Worth Your Time

Is the Mega-Church the New Liberalism? by Al Mohler

The Moral Case for Capitalism at the Manhattan Institute

Ross Douthat and the Value of Traditional Christianity in America at Acton Institute

God Rebuilds the World Through Our Work at The High Calling

Video – Makers vs Takers with John Stossel at LibertyPen

15 Spectacular Libraries in Europe at Mental Floss

A Heavenly Calling by TM Moore. You can click here to download the entire series, which would work well as a small group study. More always does a great job with these resources.

Podcast – How to Shave Ten  Hours Off Your Work Week at Michael Hyatt

Study Shows that Mormonism is Fastest-Growing Faith in Half the U.S. States at Washington Post

A Response and Challenge to Dan Savage by James White

New Feature: Book Reviews

I’ve had the privilege of occasionally being asked to review a book on my blog. Now, I don’t for a second think that’s because I’m so insightful. I know that it has much more to do with exposure for the book. But that’s okay; it’s still nice to be asked and I enjoy the opportunity.

I have, on many occasions, used this blog to share the great ideas that I’ve learned from the books I read. I believe I’ve been positively shaped and molded by many of them. As is usually the case, I generally review the books that I really like or have been particularly blessed by (though I may dare to venture out on this front).  It’s always an added treat when the author of the book takes the time to connect with me and thank me for my efforts. (I don’t write the reviews for that reason, but, again, it’s a nice treat.)

Interestingly, my reviews are often my most popular posts. I think that’s because many of us like to check out what others thought about a book before we decide to invest the time and money in the book ourselves. Or, as I stated in an earlier post on book summaries, we get what we need from a book out of the review itself. And besides, we can’t read everything that’s out there.

I’ve been fairly generous so far by calling my posts about books “reviews.” They are certainly not critical reviews because, as I said, I’m usually writing about a book I really like. Thus, I guess you could say that they are more like “advertisements”  for the books. I’m clearly hoping that my efforts will encourage folks to read them. (But, as I said, I may soon be including some books that I don’t necessarily agree with.)

Also, because it’s my blog, my “reviews” are different in that I don’t have to review the whole book at once. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to do that anyway. Instead, I enjoy studying the book chapter by chapter, really digging into it and seeing what’s there (or what’s not there), thinking about it, and then commenting on it. My “book reviews” should probably more appropriately be called “chapter reports.”

Over the years I’ve discovered various resources that have really helped me get all I can out of a book. I haven’t perfected the art, but I’ve grown a great deal. I know that I don’t apply everything I’ve learned, but I have been able to put together a few things that make up an outlined agenda of sorts. This outline of questions, thoughts, etc., helps me absorb more of what I’m reading than I would without it. It also helps me as I share what I’ve read with others, whether I’m writing about it, teaching it, or simply talking about it with someone over lunch.

At any rate, I thought it might be helpful to officially make book reviews a new feature here at Renovate Your Life. Ideas have consequences, both intellectually and practically. I know from experience how God can use a book to renew a mind and transform a life (that’s renovation). It’s my sincerest prayer that these little reviews will be a blessing to those who read them, and will hopefully lead the reader to the books to which they point.

Happy Reading,

Book Summaries

I love to read… but I’m a slow reader. My wife can finish a book before I’m done with the Introduction.

I can’t find the link, but I once read an article of some sort where John Piper confessed that he was a slow reader as well (I’m not sure if Piper slow is the same thing as Tedder slow). At any rate, he was making the case that we ought to strive to read a little bit every day, and if we did, we would be surprised at how much reading we could accomplish over the course of a year, a decade, and a lifetime. (Donald Whitney throws out the challenge to read at least one page a day.)

I once heard Os Guinness say that it would be impossible to read everything that’s worth reading, which is why he recommends that folks read book reviews. Two great choices for book reviews, off the top of my head, would be WORLD Magazine and Books & Culture. I know there are a million other places to read great reviews, but those are two of my favorites.

The main reason for writing this post is to share a couple of websites that offer very fine book summaries. One is free… and the other will cost you a bit.

The first one (the free one) is ChristianBookSummaries.com. It offers summaries on a wide variety of Christian authors – from Richard Baxter to Francis Schaeffer to John Ortberg to G.K. Chesterton to St. Augustine. If you want to be introduced to a certain author or get the lowdown on a specific book before you read it… or if you want to opt for reading the summary instead of the whole book… then this is a good choice. (PS – I have read many of these summaries and they usually hit all the main points.)

The other book summaries service comes from Success Magazine. It has a price tag with it, but for those of you who are interested in personal development, leadership, etc., it looks good. I must confess that I only just learned about it, so I am not a subscriber, and therefore, can’t give you a personal account of it.

If any of you have any other recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

A few years ago I adopted a philosophy of reading that I learned from George Grant and John Maxwell. They both expressed the idea of living a lifestyle of reading. In other words, they essentially said, “always have a book with you.” Read when you’re at the doctor’s office. Read when you’re in the checkout line. Read, read, read – whenever and wherever.” I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from that way of thinking. But having said that, there are other fine ways for pursuing lifelong learning, and these book summaries may be just the ticket for you.


Updated August 30, 2009

I can’t believe I forgot Tim Challies over at Discerning Reader. He does an excellent job reviewing books. His webpage is a “must read.” Thanks to Richadelic for the reminder.

Read to Your Sons

R.M. Ballantyne wrote…

Boys [should be] inured from childhood to trifling risks and slight dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off of trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system…. They ought to practice leaping off heights into deep water. They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream over a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking. They ought never to decline to climb up a tree, to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks. I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risks, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with risks and dangers incident to man’s career with cool, cautious self-possession…. —R.M. Ballantyne, The Gorilla Hunters

Click here to learn more about R.M. Ballantyne and his great books for boys. Thanks Vision Forum.