Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life (book review)

Baseball was the first organized sport I learned to play and appreciate, largely due to Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey’s radio broadcast of the Detroit Tigers. I would sneak my small transistor radio under my pillow during the summer to listen to the games each night. Not only did I learn about the current Tigers, but I began to develop an appreciation for the Tigers of the bygone era. 

One of the notable names to appear on the Tigers’ scorecard for a dozen seasons was “Hammerin’” Hank Greenberg. His story is told in his autobiography Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. 

Tigers fans lost four-plus seasons of this dominant ballplayer when Hank served in the armed forces during World War II. And then the Tigers lost out again when a rift between two-time American League MVP Greenberg and Tigers owner Walter Briggs saw Hank traded to Pittsburg for the final year of his career. 

Greenberg was not the first Jewish ballplayer in the Major Leagues, but he was the first one who was almost perpetually in the spotlight. From the moment he stepped on the field, he vaulted to the top of nearly every offense category. 

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In 1938, Hank was chasing Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, and many feel he didn’t break it because many pitchers didn’t want to see a Jew steal The Babe’s record, so they didn’t give him anything to hit. The previous year, Hank was chasing Lou Gehrig’s RBI record and ended up knocking in 184 runs (just one shy of Gehrig’s record), again in spite of the lousy pitches he was seeing. 

Hank’s career stats are all the more amazing considering the four-plus seasons he missed during his military service. His enlistment period was actually up two days before Pearl Harbor was bombed. On hearing that news, Hank said, “That settles it for me, I am reenlisting at once,” making him the first Major Leaguer to enlist in the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Thankfully for Tigers fans, Greenberg returned to the lineup in time to help the team win the World Series in 1945. In four World Series appearances, he had a .318 batting average, with 5 homers, and 22 RBIs. 

After leaving the playing field, Hank moved into the front office with the Cleveland Indians and then the Chicago White Sox. He revolutionized the way teams used their minor league farm system, while still battling and overcoming the antisemitism that was so present even in the ranks of baseball team owners. Jackie Robinson was grateful for the encouragement and advice that Greenberg gave him while he faced very similar ugly treatment when he broke into the Major Leagues. 

If you are a Detroit Tigers fan, this is an excellent book to add to your library.

Killing Mammon’s Covetousness

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Max Lucado wrote, 

“The United States economy endured ten recessions between 1948 and 2001. These downturns lasted an average of ten months apiece and resulted in the loss of billions of dollars. Every five years or so, the economy dumps its suitors and starts over. What would you think of a man who did the same with women? What word would you use to describe a husband who philandered his way through nine different wives over fifty years? And what word would you use to describe wife number ten? How about this one? Fool. Those who trust money are foolish. They are setting themselves up to be duped and dumped into a dystopia of unhappiness.” —Max Lucado, Fearless  

Yikes! It sounds like money can be a scary thing. So let’s consider statement #12 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?”—Money is the root of all evil. Is that in the Bible? No! 

That phrase is close to one that is in the Bible, but “close” misses the real meaning. What Paul actually wrote to Timothy is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). 

That three-word phrase “love of money” is actually just one word in Greek, and it means “friend of silver.” 

The Bible teaches that money itself is neither good nor evil. It’s merely a tool like a hammer that is used for building something or for destroying something. If the hammer builds or destroys, it’s not the hammer that is good or evil but the attitude of the one gripping the hammer determines the good or evil outcome. 

So too with money. Money keeps the lights on, puts gas in our car, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs, it even helps people share the Gospel here and around the world. It’s our attitude toward money that leads us to good or evil thoughts and actions. 

In describing people who were a friend of silver, Paul uses phrases like this to describe them: teaches false doctrine … does not agree to sound instruction…and godly teaching … who think godliness is a means to financial gain … want to get rich … eager for money (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 9-10). 

In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers gathered at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Together these men controlled more wealth than the United States Treasury! They met together to discuss how they could use their present wealth to gain even more wealth. Their plan was put into place and it began to reap the results they planned: they expanded their influence and their bank accounts. 

Then six years later, on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday happened. The worst day for the New York Stock Exchange ever and the beginning of the Great Depression in the USA. 

What about that group of wealthy financiers who wanted more, more, more? 

