This Is Not A Test – Review

Thanks to my friends at FlyByPromotions, I had the opportunity to review the new Toby Mac CD – “This Is Not A Test” this week. I have always believed that one of the marks of a great artist is their ability to stay relevant as time goes by. Many artists turn to shock value and other creative ways to stay in the public eye. Others continue to mold their sound to match that of the current music scene. DC Talk had a knack for doing this and it should be no surprise that former DC Talk member Toby Mac continues that trend.

“This Is Not A Test” is another example of Toby keeping with the current sounds while continuing to spread the message of hope, love and a life that follows Christ. There are not many CD’s that the kids and the parents can agree on but “This Is Not A Test” is one that can used on road trips and the whole family will be satisfied. The grooves are smooth and the lyrics are easy to understand. One song flows to the next and makes “This Is Not A Test” a joy to listen to.

About TOBYMAC:
Toby McKeehan(known professionally as TobyMac) is a husband, father, performer, songwriter, producer, and businessman.  Growing up in the northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to Washington D.C. helped instill his love for rap music.  While attending Liberty University during the mid 80s, Toby met Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith and these three friends formed the Grammy winning, platinum selling group dc Talk.  Toby began his solo career in 1999 with his first solo album, Momentum, releasing in 2001.  Momentum has been followed by four additional studio albums, Welcome to Diverse City (2004), Portable Sounds (2007), Tonight(2010), and Eye On It (2012), along with his first live album, Alive and Transported (2008).  This Is Not A Test is his 6th studio album to be released.  Starting with dc Talk, and then going solo when the group disbanded, Toby still clings to such rootsy notions as hard work, persistence, patience, and – perhaps most relevant of all – the power of music, which he insists is still what keeps him going.  “It’s the truth,” he says.  “I still believe that a song can penetrate a heart.  I believe God can use a song to open someone’s mind and heart.”
S O C I A L • C O R N E R
YOUTUBE CHANNEL – Includes a 3 part video series for the song Feel It 
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review – Finding Noah

I believe that most people want some form of proof. Although we have already seen many things that prove the existance of God, it seems like many people would like that one thing. Something that is indisputable. Something that they can point to and say, “now I believe.”

I recently had the opportunity to preview an upcoming film called “Finding Noah.” I had to watch it over the course of 2 nights due to a very busy schedule. The first night I watched it with my 15 year old. The first half of the film drew us in and left us wanting to get to the end to find out if they did, in fact, find Noah’s ark. The first half also set the stage with many historical facts that I did not know. It seems the quest for Noah’s ark extends far back in history. Really far back.

I won’t give away the ending here, but this is a powerful film. Obviously the quest for Noah’s ark and the wonder of if they will be successful is the most powerful story line. There are further story lines about each of the men and what this expedition means to them personally. Many have made the trip more than once. I really enjoyed the film and highly recommend it to anyone that might read this. Here’s more about the film:

For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.  Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat.  Located in Eastern Turkey, Agri Dagh or “The Painful Mountain” is the tallest mountain in the region and lies in the very center of a centuries old, geo-politically unstable hot spot.  With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation.  
Join director/producer Brent Baum and the FINDING NOAH film crew as they follow an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat’s desolate summit.  There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question:  did Noah and his Ark actually exist?  
Shot in never-before filmed locations in the harshest of conditions, this unprecedented feature-length documentary shows just how far men are willing to go to discover the truth.  Narrated by Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise, FINDING NOAH is more than a quest for answers, it is a testament of the human spirit, where belief and the need for exploration transcend risk and limitation.

 

American Sniper Reflect and Review

It’s been a LOOOOOOONG time since I wrote a post. There are a multitude of reasons which could will probably be a post all its own one day. The reason for this post is to share a little bit about the movie American Sniper. My friends at Grace Hill Media were kind enough to send me 3 copies of the film. One was for me to review. Another copy was sent to give away. A third copy of the film was sent to give to a veteran of my choosing. I immediately knew who I was giving the other 2 copies to.

