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The I Factor by Van Moody

The very first book I reviewed for BookLook Bloggers was The People Factor by Van Moody. In his follow up book, The I Factor, Van Moody focuses on how building a relationship with yourself is the key to a happy, successful life.

I knew I would love this book considering how much his previous book poured into my life. This book is full of biblical stories and scriptures to help you build a great relationship with yourself. Each chapter has what he calls “Internal Building Blocks” and are essentially a review of the major points of the chapter; a feature I found very useful. The chapters also contain reflection questions to help apply the principles and concepts shared throughout.

This book is definitely one I suggest you take a good amount of time to read and re-read and not just run through it. One of my favourite sections is where he talks about the importance of knowing your identity and defining clearly your foundation to live your life from. If you are struggling to find your identity or where to start on how to build a successful relationship with yourself and with God, I would recommend you give this a read.

Favourite Quotes:

“From God’s perspective, the wilderness is the proving ground of our identities; it’s the place where we pass or fail the test of knowing who we really are.”

“Until we understand and live out of our identities, we can easily become our own worst enemies and set up stumbling blocks for ourselves, often without even realizing it.

“God is so committed to His will for your life that He will not release you to your next step of destiny until He knows you are ready and until you have proven your readiness to yourself.”

“Your identity is the compass that guides you through every aspect of your life and keeps you grounded and centered in the things that matter most to you.”

How’s Your Soul? By Judah Smith

How's Your Soul? Book Cover How's Your Soul?
Judah Smith
Religion
HarperCollins Christian Publishing
November 15, 2016
224

How’s your soul?

Such a simple question, perhaps not such a simple answer. Full of vulnerability and personal stories, as is the norm with Judah, this book asks a question that needs to be asked, especially in today’s culture. How are you doing, or how is your day are questions that 99% of the time receive a one-word answer with zero reflection. I have done it, frankly, we all do it. Asking “how is your soul?” however, requires some introspection to answer properly.

Judah Smith’s book is aimed not only at Christians but those searching for more. It’s a book that can make you go through a field of emotions, from laughing to crying to deep thought and back to laughing… all in about three sentences! He uses his expository skills to show that our souls need rest, responsibility and restraint. This book is clear and easy to read, and the overall size of the book makes it a great gift as well.

Favourite Quotes:

“Guess what parenting is all about? Leading our kids to a place where they can say no for themselves, even when they want to say yes.”

In the journey of life, emotions make great companions but terrible leaders.”

What if we all counted to three and then simultaneously did whatever we felt like doing? Play it out mentally. It would be complete and utter chaos. You think zombies are bad? Imagine billions of people whose only criteria for decision making were their feelings and emotions and desires. It would be like shopping on Black Friday.”

Either life is meaningless and my existence doesn’t matter — or God is the only hope I have”

Even when we confront, we do so from an attitude and an expectation that our love is not going to be withdrawn no matter what happens”

Do I live according to who I really am, or do I live according to who people perceive me to be or want me to be?”

Rather than asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we should ask a far more important question: “What do you want your life to look like?” Or maybe, “What kind of soul do you want to have?””

Too many times as Christians we imply that people have to first behave and believe the right way before they can belong to our communities. We don’t do it on purpose, but our actions and reactions when we see their flaws leave little doubt that they are outsiders.”

All we need to have healthy soul identities:

  • We have our identities set firmly in Jesus, the source and definition of who we really are.
  • We have a Saviour who is superior to all authority and power, and he declares that we are blessed and approved.
  • We have a salvation that is great, that is complete, final and free.
  • We have a community of Jesus followers where we belong even if we don’t believe or behave exactly right.

Whatever God starts, he finishes. Think about that. You can’t find one place in the Bible where God started something and said, “Actually, I’ve changed my mind. I lost interest. This is too much work. I’m out.””

Life’s complexities and challenges would be far less complex and far less challenging if we could approach every day like Jesus did: from heaven to earth.”

