I saw this book was up for review on booksneeze.com and I knew immediately that I needed to receive it. I’ve recently become very aware of how much I need the presence in my life of people who have “gone before.”

There is such wisdom in those who have lived a full life and have spent time contemplating it. Reading the name of this book and what it is about, I deeply wanted to read it, and I’m glad I did.

Mondays With My Old Pastor is written by Jose Luis Navajo who is a preacher. He was feeling defeated in his ministry and even tossing around the idea of throwing in the towel. His feelings were not hidden from his wife, so she suggested he visit his old pastor. After having a vivid dream which included the old pastor encouraging him to come to the cross, he set up the first appointment.

They began to meet regularly on Mondays and the old pastor (called that because this man used to pastor the younger man but was now retired) would pour out wisdom and stories to the younger man. Navajo always felt rejuvenated and challenged after his meetings. They met together regularly until the old pastor passed away.

I read through this book with much contemplation. There are so many great lines and teachings from this older pastor. I found myself being rejuvenated and feeling as if I had been right their in their meeting.

I would highly suggest this book to anyone in the ministry. Even if you are not currently feeling like throwing in the towel, this book will be a great resource. I would also encourage the reader to find an older individual who can pour their wisdom out for you and challenge you to continue on the work of the kingdom.

Cheating at Work

January 24, 2012

I just finished reading the book When Work and Family Collide by Andy Stanley. I got this book for free through blogging for books. I was interested in this book because that is a topic we covered quite often in Bible College. The families of ministers often suffer because of the demands of ministry. However, this book was written for all people who may find themselves here.

Andy Stanley starts this book by pointing out that everybody cheats. I’m not sure if he used this phrasing to grab attention but it worked if he did. Life is full of expectations and demands. We have jobs, families, exercise we want to complete, hobbies, house work, school activities, church activities, and the list goes on. However, we only have 24 hours in a day and that is just not enough time to get every little thing done. No matter how hard we try, we will never accomplish it all.

This is where the line “everyone cheats” comes in. He says in order to accomplish what we feel like we need to, we cheat. What he means by that is we do not devote all the time and energy toward something that we could be so we can devote more time and energy toward something else. This is not a bad thing, we have to do it. It is just a matter of where we are cheating and unfortunately most people cheat their families and devote more time to work.

He lists reasons why we cheat our family and devote more time to work. One reason is that the rewards are pretty instant and tangible at work while it takes time to reap the benefit of our family. Also it takes time to see the effects of us cheating at home. So we continue to do it because we convince ourselves that everything is okay.

Now before I go further it is important to point out that Andy Stanley also says it is possible for the spouse who stays home to be cheating as well. She may get caught up in doing tasks at home that her children or husband feels neglected. He may be so focused on a project that she feels second rate.

That is the problem. We may try to convince our families that we have to take this conference call or we have to work 60 hours a week, but when our family feels neglected there is a problem. We may not even be trying to make them feel that way but our actions are showing what is more important and they are picking up on it.

In the last part of the book Stanley helps the reader to form a plan. If we plan out how to stop cheating at home then hopefully we can stop a crisis from happening. No job is worth losing our families! Talk about how both of you are feeling. Discuss ways to cheat at work. In order for her to feel like a priority will you need to be home by 4:30 everyday? In order for him to feel like a priority will you have to stop taking those calls at home? What will it take? At first don’t worry about how it will happen. Just focus on the vision. Think about what needs to change and make a commitment to making it happen.

He then goes through a process for getting your boss on board with this decision and uses the example of Daniel from the Old Testament. Daniel decided he would not  eat the food provided for him by the Babylonians. It was nonnegotiable. He asked for the favor (not demanded), then he listened to his supervisors concerns, and then he asked to set up a test.

I absolutely loved this book! It is a short read but is packed full of helpful advice and stories of those who have dealt with this problem. My family is so important to me. I tell people that it is more important than my job. I believe that it is. But do I live that way? Are my actions telling my family that my job is the most important thing?

I was surprised to read that while starting the church that Andy Stanley preaches at, he decided he would only be as successful as working 45 hours a week would let him be. That is unheard of! He would leave meetings early, leave the office by four, do whatever it took to stick to 45 hours a week so that his family was not being neglected.

I not only want to tell my family that they are the most important but show them as well. If you feel the same way, then you should read this book! If you do not feel the same way you should also read this book and think deeply about it. God has given us a gift through our families. Let’s do what it takes to keep that gift!

In this book, Stephen Mansfield delves into a very popular public figure: Oprah Winfrey. Mansfield understand the very huge impact that Oprah has had on our culture and tries to answer the questions of how she got to be where she is. He looks into her past, telling about her childhood and many of the trials that faced her as she rose to a prominent place on our television sets. He then takes a look at what Oprah believes. Mansfield comes right out in the beginning letting his reader know he is a Christian. He says he will try to be as objective as possible but there may be times when he is not. He does give his opinion completely in italicized sections of the book.

This book was amazing! Oprah has interested me for a long time. I have often wondered why she is so popular and why so many people follow her. “She is just another person just like me,” is often what I thought. After reading this book I have found that her being “just like me” is part of her charm. The book was very informative about what Oprah really believes and Mansfield did a great job at pointing out the flaws and even the dangers in these beliefs. I greatly appreciated that He was not out to attack Oprah and trying to get his reader to hate her. He was out to help the reader understand her more and even to prepare the reader for conversations we may have with those who believe at Oprah does. I would suggest this book to anyone!

I received this book free from Booksneeze.com!

Average Joe by Troy Meeder

September 22, 2011

I just finished reading the book “Average Joe” by Troy Meeder. I got this book for free from http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/.  In this book Meeder attempts to take a look at what it means to be an average Joe and how that life is actually quite rewarding. He begins his book by discussing his definition of an average Joe. When using this term he seems to mean a man who works a blue collar job, not making a whole lot of money, has a wife and maybe a kid or two. His point is that this job is in no way glamorous to the world. He then posses the question of why this life seems so terrible. He argues that it is not and somewhere along the way we have lost sight of what is important. Then he spends the next few chapters writing about average Joes that he has met or has come to greatly admire. The last part of his book he uses stories from his life as an average Joe. He does this again to show how God uses “average” me to do great things for God’s kingdom. He challenges the reader to live our life closer to Jesus.

I had some difficulty getting into this book. It seemed the way Meeder tried to raise up the life of an “average Joe” he downplayed the life of someone who is not so average. It almost seemed as if he had a problem with men who were “well off.” Also, sometimes his definition of an average Joe bothered me, especially in the chapter titled “Soldier.” There is absolutely nothing average about what these brave men and women do. They go up and beyond the call of duty, something found in not many people. Also he said “With names like Mike, Joe, or Bill, these young men are average Joes…”  Does a simple name make an average Joe? I had some problems with the images he used and the way he tried to prove his points. He also got up on his “soap box” a few times and I just wanted him to get to the point. I think the idea of the book is great but I was not completely pleased with how he presented it.