Monday, December 17, 2012

TWO STARS: One church’s journey, but not all

This is a book about the success journey of one mega church—Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas (

Author and Pastor Robert Morris outlines in five sections what he believes it takes for a church to be successful:
1. A vision
2. Church shepherds
3. Church leaders
4. Church government
5.Church culture

As a pastor, I particularly found the church shepherd’s section valuable.  Morris also includes helpful reminder chapters that church leaders need to do like keeping the Sabbath and not putting one’s family on the back burner.

But while there were a few tasty morsels found throughout the book, I finished feeling underfed.  This book is not a “how-to” book, so it doesn’t give detailed instructions on how to grow your church but rather tells Gateway’s story and their principles.  Also, the section on church government did not apply to me as I belong to a denomination that already has a “church government” in place and does not have the freedom to create its own like Gateway does.  So that whole section was not very useful.  Additionally, I missed throughout the book talk of female leadership at his church.  After doing some research on the internet I discovered the church’s position paper on women in leadership says that while women are welcome to serve in ministry, they are not to hold position of Senior Pastor or Elder.  This may explain the lack of women mentioned.  Since I am a female pastor, I found this unfortunate.

While there were some things I found useful and highlighted in the book, overall after reading I felt undernourished.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this unbiased review.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Radio Theater a treat!

REVIEW: Oliver Twist by Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre

I am huge reader, but I humbly admit that I had never read Oliver Twist.  Besides never reading it, I have never really listened to a book on CD.  But, I decided to give a book on CD a shot and very pleasantly surprised!

I say: “Well done, Focus on the Family!”

This was no ordinary book on CD, but rather a full-cast audio dramatization of the story.  As I listened to the CDs in my car, there were times I did not want my trip to end because I wanted to hear more of the story.  The Charles Dicken’s classic Oliver Twist is a story about a boy whose mother dies while giving birth to him, and thus he becomes an orphan.  Oliver unfortunately endures horrendous trials and ordeals throughout his life.  But glory to God there is redemption.

Focus on the Family did a masterful job putting this five CD disk set together (as well as a behind-the-scenes DVD).  The characters come to life through their amazing vocalizations.  I knew right away when someone started speaking which character was talking.  They embodied their roles.  The audio dramatization was not just voices, though.  There was also intense filler noises that set the scene perfectly like dogs barking, carriage rides, and so much more.  This CD helped the story come alive and created a movie my imagination.

While this was my first book on CD, after this wonderful experience, it will not be my last!
I encourage everyone to turn back to a simpler time of the 1940s when family radio theater was popular and experience Oliver Twist.

To learn more, visit Focus on the Family Radio Theatre at

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this CD set for an unbiased review.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Greater is grrreeeaaaat!

REVIEW: Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God’s Vision For Your Life. 
By Steven Furtick

Greater is grrreeeaaaat!

This is my first book read by author and Pastor Steven Furtick, and I look forward to reading more. 

While this book is serious in nature—about how we as Christians should be seeking the greatness God has for us—it is filled with well-written humor!  There were many times I was reading and just burst out laughing.  My husband kept asking: “What are you reading that is making you laugh so much?”  It is good reminder that yes, Christians can have a sense of humor.

The book is centered on the life of the Old Testament prophet Elisha.  Furtick does a superb job of taking the stories of Elisha found in Scripture, exegeting them so the everyday person can make sense of them, and then tying them back in to our lives today.  He does what any good pastor would do: proves that Scripture is alive and well today and isn’t just stories of the past that have no connection to us today.

Furtick makes many good points in the book as I can attest to with stars, underlying, and notes all over the pages.  It is a book I plan to go back to and not just forget.This book is worth it! 

It will encourage you to be more like Elisha—to go where God is calling you to go and do what God is calling you to do.  When you do that, it will not just be good or great, but GREATER!

For more information on the book and some free resources, visit 

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Mulnomah Publishing Group for this unbiased review. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planning to check out Unstoppable

There is a brand new book coming out in a few weeks that I am looking forward to reading… Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic.  If you don’t know who Nick is, he is an inspiration!

