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.

My Unique History

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I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I talked about my unique background and how that contributed to not only the book I wrote but also to the activities in which I am presently involved.

God took me on a long journey before I came to be a shepherd in Cedar Springs, MI. There were times in my younger life when I questioned why my path didn’t look like a straight line that was heading toward a career or vocation, but God showed me the truthfulness of the promise in Romans 8:28—He is using ALL THINGS to accomplish what He needs for me and for His Kingdom. (Check out the short video below where I share a bit of my autobiography.)

I hope this is a word of encouragement for you too. God IS directing every single one of your steps, He IS using all of your education and experiences to accomplish His purpose. Don’t bail out of this process, and don’t ever get discouraged that your path seems different than those around you. God is being as unique with you as He is with everyone else. 

If you are a church leader, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. I believe you will find many more encouraging thoughts that will keep you engaged in the work to which God has called you.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

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Podcast: When Craig Met Greg

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On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:40] Who are we and how did we meet?
  • [2:00] A little bit of Greg’s biography as he headed to college
  • [4:10] A little bit of my biography as I headed to college
  • [5:40] How Greg tweaked his major while at Hope College
  • [6:57] I added an additional major while at Oral Roberts University
  • [7:28] Greg was drafted by two professional sports teams
  • [9:14] Transitions are important for leaders
  • [10:29] Self-reflection + coach ability = superpower 
  • [11:02] Greg’s first business venture was only an entry point to his career
  • [13:37] Another decision further refined Greg’s niche in business
  • [15:03] The unforeseen changes that brought me to West Michigan where I met Greg
  • [15:59] One of the first ministries that we worked on together
  • [20:00] A leadership lesson we tried to teach to the students at an urban youth center
  • [20:40] The dream list for us going forward
  • [22:40] What do we do as consultants?
  • [24:02] Greg has some cool keynote addresses that he presents
  • [25:53] How we can help you grow your leadership capacity

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Intersecting Lives

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I had a great time teaching some emerging ministry interns. I shared with them part of my autobiography. There was a time when I heard God’s voice as clearly as I had ever heard it telling me to pursue a career in the medical field. Before I completed that degree, I just as clearly heard God’s voice telling me that medicine wasn’t going to be the career for me.

For a number of years, I struggled with this because I thought I had missed God’s voice the first time. “Perhaps,” I thought to myself, “I didn’t hear God clearly.” 

But then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to a story in the Book of Acts that I had completely missed before. The principles in this story helped me realize that God had put me on a particular path in order for my life to intersect with other people and places. 

Here’s how I explained my story and the principles I learned from the life of Philip:

My friend, your journey may be different from mine, but we still share something so vital in common: God is using everything in your life to accomplish His plan. As you follow Jesus, you will intersect with the lives of others, and your life is making a difference in them.

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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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Out Of The Depths (book review)

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I’ve heard it reported (and I quite believe it) that “Amazing Grace” is the best-known song in the world. This song of God’s unfathomable grace was written by a pastor who was once a slave trader. Out Of The Depths is the autobiography of slave-trader-turned-pastor John Newton. 

This story is told largely through the re-printing of letters that John Newton wrote to a friend over a lengthy correspondence. The original letters were not preserved, so as Mr. Newton wrote them again, he said that he added details that he hadn’t included in the first writing. Then the book closes with some remembrances of a dear friend, and a compilation of some short maxims that Pastor Newton used in his sermons and in conversations with friends. 

One of the real benefits of Newton writing these letters so long after the actual events is his ability to look back at the lessons he learned through his various trials. Granted, many of his trials were brought on by his own stubbornness, but still the beginning of the message of grace from his memorable hymn is heard in the recounting of these stories. 

Another key aspect of his story is his relationship with his wife. She and her family were much more committed Christians than Newton was at the time he began to show an interest in his bride-to-be, but neither she nor her family allowed the courtship to proceed until Newton had entirely surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. Their marriage was a source of great strength and encouragement to Pastor Newton. 

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy learning about the key figures of church history. 

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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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Hal Moore On Leadership (book review) 

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Sometimes you might hear it said of someone’s leadership mettle or leadership philosophies that they are “battle-tested.” In the case of Hal Moore On Leadership, this is literally true! 

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young,” which recounts the first full-scale military battle in Vietnam between Moore’s 450-man force and the 2000 soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. Despite being completely surrounded and severely out-gunned, Moore’s First Cavalry decisively defeated the NVA. 

General Moore’s leadership principles won the day for his men in that battle. But even then, his principles had already been battle-tested under fire in the Korean War, and put to the test in the various assignments that Hal Moore faced in his highly-decorated military career. Moore was continually tasked by superior officers to re-tool underperforming units, or step in where tensions were high, or help reorganize when the Army was experiencing some growing pains. 

Moore not only excelled at every assignment, but he kept meticulous notes that are now available to any leader in this excellent book. 

Hal Moore On Leadership is partially a biography, but mostly his story is told as the backdrop for the leadership principles that were proven to be correct time and time again. 

Students of both leadership and military history will find this book enjoyable and practical. 

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QB (book review)

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

I’m a huge fan of NFL football. Growing up in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s it was fascinating to watch the “changing of the guard” among the dominate NFL teams—especially the Cowboys, Steelers, and 49ers. Right in the center of all of this was a legendary quarterback battle in San Francisco between Joe Montana and Steve Young. Steve Young gives us an inside look at this era in his autobiography QB: My Life Behind the Spiral. 

As a student of leadership, I love reading biographies and autobiographies with an eye toward understanding what goes into the making of a leader: Is it genetics? Temperament? Hard work? Lucky breaks? The answer is a resounding “yes” to all of the above. In the case of Steve Young, his football-playing father played a factor, as well as Steve’s relentless drive to play quarterback in the NFL. His work ethic made his lucky breaks happen. 

But what often is missed in the lives of overcoming leaders is the role challenges or limitations play. In Steve’s case, his lifelong battle against anxiety propelled him to many of his exceptional achievements. Steve is quite candid about the pull between his anxiety over failing and his nonstop pursuit of being the absolute best quarterback ever. The source of his anxiety was unknown to him for most of his career, until a counselor finally was able to help Steve both diagnose and address the underlying causes. It was after this discovery that Steve could finally find a place of satisfaction in his football pursuits. 

QB is a very enjoyable read for football fans and students of leadership, but I think those who grew up watching these epic battles on the football field at such a pivotal time in the NFL’s history will really appreciate this front-row view from Steve Young. 

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My Lucky Life (book review)

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Dick Van Dyke has always been one of my favorite on-screen personalities. Of course, what goes on off-screen to allow someone to get on screen is often a long journey. Mr. Van Dyke recounts his journey in his memoir My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business. 

I actually listened to the audiobook for this one, and it was nice to hear Dick read his own remembrances of his small-town upbringing, the way he developed his comedy routines, the people who opened doors for him, his perseverance through some thin times, and—as the title suggests—the breaks that came his way. 

It was also a lot of fun hearing about things that didn’t end up in movies like “Mary Poppins” or in TV shows like “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Getting to go behind the scenes to hear what goes into making a hit show that lasts through the generations was very eye-opening. 

The only sad note from this memoir is one I have, unfortunately, noticed in the lives of many who have been so devoted to their show business careers: the toll on their family and personal lives. This reminds me of Solomon’s haunting conclusion in the book of Ecclesiastes that things “under the sun” turn out to be meaningless, but only what lasts for eternity has any value. 

Despite the few minor keys, My Lucky Life is an informative read, especially for those who grew up watching the TV shows and movies that featured Dick Van Dyke.  

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