My review of the film is very short and simple – Excellent. American Sniper is a hard film to watch. It makes you uncomfortable (and I’m not referring to the “R” rating although that might make some uncomfortable). I say that because, if you’re like me, it’s hard to see what we so often take for granted. I am a guy that has HUGE respect for our military. I am thankful for their service and sacrifice for this country and the freedom we hold dear. When I see it or am immersed in it, like you are in American Sniper, it leaves you numb. I can honestly say that I don’t know the first thing about what it means to sacrifice everything for people you don’t even know. Which leads me to what I did with the second copy of American Sniper I received…

I met a local member of the police department a few years ago when we were both serving in a ministry. I don’t recall the specifics of our initial meeting, but we struck up an instant friendship. That friendship still exists today. My friend works in one of the toughest parts of Columbus. Every day he puts on a uniform to protect and serve people who don’t even know his name. It should be no surprise that he also wore the uniform of this great nation and served in our military. He is strong, tough (mentally and physically) and yet values relationship and people. He has my back. You don’t know him, but he has your back too. He is a man I have the utmost respect for.  A DVD copy of American Sniper is such a small token of my appreciation for my friend.

I share all of that because when I watched “American Sniper” I was reminded of my friend. Throughout the film, I imagined my friend in the role that Bradley Cooper played. He put his country first. He made the hard decisions. He valued the people of his unit and protected those he was shoulder to shoulder with. Not only was he an elite soldier, he was also a husband and father. He struggled to disengage when he returned but ultimately found a path and committed himself to being the same level husband and father as he was a soldier. My friend is the same way. He protects those he loves and that often has nothing to do with a rifle or combat.

Bradley Cooper was outstanding as Chris Kyle. The film will leave you numb and not quite sure what to do as the credits roll. The theater I was in was completely silent. No one spoke. We all just made our way to the exits. Clint Eastwood directed the film and deserves all of the praise and awards he receives. The language is rough. The battle scenes are graphic. I’m just not sure how you make this film without both. This is the war that we don’t like to talk about or face. There are men and women facing every day.

This leads me to the final copy of American Soldier. I’m not doing a giveaway. The truth is that I already gave it away. I gave it to a friend that recently moved here from the same town that Chris Kyle was from in Texas. This film, for them, was even more personal. I couldn’t think of a better person to give it to as I know they feel a connection to this story like none of us can.

To all of those that serve and have served our nation, thank you. We need more films like American Sniper. We need more reminders that there are men and women that serve and protect us each and every day. They don’t do it for movies to be made about them. They do it so we have the freedom which we often take for granted. Thank you Grace Hill Media for providing these three copies of American Sniper.

I give American Sniper a 5 out of 5.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

10 Books That Shaped Me

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There are a lot of things that have molded and shaped me over the years. Some good and some not so good. Be that as it may, I was thinking this week about how there are a lot of great books I’ve read over the years that have come to define who I am. The Bible is obviously one of those and in a class all by itself. I put some thought in to what the 10 books that really shaped me were. If you haven’t read some of them, I highly recommend giving each one some attention. Each one molded, changed and shaped me in a different way. So let’s get started.

Continue reading “10 Books That Shaped Me”

Review “Holy Ghost”

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I recently had the opportunity to review a new documentary film called “Holy Ghost.” I think the biggest take away from this entire film was following the prompting that God has placed in each one of use that have committed our lives to Christ. This nearly 2 hour film is filled with incredible adventures all led by the Holy Spirit. When I say incredible, I mean incredible. The viewer is taken along for the ride everywhere from India to a rock concert. You are also witness to men proclaiming the gospel and forever changing lives. It is simply incredible to watch.

Continue reading “Review “Holy Ghost””

Review – Ragamuffin

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When I arrived home from Indianapolis last night, there was a package from one of the providers of media I often review for. I always get excited to open these packages like a kid on Christmas morning. When I opened the package, I found the DVD release of the life story of Rich Mullins called “Ragamuffin.” I have been anticipating seeing this film since I first saw the trailer. Rich Mullins was a treasure to the music industry and particularly the Christian Music industry. His songs were honest, real and raw.

So was his life.

