Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Between Wyomings – a review

Book Description

Join Ken Mansfield on a road trip through the canyons of Hollywood, the outlaw alleys of Nashville, and the backstreets of his soul as this Grammy Award-winning producer recreates his journey through the lush landscapes of success and the deserts that led him home.

For three decades, Ken Mansfield lived the heady life of a record executive and friend to such cultural icons as the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Dolly Parton, and Waylon Jennings. Along the way, he collected a Grammy, number-one albums, and a disquiet that he pushed soul-deep.Between Wyomings invites readers to travel with him on a tender journey that calls readers to reflect on the highways of their own lives and the deserts that press them into the heart of a Creator who has been there all along. As Ken discovers, sometimes when we see how lost we are, we can finally begin to find home.

My Review

After sitting on a shelf for far too long I picked this book up and prepared to read it.  I’m not sure what had been keeping me from getting to this book but as I began to read through the pages I found myself feeling cheated.  This book seemed to drag on and on and there were many times when I prayed that the next page would bring me to an exciting portion of the book that I could find interesting.  I understand that the author has had some amazing experiences throughout his musical career but I just really didn’t care to be a sounding board for his memoir.  I found this book lackluster at best and really wish that I had picked up a different selection to review this time around.

Do yourself a favor, unless you are a huge fan of music history and are interested in the details of the music industry, read something else.

Put Your Dreams To The Test


I finished reading the newest writing from John Maxwell,“Put Your Dream To The Test-10 Questions That Will Help You See It and Seize It” a few weeks ago but have held off on posting a review because I wanted to put more of what was mentioned in the book into practice.  In this book Maxwell gives the reader tools to use to evaluate your dreams.  The book is broken down into chapters that address different “measuring sticks” to discern which dreams are the ones that you hold onto and fight for all that it’s worth and those that you let go of to move on to what you should be going after.

I’ve read many books by John Maxwell before and this one I have found to be my favorite so far.  It is highly practical and applicable in many areas of life.  Rather than just being a ministry book or leadership book this tackles the topic of dreams and goals that we have for our lives.  We all should have dreams and goals so it is helps the average person reading the book.

Many of us have lofty dreams of changing the world or creating the next big thing.  This book gives great insight into whether those dreams are ones to pursue or dreams that we have created that will become a distraction to the things that we should be moving towards accomplishing.  With questions that help you dig below the surface of your dreams this book is a great resource for anyone wondering if they should grab hold of or let go of a dream.  I recommend this book to all.  But don’t just read it to say you have read it.  Make use of the questions and use the practical exercises to help you achieve your dreams.

This Is Your Brain On Joy

Being a Youth Pastor that has dealt with and will continue to deal with students with ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and other learning or emotional disorders I found this book insightful.  The techniques and treatments described in the book have led to breakthroughs for many people suffering from a wide spectrum of brain disorders, from brain injuries to chemical imbalances._140_245_book33cover

I’ve read many books that were written by medical professionals that were far above my level of understanding.  This is the first one that was written with the lay-leader in mind. Although there is plenty of scientific information, the author writes with a keen awareness of the non-professional reader and manages to communicate without resorting to medical-speak. In this world of medical professionals that resort to science as the only truth it is good to also read a book written through a Christian worldview.  He relates stories of Christian people struggling with emotional and behavioral problems who thought they had spiritual problems. What a relief to know that their struggles were caused by abnormalities in their brains!

As the book title suggests, we have the ability to find joy in our lives.  At times I have spoken with people who have questioned their faith in God because they were living lives filled with depression.  They felt as though they had failed God because they still have no peace in their lives even while filling their days with prayer, reading the Bible and quiet times.  There are legitimate cases of abnormalities in the human brain that need to be discussed, diagnosed, and treated in order for a joy-filled life to be led for some individuals.  I would recommend other pastors and church leaders to read This Is Your Brain On Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin  to gain additional insight into how individuals can be helped.

Holding Fast


I’ve found myself so wrapped up in leadership and ministry books over the last few years that I have pushed aside any time for fiction or documentary.  One book recently grabbed my attention.  With my interest in mountaineering and my love for adventure I thought I would would take a bit of time to read Holding Fast by Karen James.

This book tells the story of Kelly James, a climber who lost his life on Mount Hood while climbing with some friends.  While the author, Kelly’s wife, spends some time outlining the life of Kelly and giving the reader insight into who he was as a person you become more and more interested to continue reading.  Through research and conversation with rescue workers Karen was able to piece together the final days and hours of her husbands life.  

