Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Church in the Making" by Ben Arment

Snack of Choice:
Cranberry Sauce. Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce. No chunks, please. Right out of the cold refrigerated can and all by itself. No better way to end the night. You think I'm joking... ask the wife, I'm dead serious. Not just because of the holiday's (Thanksgiving and Christmas), but just because it's just plain good. Although it would go nicely with a Pillsbury crecent roll. Ah...

Story behind the Story:
I signed up to read the galleys on If you don't know what a galley is, google it... then tell me. This is the first e-book I was approved to read and review from B&H Publishers. Only problem is I don't read ebooks. This experience kinda settled it for a little while at least. But I really was interested in reading this book, so I bought it! 

Story Line:
So how do you start a church from scratch? How do you reach a community with the greatest news known to man? For those whose success is evident, "God is just blessing" is an easy fall back. But what factors does God use to prepare the way before you? Does an "unsuccessful" church planter mean that God has not blessed his ministry? Ben Arment digs deeper into the socio-economic framework of church planting mixed with the work of the Holy Spirit in a community.

The Real Story:
Here it is -- one of the best books I've read in a while. Ben Arment's writing style is so incredibly readible but with alot of depth. It reveals the work of the Holy Spirit through preparation of the ground, through momentum, and through deep roots. He deals with the hardships of church planting without yielding to "church talk." This book would fit into the curriculum of a Church Planting class as well in the hands of the church member. 

Check out:
Pastoral Epistles like 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

"Church Planting is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches that Do Extraordinary Things" by  Mike McKinley (Cause I like the title -- full discloser: never read it)

5 out of 5 deeply rooted church planted trees

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"From the Library of A. W. Tozer" by James Stuart Bell

From the Library of A. W. Tozer: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey [Book]

Snack of Choice: 
The childhood favorites are still in style. Drakes Coffee Cakes reign supreme in the Collins household, especially at the 2 for $5 price. Adding to the tradition is new revolution in coffee that has taken me by storm, and at the helm is the Caribou blend K-cup. The duo is dynamo and without equal – cause I only use sugar and cream.

Story behind the story:
I feel like it's been two years since I've done a review. SO MUCH has changed, but I've promised to keep the sentimental for another day and another blog. This particular selection is courtesy of Bethany House publishers. They don't require a positive review, but they would like a review. So here we go..

Story Line:
Someone raided Tozer's library. From Augustine of Hippo (AD 354 – 430) to his contemporaries, like G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945), and all the great theologians in between show their faces in this work. I'm not sure how they compiled this work – was it based on those he quoted in his own works or was it revealed by the polaroid of his office? – still unsure...

The short topical excerpts are broken up in almost a systematic theology. Beginning with worship and working through each member of the Trinity, and addressing issues like prayer and the Christian life – these authors are squeezed for every drop of nourishment they can provide.

I have to say, I hope no one judges me on the contents of my library - I'm still working on it

The Real Story:
A. W. Tozer is one of those names within the Christian community that has been elevated to the realms of the “classics”. This quotable author produced works such as “Pursuit of God” and “Knowledge of the Holy” that leave the reader breathless, challenged, and changed. I've never felt that way; mainly because I have never read his work. So this was my great chance, or so I thought. I misread or misunderstood the content of the book and was anticipating a “best of” collection. I, honestly, was disappointed, but through no fault of the author or its publisher.

Attempting to dismiss that disappointment, I do find value in this resource. It's for sure a great coffee table book, nightstand book, or any other place you might sit and spend time but not too much time... It has potential to be more in the right hands, but I'm just not sure if mine are adequate.

Check out:
Proverbs for more wisdom in small doses.
Anything by Spurgeon!

3 out of 5 books on a famous guys shelf

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Life of Andrew Jackson" Ed. John S. Jenkins

Snack of Choice:Drinking Chocolate Milk these days. And snacked on some old birthday cake with a “Racing Automotive 2” theme (if you get my animated drift). I may not get paid for this, but I am certainly not going to get sued by Disney either (after all, I have been associated with the Southern Baptists)!!

Life of Andrew Jackson (Life Of... (Attic Books))Story behind the story:
This Attic Books/New Leaf Publishers book was sent to me by request with no requirement to write a positive review. That’s the story… Yeah, that’s it.

Story Line:
Andrew Jackson – He’s more than just a 20 dollar bill! He was president, you know. He was just a young boy when the Revolution broke out, but he has at least one legend that follows him. He was known for his “scuffles” with the Indians (not even gonna touch that one). Battle of New Orleans, relentless, stubborn, and strong.