Although the hour was late, I couldn’t wait to watch this movie so I put it in. When the final credits rolled, I sat there somewhat numb. If you know anything about Rich Mullins, you know that the ending isn’t happy. He was tragically taken long before his time. The movie is over 2 hours of wrestling with the tension in our faith of holiness, honesty, transparency, grace, forgiveness and walking it out daily. I wonder if Rich Mullin’s story isn’t all of our story (just without all the record contracts, concerts and stuff). They did an incredible job of capturing his story, ALL of his story.

One of my biggest complaints about these films is the acting is usually not that great. There are times when it’s so bad it takes away from the story that is taking place. Not true with “Ragamuffin.” The acting was on point and believable. I got so pulled into the story that I never once thought about watching a film. The man that portrayed Rich Mullins did an exceptional job.

There were so many great quotes and lessons throughout “Ragamuffin.” I’m going to watch it again just to write down many of the things that were said. I’ll watch it again as a reminder that I’m not alone in the constant tension of living out a life of faith. One of the most powerful lessons in this film is the struggle of understanding how “God loves you” when you know you and sometimes that “Sunday School answer” doesn’t seem possible. Incredible fim. Incredible life that ended all too soon.

I give “Ragamuffin” a 5 out of 5. 

Where to Buy
Consider buying one DVD for yourself and give one away to a Ragamuffin in their lives.
About the Film:
RAGAMUFFIN is based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of Jesus and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own darkness tear him away from a God he was determined to love. As he struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity.
About Rich Mullins:
Singer and songwriter Richard Wayne “Rich” Mullins was best known for his worship song “Awesome God” which has been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, John Tesh, and Hillsong United. Mullins’ musical career formally began with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion.  Mullins first solo hit, “Awesome God,” appeared on his third album and brought his music to a wider audience. Rich Mullins was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) on April 29, 2014.

Review – Impact

impactIt’s hard to believe but I have been in the work force for over 20 years now. Over 20 years in the world of business and one brief role in ministry. In that 20 years I have started at the bottom and spent time up and down that Corporate Ladder. I’ve worked for some great leaders and some not so great leaders. I’ve been a leader and probably not so great leader too. It’s odd but leadership fascinates me. Great leadership inspires me. That is why I enjoyed this book.

The new book by Tim Irwin called “Impact – Great Leadership Changes Everything” hit at the most opportune time for me. I can testify to every word in this book. I am living and working in an environment and business that shows precisely what Tim Irwin is writing about. According to Irwin, there are three ingredients to successful leadership – style (the outward face), conduct (the leader’s actions), and core (the inner person of the leader).

Over the past few years I have served under leaders that were living examples of these ingredients. That is both good and bad. I’ve seen how this can positively or negatively impact those that are under this leadership. Currently I work for a man that breathes life into our organization with his positive style, the way he conducts himself and the core of who he is. I’ve also served under someone who had the style part, but his conduct and core were something I still question (which is probably why I’m no longer serving under that leader). To have all three ingredients is critical to success.

Impact is a great read. It’s a great model of leadership. If you’re a leader or just enjoy the study of leadership as I do, I highly recommend it.

About the author:

Dr. Tim Irwin, the author of the New York Times best-selling book Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything, has been a confidante to thousands of global leaders. He is a favorite guest of Hugh Hewitt and is being featured on a number of Christian radio programs. Irwin sees one central issue anytime a leader “derails”—he believes they have a defect in their “core”, which Irwin says goes beyond the overused term “character”. His new book, Impact, addresses this and gives actionable ways leaders can protect themselves, and better serve their organizations—especially crucial for those of us who serve in ministry and are walking a Christian walk.

Stay Connected: 

Website: http://www.drtimirwin.com

Take the personal assessmenthttp://drtimirwin.net/assessment/impact-assessment

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/drtimirwin

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/drtimirwin

#Impact

I give Impact a 4 out of 5. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Review – Amazing Spiderman Family Discussion Guide

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I don’t know about you all but one of my favorite superheroes has always been Spiderman. You can imagine when I was given the opportunity to review the new family discussion guide that goes with the film, you can bet I was all over it! I’m looking forward to the new film which hits theaters this May. Check this out.

