newthingsold

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

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I’m not good at writing review titles, but Bob Fabey probably would be.

This is a review of the book NotMyJesus by Bob Fabey.

“When the purpose behind the work of God is lost on his people, their hearts become hardened and fearful.” These words from the conclusion to Bob Fabey’s NotMyJesus encapsulate what seems to be the entire point of his project. What the reader should encounter from this book is one that challenges every idea and conception of the identity of who Jesus was and is. Along the way, Fabey includes enough wit to make an already short book seem even shorter.

NotMyJesus can be divided into three distinct sections:

I. Who does the world at large think Jesus is?

II. Who is Jesus really?

III. If we claim to follow Jesus, what does that really mean and how should we live?

Each one of these sections contains a healthy bit of cultural affirmation and critique -what we seem to be getting right and wrong. In the first part, as Fabey brings out different stereotypes (“Christmas Baby Jesus”, “Northern European Jesus”, “Santa Claus Jesus”, etc.), he points out the parts of each of them that are moreorless right, but that by ignoring the bigger picture and focusing on one attribute, we certainly have an incomplete picture. Fabey doesn’t call for an “either/or” approach, but more of a “yes/and” one.

As Fabey uses the Bible to analyze who Jesus really is, one thought kept coming to my mind: “Neither liberal Christians or Christian fundamentalists will be happy reading this book.” Fabey points out -and I am not doing proper justice to this section, so read the book for yourself- that while Jesus did call people out for sin and he did judge them, he was also loving of them and accepting. Fundamentalists will be upset by a lack of “let them burn” rhetoric, and liberal Christians will be frustrated by the fact that there is an emphasis on Jesus’s judgmental mission.

At the end though, and this is how I want to end this review, it all boils down to love. Fabey breaks apart the second half of Romans 12, as well as the words translated as “love” in the Bible, to present an approach to living which only in a very distorted image, matches how many people who call themselves Christian actually live. This book is a quick read, and I recommend it as a devotional read or a book to consider using for a small group.

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for reading and reviewing it. The opinions expressed are mine only, and I was not obligated to write a positive review.

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Finished. Well.

In the last two weeks, two chapters in my life came to an end. First, after seven years serving in the role as co-president for my school’s teacher’s union, I resigned my office at the conclusion of its term. The second, after being a teacher at my school for ten years (nine of them teaching, one year inactive due to a reduction in force), I resigned from the school, having accepted a teaching position at a different school district for the next year.

About two months ago, I saw the good chance of the latter thing occurring, which meant that the former would have to happen, too. Seeing the writing on the wall, my focus shifted from not just ending the school year well, but ending this part of my career well also. In considering this, I realized that in order to end well, I needed to accomplish three things. These three things are what I leave you with:

  1. Finish in such a way that whomever follows in your steps does not have any messes to clean up because of you.
  2. Finish in such a way that whomever follows in your steps is thankful to be coming in after you.
  3. Finish in such a way that when your last day arrives, you feel proud of what you’re leaving behind.

Review: “Run the Mile You’re In”

This is a review of the book Run the Mile You’re In by Ryan Hall.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Run the Mile You’re In. Based on the description of the book, I wasn’t sure whether to expect a book of insights like Peter Sagal’s The Incomplete Book of Running -part memoir, part book of insights on how to be a good runner; or, a book more like Shaken by Tim Tebow, which is really more of a “here’s how I put things in order” and life/sports is the framework the author uses. If you’re looking for a book on principles to keep in mind for running, stick with Sagal. But if you’re looking for a book of short memoir-anecdotes on faith and making improvements, go with Ryan Hall’s book.

Run the Mile You’re In is divided into 26 chapters, equal to the number of miles in a marathon. In each chapter, Hall shares experiences from his time as a runner (high school, college, and at the professional Olympic level) and lessons he learned along the way. The topics he meditates on in this book range from the importance of having a vision to remembering your identity, and that anything can be worship to moving through the different seasons of life. Each chapter is relatively short, so at approximately seven pages each, this book could serve as a devotional component to a morning Bible reading plan.

I was disappointed in a way, as I was hoping that running advice would play a bigger part in Run the Mile You’re In, instead of it being a backdrop for life lessons, but I’ll survive. In the end, the book is an enjoyable read and I did not find it to be a waste of time. I doubt you will, either.

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

Review: The Maxwell Leadership Bible, NIV

This is a review of the Maxwell Leadership Bible- NIV 3rd edition.

