Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not the Jolt I Was Expecting book Review: Jolt, by Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke lists 25 jolts for us to follow in his book “JOLT: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing”. The basic premise of the book is that the world is changing and organizations have to change and adapt if they are going to survive. In order to help organizations and churches, and to some extent even individuals do that, he’s put together a list of 25 jump-starters, or as he calls them, jolts.

I didn’t see any jolt that couldn’t help, but most of them I’ve heard before. There were some gems hidden among his explanations, expansions, and variations on a theme, and I definitely recognized some things that would be helpful for the church where I serve if we could learn to embrace them.

I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style, and I think it’s because I didn’t quite get who the target audience was. As I said earlier the jolts can apply to a wide variety of organizations, levels of management, and even individuals; however a CEO, a first line supervisor and the person who wants to get out of a rut and better his life, sometimes need to hear the message in different ways.

There are some ‘jolts’ I want to try, but this book wasn’t quite as electrifying as I had hoped it would be.

Four of five stars

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for writing the review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hotdogs and the Gospel

A few weeks ago we decided that weather permitting we would start holding our monthly PRAYZE meeting outside in May, weather permitting. It was warm and windy and Sunday, cloudy and cool on Monday, and it poured on Tuesday-- until about 3 pm; even after we got to the church there was some question as to whether we would be outside or inside. The sun was shining so we opted for outside.

When we meet inside the church, we pray, we sing, and we have a bible study, but outside, well things are different. We make lemonade, cook hotdogs on the grill, and get to meet our neighbors. It’s different every time we do this, and last night Kassidy played her guitar and Nolan brought out the keyboard (hit a button and it plays a song) but he also played a little.

We wander around talking to people, and explain to them that God has blessed us as individuals and as a church, and so we want to bless others. My ‘instructions’ to the group that shows up are simple: everyone that we talk to, at the very least, needs to be invited to attend church on Sunday. Sometimes we get to share a bit more of the gospel message, other times not so much, but we’re planting seeds.

You’re right, most of them don’t come, but at least we’ve made the offer, and to be honest, some of the people we talk to are already attending another church, and I’m not really interested in being a shepherd that steals from someone else’s flock.

And along the way there are some surprises: last night a gentleman showed up and said that he’d been gone from here for about six years, but he remembered me, and wondered if I was still going to the Ogden Rescue Mission…(yes we are- most months on the 4th Thursday Nolan and I are there)

So we get to hang out and have a good time; some hungry people get something to eat; and along the way we get to proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord.
 Anybody want a hotdog?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teach your child (or an adult) to pray

“This Little Prayer of Mine” by Anthony DeStefano is a delightful prayer in poem. This could easily become a favorite bedtime book of any child.

Teaching children how to pray can be difficult but I think that DeStefano has nailed it with this book. He includes some elements which many adults should include in their prayers. Help me to be generous, love me forever, help me do the things I should be doing, and forgive me when I don’t. This prayer model touches on things that impact kids, but also adults…

This book belongs in every church ‘s elementary Sunday school library, and would make a great gift for parents or grandparents who read to their small children.

Five stars!

I received a review copy free from the publisher in return for an unbiased review.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Elephants vs rabbits: small is the new big

“Small is Big” shatters the mega-church myth. Tony and Felicity Dale are medical doctors turned church planters and authors; and they’re church planters with a twist. They’re not out to set new attendance records, but rather their goal is to teach others to plant churches that multiply. It’s not longer about how big your budget, building, and membership role is – what matters is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that new believers are excited enough to go start their own church. They’re not out to bash mega-churches, or ‘legacy churches’, in fact they write about working together with voices from those disciplines to improve everybody’s products. This book is about a return to basics, following New Testament models, to make a huge difference as small groups of people become churches, become the Church.

I had mixed reactions to this book. I don’t think there was anything that I disagree with theologically or procedurally. I’m glad to hear someone take a stand other than the one of the majority voices that bigger is better. Multi-site, multi-campus, multi-pastor, orchestra-sized praise bands may have their place, but not everyone is comfortable there, and much of the work of the church is done by the people connected in a small group, so there is a lot in common.

As a seminary graduate and professional pastor, I don’t like the idea that churches don’t need pastors; that the New Testament church got along fine without us. But often I find myself thinking that it would be so much fun to be able to minister, to be the church without having to deal with building funds, budgets, bylaws, choirs, and administrative boards.

But the bottom line is that if more of us – mega church, legacy church, or cell church - were focused on being the church, on multiplying the church, on making disciples, on fulfilling the Great Commission, we might see a marked difference in the world from the way it is.

Even though I enjoy being “the pastor” I can think of several people who need to read this book: the ones who’s first response to any request for help is “but you’re the pastor, you’re the professional, that’s why we pay you”. The work of sharing the gospel is not delegated solely to the pastor…it’s the job of every Christian, and this book offers some good advice on how lay people, can be effective in multiplying the church.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I have been asked to mention as part of every Web review that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Anniversary - So What?

The church where I serve is the oldest Baptist church in Utah. How does that happen? Easy: be the first to open the doors, and then keep them open. As a church we now have 130 years of history and that’s impressive, but I’ve been thinking about it and wonder why we should care.

