Book Review: The Simplest Way to Change the World

thesimplestwayThis summer the small groups at our church have been going through a book called, “The Simplest Way To Change The World,” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements.  The tagline of the book is “Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life.”  The main point as you can get from the tagline is that we need to make hospitality a way of life so that we can reach our neighbors and those in our spheres of influence for Christ.

The amazing thing about this book is the fact that as I read it, there were no mind blowing new concepts that I had never heard of before.  It’s all simple practical advice from a Biblical perspective on the need to reach others for Christ through hospitality.  Yet, with the simplicity of the advice and easy to read writing style, I found God really convicting me about how I do hospitality with those around me.

While my home is not anything extravagant, I often do view it as my refuge and place of just getting away from the world.  After a long day, sitting by myself in the recliner watching TV sounds so good to me.  However, my home is a gift and a tool that God has given me to invite my neighbors and the students we work with into, to build relationships, and share the Gospel.  It’s a tool to use for building up and encouraging fellow Christ-followers.

One of my favorite chapters had to do with how we can do hospitality within the rhythms of our lives.  There are certain things we are already doing on weekly, monthly, and even annually that we can invite others to be a part of.  All we have to do is invite!

If you are looking for a book that will help you reach those in your neighborhoods and circles of influence, I definitely recommend you check out “The Simplest Way To Change The World.”  It really is simple Godly advice that can help you make a huge impact for Christ.

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Book Review – Those Guys Have All The Fun

those-guys-have-all-the-fun-364x571-364x571A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my goals for 2015 and one of them was to do an even bigger empty shelf challenge and really get more reading done this year.  One of the first books I have started the year off with is Those Guys Have All The Fun by James Andrew Miller and Thomas Shales.  The books is about the history of ESPN from conception to the sports media giant that it is today.

The first thing that really stands out about it is the way the authors have chosen to give the history of ESPN.  Rather than tell the history from the authors point of view, the history of ESPN is told through the words of the people involved.  For the beginning of the story where we see where the idea of ESPN came from, the founders give their accounts.  As things move along the investors, CEO’s, news anchors, sports reporters, and several hundred people who have been involved with ESPN tell their versions of what took place.  Occasionally the author steps in and lets you know what event is going on, but then the story line goes back to the reflection of those who were there.

As I read the book I found myself liking some ESPN personalities that I really hadn’t in the past, disliking others that I had previous liked, and my assumptions on some were just reinforced.   It was very interesting to also read how often times the same event was remembered very differently by each of the individuals that were involved.

If you are a sports nut, like me, watch SportsCenter on a continuous loop, enjoy entertainment and media in general, or just like good histories, Those Guys Have All The Fun is a great read.  I will warn you that this book is written exactly in the words of those who were there and so the language sometimes can get a bit rough.  As long as you can handle that and the possibility of being a little disappointed in some of your favorite sports casters I definitely recommend you check out Those Guys Have All The Fun.

empty shelf challenge – Sycamore Row

9780385366472_p0_v5_s260x420At the beginning of the year I started the empty shelf challenge where I was going to be reading books to fill a bookshelf this year.  As I read, I like to read a variety of things.  While I am usually in some sort of non fiction book, usually by Christian authors to help in personal spiritual growth or ministry/leadership, I also try to read some fiction at the same time.

In the summer of 2001, I discovered John Grisham books.  Someone had given me a couple of his books to read and I was staying on campus at Moody all summer long.  So with lots of down time I did lots of reading that summer and began to read those Grisham books.  One of my favorite books that I read was “A Time to Kill.”  So earlier this year when I found out that Mr. Grisham had came out with a sequel to that book, I had to read it.

Over the past few weeks on and off I began to read, “Sycamore Row” the sequel to “A Time to Kill.”  The story is set three years after the first book and focuses once again on lawyer Jake Brigance.  In this book, there is no big murder trial but a trial over a holographic will that was mailed to Jake.  The basic premise of the book is that an older white man dying of cancer decides right before his death to leave his secret fortune to his African-American maid/nurse who took care of him during his battle with cancer.  not only does he leave most of his estate to her, but he cuts his kids out of the will all together. What follows in the book is lots of drama both in and out of the court room as both sides battle over the estate and a shocking secret is revealed as to why the maid is supposed to inherit.

Many of the characters that were so memorable in “A Time to Kill” and several other Grisham books make appearances in “Sycamore Row.”  It was sort of like getting to look in on these characters you had built relationships with earlier and see how their lives turned out.  I also loved how this book got you on the first page and was one of those books you just didn’t want to put down.  This was a  bad thing for me though as I often read in bed and before I would know what time it was, I had read much longer into the night than intended.

If you are  a fan of John Grisham, court/law drama, or just good stories, I highly recommend you get a copy of “Sycamore Row!”