I already one of Nick’s books Life Without Limits last year (you can read my review of that book at

For this newest book, be sure to check out the short video about Nick, and you will see what I mean about him being an inspiration:

And you can even read the first chapter of the upcoming book at  I like what he says so far in this chapter…it is about putting faith into action and never passing up an opportunity to share your faith in Jesus with someone else (you will need to read the first chapter about the heart wrenching regret Nick has with Felipe).

So check it out.  I plan to!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Useful, beginning, step-by-step book about becoming a Christian investor

REVIEW: The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time by Joel C. Rosenberg and Dr. T.E. Koshy

As a pastor, I have a heart for discipleship.  So, I was excited to get my hands on this book.  This is a practical manual on how to be a Christian disciple and disciple others.

Authors Joel C. Rosenberg and Dr. T.E. Koshy point to key figures throughout Scripture who had mentors who discipled them, and in turn, they discipled others—for example Jethro who mentored Moses and Moses who then mentored Joshua, Elisha who was discipled by Elijah, Jesus who mentored his twelve disciples, and Paul who discipled Timothy who then discipled other faithful followers and so on.

Discipleship is in the Christian tradition, in the Christian blood.  It is something we are called to do.  The authors sound that alert that today, though, we seem more interested in spreading the Christian message far and wide (which indeed is something we are called to do), but we lack in leading people into a deeper walk with Christ and do not truly disciple and train followers.  While we of course cannot disciple everyone, the authors say we as Christians are each called to disciple a few (a small group around us), just as Christ did.

The book walks through defining discipleship, how to be a disciple, following Jesus’ discipleship model, how to prayerfully choose who will disciple you, how to get started discipling others, and how to track your progress with a discipleship checklist.

If you are a pastor, lay leader, or mature Christian who seeks to disciple others, or if you are someone who seeks to be discipled by a mature Christian, this is a useful, beginning, step-by-step book about how to go through the process.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an unbiased review.

To learn more, you can download the first chapter at -

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not a traditional book on marriage

REVIEW: ALTARED: The True Story of a SHE, a HE, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up about WE  by Claire & Eli

Caution: This is not a traditional book on marriage. 

Actually it is a pioneering look at marriage which contemplates and reflects on the prominence marriage seems to receive by many Christians and churches today.

The book is written by Claire and Eli (their pseudonyms) because they said they wanted to preserve the mystery of their own story as well as not wanting the story to be about them.

The book is half a love story of Claire and Eli and their relationship, and the other half is a biblical look at marriage and singleness.  Their main point seems to stress that true love is not only found in marriage, but it should be found in all relationships.  We should not limit our stress of love in just marriage relationships.

Claire and Eli say our society should not be so marriage-centered but rather loved-centered.  I appreciate that concept, and as a married woman, it made me reflect about the single people in my life.  I also valued their inclusion of Scripture and Christian tradition by quotes by John Wesley, Oswald Chambers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Augustine, and more.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this unbiased review.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Great reference tool!

REVIEW: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

I am so grateful to have read this book and have it on my shelf.  My church recently did an End Times Bible study and I wish I had this book earlier, because it would have been a wonderful resource!

Author Mark Hitchcock does a great job of organizing the book into 14 distinct parts and 39 chapters. (The book itself is 504 pages.)  He also includes wonderful tables and graphics throughout which helps to summarize the main points he is addressing, and at the end he offers a proposed chronology of the End Times.  It is quite impressive!

I appreciated Hitchcock’s easily comprehendible definitions of hard to explain topics like the various millennial and rapture views, the 144,000, Mark of the Beast, and more.  His writing makes hard topics easy to grasp and this makes the book more reader-friendly.

While Hitchcock does a fair job noting that there are many different end times prophecy views and theories, he is not shy about saying that he holds a futurist, premillennial viewpoint.  So be prepared when reading if you do not agree with that view. 

