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Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

This Year’s Best Book on Prayer

November 28, 2022 1 comment

I frequently share the book reviews I’ve done at Thinking Out Loud with readers here, and this one, although there’s no particularly Canadian connection, is no exception. This is a book I have already recommended many, many times…


I hear Jesus saying, “Pray with the heart of a lover and the discipline of a monk” – Praying Like Monks (p193)

If the Bible tells us anything about how to pray, it says that God much prefers the rough draft full of rants and typos to the polished, edited version. – Praying Like Monks (p21)

Two years ago, when I reviewed Tyler Staton‘s first book, Searching for Enough, I commented that a book about the apostle Thomas was fitting since it is a recurring theme in Tyler’s preaching. Given the available instances online of Tyler speaking in his own church — Oaks Church Brooklyn and later Bridgetown Church Portland — and as guest speaker in various venues, that was an accurate reflection of his go-to theme.

In hindsight however, this sophomore book project, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools: An Invitation to the Wonder and Mystery of Prayer (Zondervan, 2022) lands the plane on a topic that is more central to Tyler’s heart and by which his current ministry is more defined.

You could deduce this partly from the fact he’s done not one, but two teaching series on prayer in this calendar year alone; one series, Teach us to Pray in January; and a second “Vision” series which began in September. (Click here for Bridgetown’s teaching page.)

But you could also discern it from a look at Tyler’s life: Even before entering his early teens, prayer became a defining part of his spiritual journey, to the point of doing early morning prayer walks around his middle school to pray for the students in his year. Those prayers bore fruit. Today, he’s National Director of the United States chapter of the 24/7 Prayer Movement, an organization founded by Pete Greig.

Full disclosure: I am a somewhat rabid fan of Tyler’s teaching. It meets my current need for sermon content that is both informative, illuminating and pastoral. I would start to read a fresh chapter convinced I must have already read it the day before, because many of the illustrations had stuck with me; a sort of situation where you’ve read the book before seeing the movie, only the other way around.

I also deeply respect him not only for the breadth of sources and influences that shaped the book, but also for the personal anecdotes where the principles taught have been brought to life through interactions with people both in and outside the church, and on both coasts of the U.S. Honestly, I could write about prayer, but it wouldn’t emerge the same as someone like Tyler Staton who is practitioner of the things described; someone who lives the lifestyle taught.

For the cynics who say that there are already too many books about prayer in a crowded Christian publishing market, I would answer, “I agree, but you need to read this one.” I’m not overly emotionally, but several times I had to rub my eyes, if you know what I mean. At the same time, there are some more lighthearted references. In a podcast, I think Tyler referred to letting people breathe after particularly heavy moments.

Some churches end the sermon time with the pastor saying, “Today, for your homework, I want you to…” At Bridgetown, the language used is “practices” and each chapter of Praying Like Monks contains action steps you can take. The ten chapters lend themselves to small group study — I’d even say take twelve weeks — and it’s good if you can listen to a few sermons online so that you’ve got Tyler’s voice in your head as you’re reading.

It’s hard for new voices to find an audience, but I really hope you’ll take my recommendation and consider this one.


As an example of Tyler Staton’s writing style, I offer this short excerpt which I ran at Christianity 201 a few weeks ago.

Link to: Publisher’s book information page

Zondervan, 272-page paperback, 9780310365358

 

Vancouver Author Offers 3 Phrases That Can Change the World

What if learning to have three phrases always at the ready could make a gigantic relationship in our interactions and inter-personal relationships? A new title — releasing this week — from a Vancouver author may provide the key.

A lifetime ago, I remember years ago hearing some friends speak very highly about Rod Wilson when he was involved with the counseling program at Ontario Theological Seminary (now Tyndale Seminary) in Toronto. I’m sure people at the seminary were disappointed when he was suddenly off to Vancouver, where he became President of Regent College from 2000-2015. His bio states,

Rod currently works with Lumara Grief and Bereavement Care Society, A Rocha, the Society of Christian Schools in BC, and In Trust Center for Theological Schools, and maintains an international teaching and mentoring ministry. He is also a Senior Writer for Faith Today.

