“The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success”, Colt McCoy, Matt Carter


Photo courtesy of Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers

I think most men are borne with a desire to be significant, to be seen to have made an impact wherever we are stationed. As Christian men, this desire is no different and we often find ourselves chasing the world’s roadmaps for achieving impact.

Matt, a Pastor and Colt, an NFL quarterback, are leading successful lives in the world’s eyes. The two men take us through their struggles with the world’s guidelines for success to demonstrate an alternative based on Biblical practices. They specifically focus on four key areas: work, family, a man’s character and his future or legacy.

The book is especially practical not just because it comes with a study guide but also uses examples from both of their lives to demonstrate how they’ve managed to depend on Jesus rather than the world’s principles. They don’t shy away from revealing their own struggles, failures and weaknesses.

There are many good chapters in this book. I especially appreciated the two that cover a man’s character especially in discussing integrity and weaknesses. “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16b NASB)

Read more

“Deeper Places,” Matthew Jacoby

dp.inddThe Psalms reflect the authors relationship with God. Accordingly, they are a tremendous example in demonstrating how we can communicate with Him.

Matthew Jacoby has a deep understanding of the Psalms as he has spent a great deal of the past 15 years immersed in them. He is a founding member of the Psalms-worship band Sons of Korah and accordingly has been singing them for many years.

This is one of those books that you need to take time over and mediate on both Scripture and Jacoby’s words of explanation. The book is structured around explaining the various types of psalm (eg, lamentation, praise, etc) and outlining how we can use the words to better aid our own communication with the Lord.

As one of the endorsers states: “Deeper Places is about knowing God, not knowing about God.” I want to know God more intimately and this wonderful book has opened my eyes to better understand how I can do that.

If your desire is to know God, then I’d encourage you to get your hands on this marvellous book.

“Intimacy with the Almighty”, Charles Swindoll


Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson.com

Chuck Swindoll wrote this short book during a period where he was on sabbatical to his pastoral responsibilities. It was only in that down time that he sensed his yearning for greater intimacy with the Lord. Sometimes it’s only when we slow down and be still in the Lord’s presence are we able to hear our heart’s cry.

The book is centred around 4 decisions that need to be made daily and the required discipline for enabling greater intimacy with the Lord:

1. To reorder one’s private world -> Simplicity
2. To be still -> Silence
3. To cultivate serenity -> Solitude
4. To trust the Lord completely -> Surrender

I liked this structure particularly the inclusion of simplicity. In this frequently manic world we live in it is very easy to become overwhelmed not just by physical things but our minds can be overtaken by a barrage of unrelenting communications.

This is an easy book to read, only taking an hour, but it’s important to allow the teachings and soundbites time to linger in our hearts so we can start to put the concepts into practice.

Highly recommended.

“Spirit Hunger”, Gari Meacham

9780310309000I thoroughly enjoyed Gari’s book. Too often we can walk through life as mere bystander going about our little quiet life in our own little way. Gari’s book reminds us that God calls us to participate and we can do this by listening to the grumblings in our heart and allowing the Spirit to satisfy our hunger for more.

The book is broken into 3 sections: The heart that longs, the heart that seeks and the heart that moves and illustrates her perspectives with sound Biblical teaching and stories from her own life.

I particularly appreciated the chapters on prayer especially Chapter 9 on the postures for effective hearing from God. Too often prayer can become a monologue of requests, however, God wants to communicate and share what’s on His heart so we need to establish the correct postures to listen.

Filled with practical teaching that challenges and is written with such infectious passion for encouraging all readers to set sail allowing the Spirit to take charge of our hearts.

Highly recommended.

“The In-Between”, Jeff Goins

The-In-Between-211x300The ordinary moments brim with wonder

I read this book smiling. It is so delightful and comes with a strong message that there is wonder to be found in the moments of waiting.

Too often we are focused on the next, whatever that is: job, baby, year, holiday, or even what we’ll be doing when we get home. There is nothing wrong with that except if we ignore the present. Jeff encourages us to be expectant in the wait, in the pause. In doing so we can realise the unique preciousness that only comes in that particular moment.

Jeff recounts stories from his life where he’s been forced to slow down or wait. Whether it was the train journey home for Christmas, the nine months till his first son was born, or the wonder of time spent with the elderly, Jeff encourages us to cherish the in-between moments. I particularly enjoyed the story of his wedding proposal and the actual day. Both are magical with old-fashioned romance.

Jeff writes beautifully and the power of these stories lies in their ordinariness. We all experience the run of the mill moments of life. But Jeff reminds us that everyday is precious and even when nothing much happens there’s still joy to be found.

Highly recommended.

“Jesus is ______”, Judah Smith


Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson

In our mixed up world it’s very easy for us to lose sight of “the way, the truth and the life” whether we are a believer or not. We have this maddening way of taking charge ourselves or basing our opinions of faith on the church or other believers.

What this wonderful book does is bring us back to the heart of the gospel. A person. Jesus.

I love how Smith sums it up near the end of the book: “He just wants to love us. He wants to be loved by us.” We should wake each day and welcome Jesus to it. He’s here anyway, why not walk through our days in relationship with Him. And if we do we will truly discover who we are and can be.

Written in easily understandable language with much humour (some funny, some not so) plus plenty of anecdotes and Scripture, this is a beautiful reminder of what Christianity is all about. A person. Jesus.

We need more of this message and I look forward to Pastor Smith’s next book. Highly recommended.

“The Power of Weakness”, Keith Giles

17254288I received this 100 page ebook as part of a giveaway as a result of buying Frank Viola’s new book. Gee, I hope the other gifts I downloaded are as good as this one.

Pastor Giles takes us through the stories of key Biblical figures: Jesus, Solomon, Moses, Samson, David, Gideon to name a few. He demonstrates using Scripture how they only “succeeded” by emptying themselves to fully surrender their lives to God. Samson, for example, was only powerful because the Holy Spirit equipped him with incredible strength.

This book comes at an important time for the church where I believe we may have forgotten this critical aspect of faith. God can only use us when we let Him by depending on Him. All of these Biblical people were weak so they depended on the Father to provide the power.

Well written with strong Biblical references. My only suggestion for improvement would be if we saw some modern day examples of this phenomenon. I get the concept and want to do it, but I’m still not quite sure how to. What do I need to do when I wake up each day to be “weak” and therefore depend on Jesus?

Highly recommended – 4/5

“Alone with God”, John MacArthur

107334lgSometimes we can spend too much time reading about prayer rather than doing it. However, this shortish book (180+ pages) is a great resource for aligning our focus.

Too often our prayer can be too needs-based, ie, it’s all about us. Whilst in taking us through The Lord’s Prayer and then Paul’s priorities in prayer, MacArthur provides a challenge to allow prayer to be more God focused. Most of the book walks through MacArthur’s reflections on the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been using The Lord’s Prayer a lot recently, so I found this a good reminder of Jesus’ intentions when reciting this prayer.

However, it’s the last two chapters that spoke to me the most. MacArthur moves from Jesus to Paul’s prayer life to outline what Paul prioritised in His prayers. He highlights two key priorities:

Read more