Archive for category: Book Reviews (Page 7)

Power Play volume 5 is out!

01 May
May 1, 2008

Power Play Vol. 5 just came out over at Simply Youth Ministry, the latest installment in one of my favorite crowd games resources.  It’s a collection of 20 powerpoint trivia games (which does include a free powerpoint viewer, so you don’t have to have powerpoint to run it) that are great for big or small groups.  And right now, if you use the code BLOG3000 at checkout (in honor of Josh’s 3000th blog post), you’ll get 20% off the price, making it a steal!  If you click the link (Power Play Vol. 5) you can download one of the games for free and check it out.  I’ve already had fun playing with it and plan on using it tonight at youth group.

Also, for you weight loss group types, Power Play Vol. 4 has two weight related powerpoint games that I like to use in my weight loss meetings; one is a calorie counting game where you try to guess how many calories are in different foods, and the other is a weight guessing game where you try to guess the weight of different objects.  Both were a big hit at my last Biggest Loser Boothbay challenge!

More Randomness …

29 Apr
April 29, 2008
  • We’re back home and I am counting calories hardcore.  Apparently I had a little too much fun in Pennsylvania and jumped about ten pounds.  Not cool.  Add that to the ten I was thinking I needed to lose, and I’ve got my next few weeks cut out for me!  So here’s the plan; I’m eating around 1600-1800 calories a day (3 meals, 2-3 snacks), cutting back my diet soda drinking and upping my water intake, and doing at least an hour of exercise six days a week – and two one hour workouts at least two days a week.  I’d prefer to go back to the two a day workouts four to five days a week like I did when I was doing Biggest Loser, but I’m still pulling double duty at the church while the senior pastor is on sabbatical, so that would be a quick recipe for burnout.  I’ll just be content with losing 3-5 lbs a week instead of the 6-8 I would have lost otherwise!
  • Speaking of Biggest Loser, a ton of Biggest Loser calorie counters arrived in the mail today!  I’m gearing up for the kickoff this Saturday of the third Biggest Loser Boothbay competition.  It should be a lot of fun, and I plan on posting the audio from the meetings again.  🙂  Speaking of the calorie counters, though, my word I’ve gone through a ton of these!  I think this order puts me over the 200 copies mark!  It’s the single most important book for losing weight; you’ve got to be aware of what’s going into your body in terms of calories!
  • Played Guitar Hero III at the YMCA today during the after school jr. high program.  Got destroyed by EVERYONE.  These kids were killing it at the expert level while I failed out on easy.  Wow.  I’ve got to admit, I’m not used to being beat THAT BAD on a video game.  It actually made me want to go buy the game and start practicing … then I realized that would set me back about $90 (game & guitar), so I decided to just learn some humility. 
  • I’ve started reading the Legacy of the Force (Star Wars) book series for fun.  So far it’s pretty good.  Not sure how I feel about Princess Leia and Han Solo’s son becoming the next Darth Vader, but I’ll learn to deal with it!  I’ve always enjoyed Star Wars books – usually I read a bunch in a row and then have to lay off for a year or two!  🙂
  • Speaking of reading – I’ve been reading Jonathan McKee’s “The New Breed: understanding & equipping the 21st century volunteer.”  I’ll be writing a more thorough review later, but I’ll say this for now: I think it’s one of the best books I’ve read on how to recruit, train and work with volunteers in ministry.  Great wisdom, training and practical ideas for any ministry leader.
  • Recorded an episode of the Who are these Guys? podcast this afternoon with the guys.  I actually missed out on the last couple because of travel and whatnot, so it was fun to get back on the line (um, Skype) with the guys and do a show together!  It felt like a good show so I’m looking forward to it getting out there!

Random Thursday Thoughts

24 Apr
April 24, 2008

Okay, so I’m relaxing down here in Pennsylvania and thought I’d post some random thoughts …

– I’ve been enjoying watching Star Trek Voyager episodes on my iPod. I wasn’t much of fan when it aired, so maybe it just gets better on a one inch screen. Or I was too picky back in the day. Either way, I’m finding it entertaining now!

