Good Books

Reviews on books I have read and that I think can have a positive impact on your life. In fact I won’t review a book unless it already has either 1) changed my life in a positive way, or 2) been extremely entertaining.

Brain Rules

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12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

This book can improve your life.

This book is not a “leadership-lite” book filled with cute and truthful antidotes, but a book with hard science communicated in an interesting way. Dr. John J. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist.

Presenting science in an interesting and useful way isn’t easy and Dr Medina succeeds sometimes and fails sometimes. But overwhelmingly, if you push through there are nuggets of gold to be found in this book.

Six of useful things I learned that can be productively applied:

1) If I make a presentation to a group for over 10 minutes and don’t do something to re-engage their interest, I am wasting the rest of my presentation. (Interesting application, for pastors, teachers, consultants or anyone trying to pass on knowledge.)

2) If I don’t exercise, I am basically killing my brain one cell at a time. But it takes very little effort (as little as thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, three times a week) to have a major positive improvement on brain function, including reducing the effects of some age related disease.

3) Multi-tasking is a myth and I lose significant productivity if I allow myself to be interupted. In fact, if I multi-task in the car on my cell phone, I have about the same safety factor as a drunk driver.

4) Sleep greatly helps brain effectiveness, and an afternoon nap can give a big boost to productivity.

5) Our brains were built to operate when our bodies are actively exercising. Creativity is enhanced when exercise is part of the daily routine.

6) Vision trumps all other senses when passing on learning, especially text, so I need to radically change how I do power point presentations.

Dr Medina explains the current state of scietific research and findings, gives interesting anecdotes and stories and gives some valuable implications to our daily lives.

This is a must read for anyone trying to pass on knowledge- pastor, teacher, consultant, business owner, or parent.


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Missional Renaissaance by Reggie McNeal

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****

The Holy Spirit is moving on hearts around the world and it is exciting to see how the same vision is being expressed through individual lenses in slightly different ways. This is a wave coming on shore that will herald the coming of Jesus as He returns for His millennial reign. This wave is a radical reforming of what it means to walk with Jesus as a 24/7 marketplace Christian intent on personal and community transformation for God’s glory.

McNeal lays out a missional movement in which the church shifts:

1) from an internal to an external focus,

2) from running programs and ministries to developing people as its core activity, and

3) from church based leadership to community-engaging  kingdom leadership.

He states, “The movement founded by Jesus was largely a marketplace phenomenon, an organic connection among people who were experiencing a way of life together.”  This was not characterized by a set of religious activities layered on top of other interests but rather an invasion of all areas of life.

This will be a movement away from institutional church activities to incarnational living where we are continually being led by the Spirit of God.

Missional followers of Jesus do not belong to a church but rather are the church.

This is an great discussion of another face of marketplace Christianity where the very nature of “Church” as we know it will dramatically change.


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Radical by David Platt

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*****

Reading Radical by David Platt made me weak in my knees. This book  is both challenging and insightful. This is a quick read that gave me several ah ha’s.

A pastor of a large southern church, David discusses his personal journey in trying to match what he saw in his church and other US churches to the church he reads about in the New Testament. His conclusion is that the church in the US and American Christianity needs a wake up call; and this book is it.

I agree with his premis that the “American Dream” build on self reliance and bootstrapping oneself to success has clouded the vision of the Western Church and Christians. We have centered on Gods Grace without balancing it with God’s Glory.

One ah ha for me was the concept that God created us in His image, blessed us and then gave us a command to take His image which He placed in us and spread His glory around the world.  Applying this to my life, I need to be God’s image wherever I go and spread His glory everyplace my foot steps.

Platt sees the needs of the world around us as a target for us to address and bring Glory to God.

After eight compelling chapters, Radical concludes with The Radical Experiment, a call to a movement starting with each of us as individuals; “One year to a life lived upside down,” in which the reader is urged to commit to:

Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community

This is a great way to launch us from this very practical and challenging book.


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My Utmost For HIs Highest by Oswald Chambers

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*****

This classic daily devotional has delighted Christians for a hundred plus years! And its revelations and wisdom never gets old.

Now technology helps me keep up on my daily reading, even when I am too rushed to read it during my morning quiet time.

You can get it delivered directly to your email each day and can therefore read it whenever you have a spare few minutes.

-/\/\—————————————————————–
\  /  MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST    —     http://www.heartlight.org/
–\/——————————————————————

God somehow in his Sovereignty knows just want I need each day to use in my circumstances and seems to be just what I needed for that day!

Here is what one review on Amazon says:

“these profound thoughts were given by Oswald Chambers while at the Bible Training College in England, during the years of 1911 through 1914, and after his death in 1917 (while serving in Egypt during World War I) were edited by his wife, and later updated into modern English by James Reimann, who says in his introduction that the book is the “culmination of approximately 1800 hours of research and editing”, and the end result are words that flow and feed and sometimes pierce the soul with remarkable accuracy, to remind one of the way Jesus intended us to live.”

If you read this in combination with your Bible- you will find its a real change agent in your life.


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Building a Professional Network

linked-in-ebookI have been on LinkedIn for several years and have recognized its a beneficial place to build a professional network of contacts.

Unfortunately, I never put much effort into building my connections.

I procrastinated.

Recently, I decided to put some effort into building professional connections and begin doing a better job of managing my lifelong network of friends and business associates.

In the midst of that process, I came across this nice easy to read e book written by Jonathan Milligan, an executive recruiter from Florida. I could give you a summary, or share some of the ideas, but decided the best way for you to respond is to go to Jonathan’s blog and request your own free copy.

