Proverbs: Amplified And Applied (book review)

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I enjoy reading devotional books that are based on passages of Scripture, but I get quite frustrated when there is more devotional thought than there is Scripture. This is decidedly not the case in Dick Brogden’s devotional book Proverbs: Amplified And Applied.

Full disclosure: Dick Brogden is my cousin, so I may be just slightly biased on this book. But I don’t think my bias in any way contradicts my statement about the volume of Scripture contained in this powerfully insightful devotional work. 

Dick has taken the Book of Proverbs and gone deep on every single verse. Each note is a treasure trove of insights, cross-references to other biblical concepts, and action steps that can immediately become a prayer request or a daily goal. 

Let me give you an example. Provers 2:7 says, “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” Dick’s amplification and application for this verse says—

“Wisdom is a supply and a defense. Wisdom gained now provides in the present and protects in the future. God in His benevolence stockpiles wisdom for us. He gives neither Spirit nor wisdom by measure. He delights to flood, saturate, fill, overwhelm, and lavish the spirit of wisdom, counsel, discernment, and understanding upon us. When we walk in the light, in integrity, it is as if we have a library card that allows us free checkout of heaven’s daily living manuals. Our integrity is what gives us access to all the stored-up wisdom of God. Integrity also shields us from the attacks of folly. The grandest folly comes wrapped in deceptive intelligence. The devil is able (cunning angel of light that he is) to make foolish things seem wise. We are able to see through his disguises and be shielded from his traps when we have a legacy of continually checking out, reading, and applying God’s insight. It is the familiarity with the feel of the true that helps us recognize the false.”

I’m reading through the Book of Proverbs very slowly this year, allowing Dick’s commentary to help me let these principles sink in deep. For those who love the wisdom of Proverbs, I would greatly encourage you to get a copy of Dick’s book for yourself. 

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Book Reviews From 2022

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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 2022. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Cary Grant

Contending For Our All

Father Sergius

Hank Greenberg: The Story Of My Life

Living In A Gray World

Out Of The Depths

Roots Of Endurance

Simple Truths Of Leadership

Spurgeon And The Psalms

Susanna Wesley

The Holy War

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy

The Poetry Of Prayer

The Self-Aware Leader

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

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.

Here are my book reviews for 2021.

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Cary Grant (book review)

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I can’t remember how old I was the first time I saw a Cary Grant film, but I do remember always wanting to be like Cary Grant. Graham McCann captures this sentiment that I apparently shared with many, many others in his book Cary Grant: A Class Apart.

Cary Grant was born Archie Leach, but he became Cary Grant. Although this was an attempt to expand beyond his lower class upbringing in Bristol, England, Cary never left Archie nor Bristol behind. Instead, he used these humble beginnings to keep himself grounded as he became more successful and more popular. 

Mr. McCann does an excellent job taking us through the growth of Cary Grant, and showing us how his maturing was seen in both the movie roles he accepted, and how he acted in those movies. After reading this book, I am seeing things differently in his movies than I saw them originally.

Cary remained very guarded about his personal life, not often giving interviews. And even when he did grant interviews, they seldom delved into his personal affairs. Mr. McCann is very studious about quoting others who were close to Cary, and deflating those “urban legend” reports that were based on mere hearsay. 

Throughout this very well-researched biography, you will appreciate Cary’s development as an actor, the precision he brought to all of his movie roles, and the behind-the-scenes work he did that rarely got noticed outside of Hollywood. Inside Hollywood, however, someone once quipped, “Cary has earned so many Oscars for all those who have worked with him.” 

Those who appreciate quality films, and especially those who have followed Cary Grant’s filmography, will learn so much more from this exceptional biography.

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The Self-Aware Leader (book review)

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Leaders never “arrive” at a place where they have accomplished everything they want to accomplish. John Maxwell helps leaders keep pressing on in their personal growth in his book The Self-Aware Leader. 