 

 

Jesus is for You

This was a fantastic little book. If you’re ever in need of some inspiration or reminder of how much God loves you this is a great book to have at your coffee table. The book itself is put together beautifully, the cover and the glossy pages help make the book stand out in its quality. Jesus is for You is compromised of stories of God’s relentless love. They are mainly short little stories 1 or 2 pages long and you could read them all at once or take more of daily approach to them. Judah Smith also includes some great scriptures and quotes that fit in well to the theme of the book. This is a great book to gift, no matter the age or where they’re at with their walk.

About the Author

Judah Smith is the lead pastor of the City of Church in Seattle, Washington. The City Church is a thriving multisite church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus. Judah is known round the United States and the world for his preaching ministry. His fresh, anointed, humorous messages demystify the Bible and make Christianity real. Judah is also the author of his most recent New York Times bestselling book,Jesus Is _____.

It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke

by Ben Silk 0 Comments

Since Jefferson Bethke’s viral youtube video I have come to love his perspective and his ability to make the Bible relatable, especially with the millennials. He opens It’s Not What You Think by asking a question that I haven’t really thought of asking myself before, “what if we aren’t seeing Jesus properly? What implication does that have for our lives? What if Jesus isn’t who we think?” A great question considering how often we try and make Jesus fit into our lives instead of trying to fit in to how he lived his life. As Jefferson states later on in the book, “our dream version of following Jesus is to have all the facts. Jesus’ dream of us following him is to sit with us.” Isn’t that so true? There has been so many times personally where I wished I knew why this or that happened and instead Jesus is asking for us to be content with just being able to sit and rest in his presence. When we are able to do that we can be at peace knowing that our God is perfect, loving and always looking out for us and whatever those answers we so desperately needed, they seem to fade in comparison. His first chapter covers how our story is not what we think, that love defined us before anything else did. He reminds us of one of God’s very first questions to us, “who told you were naked?” That question always helps remind me of who the enemy is.

 

I love how he talks about how people can view the Bible, whether that be a moral compass, a sword or a collection of stories. So how do you view the Bible? “Your answer to that question ultimately gives you a very specific view of God and your role as someone under him” He goes on to say…”the best way to view Scripture as a whole is as a story —a long story that is full of the bumps and bruises, twists and turns, plotlines, character development, climaxes, and conclusions every story should have.” Ultimately the Bible is about how God became the King of the world and “when we view the Scriptures as a story—more important, this specific story—we see our own roles in the story.” Bethke challenges us as he looks at different areas of the Bible and says “it’s not what you think.” This book is easy to read and great for anyone no matter where they are in their walk with Jesus.

 

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

by Ben Silk 0 Comments

Whether you are just married, or have been married 30 years I feel there is something in this book for you. In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas questions our perspective of marriage in our lives, asking “What if God didn’t design marriage to be “easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy, as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

 

Sacred Marriage covers many topics, ranging from: our motives for marriage, how to have a God-centered marriage, how to deal with contempt and the sin in our lives, to honoring and respecting your spouse and much more. The experience and wisdom he shares in this book is an amazing tool to have and has provided me with a renewed perspective on how to better handle difficult situations that can occur in a growing marriage.

 

He reminds us that even though your “spouse might be difficult to love at times,…that’s what marriage is for — to teach us how to love.” I think this is a great reminder, because honestly if we are unwilling to be sacrificial for our spouses and learn to love them through the difficult times, how are we going to respond to those we may love that are not our spouse? This brings us to how do we “view God – as a master or a husband?” I believe he is trying to teach us that by viewing our relationship with God as our husband, by treating our spouse with that same selfless, God-centered love, our marriage will honour and please God.

 

Here are a couple of my favourites quotes from the book:

 

“If my marriage contradicts my message, I have sabotaged the goal of my life, which is to be pleasing to Christ and to faithfully fulfill the ministry of reconciliation, proclaiming to the world the good news that we can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.”

 

If a young man pledged to give me 10 percent of his income, weekly praise, and even wrote songs about me but the rest of the time I knew he was making one of my daughters miserable through abuse or neglect, I’d have nothing to say to him except, “Hey, start treating my daughter better, and then we can talk. If you truly respect me, you’ll start treating her much better.”

Unoffendable: Give up your right to be angry

by Ben Silk 0 Comments

Do you have the right to ever be angry?

Think about that for a moment. I believe our instinctual and worldly answer is to say yes, yes there are certain situations where it definitely makes sense that we can and should be angry.