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About a year ago, I had the opportunity to review the updated third edition of the Maxwell Leadership Bible. The edition I reviewed was the NKJV translation. I was impressed with the way they editors had updated the color scheme, some of the language in the notes was tweaked, and new articles and resources were added. I still stand by my thoughts. This third edition, which uses the 2011 NIV translation update, has the same updated content. Rereading and reviewing it again reaffirms my initial impressions.

But I like this one better. First, from a design and mechanics aspect, I like this NIV version better. The burgundy leather gives it a weighty, authoritative appearance. From the outside, it just has a different look from the hardcover edition. It seems well-suited to appear on a desk, or on the bookshelf behind the desk.

The leather cover and sewn binding make its use in reading more convenient than the hardcover too. The leather-cover edition lays flat, whether set on a tabletop or on the readers lap. Even when reading the articles at the end, the pages don’t flip closed. The pages are the same paper as the hardcover, but the softer leather cover makes flipping through pages easier and more convenient, too.

When the updated NIV was released in 2011, I was not a fan. Since then, I have warmed up to it. I will go a step further to say that for the Maxwell Leadership Bible, the NIV seems like a more suitable translation to use. The flow of the wording in the text of the Bible in the NIV seems better matched for John C. Maxwell’s teaching style and the choice of wording used in the articles and features. The NKJV preserves its updated, but-still-formal wording, which is fine. I love the NKJV and have a profound appreciation for it. But the “writing style” of the NIV matches better with Maxwell’s writing style. The two complement each other for a leadership/spiritual growth resource such as this.

If you have the choice between the NKJV hardcover or the NIV leatherbound Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd ed., I recommend choosing the NIV. There are many benefits in this one, and not just the reading contents. It’s a comfortable, enjoyable read that will challenge you in many ways as you grow in leadership.

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 the reviewer’s.

 

Ending well.

There are twenty-one school days left in the school year. The year is eight-nineths over. This is my last year in the building I am; the school district is consolidating and I the middle school I have been in will now be a part of a junior-senior high school configuration in a different building.

So now I feel like I have double-pressure to end well.

End well because it is the end of the year. Also end well because I am done in this building.

What is your process to end well?

Review: “The Lotus and the Rose”

This is a review of the book The Lotus and the Rose by Lama Tsomo and Rev. Matthew Fox.

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I approached The Lotus and the Rose knowing a little bit about Rev. Fox and quite a bit about Christianity. I know nothing about pretty much nothing about Buddhism, and less than that about Lama Tsomo. After going through this book, I am not sure whether that is a benefit or a detriment to my comprehension of the material in the book.

The concept for The Lotus and the Rose is pretty straightforward. Friends religious spiritualists Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo -Christian and Buddhist, respectively- sat down for a series of conversations in different contexts and settings. The transcripts of their dialogues were collected, arranged by theme, and published as one volume. What jumped out about me, what I appreciated about this book, was how each of the two, Fox and Tsomo, overflow with love for their beliefs and for each other. Their mutual respect and friendship as well as their deep expertise appears evident in the words they speak. The topics they cover are vast, from meditation to transcendence, from spirituality to science, there are few stones Tsomo and Fox do not unturn.

Some of what they discuss does get pretty dense, and if the reader knows little to nothing about either Christianity or Buddhism -as is the case with me and the latter- it can be relatively easy for the eyes to glaze over and the reader to zone out. Especially since I was not familiar with the vocabulary of Buddhism, it was hard for me to follow Tsomo at times. Be prepared for that.

Overall, The Lotus and the Rose is a conversation between two people who model how to learn from each other. That is something that our society needs right now, and if there is one bright spot -regardless of the things either Fox or Tsomo says that I disagree with- in this book, I would say it is that. Prepare for information, insight, and things that make you think. If you feel like your brain is starting to check out, pause, and reengage later. This is not one you want to read passively. Read it with a critical eye prepared to question any and everything on the page.

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

4.13.2019 Stream of Conscious

I should have brewed the coffee from the D.R. that Gam brought me. I need to clean the pieces of the espresso maker. I wonder what time Kizzy is getting up? Coffee is good. What a weird couple of dreams I had last night. I need to go over those essays this weekend. Why did they consider doing that? The furnace sounds like a continuous exhaling snore of a sleeping dragon. Coffee.

