The Truest Thing About You: Identity, Desire, And Why It All Matters by David Lomas [Book Review]

The Truest Thing About You Book

This is a book review for “The Truest Thing About You” by David Lomas. Publisher: David C. Cook. 

If you’ve ever felt deflated or discouraged by who you think you are, this book will give you the courage to look again. Take a good look at who you are and ask yourself, “What is the truest thing about me?” It is what I do? Is it what I’m good at? Is it who I know?  Have you ever stood before a mirror, gazing at your reflection and asked, “Who am I?”

The human condition is to cling to true things about ourselves that simply aren’t that true. We elevate things that are merely true–or half-true, or true some days but not others–to the level of “truest.”  Depending on our environment, we define ourselves differently to different people.

When will you ask the most important question…”What does God say is the truest thing about me?” [1]  

In The Truest Thing About You, David Lomas cuts to the core about where your true identity should reside and rips through any identity crisis you struggle with…those lies you’ve come to believe in order to embrace the truer and more beautiful image of yourself.

When it comes to an identity crisis, the shift from swimming to drowning isn’t always sudden. Major life changes can be as traumatic to your sense of identity as a shark attack–but sometimes all it takes is the hint of a cramp or the tug of a current. [2]

Simply said, I like this book. There are a few chapters that tug at emotions and memories and tear ducts. I plead guilty with having an identity crisis…finding security in work and family. I’ve experienced a “shark attack” in both work and with a family loss.

How do you think you would respond in a sudden shift in life? Where is your identity anchored?

There is a fundamental difference between who we are and what we do. [3] What we have–or don’t have–is not the truest thing about us. [4] But what if we desire the wrong things, and find ourselves with the wrong identity, surely all we have to do is desire better things…right?

Not so fast.

This book is a rewarding read because it spells out where to go to find the truest thing about you. Desiring the “better things” and running after that will not satisfy you. It is your view of Jesus that shapes your identity.

How does your view of Jesus shape your identity?  How does your view of Jesus bring into focus the truest thing about you?

Everything!

David Lomas invites you to discover and live out the truth of who God created you to be: you are loved, you are accepted, and you are made in God’s image.

One of the most memorable pages to read was the introduction by Francis Chan. The essence of this book is to dwell on the promises of scripture. God promises an internal change that takes place in those who trust in Christ, and take hold of that identity, our actions begin to happen naturally–or supernaturally. [5]

The book has eight chapters and is 210 pages long. The author includes biblical insights and personal narratives that resonates with the reader. It is documented with cross-references from bible passages and narratives from classics, such as C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (Chapter 5…one of my favorite chapters in the book.)

Read The Truest Thing About You and share it with a friend to form a Jesus based identity in our world…the truest thing about you.

[1] page 21 | [2] page 32 | [3] page 37 | [4] page 42 | [5] page 16

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher 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

Homeless at Harvard by John Christopher Frame [Book Review]

book cover

Homeless at Harvard is a story about the homeless community at Harvard Square and how the author’s life and the lives of those on the streets were woven together into a special tapestry.

Harvard Square is at the center of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the business district around Harvard University. It’s a place of history, culture, and some of the most momentous events of the nation. But it’s also a gathering place for some of the city’s needy.

Initially, Frame’s personal interest and concern for the homeless began while pursuing a master’s degree at Anderson University School of Theology. His inspiration to know those living on the street came about after spring break trips to Atlanta to serve with a homeless ministry. This experience helped him to better understand how he (all of us) should be concerned for the homeless.

While taking his final course at Harvard Divinity School, John Frame stepped outside the walls of academia and onto the streets, pursuing a different kind of education with his homeless friends. It’s not accurate to say that the author was totally homeless during the ten weeks, even though he didn’t have any dorm or an apartment to stay in that summer, he voluntarily spent time on the streets, compared to those who were truly homeless usually had no other choice.

Rather than judging the homeless for their circumstances, Frame takes time to get to know them personally. He makes the point that if we really listen, we will always end up seeing people in a different, more compassionate light…to show people their strength, and point out the positive aspects of their lives. In this insightful book, the author’s narrative is blended with words from George, Chubby John, Neal and Dane–street companions who share their own stories with an inside look of life as a homeless person experiences it.