What if that isn’t true, what if the Bible says you don’t ever have the right to be angry?

Well what do you mean Ben, what about when “bad things happen to good people”, or when someone does some unthinkable evil deed, like murder people or cut me off when I am driving? What about when someone does something that is a sin, shouldn’t I be angry with them for rebelling and not listening to God? What about someone who insults me and purposefully tries to attack me physically or emotionally? What you’re saying is I don’t have a right to be angry?

Well no…that’s not what I am saying, that’s what God is saying.

Now of course we are not made perfect and we are all going to be angry at times, that is the nature of being a human. However what Brant Hansen has stated in his book, Unoffendable, has totally changed my perspective on anger and being offended.

He states you can “choose” to be unoffendable and believes we should make that choice. After reading this book I have to agree.

At some point in time we have all been offended. Some of us do a great job of physically and emotionally showing it externally and some of us do a better job keeping it in internally. Personally I would say I am the latter, my nature and personality stops me from being a confrontational person so if I feel offended I’ve typically held it in. I try and act like everything is alright. Only what I discovered is that starts to harbour bitterness and resentment, two big enemies that for so long delayed me from coming to Christ. Because the truth be told, I was angry, bitterful and resentful towards God for the situations I found myself in early in life. I would try and hide that everything was okay or that something didn’t bother me, but instead in my head I was screaming. So initially when I picked up this book, I thought this is awesome I will read this book and then pass it on to people who I definitely know have anger issues. What I wasn’t expecting, is for it to have a huge impact on what I thought at the time was a non-issue for me. But alas, as the author states “If I think I can put one over on people and convince them that I’ve got my act together, the only one I am fooling is me.” So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we never get offended, it will happen, it’s how you react that makes all the difference…but “ what if –just dreaming out loud here–Christians were known as the people you couldn’t offend?”

So what does the Bible say to do when you are angry?

Ephesians 4:26

“When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.”

This is a scripture that our household runs on and is very important I believe to a successful marriage. Let’s be real, arguments are going to happen, however by not allowing any anger to spill over to the following day it stops resentment and bitterness from ever getting a stronghold in your relationships.

Colossians 3:8

“But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk.”

James 1:20

“The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”

It is clear in the Bible that “anger is always–not sometimes, always– associated with foolishness, not wisdom.” As Brant Hansen states in his book, “the Bible gives us ample commands to act, and never, ever, says to do it out of anger.”

At the end of the day, “being offended is a tiring business. Letting things go gives you energy.” This is so true, I’ve always noticed that when I have my focus on negative things and people or situations that are frustrating me, I just have no energy to do the things that will make God smile at me. Hansen encourages us to go into situations thinking “I am not going to be offended. No matter what.”

So how did Jesus handle all these angry people?

In his last moments he’s asking God, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” There is Jesus, offended to the highest degree, being brutally crucified between two others and he’s asking, wanting and willing to forgive those who offended him.

“A fair question, then: Is that same Jesus living in and through me, still saying that?” Such a great question by the author. As he goes on to state, “Jesus encountered one moral mess after another, and He was never taken aback by anyone’s morality. Ever…[so why] are we going to live in perpetual shock at the nature of man?” I think it’s easy in today’s society to be morally offended and look at people and feel sadness on how someone could carry themselves in a such a manner to degrade what God has given them. However we need to “quit thinking it’s up to [us] to police people, and that God needs you to “take a stand.” Jesus didn’t ask us to take a stand for truth on everything. He told His followers to go and make disciples. Make other followers.”

I never thought of anger as something of value, but it is and that’s why “giving it up requires a sacrifice.” Many people choose to hold onto their anger as if it’s something they own. However Jesus is saying he owns it, and to give it to Him. Seems like an amazing deal, so why do most of us choose to hold on it to it? I think it is because we love being in control.

