Leaders Who Bring Life to Their Teams

18 09 2018

9780735290945If you are going to be the president of an organization that exists “to unify and equip leaders who love the Church” then you might want to know a thing or two about leadership.  Tyler Reagin, President of Catalyst, has taken on the subject in his newest book entitled The Life Giving Leader:  Learning to Lead from Your Truest Self, published by Waterbrook.

Reagin has had the opportunity of sitting under the leadership of Andy Stanley and has been influenced greatly by some of the leading leaders in the world including Craig Groeschel, who wrote one of the two forwards (the other is written by Andy Stanley).

Reagin unashamedly approaches leadership from a Christian perspective and encourages Christians to embrace their lives as leaders in this book.

His premise in this book is that we should breathe life into the people that we lead and spends the entirety of this book showing how that can be accomplished.  He encourages us to not see people as an interruption to our day but rather that they are our day.

I appreciated his words on self-awareness, something that I have struggled with in the past.  There have been plenty words spilt on awareness so I was happy to read discussion on this topic.

He ends his book with a discussion on a leaders call to sweat, sacrifice, surrender, and serve.  I found these chapters convicting and helpful.

Reagin in my opinion does a great job of balancing hard work with the need for down time and family.  He sets an example to his own team in this area.

All in all I believe that this is going to be a helpful book for those who wish to lead.  It certainly will go well with this year’s Catalyst theme:  Fully Alive.

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I honestly liked the book.  You will too.


One of My Favorites…an Encouragement to Those Who Suffer

13 03 2018

556456I have never text as many quotes from a book to anyone but as I read Kiss the Wave:  Embracing God in Your Trials written by Dave Furman and published by Crossway, I could help sending those messages to my wife.  You see my wife suffers from chronic pain and fatigue.  Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Lupus has not only taken a toll on her physically, but mentally and spiritually.  Dave Furman, pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, suffers from a nerve ailment that leaves him in severe pain and the inability to properly use his hands.  When Dave wrote this book he did so from a life of experience.  The result was one of the most powerful books that I’ve ever read on the subject of suffering and the Christian’s response to it.  I can’t recommend this read enough.

The book’s title comes from a quote from Charles Spurgeon where he said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”  Spurgeon knew pain and depression.   He didn’t just sling those words out.  He knew the waves.  Dave Furman knows the waves as well.  Both Spurgeon and Furman are not asking you to just try harder in painful times, but rather learn to embrace God in the midst of the suffering.

The author seeks to help you embrace God by offering up the following chapters:

  • He Can Surf Any Wave – a look at the Mark passage where Jesus walks on the water where Jesus reveals His character to his disciples.
  • He Is Our Refuge – an encouragement to see God’s presence in the midst of our times of suffering and the value that recognition brings.
  • The Ultimate Rescue Mission – a view of the implications of Christ coming to this earth as a baby and how that should sustain us in our pain.
  • The Greatest Exchange in All of History – a look into the crucifixion, the fact that Christ took our place, and the magnificent grace of God that has been shown us. What effect does this have on us in our times of suffering?
  • God Is Not Dead – what does the resurrection of Jesus promise us? What hope do we have because of this promise?
  • Look, I Am Your Father – a look into the fact that God has adopted us and what it means to be His child when we suffer.
  • He Really Knows Every Hair on Your Head – a call to meditate on the fact that you are known by God and why we shouldn’t search out a cheap substitute for that fact here on this earth.
  • The Waves Have a Glorious Purpose – a look at John 15 and the pruning process. What purpose might God have when He prunes us?
  • Weakness Is Always the Way – a study of why we should glory in our weakness and how God uses it.
  • You Are a Part of Christ’s Body – a wonderful study of how even the weak parts of the body are necessary in the Body of Christ.
  • The Wave Maker Will Carry You to Shore – a reminder that even in our darkest moments that God never loses us and that we can persevere.
  • Extreme Makeover – a call to look to our future where God has prepared for us a permanent home and new bodies.
  • Heaven Is for Real – a reminder to us that heaven is on the way and that we are able to live in light of eternity while struggling in moments of pain here on this earth.