He does, though, note that although there are differences in the views, he believes there are three nonnegotiables in Christian Bible prophecy—the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, the bodily resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment of all people.  So while you might disagree with his view, he is OK with that and does a decent job at giving explanations and reasons for each view and theory that are different from his own.

This book is well worth the read and a great resource and tool to have on hand.  I am certain I will go back to it time and time again.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

To learn more, visit the author’s website -

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Emotional story of a true tender warrior

REVIEW: Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm

“Hoorah” to Eric Blehm for this honest, authentic account of the life of American hero Adam Brown.

Through brilliant, captivating writing, Blehm shares Adam’s story—a story of redemption and hope.  It is the type of story that changes a reader.  It is the type of story that causes one to question and ponder how he or she is living his/her own life.  It is the type of story that can bring conversion.

Adam admittedly didn’t always lead a Christian life, but God rescued him and in doing that, Adam saved lives, but more importantly, saved souls.

Adam was a true soldier, a tender warrior.  He leaned on Scripture and prayer for support and strength and believed God called him to help the helpless and oppressed by serving in the military and protecting and defending the weak and defenseless.

One Easter, Adam was in the heat of battle and some men were killed.  Adam said his heart was heavy because on the morning of the Savior’s resurrection he had slain men that were destined for hell.  Another soldier asked Adam how he could be a soldier and still be religious.  Adam answered: “One, I’m spiritual, not religious.  And two, I can’t believe you can do what we do and not be.”  That is the theme song of the book—how one soldier followed God’s calling upon his life, lived the Christian life, and in doing so gave away his life for others. 

I am thankful that this story has been told.  
“Hoorah,” Adam Brown.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good summer read about perseverance and faith


REVIEW: The Fourth Fisherman: How Three Mexican Fishermen Who Came Back from the Dead Changed My Life and Saved My Marriage by Joe Kissack

This book was an honest, raw look at the life of Joe Kissack, a former television executive who facilitated the syndication of such shows as Mad About You, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Seinfeld (my personal all-time favorite show!).

In this book, Kissack cracks open his life and shares his addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs and how it took a toll on his family.  But, by the grace of God, Kissack was saved from himself and found faith.

Once Kissack became a Christian, he learned of the story of five Mexican fisherman who were lost at sea for 10 months and drifted near 6,000 miles to Australia.  Kissack felt God called him to tell their story.  Their story is astonishing and harrowing where only three of the fisherman survived.  They lived on raw fish, turtle blood, rainwater, and most importantly their faith in God.  The fisherman believed it was only by the grace of God they were saved. 

In the book, Kissack weaves his own personal story in with the story of the surviving fisherman because Kissack believes he is the “fourth fisherman”—because just as God rescued them, God rescued him too.

If you a want to read a story about perseverance and faith, this might just may be the perfect summer read for you.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Powerful rebuttal to atheists on evil and suffering

FIVE STARS REVIEW: GODforsaken by Dinesh D’Souza

This book is compelling! It offers a Christian solution to why evil and suffering happen in the world. The happenstance of me reading this was an ordained “such-a-time-as-this” event given the recent tornadoes and destruction that occurred not too far from my home in Indiana.

D’Souza is a masterful writer and superb debater. Throughout the book he shows the case and arguments atheists have given for evil and suffering in the world, then flips their reasoning on its heads and offers biblical teaching of why things are like they are. One of my favorite chapters is “Acts of God: The Reason for Earthquakes.” In this chapter he talks about how we owe our existence to plate tectonic and how earthquakes are actually vital to enable and sustain life on earth. One geochemist he quotes as saying: “They type of geological process that caused the earthquakes and the tsunami is an essential characteristic of earth.” Looking at the facts like this was amazing and eye-opening. Thus, D’Souza said complaining about earthquakes would be like complaining about the sun. While the sun can cause heat stroke and cancer, we couldn't survive without it.