Here’s the thing, “in order for us to justify our right to anger, we have to confuse ourselves with God.” That pretty much sums it up, the only one who has the “right” to be angry is God. Ouch. When we practice being unoffendable and forgive those who offend us it means you have to “actually, for real, be trusting God.” As Hansen explains, “the myth of righteous anger actually impedes the taking of action, because it lets us congratulate ourselves for a feeling, rather than for doing something.” Man that is some tough love. I believe we humans by nature love our sense of control, and that is why it so hard for us to let go of our right to be angry. However when we accept that we don’t need to have it our way that is when we are able to step out of anger and fully surrender our will to God. “When we surrender control, there’s so much less at stake in life for us. We have nothing to prove, and when we really believe that, we’ll hardly be quick to anger.”

Maybe you have heard of the story where Jesus is gathering disciples and a man comes to Him and is willing to give up everything and then Jesus asks him to give up all his money, and being a rich man he walks away sad, unable to give up his wealth. Brant Hansen does a great job of relating that to our anger dilemma. “Many of us who live in this society that is so riven with anger, even addicted to it, Jesus is giving us a similar demand: Give up your anger. Because of what I’ve done for you, give it up and forgive. Sadly, our response is, “that’s not fair” and we walk away too.”

Let’s talk about that. By “that”, I mean this idea of “fairness.” Fortunately for us, sometimes there is not a correlation between what we get and what we deserve. As a child this is a hard concept to understand and even as an adult when you see all the stuff that is happening in war-torn countries and poverty-stricken villages, it can make your heart ache. However “the kingdom of God knows nothing of balance.” When we are born into the kingdom and become a citizen of the Kingdom, it means we are “operating in a whole new economy, and grace–unfair, imbalanced grace–is the currency.”

Grace is an amazing thing and even to this day it’s something that puts me in awe. For all the rules religions may have and our world may have, they don’t really change a person deep down. But Grace does. The author brings us back to the story where Jesus is hanging out with Zacchaeus, a tax collector. Every religious person thought he was crazy and took offense to Jesus hanging out with him. “The very fact that Jesus wasn’t offended by him, and would be with him, and would show love to him in front of others, and would sit in his dining room–that changed his heart. And that’s just it: it’s always grace that changes hearts.” When I read that, that was super powerful for me. I feel as though sometimes Christians are afraid to hang out with those that Jesus hung out with. That by being around people who do not walk with God, that we would somehow be condoning the way they live, the way they behave. However as Hansen points out, our job isn’t to accept or disagree with their unbiblical living but to “redeem it.”

How we handle anger and show it is very important when it comes to relationships. Some of us just try to be right for the sake of being right, always needing to be on the winning side of the argument. That’s definitely been me and an area I am working on. Hansen makes a great insight in saying that “when people are in crisis or need to know that God loves them, that they’re not alone, they don’t seek out the guy who thinks he’s Mr.Answer or who radiates superiority and disapproval. They want someone who loves God and loves them.” Clearly it was something the author struggled with as well as he goes on to say “my goal with relationships is no longer to try to change people. It’s to introduce people to a God who is already reaching toward them, right where they are.” It fits into that saying that changed people, change people. When I hear another person’s story or testimony and learn everything they have overcome, that changes me. Being able to see how far someone has come, that’s what gives me hope to know that “if God is for us, who can be against us?”

The author challenges us to have an attitude of self-forgetfulness. “Self-forgetfulness happens when we’re emotionally healthy. It’s remembering that God is my defender, His opinion is what matters, and whatever my offenders are doing to me, I’ve done to others as well. And God has forgiven me. I simply must forgive in return and forfeit my right to anger.” Hansen believes that when Paul wrote about getting rid of all anger, the point was really about freedom. “Freedom to have God-given sight, the ability to look at that highly offensive person and see what is not yet, as though it were.”

“Choosing to be unoffendable out of love for others is ministry. And real ministry forces us to abandon our relentless search for approval from others….that frees us to love…beautifully and recklessly.”

I choose to be unoffendable. I choose to forgive those that offend me. I choose to be gracious even when it doesn’t make sense. I choose to surrender it all to God. I hope you do too.

The book has a ton of amazing stories that I was unable to share here yet they are so amazing. I highly encourage you to pick up this book.

The Complete 101 Collection by John C Maxwell

There are a few certain books that I would consider essential for anyone who considers themselves a leader, or wants to learn and grow and become one. This would be one of them. Why? Because it contains some of John C Maxwell’s greatest points on so many topics, all in one book!