Wow. Looks like a ton of action packed into one film. The family discussion guide is a great way to ask leading questions to other members of the family and get their thoughts around things like power, time, life, choices and destiny. There are short introductions followed by 3-6 questions around each topic. Great stuff. Here’s more:

Family Discussion Guide
The discussion guide for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great resource for families to discuss a range of important themes that include the relationship between personal choices and destiny, living a life that counts, sacrificing yourself in service to others, and the nature of power. This guide will help parents start (or continue) conversations with their children that will inspire them to think outside themselves and challenge them to live lives that matter. The conversations that will result from using this guide will reveal that even the most explosive summer blockbuster can leave lasting, positive impacts on its young viewers.

 
About Spiderman 
We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

Check out Spiderman in theaters this May!

Official website for the moviewww.theamazingspiderman.com/ 
#Spiderman

Review – Soul Keeping

null.jpg_8228I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point over the last 10 years, someone gave me a copy of a John Ortberg book. I don’t even remember which book it was, but as soon as I read it, I was a fan. Over those 10 years, I have read every one of his books. If I had the opportunity to sit down with an author and just listen, John Ortberg would be one of the authors on a very short list. Some of his books have literally changed the trajectory and understanding of my faith. When I read the forward of his new book – “Soul Keeping” – I found it interesting that he shared a very personal moment when he sat with one of his literary heroes, Dallas Willard.

Soul Keeping is the result of the many years of learning and relationship that John Ortberg gained from Dallas Willard. It is his way of honoring a man that had a deep impact on his life. By writing Soul Keeping, John Ortberg is hoping to do the same for anyone that might read it as well. It is a treasure and worth reading. It honors Dallas Willard well and contains great information about something I think we all neglect…..our soul.

This book is an opportunity to step back and see arguably the most important part of who we are. We get so caught up in so many things that don’t really matter, but the soul is everything. As with all of his books, John Ortberg mixes great story telling, humor and important thoughts. Reading “Soul Keeping” only further cemented my desire to some day sit at his feet and just listen and learn.

I give Soul Keeping a 4 out of 5.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life Lessons for Dad

photo1A few weeks ago an internet friend of mine sent me a request to check out his new book. Because we were messaging in 140 characters or less (aka twitter), I didn’t have a lot of details about the book he was sending. Today I opened up a book that is instantly a treasure. Are you a dad with daughters? Are you married to a man with daughters? If you’ve ever taken my advice, please take it now…you MUST order a copy of this book. It’s small but could be some of the most powerful instruction for you or that man in your life.

Filled with quick life instructions and beautiful photography, “Life Lessons for Dad – Tea Parties, Tutus & All Things Pink” by Michael Mitchell is just brilliant. I honestly can’t say enough how thankful I am to have said “yes” to this review. Please excuse the poor photography from my phone, but here are a few images of from the book.

Again, my iPhone doesn’t do a bit of justice to the beauty of the photography and the attention to detail on each page. Each picture tells a story, but the real key is the instruction below. Page after page of important, thought provoking wisdom. There is even an open page at the front of the book with the instruction to “Add your own photo and caption on this page.” I haven’t made it through the entire book yet, but here are just a few of the lessons to give you some idea of what you’ll find too:

She’s as smart as any boy. Make sure she knows that.

 

Boys will break her heart. So will mean girls, stray puppies, and devastating athletic losses. Be there to help pick up the pieces.

 

If you want to be her friend in adulthood, you have to act like her parent today. This rarely works in reverse.

 

Sing to her. Every day. Even when you don’t feel like it. Do it often enough and the sound of your voice will become a permanent source of steadiness in her life.

“Life Lessons for Dad” officially releases on May 1st. You can pre-order today on Amazon (HERE).

Order yours today and start collecting memories to fill this page for you and your little girls.

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“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review – Touchfire Keyboards

Photograph: Jed Share

The other day I was on Facebook and saw an ad for something called a Touchfire Keyboard for the iPad/iPad mini. Since we own the original iPad (which my 9 year old primarily uses) and an iPad mini, I thought it was worth a shot. I loved the concept and the idea of having something more textile like to type on. We ordered one for each and the case for the mini since I needed one anyway.