  • Charles Schwab—president of Carnegie Steel Company—lived the last years of his life on borrowed money and died penniless 
  • Arthur Cutten—the world’s largest wheat speculator—died insolvent 
  • Richard Whitney—president of the NYSE—served a prison term for embezzlement 
  • Albert Fall—a member of the president’s cabinet—also went to prison 
  • Jessie Livermore—the “bear of Wall Street,” Leon Frazer—president of the Bank of International Settlements, and Ivar Kreuger—head of the world’s largest monopoly (a match company)—all committed suicide 

Their friendship with silver—their love of Money—led to their disastrous downfalls. 

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). 

The word Jesus used for “Money” is Mammon: wealth personified and deified. When we make Money our god—Money (with a capital “M”)—we naturally begin to covet what isn’t ours. Nothing satisfies and so we covet to possess more and more and more. 

Remember Jesus we cannot serve two masters. If we replace God with Mammon, it is inevitable that we will break all of the Ten Commandments. Has anyone ever made an idol to their Money, or murdered for money, or committed adultery, or stolen, or told lies? They sure have! 

Paul described those who worship Mammon this way—

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

But those who worship God, Paul described like this—

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8) 

Simply put: Contentment with God kills Mammon’s covetousness! 

Want to know how to check your attitude toward money? When you think about giving God His tithe, or when the Holy Spirit prompts you to give to a missionary, what thought comes to your mind? Do you think, “Ugg, I have to give this” or do you rejoice to say, “Yes, I get to give this”? The answer to that question will give you a really good indication of how much pull Mammon has over your heart. 

We all have a choice to make: yield to God or yield to Mammon. But remember only God can give us contentment today and pleasures that last for eternity. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Is That In The Bible?, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Links & Quotes

I thought this was brilliant insight from the weekly Cultural Translator newsletter from Axis—

In the Q&A portion of one of his lectures, Jordan Peterson was asked about his thoughts on abortion. At one point he said, “The discussion regarding the legality of abortion is nested inside a larger discussion about the morality of abortion, and that’s nested inside a larger discussion about the proper place of sexuality in human behavior. And to me, that’s the level at which the problem needs to be addressed.” Although he doesn’t offer specific prescriptions about how to do that, it’s a helpful way to position the conversation.

In many people’s minds, sex is appropriate whenever the parties involved consent to it. In this view, sexual activity outside of marriage becomes a foregone conclusion. Abortion is then regarded as a necessary adaptation for this new undeniable sexual ethic. In that same Q&A, Peterson says, “Let’s say you are in a position where you are inclined to seek an abortion. The question is: how did you get there?” The literal answer for 99% of pregnant women is via voluntary sexual intercourse—but when our culture frames “sexual expression” as an inevitability, it can seem hard to envision other safe paths forward apart from abortion.

For some, it’s too late to think proactively. Along those lines, one of the primary pro-choice arguments has been that having children too soon will plunge parents into permanent poverty. But when the church is at its best, it has rallied together to provide for those who could not provide for themselves. Acts 2:44-45 says about the early church, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Other ancient sources record that the early church was known for saving and protecting unwanted children, who were sometimes left outside to die.

Although some may frame “celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision” and “thinking about how to be more holistically pro-life” as somehow in tension, the early church models both a care for babies and for their mothers. May God give us grace to do the same.

The 1440 Daily Digest had an interesting article for the July 4th weekend entitled “Happy Birthday, America.” 

Congratulations, America—Monday marks the 246th commemoration of the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. The Congress actually voted to separate from Great Britain two days earlier, and possibly didn’t sign the document until August. Some argue the US didn’t really become a country until we began operating under the Constitution in 1789.

Still, since then, the country has grown from 13 colonies with about 2.5 million people to 50 states and 14 territories with a population of more than 330 million. The economy has swelled to roughly $24T. Advances in public health—public sanitation, the germ theory of disease, and more—have cut the child mortality rate from more than 45% to under 1%, and our citizens live 35 years longer on average.

We’ve built almost 4 million miles of paved roads and more than 5,000 public airports. More than 2.7 million miles of power lines electrify the country, with about 85% of households having access to broadband internet and 92% having at least one computer. In 1800, 95% of the population lived in rural areas, and now about 83% live in urban areas. The US has also been responsible for more than 800 human visits to space—the most of any other country with a space agency.

