How great communicators can SCORRE

Secrets of Dynamic CommunicationIf you’ve ever seen or heard Ken Davis speak, mentioning his name has already brought a smile to your face–he’s a funny guy, and a great communicator. What better person, I suppose, to write a book called Secrets of Dynamic Communication: Prepare with Focus, Deliver with Clarity, Speak with Power.

This is a fantastic book for anyone who desires to communicate well, more specifically those who write and do any sort of public speaking. Being someone who likes to write and speak publicly, I am always looking for good advice as to how to improve my abilities. Continue reading “How great communicators can SCORRE”

Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most by Craig Groeschel [REVIEW]

_240_360_Book.901.coverCraig Groeschel isn’t funny. That’s probably harsh to say about a guy I’ve never met, seeing as how reading such a comment written by someone else towards me would probably hurt my feelings. But I think he knows his jokes are bad–most preachers do. But they still spit punchlines like their paycheque depends on it.

What does that have to do with Groeschel’s new book Fight? Well, if anyone has watched/listened to one of his sermons, you would recognize that he writes in a similar voice. Fight is posed as a book for men, and the general audience target seems to be men married with children–although the content is not exclusive. Groeschel’s basic premise is that all men will have battles that they must fight in life, and God provides the strength we all need to fight like the “warrior” God has made us to be, using the story of Samson in the Bible as an example of everything men should NOT be like.

Maybe I’m simply not the intended target, Continue reading “Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most by Craig Groeschel [REVIEW]”

Heaven is For Real Conversation Kit [REVIEW]

Heaven has to be one of the very few things that people believe exists (far reached from their actual (non-)belief in someone having actually created heaven, let alone earth). It’s a nice idea. It’s a pleasant thought, and somehow makes some the bad times in life that much more endurable–the thought that if your life were to end today, you or some part of “you” would end up in this place people call heaven, usually verbally stated along with a hand gesture pointing towards the sky, perhaps also accompanied by a brief glimpse “up.”

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The big question even for those who joyfully refer to it being “up there” is whether it really does exist. For those who have read their Bibles and trust the words and teaching within it, it is very clear that heaven is a real place where God has “prepared a place” for those who have chosen to accept the gift of salvation provided through Christ’s death and resurrection. Even if you’ve read it in the Bible, you will be left with many questions around Continue reading “Heaven is For Real Conversation Kit [REVIEW]”

Review: “The Gospel According to Jesus” by Chris Seay

People are not good or bad; they are simply broken, and God has either restored them to shalom or is seeking to restore them to shalom. Imagine seeing people as “broken shalom” or “shalom,” rather than good or bad. If you see them in the midst of broken shalom, it does not allow you to look down on them; instead, it calls you to join God in his redemptive work in their lives. What a beautiful privilege. — pg. 148

When I got my hands on Chris Seay’s The Gospel According to Jesus, I anticipated reading another book where an author attempts to write something “new” about God and the Gospel when in reality they end up simply preaching sermons I’ve heard many times on Sundays–nothing new under the sun.

The Gospel According to Jesus may not rewrite Scripture, but Seay certainly makes a good attempt to raise issues of interpretation that have run rampant for years, blurring the Gospel Continue reading “Review: “The Gospel According to Jesus” by Chris Seay”

Review: “You Were Made to Make A Difference” by Max Lucado and Jenna Lucado Bishop

Purpose in life–don’t we all want to know that we have it? Those who aren’t sure of their purpose, may simply float through life. Those who feel they have it, wake up in the morning with a spring in their step, certain that they’re living for something. In the teen version of You Were Made to Make a Difference by Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna Lucado Bishop, they make a strong case for waking up young people to their pre-existing ability to make a difference in the world.

They start off with the basics, inviting the reader into a relationship with Christ and what that actually looks like practically in a world full of distractions, moving towards acknowledging that they can actually do something to have an impact on this world, and ending with stories, examples, and suggestions of what the reader can then do, taking action on what they’ve learned about themselves. It’s a well laid out progression, repeating Continue reading “Review: “You Were Made to Make A Difference” by Max Lucado and Jenna Lucado Bishop”

Review: “Max on Life” by Max Lucado

I’ve read a few books by Max Lucado in the past, and I can see why his writing is so appealing to readers, and why his books and material is in high demand. He’s incredibly insightful, and has an ability to take a difficult theological subject, and describe it in simple layman’s terms, accessible to anybody.

This is likely the reason Lucado has received so many one-off questions throughout his career as a minister and author. People seek out that simplified answer to their problems. And Lucado handles the questions listed one-by-one on each page of this book with minimal ease. Yes, he could likely write a book on each subject that this book and the questions are subdivided into, making the answers short and shallow. But I don’t think the people asking the questions were looking for a 400-page textbook. Continue reading “Review: “Max on Life” by Max Lucado”

My Two Cents: The Last Airbender

So I was hoping to have a post a little more prolific than a movie review to post, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted. But this is what I got.

I watched The Last Airbender last night, written, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. I had heard it was either terrible, or it was just okay. I don’t think Shyamalan is ever going to make another blockbuster like The Sixth Sense again. I don’t think he’s trying… or if he is, he’s doing a terrible job.

To let you know where I stand with Shyamalan, I am THAT guy who actually likes the majority of his movies. The Happening was a bit much for me and just seemed convenient to release a movie where the environment rebels against humanity when environmentalism is so trendy right now. Other than that, I love Signs, The Village, and could watch Lady in the Water repeatedly. Shyamalan creates incredible character development in a movie that all takes place in an apartment building.