Remarkably, I choose the cheaper 2 day shipping option and sure enough, received it right way. It was great. Below are the pictures of the packages as I received them and all that came with it.

All of the packaging and instructions were well thought out with the end user in mind. I appreciate when companies take the time to do that. They also included some small magnets for users that don’t have the Apple brand or their brand of case.

Everything else was pretty straight forward. As the recommended, I washed both keyboards off under water and dried them with ease before the first use. The very first time I tried the keyboard, it felt a bit strange. They have a great typing tutorial on their support site that helps you get used to typing with the Touchfire. Once you have used it for a bit, it becomes very comfortable and easy to use. My 9 year old was using it in no time on our old iPad 1. She really likes it.

I also purchased one for my iPad mini. I had the same experience with the mini as I did with the full keyboard. Because I needed a new case, I went ahead and ordered the Touchfire brand to go with the keyboard. If you can, I recommend doing this too. It’s the perfect companion and grabs the keyboard when the case I closed. When you need it again, you just peel it off and put it back in place. You can also fold the front cover in half when not in use to cover the Touchfire keypad and not feel it. Their case also offers multiple positions for typing and viewing. It’s well build and sturdy.

I really, really like this product. My experience from beginning to end was positive. It is not the Bluetooth type keyboard you find in some of the cases, but it is low profile, light, and gives you a full keyboard experience. I highly recommend the Touchfire if you’re in the market. By the way, this entire post was written using the Touchfire.

I was not compensated by Touchfire for this review. It was done strictly as a service to none interested in purchasing one or finding out more about it.

Review – Moment Maker

downloadHave you ever picked up a book and thought “if I ever wrote a book, this would pretty much be it?” Have you ever had a book hit you in the face at the EXACT time that you are doing what it says to do? Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to one of the top 3 best books I’ve ever read….”Moment Maker” by Carlos Whitaker. 

I think I have mentioned it a few times, but more than once I have kicked around the idea of writing a book. While brainstorming with a publishing friend of mine, he said something that has always stuck with me – “Aaron, there is nothing new under the sun. What would you write that hasn’t already been written?” I’m no expert of anything. I might be considered a jack of all trades and a master of none. That is why a book I might write has never made it past the concept stage. What would I say and how would I say it?

Now let me take you quickly back to August of 2011. My wife and I had the opportunity to share a few minutes with Carlos Whitaker while visiting Cross Point Church in Nashville. I will never forget the conversation I had with him. I even wrote a post about (HERE). It was so memorable because we were absolutely in sync with our belief of approach to life and, wait for it……moments. I walked away knowing that someone else out there totally understood how I have lived a crazy life of incredible adventures. Now I can put it in two words…. Moment Maker.

That was a lot of build up to the review of this book. What is ABSOLUTELY NUTS about this book is I read it while on flights to and from doing something that would be classified as a moment maker. I didn’t know what the book was about. I had no earthly idea it would basically be a blue print supporting the very thing I was taking part in. I kept shaking my head and laughing at how crazy it really was. Then I kept thinking of how many people I want to get this book to. How many people I want to have read it….like….right now!! While I was on a layover, I got the mailing address of the friend I was going to see and ordered one for him on Amazon. It was just that good.

My guess is that many of you have probably heard of Carlos Whitaker by now. He’s led worship in churches across the US. He’s had youtube videos of his wild family adventures (Moments) go viral. His blog is what my blog would love to be one day if it ever grows up. He has squeezed about every ounce out of life that you can. He has done this through a 100% commitment to moment making. Now he opens up his life and the life of his family and gives us all a glimpse into moment making too. If you think “he must be rich to do all of these things,” he’s not.

In fact, the stacked bank account can actually stifle our creativity when becoming Moment Makers

and

Necessity is the mother of invention

There are so many quotes, underlines and notes I made while reading this book. You all know how highly I think of “Love Does,” (it’s no accident Carlos and Bob Goff are friends). Let me say it USED to be my favorite book. My life manual of sorts. I can honestly say that Moment Maker is now threatening to come out of nowhere and take that top spot. It is incredible. It is life changing. It is what I believe in. It’s how I believe I live this life. It has proven to be so rich at every twist and turn. Here’s what I mean….

