Book Review: It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado


Perhaps it’s appropriate that I review a book entitled It’s Not About Me on Labor Day weekend – a weekend that seems to celebrate the importance and power of the individual.  According to the Department of Labor’s website, Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  The focus of this book could not be further from a celebration of individual workers!

I reviewed another Max Lucado book earlier this year and did not give it a favorable review, largely in part because of the writing style and content.  But It’s Not About Me is a much better read and seems to feel much more like what I’ve come to love about Lucado’s writing.  The thesis of the book is very simple (and it’s found in the title): life is not about us but about Christ.  He begins this book by reminding us that we are reflectors for Jesus and then spends the next 12 chapters exploring the different ways we are called to reflect Christ to others.

Perhaps the most convicting part of It’s Not About Me for me was the chapter on success.  Not necessarily because I’m such a “successful man”, but more because of the analogy he draws to advertising agencies.  These agencies, Lucado reminds us, exist for one purpose only: to make someone (or something else) known.  Few people have heard of Foote, Cone, and Belding, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t identify the slogan “When you care enough to send the very best.”  The advertising company’s success became intertwined with Hallmark’s, but the focus of the company was not on itself – rather, it was on Hallmark.  And we play the same role in relation to existing for Christ – Lucado goes so far as to call us “Heaven’s advertising agency.”

Read these words, taken from Chapter 13 of the book:

  • “From where does success come?  God.”
  • “And why does he give success?  For his reputation.”
  • “God lets you excel so you can make him known.”
  • “Why did God help you succeed?  So you can make him known.” (must be a pretty important concept since he repeats it almost verbatim!)
  • “Why are you good at what you do?  For God’s sake.”

That idea stands in stark contrast to the focus of Labor Day – a day celebrating the success of “us”.

Included with the book is a small-group discussion/study guide, something I’m appreciating finding in books more and more – and because of that I’m going to give this book an extra ½ star, for a final rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Book Review: The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn


Perhaps it was the fact that I read this book shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden, but I just couldn’t get in to it.  While I am definitely on the conservative side of the political spectrum, I found this book to be just laborious to wade through.  It’s not necessarily that I disagreed with everything that was being said, it’s just that it was not very interesting to read.  The book serves in many ways as an expose on liberal policies in regards to the War on Terror, but I can’t say it contained anything I hadn’t read or heard about before (if not in specifics at least in generalities).  It was overly predictable in its content.  Beginning to read it shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden very well could have tainted my view of it, since they spent a good deal of time talking about him and in my mind I was thinking, “This is outdated since the man is dead.”  I’ll give it 1.5/5 stars over all.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Book Review: Max on Life by Max Lucado


Max Lucado is one of my favorite authors in large part because of his down-to-Earth writing style.  This book, however, left me disappointed.  The book is a collection of questions people have asked Max Lucado and his written responses to them.  What disappointed me, though, was that many of the answers seemed over-simplified: people who wrote about struggling with great loss were given almost short, Sunday School answers.  While I understand that dealing with sorrow really is as simple as trusting Jesus, sometimes I need help in understanding what trusting Jesus looks like – and that’s where this book fell short.  The answers were all very “Christian sounding”, if you understand what I mean by that.  Not that they were wrong – Max’s theology is right on throughout the book – but they were, well, just simple.

For those who don’t require or expect in-depth analysis of issues then this book is for you, but for those who are skeptics I have a hard time believing anything in this book would change your opinion of God and how he works.  It may work to reaffirm the faith of the faithful, but I doubt the answers given will suffice for those who honestly struggle.  I know, I know – sometimes we make issues too difficult and deep – but we also, often, make them too simple.  The book was a great reminder to me that life is more basic and straight-forward than I want to make it out to be, but it also left me yearning for more explanations and answers though none were given.

