Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lay's Cheese Lobster Chips Are Da' Bomb Diggity!

Here in China, I have consumed some potato chips by Lay's that you probably won't find at your local grocery store. This includes blueberry, Italian red meat, lemon tea, and cucumber. This past week I came across a flavor new to me - cheese lobster. What's the verdict? I bought a second bag. What do they taste like? Think cheese plus lobster. Ah yeah! Cheese lobster chips are da' bomb diggity!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reviewing Ken Sande's and Kevin Johnson's Resolving Everyday Conflict

As a husband with an ISTJ personality married to a Godly woman with an ENFP personality, we do not always see eye to eye. As a middle school principal at an international school, part of my job is to help resolve conflict with foreign and national teachers, parents, and students. As a saint who must battle a sinful side that can be quite prideful, easily angered, and super selfish, you can say I have some issues. These are the reasons Sande & Johnson's book appealed to me. Even if you are single, have a blue-collar position, or others consider you to be humble, gentle, and generous, I do not see how this book cannot benefit you. Everyone has conflict and needs to know how to resolve it. Ken Sande has served as a Christian mediator for three decades and was once an engineer and lawyer. He understands challenging circumstances and how to make peace.

Resolving Everyday Conflict consists of eight chapters of nearly 130 pages...

Chapter 1: The Nature of Conflict
Chapter 2: The Hope of the Gospel
Chapter 3: Escaping, Attacking, or Peacemaking
Chapter 4: G1 - Glorify God
Chapter 5: G2 - Get the Log Out
Chapter 6: G3 - Gently Restore
Chapter 7: G4 - Go and Be Reconciled
Chapter 8: Overcome Evil with Good

A Going Deeper section points you to Sande's popular book, The Peacemaker, as well as his website that provides a variety of peacemaking resources. The Peacemaker is nearly 200 pages longer than Resolving Everyday Conflict and is endorsed by J.I. Packer, John Piper, and Chuck Colson. An appendix includes several questions for reflection and discussion that coincides with each chapter. Resolving Everyday Conflict is a good book supported by Scripture that I believe you will find to be very applicable in day-to-day life. I recommend it without any reservations.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reviewing Dave Kraft's Leaders Who Last

I own this book in audio format, and the 150-page can be listened to in just over three hours. The 12 chapters are neatly divided into three parts: Foundations, Formation, and Fruitfulness. Part one consists of the Leader's Power, Purpose, Passion, Priorities, and Pacing. Part two covers the Leader's Calling, Gifts, Character, and Growth. The last part is about the Leader's Vision, Influence, and Legacy. 

I learned of Dave Kraft and his book through the Resurgence site, and Kraft's book title immediately caught my eye. Mr. Kraft has a resume that more than qualifies him to write a book called Leaders Who Last. If you are looking for an author who is a successful CEO of a large multinational company who writes books based on surveys and studies, look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for an author who has been involved in full-time Christian ministry leadership and has been faithfully married to the same woman for more years than I have been alive, this is your book. 

Leaders Who Last reminds us that the Christian life is more like a marathon and not a 100-meter dash. I personally think life is more like a decathlon, but that argument is for another blog post. Based on Kraft's personal experiences and convictions, he tells us how to finish the race and finish it well. This includes having a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, building a network of friends who will be real with and keep you accountable, and making significant contributions using the gifts God has given you. Although Leaders Who Last is geared for church leaders, I found it very applicable to my job as a principal. Some questions that are addressed include: 

1. What is a leader? 
2. Who do future leaders look like compared to past leaders? 
3. What are the key ingredients to Christian leadership?

Leaders Who Last is an easy-to-read book that contains various life illustrations, quotes, and Scripture. If you are a Christian and have any position where you leading others or might be leading others, I recommend Kraft's book. Life's race can be tough and most will drop out, but for those who are rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ, we will cross the finish line with gold medals around our necks.

Reviewing John Piper's John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God

I received this book in audio format, and the 60 pages can be completed in approximately one hour. Although I do not advertise this greatly, it should not take long for others to see that I have many of the same theological understandings as John Calvin. This book by John Piper, my favorite author, consists of seven short chapters. The titles of the chapters include...

Chapter 1: God Is Who He Is
Chapter 2: A Passion for the Glory of God in Christ
Chapter 3: Mastered by the Majesty and Word of God
Chapter 4: Ministry Made by the Majesty of the Word
Chapter 5: Marriage to Idelette
Chapter 6: Constant Trials
Chapter 7: Constancy in Expounding the Word of God

Pastor Piper starts off John Calvin, unlike many biographies I have read. Instead of being told how John Calvin's life began in France, Piper points us to the centrality and supremacy of God. This was Calvin's passion - to magnify our Sovereign Lord. It is not until the third chapter that we read about Calvin's birth and rebirth. In other chapters, we read about the constant challenges Calvin faced, the works he produced, and his dedication to expository preaching. A four-page foreword written by Professor Gerald Bray of Beeson Divinity School and an appendix entitled Calvin's Barbaric World: The Case of Michael Servetus are also included. I believe Piper does a wonderful job of not glorifying Calvin but giving glory to God. In the appendix, you can read about what many consider to be Calvin's greatest shortcoming, his condemnation of Servetus. If you are wanting a basic overview of one the great reformers of the faith, I recommend Piper's John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God.

