Archive for category: Book Reviews (Page 8)

Serving with eyes wide open (book review)

19 Mar
March 19, 2008


By David A Livermore; Baker Books, 2006, 188 pp., $12.99

Every Christian traveling abroad, whether missionary, short term missionary or even as a tourist, should read this book. One of my greatest frustrations growing up a missionary kid in South America was seeing the damage well meaning, but culturally unaware, believers caused during their brief stays. Livermore has written a great resource for believers who want to leave the right kind of legacy in their travels. He gives glimpses of the global church, new understanding on interpreting other cultures, and thinking through the purpose of short term mission trips. However, the greatest asset in this book is the discussion on the conflicting responses to short term mission teams; more specifically, the impression Americans think they are giving as opposed to what the locals actually think. This is not a condemnation of American missionaries, though – rather, it is a great tool for being better prepared and more equipped to communicate the right messages and be more intentional in being culturally aware. This book should be on every mission team’s required reading list.

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

Inside a Cutter's Mind (book review)

13 Mar
March 13, 2008


By Jerusha Clark with Dr. Earl Henslin; TH1NK Books, 2007, 240 pp., $12.99

Clark and Henslin have put together an incredible book on the topic of self-injury. This is an issue where it seems many have very little knowledge and a great deal of confusion, yet at the same time, if statistics are at all accurate, we all most likely have teens and adults in our lives impacted by this very issue. What the authors have put together is a thorough exploration of self injury; they deal with the psychology, the underlying issues, the triggers and shame, and they do it all in such a way that it is very understandable and eye opening. They deal with the myths and misunderstandings that are so common, and also provide great wisdom in how to respond, how to play a role in a self-injurer’s recovery, and what methods of treatment are out there. This is a must have for anyone working with young people today. It is well written, thoroughly researched and very relevant.

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

Best Of Try This One (book review)

09 Mar
March 9, 2008

Best of Try This One

Editor: E. Paul Allen; 2006, 120 pp., $17.99 $12.49 (sale!)

This book is the latest addition to the short stack of go-to resources I keep handy for quick, but good ideas! This collection of hundreds of ideas have been selected from the best of the thousands of “Try This One” ideas that have appeared in issues of Group Magazine over the years. There are Bible studies, crowdbreakers, discussion starters, group builders, games, fundraisers and outreach programs. I have to say, I love every part of this resource – the wide variety of topics, the sheer number of ideas, how easy and practical they are, and the price – for what you get, it is a deal! Definitely a must have!

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

Underwear Do's and Don'ts

05 Mar
March 5, 2008

Well, my boys are pumped.  This is what happens when Caleb goes to the library with Grandma McNutt … he comes home with a book about underwear.  Underwear Do’s and Don’ts, to be exact, by Todd Parr.  It contains such pearls of wisdom as “do go shopping for underwear with a hippo, don’t let her try it on,” and “do have lots of different kinds of underwear, don’t wear it all at once,” and, of course, “do wear striped underwear if you’re a zebra, don’t wear polka-dotted ones.”  Basically, after a day, all three of them had it memorized.  Now they just sit around reading it and giggling about all the underwear stuff.  Sheesh!

Thanks, Mom!

Save Me From Myself (book review)

05 Mar
March 5, 2008


By Brian “Head” Welch

Wow. This was not what I expected. First the warning; if you need a clean, sanitized testimony, this isn’t the book for you. Welch doesn’t hide what his life and marriage were like during his years as the lead guitarist for Korn. Graphic memories, occasional profanity, stories of abuse, drugs and alcohol fill the first half of the book. But they only make the work of Christ in Welch’s life that much more incredible; how through his conversion experience he was able to walk away from the band, the spotlight, and literally millions of dollars – there is no denying the presence of Christ in his life. I bought the book because I have fans of Korn in my youth group and I wanted to have a talking point with them; instead I found a story so riveting that I literally read the whole thing in one day. For me, this is an important addition to my youth room – I want kids picking it up and reading his story. It is well worth the cover price!

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

Venti Jesus, Please (book review)

01 Mar
March 1, 2008

Greg brought a bunch of these books to snow camp to give away and use as prizes, so it reminded me of the review I had written a while back!  It’s a great book, and the teens I spoke with at camp who had already read it all told me they really loved it.  Good stuff, and you can’t beat the price!


By Greg Stier

Dare 2 Share Ministries, Inc., 2008, 108 pp., $4.50 (bulk discounts available),

A quick read, “Venti Jesus Please” is the fictional story of three teenagers hanging out at a coffee shop talking about Jesus. It is told from the perspective of the atheist teen; the other one is a Christian, and the third is an agnostic. Over the course of the conversation the reader gets a great picture of relationship evangelism as well as the message of salvation, so this is good for the kid curious about God as well as the teen wondering how to share their faith. If I’m honest, I had a hard time getting into it at first – but once I got a few pages into it, it grew on me. Stier has done a great job of capturing three distinct voices and wrapping it up without getting too preachy or unbelievable.

