Expository Thoughts On The Gospels (book review)

J.C. Ryle was an Evangelical Anglican bishop who lived in England in the latter half of the 19th century. When Ryle’s words—written over 100 years ago—still resound with truth today, I would call that “a classic”! That is exactly what we find in his Expository Thoughts On The Gospels. 

The Gospels obviously focus on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Ryle takes how Jesus lived and taught and pulls out of them practical applications for Christians in his day, which still have perfect application for Christians today. I think what keeps his words so relevant is how closely he sticks with the biblical texts, seldom straying into his own opinion, but simply saying to us, “Did you see that?” 

His thoughts are presented to us section-by-section, not verse-by-verse as many biblical commentators do. This method has two distinct advantages for us: (1) It’s easier to get a “big picture” view of what Jesus was doing and teaching, and (2) It’s more manageable to use this book as a complement to a personal or group Bible study. 

In fact, Ryle himself suggested that the design of his commentary was with family devotions in mind. Purposely, he doesn’t delve into deep doctrine so that the youngest or most novice of Christians can gain much insight. But don’t confuse that statement with this being “light reading.” On the contrary, even the most tenured Christian will find ample thoughts to challenge his mind. 

I highly recommend this series of commentaries to those who want a deeper Bible study time.  

The Case For Christ Daily Moment Of Truth (book review)

This is a fantastic study guide from Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg. It was originally published with the title Today’s Moment Of Truth. 

Most Christians will tell you they love God “with all my heart.” That’s a good start, but according to Jesus, there needs to be more. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s especially these last two areas that concerned Strobel and Mittelberg enough to put together a wonderful book: The Case For Christ Daily Moment Of Truth.

Strobel and Mittelberg were concerned (and rightly so) that Christians were engaging their heart and soul in their Christian witness, but not developing their mind and strength to the same extent. As a result, when someone challenges them to explain why they believe what they believe, many Christians struggle to answer convincingly.

Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg are both top-notch Christian apologists. They don’t just present solid evidence for the Christian faith, but they do so in a winsome, inoffensive way. And through 180 different lessons, they train all who read The Case For Christ Daily Moment Of Truth to do the same.

Each day you will read a quote from a notable atheist or Christian skeptic, and then be trained in solid apologetics to refute their claims. You will be given Scripture verses, proofs from all disciplines of science, and some good old-fashioned common sense. This book will expand your spiritual muscles and your mental muscles. Each day’s reading will only take a couple of minutes, but you will be well-prepared for any challenges to your faith. A must-read for all Christians!

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Lifelong Learning (Proverbs 30)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Surely I am more stupid than any man… (Proverbs 30:2).

That’s what he said, and then Agur records some incredibly wise words for us! I think Agur is a man who is continually learning, and realizing how little he knew before he learned something new. 

He’s learning things like…

…how vast, and powerful, and wise God is (vv. 3-6).

…how frail and dependent on God he is (vv. 7-9). 

…how disrespectful people undermine their own success and happiness (vv. 10-14, 17).

…how destructive greed is (vv. 15, 16).

…how wonderfully God has made things (vv. 18, 19).

…how sin deceives (vv. 20-23). 

…how observing even the littlest of things can teach big lessons ( vv. 24-28).

…how boastful proud people are (vv. 29-33). 

What lessons are you learning? 

When was the last time you learned something new? 

9 Quotes From Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography

Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR. 

“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.” 

“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” 

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.” 

“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.” 

“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” 

“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” 

“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.” 

“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.” 

“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.” 

More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr. 

Developing The Leader Within You 2.0 (book review)

I not only read John Maxwell’s Developing The Leader Within You for myself many years ago, but I have used the content from this book in numerous teaching settings. When I heard that a 25th-anniversary edition of the book was being published, I originally thought of young people to whom I could introduce this helpful book. 

But I was totally blown away to discover that although Dr. Maxwell had promised his publisher that he would revise 15 percent of the book, he actually revised 89 percent of the book! So not only am I excited to get this book in front of people who haven’t read it previously, I’m also encouraging those who read the first edition to get a copy of Developing The Leader Within You 2.0.