Reviewing Paul Chappell's Leaders Who Make a Difference: Leadership Lessons from Three Great Bible Leaders

Leaders Who Make a Difference attracted me for three reasons:

1. I enjoy reading biographies of biblical figures.
2. I desire to be a leader who makes a difference for the glory of God.
3. It was a free download on Amazon. :-)

In his book, Pastor Paul W. Chappell looks at the lives of three men from the Old Testament:

1. Joshua: A leader who had vision
2. Nehemiah: A leader who brought revival
3. Joseph: A leader who finished well

Leaders Who Make a Difference contains nine chapters as well as a short introduction and conclusion. Chapters 1-3 focus on Joshua and are entitled Vision is Developed through Preparation, Vision is Mobilized through a Plan, and Vision is Realized through Provision. Chapters 4-6 are about Nehemiah and are entitled Revival is Initiated by Supplication, Revival is Possible through Synergy, and Revival is Continued through Stamina. That last three chapters of Leaders Who Make a Difference center on one of my Old Testament heroes, Joseph. These final chapters are called Finishing Well Begins with Faith, Finishing Well is Accomplished through Faithfulness, and Finishing Well Requires Forgiveness.

It is important to note that Pastor Chappell started the West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California, and he pastors one of the largest Baptist churches in America. West Coast Baptist College is unashamedly unaccredited and uses only the King James Bible. All of the verses in Leaders Who Make a Difference are KJV so a few of the verses might be slightly challenging to understand for those who are not familiar with the English spoken 400 years ago. I wasn't aware of Pastor Chappell's background when I started reading his book, and as I progressed through his book I could see I have some secondary theological differences from him. As a Reformed Baptist, some of my understandings of God's sovereignty, sin, suffering, and supplication differ from Pastor Chappell, and this stood out to me in his statements throughout his book. Because of these differences, I don't intend to read his books again; however, I strongly believe Pastor Chappell has blessed many people and will continue to do so. 

Reviewing Tim Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy

I downloaded this book onto my school-purchased iPhone for several reasons:

1. Tim Keller - I enjoyed reading The Prodigal God, watching The Gospel of Life, and listening to numerous sermon clips and interviews of his.
2. The Subtitle - Sometimes I struggle to find joy in tasks that God has required me to do, but I want to rejoice always.
3. Cost - The book was under a buck through Amazon so I couldn't pass it up.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness consists of four short chapters, and I was able to finish the book on a bus ride home from work. Chapter one is called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, chapter two is entitled The Natural Condition Of The Human Ego, chapter three is The Transformed View Of Self, and the final chapter is How To Get That Transformed View Of Self.

Chapter one opens up with two immensely important questions:

1. "What are the marks of a heart that has been radically changed by the grace of God?"
2. "If we trust in Christ, what should our hearts be like?"

In The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Pastor Keller focuses on a section of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: 1 Cor. 3:21-4:7. In this passage, we are shown that the church in Corinth is divided due to pride and boasting. Like the Corinthians, we often look at ourselves too highly. This is something I have done all too frequently and something I continue to battle. Additionally, many people are on the other side of the spectrum and feel they suffer from a low self-esteem. We help people to combat this by telling them they are somebody; however, this is totally the wrong approach. We cannot build ourselves up by meeting our own standards or society's standards. This doesn't work. Apart from Christ, we will never be satisfied with ourselves. Our ego always desires more, and we get hurt in the process. We constantly desire to accomplish more in order to feel like we're somebody important. God expects us to deny ourselves and look to Him. God is to be our audience, not the world. We must seek to bring attention to our Awesome God and not to ourselves. The only way we can do this is by looking to the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is He who declares us innocent so we can live this life full of joy and be prepared for a life of pure joy in Heaven.

If you are looking for a quick read that is biblically sound, I recommend Keller's book to you. Pastor Keller preaches to a few thousand intellectuals in Manhattan every Sunday yet his book can be understood by those new to the faith. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness does not use complex theological terms, and deep thoughts and discussions should result from reading the book. Although I still struggle to find joy in some daily tasks, reading Keller's book is a great reminder of how I should be thinking. At the back of the book, you will find a few thoughts and questions for reflection, endnotes, and a list of Keller's books.