While there will always be challenges to face and improvements to make, we’ve come a long way since the beginning. So grab a hot dog and your drink of choice—here’s to the next 246 years.

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” —Thurgood Marshall

This is a good way of looking at the blessings we have in America: 24 charts that show we’re (mostly) living better than our parents

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe

“I have reason to praise Him for my trials, for, most probably, I should have been ruined without them.” —John Newton

God Bless America?

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On this 4th of July weekend, is it right for us to pray for God’s blessing on America? I have blogged before about being careful with our terms that are biblical, unbiblical, or non-biblical. Clearly, the phrase “God bless America” is non-biblical—that is, this phrase doesn’t explicitly appear in the Scripture. But are there principles in the Bible that can make that phrase biblical? 

Yes, I believe so IF we recognize why we have been blessed by God. 

In God’s perfect timing, the next psalm in our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms is one that addresses this topic. 

Notice the very first word in Psalm 87 is the personal pronoun “He.” There is an assumption the sons of Korah make that their readers will know that “He” is The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. In fact, they see God as the Prime Mover in this psalm, putting His words at the very middle of the psalm (v. 4). 

Just before these quotation marks, we are invited to Selah—pause and carefully listen to God. He announces heavenly citizenship for age-old enemies of Israel: Rehab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Cush. Peoples from all of these nations are identified as: “those who acknowledge Me” and three times He says they are “born in Zion” (vv. 4-6). 

God desires that none should perish. He wants people from every nation, tribe, and language to enjoy His presence forever in the eternal Zion. 

The sons of Korah remind us of just how blessed Zion truly is (vv. 1-3) and how God establishes all who have Zion citizenship (v. 5). God does this so that all people will see God’s blessing on those people who acknowledge Him as their Lord and King. 

So let’s return to my earlier question: Is it right and biblical for Christians to pray for God to bless America? 

Let me ask it another way: Has God blessed America? I believe He has and we should be eternally grateful. I believe this nation was founded on biblical principles, and recognized as a place where people could have the freedom to worship God.

Will God continue to bless America? Psalm 87 says the blessing will last only as long as we Americans acknowledge, “All my fountains are in You” (v. 7). This is a call for us to continually recognize God as our Foundation and Source. We also have to remember that the blessing is only to us so that it can flow through us to all peoples, languages, and tribes. 

The blessing stops when we dig our own wells, or we try to hoard the blessing. 

There are two phrases in this psalm that stand out to me as prophetic. 

  1. Selah (listen to this) and then “I will record” (vv. 3-4) 
  2. The Lord will write in the register” (stop to celebrate) Selah (v. 6)

God keeps perfect records of those who are citizens of Zion because they have acknowledged Jesus as the One who paid the price for their sins to be forgiven. So when John gives us a glimpse of the eternal Zion, he tells us about the rejoicing over those who are there “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10, 21:22-27). 

Just as Revelation records spontaneous praise to God, the sons of Korah build in those Selah pauses to worship too:

  • Glorious things are said of God—praise Him! 
  • He has blessed us by His presence in our midst—praise Him! 
  • People from all tribes are entering Zion—praise Him! 

May God continue to bless America so that we can use those blessings to tell the world about His love as we invite them into a personal relationship with Jesus! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the full list by clicking here.

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Autobiography Of Calvin Coolidge (book review) 

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Calvin Coolidge is the only US president to have been born on July 4, which I think is very fitting for him, since his political philosophy found its firm foundation in our nation’s remarkable founding. In a very modest fashion, President Coolidge relates his amazing career in his autobiography. 

I’m not sure how the title “Silent Cal” ever stuck to this president. Throughout his legal and political career, his speeches—almost all of which he wrote himself—are some of the most thoughtful and enduring speeches in our nation’s history. His voice seemed to resonate across the political aisle too, because at each subsequent election, Coolidge would be elected by larger margins than before, with more Democrats crossing over to vote for him each time. 