– Apparently I totally geeked out on Will Smith’s movie, “I am Legend.” Watched the dvd the other week and posted a review here. I was somewhat dissatisfied, but still enjoyed it. Well, when I found out there was an alternate ending, I was intrigued. Saw it on youtube and liked it a lot more, which got me even more intrigued. So I actually grabbed a copy of the book that the movie was based on, excited to get a little deeper into the story (I also spent a gift card over at Amazon and bought the HD version of the film which includes two versions of the moive; one with each ending). A third of the way through the book, just when I was getting into it and thinking it was getting awesome … it ended! What the heck? Nowhere on the cover did it even hint that the book was actually a collection of short stories!!! So once again, I thought it was going to go deeper than it actually did and was left frustrated. I also have to say, the short story is only vaguely similar to the Will Smith movie – for the most part, they are different stories. I also found out that this most recent movie is actually the third movie made from this 1954 short story.  The first film, The Last Man on Earth, was made in 1964.  And then Charlton Heston starred in the 1971 version, The Omega Man.  I’ve actually been meaning to see The Omega Man for years now, so I might go try and find it today.

– I almost forgot that Diet Mt. Dew: Code Red, which is not available in Maine IS available here in Pennsylvania.  I’ve gone through almost a twelve pack already.  I LOVE the stuff!  I have to remember to stock up before we head home.

– Playing with some writing ideas.  Need to get my thoughts a little more organized and then I can actually start getting it on paper (um, actually … on screen).

– Lots of people signing up for the next round of Biggest Loser Boothbay.  Should be a lot of fun!  I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve got piles of Biggest Loser Calorie Counter books on the way and some new resources that I will hand out to people this time around.  I learn a little more each challenge, so it’s been a fun growing process!

One Minute Bible Sale

23 Apr
April 23, 2008

Hey, I just noticed that the gang over at Simply Youth Ministry have the One Minute Bible for Students on sale for $9.99 – that’s $5 off.  It’s a great resource for young people with 365 one minute devotionals, commentary, and other tools scattered throughout.  I actually got a hold of a copy at the last conference I was at and think it’s great – especially at this price.  If you’re looking for a great devotional tool for your youth groups, kids or even yourself, give it a look! 

Here’s the link:  One Minute Bible for Students

Where to find video clip illustrations

21 Apr
April 21, 2008

I happen to be one of those guys who love to incorporate video illustrations in sermons and youth talks and over the last few years I’ve built up a list of places I go to for ideas.  I used to just come up with them on my own, but that takes a lot of time and why reinvent the wheel?  There are several great options out there that have clip ideas that are searchable by title, scripture reference, topic, and more.  Great stuff!  Here are my favorites:

Videos that Teach book series – Eddie James & Doug Fields have put together a great series of books with video clip ideas from popular movies.  Each book has 75 different clip ideas.  The books are indexed by scripture tie-ins, topics, and movie titles.  Not only do they include a clip idea, they also have suggested scriptures and discussion questions.  I have all the books and ended up scanning through them for ideas just about every week; here are what they’ve come up with so far:  Videos that Teach; Videos that Teach 2; Videos that Teach 3; Videos that Teach 4.

Blockbuster Movie Illustrations – Bryan Belknap has created three video clip ideas books similar to the Videos that Teach series.  His books have 150 clip ideas in each one and are also indexed by movie title, scripture references and topics.  There are scripture suggestions and discussion questions for each clip idea which makes it a great resource as well!  Here are the books he has come up with so far: Blockbuster Movie Illustrations; Blockbuster Movie Illustrations – the Sequel; Blockbuster Movie Illustrations- the Return.

Wingclips – Wingclips is a website with free low-res clips from movies currently in theaters or recently released on DVD.  You can pay to get the higher quality versions, but the low-res are still good enough for a presentation in my opinion.  While they don’t have a massive list of movies, I love that they have clips from movies currently in megaplexes, making it VERY relevant.

Bluefish TV – Bluefish produces their own clips, so they are specifically aimed at a church or youth audience and are intended to be illustrations to a Bible based message (as opposed to clips taken from popular movies).  What’s cool is their price: $1.99 per download.  While they’re not my favorite download site, there isn’t a site out there selling downloadable clips for less!

Worship House Media – This is my favorite site.  While the cost is higher (anywhere from $6-$20 per download), the quality is absolutely the best.  They have a massive selection of videos specifically created to be ministry related illustrations.  They are easily searchable, and there is stuff for every audience.  This is where I usually end up getting clips.  Usually they have something for free as well, so that’s another plus for checking in every once and a while.

So, what’s your favorite video clip resource?  I’d love to have some more ideas!