Here is a cool video with him discussing the book: 

Seeing my own wife struggle with pain regularly may have caused me to read this book with greater intensity, but the truth is that I found it to be a great source of encouragement.  Do you know somebody that is struggling?  Order this book for them.  Please it in their hands.  They need the truth that this book, which is based on the Word of God, will bring.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Marriage is Worth the Fight

21 02 2018

Imagine being a fly on the wall of a Christian couple as they battle to have what they call a gospel saturated marriage.  Imagine walking with them through their fights, their times of suffering, their struggles with sin, and their victories.  That is what you get in D.A. and Elicia Horton’s newest work entitled Enter the Ring:  fighting together for a gospel-saturated marriage.

D. 512b-d58LUL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A. Horton serves as Pastor of Reach Fellowship, a church plant in North Long Beach, CA and as Chief Evangelist for the Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI). He is the author of three previous books before taking on this project with his wife. This is Elicia Horton’s first book, and apart from being married to D.A. and raising 3 children, she travels the country teaching and encouraging others through rap and poetry.  Both bring a wealth of experience and Biblical training to the writing of this book.

In this book the Hortons definitely do not come out of their ivory tower to teach us about marriage.  They truly take you on a journey through some of their ugliest and most painful parts of their marriage to show the reader the sufficiency of Christ in the life of a believer and his/her marriage.  They call for a gospel-saturated marriage and life in this book, a life that the gospel’s content and implications affect every part of the life and marriage.

The Hortons take us down different roads with each chapter.  In the first two chapters you see what Christian oneness looks like in a marriage and get solid advice on the importance of communication in the marriage and how to get to what they call Level 1 communication.  I must tell you that some of the sections on communication are hilarious as they give us a look into their own struggles.

Their chapter on going the distance gives practical advice on leading your marriage through times of suffering and pain.  Just as you found yourself laughing with the Hortons in chapter 3, you will find yourself feeling their pain in chapter 4.

The Hortons turn more to the Scriptures in their fifth chapter as they go in-depth into the role of husbands, wives, and parents according to the Scriptures.

In the next chapter they take up the subject of purity before and during the marriage.  You get to see the Hortons in very vulnerable spots in this chapter.  The story of the day when D.A. accidently posted an admission to looking at porn publicly when he meant to do it privately made for some interesting reading.

They finish the book off by taking an honest look at the pressures of finance.  We get to learn from their mistakes and also learn from their journey to freedom.  I absolutely loved what they learned while at Summit Church with J.D. Greear.  They even give a sample budget to start a couple off on their journey to financial freedom.

Their final chapter is a Scriptural discussion on what a Gospel saturated life looks like.

A section that I almost didn’t read was the Epilogue, but I’m certainly glad I did because there they address those who are unmarried.  It certainly made me think how I view them and how I’ve misused them in the past in our ministry.  That may be my favorite part of the book.

All in all I enjoyed the book.  I appreciated how the two authors bounced back and forth with their sections.  You get to see their teaching from both points of view.  I believe this will be a great read for a couple getting married or recently married.

I was presented a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review.

When a Guy Reads a Book for Women

14 02 2018

I know what you are thinking.  Why is a guy reading a book intended for women?  Good question!  I’m married to a woman.  I’m the father of one.  I pastor a slew of them.  That is why I was glad to read the newest book from author Kayla Aimee51MKQnwd4kL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ entitled In Bloom:  Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence published by B & H.

As my daughter, who is now 19 and is attending college, was growing up I often wondered about the battles that were going on in the heart of a young girl.  As she struggled with insecurity and life, I often thought to myself that what she needs to do is be resilient and strong.  I don’t think that I quite understood the pain that she was facing.

In this book Kayla Aimee chronicles her own life and struggles.  Through the art of excellent storytelling, she takes us on a journey into her own life, a journey that she admits leaves her vulnerable and exposed.  Her greatest fear is that her dad might read the chapter on sex.  Through her journey you see the struggles of a teen, a young single adult, a wife, and a young mother.  You also see her applying God’s Word to her life.  You learn about mercy, grace, friendship, and empathy.  This book has allowed me to appreciate the journey of ladies all around me.

I think that the author is a great story teller who is able to bring you into her life.  Once again I’m not a lady, but I have seen one after another speak of how they related to her struggles.  I believe that this book is going to be a blessing to the women who read it.