"The Priest with the Dirty Clothes" by R.C. Sproul

The Priest with Dirty ClothesSnack of Choice:
There are days that you just need to celebrate victories. Today was one of those days, so I celebrated with a small (and I mean small) coffee and Boston Cream donut from the KING... of Donut’s, Mr. Dunkin. Thanks for the memory!

Story behind the story:
I received an electronic copy of this children’s book to review from Reformation Trust. No contract necessary! (and no requirements for a positive review). I had to come back after the great experience with “The Prince’s Poison Cup.”

Story Line:
R.C. Sproul, one of the great Christian thinkers of our time, has a desire to make complex theological concepts that make adult minds swirl and eyes glaze into something that even a child can understand. This story deals with the Imputation of Justification (that was fun). Basically, “how we are made acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’s righteousness” (5). 
It’s is rooted in the Scriptural event found in Zechariah 3:1-5 and the story of the Joshua (the high priest in the Biblical book of Zechariah, not the winner of Moses’ series finale of “The Apprentice”)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Dragons: Legends and Lore of Dinosaurs"

Snack of Choice:
Peanut Butter and Jelly, green apple pieces, and chocolate milk is about all I'm getting these days. We've recently received a placement of two kids (Big Mac - 6 years and Small Fry - 9 months [but please don't call them that in public]) to stay with us a while. 
Dragons: Legends & Lore of Dinosaurs
Story behind the story:
New Leaf Publishers (Master Books) provided this product to me a while ago, and I hesitated to review it, because I don't have the perspective of a six year old and I had strong feelings about it on my own.

Story Line:
Who DOESN'T love dragons. So obviously this would be a book for everyone. So what's the story? It's the history of Dragons from a creationist stand point. There are incredible pictures and some interactive material that make for some interesting discoveries.

Friday, June 3, 2011


It's nice to add blue ribbons to a pig, even nicer to reward a blog with GREEN. Thanks Blogging for Books for the nod and for the dough. It will be wisely used! See my AWARD WINNING REVIEW of Radical!

The following is from an e-mail of notice I received:
Remember that blog review link you submitted to us in order to win a $--- Visa gift card?
Congrats! You’ve won!
We’ll be sending you your $--- Visa Gift Card next week. We’ll be sending them to the address you have on file with us through If you would like us to send them elsewhere, please let us know where you would like it sent.

And here's what went out to the masses (check out some of the other winners as well):

Congrats to Erin Mifflin. Her review of When the Hurt Runs Deep by Kay Arthur was the highest ranked review in the month of May. Erin won a Toshiba Netbook computer.
Congrats to Tarena Beckham who had the best quality review under the Family Life / Mom's category in the month of May and won a spa package.
Congrats to the following bloggers who submitted their best book review and won a $--- Visa Gift Card...
Aaron Matthews
Ragamuffin Gospel
For starters, we love Aaron's blog design. His review includes an image of the book cover, an embedded YouTube video of Brennan Manning and finally, he used the Blogging for Books "get code" feature to get others to rank his review.
Jeremiah Perdue
Radical Together
We enjoyed how Jeremiah incorporated links to external sources supporting his review. We also appreciate how Jeremiah engaged 100% with the book and did a great job communicating the main threads and takeaways from David Platt's new book, Radical Together.
Renee Smith
When The Hurt Runs Deep
Renee's blog is the perfect example of a book review that is original and unique. Many bloggers start a book review with, "I just read.." or "This is a book review for..."
This may sound weird...but a book review doesn't have to focus on the book. It can be more about discussing the subject matter in the it impacts you, makes you feel or opens you up to something new. That said, we love how Renee tied her review to the book and the author, while keeping her post interesting and thought-provoking. With such a great review, it's no wonder Renee had 49 people leave comments on her blog post.
Melinda Fathel
Redeeming Love
We loved how Melinda embedded the first chapter excerpt using the Scribd embed feature. We also liked how she embedded a link to purchase on a retailer's site.
Chris Collins
We really liked how Chris embedded the video at the top of his review. We also liked that the video was nice and big. Chris' review was also quite unique in the way that he laid it out.

 Momma always said there was something special about me! Hope this is what she meant :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Just found out this item has been shipped! Very excited about it. Here's a description from the website:

Who is God, and how can we know Him? The Bible claims to be the direct revelation of our Creator. So if the biblical record is true, it is a primary means by which the God of the universe has revealed Himself to mankind. However, if it can be proved false, then the God of whom it speaks is simply one more pretender in the assembly of gods that man has created. 