I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would; a review of “The Theft of America’s Soul”

This is a review of The Theft of America’s Soul by Phil Robertson.

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I read Phil Robertson’s previous book, Happy, Happy, Happy! during the zenith of the Duck Dynasty craze. That book was okay. Fast forward five years after his second book, UnPHILtered (which I did not read), and now comes The Theft of America’s Soul. Curious to see what Robertson might have to say after the excitement of the Duck Dynasty frenzy has settled, I picked up the book. I read it in under two days; I could have read it in one day but life happens.

Woven together as a book that is one part memoir, one commentary on current events, and one part evangelical Christian apologetics, The Theft of America’s Soul fills in some of the holes in Phil Robertson’s life created in Robertson’s previous two books. But those gaps in Robertson’s story that he fills in are only the starting point, as he uses them as a Bible-centered springboard to critique what he sees as faults in the prevailing mindset of mainstream America. He calls out a need for Christian conviction and taking a stand for truth, as well as the need to stand for morality and unity. Robertson references the race riots in Ferguson, MO, the Harvey Weinstein debacle, the Las Vegas and Texas church shootings, among other events in our very recent U.S. history. But when he discusses them, it does not feel forced or contrived, but easy and conversational, the way Robertson’s tone is throughout the book.

The Theft for America’s Soul does have some parts where the pace seems to slow down. Chapter 6 on virtue, 8 on unity, and 9 on faith in the workplace feel a little repetitive at points. That might simply be because Robertson wants to make sure that his readers haven’t missed the points he is trying to emphasize. But if you’re like me, you catch them the first time.

On the whole, The Theft of America’s Soul is a respectable read. If you are a person of faith, you will undoubtedly feel encouraged and maybe even inspired. If you are not, this book will help you perhaps better understand a person who the media -and maybe even Phil himself- has painted as a backwoods “river rat.” In either case, the potential reader is bound to get something out of this book.

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

Technology makes life. Easier?

As I am staring at the screen trying to figure out what to write, a red box popped up on the monitor. It said, “You haven’t written anything yet!” Thanks for the reminder. Is this supposed to inspire me by pressuring me?

I think to all the different times that Siri has sent the wrong message in talk-to-text messages (“I put the bacon in the frying pans” vs. “I put the baking in the frying pants”).

Earlier this week I set the coffee maker before going to bed. When I woke up at 5 the next morning and walked downstairs, the coffee pot had turned off three hours ago. I was unaware that the coffee maker had lost power earlier in the day, and while the clock had been reset, the brew timer had not.

And then, any time my phone’s batter percentage drops below 50 percent, I experience a level of soft panic and worry irrationally that my phone will not be able to last until I get it on a charger.

For all the ways that technology is supposed to make life easier, it sure has its moments.

Just sayin’…

Review: Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd ed.

This is a review of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition published by Thomas Nelson.

I am a lifelong student of the Bible, and also an individual who serves in various leadership functions in the church I attend and the school where I teach. One of the easiest ways I have found to develop personally as a leader and Christian is to read books on leadership and books on faith. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is an exceptional blending of the two book types. John C. Maxwell is a noted leader who has spent his entire life teaching leadership principles from a foundation of the Bible. Just reading the notes and articles included in this Bible is enough to know that Maxwell knows his stuff.

The edition that I have uses the New King James Version text as its foundation (Full disclosure: I really like the NKJV!). Then, throughout the text are mixed in short biographies on people of the Bible and who they demonstrate (positively or negatively) leadership traits. Also, the text includes short articles, one-page readings, and margin-inserts connected to leadership principles, as well as to the 21 Qualities of Leaders and the 21 Laws of Leadership, for which John Maxwell is known. There are an impressive amount of additional articles and leadership resources int he back of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, as well as sorted indices for where one can find features on the 21 Qualities and 21 Laws.

I like study Bibles. I like them when the supplementary materials do not distract the reader from the page. The Maxwell Leadership Bible does a good job in its layout to help prevent the reader from feeling distracted or overwhelmed. This edition also takes advantage of the Thomas Nelson Comfort Print font. That’s actually the only big noticeable difference for me between the previous edition and this one. That and the color scheme of the pages. But those two things, though small, make a surprisingly big, positive difference.

Paraphrased, John C. Maxwell writes that no matter what a person does, he or she is a leader in some capacity. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is a quality resource for anyone who identifies with the truth in that statement.

I received my copy of the Maxwell Leadership Bible 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.