The moments we make hold within them the greatest gifts we have in this life, because without them, we miss the point of being here. God put us here to learn how to love each other and to learn how to love him. That comes through living on purpose and with purpose. That comes from connecting, learning, loving, giving, losing, failing and recovering. That comes from creating, receiving, and rescuing. All of that is Moment Making.

It’s better that way….

I cannot stress this highly enough, anyone that reads this needs to leave this post and go get a copy of “Moment Maker.” It may just change your entire life. It may shift the way you look at the every day. It may even become a road map for your life. I loved this book. Cover to cover. Don’t miss THIS moment and get a copy today.

I give “Moment Maker” a 5 out of 5

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review – Jesus Is

_140_245_Book.783.coverI can’t begin to tell you how late I am on this review. It’s been on my iPad for literally months and to the author, I apologize. There is really no excuse other than I just didn’t get to this review until now. That said, “Jesus is _________.” by Judah Smith was a pretty good book. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. Written by a young author, it will appeal to the new generation of believers that is being raised up in many churches across America. It’s a message that many of those believers and seekers need to hear. About the book:

Jesus is ____. How would you finish that sentence?

The subject is there, and so is the verb, but what comes next? Your answer could shed light on the path to becoming who you were made to be.

In these pages, Judah Smith fills out that sentence again and again, each time further revealing the character of Jesus. He writes as if to a friend, illustrating the importance of Christ’s message to modern men and women. This is a book for new believers, for lifelong followers, and for the merely curious. Judah Smith shows us the Jesus that somber paintings and hymns fail to capture. With passion, humor, and conviction, he shows that Jesus is life. Jesus is grace. Jesus is your friend. Jesus is a new and better way to be human.

I feel like this book is a good resource but as with any book, it should not be taken as gospel. It allows the reader the option of thinking and expanding their concept of just what Jesus means to them.

I give “Jesus is” a 3 out of 5. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Kari Jobe is Majestic

kari-jobe-majesticAbout a month ago, I received a preview copy of Kari Jobe’s new CD called “Majestic” from my friends at Merge PR. When I got the email, I couldn’t get over the timing of it. I immediately sent my friend Lori an email back to let her know how very special this was. She had no idea so I thought it was important to share with her why Kari Jobe holds a very special place in my heart. Now before you think that’s creepy, let me explain.

4 years ago my mom was in the process of passing from this life to her eternal home in heaven. Although she couldn’t communicate with us, we believe that she could hear us. I called my sister in Houston and told her to play some songs that I had just heard by Kari Jobe. Incredibly, my sister said “I am playing them right now.” Somehow, my sister in Houston had chosen the exact same songs that I chose, by the exact same artist. When my mom breathed her last and stepped into eternity, I knew it. My soul knew it. At that very moment, I happened to be listening to, you guess it, Kari Jobe.

When I spent a brief time in ministry, we were looking for a worship leader. I regularly recommended that we try to get Kari Jobe to join the staff. I figured if you’re gonna hire someone, why not aim for the best! So yes, I’m a fan and that is why the opportunity to preview her new CD the past month has been so special. Can I tell you that Kari has done it again? “Majestic” is incredible from beginning to end.

Recorded at the historic Majestic Theatre in Jobe’s hometown of Dallas, Texas, the album is a departure from her first two major label studio releases. “Majestic” is entirely live and features all-new material (with the exception of Jobe’s cover of “Holy Spirit”), every song a piece of her heart. “It reminds me of what heaven might be like,” she says, reflecting on the evening of recording at the iconic landmark. “I want this album to give more of a revelation that God is in control. If you will lift your voices and worship Him, there will be a shift and a change in the atmosphere of your life, and it will be heaven-centered and majestic.”

