When the first page of a book promotes the author’s website and another $5.95 (after coupon code), one must be wary. You’re Stronger Than You Think: The Power to do What You Feel You Cant, by Dr. Les Parrott, does make such an offer, and leans heavily toward ‘think-and-grow-powerful’ mentality of the mega-churched. In fairness, his practical suggestions are good, but the overall impression is vague empty promises based on human effort. Linking Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz with the Apostle Paul, Parrott summarizes his self-help strength source: “It’s found in your mind, your heart and your soul. To use it-to summon your strength- all you have to do is say you need it and then listen for the still, small voice.” No humility here.
I disliked the frequent ‘plugging’ of the author’s website offers, and the questions at the end of each chapter were silly. He generally talks around a subject, quotes others, and ties in cute stories. Pure feel-good fluff, with a touch of Scripture on top. The darker grey pages at the end of sections hold good specific ideas (for instance, to clear your head, practice a mind-dump: write down every little thing that is on your mind, even the silly thoughts, for more clarity.), and evaluation quizzes (also silly). I did like chapter 6: “Be Bold: there’s strength in taking risks”, but you could borrow the book from the library for those 20 pages.
In short, don’t bother (unless mega-church mantras are your style). Read Think and Grow Rich, by Hill for the real thing. I’m sure it will have the same effect: dust, not wealth.
My advance copy of this book was my only compensation for this frank review, for Tyndale Publishers. My thoughts are my own, and haven’t made me rich yet. Everything I have is grace from my Giver.
pdf first chapter
Dr. Les Parrott
Perhaps because of the PhD, Michael A. O’Donnell’s latest offering, What A Son Needs from His Dad: How a Man Prepares His Sons for Life is a re-working of better works found on nearby shelves at the Christian bookstore, library or worse, Goodwill. Mine will undoubtedly end up at the latter. Full of labeling tricks, I found it to be pedantic. Ten short chapters (the book is only a scant 141 pages, no graphics), which seem to follow William Bennett‘s focus points, but with none of the depth, classical touches or inspiration. One bright light: the tool he offers to work through the Lord’s Prayer on p.75 seems a vital element for spiritual growth, and the only piece of the book I would recommend.
Overall, this book is “preaching to the choir:” godly dads who already want to be better fathers, but it could not reach those who might need beginner’s practical help and simple uplifting chapters (something Dobson or Robert Lewis, or Bennett). No chance for any mom, either. In short, academic fluff to keep up the degree. I have a better idea: save the time buying, reading and processing this dull book, and invest in a respected dad within your church who is humbly trying to raise godly kids. Better yet, find 3 and start a Bible study or encouragement group!
This quite candid review was made possible by Bethany House Publishers, in return for my advance paper copy. You are free to join their reviewers too!
Michael A. O’Donnell
Focus on the Family
christian fatherhood: crosswalk article
There are scant resources that pop up with this topic…hmmmm.
To start off your new year strong, you may consider an excellent new devotional for men by Tony Dungy: The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. Each day of the year is given a story, primarily sports-related, but with pithy spiritual insights, and (the uncommon part), a key principle to put into action that day.
For example, December 14th (the day I received this copy) includes the text of I John 4:7-8, 12 and a story of Tony’s friend James Brown. “JB believes that every person is a valuable and special child of God. And JB acts like he believes it.” Summarizing, the Uncommon Key recommends “Spend time with the people God brings into your life today….” As you can see, this is a simple and straightforward devotional for men who seek to begin living their faith, or need a basic push in that direction. This will not contain deep theology, only practical living examples. But for most of us, that’s the Jesus we are supposed to be: real.
In that vein, I recommend this devotional, and offer a free copy to the person giving the 5th comment.
This book was provided freely to me by Tyndale Publishers, in exchange for my candid review and giveaway (you get a new book, not my copy!)
Tony Dungy personal website and challenge
Amazon page of Tony
The notion of actually considering my physical frame in light of Scripture was a new one to me. Despite, or perhaps because of an evangelical understanding that my mortal body harbors sin, I suppose I spend very little time thinking about it. To such as I am, Matthew Anderson writes Earthen Vessels, a theological exposition of the relevance of our physical spheres to our spirit, and thus our faith. He argues that we cannot disregard it – in light of the Creator’s genius (which could occupy yet another tome), and His obvious plan for just such a frame to aid us in our spiritual walk. Touching on tough issues such as homosexuality, lust, tattoos, abuses, and the place of spiritual disciplines towards the body, Anderson delves deep into a very personal relationship with our Savior. But this is not a book for self-help, but rather reflection, for ponderings, for an awakening of subjects not thought on. I expect to re-read it, and keep it as a reference point – some of his points are startling, some expected, but none are mundane. This would make a good gift to deeper theologians, to anyone in ministry, or to spark a great discussion.
Matthew Lee Anderson also blogs on the site MereOrthodoxy.com, and is found on Twitter and Facebook, where he invites comments.
My thanks to Bethany House Publishers, who provided this copy in exchange for my review. You may join also! click here.
Annabelle Tyler is rifle-butted into a marriage with the local rake, Harrison Graymoor, in this Christian Romance quick-read Hidden Affections, by Delia Parr. Despite its rough beginning, she manages to maintain her faith, and pursue godliness within a farce of a relationship, until reality begins to change. Although this is not my preferred fiction, Delia Parr (beautiful website, too) has quickly become my favorite author of this genre, with her pleasing blend of light romance, character development, and true Christian faith within a gripping storyline. I loved Annabelle, with her spunky speech and caring actions, while Harrison slowly won me over, and the gritty housekeeper Irene ‘had me at hello’. Even minor characters found depth, and the story concludes delightfully. I was left wanting more of Parr’s fiction, if not more of these characters. If you have read Janette Oke, or Francine Rivers, (my ultimate contemporary favorites), you will find a favorite here.
I received a beautiful copy I will be keeping for myself, in exchange for this review completed for Bethany House Publishers. You may join also! click here.
Jan Silvious‘ Same Life, New Story captivated me. It brought together most of my favorite themes: positive change, encouragement, strength-despite-tragedy, and clear Biblical examples, in order that the reader might actively enjoy their benefits. Citing Naomi, Leah, and the more unusual Jehosheba, among ten marvelous women’s stories of the Bible, Silvious weaves their facts into your struggles, making it possible to both believe in personal change, and become empowered to see it occur. Jan speaks to those enduring loss, abandonment, abuse, infertility, and aging, among many other struggles, with cheering grace. Each chapter grabs your attention, (“Don’t be held hostage by the past” and “Delete the drama of the day”) in a progressive layering of Biblical coaching, week by week, including personal reflection questions, journal entry prompts, and group discussion questions. I wanted to savor this book slowly, drinking in the hopeful words, and giving myself time to absorb her insights. I highly recommend it for women seeking life-change of any type. This would be an excellent choice for group or personal study.
This review was done for Booksneeze: in which I received a complimentary copy of the book, in exchange for my review. You can do the same: click on the button!