In 'Is the Bible Reliable?' Dr. Stephen Meyer challenges you to examine the historical and archaeological evidence to determine for yourself the veracity and accuracy of biblical Scripture. Is the Bible true? You decide. 

Includes two DVDs, each with five 30-minute lessons, and a 96-page, two-color discussion guide. Discussion guide also sold separately.

Retail: $39.99
My Cost: $0

This is better than couponing!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Get Free Books -- Again

I've had several conversations recently about how this process works (getting free books). So I thought I would share a previous post that's gives great information about how easy and beneficial it is. I wrote it, of course :)! Enjoy the benefits of my labor...

Here's a quick guide to getting free books:

To set up an easy to use blog: (It's well known and has a good reputation).
The blog your reading this on (mine) is an example.
For the BEST publishers and selections: (Thomas Nelson) click on "Available Books" tab to see whats available now. They do a pretty good job of adding others frequently. [Now they have limited the books they "show" if you aren't signed in -- so sign up and sign in.] (Waterbrook/Multnomah). Another with great selection and really easy to ue website.

I'm reposting a previous blog entry about how to get free books. I've had several conversations recently
Those are the two best in terms of selection and ease of use, but there is also:

You can keep the blog VERY simple just in order to get the books. They are just looking to generate interest in their product. You'll probably be asked to post the review on or the equivalent.

[A new dispensation that is being fleshed out is using the e-reader format. I imagine the selection would be wider for these products. If you are an e-reader fanatic (that is -- if you have one), check out There you have access to MANY publishers all in one place. You have to be more discerning in what material you pick up there, but you have access to B&H publishers as well as a host of others]

Let me know if you have ANY questions. I love to see people get free books they enjoy.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

"DG Chronicles: The First Escape" by G. P. Taylor

The First Escape (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles)
Snack of Choice:
We were SURE that we missed Girl Scout Cookie season – and without a doubt, we had. Then on a journey past Woodbury Commons between the Gucci and the Prada sat the Promised Land of those who seek the cookie! So, here I sit, with a box of Tagalongs – but not for long...

Story behind the story:
This book is courtesy of the Tyndale Publishers. They have provided me with a free copy of this title in return for a review – whether positive or negative – or both.

Story Line:
Two twin orphan girls (the Dopples) and an orphan boy (Ganger) team up for detective adventures, but like any good comic book, the first one is foundational “how they get there” story. It’s really the story of their adoption out of the Isambard Dunstan’s School for Wayward Children. But the story telling is incredibly unique. It’s classified as juvenile fiction and uses an amazing mixture of text, illustrations, and graphic novel (comic strip) narrative.

The Real Story:
The creativity and streams of communication are amazing. It really took a team of talented artists and writers to produce this book. Artists from the former employees of Disney and Dream Works fill the pages with color and excitement. They help tell the story text can’t tell and the text tells the story that the pictures cannot illustrate.

Here’s the deal, though. It’s dark. Everything is. Maybe it’s just an English thing (but I just saw the wedding and that wasn’t dark, soo...). The pages are edged with black and on the non graphic novel pages with more than text, the predominate theme is black. That sets the stage for the story. From a mistreating “principle” of the IDSWC to a séance (spoiler alert: it’s a fake one, but still...). It’s less like the claims of the BBC who declared the author, “The new C.S. Lewis” and more like Lemoney Snicket (“Series of Unfortuate Events”).

Also, as a future foster parent, I am not a fan of the perception that orphaned children will be mistreated by the system. Obviously that system is not perfect, but I can’t imagine placing these thoughts purposefully into the minds of those who would come into my house through this literature.

Check out:
The Chronicles of Narnia” 7 book set; 1 & 2 Chronicles

3 out of 5 adventurous, but dark comic panels

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Elephant Room Gift Pack!

DownpourJust received my pack from James MacDonald. Those who attended the "Elephant Room Conversations" could sign up online for this great bundle. It includes:

the Book - "Downpour" He will come to us like the Rain. God's best when you need Him most.

the DVD - "Time to Pull Over" Instruction on Endurance from Revelation 10. Includes "Special Features" -- Oh, I hope they have a gag reel!

the Audio Sermon Series - "Authentic" Developing the Disciplines of a Sincere Faith. Six sermon series. 

Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible
On an Elephant Room note: I just requested Stephen Furtick's (ER participant/ Charlotte, NC pastor) book, "Sun Stand Still." Looking forward to learning more about him. He's kinda seen as a radical, but he sure does have a passion for sharing the Gospel.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"That's When I Talk to God" by Dan & Ali Morrow

That's When I Talk to GodSnack of Choice:
Warm cup of milk... and some Oreos with Peanut Butter... and make that COLD milk.