I’ll graciously give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Book Review: The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley


There are very few books I’ve read which I would consider live changing.  Outside of the Bible, there are only two or three books which I can say have had such an impact on my life I can recall the specific title of the book, the author, and how it’s impacted me.  Granted, there are dozens of books which have influenced my thought processes and beliefs, but books that I can say impacted the direction of my life?  Those are few and far between.

The Principle of the Path is a book which certainly has the potential be added to my short list.  I say “potential” because its impact can only be measured over time, so I won’t add it to the list just yet – but give me a a year or so and I think it has a very good chance of being on it.  This is the first book I’ve ever read by Andy Stanley, but hopefully it will not be the last.  His writing style and humor remind me of John Ortberg’s – one of my favorite authors (in fact, at times I found myself thinking I was reading the latest Ortberg book instead of some other author!)  I found the book so captivating I actually read it in one 24 hour period (don’t get too impressed by that, it’s less than 180 pages long, and it took me less than 3 hours to read the whole thing).

Here’s the basic thesis of the book: it is our direction not our intentions, that determines our destination.  And it is our attention that determines our direction.  Simple enough, really, and something I’ve thought about plenty of times.  Stanley argues that many (actually, most) people are in situations in their lives that they never intended to be in not because of bad luck but because of bad planning (at times I felt like was writing advice written by my father!)  He spends the first few chapters of the book setting out his argument for why this is the case, and then the rest of the book detailing how to apply it to our lives.

Here are two quotes that sum everything up pretty well: “We don’t drift in good directions.  We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (p150) and “Attention determines direction, and directions determines destination.” (p153)  His position, in the end, is sound, and I find myself relating to and understanding it fully.  Too often we blame our situation(s) in life on our circumstances, forgetting that our choices led to our circumstances in the first place!   Stanley encourages us to set down a course to guide our choices so we can better control our destinations.  Stanley does a great job establishing that the Principle of the Path is not a law which can be violated/broken  but is something that is at work whether we acknowledge it or not – and we can harness it for our good or bad.

This is a book I highly recommend reading, and one that, if you read in partnership with Search for Significance by Robert McGee, would help you understand to a greater degree yourself (including your thought process, beliefs, struggles, failures, triumphs, and even fears).  A solid 5/5 stars.

I review for BookSneeze®

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster


Charles Foster sets out to write a book which explores the cases for and against the resurrection of Jesus.  The book is written as a court-drama with two opposing lawyers presenting their positions.  One, known only as X, presents arguments against the resurrection of Christ while the other, known as Y, argues in support of the resurrection.  Foster is very honest at the beginning of the book to state his personal position, yet he tries his best to present a balanced view of both sides.

Over all I found the book compelling to read – if for no other reason than to be better aware of the arguments that unbelievers will pose.  I find it difficult to believe, though, that someone who honestly doesn’t believe in the resurrection would be convinced solely based on the information contained in this book.  Foster seems to indicate this as well, though.  In his preface he writes,

The   Internet seethes with assertions from convinced Christians that the resurrection can be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’  I don’t know what anyone who ways that sort of thing can have been reading, but I do know that it can’t be the relevant evidence.  Or at least they can’t have been reading the evidence with any historical or forensic perspective…You can only make ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ assertions if faith has dictated the course of the trial.  And a trial like that is no trial at all.  Such faith as I have proceeds, stumblingly, from the conclusions of the inquiry that is in this book.  Faith has absolute no part to play in the inquiry itself.

Over all this book reminded me of two things: first, and foremost, is the importance of doctrine of the resurrection to Christian faith.  The second, though, is the role of faith in this process.  If the resurrection could be proved beyond any doubt there would be no need for faith, so the very fact that faith is required seems to require that there is always a certain amount of uncertainty in the entire journey.  And I’m comfortable with that.  While I would have enjoyed the debate more if it was written by two different authors (each who argued what they truly believed instead of one person trying to argue for a position he doesn’t believe), I found reading it time well spent for the very two reasons listed above.  Over all, I’ll give it three out of five stars.

I review for BookSneeze®
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Cross posted on Grace Notes and I Respond to Jesus