The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: May, 2017

A quick note.

One of my “hobbies” is to review books through two different programs, Blogging for Books, and BookLook Bloggers. The concept is very simple: sign up for the program, receive a book from selected titles for free (they pay shipping), read the book, post a review on a blog and book seller’s website, keep the book (and do whatever with it), and then request a new book.

I acknowledge that my reading interests do not necessarily align with yours. So to help you know when this is a book review post, know that I title blog posts which are book reviews for either of those programs with the word “review” in the title. I hope that can help clear things up.



A review of Sam Storms’s book: “Practicing the Power”

This is a BookLook Bloggers review of the book Practicing the Power by Sam Storms.

I am a Christian, raised in a Pentecostal church, and pursuing credentials with the Assemblies of God. Acknowledging these three facts up front, my perspective on this book may be biased when I say that Dr. Storms’s Practicing the Power is a practical how-to guide for pastors and church leaders who feel called truly to follow the exhortations in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 about the use of “spiritual gifts” in the church setting. Having been raised in this doctrine, there was nothing that surprised me or caught me off guard. I will most likely keep a copy of this book for reference.

Storms takes on a tone that is both endearing and avuncular as he takes the reader through different aspects of the spiritual gifts and how they may be used in the church setting. Each chapter is filled with scripture references, explanations, and personal examples from Storms’s experiences in ministry to help the reader who may be interested in the topic and in a position to lead a congregation in the direction of a more charismatic service. Each chapter is also full of references to other texts to provide further foundation or insights. This is also where I found one of my big problems with the book.

Four years ago, Storms wrote a book called The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts, which he references quite extensively with notes that the reader should see his earlier book for more information. This book should come with a front-cover disclaimer which tells the reader to read The Beginner’s Guide first. I have never read it; I do not know for sure what is in it. I am sure that as a pair, these two books could be even more dynamic and useful as teaching tools. But without what seems like a missing piece to the puzzle for this book, I felt like something was missing. So let me say this: Read The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts first, and if you are on board, then read Practicing the Power.

This book reflects the passion and fervor Dr. Storms has, both as a biblical theologian and Charismatic Christian. There are many good teaching points in this book, which I am sure would only be more impactful if the reader had read his earlier book first.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for publishing a review of it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

I had a thought.

What if every spider a person encounters is really trying to say something like this:

Look, I know you are aware that my job is to eat bugs. I am coming to warn you that an insect armada is on its way and I will not be able to take them alone. I need you as reinforcements for me.”

Unfortunately, you don’t speak Spider. You kill the spider. And then you kill all the bugs too. Imagine the redundant death you could have avoided, you think-for-yourselfer.

The end of an era.

Today, one chapter in my professional journey ended. In 76 days another one begins. As we closed out the school year today, I was struck by a thought. No matter how old we get, uncertainty doesn’t.

When I graduated high school, I had no clue what college was going to be like; I only knew it was coming. When I started teaching at Lakeland, all I knew was that it was going to be a next step. When I proposed to Sarah, the only thing we knew was that we would have each other. And as I look to becoming a middle school teacher in eleven weeks, all I know is that things are going to be different.

For all the things I/we know, the unknowns clearly outnumber the knowns. I have a feeling that is probably never going to change.  

Review: “The Chamberlain Key” by Timothy Smith.

This is a review of the book The Chamberlain Key by Timothy P. Smith.


I picked this book up out of sheer curiosity. The title and subject intrigued me, and looking at Timothy Smith’s credentials, I was expecting something like National Treasure. I walked away from the book disappointed. While I am a naturally skeptical individual, I agreed to suspend all judgments and “hear the man out.” Doing so proved impossible.

Smith takes his discoveries of a verse in the original Hebrew from Genesis 30, and weaves them into a long memoiresque narrative of how he found the pieces of coded message. I was able to read along well enough through the foundational part of the book where he describes how he came across a copy of the Hebrew manuscript, and then his stories of a dream while camping with family and friends in rural British Columbia. I was even able to buy in to his finding “Timotheus” hidden in the Hebrew. From there, I quickly started having difficulty swallowing the contents of the book.