Story behind the story:
I JUST got this book. In fact, I JUST requested it as well. This is the first book I have received from the B&B Media Group. They are NOT the publisher, they are the media promoters. I'm very impressed with their swift response. The publisher for this particular book was published by David C. Cook. I am not required to give a positive review in exchange for this free product. 

Story Line:
When can you talk to God and what do you talk to Him about? This children's book brings the parent and child who are reading it through a day in the life of a young girl who is discovering what it means to pray. When you wake up, on the playground, and under the stars – from praise and honor, to repentance and needs – we can follow the advice of Thess. 5:17 (“Pray continually). Story illustrated by Cory Godbey.

The Real Story:
I'm so glad to get some of these resources that I can use for YEARS. There are going to be kids in our house. Some will stay for a while and some will never leave (maybe after they turn 18), but how do I provide a godly base for them? Where do I start? No matter how much or how little a child knows about God, this story book provides the example and the opportunity for questions and for foundational truths to be unveiled. The book includes some great Scriptures on prayer that can be a part of the reading of the story.

The one thing I wonder about has to do with the mother and daughter in the story. I could see my wife sharing this with our little girl, and I could even see me sharing it with her. My thought is about a boy's reaction to the story. Would he connect the way a girl would with the character (a girl)? Either way, I'm gonna give it a try! What a great book!

Just a note, Ali is Lee Strobel's daughter. Lee writes a letter included at the back of the book encouraging parents to the use the resource.

Check out:
“That's where God Is” by the same authors

5 out of 5 conversations with God

"For Men Only" by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of WomenSnack of Choice:
Stewart's “Colombian Coffee” Ice Cream. FLAVOR OF THE WEEK
! Ya know, some people have it shipped to them across the country, but I picked it up on Bay Rd.

Story behind the story:
I have other books on the reading list that I was supposed to get to first. Yeah... sorry other guys. This book was provided by the Blogging for Books program of Multnomah Books. One of the best programs out there – but that doesn't mean I have to give this book a positive review. I also am not required to give this book a negative review either.

Story Line: 
I'm not supposed to tell you what's in this book unless you're a guy – hence the title – but I'm going to anyway. The subtitle is “a straightforward guide to the inner lives of women.” It's a quick read, but with valuable insights.

Written from Jeff's view, but you can tell Shaunti had quite a voice. Chapters begin by clearing our (men's) view about how women think (and you thought it was impossible. Each chapter ends with practical steps we can take to improve our relationship with our spouse. This book IS primarily for married couples, but those who ever want to talk to a woman would be wise to take a read.

There is a complementary book, “For Women Only,” which was written first. But it was so easy to figure us guys out, they wanted to write a book that would actually challenge them.

The Real Story:

The very first thing you see when you open the book is Quick Start Guide – ha ha, just cracks me up! If you ever find your self in trouble, no need to read it all again – just use the Quick Start Guide (“Why does she...?”, “Here's why”, and “What to do.”)

I've been married for 5 ½ years. I have grown in wisdom, understanding, and all that stuff I'm supposed to know by now. But as I was reading, I thought, “Patti has been telling me these things for YEARS!” Amazing how we sometimes just need a new perspective in order to provide clarity.

Per the authors advice, if you are a lady who is reading the book, please don't have conversations with us about it – just let us work through it. Be excited that we are actually reading this book. It means we're trying :)

It is a GREAT resource! If you're thinking about marriage, dating, etc. – improve your communication with the one you love.

Check out:
“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (a classic); “For Women Only” (I haven't read it, obviously)

4.5 happily communicating couples out of 5 (hey, you can't help everyone!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Velveteen Bible - NKJV

The Velveteen BibleSnack of Choice:
Breakfast is better if it's waffles. Not those crazy Belgian waffles, but the old fashioned machines past on from generation to generation.  A traditional 4 panel waffle with a classic 7x7 hole ratio. This, matched with a fluffy topping of "Peanut Butter Stuff" (1 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 syrup -- whipped) makes the morning worth getting up for. Grab your Kuerig coffee and you're ready to go.... or just grab an Eggo.

Story behind the story:
I'm building my library for the next generation (just like my waffles). Thomas Nelson helped me out with this one. They provided me with a free copy with the agreement that I will write a review (but it doesn't have to be a positive one). I hope to use these resources to encourage the faith of my future children. 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Radical" by David Platt

Snack of Choice:
Homemade hand tossed Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza. Handed down from a long tradition (well, honestly, just my dad). And, yes, it probably did cost more than the $10 special at Pizza Rut... I mean "Hut". But with a nice toss salad, Master Card says it best -- "priceless."