In leadership it’s quite simple—you cannot teach accurately what you haven’t internalized yourself, or else risk being called a hypocrite. So any leadership teaching must start with the leader being educated and expanded as a leader himself or herself. I can think of no better resource on the market than this book. 

In typical fashion, Dr. Maxwell masterfully weaves together leadership principles, supporting quotes, transparently personal stories of how he has—sometimes painfully—learned the principles he is teaching, historical and contemporary examples of those who followed or violated these principles, and up-to-date findings from researchers and other front-lines leaders. 

Bottom line: this is a book that is loaded with content but is also very easy to read and apply. At the end of each chapter, you will find some very helpful application ideas for each of the ten principles Dr. Maxwell presents in this book. 

If you’ve already read 1.0, I encourage you to get a copy of 2.0. John Maxwell has learned so much since the first edition and he liberally shares it with us here. 

And if you’re an emerging leader, or simply want to take your leadership to a higher level, this is an excellent foundational book for you to digest and apply.

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible (book review)

If you’ve ever looked at the list of books I’ve read and reviewed at the end of each year, you will quickly discover how much I enjoy reading! I read science, biographies, theological works, philosophy, financial resources, relationship helpers, and on and on. But hands-down, not-even-close to second place, I read the Bible more than anything else. Not only do I read the Bible extensively every day, I then read all of my other books through the lens of Scripture. 

So whenever I come across a resource that helps with Bible reading and study, I’m absolutely thrilled to share it with you. One such resource I’ve been so excited about is the Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible. 

I originally purchased this study Bible because of the “illustrated” part. I glanced through it and found several things that make the biblical accounts more understandable. Things like: 

  • timelines 
  • genealogical records
  • “blueprints” of notable buildings and structures
  • infographics 
  • maps and tables 

Then I was excited to discover the wealth of articles embedded in the notes section next to the biblical texts. 

But the happiest discovery I made was the ability to combine the written text with so much additional online content. Using the Faithlife Study Bible app on my iPhone, I can access all of the content in the print version in addition to more resources that have become available since this study Bible was published. My favorite way to do this is via the “reference scanner” in the app. I use my iPhone camera to take a picture of the part of the Bible I’m studying and then the app pulls up all of the resources associated with nearly everything on that page. Amazing! 

If you already love studying the Bible, this book/app combination will take you to a whole new level. Even if you’re just getting started in a Bible study, you will love how much fullness these resources quickly bring to your fingertips. 

9 Quotes From Other Authors In “Marching Off The Map”

Tim Elmore’s books are always chockfull of the latest research and insights from multiple sources. Tim does an excellent job of synthesizing mountains of evidence to give parents and teachers actionable steps to help the students with whom they work. Here are just a few of the quotes he shared from other authors in his book Marching Off The Map.

“We all want to progress, but if you’re on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back the soonest is the one who is most progressive.” —C.S. Lewis

“Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me the truth and I will believe. Tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” —Indian Proverb

“Start where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” —Jim Rohn

“Shooting above people’s heads doesn’t mean you have superior ammunition—it means you are a lousy shot.” —Oscar Handlin

“If you think our future will require better schools, you’re wrong. The future of education calls for entirely new learning environments. If you think we’ll need better teachers, you’re wrong. Tomorrow’s learners will need guides who take on fundamentally different roles.” —Dr. Wayne Hammond

“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” —Omar Bradley

“For the first time in human history, the majority of people in the developed world are being asked to make a living with their minds, rather than their muscles. For 3000 years, humankind had an economy based on farming: till the soil, plant the seed, harvest the crop. Hard to do, but fairly easy to learn. Then, for 300 years, we had an economy based on industry: mold the parts, turn the crank, assemble the product. Hard to do, but also fairly easy to learn. Now, we have an economy based on information: acquire the knowledge, apply the analytics, use your creativity. Hard to do, hard to learn, and even once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have to start learning all over again, pretty much every day.” —Michael Bloomberg

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” —Frederick Nietzsche

“Be the person you needed when you were young.” —Ayesha Saddiqi

Be sure to check out my review of Marching Off The Map by clicking here. You can also read some quotes and check out some infographics from Tim Elmore here, here, and here.

%d bloggers like this: