Live Dead Life (book review)

I have been a big supporter of the Live Dead movement ever since this initiative was launched. So I was more than happy to read Live Dead Life by Joy Hawthorne, even though it was written as a 30-day devotional for students. Although written by a teenager for other teenagers, I was instantly hooked!

Joy is living in a country that is closed to the Christian message, and yet she is daily living out her Christian testimony in such a genuine and winsome way that it is having a positive impact on the Muslim members of that country. I can see why, because the book had a profound effect on me too!

As I read this journal and pondered Joy’s setting contrasted with mine, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why aren’t I doing more to tell people the Good News about Jesus?” I think this book will provide that same tug on your heart as well.

Parents, read Live Dead Life with your son or daughter.

Youth pastors, read Live Dead Life with your students.

This is a life-changing book! You can download Live Dead Life free by clicking here.

I recently had an opportunity to interview Joy Hawthorne—

Craig T. Owens: I am curious as to the seed thought behind this book. Did you simply start a journal for your own thought-processing, or was there a book idea in the back of your mind right from the beginning?

Joy Hawthorne: The original thought of a Live Dead book for teens was not my idea, I was asked to write the book. Writing a book was something I might have imagined I would do when I was older… the idea of writing a book as a teen probably would not have crossed my mind until one of my Live Dead mentors asked me to consider it.

As I started to work on it the seed definitely grew. At first, it was on a couple major topics (like fear or calling) and then it just really grew out of my life and sharing what God was speaking to me in my heart with others. As it developed, my mentor suggested it be a 30-day devotional including Live Dead values.

CTO: I can tell that a major audience for your book is other teens that are living in the same sort of environment in which you are living. How would you suggest that students in the US read this book?

JH: I can see how other TCKs [third culture kids] would connect with it more because we have an understanding of each other and connect with our lives that way. Living as a TCK has been such an adventure, and that is something I would want kids in the US to see and join me in the journey that way. This book is intended to fan into flame a deeper intimacy with Jesus and obedience to whatever He asks for ALL teens, not just TCKs.

My life living worldwide has shaped some of the ways I walk with Jesus. Hopefully, from seeing through my eyes a bit, other teens would be able to see the world with eyes that are little more wide open. It’s easy to focus on the stuff that bugs us daily in our little corner of the world, but I wanted to encourage following Jesus and being a part of what He’s doing worldwide. I would love if other teens can see a little more of what ordinary life overseas is like and watch God doing extraordinary things.

CTO: How has writing such a journal (and sort of bearing your soul to the world) changed you?

JH: Writing the journal is a way that I do process things. I write in my in my journal that way and it helps me think and respond to things. Bearing my soul to the world sounds kind of scary to me feeling so broken but something I’ve discovered from writing is that I have a voice. Everyone does. We just have to choose to use it, to not stay silent when God asks us to speak but choosing to follow Him in what we say and do in a way that brings Him glory. Being a quieter person, it is a hard choice for me to speak when I’m scared. Writing something others will read is choosing to use my voice, and also a choice to open myself to let God use me.

A verse that has really encouraged me to speak is Esther 4:14, about being here for such a time as this. That pretty much hits what I’m here for. Created for this time and place for His glory.

CTO: Will there be other books from Joy Hawthorne in the future? If so, any hints as to what you may be working on? 

JH: There’s no ‘next book’ I’m currently working on, but writing about what God is doing in my life and sharing it to bless others is something I love to do. If I felt God was leading me that way I hope I’d be willing to follow Him and do it again. So I’m open to it, writing will probably be something I will always do, love, and grow in.

I am a Live Dead Publishing book reviewer.

10 Quotes From “#Truth”

Josh McDowell has a book that is perfect for this generation of youth. #Truth is a 365-day devotional that brings biblical truth to bear on the issues today’s students face every day. You can check out my full book review of #Truth by clicking here. Below are a handful of quotes that caught my attention.

“All healthy relationships require a willingness to be known and have things pointed out so that all offenses can be addressed.”

“If a person is unwilling to forgive others, it’s a clear sign he or she hasn’t really experienced God’s mercy and grace. When people refuse to forgive those who wronged them, God knows that any confession of their own sins is less than genuine and sincere. How could anyone who truly experiences God’s amazing grace of forgiveness not also give mercy and grace to others?”

“Jesus died and rose again so that you could be set free from sin and death and enjoy the benefits of spiritual freedom. That freedom is not a license to live however you want to live, but to live as God meant you to live.” 

“Don’t believe the lie that you are alone and no one cares. Since Christ sees you as a member of His body, accept this as your new reality and realize that you are always wanted and very much needed.”

“Jesus too had a totally different view of this world than those around Him. … Because you have accepted Jesus as the Truth and follow Him, you too see the world differently. You see the world through a spiritual lens that makes you sort of like an alien.”

“Jesus’ Kingdom message is a whole new way to see God, yourself, life, and relationships. It is a view of the world defined by Jesus and His Word. … Loving God and making Him the first priority in your life develops a Kingdom mindset that brings everything into perspective—love God and those around you as you love yourself [Matthew 22:37-39].”

“This life is short in comparison to eternity, and God wants your thoughts to include Him and make His Kingdom a priority in your life. … Letting heaven fill your thoughts is about keeping Jesus first in your life.”

“Only those who have been made alive to God and have His Spirit can listen and understand the spiritual insights of Scripture.”

“When you read from the Bible you are reading God’s words as if He were writing them for you. … Scripture is a supernatural book that has come from God Himself.”

“Jesus felt misunderstood. He spent years telling His followers who He was and why He came to earth. ‘But they didn’t understand any of this…and they failed to grasp what He was talking about’ (Luke 18:34). Because Jesus faced misunderstanding He is able to identify with your hurt and give you the help you need when you need it.”

#Truth (book review)

Josh McDowell has consistently pursued two things: (1) Teaching people how to find and defend truth, and (2) Equipping students to overcome the challenges they will face. His book #Truth is the perfect convergence of these two pursuits.

#Truth is a 365-day devotional specifically written for teens. Each day’s reading starts off with a statement of truth from the Bible. Then Josh gives insight from his years of study and experience which shines a light on that biblical passage. Each devotional then concludes with a prayer that is designed to help the student settle the illuminated thought in his or her heart.

But for me the real payoff in each day’s devotional is the paragraph that starts off “Truth is….” This is not a man’s opinion. It’s not some touchy-feely sentiment. It’s not even some hard-to-grasp philosophy. It is a real-life, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road application. Each and every day Josh is pouring into students’ lives words of truth to help them see how biblical truth and real life intersect.

Although this book is written to teenagers, I would encourage adults who love teenagers to read it with them. Parents, youth pastors, grandparents, and mentors will all find great material each day to have a meaningful conversation with their teen.

I would highly recommend #Truth as a study guide to stimulate life-impacting conversations.

I am a Barbour Publishing book reviewer.

Get Off Facebook, Dad!

This is reprinted from the Axis Culture Translator

the-culture-translatorMiddle-aged Americans (35- to 49-year-olds) are now spending more time on social media (seven hours a week) than their children, with the fastest growing demographic on Facebook being Baby Boomers. I recently asked my daughter’s best friend what she was doing that evening and she responded, “nothing, just going home to watch my parents stare at their phones all night.” Ouch.

There’s nothing inherently good or bad about social media, it just is. Yet, how we use it matters. Is documenting your life online keeping you from actually living it? Maybe the greatest gift we can give our children is presence. Here are five practical ways to model healthy social media habits in your home so you can be fully present and engaged with your family.

1. Practice Faithful Presence: Root your life in the real. Anchoring yourself in the here and now reduces the impulsive need to broadcast your life, which can lead to envy, depression, and FOMO. Instead, embrace JOMO!

2. Resist the Urge to Share: Instead of posting that picture of you and your husband at the beach, keep that moment just between the two of you. Cherish it, and it will become an intimate memory binding you to one another, instead of cheapening the moment by sharing it with the world.

3. Unplug: Our devices tell us there is something more important going on “out there” than what’s going on right here, but that’s not true. Establish tech-free times during the day or tech-free places (dinner table) to encourage deliberate, face-to-face interaction with your family. Or, try giving up social media for Lent this year.

4. Slow Down: Your life’s pace matters. Our friends Matt and Julie Canlis encourage parents to live at “Godspeed”, which means living life intentionally, mindfully, and slowly. Practice it by reading a novel aloud together as a family at night, or play a board game instead of watching a movie. Start small, take 15-minutes every morning just to be with your kids before heading off to work and school. Build a liturgy to your day that encourages you to slow down and subvert the digital culture.

5. Pay Attention: The best way to capture moments isn’t to post them to SnapChat, it’s to simply pay attention. Cultivating an awareness of the world around us is a big part of being fully human. Henry David Thoreau said “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Ask yourself from time to time, “Am I paying attention to my life right now?” Otherwise, whole days, even our very life could pass by unnoticed.

Our kids need healthy boundaries around screen time and social media, what better way to provide those boundaries than by modeling them with our own actions and habits.

Parents, please sign up for the weekly email from Axis. You can do so by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Historically speaking, God’s glory has often shone the brightest when the church was at its weakest. In fact, Christians should see times of cultural/political weakness as a time of the greatest opportunity to exhibit Christ.” So true! Check out the post God’s Glory And The Church’s Weakness.

For anyone who interacts with teenagers, Mark Merrill has a helpful post: 7 Cs For Communication With Teens.

Seth Godin says, “Do overs are possible, but they take guts.” Read more in his post The Do Over.

Yep, it’s true…

Death of a social media outlet

Rise (book review)

RiseI first knew of Trip Lee as a talented musician, but I have to admit that when I first heard he had written a book I had no idea what to expect. I am happy to say that Rise blew me away!

Trip himself states that his main target audience is teenagers and those in their early- to mid-twenties. Certainly the material in Rise is age-appropriate for them, but I found it to be challenging and confronting and reaffirming for me too. Trip’s message—as the title of the book suggests—is a call for Christians to not simply “go with the cultural flow,” but rise up to let Jesus be seen in a culture desperately searching for truth.

Trip talks about attitudes, involvement in church, sharing our Christian faith with others, having a great work ethic, and so many other topics that are relevant to young people. Perhaps I felt it relevant to me as well because of my work with students. In that case, I have two recommendations for this book: (1) Give it as a gift to those in Trip’s target audience (teens and 20-somethings), and (2) Get a copy for yourself and read/study/discuss the ideas in this book with the teens and 20-year-olds to whom you gave a copy. I really believe this will pay excellent dividends!

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Finding The Love Of Your Life (book review)

Finding The Love Of Your LifeQuite possibly one of the most important life decisions that you will make is deciding whom you will marry. Neil Clark Warren has a very needed book to help with this decision called Finding The Love Of Your Life.

The book is compromised of 10 principles to aid in the selection of a mate. Dr. Warren combines his years of experience as a psychologist with lots of data to make up these 10 easy-to-understand principles. This book was originally published nearly 20 years ago, but the results of research and surveys over that time have only served to strengthen the points that Dr. Warren makes here. Thus, telling me that his 10 principles are truly timeless.

Who should read this book? (1) Young people who are dating; and (2) their parents.

There is plenty of information in this book to get a conversation started, so I would encourage parents to read this book along with their children who are dating, and then talk about each of these principles in relationship to the person whom they are dating.

A great resource that is very readable. Go get it!

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