The real takeaway for me in reading this book is the true need for community in our lives.  Without people to surround ourselves with we will have a much harder time making it through personal tragedies.  In addition, and even more important than the community aspect is prayer.  Karen had an incredible network of people around her that were praying for Kelly and his two friends who were stranded on the mountain in the middle of an intense storm.

To read of this tremendous loss and see how Karen has been able to make it through serves as an encouragement to me.  I know that the community that I belong to will hold me up should a time come when I face a tragedy.  The power of prayer is evidenced throughout this book.  Faith is a necessary part of each of our lives.  It was Karen’s faith that kept her going and it is her faith that will keep her going.

If you have the need for a good book during this winter season I would recommend picking up a copy of Holding Fast.


I’ve been reading Erwin McManus‘ new book Wide Awake.  In it he says this:

“What you care about

         is what you dream about.

                   Your passions fuel your dreams.”

That quote has been resonating within for the past couple of days.  I’ve been thinking more on what my dreams are.  What are the big, God-sized dreams that I have that I need God to get involved in for them to become reality?  I’ve got lots of dreams.  I have many God-sized goals for my life, my family, and my ministry.  Some of these dreams are just fluff that I know are not worth losing any sleep over at all, but there are those that I can’t let go of.  The dreams that I can’t let die.  The ones that I need to revisit and keep pressing in to make happen.

What are your dreams?  What are the things that you, and you alone, are called to do?  Are they big?  Are they so big that they must have the hand of God involved for them to occur?

Let’s dream.  But also agree to wake up and work hard to make our dreams a reality.

O2 – Breathing New Life Into Faith

I picked up a new book last week by Richard Dahlstrom.  Honestly, I knew nothing about the author and had never had anyone recommend the book to me.  Very honestly, the cover art on the book just caught my eye as the titling “O2” intrigued me.  After reading through this book I can say that I enjoyed almost all of it.  One section really stood out to me.  Dahlstrom talks about Jesus and His message of the kingdom.  Most times we talk about either personal transformation or social justice and there seems to be a chasm between the two rather than them being connected.  Allow me to quote Dahlstrom from page 74.

Maybe the pathway to peace will entail a reduction in my own standard of living so that instead of a few of us in the world multiplying storage sheds for junk we don’t need, wealth is more evenly distributed.  Putting an end to human trafficking will require that people stop treating each other as sexual toys.  Furthering the cause of racial equality will mean that I need to step across the chasms that so easily divide me or my faith community from others.  I must become proactive in entering into the chaos, truth telling, and hospitality that are vital for reconciliation to really occur.  In other words, Jesus’ kingdom won’t come because society changes or because laws change.  It will come because we change – each of us in ways that are threatening to our status quo.

This is the challenge that I am trying to live by more and more.  It’s the reason why I joined the Junky Car Club.  I love the motto for the club, “living with less so others can have more”.  I’ll keep driving my junker in order to make it possible to be more generous to those who have so little.  Just this simple idea of not upgrading my car – even though it is dying – so that I can be free to bless those who have financial needs has given me such joy and peace.  I’ve actually been keeping my eye open for another car that will replace my existing car but I have set a budget of $2000 for the car so that I can pay for it outright and continue living without a monthly car payment.

As I embrace the world around me with financial support I feel that much more connected to the needs that exist.  Rather than cheerlead for the causes that have great needs, I get to put my money where my mouth is and as I do I feel my faith grow as I learn to depend more on Him to provide for my needs as I help t provide for the needs of others.  I am so digging this…

The Sacred Echo

Margaret Feinberg has done it again.  The Sacred Echo reads easily – as if you were speaking together in a cafe over a warm cup of coffee.  As Margaret writes, she shares with us stories of her friends and how she has been praying for them over the years.  This book serves as a great reminder to never give up on God and to persevere in prayer for the long haul.  I was refreshed after reading the examples she gave about the many people she has been praying for over the years but was also challenged by her thoughts on what to do when it feels like there are no answers.

The Sacred Echo reminds us that God wants to be known and the best way He can be known by us is through repetition.  God wants us to get it and sometimes listening for His voice isn’t enough for us.  Being a thick-headed as I am some days I know that through His “echo” or repeating messages His desire for me and others will eventually sink in.  The Sacred Echo reminds us to listen for the recurring themes in our conversations, prayers, and emails that all tend to send us in a single direction.