This is one of those CD’s that I have on in the background for hours and hours. The words, the music, the worship just floods my thoughts and leads me to pause and acknowledge God’s presence in my life. I recommend “Majestic” to all that would read these words. I also believe (or at least hope) that many a church worship team will be delivering the song “Forever” on Easter Sunday. What a powerful reminder that –

“Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!”

I give “Majestic” a 5 out of 5

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Heaven Is For Real – Preview

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Tonight my wife and I were blessed with an opportunity to get a preview screening of the upcoming film called “Heaven is for Real” based on the book of the same name. It’s been a few years since I read the New York Times Best Selling book so I was very excited to see the film adaptation. I can say, without hesitation, that Sony Pictures did a great job. I was so impressed by the simple, yet powerful portrayal of a family dealing with the visions their 4 year old son had of Heaven.

If you’ve been around the blog (and my reviews) for any length of time, you know I have been skeptical of “Christian Films” and have voiced how I often view them through the lens of much more than just a feel good story. I DO take into account acting, cinematography and overall messaging. I’m not knocking some of the other films, I just feel like these elements are important in this culture. Is the story not just telling the hope of Christianity, but the struggle and the journey we all walk? Does everything get a pretty bow at the end, or are their real questions we simply cannot answer? Heaven is for Real does a great job of walking this line while presenting a story which some may still find simply unbelievable.

The film also focuses on the struggle of Colton Burpo’s father. As a Pastor, he finds himself questioning the visions of his son as well as the words he has preached. I appreciated this struggle. I appreciated that they were not afraid to present his journey and that of his family as much as Colton. There is enough comic relief to keep it fun and enjoyable as well.

As we drove home, I told my wife that it is interesting what Hollywood is presenting this Easter. On one hand you have the powerful story of Jesus as told through the film “Son of God” (releasing this weekend). On the other hand you have the soft, heartwarming story of a child that visits Heaven. It’s almost like Hollywood is giving us the darkness of Good Friday (Son of God) and the hope of Easter Sunday (Heaven is for Real) through two very different films.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, April 15th. They are releasing “Heaven is for Real” early in advance of Easter weekend. You won’t want to miss it.

For more about Heaven is for Real, check out the official web page (HERE).

Review – Clout

41sVQM-Z5DLI covered the whole story in a previous post, but about 2 years ago I met Jenni Catron for the very first time. I have shared this with Jenni on a few occasions, but that meeting and future meetings have changed the trajectory of my career. For two years I have observed her leadership from long distance and it has inspired me to seek my own God-given influence as well. Tomorrow, Jenni releases her book about leadership called “Clout – Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence” and I could not be more proud of her.

A few months ago I ran into Jenni while attending a worship night at Cross Point Church in Nashville. I will never forget how she was beaming as she explained the concept of the book and her excitement for others to read it too. So what is Clout?

Clout is power and influence. It is an undeniable trait that opens doors and moves mountains. You have it, and you can use it to change the world around you. With Scripture and stories from her own life, Jenni Catron maps out the pitfalls and clear paths on the way toward discovering and unleashing your very own clout.

In Part I, Jenni carefully crafts and outlines those things which are “Clout Killers” -Fear, Comparison, Jealousy, Scarcity, Insecurity, Pride and Control. In Part II Jenni walks the reader through the four “Clout Cultivators” –

Discovering Your Identity

Discovering Your Confidence

Discovering Your Mission

Determining Your Passion

She closes the book with a conclusion on how you can use this journey to “Unleash Your Clout.” It is a charge to take all that you have learned and release it in your own life.

I was once told by a friend in the book industry that “there is nothing new under the sun.” In other words, books are all pretty much the same nowadays. It is rare that a new concept or subject matter hits the book shelves. There are entire book sections at the local book store dedicated to the subject of “Leadership.” If you get nothing else out of this brief review, please don’t miss this…

Jenni Catron is one the most inspiring voices about leadership I have ever met or read. Period.

“Clout” is not just another book about Leadership. It’s a fresh perspective from one of the people I most respect. Since meeting her for the first time, I have been inspired to discover the Clout in my own life. Reading Clout fanned the flames of my drive to discover what it is God created me for and how I can live that out. I believe you will discover the same.

I give “Clout” a 5 out of 5. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”