Story behind the story:
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Audiobook CD)Ah yes. I know you are wondering -- Where did Chris get this great resource, and how can I get this resource for me? Little known secret -- this adds to my collection of free material I have received simply for giving my opinion about these resources - positive or otherwise. This resource was provided by the blogging system of WaterBrook/Multnomah with no restrictions on my written material.
Read Chapter One Here:

Story Line:
The American Dream! The striving for more. The "If I only had..." kind of living. Where am I focusing my energy and resources? What for? "Radical" challenges the norm (as it's title implies"). The tag line is "Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream." As a believer, our focus is (or should be) different. It's not simply that our eternal destination has changed. Our values have changes as well. More specifically the things we place value and importance on. This book encourages the reader to see themselves in light of the World-wide need for the Gospel. What are you willing to do to get the Message out? Does that change when you open your wallet? Does that change when the call goes out for servants? Are we living extravagantly while neglecting the physical and spiritual needs all around us? 

The Real Story:
This book is a missions manual - plain and simple, but that should become more and more "Christian Living." We all are called to step out of our comfort zone (even those who "have nothing" according to America's standards) and engage the world with some Great News. The author challenges us to evaluate what this life is about since Christ has radically changed my life. What are my goals and purposes -- to please myself or to serve others in light of His Gift. He balances the "declaration of the Gospel" with meeting real life needs -- which, by the way, IS the Gospel. His fresh terminology, especially using "Faith Family" to describe the "Church," provides a perspective on those words we've become accustom to. It refocuses our "Christian Vision." Church is not a place, but a people who are to GO OUT!

I've read many "Missions" books and "Christian Living" books, but this one takes the cake (or pizza pie -- see above for directions). It's challenging and practical and for everyone. The best part is that people are reading it. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list. I hope we move past the reading and into the doing. 

There are practical steps that we can take and commit to that will help us as we shift our focus from ourselves to the world. I would encourage you to try it out and see what God will do in your life. You may not be rich, but you will have SO much more.

Check out:
Radical... I know, this is supposed to be a different book. OK. "Radical Together" is coming out now, go for that one too.

5 out of 5 Upside-down Houses. Is yours one of them?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tyndale Book Giveaway

Here's a great way to get some reads -- WIN THEM.

Follow the link below and enter to win one or both of these books from Tyndale:

I also get to share this news from Tyndale:
The Book Club Hub Newsletter will be an email newsletter geared towards people who are in or are running book clubs. It will feature suggestions, discussion guides and great ideas for your book clubs. You can see a preview by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

iShine Bible - New Living Translation

iShine Bible NLT (Bible Nltse)
Snack of Choice:
A Coke, chips, and half of a $5 foot long -- or $2.50 worth of Turkey, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach, banana pepper, mayo, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Hey, you asked!

Story behind the story:
I'm on my blog tour of Bibles apparently. Tyndale is keeping me supplied with Bibles, including this one, that I can use for my own agenda (giving away to someone as their first Bible). They do not require me to give a positive review in exchange for this privilege.  

Story Line: B
This iShine Bible comes in two themes: one for early adolescent boys and one for early adolescent girls. I figured since I got a purple Bible last time, I could go for the blue one without feeling biased. Simply, it's the NLT with three glossy insert sections spaced evenly throughout. You also have direct access to videos through a smart phone QR code (or for the "less fortunate," the broadband web address). Click here for one such link. These inserts focus on "Who Am I?" a pertinent issue for this age group, but it's not just limited to inward perspective -- it's ultimately who I am in Christ. These sections are replete with reference (and page numbers) to give you a place to study. Access to Bible Studies is also a part of this Bible experience.  

The Real Story:
When a sample from the intended demographic picks this product out of the pocket of your car's back seat and says, "Dude, this is a cool Bible!" The Publisher should smile. You've done well. It's a GREAT size - so portable - and it's not just a mini, but a double dose of the Testaments (both OT and NT). 

I've seen several NLT's that have good resources in the front and back. This particular one has some great questions whose answers are given with Scripture and an explanation. In the back there are lists of Great Chapters, Great Stories, Great Verses to Memorize.

I'm very eager to get this into someone else's hands!

Check out:
Just read the recommended book this time (the Bible). Well worth it in any translation! (emphasis on translation)

5 out of 5 "DUDE" remarks.