What Keeps You Up at Night? -Pete Wilson – Book Review

A Good Read for Sleepers and Non-Sleepers Alike

I expected this book to have a fairly narrow purpose, namely addressing things that worry us and how to deal with them. Being fairly young, and having had a fairly non-tumultous life thus far, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just a good overall read for the believer on how to do life well – whether you’re going through a valley or not. And of course, valleys will come. There’s likely a lot of great advice in this book for you whether you feel your life is going great, or about to come off the rails.

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Pete has a way of writing things in an encouraging, but not over-the-top manner. Early in the book Wilson writes: “One of the things I hope to convince you of in this book is that the object is not learning to fear less; it’s learning to trust God more.” I think that statement is a great way to summarize Pete’s heartbeat behind this book. In a lot of ways What Keeps You Up at Night is a book about God, not us. And that’s what makes it so good and worthwhile reading. There’s a lot of meat and truth in here.

The content is Biblical and excellent, and the presentation was well written, including stories and illustrations with a great personality behind it. The book doesn’t get the 5th star as I didn’t find the book as engaging to me as I would’ve liked. It’s good, just not 5 star fantastic. It’s still a very great book to get your hands on, whether you’re a worrier or not. You might just have to take it slow as you work your way through it.

I received a complementary review copy of this work courtesy of the publisher and the BookLook Blogging Program.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

What Keeps You Up at Night? -Pete Wilson – Book Review

The Complete 101 Collection (John Maxwell) Book Review

Jam-cram-packed with gold. This book is so simple, yet so helpful. It’s chuck-full of useful advice for those who not only want to be a better leader, but even just a more effective, more productive, better human being. This was my first exposure to Maxwell, and I can see why he’s such a popular authority on leadership. The book is a breeze to read, and super easy to comprehend. It’s a lot of common sense. But, as we know, common sense isn’t always as common as we’d like to think. This book is very straight to the point without fluff and filler. The concepts are easy to understand, but there are so many things in here to work on over the course of a lifetime.

This book contains a lot of great advice to help me be both a better employee and manager at my job, as well as things that can help me as a layperson at my church with my various responsibilities. Don’t not read this job just because you don’t view yourself as a “boss”. I am quite certain you can find a lot of super-useful, challenging material to help you grow!

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I did a lot of underlining in this book. It’s a book that could be read over and over again with much usefulness gleaned from each read. It’s great too because it covers a wide variety of topics. While it is certainly a big book, it’s a lot shorter than reading 8 full length books!

I enjoyed John’s writing style. He uses a lot of little stories and examples which put some skin on his ideas. There are a lot of relevant quotes from various great men and women. I know some people are quite put off by Maxwell’s statements of faith splattered throughout this work. Personally, I do not find him very preachy at all, and as a Christian myself would’ve liked to see Jesus clearly held up as the undisputed best thing that could ever happen to anyone. That is basically my only criticism of this book. For those wishing John would remove the ‘religious theme’ from this book, you are asking him remove something that is a foundational part of who and why he is what he is.

This book won’t just help make you a better leader, it’ll help you make more of the life you’ve been given. 5 stars. Go read it.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and BookLook Bloggers.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

The Complete 101 Collection (John Maxwell) Book Review

Scary Close (Donald Miller) Book Review

What makes Donald Miller such a popular author? As evidenced in this book it’s numerous things. He’s just a plain ol’ exceptionally gifted writer. He’s a master story teller. He’s raw yet graceful with his words. He comes across as an extremely down-to-earth, humble, honest guy. He’s real. What he has to say is birthed out of experience so it doesn’t feel like he’s talking down at you. He isn’t preachy. He has his own scars, struggles, and weaknesses. It’s beautiful, and I’m grateful that he’s brave enough to share.

This isn’t a ten steps to being great at relationships book. As I mentioned, Donald is a story teller. Scary Close chronicles his own journey learning, growing, making mistakes, humiliation, and working to overcome his weaknesses becoming a better relational human being.

It’s an easy read, and one that should easily keep your attention. It’ll entertain you and make you think.