Here is his table of contents:

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Build an Online Network
Why You Should Consider LinkedIn
Linkedin Step #1: Optimize Your Profile!
Linkedin Step #2: Grow Your Network Fast
Linkedin Step #3: Value Your MIC’s (Most Important Connectors)
Linkedin Step #4: Develop a Game Plan
Linkedin Step #5: Track Your Progress
Conclusion 

This is an excellent TO DO LIST of step by step process to building your professional network on LinkedIn.

This is a great guide for anyone, not just a CPA or finance professional!


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Marketplace Christianity by Robert Fraser

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*****

This book was a catalyst that helped change the direction of our entire church.

We are now directing our energy 24/7 into the marketplace seeing our job as equipping ordinary people to change the world. That started a little over a year ago.

After reading MC I taught an equipping hour class and was led by the Holy Spirit to an incredable revelation about what God is doing around the world to prepare it for Jesus return.

More on that later- now for the book itself.

Robert Fraser tells about his crisis of confusion. Led to be a minister for Jesus but he found the only open doors to be in business. His journey ultimately leads to the realization that he could do more for building God’s Kingdom as a marketplace minister in his business than as a pastor in a church.

Bob combines his encouraging journey and stories with practical applications to help us take our faith into the marketplace.

But be forewarned- you will want to respond after you read this book. I used it to teach a 12 week equipping hour class and have given it to a number of my business friends.


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Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim

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*****

What would it be worth to your business to:

“Create Uncontested Market Spaces and Make Your Competition Irrelevant?”

That is the promise of this international best seller of over 1 million copies.

This book is based on obsessive research and gives a precise actionable plan for changing the way companies do business. I ate this book up because it talks about strategies. Strategies are sorely lacking in business today. We hear a lot about vision and tactics, but the missing link is the compelling strategies that creatively give competitive advantage.

The beginning premise is that the best seller business books that come out about once per decade such as In Search of Excellence and Built To Last form opinions based on a set of companies and research but the list of companies of excellence and built to last change every decade. The great companies keep changing! If the principles worked, why does this happen. The obvious answer is the principles developed from the research worked for a season, but what really was happening was the back testing of principles was a self fulfilling prophecy of what had already happened. Its kind of like a day trader testing a new trading system and it works based on the date fed into it for the last 10 years, then when used in real life the trader loses money.

What happened?

Finance, the economy, people, life all change and never are the same again. So how can any SYSTEM work?

Good question, and this is exactly what Blue Ocean Strategy focuses on. It makes a very compelling argument for value innovation to disrupt markets and that there are repeatable constructs that can be followed to achieve these disruptive strategies- or BLUE OCEANS. One way is a strategy canvas regarding the state of the current market and the factors the new strategies will use to create disruption.

Well worth the few hours it takes to read. My book is full of notes and underlines!


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A Life God Rewards by Bruce Wilkinson

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*****

This little devotional offers a surprising conclusion to many sitting in our pews today.

Heaven will not be the same for all who accept Jesus gift of eternal life. Nor will Hell be the same for all who do not.

This little mentoring piece packs a powerful wallop to help us achieve the lasting life- change many of us long for. Bruce carefully backs up his premis with sound theology from God’s word.

The bottom line is the quality of our life for all eternity is directly related to the stuff we do during our stay on the earth. Not our place of eternal residence, but the quality of the life we live in that residence.

This book is well worth the few minutes daily it will take you to read over the next month.


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Holy Spirit Power- Charles Spurgeon

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***½

Spurgeon is one of the great reformed preachers of all time. The book is updated for today’s language.

Over 200 years ago, this preacher tells us about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a manner as contemporary and useful as tomorrow’s headlines.

I found Spurgeon’s use of the English language to be refreshingly powerful in explaining the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

The Holy Spirit is my comforter, teacher, advocate, gives me power to live a life pleasing to God and to attest to God’s glorious gospel, will transform me into future glory, will show me truth, will flood me with grace, transforms me into new life, and helps me transform every place I go into God’s Kingdom.

As i read this book, I could see that this is not a list to Spurgeon but rather an expose of the experience he was having with his friend the Holy Spirit.


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Made To Stick- Chip & Dan Heath

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*****

This is a must read.

I am convinced the principles disclosed in the book can supercharge ideas and concepts that anyone needs pass on to others.

What makes an idea last and pass from person to person virally. How does, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” last for thousands of years and exist in every major culture around the world? And no one has a big PR or ad budget being spent on it!

Are you a pastor that needs to pass on life changing concepts to a congregation?

Are you an entrepreneur with a new business to sell to investors?

Are you an Internet publisher/ blogger who needs to find an audience for your product or service?

Whatever group or individual you are targeting, these principles can multiply the effectiveness of your communication. How much is that worth? It’s Priceless!

Pastor/ Teacher– What if the way you were taught to prepare your sermons or lessons is not just ineffective in communicating your important message, but actually the reverse of the way people process information and remember key concepts?

Entrepreneur– What if your business plan presentation made it improbable that any investor would take the time to understand your compelling new business concept?

Blogger/ Writer– What if a key reason 97% of Internet publishers make very little was how you are presenting your message to your prospects?

All guilty on all counts!

The good news is that simple concepts can be used in all these cases to guarantee SUCCESS in passing on key ideas and concepts to others.

This book clearly lays out the 2 Steps and 6 Principles necessary to form ideas that will stick with your target audiences.

Read the BOOK! That is an order- It will change your life!


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