Smith writes about finding a coded reference to the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary, JFK’s assassination, and even a pointing towards a group like ISIS. The discoveries described in the book are unbelievable, literally. I was reminded of what a literature professor in a course I took at Purdue once told me: “You can find anything in anything if you look hard enough” (paraphrased). That is how this book struck me in reading.

If Biblical codices are of interest to the potential reader, this book might be up his alley. If the reader is looking for a fantastical read which is based in the real world, she may enjoy it. I did not.

I received my copy of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for writing a review on it. I was not obligated to write a positive review (obviously); the opinions expressed are mine.

A message to parents from an officer of the Grammar Police.

My daughter is smart. She is almost sixteen months old, but she is already figuring things out. In our sitting room, we (Sarah and I) put the majority of our daughter’s toys. Next to the toys are two rocking chairs where Sarah and I sit and read while Kizzy plays. Today, Sarah sent me a picture of Kizzy sitting in her chair, and she was holding a book in the same way as Mommy and Daddy. Kizzy can’t read, but she is learning some essential actions.

Someone I know recently acknowledged that many of his posts to Facebook are not grammatically correct because he uses talk-to-text; he then went on an admittedly humorous rant about destroying punctuation marks to offend we Grammar Police. But after the laughter wore off, all I was left with was how absolutely horrible of a stance that is as a parent to have.

And here’s why…

Our children learn first by observation. That is great if an individual wants to intentionally break grammar rules (or accidentally from haste-I’m guilty of this one), but our children look to us as an example. A young person looking at the adult he admires writing with atrocious grammar and mechanics does not think, “My role model is such a rebel.” What he thinks is, “My role model has clearly survived life not knowing to capitalize I, or how to use a comma correctly. Why should I learn?” The answer is: because your livelihood could depend on it.

Not every promotion requires good writing skills. But no promotion is determined by how well a person can write poorly. In an employer roundtable held at the school where I teach, a bank manager, hospital HR director, and factory foreman, all listed qualities they expect in all their employees. Good written communication skills was on that list.

Parents who do not take the time to model important life skills for their child, like writing for example, do actually hinder their potential for career success.

So for the sake of Pete, use a stinkin’ apostrophe.

Finding the way of the Lamb.

This is a review of the book The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel.


One of the great ironies of Christianity is that Christians are empowered (Acts 1:8), yet are called to be humble (Eph. 4:2). This paradox is not lost on Goggin and Strobel, and this conundrum is the focus of their latest work: The Way of the Dragon, or the Way of the Lamb? Coming from the perspective of church leaders who have been forced (at times) the hard way to learn what it means to do so, Goggin and Strobel lay out a treatise of sorts on how to live a life of persuasive power through peace, humility, and submission.

I appreciated the sincerity Goggin and Strobel reflect through their words. The writers do not shy away from their struggles. They both have their moments throughout the book where not only do they describe where and how the situations arose that revealed their character foibles, but also the implications and how they addressed them.

The big driver for the book, however, is not the authors using their lives as examples, but through writing about their studies of the topic in the Bible, and reflecting on encounters with Spiritual mentors (Peterson, Willard, and Packer to name a few) that makes the topic of the book really come to life. One of the most powerful chapters in the The Way of… was the eighth chapter in which Dallas Willard is the focus. In the chapter, Goggin and Strobel write about their meeting with Willard and how he helps them to understand the importance of paying attention to the little things, being faithful to do things right, even when it seems like second nature.

“As men with a calling to teach and lead, we can often default to analyzing the error of others without honestly assessing the truth about ourselves.” Humility is something that does not come easily for me, and as soon as I read this sentence in Chapter One, my first thought was Ouch. That hurt a little. The Way of the Dragon, or the Way of the Lamb is full of those types of moments. I am at a place right now where this advice is timely. I will revisit this book again and again, and I would recommend it to others to do the same.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine solely.