Frame wrote this book with the hope and intent that it would make a difference in the heart and mind of the reader for the homeless. By sharing his experiences with homeless people more broadly, possibly it would help others think about building relationships with people on the streets. Helping people with both tangible and intangible needs is important. There’s something inside each of us that needs other people. Really understanding others’ brokenness hurts, and pain includes acknowledging our similarities.

The author is not blind to his own insecurities or ignorance about the best way to help the homeless. You sense the tension he has with wanting to do more and feeling guilty because he didn’t do enough. He is introspective of his own personal motives for helping the needy — to be responsible means being honest and wise about who has the greatest needs, ourselves or others — and then acting on that realization. Frame knows that the needs of the homeless are broad and complex and there are no simple solutions or a set remedy that will fit all. He does not offer a solution to the problem of homelessness nor does he give answers to all of the questions he asks himself.

The book does accomplish the intent to help the reader understand who the homeless are. To help non-homeless people understand a culture and people who might be unknown or even scary to them.

For John Frame, that summer of living on the streets at Harvard Square helped him think about life from a new perspective. I believe he has accomplished his hope that writing this book would make a difference. It is a book worth reading.

When we forget stereotypes and seek to know people for who they truly are, we give them a chance. And in return, we give ourselves a chance — to love, flourish, and truly live. It is in that vulnerable place in life — where we are our true selves — that others can bring change within us. And it’s in that place that we better understand that though people are different from each other, we’re really still the same.  — John Christopher Frame, Homeless in Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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

Leading A Special Needs Ministry by Amy Fenton Lee [Book Review]

LSNM_Cover

This is a book review of Leading a Special Needs Ministry: A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families by Amy Fenton Lee.

Once upon a time, I met an amazing young boy, a guest for the first time in our church and our children’s ministry. I greeted his parents and began the well rehearsed process of collecting the necessary data for all first time guests. Within moments, my conversation with his parents ended abruptly with an unexpected (and for no reason that I could tell) outburst from this young boy; and then I realized, at that moment, the current way of doing children’s ministry in our church needed to change…for the better.

And so began our journey, as a church, to establish a ministry to families with children with special needs.  Like a spark that starts a blazing fire in a dry forest, the need to include all kids in our children’s ministry was set aflame by this amazing young boy.

I believe the parents of this kid are heroes. Yes, all parents are heroes…I am a parent too, but some kids sail through life…when they hit a head wind, they can adjust the sails, while other kids have difficulty knowing that they need to adjust much less when to adjust. I’ve come to realize that parents of children with special needs are the ones adjusting the sails for their kids.

My question to our church leaders: How can we, as a church, partner with parents (adjust our sails) to lead all children into a growing relationship with Jesus? Will we love this kid and his parents enough for them to want more of Jesus?

You will find the answer to that question and more in the book, Leading A Special Needs Ministry  by Amy Fenton Lee.  If you’re looking for a biblical direction for establishing a special needs ministry, you will not find it in the book. It is assumed that the reader of this book has a biblical and God-filled passion to reach all kids for Jesus.

However, passion alone is not enough to organize a successful and vibrant ministry to children with special needs. A special needs ministry is very complex and can become consuming without wisdom.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Read the book. It will redeem a lot of your time with planning while possibly saving you from a few heart aches as a result of making unnecessary mistakes.

  • You will learn the need for a screening process with parents and how to make the time with parents a good experience. This is the part I really love…getting to know the child while listening to Mom and Dad.
  • You’ll learn how to offer a different lens to better understand undesirable behavior with a more compassionate and appropriate response. Another favorite…it’s awesome to have a passionate group of volunteers.
  • You will find helpful templates, resources, inclusion tips, buddy training material, handbook examples, and a parent questionnaire. This book is a work of passion so that your ministry to families and children thrives.

Get a copy of this book to know what you don’t know about leading a special needs ministry. Click here to order your copy today.