This book is an encyclopedia of success knowledge. It covers attitude, self-improvement, leadership, relationships, success, teamwork, equipping and mentoring. Every section covers the basics and is broken into two to three parts to help break it down even further. This is a book that I have wanted for a while and super excited to have added to my collection. Unlike most books where you would read it from cover to cover, this 101 collection that Maxwell has amassed can be read for whatever specific challenge you want to overcome. This collection is full of  principles, stories and thoughts to help guide you and help you grow as leader. Just as it states on the cover, it is exactly what every leader needs to know. If you are serious about getting better, I encourage you to pick up this book. It’s available in hardcover and is very reasonably priced, especially considering it could really be 8 separate books!

 

Jesus Swagger by Jarrid Wilson

by Ben Silk 0 Comments

To be honest, when I decided to review this book I wasn’t sure what to make of the book, especially with the title, Jesus Swagger. However, also being a millennial I decided to give it a shot. So, what is Jesus swagger? Jarrid Wilson states that “Jesus swagger is all about your life being infected with the love of Christ. Being different, noticeably different , so much so that people wonder, What is different about that person?” As a millennial and a Christian young in the faith, this book spoke to the heart of things I struggle with and provided useful scripture to overcome them. He shares the differences between someone who believes in Jesus and someone who actually follows Him. Jarrid focuses on making sure we are not just being posers of Christianity but actually living out the life Jesus has called us to live. It turns out Jesus doesn’t like posers; as he states in Revelations 3:16 “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Jarrid covers how to not be lukewarm for God, and reminds us “it’s time to stop making up excuses about why we can’t be what God has made us to be. We should care less about the coffee shop lady’s shallow opinions, and only focus on the one that matters: God’s.” This book will definitely challenge you – if you are poser now, after reading this book you shouldn’t be. Ultimately Jarrid demonstrates how to equip yourself to live ”a lifestyle that resembles Jesus to the fullest, not worrying about the opinions of others, but instead holding firm to a foundation in Christ alone; one that is able to withstand anything the world throws at you.”

Questions to ask during a learning session.

Taken from John C Maxwell’s book Good Leaders ask Great Questions.

These are questions he asks to learn from others, to find out what they can teach him.

1. What is the greatest lesson you have learned? By asking this question you can seek their wisdom.

2. What are you learning now? This allows you to benefit from their passion.

3. How has failure shaped your life? This gives you insight into their attitude.

4. Who do you know whom I should know? This allows you to engage with their network.

5. What have you read that I should read? This allows you to direct your personal growth.

6. What have you done that I should do? This helps you seek new experiences.

7. How can I add value to you? This shows your gratitude and desire to add value to them.

Life Is ___ by Judah Smith

Even though I feel he has a secret mission to make us all Seattle Seahawks fans, I love this guy. I love his writing style and his sense of humour, he makes reading fun. Judah Smith has a way of making stories of the Bible relevant as he paraphrases them into the lingo of the day. Before I read Life Is, I borrowed Jesus Is from a friend and couldn’t put it down, so I knew coming into the book I would have the same problem. I love that he is raw about where and who he is and how he makes Jesus and the Bible relatable.

The book is centered around the question; what is life about? He completes it by saying Life is; to be loved and to love, to trust God in every moment, to be at peace with God and yourself and to enjoy God. His stories are simple yet profound and have helped to give me a greater understanding of different stories in the Bible and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

One of the habits I have gained when reading is to highlight key sentences or passages that stick out to me and I found myself doing this quite a bit in this book. I encourage you to read this book and then share it with a friend. I am always looking for a book I can give to a friend that may not yet be a Christian and this is one of them that I would definitely with confident and comfortable passing on.

 

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

 

“Selfishness is the essence of Sin.”

“God doesn’t give us what we think we deserve. He gives us what he wants to give us, and he asks us to trust him that it is right.”

“When I die, I want to be known as a man who knew Jesus, enjoyed Jesus, was loved by Jesus, and focused on Jesus.”

“It comes down to this: Do we trust God? Do we trust that whatever he deems right will be enough? Do we trust that he is just, that he is right, that he is good, and that he is merciful?”

“The key to handling the distractions of life is to focus on Jesus, the source of peace.”