I wanted to share this book release information with readers here, so in the absence of a review copy, here’s the publisher information from NavPress.

Thank You. I’m Sorry. Tell Me More: How to Change the World with 3 Sacred Sayings

We all believe that saying, “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “Tell me more” will help us become better people, friends, partners, employees, neighbors, and global citizens. And yet, having been brought up on rugged individualism, we often slip into self-centeredness and a corresponding sense of entitlement. We have lost the ability to speak with gentleness toward one another. We have replaced kind words that connect us to one another with ones that divide, isolate, and hurt. Everywhere we turn there is deep conflict.

In this simple yet profound book, clinical psychologist Rod Wilson introduces us to the sacredness of these familiar but forgotten sayings. What impact do these sayings have on our relationships?

■ When we say, “Thank you,” we acknowledge the way others impact us.
■ When we say, “I’m sorry,” we acknowledge the way we impact others.
■ When we say, “Tell me more,” we acknowledge the way we impact each other.

As you engage with these three phrases more thoughtfully and speak them more frequently, you will enjoy a life full of deeper friendships and joy.

9781641584470 | 208 pages paperback | 12.99 USD / 17.49 CDN

 

Ontario Author’s Hope for Hearts Which Have Become Hardened

Carol McMurray wants to offer hope to a generation who have seen their children and grandchildren indoctrinated by the world system.  As a grandparent to three grandsons and three granddaughters she believes that “God can replace stony hearts with hearts that are soft and pliable, forgiving, loving and kind.”

Her first book, Melting a Heart of Stone just released from Word Alive Press. Full disclosure: Carol has been a customer of my store for 24 years now, and my wife and I got to work with her on editing some of the earliest editions of the manuscript. I knew the book was coming, but was thrilled to see the finished product.

Here’s the publisher information:

If a reporter were tasked with analyzing the state of Christianity today by attending a typical Sunday service, they would probably conclude that all is well. The music is upbeat and joyful, the sermon clear and concise—with the aid of PowerPoint slides and a touch of humour—and visitors are met with plenty of friendly handshakes and greetings. But based on the conversation among Christians in social settings or on the internet, we see a different picture emerging; one of growing frustration and anxiety, and even some bitterness entering into our increasingly negative conversations.

With this in mind, consider the following questions:

  1. Do our choices matter to God?
  2. Can our attitude affect our destiny?
  3. How do society’s attitudes compare with the days before the flood?
  4. Is it possible to melt hearts that have hardened like stone?

Melting a Heart of Stone provides a biblical examination of the phenomena of anger, bitterness, and hardness of heart throughout history, delving into its root cause, negative effects, and the only possible solution. God is seeking those who through humility and repentance are willing to exchange their heart of stone for a heart of flesh.

I would add that one of the book’s strengths is its dependence on scripture references. Carol shared with me yesterday that 42 Biblical books fit into the book’s annotations.

At 96-pages with a smaller trim size and smartly-priced at only $11.99 CDN, this is a format that seems to work well for several Word Alive projects (such as this one we covered last year, also from an author in our area.)

I encourage store managers and owners reading this to support this Canadian author.

ISBN: 9781486618729

The Quirky World of Brant Hansen

With Blessed are the Misfits just a few days away from releasing, we realized we had never run the review of Brant Hansen’s first book here. So…

A Theology of Non-Anger

For some time now, I’ve ended the day unwinding with a 20-minute podcast compiled from excerpts of The Brant Hansen Show. Brant‘s a long-time Christian radio guy who has served with Air-1 and WAY-FM. He’s joined daily by producer Sherri Lynn to whom God has apparently given the gift of laughter.