For those of you who might not know Amy, she serves as the Special Needs Consultant to Orange and has written extensively on the subject of special needs inclusion in children’s ministry and student ministry environments. Amy’s writing has been published in dozens of in-print publications, journals, and websites. Be sure to check out Amy’s personal blog, The Inclusive ChurchHelping Churches Successfully Include Children with Special Needs. 

FLIGHT PATH: A Biography of Frank Barker Jr [Book Review]

Flight Path

This is a book review of, Flight Path by Janie Buck and Mary Lou Davis.  Flight Path is the page-turning biography of Frank Barker, Jr.  This is a book of incredible adventures! It is hard to fathom how close Frank came to death many times only to be rescued by God for a greater mission in life.

The first chapter opens with a hair-raising experience on an aircraft carrier, “In a panic I jammed the throttle up. Too late! I shot off the deck and dropped like lead…My life flashed before my eyes.” [1] Frank had many “Top Gun” fighter pilot experiences!  It seemed with every close collision with death, Frank would question if God was trying to get his attention. On one such occasion, he was driving back to base, very late at night after hours of drinking a lot and raising Cain. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car but managed to wake up in time to slam on brakes, coming to a stop in a ditch.  As the dust began to settle, he looked up and saw a sign that his headlights were shining on. In large black letters was written: “The wages of sin is death.”  He marked this event as a “star” from God to get his attention. Like the Wise Men who were guided by a star to the place where Jesus was born, there were several “stars” that guided his life. [2]

The book flowed at a fast pace with humor when speaking of his reckless lifestyle, while most chapters will make you ponder and consider the “stars” in your own life that represent a reminder of God’s precise grace and action at the perfect time.  With Frank, some of those “stars” just caused him to try harder to be a better person…he did not know about grace being a free gift of God.

The authors wrote the book as if Frank were telling his own story, which made reading the book even more enjoyable and enthralling.  During the military career, Frank had the nagging thought that he should go to seminary so that his life would be more pleasing to God. While in seminary, he discovered the incredible good news of Jesus Christ. The book is filled with innumerable lessons in life.

There was the humble beginning of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, PCA meeting in a store-front, and is now a mega-church in Birmingham, AL. It is worth mentioning that Frank Barker was one of the “fathers” of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). Throughout the book, there are glimpses of a family learning to trust God for money to pay bills or learning to be thankful for cream of wheat for dinner when it was the only thing they could afford…because of their enormous generosity to give from their income.  You’ll read about his passion to reach the kids in the city and students on college campuses (He established Campus Outreach, a ministry to college students) and how God is faithful to answer prayers. When there was a need, Frank prayed and God provided.  I do not believe that anyone can read this exciting and moving story of lives lived for the kingdom of  God without becoming a better person through the experience. [3]

Flight Path is a fascinating read about a humble man broken to the will of God, chosen, called and guided each step of his way by our great God.  Frank Barker is an example to follow.

Footnotes

[1]  Page 14 | [2] Page 28 | [3] Page 10

Addendum:

A few months ago, my husband and I had the wonderful privilege of hearing Dr. Frank Barker share his life story to a group of college students who are involved with Campus Outreach, in Indianapolis, IN.  Frank Barker is the founder of Campus Outreach, which had its very humble beginning at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. So It was very thrilling for all of us to hear him retell some of those very funny yet scary hair-raising experiences but most importantly, to hear him tell of God’s grace rescuing him over and over again.

A note about Campus Outreach:

Each Campus Outreach region sits under the authority and supervision of a regional church. Campus Outreach partners with numerous denominations that are healthy, Bible believing, evangelical, Gospel preaching, and reformed in their doctrine. These Regional Churches provide a crucial source of accountability, leadership and a substantial percentage of the resources for the region’s effective existence.

Campus Outreach is not a para-church organization, but rather an extension of the church on the college campus. As a result, the ministry at each campus is connected to a local church near that campus. This provides our Campus Staff and students the opportunity to partner with that church by bringing non-Believers and Believers alike to sit under the teaching of scripture. It also provides connection with the larger body of Christ and instills value for belonging and partaking of the Body of Christ.