So I had high hopes for The Last Airbender, hoping that the few people that were dissatisfied with it were the same folks who didn’t like the movies I’ve just listed. Unfortunately, I did find it to be poorly done. A movie such as this had the potential to become an epic series of movies a la Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

But alas, the whole movie seemed rushed as a great deal of dialogue between characters was handled as voiceovers while the actors moved their lips on screen, instead of really taking the time to develop the story. It seemed like Shyamalan was given a time restriction before the filming even began and he was forced to stick to this. I also didn’t care much for the cinematography given to the many intense fighting scenes. With so many scenes comprising only of people moving their arms and legs around and directing air, water, or fire around with their hands, it doesn’t look that impressive when the angle is from a distance and the scene suddenly becomes a little bald boy in the middle of a crowd that looks like he’s having an epileptic seizure.

All that said, I still plan to buy this movie–senseless I know, after all I’ve just said. The fact is I am a sucker for life lessons, and there are tons of scenes in this movie where the characters are dealing with insecurities and other things that we deal with day to day. There are tons of sermon illustration clips in this film. So it’s a must buy for me for this reason… not for sheer entertainment quality.

All in all, I give The Last Airbender 2 1/2 stars.

Review: “The Boy Who Changed the World” by Andy Andrews

The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews is a wonderful story of how the small things we do and the choices we make day-by-day can have an impact for years to come and on people whom we will likely never meet.

The illustrations are beautiful for kids of any age. However, I found the stories themselves to be at a higher age level than the illustrations themselves would let on. Even reading this book to someone, I think, would be over the heads of children 5 years of age and younger. It easily could have been dumbed-down even further than the original stories to reach a broader reading audience. It’s also heavily Americanized. Perhaps this is the target audience the author intended for; but I recognized many nuances and assumptions within the stories that were particular to an American audience. As noted below, extended versions of each story would help this.

This was a book I was hoping to gift to my 5 year old nephew. I think he will appreciate it, but may not take the point of the story to heart until he is older. But perhaps I am short-changing some kids of that age. These are just my initial thoughts.

I could see this book separated into four books, by the four stories it tells. Each story in and of itself would be fascinating and magical for children to consider and listen to the deeper details of the children’s lives, so that they can further relate with the characters. Creating a series of books would allow for deeper thought to each story, while encouraging reading each book, and ending off with the “big idea” that this book ends off with. I would recommend this book for 5-10 year olds.

Review: “The Butterfly Effect” by Andy Andrews

Let me preclude this review with a disclaimer that I detest “gift” books such as the The Butterfly Effect. They are useless like the little wooden knickknacks my grandmother loves to decorate her house with from ceiling to shag carpet, or the teddy bears who sit on her chairs and couches, taking up any possible seating area for visitors or the occasional friendly cat. Coffee table books, as some choose to call them, can make for a nice gift to a friend “just because” or a pastor at Christmas or a teacher at the end of a school year. But ultimately, if they are read at all, afterwards they sit on a shelf or a side table collecting dust, or hide under the 9-month-old Chatelaine magazine, or show up on the yard sale table of that best friend you gave it to–and never get read.

Ok. Now that I’m off my soap box, with the above in mind, let me say that The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews, was a beautifully laid-out book with a life-changing message to deliver.

It does, however, suffer from its own flaws. What was delivered in 60 pages easily could have been told in 20 or less. (But that’s what you get when you print one sentence per page.) While the message Andrews looks to give is one worth reading and one worth taking to heart, again, the format which the message was delivered, a segmented picture book, takes away from the readability of the stories he tells. Considering I’ve learned the stories from this book are ones he tells on speaking engagements, I can see how such a talk would be uplifting and inspiring. But in this format, it’s lacking.

I also found the book to be somewhat self-serving, repeating what I found in The Boy Who Changed the World, Andrew’s children’s storybook of the same stories: the writing is whole-heartedly, proudly, American. While I can’t knock the feats and accomplishments the people of the USA have attained over hundreds of years, they are less than humble about it–and it’s annoying. While it’s not wrong for Andrews in this book to gush over the USA’s ability to fight WWII in both Europe and the Southern Pacific islands, he seems to celebrate and boast about the sheer population of the States, not the American’s willingness to lend a helping hand to those wrongfully attacked. If he’s proud about the population size of the USA, whoop-dee-doo! This isn’t a big deal in the context of the book; it’s just annoying.

Overall, I’m obviously not the target group of a book such as this, so I digress. I’d rather receive the message Andrews looks to communicate through a simple video, where the passionate emotion of the stories he tells in The Butterfly Effect can be communicated in a way pretty pages cannot do.

I just finished reading Plan B by Pete Wilson, and I wanted to give a few impressions of the book. If I had stars, it would get a 3 1/2 out of five. It was a good book. The first four chapters were a bit slow, and uninteresting. But then there were a few chapters that hit home more with my own life experience.

The book reads like a sermon. Each chapter starts off with a story of someone who has experienced loss, and then Wilson adapts his next point around it. I would recommend the book to those who are seriously doubting their faith in God, as Wilson offers up a lot of hope for those who just aren’t sure.

What I appreciated the most about Plan B is that Wilson doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Instead he reminds the reader of the God whom they serve, and the kind of faithfulness He has shown throughout Scripture, and that we can have that same hope in God, even if things don’t work out as expected.

I would recommend this book to those who are feeling like they have somehow missed plan A and have been forced to move on to plan B.