say they saw a bit of Jesus in their dad

Here is the song in its entirety:

Book Review: Improbable Planet

Improbable Plane: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home by Hugh Ross is a marvelous journey through the story of the development of the Earth told in the language of astrophysics. The author takes the reader step by step through the science of the creation of the world in a way that helps a person understand the awe of the improbability of an animal-inhabitable planet emerging from the chaos of the building blocks of the universe; all while encouraging a deeper study and pursuit of science.

planetWith the last 10% of the book encompassing links to primary scientific articles and well-respected journals, Ross demonstrates his determination to present a solidly scientific book that can be researched and critiqued and validated by anyone who would like to do so. Some may find the science of the book a bit overwhelming, but overall the writing is done so in a way that the reader does not have to be a physicist to understand what is being communicated, but a background in the sciences is certainly helpful when reading Improbable Planet.

As for the Christian nature of the book, Ross doesn’t directly pursue the goal of saying, “God did this” chapter after chapter. Instead, he subtly encourages the reader to not put blind faith in the god of Random Chance but to also consider other possibilities while doing solid scientific study. In the final chapter, “Why We’re Here,” the author explicitly talks about God but is also careful to do so in the following ways:

The preceding chapters describe many new, and some not-so-new, observations concerning Earth’s prehistory and origin and the origin and history of life on Earth – all of which combined to represent a potent challenge to the naturalistic view. I cannot say these observations “prove” in any absolute sense that the biblical God planned and prepared Earth as a home for humans, but what explanation offers a more reasonable assessment of the data? Do we owe our existence at this time and in this place to a nearly infinite web of intricately intertwined coincidences that just happened to all come together of their own accord?

As a vocal advocate for advancing scientific research that yields deeper understanding of nature’s magnificence, I simply want to encourage deep thought and a reasonable evaluation of the data. The Bible tells us that the more we investigate the record of nature, the more evidence we will find of God’s existence, for his handiwork in preparing the natural realm for our benefit, and for his purposeful involvement in our lives (Job 9; 36:22-39:30; Ps. 104) (p221).

This holy book (the Bible) makes sense of what was, what is, and what will be. It anticipates what each generation of humanity, including our own, needs to know in order to discover our origin and fulfill our destiny. It identifies a reasonable Source for nature and nature’s laws, as well as for humans and their capabilities – including the compulsion to reason. Just as importantly, it identifies the ultimate aim of the created realm…All of God’s works of creation are in the context of his greater works of redemption (pp 225-226).

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 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.

Book Review: Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes

ecclesisatesExalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes (Christ-Centered Exposition) by Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin is a superbly written examination of Solomon’s exposition on the vanity of life “under the sun.”

The authors stay true to the context of the book (and its rather depressing content due to its examination of an earth-centered worldview) while also demonstrating how Ecclesiastes points its reader to lift their eyes unto the heavens and ultimately to Christ as the one in whom all fulfillment in found.

An excellent point made through the exposition of the Old Testament book is the way Solomon points the reader to God giving much on this earth for pleasure, but how those pleasures are not ends unto themselves (which only leads to vanity) but shadows of the true eternal soul-satisfying enjoyment found in Jesus.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B& H Publishing Group through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 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.