My husband and I are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to meet Campus Outreach Staff and college students while living in Jacksonville, FL, Charlotte, NC, and Indianapolis, IN.

http://www.coindy.org

www.campusoutreach.org

Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud [Book Review]

Boundaries for Leaders

This is a review of the book, Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge by Dr. Henry Cloud, a well-known clinical psychologist and leadership consultant and coauthor of Boundaries.

Who doesn’t want to be ridiculously in charge! I immediately began to dive into this book after reading that heading!

The principles in the book are universal. What ever you lead, you can make it thrive. This book is about what leaders need to do in order for people to accomplish a vision. It takes a great amount of time to get the people in your organization to be on the same page and working together in harmony.

Many of you reading this review are natural leaders and visionaries with an organization chart of followers or team players. Over time, you begin to realize the temperament and moods of each player on your team. You hear negative comments, grumbling, complaining…you need production and movement yet your team is stuck in a mire of negativism and lousy excuses for not producing. Soon you find yourself as a referee and “people manager” while the vision and goals you hoped the team would accomplish is sidelined.

If this is you, please read, Boundaries for Leaders. You will learn how to change your team’s moods and improve relationship outside and inside work. Dr. Cloud writes about a “working memory”…how are you establishing boundaries to include positive conditions and to rid the negative elements that stand in your way of production.  “Our brains need positive relationship to grow and function well.” [1] You want to establish a “working memory” with each person on your team.

You will learn what a “working memory” is after reading, Boundaries for Leaders.

As a leader, we don’t want people just to show up…we want them to soar! You want your team to attend  to the clearly defined vision and goals. Hopefully, you will inhibit the negative diatribes that diminish motivation and enthusiasm, and  cause them to remember .

Attend. Inhibit. Remember.

What do you want your team (employees, family, volunteers)  to remember Definitely not the negative comments and attitudes.

It’s all about “brain function”…find and focus on the things that you can control that affect outcomes. [2] In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow. [3]  Through reading this book, I was motivated to set limits on the behaviors that sow the seeds of negative emotional climate and to realize how negative behavior infects others.

As a ministry team leader, I strive against silos, compartmentalization, personal agendas, isolation and division among people. [4] Weeks later, after reading this book, I continue to recall helpful tactics Dr. Cloud taught throughout the book. Here is one for you to save: ” …it is never about self-advancement but about seeking to meet their needs.” [5]

I highly recommend this book as instrumental with helping you align your organization (employees, family, volunteers) in order to create healthy boundaries for remarkable progress.

Boundaries for Leaders

[1] page 83 │ [2] page 130 │ [3] page 15 │ [4] page 17  │ [5] page 219

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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

 

Starting as a Way of Life

Starting as a way of life

When our kids were young, we took them to Washington, D.C to explore the history and visit the museums. Our son was at a very inquisitive age, eager to explore the places that were not on the map or noted on the guide given to us. It was great whenever an exhibit was “kid friendly” and had a button to press to begin listening to a recorded message about the exhibit or perhaps some of the figures behind the glass became animated with movement.  Naturally, he began to look for a button to poke at every exhibit… just to see what would happen. He quickly learned, If I do this, that happens. He noticed another button on a wall, away from the exhibits. He poked the button to see what would happen. We were all surprised to hear the sound of a loud buzzer emitting a warning and people began to scurry about. Our son, however, was delighted that a poke at this particular button started a chain reaction of people responding to the noise that created a movement.

We need to do that. We need to poke a different button. We need start a movement. Like a child that is not afraid to see what happens. We need to start. We need to stop being afraid of starting something different and new. We are afraid of a possible ruckus, we are afraid that our ideas are not valuable, we are afraid to start. We will never know what will happen if we never start.

To never take a leap or never risk is a sad existence.

We can start to bloom wherever we are planted.

The following are a few quotes from, Poke the Box by Seth Godin. Poke the Box is a small book packed with a lot of kick. It’s worth reading more than once and sharing with your colleagues or a college student or with your ministry teams. I highlighted these sections in the book and I thought it was worth sharing with you. The above story about my son is true. We can poke a button or poke the box. Either way, we need to begin to start…to make starting as a way of life.