Velvet Elvis (book review)

18 Apr
April 18, 2008

By Rob Bell
Zondervan, 2005, 208 pp., $19.99 (hard cover), $14.99 (paperback)

Go buy, borrow, or steal this book immediately. Maybe not steal it, that’s not cool. But definitely get it. Bell’s Velvet Elvis inspired more reaction and conviction than anything I have read in a long time. Through his extensive knowledge of Jewish culture and language, Bell is able to draw more depth out of the New Testament than I thought previously possible. He calls into question many long standing thoughts and attitudes, brings to light new questions, and saturates the work with a love of God and awe of the thoroughness of His wisdom and plan. His unique writing style captures his speaking style perfectly; as I read the book it felt as though I was listening to him. This book captured me, and I would have finished it in record time if I didn’t have to put it down so often just so I could sit back and process what I was learning. Buy two copies, one for you and one to pass around.

This review, by me, originally appeared in the Youthworker Journal.

It's Not About Me: Live Like You Mean It (book review)

15 Apr
April 15, 2008

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME: LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT (teen edition and leader’s guide)
By Max Lucado
Integrity Publishers, 2005, 166 pp. (teen edition), 122 pp. (leader’s guide), $10.99 (teen edition), $14.99 (leader’s guide)

This is the best I have read from Lucado! Very challenging, very thought provoking, and very relevant. While it’s aimed at teens, he does not talk down to them whatsoever. Through Lucado’s writing, and the stories of young people throughout the world, he exposes the self-centeredness we often times live in and what we can do about it through knowing God, our message, our salvation, our body, our struggles and our successes. With the discussion guides included, it is also easy to bridge the gap between head knowledge and actual application. I would love for every teen in my group to read this book. The Leader’s Guide is also a great resource, providing many activities, games, further illustrations and lesson plans to help take the students through the message of the book.. My one frustration is the cost of the teen edition; at eleven bucks a pop, it would be a challenge for this small church youth pastor to provide copies for my youth group.

This review, by me, was originally published in Youthworker Journal.

HELP! I'm a Student Leader! (book review)

11 Apr
April 11, 2008

Help! I’m a Student Leader

By Doug Fields, 2005, 138 pp., $9.99 on sale – $7.99!

All right, I admit it: I’m a Doug Fields groupie. But it’s because of books like this one! Fields conveys a great love and passion for student leaders throughout the book; it’s obvious that he wants to see them grow and develop into the leaders God calls them to be. He covers topics such as Christ’s leadership style, service, getting friends involved, listening, being a leader at home, and deepening one’s own faith. The book is easy to read, and a reasonable length for students who are already saturated with homework, jobs and extracurricular activities. He also includes thoughts and input from student leaders in the book which further helps connect it to its intended audience. This is a great resource to give to your students who are leaders, or that you want to challenge to leadership. Go through it with your student leadership team, or one on one. Just watch, you’ll become a groupie, too!

This review, by me, originally appeared in Youthworker Journal.

Conversations with Jesus (book review)

30 Mar
March 30, 2008


Editted by Jay Alsdorf, Lauren Conner, Trevor Conner, Emily Donder, Brandon Harrigan, Julie Krogh, Gina Krogh, Alex Krohn, Brittany Poyer, Corinn Rotter and Daniel Schlereth.  Youth Specialties, 2006, 133 pp., $10.99

Put together by Youth For Christ, this is a devotional book created to provide 60 days of study. Each two page devotional includes a topic summary, key scriptures written out, as well as references for additional scripture study, a devotional written from the perspective of Jesus, a summary challenge and space for journaling. There are a wide variety of topics addressed through the various devotions, all very current and relevant to young people today. I was surprised with just how am impressed with this resource I am. It’s well written, thought out and very applicable. This is a tool that I would very happily give to my teens – and it’s one that they would enjoy using.

This review, by me, was originally printed in the Journal of Student Ministries.

Marked for life (book review)

24 Mar
March 24, 2008


By Crystal Woodman Miller with Ashley Wiersma; TH1NK Books, 2006, 167 pp., $12.99

A survivor from the horrifying killing spree in the Columbine library, Crystal shares her powerful story and transformation that God has worked in her life through as a result of tragedy. To be honest, my initial reaction was wondering if we really needed another book about Colubine? However, I was thoroughly drawn in by her great writing, powerful story telling and focus on how God has been able to give her beauty from the ashes of Columbine. Hearing her message of hope in the midst of current tragedies and the ways in which God has used her experience to help so many others in similar situations is truly inspiring. As it turns out, Crystal’s story is very relevant to young people today and a great tool for starting discussion on God’s presence in suffering.

This review, by me, was originally printed in the Journal of Student Ministries.