This isn’t the same old book on evil and suffering. D’Souza has taken the Christian apology to a whole new level. I have highlighted many sections throughout the book. It is a resource I plan to use again and again when someone asks why bad things happen. I agree with most everything in the book, and I enjoyed when he used John Wesley as an example a few times (kudos!). But there are a few areas I disagree with. D’Souza believes in a very old earth and was a bit too Calvinistic on his view of heaven. The benefits of the book, however, outweigh the critique, and I would highly recommend the book to pastors and other ministry leaders.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

You can download the first chapter at

Visit the author’s website -

Monday, March 19, 2012

Can I become a "Googler?"

REVIEW: VIRAL: How Social Networking is Poised to Igniteby Leonard Sweet

I am a Gutenberger treading lightly into the world of Googlers. If that statement didn’t make any sense, you need to read VIRAL: How Social Networking is Poised to Ignite Revival.

In this book, Leonard Sweet paints a picture of how the Church needs to change with the times and learn from the Googlers. See, Googlers are the ones who fluently speak the language of Twitter, Google, iPhones, and Facebook. Gutenbergers prefer the “old school” way—real books they can hold in their hands. (That’s me!) No matter who is right, this Googler generation shows that with all their use of technology and the way in which they utilize it, they seek pure relationships. They want to talk about their lives and hear about the lives of others. The Church is all about relationships, too, or it should be. Sweet says there is then a way to mesh the old with the new because Jesus’ message is still relevant today—still relevant to Googlers.

Sweet is an excellent writer and had some valuable illustrations. The book is aimed toward a Gutenberger (and there are quizzes throughout it to see if you if you are a Googlers or a Gutenberger) to show that in today’s world the Church needs to adapt if it is going to reach the Googlers, the current generation. At the end of each chapter are some interactive questions to consider—something that could be used with a church staff perhaps.

I really liked the idea and the concept of the book and was drawn to it, yet I ended reading the book wanting more. For me, a person in active ministry, I wish the book had more of a practical section that would have been like a “10-step” program or plan of how a pastor and/or Church could move from being a Gutenberger into the Googler world. That is why I ranked it a three.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A full-throttle adventure!

REVIEW: Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson

This is the fourth Mark Batterson book I have read and loved! That may make me a Mark Batterson groupie at this point.

I always have to purchase a new highlighter with each Batterson book I read because it has so much good stuff in it!

This book is all about the Wild Goose, which is what the Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit. “Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed,” Batterson writes. Thus, one must chase the Wild Goose and go on an adventure in doing so. Batterson says that boredom is just plain wrong for Christians, and that we should be full of life and have a sense of quest tattooed on our souls.

Throughout the book, Batterson takes readers on a journey with other biblical figures—some who did and some who did not chase the Wild Goose—like the rich young ruler, Nehemiah, Peter, Zacchaeus, the good Samaritan, Sarah, Jonathan, and more. What Batterson does masterfully is take well-known Bible stories and cause you to think about them in a new way. For example in the book Batterson talks about altars and how they remind us of what God doesn’t want us to forget. They give us a sacred place to go back to. Altars, Batterson says, renews our faith by reminding us of the faithfulness of God and every once in a while we need to go back to those sacred places to celebrate what God has done and renew our covenant with Him. So Batterson asks, “Did Zacchaeus ever take his grandchildren back to climb the sycamore tree where he caught his first glimpse of Jesus?” What an awesome question I never even considered. That defining moment in Zacchaeus’ life was life changing—so did he ever go back there and visit the spot where his life changed forever?

The book is separated into six cages that keep us from roaming free with the Wild Goose and living the spiritual adventure God destines us to—Cage of Responsibility, Cage of Routine, Cage of Assumptions, Cage of Guilt, Cage of failure, and Cage of Fear. This book is a must read for those seeking to get rid of boredom in the Christian walk and seek adventure!

Go ahead and read chapter one -

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

For more information on the book, check out

Check out Mark Batterson’s website - and his bio at

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don’t Resign From Reading This Book!

FIVE STARS REVIEW: The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing To Be The Church’s Backbone? by Jim Henderson
This book has been beneficial to me as a pastor.

If you are in ministry and want to read a book that will help you understand the “backbone” of the church, read this book. If you are someone who is interested in women in ministry, read this book.

