Jul 26, 2011

Enemies of the Heart - A Book Review

Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control YouRecently I received a copy of Andy Stanley's new book Enemies of the Heart to review.  This is an updated release of a previous book by Stanley called "It Came From Within".  While I had never read the previous release, I had used the DVD of Andy's sermons on this subject in my small group a couple of years ago.  This was one of the most helpful series of sermons I had ever seen.  Stanley's premise of the book is helping Christians to break free from four deadly emotions that we can inadvertently give control to our lives over.  These four emotions are guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy.  Stanley does an awesome job in this book showing the dangerous effects of these four emotions on the human heart and how destructive they can be to our relationships.

Andy Stanley is a masterful communicator and it shows in this book.  It was developed from a power series of sermons he did on these topics several years ago.  He writes with the heart of a pastor and the wisdom of someone who has walked through these four emotions with a lot of people.  As you read through this book, you can relate to the stories that Stanley shows about the deadly effects of harboring these four emotions.  Stanley also provides very solid, practical advice on a cure.  He shows how each of these emotions can be cured by intentional decisions on our part to release ourselves from their power.  The book is supported throughout by a smattering of Scriptures.  One of the weaknesses of the book is that it is not strong in biblical exposition.  I wish that Andy would do a better job of pointing readers to the sufficiency of God's word and the wealth of wisdom it provides for each of these areas.  There are times where the book reads a little too much like a Christian "self-help" book, something that there is far too much of in the Christian retailing market.  However, while the book has some Scriptural weakness, none of the principles that Stanley suggests are unbiblical.  He draws much of his information from Scriptural principles and years of experience walking through these subjects as a pastor.  As I read this book I found myself several times wishing I had this advice much earlier in my life.  I also had a mental list of at least a dozen people I know that would benefit from reading this book right now.  At the end of the day, Enemies of the Heart is a great book of practical advice that should be followed up by a diet of God's word to help solidify its principles into the new heart of salvation.

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

Jul 18, 2011

Thoughts from Staycation

Most every year my family joins my in-laws for a vacation.  Our destination of choice has usually been Panama City Beach, FL.  This year however, we decided to do a "Stay-cation" at my in-laws house in the metropolis of Decatur, AL.  It's free lodging and they have a pool!  We spent most everyday swimming, hanging around watching TV, and interspersed some shopping trips and movie trips in between.  Basically it was everything we would do at the beach minus the hot sand that sticks to your feet.  We saved lots of money and still had some great memories.  Here were a few pluses from staycation.
  1. Money - It was a lot less expensive and we used some of the money we saved to eat good and go to the movies.  It was nice not having to shell out $1500 for a condo.  It was also nice not to have to constantly say "Do we have enough money for that?"
  2. Memories - We built some great memories that didn't revolve around the same tourist hype we usually have to deal with.  We also made time each day for a family devotion where each member had the opportunity to share their testimony. 
  3. Less Hassle - We didn't have to deal with beach road traffic, long waits at the restaurant, trying to scope out a lounge chair at the pool, or crowding 8 people in a condo.  We didn't have to worry about swimming in a pool with other people we didn't know doing things we didn't know. 
Overall, it was a great deal and one we will probably do again.  (Did I mention my in-laws have a pool?)

Jul 8, 2011

What's on my reading list...

I'm headed out Sunday for a week of vacation with the family.  We're going to see my in-laws in Decatur, AL - basically because we have no money and going to Gran-Gran and Papa's means free lodging and a pool!  I hope to get some serious reading in this week.  Here is a list of the books I am taking with me.  I won't finish all of them, but I don't know which ones I will read first.

John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock by Iain Murray - John MacArthur is one of my ministry heroes.  I actually started this book last week and hope to have it finished soon.

Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath - An answer to some of the "new athiests."  I got this book free to review for my blog.

Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley - another book I got free to review for my blog.  I love Andy Stanley's teaching.  I actually used the small group DVD for this book with my home group in Birmingham when it was called "It Came From Within."

Erasing Hell by Francis Chan - This is Chan's much-awaited response to some of the controversy stirred up by Rob Bell's book "Love Wins".

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz - This one was recommended to me by my friend Jason.  Fascinating story about some changes Starbucks made a few years ago.

The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation by Jay Elliott - a behind the scenes look at the leadership of Steve Jobs by a guy who worked beside him for many years.

These are a few of the books I hope to get read soon.  What's on your current reading list?

Jul 7, 2011

C J Mahaney is taking a "leave of absence"

One of the men that I have had the privilege of connecting to his ministry in the last 5 years or so is C. J. Mahaney.  C.J. is one of the founding pastors of Covenant Life Church outside Washington, D.C.  He led that fellowship for 27 years before handing the reigns to Joshua Harris.  C.J. also helped to start Sovereign Grace Ministries which is a network of like-minded leaders who are committed to establishing gospel-centered churches. 

I have heard C.J. speak personally on a couple of occasions and listened to him online speak at several conferences with godly, gospel-centered men such as Al Mohler, John MacArthur, John Piper, and Mark Dever.  He has shown a strong commitment to biblical exposition and sound theology.  C.J. has written some excellent books including The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing and Humility: True Greatness.  Every time I have read C.J. or heard him speak I am impressed with his graciousness and humility. 

Below is a post from C.J. about his recent decision to take a leave of absence from Sovereign Grace.  As you read this, you will get a sense of the humility and godliness that mark this servant of God.  Be praying for C.J. as he walks this journey over the next few months. 

C.J. Mahaney "Why I Am Taking a Leave of Absence"

My apologies for my absence...

Ok. Let me first admit that my blogging in the last few months has been weak at best.  I have had several blog topics in mind, but ministry responsibilities and the distractions from other things on the internet have often caused me to neglect any writing.  Nevertheless, I am going to try to post more often and post things that are pertinent to my life, my leadership, and my developing theology and missiology.  I am not ruling out the occasional gloat about MS State football or Red Sox baseball or the occasional "I hate the Yankees" post. 

I know that this attention to my blog will be good news to the 8 or so of you who most often read my blog.  I hope that my neglect hasn't caused you severe discomfort and if it has, please accept my apology.  My hope is that posting more often might actually increase my readership.  At any rate, it will give me an outlet to express my thoughts and hopefully keep me better connected to my friends who are interested in what I have to say.  If you get a chance, post a comment every once in a while to let me know you are reading and what you think.