It’s Not What You Think – Jefferson Bethke (Book Review)

This is a worthwhile read. You can learn more about the Bible, as well as God and yourself. Bethke tackles numerous different subjects (as seen in the chapter titles) that Christians have had wrong ideas about. The title of the book is an umberella for him to talk about a wide variety of subjects compliled into one book.There perhaps isn’t a lot of cohesiveness between some of the different subject matters as it jumps from a topic like ‘where is the kingdom of God’ to the significance of eating at a table, but that being said, each chapter has good thoughts so a bit of randomness is forgivable .

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The book is well written and enjoyable, but I didn’t have any problem setting it down, and it actually took me a long period of time to get it completed, for what that’s worth to you.

Bethke’s writing style includes a lot of talking about the Bible, sharing wisdom from other authors, and he has some stories from his own life (and he’s willing to talk about his shortcomings).

If you’re an underlining/highlighting kind of reader you shouldn’t have any problem finding things that you want to take note of. There are quite of bit of good nuggets here for you.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

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It’s Not What You Think – Jefferson Bethke (Book Review)

Book Review – Dairy of a Jackwagon (Tim Hawkins)

Dairy of a Jackwagon is a great read if you love sarcastic humour – this book is full of it. You will also likely find this book funnier if you have seen Tim performing. If you can get a visual of Tim telling the joke and what expressions he might be using I think you’ll be more likely to find the jokes funny.

I’m not overly familiar with Tim Hawkins, although I have seen many of his videos. I definitely recognized some of the jokes, so if you’ve seen every Hawkins video out there you will probably run into a ton of duplicate content.

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Tim’s humour is clean, and with typical funnyman creativity that makes you (or at least me) curious as to what all goes through his head throughout a day. He has a gift at seeing the funny in the everyday things. He also has some good insights into Christianity and Christians, although they definitely don’t feel like the focus of the book, and even when they are there Tim isn’t forceful about it. It’s a very light read. You can definitely read this book in small chunks and be able to pick it up much later without really missing anything as the book doesn’t have an underlying plot – it moves around from topic to topic.

There are definitely some great humour in here, I tried reading this in bed one night, it did not help me fall asleep, I was laughing out loud. While not all the book is over the top funny there were numerous jokes that had me LOL’ing and I just had to share with my wife.

As others have said, video or live is the preferred method of experiencing Tim Hawkins, but the book is still a great experience for readers with a sarcastic sense of humour, or die hard fans. There is also a audiobook version of this book, read by Tim himself. I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure that’d be fantastic.

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

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

Book Review – Dairy of a Jackwagon (Tim Hawkins)

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

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

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)

Jesus Continued by J.D. Greear (Book Review)

Fantastic, Practical Book

If you think reading this book on the Holy Spirit is going to be mostly unhelpful and irrelevant to your Christian life, think again. There is a lot of meat here. This isn’t a book of cute ideas and theories, it’s the real deal. I was struck by how broad a scope of topics the book covered. I think this speaks to the quality of this book – the Holy Spirit should impact all of how we do life, not just a crazy experience once in a blue moon.

The book is very enjoyable, JD is a great author. He comes across as a very likeable, humble guy (with a great sense of humour) who is passionately serving a big God. He is good at saying profound things in a very understandable, to-the-point manner.

My favourite chapter was probably chapter 8, Experiencing the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. While it may sound old hat, there were some great thoughts especially related to discerning God’s will for our lives.

jesuscontI also value JD’s advice to be humble and teachable even when we feel we are being led by the Holy Spirit. “Never claim the authority of God on your words, even if you feel convinced the Holy Spirit might be speaking through you. Prophetic speech in our day never carries the authority or certainty of Scripture, no matter whom it is from. Never.”

I really feel that JD has a very solid, biblical understanding on the Holy Spirit and how He relates to us. If Jesus said that it’s better for us to have the Holy Spirit than Jesus at our side, we should really pay attention. If you want to find out why having the Spirit inside you is so important, read this book.

Highly, highly recommended.

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

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

Jesus Continued by J.D. Greear (Book Review)