I believe that if you’ve got the platform and the ability to make a difference, then this goes beyond “should” and reaches the level of “must.” You must make a difference or you squander the opportunity. Wasting the opportunity both degrades your own ability to contribute and, more urgently, takes something away from the rest of us. ~Seth Godin, Poke the Box

Innovation is mysterious. Inspiration is largely unpredictable. But it’s obvious from all the success we see in the marketplace that we can rise to the occasion. ~Seth Godin, Poke the Box

Once the habit is ingrained and you become the starter, the center of the circle, you will find more and more things to notice, to instigate, and to initiate. Momentum builds and you get better at generating it. If you go to bed at night knowing that people are expecting you to initiate things all day the next day, you’ll wake up with a list. And as you create a culture of people who are always seeking to connect and improve and poke, the bar gets raised. ~Seth Godin, Poke the Box

If you’re not making a difference, it’s almost certainly because you’re afraid. Some of us hesitate when we should be starting instead. We hold back, promise to do more research, wait for a better moment, seek out a kinder audience.  This habit is incredibly common. It eats up our genius and destroys our ability to make the contribution we’re quite capable of making. ~Seth Godin, Poke the Box

Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if don’t start, you never get a chance. ~Seth Godin, Poke the Box

Art is hard. Selling is hard. Writing is hard. Making a difference is hard.

When will you start?

There is an Amazon link on this page. If you purchase the book using that link, I will receive a small stipend.

Draw the Circle : The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson [Book Review]

Draw the Circle

This is a review on the book, Draw the Circle : The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson, pastor of  National Community Church, in the Washington, DC metro area.

Draw the Circle is a devotional book on prayer, a sequel of sorts based on the New York Times best-selling book, The Circle Maker. I have not read The Circle Maker, but I have read, Praying Circles Around your Children, a good book for parents to read! What I learned from that book is this:

You don’t become a praying parent by default. You do it by design by desire, by discipline and determination. It’s imperative to distinguish between your will and God’s will. God is not a genie in a bottle, and your wish is not His command. His command better be your wish.

After “praying circles” around my children and grandchildren and experiencing God answer many of those prayers, I looked forward to using Draw the Circle as a challenge to establish a prayer habit that would continue on day 41, day 75, day 365.

In Draw the Circle, we are encouraged to make a daily appointment with God by setting a time and place to pray. The author chose the time of 7:14 AM, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. The “If” at the beginning of this verse convicted him to become a man of prayer and to lead his church through a revival of prayer. Having a set time and place created tremendous synergy and accountability.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Batterson reiterates that there is nothing magical about physically circling something in prayer. Drawing prayer circles is a metaphor that simply means “to pray without ceasing.” It’s praying until God answers. It’s praying with more intensity, more tenacity. It’s not just praying for; it’s praying through. “Praying with the same kind of consistency with which the earth circles the sun.”

I appreciate the exhortation and challenge from Mark in the introduction to “find out about prayer… for each day of prayer to yield a new discovery that will change the way I pray…and when I change the way I pray, everything else changes.” (the quote was personalized)

The book is an easy read, with mini-anecdotes to illustrate the point of each chapter. On Day 4, I was pulled into the story of John and Tricia and their precious son, Eli. You need to read it. “Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.” I can relate to that!

By Day 40, I was in a rhythm of praying very specifically for a number of significant things. The devotional book ended in part with this exhortation:

“It doesn’t matter what you do; prayer is the key to your business, your practice, your career. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need innovative ideas. If you’re a physician, you need the discernment to diagnose. You may sell homes or teach classes…whatever you do, prayer is a critical part of what you do and who you become. Turn your classroom, boardroom, locker room, operating room, courtroom, and conference room into a prayer room!”

It takes watching and waiting to see how God will answer prayers. I recommend that you read, Draw the Circle…read a chapter each day to remain committed to the 40 day prayer challenge. There is scripture woven throughout each chapter. Take time to read the verses and explore the historical facts of God’s word. Engage with God in prayer using the bible verses as a guide. Ultimately, the book is a good lesson in persistent and faith-filled prayer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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

There is an Amazon link on this page. If you purchase the book using that link, I will receive a small stipend.