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For some of the gold of this book, here are some highlight worthy quotes:

“It’s true: if we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.”

“We don’t think of our flaws as the glue that binds us to the people we love, but they are. Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.”

“It’s a beautiful moment when somebody wakes up to this reality, when they realize God created them so other people could enjoy them, not just endure them.”

The book loses one star for the fact that coming from a Christian author I would’ve liked to see a clear explanation of the Gospel. He talks about God and Jesus, but I think he should’ve done a better job of talking about why Jesus matters. While the content of this book is good, it could’ve gone deeper. Love is great, marriage is awesome. Communication is good. Authenticity is important. But Jesus is better. Without him none of the other things matter.

This is a book about authenticity. And Donald models it so well. As he says: ““How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?”

Recommended read. No fluff, no filler. Just a solid, solid book. I’m looking forward to my next Donald Miller read.

I received a complimentary review copy courtesy of Booklook Bloggers and the publisher.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

Scary Close (Donald Miller) Book Review

Ordinary (Tony Merida) Book Review

First of all, to me, the cover art of this book is borderline horrible. If you like it, great. If you don’t: quick open the book and start reading it anyways.

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I found this book a fantastic challenge. It looks at what people’s lives who claim to love Jesus and be all about the Gospel should really look like practically. I think the message here is very much needed in our present day where there are some Christians extremely worried about social justice, yet overlooking Biblical orthodoxy, and on the other side believers who are big on doctrine and yet all their proper theology isn’t seeming to result in a life that closely mirrors Jesus’. To Tony it’s not an either or. It’s both. We need correct doctrine. We need good teaching. We need to study the Bible well. We need to love the Gospel. And, as a response to what God has done for us: we need to help the poor. We need to be hospitable people. We should be helping the orphans. We should be freeing the oppressed. We should be speaking for those without a voice. Our faith without works is a dead faith.

While the book is a kick in the pants to help motivate you, it is done in a loving manner. Tony isn’t writing with a harsh, judgemental tone. Tony doesn’t beat around the bush, he’s very clear and easy to follow. He says hard things, but he doesn’t come across as arrogant or a jerk. The different chapters cover different topics, so you don’t feel like your being beat over the head with the same hammer all book. All the chapters are convincing and challenging.

If you’re looking for “you need to sell your house, move to Africa, and adopt 9 kids, this book isn’t that. If you’re looking for reassurance that you can just keep on living your comfortable (selfish) life, than this book won’t make you feel good about yourself either (but you definitely should read it!). To me, it seems very well grounded in scripture.

I found Tony to have convincing, convicting arguments presented in a Gospel-soaked manner. He’s calling Jesus-followers to rise up and live their life for others, to live a life marked by love.

One of the huge challenges for us today is “why do we spend so much time looking at what Jesus said, and so little time looking at how he lived his life?”

This isn’t a save yourself book. It’s not self-help. It’s not an angry guilt trip. I believe it’s a picture of what we should look like as we become more and more overcome with the Gospel.

The narration of the audiobook version is great. I did notice a mistake (I think) near the end of the book where God is described as “Meditating”. I’m pretty sure it should’ve been “Mediating” but I haven’t seen the print version to compare. Definitely not a game breaker. Very easy to listen to. I think the fact that I was able to stay quite engaged while listening to the book while working speaks to the fact of this being a well written book well worthy of your attention.

I found this book a great challenge, and I highly recommend you check it out as well.

I received a complimentary review copy of the audiobook version of this book courtesy of http://www.christianaudio.com

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

Ordinary (Tony Merida) Book Review

The Drop Box Film – Documentary Review

The Drop Box is a heart-rending documentary filled with both beauty and horror. For myself, it’s the kind of movie I’d honestly rather just not see – not because it’s poorly done or boring, it’s hard to watch because the movie is about some pretty terrible things that shake you. This is not something you watch to be entertained. It’s something to watch to help you realize again how broken this world is and how desperately Christians need to get busy loving people.

Watch this documentary to be challenged by a man’s love for unwanted, unloved babies. Watch him live out his faith. Watch him give his faith legs and make it work. It’s an amazing story. It will make you uncomfortable. It should make you evaluate your own life and the level of sacrifice and selfishness which are manifesting themselves in your own life. For those coming from strong homes it will help you see once again how blessed you are.

