Book Review: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Are the guys from CLC reading my mind? Receiving this devotional book from them is a surprise because I use this book in my quite time! I bought it years ago but only recently I include it on my meditations. As far as I’m concern this work from Oswald Chambers needs neither introduction nor book review. If books for quite time are cars, “My Utmost for His Highest” is the Rolls Royce.

Every entry of this devotional is intent not just for you to be encourage but to make you think deeper. The quest of Chambers book is to blow our own self serving spirituality and engage it to focus solely on God. Chambers God given wisdom to penetrate to the very heart and soul of his readers that you’ll think that some are new to the Christian (when it is not). Over and over again you will stumble to that” aha moment” that is thoroughly provoking and engaging. This devotional will leave you soaked in the Spirits power and asking God to teach you more about Him. That’s what a devotional is all about! That is “My Utmost for His Highest”!

“My Utmost for His Highest” has been updated in our modern language for easy reading and understanding by James Reimann. Reimann gave the updated versions of classic devotionals, two from Spurgeon (which I own) and Streams in the Desert. But I consider his update on “My Utmost for His Highest” the best of all. I think he gave his all on this project that it didn’t lost the ideas and thoughts of this devotional.

You don’t have to read this or any book review to endorse this great book. Don’t mind the blurbs or Charles Stanley’s foreword in the book. This devotional should be in every book shelves of every Christian. This classic book is highly recommended.

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Book Review: Lift Up Your Eyes by Christopher Shaw

 

A pastor once told me that not all Christians are called to be pastors, preachers, Sunday school teachers and missionaries. But all Christians are called to be leaders. We are leaders with a servant leadership.

“Lift Up Your Eyes” is a devotional geared for those Christian leaders in either ministerial or secular settings. There are lots of Christian books that are for leadership. We have tons and tons of it already. However, a devotional solely for leadership are but few. That’s were “Lift Up Your Eyes” comes in. A day by day meditation of what really matters most for leaders. Is your leadership in the spotlight? This devotional will cater to you and empower your leadership.

One of the things that caught our attention on this devotional is on prayer. We should make it a point to consider prayer as the most important and most powerful thing that God has given to us. But sometimes we neglect it maybe because we don’t really know what prayer truly means. As Christian leaders we need to bow in prayer everyday and set a vision to pray.

Leaders, are you looking for something to energize your day spiritually? Pick up “Lift Up Your Eyes” to know the heart of God in every phase of your leadership.

Book Review: Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

“Know thy self” a quote from an ancient philosopher which still echoes today. Lost in what society or culture dictates to us we come to be tangled to images that are not who we are.
“Personality Plus” aims to untangle confusion on who we are and how we will understand others in the process. As I read this book by Littauer it dawns to me that this book is based on a book by Tim LaHaye on temperaments titled “Spirit Controlled Temperament”. I still have the copy it in its vintage edition. Also the contents of that LaHaye book are still vivid in my mind. So “Personality Plus” is “Spirit Controlled Temperament” version 2.0.
“Personality Plus” is a straight forward book that helps you apply its methods in very opening chapter. Here you got to choose in four categories of personality that fit who you really are. But first you have to answer the personality chart that gives character traits that you have. Then you pick which of the four personalities that most likely express yourself. The four personalities are Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholy, Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Further chapters of the book discuss the four personalities in terms of advice in encouraging, improving relationships, compatibility and achieving our potentials. I think you’ll smile if you find who you are in this book and give all heart attention to the suggestions for your personality.
Although the author of the book is a Christian, you won’t find the book drench with biblical support to the ideas it holds. I find some of what is included here has the same feel with self help books out in the market. Still this is a nice guide and you’ll learn from it. Not a gem but a tool in getting to know ourselves.

John Stott on the Holiness of the Church

Writing to Christian leaders on how they should view the church, Bible teacher John Stott writes:

“Because of the sacred nature of the Christian community as the dwelling place of God, it must not be dishonored in any way; neither divided by jealousies and rivalries, nor deceived by false teaching, nor defiled by immoral conduct. These things are acts of sacrilege; they effectively destroy the church, for they destroy its unique identity as the holy people of God indwelt by the Spirit of God. And if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (v.17). This is a severe statement. But then to destroy the church (by dividing, deceiving or defiling it) is an extremely serious offence. So a deliberate act of violence against the church is an act against God. This surely shows that the perpetrator in mind is not a true believer. He will be destroyed in hell, for that is what ‘destruction’ means in the New Testament.”