In this country we tend to like new and improved. We want bigger, better, faster. Throughout Europe when something has outlived its purpose they make a museum. Here we’re just starting to do something other than tear it down and haul it away. Who’s right? I don’t know the answer to that, but its fun to wander through Zaragoza, Spain and see the remains of the city that used to be there: remains in which they have found Roman coins from the time of Christ.

I’ve been going through the history of our church lately, as we look forward to celebrating a milestone. God has been good to us over the years, even though there have been some rough spots. So what are we celebrating? The building isn’t even 100 years old, and all throughout Europe you can find buildings, or the remains of buildings which are 1000 years old.

Businesses that don’t provide a service or goods that are needed don’t survive. And in many ways a church is like a business. So at some point we use these milestones called longevity anniversaries to take inventory of what we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

The past is a fun place to visit, but I no longer want to live there. So as we celebrate this anniversary, we want to look not so much at the past but rather towards the future. Hopefully we can use the past to point out what worked, and then figure out why. We can look to see what didn’t work and why; but as we look towards the past, it’s not with the goal of returning. We don’t want to stay there; the purpose of studying the past should always be to learn how to remain relevant in the future.

Learning from our mistakes and building on our successes will help us as we move into the next season that God has planned for us. So we care about the past because it has brought us this far and, if we let it, will prepare us for the future.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hope you said a prayer

    Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and lots of people in my little corner of the world celebrated it. Yesterday was also the annual National Day of Prayer. Probably not so many people celebrated. Granted it's more fun to go to a party than to rush off to city hall on your lunch hour but...
    Mayor and Mrs Godfrey and City Council Chair Gochnour joined a small crowd on the steps of Ogden's municipal building and listened as 9 pastors prayed for them and the country.
    I don't know about you, but I think that prayer works.  A few of us were talking after the event and someone commented that last year, Mayor Godfrey had asked that as we pray for the community we would pray for creation of jobs; he had hopes that the Ogden area was on track for several hundred new jobs. Seems like those prayers worked, and then some since many new jobs have come to Ogden this past year. Prayer works.
    I got to pray for government leaders. And as I prayed,  I remembered Abraham. "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him." (Gen 18:18 NIV).
So I prayed that our leaders would be blessed, and that through them others would be blessed also.
    Who did you pray for yesterday? Who will you pray for today?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Average Joe - a review

Average Joe: God's Extraordinary Calling to Ordinary Men

Face it, we can't all have super powers! We don't but God does, and sometimes he picks on us Average Joes and uses us to do things we could only dream about.

I've been interested in Men's ministry for several years, and I keep reading all the men's ministry books, and most of the time I finish the book, put it down and look for another book, (or another ministry in which to get interested).Average Joe is different. Instead of leaving me feeling like there's no way I can ever be that {you fill in the blank} I finished this book, delighted to hear that it's okay to be an Average Joe.

Troy Meeder has found the right words to show us that we're not all a Billy Graham, a Chuck Colson or a Coach McCartney. Most of us are average guys, but God takes those average qualities that most of us wish were different and He uses them, and us, in some pretty extraordinary ways.

Meeder is a man's man; he fishes, flies an airplane, rides horses, and enjoys the wilderness. His life is a mass of stories, and throughout the book you sense that he doesn't see himself as anybody special, he just goes about the business of being Troy Meeder, and being the best Troy Meeder that he can be. And as he goes about taking care of business, God uses him.

Maybe I shouldn't say this, since this is a book for the manly man, but there were a couple of times that I had to wipe away a tear or two, but there were other times that I laughed, I thought, I mused, I pondered, and left the book hoping to run into a few more Average Joes.

It's all about story telling these days and Meeder is an excellent storyteller. Sometimes the stories went a little long, and when I read the introduction to the study guide, I found myself thinking that Meeder's editor should have been the kind of facilitator the Meeder recommends for this to work as a small group study. I would have liked some more scripture references, but all in all this is much better than many of the books that try to tell us how to do things if we want to be extraordinary Josephs: this is an average guy telling us what he does, how he does it, and how God works through him despite his being so average.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beyond Talent - a review

I haven't read much of John Maxwell's material, but after reading *Beyond Talent: Become Someone Who Gets Extraordinary Results* it's easy to see why his books have sold millions of copies.

Maxwell starts with the premise that talent abounds in the world, but true success requires that we do something more with that God-given talent than just sit around and wait for it to make us rich. Talent isn't everything as so many people would like us to believe. Talent is important but by itself it won't take us very far.

Starting with Belief, moving on through Passion and Relationships to Teamwork, Maxwell lists thirteen things, that when added to talent, give it the boost that make some people successful in their field. Each chapter is full of examples of what he’s talking about, and the examples are people that I've actually heard of: sports figures, inventors, actors, politicians and the goes on. Andrew Carnegie, Winston Churchill, Tom Hanks, Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln all offer valuable lessons on how to augment your talent with one of the 13 traits that Maxwell has identified.

What others have done, how it worked for them, and tips for the reader to try are followed in each chapter by a set of application exercises, easy enough so that it’s feasible to do them, and tough enough that you feel they’ll be beneficial.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who knows he has talent, and just can’t figure out why he hasn’t gotten further along in life than he has.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255