The documentary is well done. The camera work is solid. Although the feel is very heavy, there thankfully are bright spots in the film. There are smiles.

The movie itself brings up the issue of concern with what Pastor Lee Jong-rak is doing. Is he enabling parents to just abandon their babies, or is he rescuing babies who would’ve otherwise need neglected to die on the street?

Most of the speaking is in Korean, so almost all of the conversation has to be read in the subtitles. You might get used to this, you might not. What this does is helps to give the film a in-the-trenches feel. The movie is raw and real. See it for yourself.

Very well done and highly recommended. Tremendous story.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

I received a complimentary advance viewing of this film courtesy of Nuts About Books by Graf-Martin Communications.

The Drop Box Film – Documentary Review

Life is ______. by Judah Smith (Book Review)

Classic Judah Smith

If you’re familiar with Judah’s preaching, you’ll be able to hear his voice all over this book. He writes like he talks. In this book, as in his preaching, he is extremely accessible and has a gift for sharing wisdom in a very non-academic manner. Will he may seem very simple, I think that part of his brilliance is the ability to teach in a way that anyone can understand. Judah’s personality and attempts at humour may come across as over-the-top to some. I don’t know what to say about that other than this: he is Judah, deal with it.

What I find inspiring from Judah’s work is his love for Jesus and life. He’s one excited man full of energy. This book is no exception. There are numerous, simple, underline-worthy things waiting for you in this book. This can probably be both and blessing and a curse, but Judah has a very-confrontational vibe. It’s good because it makes him very accessible to the masses, but on the flip side he seems a little soft, as if he might might not be willing he is to call out sin when it needs to be called out. It seems as if his style just ruffles my legalistic feathers.

Just before writing this review I saw a post from Judah promoting the book with this quote from the book: “God wants our lives to be awesome in every way.” A statement like this sets off some prosperity Gospel warning bells, so read with caution and discernment. I don’t remember reading this statement in the book, so I can’t place its context, but the fact that he is using this sentence in isolation would indicate to me that he doesn’t feel the need to clarify his statement. When Bieber and Gomez endorse a Christian book, it makes me wrinkle my brow a bit. But after reading through the book I can say that I think it’s a very beneficial read that strives to push you towards a more abundant life lived closer to Jesus.

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Here are a few quote-worthy lines from the book that jumped out to me:

If we live by the law, we die by the law. If our whole focus is how much we can do for God… rather than how much he does for us and how much he loves us – eventually we’ll find ourselves in a pity party apart from the cross.”

The answer to many of our problems is simple: it’s thinking about Jesus more than ourselves.”

Grace plays offence.”

We access the abundant life by giving up control”.

And lastly, a good insight into the way I believe Judah tries to do with his whole life:

Might I suggest that we be slow to criticize and critique and quick to celebrate what God is doing in people’s lives?”

I think it’s a good book for people across a wide spectrum in their walk, whether it’s someone who’s exploring Christianity wondering what it’s about, or for the seasoned believer whose walk with Jesus has been running on the dry side.

Thanks Judah for the encouragement. You’re more like Jesus than I am in so many ways.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book courtesy of Booklook Bloggers.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars.

Life is ______. by Judah Smith (Book Review)

How to Set Up/Configure the Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 & M5 to Share an Internet Connection

Recently, I purchased two Ubiquiti Nanostation M2’s to beam internet from my workplace to my home. It’s about a 1.1km distance, without direct line of sight.  I’m estimating there are around 7 tree tops in the way. Right now it’s winter so there aren’t leaves on the trees, but for the month or so I’ve been using these satellites, they’ve been killer. I’m so happy with their performance. At work, the internet clocks at around 36mbps download, at home I’m getting around 22mbps up. Not bad considering I’m going through some trees. The connection has been super solid. I’m very pleased. That being said, the point of this blog wasn’t so much to review these antennas as to help ordinary people like myself set them up. The information is available online, I just couldn’t find everything I needed in one place so i thought I’d try to compile some of the more important/difficult-to-find things that I learned right here. Let’s get started. First of all: you’ll need to buy 2. They do not come in pairs. To be safe I purchased mine from Ubiquiti’s Canadian website http://www.ubnt.ca. Know this: there are different models of the Nanostation. The Nanostation M2 and M5 are the newer models. There are also Loco M2&M5’s available for a bit less money/a bit less performance. I went with the M2. Why? Keep reading.