This book is largely autobiographical, as Maxwell leads us through lessons that he learned by not being self-aware. His leadership stumbles served as a wake-up call that allowed him to reflect, learn, and then correct his technique. Then after decades of honing these techniques, he shares with his readers the practical steps for them to become self-aware of a potential stumbling point before it actually trips them up. 

I also appreciated the self-aware leader’s questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. To me, this is an ideal place for leaders who are in mutual accountability to focus their discussion as they meet together. My biggest takeaway from this book is that I cannot become self-aware nor correct the things that could derail my leadership solely on my own. Reading The Self-Aware Leader is a good starting point, but I also highly recommend reading this book with another leader that also desires to grow and improve. 

Leaders who want to uncover the things that could be holding them back will really benefit from reading and applying this book. For my Patreon supporters, I have also shared several noteworthy quotes from this book here. 

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Contending For Our All (book review)

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As someone who thoroughly enjoys studying history and leadership, “The swans are not silent” series of books by John Piper is right up my alley! The fourth book in this excellent series is Contending For Our All. 

As with all of the other books in this series, Contending For Our All explores the lives of three notable men of history around a common theme. This book focuses on the theme of dealing with controversies in the church through the lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen. 

None of these men sought to be controversial, but neither did they shy away from addressing the unbiblical teachings of their day. Even though it cost them prestige, advancement, personal comfort, and even a few friends, these strong men knew that standing for biblical truth was their supreme privilege. Athanasius confronted the heresy of Arianism, Owen was one of the most influential voices for the Puritans, and Machen warned the evangelic church of its drift away from orthodoxy. 

These men counted the joy of serving Jesus even in the face of controversy as the greatest honor they could obtain. They served well and lovingly and earned the highest praise in the voice of their Master saying, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” Their lives are a timely reminder for all Christians living in today’s post-truth culture. 

As with all of the other books in this series, Pastor John does a remarkable job in sharing these biographies in a compelling and memorable manner, and in a way that makes the case for all Christians to stand strong as they too contend for truth. 

If you would like to read the other book reviews I’ve reviewed in this series, check them out here: 

►► My Patreon supporters will have exclusive access to all of the quotes and notes I compiled while reading this book. Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

The Poetry Of Prayer (book review)

Wow, talk about a win-win for me: The Poetry Of Prayer combines one of my go-to theologians (T.M. Moore) with one of my favorite poets (George Herbert)! In another win, this book opens up a new richness for a Christian’s prayer life. 

George Herbert’s poems hold a unique place in the world of literature[*]. Of the 167 poems in the collection of his poems called The Temple, 116 of them are written with meters that are not repeated. In several instances, Herbert created meters that no poet had used before. In his poem “Poetry (1),” Herbert leans into his poetic prowess to try to capture adequate descriptions of prayer. 

T.M. Moore thinks deeply and writes clearly about how Christians should be saturated in the Bible and prayer. In The Poetry Of Prayer he dissects Herbert’s poem phrase by phrase and invites us to see the awesome potential in prayer that far too often goes untapped. 

In each chapter, Moore helps us examine each of Herbert’s poetic phrases, explore the scriptural references that apply, and consider some “next steps” for applying these principles to our personal prayer time. As you progress through the book, Herbert’s poem takes on deeper and richer meaning so that you should become enthralled with cultivating your own rich prayer time.  

I cannot recommend this book to you strongly enough—a true gem in developing a greater appreciation for the intimacy and power in prayer.

For my Patreon supporters, get ready for a treasure-trove of quotes from this book!

[*] If you would like to know more about George Herbert’s poetry, check out my book review of Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully.

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. 

My Patreon supports can get exclusive access to the quotes I have shared from this book by clicking here

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.

Father Sergius (book review)

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Those who regularly follow my book reviews have probably noticed that I read very few fiction books. If I do read fiction, I want it still to be something that engages my brain as well as my heart. Leo Tolstoy’s Father Sergius definitely hit those marks! 

