Book Review: What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

What’s the best book that you should read next? I would have to suggest Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. 

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This is the most important productivity book that I have ever read. It approaches productivity from a Christian view in light of eternity and exposes the global mission of the individual.

This introduction offers this thesis:

“The essence of gospel driven productivity is this: we are to use all that we have, in all areas of life, for the good of others, to the glory of God-and that this is the most exciting life. To be gospel driven Christian means to be on the lookout to do good for others to the glory of God, in all areas of life, and to do this with creativity and competence. Further, being gospel driven also means knowing how to get things done so that we can serve others in a way that really helps, in all areas of life, without making ourselves miserable in the process to overload, overwhelmed, and hard to keep up systems.”

Matt Perman doesn’t just give us a philosophy of productivity. He gives us a practical process. Like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, He helps you build an entire productivity system that can be adjusted to suit your personality and work style.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is the author’s use of the Scriptures in proving his productivity philosophy and process. Never have I seen the topic of productivity so closely tied to the Gospel. It is God’s desire for His people to be productive in expanding the Kingdom of God.

Book Review: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Greg McKeown pulled up a chair next to me, looked at my calendar, and read my mail. At least, that is what it felt like. His book met me right where I live. And I would guess that the state that I live in is not so different from the state you live in. The state of panic? The state of overwhelm?

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Okay, it may not be that bad. But we can’t deny the pressures of the fast-paced, high-demand world that we live in. We live in a world with seemingly limitless options. The flood of inputs and possibilities can be paralyzing. If we aren’t paralyzed, then we likely find ourselves caught trying to manage it all.

In EssentialismGreg McKeown gives us an alternative strategy for facing all of life’s demands. He calls it “the disciplined pursuit of less.” It is the art of discerning the trivial many from the vital few. When we give ourselves permission to stop trying to do it all and we stop saying “yes” to everyone, we can make our highest contribution to the things that really matter.

I want to HIGHLY recommend this book. You need the focus that employing it’s strategies will bring. Life is short. Much of what takes our attention means nothing in the end. Time is the one thing that you can never get back. We need to invest it in what is essential.

I also want to add that Greg and his team have done a wonderful job of making this book appealing to the senses. The pictures and diagrams are playful. The texture of the book is amazing. I enjoyed carrying it around. In fact, I should warn you that if you pick up a hard copy of this book, you will have a hard time putting it down.

Book Review: Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell, USMC

At first I was surprised and then a bit embarrassed that I had never known the story of the USS Indianapolis. How many times had I walked past the memorial on the canal walk in Indianapolis without ever taking the time to know what was being memorialized? The story, it turns out, is one of amazing courage and survival.

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On July 30, 1945 the USS Indianapolis was struck by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. Of the 1,196-man crew, only 317 would survive the ordeal. Some men died in the attack, and many more died in the water, succumbing to wounds or being attacked by sharks.

Out of the Depths provides a unique perspective of this tragedy as told by survivor Edgar Harrell, USMC. Mr. Harrell gives us a glimpse into the horror that these men faced while waiting to be rescued. Their courage in the face of adversity is heroic and there is much to be learned as we understand this story as seen through the eyes of a survivor, especially one who saw the hand of God through it all.

This is a short and inspiring read. If you don’t already know this story, you owe it to yourself to read this book. As a pastor and a leader, there is much to draw on here in regards to leadership and sermon illustration. I appreciate the bravery and service of men and women like Edgar Harrell, and I am grateful that he found the courage to relive the story so that we could know and learn from this unforgettable event.

I was provided a copy of this book for free for review by Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions expressed here are mine.

Book Review: The Deeper Life by Daniel Henderson

Every person on earth has a desire to understand their purpose and place in this life. In The Deeper Life Daniel Henderson identifies and explores the “eight vital longings of your soul,” establishing the questions and providing guidelines for arriving at the appropriate answers. Those eight longings expressed in the form of a questions are:

  1. Who Is God? (My Theology)
  2. Who Am I? (My Identity)
  3. Why Am I Here? (My Purpose)
  4. What Really Matters? (My Values)
  5. What Shall I Do? (My Priorities)
  6. How Shall I Do It? (My Goals)
  7. When Shall I Do It? (My Time)
  8. How Will I Finish? (My Legacy)

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This book is divided into two parts. The first part is very informational. Henderson reviews these eight longings, giving guidelines to properly answering each question and guiding the individual to arrive at answers that are uniquely their own. As you read this section you will discover that your theology is the basis of your identity. Your identity is expressed through a clear purpose. Your purpose is guided by values. Your values determine your priorities. Your priorities are implemented by your goals. Your goals are accomplished by your stewardship of time. And all of this, when understood clearly and embraced daily, results in a legacy that really matters.

The second part of the book is very practical. It is the application of all that was learned in parts one. Henderson guides the reader through a series of exercises to answer the eight questions satisfying the eight vital longings of the soul. The combination of information and practical application in this book make it a wonderful read for anyone who struggles to find their identity, understand their purpose, and establish and accomplish their goals. When we prayerfully answer these questions we begin to understand and fulfill our life’s purpose.

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review of the book. All opinions are mine.

Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze

Dave Ramsey has given us another great financial resource for educating ourselves and our families in the basics of financial stewardship. He may even be out-shined this time by his daughter, Rachel Cruze. She delivers sound, practical financial principles in true Ramsey fashion. Dave and Rachel write this book together in a format that makes for a fast-paced, enjoyable read. They deliver practical, age-appropriate tips for teaching your children the importance and practice of financial stewardship based on Biblical principles.

