Archives For Book Reviews

Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story. By Mark Andrew Ritchie. Island Lake, IL: Island Lake Press, 2000. 288 pp.

Mark Andrew Ritchie group up in poverty in Afghanistan, South Texas, and Oregon. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity International University (1980). In addition to Spirit of the Rainforest he is the author of God in the Pits. After 20 years of working in the financial services industry, Ritchie turned his attention to Divinity studies and authoring two books.

Book Review of Spirit of the Rainforest

Written in first person narrative, Spirit of the Rainforest describes the life of the Yanomamo people according to a powerful shaman called “Jungleman.” It should be noted that the Yanomamo people do not use names. In the beginning of the book Jungleman says, “I have lots of names—all us Yanomamo do. But we almost never speak them” (p. 21). The book focuses on telling the story of approximately 32 years of life in the Amazon from the way they lived before the “nabas” arrived and told them of the great spirit, “Yai-Pada.” Perhaps the book is best described by Richie’s own words in the author’s addendum, “Dignity prohibits a complete description of Jungleman’s talent. Deleewa, a person of considerable humility and piety, struggled in vain to translate Jungleman into palatable English while I asked myself, ‘How am I going to write this? No matter how much I tone this man down, I still can hear the critics: “Too much sex—too much violence—too degrading of women”” (p. 239). This book is a gripping account of the wild life in the Amazon. Continue Reading…

There is something which exists inside of your church even if you do not realize it: culture. Everyday you and the other leaders inside of your church are creating a culture. Since culture always exists and is a necessary part of the work environment you and your employees spend 40 hours a week in, it is important that you understand culture and know how to change it.

3 Required and Important Stages for Discerning and Shaping a Church's Culture

This summer I read a fantastic book by Aubrey Malphurs titled, Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture. Malphurs’ main premise is that culture in the church is important because:

  • 80-85 percent of American churches are either plateaued or in decline
  • on a typical weekend only 17 percent of the population attend church
  • many of the young people growing up in church often leave church when going off to college (p. 111)

In his book, Malphurs outlines three stages of shaping a church’s culture. I’d like to outline those stages for you with my comments as a way to help you “discern and shape your church culture.”

3 Stages of Shaping a Church’s Culture

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In today’s blog post I am providing a review of the book, Building Leaders: Blueprints for Developing Leaders at Every Level of Your Church by Aubrey Malphurs and Will Mancini.

Building Leaders is a great resource for any leader who wants to develop and grow a team of leaders.

Review of Building Leaders by Aubrey Malphurs and Will Mancini

One of the things I have found most helpful from this book is the distinction it makes between discipleship and leadership. Malphurs and Mancini define these terms this way:

Discipleship development is a much broader concept than leadership development since it involves everyone (p. 33). Continue Reading…

For me the Christian Bible is the primary source of information about what leadership is and how people should be led. Because of that I often quote from The Maxwell Leadership Bible as well as teaching theology on this blog.

Review of NIV Leadership Bible

A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of The New International Version (NIV) Leadership Bible.

I was intrigued by the idea of another Bible that provides commentary and insights for leaders about what the Bible says and what it means. And, at the same time grateful for another valuable resource to help leaders “lead by the book” as The NIV Leadership Bible states on the cover. Continue Reading…

The most intriguing book title I have come across this year is, Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are by Craig Groeschel. No, that’s not a typo. The book is called “Altar” Ego because it teaches people like you and me about our true identity.

pic of Altar Ego book

In the book (the title was so catchy, I had to get a copy) Craig reminds us that we are not who the world says we are. As a result of the American culture we live in there often are labels and stereotypes placed on us. Because of that, we often can become confused about who we are and what we stand for. Craig’s book changes that. Continue Reading…

Carpenters have tool belts, surgeons have scalpels, dentists have picks, and Christians have their Bibles. For three years I have used the New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible and believe it is one of the best resources for students who want to study the Bible and learn from it.

10 Reasons to Use the New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible

I began using the NLT Study Bible in February of 2010 when it was given to me as a gift. Before this, I had used the Student’s Life Application Bible which seemed a little irrelevant since I was no longer a student at that time. (If you’ve never heard about the NLT Study Bible you can learn more on Tyndale’s website and blog.) Continue Reading…

This life is long, so why not make it extraordinary? Why not do things with excellence, sincerity, and a grateful heart of service?

Photo Credit: David Balentine

Photo Credit: David Balentine

I ask those rhetorical questions because I am excited about the release of the book, Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Deliver Extraordinary Results by Mark Sanborn. I have read several of Mark’s previous books and they are all extraordinary. Continue Reading…

It is undoubtedly true that the Bible contains some of the most unlikely heroes in all of history. It’s pages are filled with stories of the most unlikely leaders, priests, kings, and influential people.

12 Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur

Like me, you probably have been encouraged by the stories of biblical people such as Moses (a man who asked God to chose someone else to lead), David (a boy who was not even asked to come and be part of the “choosing ceremony” of the next king), and James (the half-brother of Jesus who was an agnostic and did not believe Jesus to be the true Messiah until Jesus was resurrected.) Many Bible students such as myself and probably you too have desired to get to know these biblical characters in a deeper way.

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Recently I finished reading the book, Up, Down, or Sideways: How to succeed when times are good, bad, or in between by Mark Sanborn.

Up, Down, or Sideways by Mark SanbornThis book was published in 2011 and is very practical and relevant to the economic situation we are currently experiencing in America. In Up, Down, or Sideways, Sanborn lists many ways that the reader can cope with the difficult times she might be going through, how a person can get out of the normal routine of doing the same things over and over again, and how to get things going even better than they might be if they are going well.

The great thing about Sanborn discussing these three topics of Up, Down, or Sideways, is that he himself went through a similar situation of being “Down” and “Sideways” over the past few years. Based on Mark’s personal experience with health and business struggles, I really appreciated the book’s perspective on the down and sideways parts of life.

Below are a few quotes from the book which I found particularly helpful to me and perhaps relevant to you.

If you want to succeed when times are Up, Down, or Sideways, you have to learn how to identify and interact with forces bigger than yourself–the economy, your upbringing, government regulations, natural disasters, and on and on the waves roll. (p. 10)

Discipline is the ability to do what needs to be done even when we don’t feel like doing it. It’s the connective tissue between our intellectual intent and our behavioral muscle. And the key to developing any behavior, like any muscle, is consistency. (p. 150)

If success is about doing the right things consistently, knowing that we will ultimately benefit from them, then the only real failure is when we quit trying and resign ourselves to our current situation. (p. 159)

If you know of someone (or maybe you yourself) who is going through tough times this is a great book for them. Sanborn provides practical tips that will help anyone to see success for what it truly is while making progress towards it regardless of his or her situation.

If you are interested in learning more about this book you can visit Mark’s website where you can download a PDF summary of the book and a free audio lesson.

Question: What tips can you share about succeeding when times are “Up, Down, or Sideways”?