This is a story about a spiritual journey that started out anything but spiritual. Stepan Kasatsky becomes a monk not because he wanted to pursue God, but because he wanted to run away from carnal heartache. 

Kasatsky’s journey started out just as escapism from the world. In fact, Tolstoy describes it as, “Our feet have reached the holy places, but our hearts may not have done so.” Yet somewhere along the way, Father Sergius (as Kasatsky now called himself) discovered true piety. 

Father Sergius’ spiritual “success”—if it can be called that—resulted in carnal pride. His journey that had become spiritual now became corrupted by pride. Sergius realized he had lost his way, and yet he struggled with giving up the popularity and acclaim he had now acquired. 

The book closes with Sergius rediscovering humility and true spirituality from a peasant woman he had mocked and belittled when they were both children. 

There is something in Kasatsky’s journey that can both warn and encourage all of us spiritual people on our journeys. 

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Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? (book review)

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Ever since the Boundaries book by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend came to my attention, I have always tried to get my hands on anything these psychologists write. The most recent read for me is John Townsend’s Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? 

We all have experienced button pushers in our life—those folks who seem to always know how to get us riled up. Maybe you even have a button pusher or two in your life right now. Dr. Townsend’s book is not to help us avoid these people, nor even to navigate around them, but to get to a place where our relationship with these folks can become productive and healthy. 

The book begins with an inside look at what makes button pushers button pushers. In order words, there is more below the surface than we can see, and we have to begin to understand more if we are ever going to move forward. Dr. Townsend also holds up a mirror to his readers to help us realize if our button pushers are pushing our buttons because we pushed theirs first. 

Next, Dr. Townsend helps us change our paradigm toward our button pushers. It’s likely that you have already tried to deal with this relationship. The results may have been mixed or they may have been wholly unsuccessful. Dr. Townsend wants to help us move beyond the past to get a clearer vision of what could be. 

The bulk of this book is comprised of seven resources to which we all have access, and which can help us be successful in our button-pushing relationships. This is not wishful thinking, but it is the firm belief of Dr. Townsend that God can help you employ these resources to truly turn a difficult relationship into a productive relationship. 

This book is filled with enough practical insights, actual stories from Dr. Townsend’s counseling practice, and biblical principles to fortify your prayer life and personal involvement that can lead to newfound success in these difficult relationships. 

For all of us who live or work with people who push our buttons, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? is a wonderful resource. 

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Living In A Gray World (book review)

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So many terms in our culture seem to be taking on new definitions. Things that used to be thought of as black-and-white issues now appear to have multiple shades of gray in between. Nowhere is this more true than in the modern expressions and definitions of sexuality. So Dr. Preston Sprinkle’s book Living In A Gray World is perfectly timed to help bring us some understanding. 

Dr. Sprinkle is a professor at a Bible college, but this book is anything but academically heavy or overly theological. It is straightforward and easy to understand for anyone from a teenager on up. But don’t mistake that assessment as also meaning that this book waters down the clear teaching in the Bible on sexuality, because Dr. Sprinkle doesn’t compromise on this at all. 

Living In A Gray World will walk you through what the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality. You will get a clearer understanding of the terms used in today’s discussions about gender and sexual orientation. But most importantly you will hear Dr. Sprinkle’s impassioned call for Christians to focus on loving people with the agape love of God. 

Although the subtitle of this book is “A Christian teen’s guide to understanding homosexuality,” I believe this book would be hugely beneficial to teens, parents, and pastors. We all have a lot to learn, and I think our conversations would be much more productive when we all come from the same understanding of both cultural terms and biblical teachings. So parents and teens alike should get this book, read it together, and then start talking. 

My Patreon supporters also have access to the quotes that I compiled from this book. 

If you would like to dig even deeper into this topic, check out my book review of Dr. Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality And The Gospel. 

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