Complete 101 Collection

The Complete 101 Collection: What Every Leader Needs to Know (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

This new volume, The Complete 101 Collection: What Every Leader Needs to Know,  sits about two inches thick and includes most of John Maxwell’s popular content on leadership.

Some great content here on essential topics each framed around chapters on attitude, self-improvement, leadership, relationships, success, teamwork, equipping, and mentoring.

Whatever the Cost

Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Okay, I’ll be honest. I thought Whatever the Cost would be a quick, entertaining read. No big deal. Instead, I found two more heroes to add to my life.

I loved reading about the Christian home David and Jason Benham came from—how their father poured into them the mindset to “make our theology our biography.” In other words, live what you believe.

These brothers do that.

I found myself laughing out loud several times as I’d read one brother poke fun at the other one. All in good nature, but hilarious.

seven book

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Having enjoyed Eric Metaxas’ book on Bonhoeffer, I was eager to review his latest volume, 7 Men.

The book covers seven famous men in history whose faith made a difference in the way they lived.

Metaxas expressed it this way: “I was looking for seven men who had all evinced one particular quality: that of surrendering themselves to a higher purpose, of giving something away that they might have kept.”

  1. George Washington
  2. William Wilberforce
  3. Eric Liddell
  4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  5. Jackie Robinson
  6. Pope John Paul II
  7. Charles Colson

Each chapter of 7 Men includes a brief introduction why Metaxas chose the man, the story of what made the man great, and—by indirect suggestion—how we can live by their example.

Undone

Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life (Zondervan, 2015)

Michele Cushatt is one of the best writers I’ve read in a long time. And her newest book, Undone, gives more than good writing. It’s a great subject.

The book hooked me early on. I read. And read. And read. Refreshing, real, raw. She had me laughing and crying often on the same page.

The message of the book is wonderful. The fairytale we want out of life isn’t real. It never was. If you’ve ever struggled with shattered hopes, a fearful diagnosis, a wayward child, a dysfunctional church, or the silence of God, Undone will walk beside you as a companion.

Here’s why I liked it–and why I’m sure you will.

The Day I Met Jesus

The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels (Baker Books, 2015)

It’s rare I pick up a book of historical fiction that satisfies a reader’s demand for accuracy as well as interest. Mary DeMuth and Frank Viola have created a nice hybrid between the stories of the gospels and the possibilities that lay in the gaps of the stories.

The Day I Met Jesus beautifully weaves together the truth of Scripture with imaginative storytelling to tell the stories of five women:

  • The woman caught in adultery
  • The immoral woman who washed Jesus’ feet
  • The Samaritan woman
  • The woman with the issue of blood
  • Mary of Bethany

Told from a first-person perspective, some of the details of these women’s lives aren’t pretty, and the fiction does its job—with tactful and skillful writing—to bring these details to life.

The Bible's Answers to 100 of Life's Biggest Questions

The Bible’s Answers to 100 of Life’s Biggest Questions (Baker Books, 2015)

Good questions deserve good answers—especially when the questions are honest.

Too often questions about the Bible intend only to put up a smokescreen in which the critic uses as an excuse to hide from his or her accountability to God.

Christians need to know the Bible’s answers to the skeptic’s questions. In fact, a good answer can blow away the smoke and leave the critic exposed to the reality that his or her sin leaves them accountable to God. But thankfully, the Bible also it shows how God’s love has made provision for that sin through Jesus Christ.

Norm Geisler and Jason Jimenez have written an excellent reference book, The Bible’s Answers to 100 of Life’s Biggest Questions, which answers questions that would leave most of us standing with our mouths in the shape of a question mark. We would expect an apologetics book to offer good answers to the typical questions, like: How can a good God allow evil? And what about the person who’s never heard of Jesus? And it does well at these.

But this new volume answers question that seem slipperier. 

Insanely Simple

Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success (Portfolio; Reprint edition, 2013)

Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success has some super ideas and inspiring principles on working hard to keep products, communication and innovation simple. The summary section at the end is worth the book. It’s even worth wading through all the apologetics about Steve Jobs’ genius superseding his impatience with people.

Of course, the value of the bottom line should never overshadow the value of people—not just the value of customers but also employees and affiliates.

All glorification of Steve Jobs aside, Insanely Simple had some great leadership and marketing principles.

You can see good quotes I highlighted in the book here.

scary close

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Don Miller’s new book, Scary Close, follows his journey from singlehood to marriage—but really, from isolation to growing intimacy.

He describes the book’s purpose this way:

There’s truth in the idea we’re never going to be perfect in love but we can get close. And the closer we get, the healthier we will be. Love is not a game any of us can win, it’s just a story we can live and enjoy. (Page 255)

The chapter on “Five Kinds of Manipulators” was wonderful. It made me want to read Safe People by Cloud and Townsend. The best chapter is “You will not complete me.” So good to see affirmed that even a great spouse makes a lousy God. Only God completes us. Well said.

Here are a couple of quotes I loved:

Get Wise

Get Wise: Make Great Decisions Every Day (Baker Books, 2014)

Dealing with such practical decisions as money, parenting, marriage, purity, revenge, foolishness, friendship, work, and education, Get Wise: Make Great Decisions Every Day does a fine job of applying the wisdom of God’s Word to reality. In writing this book, Bob Merritt says:

I sifted through every verse contained in the book of Proverbs, isolated the dominant themes, and applied them to the top twelve decisions every person has to make in life.

Get Wise certainly contains nuggets of wisdom for living a moral life, and the proverbs Merritt selects match well with the themes. As a read, though, the book seemed at times a bit “surfacy”—with deeper issues often getting punted to the advice of a professional counselor. The stories usually recalled Merritt’s own mistakes or wise counsel to others, and after a while I felt as if the true audience of this volume was Pastor Merrit’s congregation—like the book reflected a sermon series repurposed for print. The leaders’ note in the back—as well as the discussion questions—seem to affirm that the book’s primary audience is Pastor Bob’s church. And that’s fine.