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M2 vs M5?

A quick search will help you here. Basically, if you’re going through trees (like I did) you want the M2. The M2 uses 2.4gHz, the M5 uses 5.8gHz. 2.4gHz goes through stuff better. Each frequency has their pros and cons. If you have a great line of site get the M5, if you don’t – go with the M2. Please note, if you’re trying to blast through a forest, you’ll probably be really disappointed. I know I can get through about 7 tree tops and still get a pretty solid signal. How many trees/walls will be too many? There are a lot of variables and you might just have to give it a try.

CLARIFYING THE TERMINOLOGY BEFORE WE GET STARTED INSTALLATION

Access Point: This is the antenna that gets plugged into the internet source that you are sharing. In my case, my workplace.

Station: This is where you are sending your connection to. In my case, my home.

CONFIGURING THE NANOSTATION

Ubiquiti has a pretty good youtube tutorial here on what to do to setup your Nanostations. Watch it here, do what he says, and see my notes below. I got a ton out of this video, and basically did what he said, but there was one big thing missing from the demonstration that caused me a lot of frustration.

You need to change your internet settings to setup/tweak the antennas. When you’re done, you need to go back to your old settings You need to change your ethernet settings from using DHCP to a static IP address (the video above demos a mac, pc’s are different but not difficult) in order to set up the Nanostations. After you have configured both antennas you need to change your computer back to using DHCP. Very important! This detail is missing from the video and was one of the biggest issues I faced. The Nanostations were seeing each other, but I couldn’t connect to the internet. The reason? DHCP wasn’t enabled. To connect to the internet, you will need DHCP enabled. To connect to your Nanostations, you have to momentarily switch your computer to a static IP address. Why? I don’t really know – I’m not all that techie. But that’s the way things work. Now, if for some reason I’d need to connect to my Nanostations to adjust/monitor something here’s what I’d need to do: 1. Change my mac’s IP address from DHCP to a static IP. I use 192.168.1.50. Change the Subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 2. Enter the IP of the antenna of choice into my web browser. For my Station Point (my house) it’s 192.168.1.160. For my Access Point (workplace) it’s 192.168.1.159 3. Log in. Do my thing… 4. Change my internet back to DHCP. 5. Enjoy your internet.

MY FINAL BIG PROBLEMS?
PLUGGING MY NEW INTERNET INTO MY ROUTER

When I plugged my Cat5e cable directly into my computer, the internet worked great. However, when I plugged it into my D-Link router it wouldn’t work. The fix turned out to be so easy. Instead of plugging in the “Internet In” port it just has to go in one of the (in my case 4) outgoing ports.

At this point I thought I was all set, but there was one more issue at work after my weekend setup. Some computers were having issues connecting to the internet there. What was going on? My router at home was conflicting with my work’s router (the access point). Basically both routers were trying to be the boss, and it wasn’t working well.What was the solution? Log in to your router and:

1. Disable DHCP
2. Give your router an IP that isn’t used by anything else.

After this, no more problems. I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys work once there are leaves on the trees (mostly because it means it’ll be warm outside).

Hopefully this helps some people, use the comments for any other set up tips you may have. Cheers!

***** UPDATE (over one year later) *****
This setup has been working incredibly. It exceeded my expectations. It’s basically rock solid – set and forget. I have not had to tinker with settings, reboot the router to reconnect, it doesn’t drop the connection, it doesn’t lag  etc. Sun, rain, wind, snow, leaves, bare trees, leafy tree, hot and cold. It just works, day in and day out. It’s a beast of an antenna. Highly recommended!

How to Set Up/Configure the Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 & M5 to Share an Internet Connection