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Each chapter tackles a clearly defined subject:

    • Work
    • Spend
    • Save
    • Give
    • Budgeting
    • Debt
    • College
    • Contentment
    • Family
    • Generational Handoff

All of the practical teaching is peppered with often humorous stories from Rachel’s “growing up” years. And just wait until you read what Dave’s son accomplished with the 401DAVE plan.

I highly recommend you read this book, practice the principles it teaches, and teach them to your kids. If you do, you are certain to change your family tree.

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.”

Book Review: Christian Faith in the Old Testament by Gareth Lee Cockerill

It is fair to say that a majority of the modern Christian’s Bible reading and knowledge comes from the New Testament. We make jokes about getting stuck in Leviticus, falling asleep in Deuteronomy, and sinking into depression in Lamentations. The language of the New Testament is more simple. We can understand the chronology and circumstances with less effort.

However, we must not forget that the Old Testament was the only Bible that the Apostles had to teach and preach from. They didn’t have the Gospels, Acts, Romans, or the other Epistles. They preached Jesus from the Old Testament Scriptures and people were saved. And the Scriptures they used then continue to speak to us today.

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Gareth Lee Cockerill gives us an excellent overview of the Old Testament and how it applies today. His writing, although summary in style, is very engaging. He does an excellent job of drawing modern day application from the Old Testament Scriptures. For those who learn visually, the graphs and charts in this book are amazing! As a Bible teacher and preacher, I found a wealth of content to draw from. And I think you will too!

If you are a pastor, teacher, or if you would like to have a better understanding of how the Old Testament fits together and how it applies to us today, I would highly recommend this book.

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.”

Book Review: Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick

When God’s Words are in your heart, the devil’s lies lose their power over your mind. Crashing the Chatterbox is overpowering the lies of insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement with the promises of God. It is hearing God’s voice above all others.

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In this book, Steven Furtick amplifies the voice of God, specifically focusing on three promises:

  • God Says I Am
  • God Says He Will
  • God Says He Has

When we remember the Word of God concerning our identity, His promise for the future, and His finished work on our behalf, we can begin to walk in victory over the noise that plagues our lives. When we listen to His promises, we forget our problems.

Overall I enjoyed this book and found it helpful both for personal application and, because the author is a great story teller, for sermon fodder. There were two or three chapters that sparked sermon ideas that I am excited to develop. I would suggest this book to anyone who struggles with insecurity, fear, condemnation, or discouragement (is there anyone who doesn’t?) and anyone who ministers to people with these struggles. You will find something here that will help you hear God’s voice above all others.

Caveat: I don’t agree with the all of the theology of this book. Please read prayerfully.

*I received an advanced reading copy of this book for review from Multnomah Books. 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.”

Book Review: Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell

In Awakening Faith, James Stuart Bell has compiled a devotional collection of deeper insights about life and faith. In an age of pithy sayings and catch phrases, we often hunger for something with more substance to challenge our souls. This one year devotional does just that while remaining very readable.

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Each of the three hundred and sixty-six one-page readings is taken from the earliest teachers and writers of Christianity, those widely considered the Church Fathers. While the diligent student will certainly find some discrepancy in doctrines between these Church Fathers and the disciples who pioneered the New Testament Church, he will also find some great nuggets of wisdom and spiritual insight.

If you have ever been interested in studying early Christianity but are not sure where to start, this devotional may offer some insight. It includes writings from over seventy Christians from the first eight decades of Christianity. It also includes a brief biographical sketch of each of these early Christians.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a devotional that is more than feel-good fluff, but truly challenges and inspires the soul.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Priceless Stones by James Revoir

No one just happens across priceless stones. Priceless stones are raw and buried. They must be mined, cleaned, and polished. It’s the best metaphor for my criticism of Mr. Revoir’s book. There are some priceless stones of incredible information in this book. It is evident that the author is very intelligent. However, I had difficulty mining the gems from this work.

It is difficult for me to be critical of anyone who has written a book because I have never undertaken the task. However, it is as a reader and not a fellow-author that I offer my personal review. While I found some of the content of the book, specifically the insights into the Hebrew words, to be very interesting, I found myself struggling to engage with the book.

The book is written, almost in a devotional format. The subtitle is “42 Days of Hebrew Promises for Kingdom Living.” In each chapter, Revoir focuses on a different Hebrew word or phrase and draws present application from the meaning of these ancient words. Each chapter concludes with a prayer, a declaration, and reflective questions.

I would personally rate this book two of five stars. However, if you are looking for a devotional style book and you love to study the Hebrew meaning of words, perhaps you should give it a try. It is my hope that Mr. Revoir continues to spread the Christian faith by every means possible.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

N.D. Wilson is one of the most creative writers that I have had the privilege to read. His mastery of vocabulary and story-telling ability are an absolute pleasure. As I read this book, I was often swept away into the places he described, learning the lessons that he was teaching.

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Death by Living is reminder for some, a revelation for others, that we are both “tiny and massive.” We often tend to think of ourselves as the main actor on center stage when in fact we are but one of a multitude of supporting actors. And despite our insignificance, we have meaning and value because we have been created by the Author.

Wilson says it like this:

We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars. You stand in history with stories stretch in out both behind and before. We should want to live our chapters well, but doing so requires that we know the chapters that led up to us in our time and our moment; it requires that we open our eyes and consciously begin to shape those chapters that are coming after.

Life is a story. We will contribute to the story regardless of how we live. But how?

Hopefully by living for others. By dying to self. By giving rather than hoarding. By making memories for those who come after us and savoring the moments. By living ever moment in gratitude that the Author has both loved us and redeemed us, and has given so much that we can’t possibly hope to count it all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”