On the sidebar of Brant’s website I kept noticing a reference to Brant’s book, but I figured it to be some self-published project, after all, these days everybody has a book. Only a few days ago did I realize it had been released through Thomas Nelson, and decided it warranted further investigation.

unoffendableUnoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better was actually released in the spring of 2015, so we’re over two years late! If you think that the people in Christian radio are somewhat shallow, you’re going to be pleasant surprised — perhaps amazed — at the substance in this book.

Basically, Unoffendable is a study of instances in scripture (and real life) where anger is a factor. You could call the book a treatise on the theology of anger, though I prefer to take a positive spin and emphasize non-anger. We can be so quick to assume, to lash out, and to hurt. Our knee-jerk reactions aren’t good for the people in our line of fire, and they’re not good for us.

The timing on this is significant as commentators are constantly reminding us that the hallmark of social media in particular and the internet in general seems to be our ability to be easily offended. At everything. We are an offended generation.

The book isn’t necessary a self-help title. You won’t find, for example, six steps to avoid getting angry. Rather, through personal anecdotes and lessons from scripture, proceeding through the book’s chapters instills a climate of non-offense as you read. There’s a sense in which the book has a calming effect.

In many respects, the book is an extension of and consistent with the radio show. There are sections where Brant quotes letters he received from listeners and in my head, I was hearing those as the phone calls he takes on air. Our ability with today’s technology to access spoken word content by authors means you can really allow your imagination to hear the author as you read. We found a station that streams the whole show — not the podcast — daily and listened in just to get the feel.

I encourage to get your hands on this. Read it for yourself, not just to give to so-and-so who gets mad so quickly. I think there is a sense in which we can all see ourselves within its pages; because we all have times where we’ve over-reacted.


More info at Thomas Nelson.

Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.

 

Bill Hybels’ Teaching Pastor Steve Carter Launches First Book

This Invitational Life - Steve CarterOne of the highlights of my week is watching the weekend services from Willow Creek Community Church in Northwest Chicago. It doesn’t matter to me whether Bill Hybels or Steve Carter is teaching; either way it’s a win. Furthermore no two Willow services are like each other. Each begins with a fresh vision; each is an event.

So sight unseen, I want to recommend Steve Carter’s This Invitational Life. It’s available now from David C. Cook as a paperback book, audio book, study guide and curriculum kit. If I have an opportunity to review it, I’ll mention it again here. In the meantime, here’s the book trailer:

Publisher marketing:

Willow Creek Community Church Teaching Pastor shares the story of how he learned to “dominate life.” Are you afraid of being seen as “that” type of Christian? The person people avoid because they think you’ll try to “sell” Jesus? Challenging you to step out and risk your faith, Carter helps you overcome your fears, initiate non-threatening conversations with seekers, and sensitively share your beliefs through Scripture and your own story. 224 pages, softcover from Cook.

 

Authors Don’t Control Their Book Titles?

It’s a known fact that if you write an article for the local newspaper, you don’t get to choose your article’s headline. But does this extend to authors and book titles?

Christian musician and popular blogger Shaun Groves thinks that the title of two popular books from the last year, Radical by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan are examples of sensationalizing a title in order to draw readers to purchase the books.  But he feels the titles are also totally misleading.

He says that living the Christian life the way the New Testament teaches is neither radical nor crazy, but an example of what might be called, to borrow the title of a much older book, the normal Christian life.

Was it a publisher then, a marketer maybe, who foisted those labels on their words…and their life?

Unfortunate. Such labels lend credence to the lie we all tell ourselves: I’m not like them.

But we are like them, you and I. Forgetting this leads to an abnormal Christian life – Radically crazily sadly misinformed.

I see his point.  Those titles, by definition, make living the life described in their pages outside my reach. But it is possible to live that life. You and I.

Read more at Neither Radical Nor Crazy.

Has Christianity Failed You?

The above title of Ravi Zacharias’ new book (Zondervan) is provocative enough, but here’s a really well-produced, two-minute book trailer.

Most books featured on Christian Book Shop Talk represent significant titles expected to do well in Christian bookstores.   The publisher of this book does not supply us with review copies.