Review: The Same Love by Paul Baloche

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The Same Love by Paul Baloche is a devotional book that parallels Baloche’s record of the same name. It is a basic devotional that uses the songs off Baloche’s record as their inspiration. In the devotional, Baloche shares the heart behind the music.

There are thirteen devotions. Each devotion contains the lyrics of the song, a paraphrase, by Baloche, of a scripture passage, the devotion itself, and a prayer. The contents of the devotion gives the background of the song and how the song was written. Some of the other contributors from the record share their thoughts as well.

The devotions are thought provoking and connect the song to scripture passages. The devotional makes a good companion to the record and gives insight into the songwriting process, especially as it pertains to the praise and worship genre.

This devotional is short however. The description says 122 pages (I had an electronic version), but it seemed much shorter than that. Reading it in one sitting would probably take less than two or three hours. However, if used as a devotional, there is a couple of weeks (13 days) worth of thought, song, and prayer.

Review: Living Life In The Zone

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Finding books that interest men can be difficult. Finding devotional books that interest men is almost impossible. “Living Life in the Zone” is a perfect devotional for the man who loves sports and wants his life to be pleasing to God. Over forty days the authors provide devotions over six areas of men’s lives such as work, family relationships, and the future.

Each devotion gives an overview of biblical council for that day’s devotion as a “coaches corner.” Once the biblical “game plan” has been set, the authors give evidence of someone who lived out the game plan, and at times, shows the consequences of not living out the biblical plan. The devotion ends with a series of questions, a daily assignment, and a place to list praises and concerns to bring before God.

The topics are varied, but none of them go too deep. I believe it would be a great book for a man who desires to live more faithfully, or is new to the Christian faith. It is also a great book for a man who likes sports and has been bored by other devotionals. While there may not be anything earth shattering here, it leads a man through how to set time aside for God, and look at their lives through the lens of scripture. It also gives men an inside look at some sports figures and how they’ve integrated Christian values into their lives.

This book also has an index that lists the “Play Maker” and the page of their story.

Review – The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg

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At one time in my life I believed that if I wanted to grow spiritually it meant praying for an hour each day. For a while I attempted this practice. Each morning I would arise with my outline and a watch. For a while I was able to successfully pray through the outline for an hour. Some days were all right. Other days I didn’t think the hour would ever end. Overall, I would say the practice was not helpful. It did not create more love, joy, or peace in my life. It did not open me up to God’s spirit in my life. In the end, I was glad I could check it off my to-do list. Even though it looked good (Hey! I prayed an hour!), it was not forming me into the person God had created me to be.
During that season of my life I needed a book like Ortberg’s. If I would have been able to read The Me I Want To Be, I would have discovered that because of my personality, such a practice probably wasn’t helpful for me. I had to discover that for myself, but it took much time, frustration, and guilt.

One of the most important points this book makes is that what we find helpful for spiritual growth is connected to who we are. In other words, there isn’t a one size fits all spirituality program. Some people will find praying through an outline for an hour something that causes the spirit to flow. I did not. What I have find helpful, others will not.

Ortberg does a wonderful job of removing guilt from our formative practices. Just because we can’t pray for an hour, or find other classic spiritual disciplines meaningful, does not mean we are bad Christians. It only means that certain practices are not aligned to our personalities. Once we can remove guilt and the practices that are not helpful, we are free to discover and engage in practices that allow the spirit of God to flow in our lives so we might flourish, or become who God has created us to be.

I feel the title is unfortunate however. To me, the title seems more in line with a self-help book, which this book is not. This book assumes that the “me I want to be” is who God created me to be. Spiritual practices serve to create space in our lives where God’s spirit can move, helping us to move closer to who we really are.

I recommend this book even though I view it more of a “first step” toward something greater. I wish Ortberg would have been able to discuss more spiritual practices and how they line up with various personality temperaments. Hopefully, after you read this book, you will have a greater desire to find practices that open you to God’s presence and love!

Review: Jesus: A Theography by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

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I received an advance electronic copy of this book for an honest review.

I had looked forward to reading this book, but I had no idea what was in store for me. I’ve heard and read that all of Scripture can be read through the lens of Christ, but I had felt, at times, some of the observations were a bit stretched. I have to admit Sweet and Viola have not only convinced me that Jesus is the center, the point, and focus of both testaments, but they have also inspired me to read the bible differently. A few times I felt a bit overwhelmed by Jesus and Scripture.
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Book Review: Viral – Dr. Leonard Sweet

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Full Disclosure: I received this book as a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I must start out by confessing that I am a Leonard Sweet fan. I was unaware of how much a fan I was until I read his book Viral. Through 198 pages Sweet leads an expedition into two convergent cultures. That of the written word (Gutenbergers) and that of the technological (Googlers). The goal is to get the Gutenbergers to realize it is a Googler world and if we are going to be faithful to the call of God we must be willing to not only recognize the changes in our culture, but find ways to connect and love in this new world.
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