reading: A Storyteller’s Anthology

“Occupying an antiquated position in the digital age, storytelling is rarely employed today, but when offered in the right setting, it is still appreciated.” – Douglas Feavel

There is a certain je ne sais quoi (the word “magical” seemed too cliche) about the way that storytelling instills ideas, emotions, and truths in the mind and soul. Douglas Feavel takes “26 Inspiring Character Portraits for our Time” and arranges them in a way that answer some of the most important questions of our time, and leaves us with critical choices to make in light of these stories.

In the book’s introduction, Feavel outlines the six criteria that each story in his collection meets – character, nonfiction, age, oral presentation, sticky-points, and heroes. As a regular “nonfiction (in the sense of practical application, ‘textbook-type’ books, not the ‘non-fiction’ that Feavel categorizes) books” reader, the criterion that stood out most to me was the first – Character. Feavel writes of character as, “demonstrating unselfish virtue and moral integrity in difficult circumstances.” My MBA textbooks and professional self-development books talk about such Character in terms of theory and application, but Feavel brings new life to the term in this collection of stories.

I found “A Storyteller’s Anthology” compelling, and the lessons and examples of faith, love, and hope illustrated in these stories to be timeless, inspiring, and memorable. I appreciate Feavel for holding onto Storytelling, and for helping his readers to remember this “antiquated” art form.

Aneko Press, the publisher of A Storyteller’s Anthology, provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Buy it here on Amazon.

reading: Greater

Image“This book… is for people who sense that God has something more for them but they don’t know what it is. Or they feel stuck and don’t know how to get to where God is calling them to be.” – Steven Furtick

As is pretty typical with books of the “Dream Big” ideology, Furtick uses plenty of pop-culture references and light-hearted, feel-good stories to help make his points. If you’re looking for a back-to-basics study for your small group, or you’re just starting to figure out where God wants you and what He has in store for you, this book is a good place to start. If you’re looking to get out of the shallow end of the pool, you could probably pass on this one.

One of my highest praises for this book, however, is that Furtick doesn’t strictly call people away from their current lives and on to a more successful, faster-paced adventure of a life. While some may see their life as futile, Furtick points out that if God has called us to a place or a position, sometimes it’s the greatest thing that we can be doing at that point. Often, these “non-self help books” call us away from the life that God may have already called us to, instead of evaluating our current situation and realizing the work that God has for us to do in that place.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

reading: Man Alive by Patrick Morley

ImageI’ll be honest, it took me awhile to finish this book. While Patrick Morley has some solid thoughts, insights, and help for men in this current age, it’s very surface-level. I have read several other books recently about how the Church can reach out to men, and what being a Christian man is about. *Man Alive*, while it has a good overall message, just falls towards the bottom of the list in books for this demographic.

However, this book would make a great men’s small group discussion book, especially for men who are newer to the faith, struggling with family issues, or just need some spiritual guidance. There are discussion and reflection questions at the end of each chapter, and the book provides some good reflection material/quizzes throughout.

reading: When Work and Family Collide

 As a new husband, there’s all kinds of things that I don’t know. Just ask my wife.

There’s a lot of things that I do probably wrong, and things that I do backwards, I’m sure. And right now, we have a pretty hectic, crazy schedule that really doesn’t allow us a lot of quality time together. It doesn’t help when we take on one more thing, or when I agree to work another day one week, especially when it’s the day that Alyssa and I get to spend the most time together.

When Work and Family Collide by Andy Stanley was a Godsend book for this time in our life. Stanley talks about how everything in our life – especially work and family – are constantly vying for all of our time. Time is the measurement to both family and co-workers of how much you seem to care. So when family has to give up time because of work, they feel cheated. And vice-versa. The ultimate thesis that Stanley proposes in this book is, “You must choose to cheat at work rather than at home.”

While I wish I would have read this book before marriage, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to read it before life gets even busier, before demands at work increase, and before I have a career that I genuinely am passionate about. The importance of keeping family in focus, Stanley’s reminder to “do work” and “love family,”and being mindful of priorities are pillars to build a healthy family foundation.

I recommend this book to anyone who is already in a marriage, has kids, or is heading in that direction. It’s a quick read (I read it in 90 minutes) and it’s well worth the time!

More Info
Read Chapter One
Author Bio

Sneezed: Doing Virtuous Business

Capitalism has been seen in an increasingly negative light recently, especially with businessmen and women being described as “greedy, malicious, harsh” etc. In the book Doing Virtuous Business, author Theodore Roosevelt Malloch presents the idea that there is an alternative to the stereotype of capitalism and the business world.

The principles that Malloch presents aren’t new, groundbreaking ideas by any means, but they are ideas that need to be kept in mind. Normally at business conferences and seminars, you don’t hear any mention of business ethics. Malloch sets out to change that, one business at a time.

Somewhat of a dry read, this book obviously isn’t for everyone. But if you’re involved in business at any level, at least browse through it and glean the principles to keep you on a virtuous path in the workplace.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo

If you’ve been blogging for a couple years, you and I probably share some frustrations/questions, such as:

– Why won’t people comment on my posts?
– What should I even write about?
– Is it even worth it to keep a regular blog schedule?
– (Insert frustration or question about the meaning of the universe, but more specifically, your blog)

You’d probably be grateful for a seasoned blogger to come alongside you and help you out, step-by-step, through your blog, right?

Help has arrived.

Bryan Allain, one of the funniest guys I know, has just released his blog-help book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, to help with all your frustrations and questions about blogging, being a blogger, helping out other bloggers, and something about stabbing a pony with a frozen unicorn horn (you’ll just have to read it). You can pick up the eBook on Amazon here.

All the things I’ve ever struggled with on this blog, Bryan (@bryanallain) answers in this book. I’m convinced that Bryan’s blogging advice will save me months and years of trial-and-error with my blog, and I’m convinced it will do the same for you, too. At the end of every day/chapter, the blog coach gives homework – “Today’s Mojo Action” – practical advice on how you can work to improve your blog and the experience for your readers on a daily basis. I have already implemented some of them, and will work on adding more as my own blog grows and changes.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: – If you talk about your blog with the excitement of an emo teenager talking about his geometry homework, no one will ever go out of their way to check it out.

If you’re serious about your blog, no matter how many readers/subscribers/comments you have on a daily basis, pick up this book. Bryan has some great practical advice that can take your blog to the next level. Check it out. Drop my name to Bryan when you do. He’ll send you an autographed picture of the two of us. (Just kidding.) But seriously.

Sneezed: Couples Who Pray

I’ve never been one for “couples’ books.”

This book caught my attention, though, after hearing several well-respected men of God talk about their prayer lives with their wives and how it has impacted their ministry and their marriage. So I thought I’d check it out. And it turned out to be a great book. You can tell where the authors’ hearts are at throughout this book, even though they can be pretty cheesy sometimes with illustrations and examples. It is evident in their marriage that prayer plays a vital role, along with the many other examples of marriages that have been impacted by prayer, including Denzel and Pauletta Washington, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, and others.

While many couples would vouch that they pray on a daily basis, this book takes a closer look at how and why couples pray together, and how to strengthen that connection between husband, wife, and God. The examples in the book show that prayer in marriage takes that relationship to a whole new level in many different aspects of life.

No matter where you are in your marriage (or even if you’re planning on marriage), it can always get stronger. Rushnell and Duart propose that prayer is that strengthening factor. I plan on integrating the steps and concepts found in this book into my future marriage. Check it out.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”