Since we are all better together, the author has given you discussion questions in the back of the book so that a group of ladies could journey through this book as a group.  I’m thankful to be a part of the team who helped launch this book.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

A Different Look at the Disciplines

12 02 2018

41WQr4W89ML._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_I will never forget how one of my favorite books on spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life written by Donald Whitney, begins with the story of a young boy who is transported by an angel to Carnegie Hall where he is allowed to observe a future view of himself. In this future view, he effortlessly plays the guitar with great precision only to be told that that could be him if only he would practice.  In the words of Donald Whitney, “Discipline without direction is drudgery.”

Philip Nation, author of Habits for our Holiness:  How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send us Out, published by Moody Press, goes even a step further in his book on these disciplines in that he concludes that they are not just to make us holy, but also to make us ready for His mission.  Spiritual disciplines, according to Nation, don’t just allow us to have greater intimacy with God, but they have a missional purpose in them where they make an impact in the lives of the people we encounter.  I love how he makes that next step in this book showing us how to make it missional.  I don’t recall seeing that in other books on discipline that I have encountered.  The author is also very intentional to show in his book that love is the key.  His first chapter is all about this.  He wants us to love Him for Who He is and for our lives to reflect that love.  That theme of love is strung all throughout his book.  This is definitely more than a book of a list of things that we must do as Christians.

One of the characteristics that I believe makes this book on disciplines unique is the fact that it first gives you instruction concerning tackling a specific discipline alone; then it gives you instruction on how to do it with others.  He shows how togetherness brings a whole new dimension to the discipline.

Another characteristic of this book that I appreciated is how the author takes each discipline and shows how bringing this into your life would cause you to rely on God.  He shows you where your idols are.  He shows you how these disciplines cause you to trust God, trust His goodness, trust His sufficiency, and trust His love.

I believe that the chapter on fasting may just be worth the whole book.  Nations does a tremendous job of helping you understand the discipline and the true motivation behind it.  I found his words very convicting and convincing that this is something that I need in my life now.  I will be pulling this book back off of the shelf just to reread this section of the book.

I appreciated how he ends the book talking about the discipline of leadership and disciple making.  As his subtitle suggests, these disciplines are not just meant to grow us up but send us out.  At the end of the book he said, “It is time for you to live out the spiritual disciplines with love as the centerpiece and mission as the result.”  Love and mission.  That is one of the reasons I recommend this book.

This book is not your typical book on spiritual discipline.  If you have read the classics like Foster and Whitney, you will appreciate Nation’s fresh take.  I truly do recommend it for your consideration.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

Asking the Right Questions

19 01 2018

How important it is that when you are reading Scripture to step back and ask the right things.  It is not how much Scripture you read, but how much of the Scripture do you get into your mind and heart.  Asking questions as you read the Word is so helpful.  Get a journal, read a passage, and ask these six questions.

Habits 1

What Are You Planting?

16 01 2018

My quiet time this morning is in Hosea 10.  In that chapter it reads:  Hosea 10:12-13 (ESV) 12  Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. 13  You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors,

fallowIsrael had sown into their lives the wrong things and because of that they had gotten themselves into a mess.  It made me think about what am I sowing into my own life.  In verse 12 He calls for them to instead sow righteousness and that they would reap steadfast love.  God just wants us to love Him.  He just wants our love.  He has been so very good to us.  He has been generous to us.  Why wouldn’t we do that?  He calls them to break up the fallow ground and seek the LORD.

In our world of social media it is so easy to see people planting the wrong things into their lives and getting the same results as always.  I’m like, “Well there they go again.”  There has never been a sin that has done a single good thing for anyone but yet we continue to plant the same seeds and we continue to get the same results.  We get a huge mess.  We get marital and family difficulties.  We get unhappiness and misery.  We get what we have planted.

Why not try something different?  Why not break up the hardened fallow ground of your heart today and seek the LORD.  Plant something different in your life and watch the results.  Seek your Creator God!  Seek the one who has redeemed you or is able to redeem you.  He knows what is best for you and me.  So take the plow today and break up the ground.  Seek Him.  Get into His Word.  Pray to Him!