(Calling Christian Leaders by John Stott, pg. 88-89, Published by OMF Literature Inc. 2010)

5 Essential Things to Do to Finish Reading a Book

Some of us are struggling in finishing a book. At first we got fired up in reading a new book. But as we go through a few chapters, our flame diminishes. The book could be boring, very long or we already know what the book is leading us. In any rate, before the fire of reading goes out, here are five things to do to finish devouring a book:

1.       Randomly pick chapters or sections to read- chapter or section jumping is very helpful especially if the book’s chapters and sections are stand alone. Select parts of the book that appeals to you first. Read shorter sections or chapters. As you read this way you’ll finish the book in the breeze.

2.   Have a reading buddy or participate on blog “read together” method– asks someone to read along with you. It will be encouraging to have a friend sharing a book. He may tell the content of the book to you and create an appetite for you to read the book for yourself. Also there are blogs who are having a “read together” campaign that encourage followers of a blog to read a chapter of a book and have a weekly discussion on it online. Tim Challies has one on his blog and fans of his blog read classic Christian works with him which is cool. He also provides beforehand where to get the book and what format it is available. Try to find blogs with similar scheme.

3.   Read positive things on the book- check the blurbs, reviews, interviews, book trailer or additional resources of the book. It will ignite you passion over and over again to go on reading it.

4.   Listen or read sermons and articles the book came from- Christian books sometimes evolved from a smaller work of an author. Try to find sermons and articles which are tidbits of the book. It will give you a push to read to till the end. It also may help you read the book easy because you already know some parts of it.

 5.  Read it in an unusual pace and place- you don’t have to set a specific time and place for reading a book. Don’t read it every day do it every other day. Try to squeeze it in your idle time. Get out of the school library or your reading den (if you have one) try reading it while riding a bus, waiting for someone or eating a snack at a convenient store.

 

Any more you could add? Please include it on the comment.

Books in Pieces

Previously I wrote an article about the “5 Essential Things to Do to Finish Reading a Book”. Included in the list is number 4 which is ‘Listen or read sermons and articles the book came from”. I explain that:

“Christian books sometimes evolved from a smaller work of an author. Try to find sermons and articles which are tidbits of the book. It will give you a push to read to till the end. It also may help you read the book easy because you already know some parts of it.”

As I recall some of my favorite books and books I want to read has some of its pieces from sermons and messages from the author. It could be a short article, video or MP3 form. It’s so awesome to search it over the internet and enjoy those parts. Parts of it are the sometimes the core of the books and some are teaser. What is great about it, it has the same message that it delivers like the book it is part of. Unlike the book it is easily shared and it won’t take time for someone to digest it in reading. If someone is not really into reading or you want to encourage them to read Christian books, this is a good place to start.

So I made a list of sermons or articles from which some of my favorite book came from. Aside from the books I dearly delighted, I include book I wish I could read and books you might be interested to. I hope and pray you will check out the link and with that you’ll grab the book and read it for your spiritual nourishment:

  1. Intimacy with God by J. Oswald Sanders – Four Circles of Intimacy with God is the core chapter of the book.
  2. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper – Youtube video of a sermon by John Piper.
  3. The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung – Youtube interview.
  4. The Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur Jr. – Youtube video sermon but I prefer the series MP3.
  5. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders – MP3 sermon of the book.
  6. Do Hard Things by Alex and Brent Harris – the blog entries almost has all the parts of the actual book.
  7. Platform by Michael Hyatt – part of this book are from post from his awesome blog.
  8. The Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer – Youtube video by the late Francis Schaeffer.
  9. Knowing Scriptures by R. C. Sproul  – simple but powerful article.
  10. Preaching with Passion by Alex Montoya – MP3 sermon from SermonAudio.com

Do you have books that you know are part of a sermon or article? You can post it on the comments so we can enjoy it both.

CLC Philippines Book Card

Open your wallet and what do you see? Aside from the money bills, a picture of you and a 10 year old Starbucks receipt, an endless collection of cards. Discount cards, ATM cards, membership cards, ID cards etc., etc…Let me add another more to the list. How about a discount card for Christian books? And not only does it gives discounts but entitles you to be a part of God’s mission to reach out others? Is that a great deal? If you said yes then be a member of CLC Philippines “Book Card”.  Get discounts, freebies and exclusive privileges’ only from CLC Philippines.  If your passionate for books that will help you grow spiritual then this card is for you. How can you be a member? By simply by submitting a completed application form and pay the required fee you are in. Yes that is so simple!

In addition to that you’ll be added to the growing number of Book Card Connect, a book club and support group of the Book Card holders. The purpose of this group is connect Christians (member of the Book Card) to have fellowship and met new friends.  Now that’s something! So run to nearest CLC Bookshop to join or check CLC Philippines website, Facebook and Twitter for more info.