Coolidge stood strong during a potentially disastrous Boston police strike while he was governor of Massachusetts, and he transitioned our government’s activities and expenditures from the wartime outlay of Word War I back into the peacetime activities after the war. He never wavered from his adherence to the principles in our founding documents, remaining a strong proponent of states’ rights and a smaller federal budget. 

He was quite progressive, utilizing the new media of radio to get his thoughts out to as many people as possible while championing topics like women’s suffrage, lower taxes, and a stronger working class. 

And then at the height of his political career, he chose not to run for reelection to the presidency, walking away from an almost guaranteed victory to a second term. 

Calvin Coolidge was a fascinating leader, one which both those in and out of politics should strive to emulate. As a student of leadership myself, I highly recommend this book to both American history buffs and those desiring to increase their leadership acumen. 

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Book Reviews From 2021

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I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2021. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

24

AC/DC

Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible

George Whitefield

Hal Moore On Leadership

His Last Bow

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

How Christianity Changed The World

How I Got This Way

How To Bring Men To Christ

Jesus On Trial

John Adams

Miracles Out Of Somewhere

My Lucky Life

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

Pilgrim’s Progress

Prayer

Prophet With A Pen

QB

Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers

Secrets Of Dynamic Communication

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Shepherd Leadership

Star Struck

Talking To GOATs

That Hideous Strength

The Art Of Writing And The Gift Of Writers

The Hidden Smile Of God

The Hiding Place

Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

To The Work!

Voice Of A Prophet

Washington’s Immortals

Word-For-Word Bible Comic: Jonah

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

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George Whitefield (book review)

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The ministry of George Whitefield in both the British Isles and the American colonies is still unequaled today. Of very few men could it be said that they both initiated a revival and put mechanisms in place for the long-range growth of the church in two entirely different cultures. Arnold Dallimore captures this well in his biography George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century. 

Previously, I read and reviewed J.C. Ryle’s biography of George Whitefield. Bishop Ryle wrote this book to correct some of the maliciously untrue reports that were circulating about Whitefield. Rev. Dallimore’s book has the benefit of more years of history in which to test the assertions of Bishop Ryle. The result is a well-rounded work that takes us through the beginning of Whitefield’s ministry, his maturing thoughts and practices, and the lasting legacy that is still being felt today. 

Rev. Dallimore does address some of the same falsehoods that Bishop Ryle sought to debunk, but he goes farther to give us a sweeping overview of the tireless and highly effective ministry Whitefield undertook for nearly all of his life. Students of church history will definitely want to add this excellent book to their library. 

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Washington’s Immortals (book review)

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st of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There’s an old proverb that says,

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost—all for want of a nail.

I thought of this proverb as I began reading Washington’s Immortals by Patrick K. O’Donnell, which recounts the history of a regiment from Maryland that not only turned the tide of a crucial battle in the American Revolutionary War, but who were at the center of nearly every vital battle throughout the war. 

At the outset of the war, the British army and navy nearly overwhelmed George Washington’s forces in New York. One regiment from Maryland stood their ground, keeping the British bottled up for just one hour. But that one hour allowed General Washington precious time to get his retreating army to safety. Without the bravery and tenacity of these Marylanders, the war could have been over almost before it started. So to paraphrase the old proverb above, for want of the brave stand of the Marylanders, the American cause could have been lost! 

As General Washington watched those brave men not only stand their ground, but repeatedly counterattack the far superior British forces, he said, “Good God! What brave fellows I must this day lose!” 

If that were the only service to the American colonies that this elite group had supplied, it would have been enough. But time and time again, General Washington and General Nathaniel Green placed the Marylanders in the most vulnerable or the most crucial places on the battlefield, knowing that these men would not fail to come through. 

O’Donnell follows the movements of the Marylanders from the beginning of the war all the way through to its conclusion in a very readable manner. He shares just enough of the details of the battle for us to get a feel for the gravity of the situation, but not so many details that it becomes laborious reading. 

Any students of American history, military history, or leadership-under-fire will appreciate reading Washington’s Immortals. 

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10 Quotes From “Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers”

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For any students of American history or of the role the Bible has played in affecting world affairs, Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers is an eye-opening book. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from author Daniel Dreisbach. 