When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once.  He echoes.

Pick up a copy of The Sacred Echo when it becomes available and enjoy.

I Became A Christian And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Authentic Spiritual Passion – Vince Antonucci hits it out of the park with this book!   This has quickly become one of my all-time favorite books.   While words like “authentic”, “spiritual”, and  “passion” (might as well throw “relevant” into the mix as well) antonucci_book_2.jpgare some of todays biggest Christian buzzwords this book doesn’t come off as a cheap attempt to capitalize on the flavor of the month.

The major themes throughout the book are finding out how to abide in His love and living a life that abounds in His love.  I know that there are a lot of people that have either grown up in church or become a Christian only to find that the experience was less than fulfilling. Vince uses a lot of funny stories to remind us that God cares about people, and that following Jesus will lead us to an adventure.

If you are ready for the life Jesus really promised, not the one on the sidelines watching others live, (or want to know what that life is really like) then this book will be a joy. As a pastor I appreciated Vince’s honesty more then anything, this is not another “Hey look at me” book.

Grab this one wherever you can find it (I got mine at the Bible Bookstore in Concord, NH) and you will enjoy the read and be challenged to “live the Jesus life”.

Another worthwhile post from “integrity”


In addressing how sacrifice helps set our growth patterns as people of character, Dr. Henry Cloud has this to say:

“It begins with investment.  It doesn’t begin with just saying we care about something.  It has to be exercised, and internalized.  But like all internalizations or growth, the structure of the patterns have to be exercised first, both to wean oneself from the pull of the shallow existence that is comfortable, as well as find the realization of the fulfillment of the deeper life.  If you never stop eating potato chips to try a steady diet of healthy food, you will never realize the true change of taste that happens when you eat what your body was designed to eat.  But after you do, and sustain it, you can never go back, other than for an occasional holiday binge that ultimately your system rejects and you find yourself longing to be back on the wagon.

People who develop this kind of transformation and sustain it do it with a structured approach, at least in the beginning.  They take a class, get a spiritual director or mentor, volunteer in an organization, join a growth group, or find some other path that has a structure to it.  When they do that, and it includes the elements of awareness, a template, stretching experiences, practice, correction, feedback, it slowly becomes their own.  Then they might morph the structures to fit their own style or needs or even launch out into something new.  But, first, they submit to some structured growth path to stretch themselves and mold this aspect of their being.

The more that they adapt and submit themselves to that structure, the more that they see aspects of themselves that are not as transcendent as they once thought.  They are humbled and see the need to grow even more.  The task that they are about gets them in touch with both the enormity of the need that they have given themselves to, as well as their own inadequacies to meet that need or to measure up to the path of the ones who have gone before them.”

I can think back and retrace all of the moments in my life where I have had to submit to someone else in my life that I knew could teach me something more about life as well as myself.  I am thankful for the mentors that I have had and do have in my life.  I am also grateful for the opportunity to mentor others and see the growth in their lives.

What are the things in your life that you have had to yield to?  In those areas, how have you grown?  What has shaped the values that you live by?  I’d love to hear from you…

Snippet from “integrity”


I’m 1 chapter away from finishing “integrity” by Dr. Henry Cloud.  Here’s something that I read this afternoon while sitting in my new favorite reading chair out on the deck:

“The big things, not ourselves, are the things that make us big.  As we join them, we become larger.  The paradox is that to join things bigger than us, we have to humble ourselves and become “smaller,” in a sense.  When we realize that we are smaller than the transcendent things, and we exist for them and not for us, we grow into greatness.  The greatest people are the ones who have not sought greatness, but served greatly the causes, values, and missions that were much bigger than them.  And by joining and serving those, we see greatness emerge.”

While this book is written more from a business standpoint than for the church it nails the main point of Christian leadership.  In this day and age when we read of more and more fallen church leaders it bears reading by all church staff.  If we do what we do in our role as church leaders for our own acclaim we are missing the point.

May we look beyond building our own kingdoms, in order to join the ONE whose KINGDOM will always be.  May we lead with integrity in all areas of our lives so that HIS work in our lives will never be diminished.  Help us not to think of ourselves as the thing that must be served, but let us look around and serve those around us simply because HE serves and loves us.

And let that be enough…