Matt Chandler on Church Membership for Spiritual Growth

“If you view church as some sort of ecclesiological buffet, then you severely limit the likelihood of your growing into maturity. Growth into godliness can hurt. For instance, as I interact with others in my own local body, my own slothfulness in zeal is exposed, as is my lack of patience, my prayerlessness, and my hesitancy to associate with the lowly (Rom. 12:11-16). Yet this interaction also gives me the opportunity to be lovingly confronted by brothers and sisters who are in the trenches with me, as well as a safe place to confess and repent. But when church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen.”

 

(9 Marks E-Journal May/June 2011 pg. 7)

Book Review: Advanced Strategic Planning by Audrey Malphurs

From the title of this book, it gave me flashbacks of my graduate school. I took up Masters in Business Administration where we study the components of handling a company or an organization. From the human resource to the basic operations of it, MBA gave me a perspective that getting a group of people with a common interest or goal needs a lot of well laid methods to get it in full swing. An organization is not just made up of buildings or equipment but people who are giving their hearts and mind to the mission and vision the organization. In 2 year stay, I always get acquainted over and over again with two words: strategic planning. If you are planning to take up MBA, strategic planning will run to every veins of every subject you will go through.  

If secular companies or organization needs a game plan for its survival so does the church. We are not just placed by God us to occupy a title but use the gifts and guidance of the Holy Spirit to work out a healthy and growing church. Aubrey Malphurs “Advanced Strategic Planning gives a helping hand to assist the contemporary church.

Malphurs book is strategic planning. Not just planning but strategic. Not just a nifty plan but a well sought and thoroughly plan that aims to accomplish what it takes for a church to survive. This is not another leadership book that will enhance key personnel of the church but a blue print for church and ministry leaders that will arm them not just encouragement but wisdom.

“Advanced Strategic Planning” opens with the reality of the decline of churches that needs some serious thoughts. Base on studies when the life cycle of a church reaches the plateau stage in will eventually have a receding tendency. That  why this book focus on targeting the plateau stage with a new model for church planting, church growth and church revitalization.

This book will get you down and dirty to do strategic planning complete with activities that will get you immediately into action. It includes some survey and assessment sheets on the appendix.  Don’t get dizzy with the number of pages or the topics that are discussed. Thoroughly explain and illustrated you won’t be at lots of what the book is driving. This book reminds me of Doug Field’s “The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry” sets a mark of what is a youth ministry for the coming decades. My prayer is that this book will truly help the ministry leaders to cope to the ever changing demands of their flock.

A straight forward, well written book that can be a textbook for a Christian seminary, Audrey Malphurs “Advanced Strategic Planning” is the real deal if your concern to church growth and planting. A book that will keep you up and running to do what God calls us to do.

 

Want more book reviews? Check out the links below:

Book Review: The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

Book Review: Marriage Matters by Winston T. Smith

Book Review: A Vision of the Deep by Susan Scott Sutton

Book Review: God Without Religion by Andrew Farley

Book Review: Leaders that Last by Dave Kraft

Book Review: Be All You Can Be by John Maxwell

Book Review: Calling Christian Leaders by John Stott

Book Review: Knowing Scriptures by R. C. Sproul

Boo Review: Giving Up is Not an Option by William B. Girao

5 Vital Ways to Handle Criticism

Are you in the slump with that negative feedback? Here are 5 tips on handling criticism:

  1. Think before reacting – listen or read criticism thoroughly. If you’re upset let it cool down then take another look at the criticism. Give yourself time. Also don’t forget to ask if the criticism really needs your response.
  2. Start being a God pleaser – sometimes we Christians regardless if we do good or bad, people always finds something to throw back to us. Sometimes we shouldn’t rush to fix it up. You don’t have to make each and everyone like you. You can’t. Remember we are accountable to God and He is the only one who knows our heart. Whatever your intentions it won’t go unnoticed from God’s eyes.
  3. Take criticism as a concern – you should ask yourself “Maybe they are right.” Maybe it’s time to look at criticism as a concern specially coming from your friends. Have room for change. Try to fix areas in your life that are targets of negativity. Pray and allow God to reveal it to you so you can improve.
  4. Don’t attack the critics – don’t get personal. Deal with criticism not the critics. Don’t hate them but have heart to those people. Learn to have a Christ like attitude towards them.
  5. Learn to excel – if in criticism you’re doing already your best, grab it as an opportunity to prove your critics you can excel and not be affected by the things they are throwing at you.

Do you have number 6? You can post it at the comment.