Author Jim Henderson shows that “if women walked out the door, the church would be in grave trouble” (p. 238). He backs that up by stating that researcher George Barna calls women “the backbone of activity in the typical conventional church” and provides a deluge of statistics.

What is sincere and earnest about this book is not the data and figures, but rather the personal stories of women and their relationship to the Church that Henderson has meticulously collected and
organized. As a female pastor, I found the stories informational, eye-opening, and some even heart-wrenching. Some women have resigned to leave the Church because of how they have been treated or not allowed to use their leadership talents and abilities in which they believe God has gifted them.

Reading this book has made me even more aware of the value of women’s voices in the church and a reminder that everyone is gifted. Women are important to God, so women should also be important to the Church. It is our role as pastors and those in ministry to help each person—women and men alike—live into those giftings so that they may further the Gospel mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

You can download the first chapter at

Friday, January 20, 2012

I didn’t want the meal to end!

FIVE STARS: REVIEW OF Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Every night for a week, I had dinner with Jesus. Even though this is a short book, I wanted to take it slow so that I could savor every course of the meal. Every night, I would sit down and read a chapter and be swept away in a hearty dinner with Jesus. It doesn’t get better than that!

This parable-like story is about how a normal guy, Nick Cominsky, who receives an invitation to dine with Jesus. Nick is enticed by the offer and in the end receives more than an exquisite meal.

I was a skeptic at first thinking that the book was going to be really theologically “light,” but actually found that it covered some deep insights that almost everyone seems to ask such as: What about other religions, are they true, too? How good do you have to be to get into heaven? Is the Bible really reliable?

This book is perfect for new Christians, those asking questions concerning what Christianity is all about, as well as long-time Christians who just want to imagine what it might be like to sit down and have dinner with the Savior of the World!

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dare to be Uncommon

FIVE STAR REVIEW: The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy

I don’t know about you, but next year I want to lead an Uncommon Life. And this book will help you do just that.

bout two years ago, I read Indianapolis Colt’s former coach Tony Dungy’s book Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance. In that book, he urges readers to lead an “uncommon” life and writes in his introduction: “At the end of the day, I’m sure of one thing: accumulating stuff and women and titles and money are wrong keys. Fitting in, following the crowd, and being common are not what we’re supposed to do. There’s more in store for us.”

Indeed, there is mor
e in store for us as Christians. A true Christian is uncommon, because they are holy. When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior through salvation, we become holy and separated from the world—set apart for a special use. We become uncommon.

This year, I am going to dare to be even more uncommon and as a pastor, urge my congregations to be more uncommon as well. To help me with that I will dive into this wonderful resource—Dungy’s newest book,
The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. It gets people into the
Word of God each day and reflects on Jesus in a practical, down-to-earth kind of way. Each devotion focuses on one of seven themes, each theme repeating every seven days: Core, Family, Friends, Potential, Mission, Influence, and Faith. Each devotion starts with Scripture (which for me has to be the foundation), and then Dungy interprets the verse or often shares a story from his life correlating to the verse. Some are about his wife and family and some are about football and coaching. Each one-page daily devotion ends with an “Uncommon Key” for you to ponder throughout the day. For example, on November 30 the “Uncommon Key” is, “Ask God where He would like you to be busy today. When you enter into and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, allow Him to determine the areas where He wants you to be involved the most.”

I am suggesting that Jesus is calling us to be busy reading God’s Word this year. It is a Christian’s nourishment. This devotion is set up in a way that it can be started any time of the year, so if you are just now thinking about getting it, don’t say, “Well, the year has started, forget it.” No, start today and endure. Dungy in
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance quotes Cal Stoll, his football coach at the University of Minnesota: “[He] often told us, ‘Success is uncommon, therefore not to be enjoyed by the common man. I’m looking for uncommon people.’”

Be uncommon, and in doing so, enjoy the victory of being set apart for God!

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. (Visit for more information)


*Watch Tony Dungy's video about the book at

*Check out Tony Dungy's website at


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