“Following an extensive survey of American political literature from 1760 to 1805, political scientist Donald S. Lutz reported that the Bible was referenced more frequently than any European writer or even any European school of thought, such as the Enlightenment or Whig intellectual traditions. Indeed, the Bible accounted for about one-third of all citations in his sample. According to Lutz, ‘Deuteronomy is the most frequently cited book, followed by Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws.’ … Saint Paul is cited about as frequently as Montesquieu and [William] Blackstone, the two most-cited secular authors, and Deuteronomy is cited almost twice as often as all of [John] Locke’s writings put together.”

“The founders often quoted the Bible without the use of quotation marks or citations, which were not necessary for a biblically literate society but the absence of which fail to alert a biblically illiterate modern audience to the Bible’s invocation.” 

“Increasing unfamiliarity with the Bible makes it harder and harder for Americans to understand their origins and their mores, or to put words to their experiences. … Lacking knowledge of the Bible, Americans are likely to be literally inarticulate, unable to relate themselves to American life and culture as a whole.” —Wilson Carey McWilliams

“Knowledge of the Bible and its place in the American experience, in short, helps Americans better understand themselves and their history.” 

“In regard to this Great Book [the Bible], I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” —Abraham Lincoln 

“[T]he Bible has had a literary influence not because it has been considered as literature, but because it has been considered as the report of the Word of God.” —T.S. Eliot 

“[William] Tyndale, who was the first to translate the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek, can be rightly called the father of the King James Bible. Approximately ‘eighty percent of his Old Testament and ninety percent of his New Testament’ were adopted by the King James translators. …  

“There is much truth in the remark that ‘without Tyndale, no Shakespeare.’ It is also true that ‘without Tyndale, no King James Bible.’ ‘Without the King James Bible,’ Alister McGrath observed, ‘there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s Messiah, no Negro spirituals, and no Gettysburg Address. … Without this Bible, the culture of the English-speaking world would have been immeasurably impoverished.’” 

“The size of the vocabulary found in the King James Bible is not extensive. [William] Shakespeare, it is estimated, used between fifteen and twenty thousand different words. Milton’s verse draws on a lexicon of about thirteen thousand words. The Old Testament, in the Hebrew and Aramaic, has approximately fifty-six hundred words. The New Testament, in the Greek, has around forty-eight hundred words. In the entire King James Bible, by contrast, there are only about six thousand different words, according to one accounting.” 

“The opinion that human reason, left without the constant control of divine laws and commands, will preserve a just administration, secure freedom and other rights, restrain men from violations of laws and constitutions, and give duration to a popular government, is as chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac. … Where will you find any code of laws, among civilized men, in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass. … Every wise code of laws must embrace the main principles of the religion of Christ.” —John Adams 

“Moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation; and they are adapted to the wants of men in every condition of life. They are the best principles and precepts, because they are exactly adapted to secure the practice of universal justice and kindness among men; and of course to prevent crimes, war and disorders in society. No human laws dictated by different principles from those in the gospel, can ever secure these objects. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. … For instruction then in social, religious and civil duties resort to the scriptures for the best precepts and most excellent examples of imitation.” —Noah Webster

John Adams (book review)

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I find David McCullough to be one of the most thorough, impartial, comprehensive, and engaging historians that I have read. These attributes—and many others—are on full display in his biography of our second president John Adams. 

Many have rightly called Thomas Jefferson the pen of the Declaration of Independence and John Adams the voice of the Declaration. But it’s not just this historic document for which Adams should be remembered, but the very form of government which we enjoy right now is a living tribute to his forceful and persuasive genius. 

This biography is brilliantly told by McCullough through the first-person accounts of Adams’ vast quantity of letters, as well as the letters written to and about him, and the contemporary newspapers of the day. McCullough takes us back to Adams’ boyhood home to give us a good understanding of the upbringing and family heritage that fueled his quest for learning and leading. From his first elected office, through his time in Europe advocating for the newly created United States of America, into his presidency, and then through his long retirement, Adams was tireless in his efforts to make this country the best it could be. 

For students of history or leadership, this is a remarkably insightful look into a man that was at the heart of so much of what characterizes our great nation today. I have other books about John Adams in my library, but David McCullough’s lengthy work is, in my opinion, the definitive source. 

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