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

Snow Camp recovery

25 Feb
February 25, 2008


Wow.  It’s Monday and I’m still wiped out from snow camp (that’s me in the gym at the camp)!  All in all, it was a great trip.  Other than a few last minute emergencies (like the bus not working so scrambling to find some replacement vans!), it all came together great!  We had our biggest year yet, with 85 participants between five churches (30 from Boothbay Baptist), which made for some great big group times!

Paintball was a bit rough; we had to hike through snow a couple feet deep for about a quarter of a mile – it was fine for the little guys, they only sank a couple inches.  Me?  I dropped to the bottom every step.  Once we were there it was pretty good, but a bit cold for my preferences.  The skiing, snowtubing and snowboarding was amazing, however.  Mt. Hermon rocked, as always.  I think we pretty much took over the place!  I got some great snowtubing footage that I’m excited about getting online in the next week or so.  : )  We also had a ton of other games, activities and other stuff over the three days that came off great!  The new addition to the schedule this year, ice fishing, was a BIG hit.  I think about 30 people tried it out!  Next year we’ll have to allot more time for it, though.  With only an hour and a half to drill the holes, set up the traps and get the hang of it, well, the results weren’t what people hoped – one fish.  30 people managed to catch one little fish.  Oh well!  They still had a blast and everyone is excited about doing it again next year, so even if we didn’t catch tons of fish, it was still a succesful experiment!

Our theme for the trip was “Rescued from an ordinary life.”  It’s actually a series kit from Simply Youth Ministry that I picked up a little while back.  Greg and I like using the seminar kits from there for our snow camps every year because it enables us to have a consistent theme throughout the trip without a lot of extra work.  We divide up the talks between the different speakers and then put our own unique spin to them while sticking to the central themes.  It’s handy because it includes all of the powerpoint slides, games for the group, notes, handouts, the mp3’s from when Doug Fields gave the messages, and even commentaries by Fields for further preparation.  Definitely a great resource and one I would highly recommend!

Anyway, all that to say … I’m not sure that I actually slept last week at all … so if you’re wondering at all the blog silence … I am playing some serious catch-up!

Race This! Volume One (review)

20 Feb
February 20, 2008

We are on our way to Snow Camp!  I’m excited … we have our biggest turnout yet, and it’s looking to be a great trip!  One of the crowd games I’m bringing along is from Race This, a fantastic product from Simply Youth Ministry.  It’s actually on sale at the moment, too – so if you want one, you should grab it now while it’s $13 off!  Anyway, here’s the review I wrote up a while back for the Journal of Student Ministries magazine.  The only thing that has changed is my opinion of the price; having used this disc for over a year now, the original price is reasonable – and the sale price makes it amazing!  : )


Doug Fields and Kurt Johnston

Race This is a compilation of ten random races for use with a computer (Mac or PC). Each race, whether a car race, donkey race, turtle race, or hot dog race, is programmed in such a way that the outcome is always different, making it possible to use them over and over. To be honest, I had my doubts the first time I played it with a group of teens. Because there are no sound effects, I worried it would be a dud. Turns out, I was completely wrong! Sound effects, while nice, wouldn’t have been heard over all the screaming that erupted from everyone cheering on their pick! Every time I’ve used them since they have been a hit! While the price is a bit high in my opinion, they are completely reusable which gives this product a longevity that other ice breakers don’t necessarily have.

To Own a Dragon (book review)

19 Feb
February 19, 2008


By Donald Miller & John MacMurray

There is a quiet depth to Miller’s book that I found so enjoyable. It felt like I was having a casual conversation, yet over and over I had to stop just to let it all sink in. Having grown up with both my parents, I found his inside look at life without a father fascinating. Especially thought provoking were his reactions and insights to his experience later in life of living with a family that had a healthy father in the picture. Through exploring his reactions, his initial confusion at the presence of this unnecessary person, or so he thought, I felt like I had a window into the lives of so many of the teens I work with. More significantly, he then went on to relate his experience without a father to his understanding of God as Father. It was somehow beautiful reading through his process in coming to acceptance of God as a Father, in spite of his experience. I found it challenging throughout – how do I communicate God as Father to a fatherless generation? In so many ways that label has become a bad word to so many. Yet I found Miller’s insight tremendously helpful. Definitely worth reading.

This review, written by me, originally appeared in the Journal of Student Ministries.

Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (book review)

18 Feb
February 18, 2008


By David Crowder and Mike Hogan

Wow. Reading this book was powerfully cathartic. Crowder and Hogan were able to capture in print the quirky yet brilliant aspects of the David Crowder Band that we all love. One moment the book is reading like any other book, the next you’re turning it sideways, then you’re reading instant message conversations, next your reading poetry and so on. And yet it all works wonderfully. They somehow weave all these different styles into one unified book, and in so doing take a powerful look at the connections between death, the soul and bluegrass music. They were able to put into print emotions and thoughts I had had in my own experiences with death in such a way that was liberating for me. Somehow, through reading their honest and real experiences to death, I found myself revisiting past grief and experiencing a deeper level of healing in the process. I would buy a couple copies – you’ll want one to pass around!

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