024 - Follow Me to Freedom

Shane Claiborne and John Perkins have written a leadership book unlike anything I've seen before. The book is written entirely in dialogue. Most books written by multiple authors ended up blended so that no one knows exactly who is saying what. However, in this book they take two very different guys (a 20-something white redneck living in Philadelphia and a African-American civil rights leaders from Mississippi) and simply let the two men have a conversation on leadership. The book isn't necessarily ground-breaking in context, but offers a unique twist on the common leadership book.

Follow Me to Freedom includes plenty of great insights, but many of which can be found in other books. The authors discuss what it takes to be a leader, how to find people to follow you, how to choose who to follow, and other assorted topics. They offer insights based on their life experiences and above all point to Jesus as our ultimate leader. They, like most Christian writers, advocate a form of servant-leadership where the leader leads by selflessly loving his followers.

With Claiborne and Perkins being the authors this book also offers plenty of political commentary. Both men are very active politically, and have a variety of opinions about anything and everything involving politics. However, their political leanings are never the main event in the book, merely a rabbit-trail they allude to and then move along.

All in all, this book is worth your time. I would recommend it to anyone seeking more ideas about leadership or wants more information about leading people.

023 - Prince of Tides

This is a story of childhood abuse, a dysfunctional family and how the damage is carried into adulthood. The family insists that nothing wrong happened and everything in life is as it should be. It is also a story of a mother whose ambition in life is to become apart of the elite group in the community, even though this means putting aside her family’s needs. Maintaining family secrets are essential to her successful inclusion into society.

And it is a story of a sister and two brothers who bond together against these odds. Their struggles in life are stifling at times but they always have each other to carry them through. Although, their untold stories inhibits them from healing. The sister suffers from schizophrenia with her childhood revisiting her in the form of demons and hallucinations. The brother takes from life what is good and precious to him, only to be cheated of it by his mother’s pursuit of elitism. The brother (“The Prince of Tides”) loses his life in the struggle, breaking the bond that kept the three siblings strong. At this point, the remaining brother and sister begin losing their battle with life. It takes the telling of the family story by the remaining brother to allow the family to heal, where it was not possible before. The brother telling the story has felt that his past is behind him and has no impact on his current adult life. As he tells the story to save his sister, he learns it has influenced his life and the wrongs it has made in his life, thereby saving him, as well as his sister.

I felt this book was an incredible tale of tragedy and its effects on three bonded siblings. They dealt with their tragedy in different ways although none of their ways could save them. One sibling fought out and lost his life, the next gave up hers. The last sibling who had chosen to ignore it all was forced to face the issues in order to save his sister and his self.
Sometimes Christians mistakenly think that to “forgive and forget” means to put aside any ills without future consideration or assessment of its impact on our lives. To “dwell” on something means you are unwilling to forgive and thereby disobeying God. But this kind of thinking often inhibits healing. I believe God wants us to explore our true feelings, not ignore them. By working through past issues, we can move on to the future. Working through our misgivings gives us the power to truly forgive. And forgiving is not forgetting. To forget would not allow us to move forward from our problems. It would also not allow us to see the awesome things God can bring out of our tragedies. If there had been a “Prince of Tides 2”, I believe it would have been a wonderful story of the growth and freedom the brother and sister gained and the new life God gave them.

Submitted by - Kathrine Wynn

022 - Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz is refreshing. Being Don’s first hit book, it is an appropriate introduction into the man. Through this collection of essays, you learn about the background from which Don came. You follow him through his journey as a child and young adult as he bestows his life lessons to his readers.

His thoughts are pure and real. They are so rich in content yet simple in presentation. What I like about this book is that it addresses and answers many questions on the minds of Christians and non Christians about God in a way any common person can understand.

Don is not prudent with holding any of his flaws and failures from his readers. Never before have I read a book by an author, where afterward I feel like I have just made a new friend. He is so intimate in sharing his life. This is extraordinary on its own, because one of his flaws he so willingly shares is his fear of intimacy. His words are brilliantly written and his life is a proof of God’s changing power.

021 - On Church Leadership

On Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll is a great book for those seeking some good theology without all the big words and rambling sentences. This book is part of a series of books on theology entitled, “A Book You’ll Actually Read” series. This book was written to be read within an hour and to be basic enough that anyone could read through it an have a good grasp of the concepts included.

This book in particular was really good. It was based on the idea of helping people look at the Scriptures to see how God would want to church to set up their leadership. Driscoll gives the reasons his church (Mars Hill in Seattle) uses these guidelines. He offers his interpretation of difficult topics like women-pastors, elders, and more. The only problem with this book is that I’m not sure how many churches that are established would be willing to totally restructure their entire model of leadership because an 80 page book told them to. Worth your time, but the price seems pretty high for a book you can read in an hour.

020 - Knowing God

Knowing God is a superb read. Well worth the time it takes to sit down and read it cover to cover. God has blessed J.I. Packer with a phenomenal insight into the Christian life, into Himself and into biblical truth. Though this is a 30ish year old book the ideas contained within are still paramount to today’s Christian. I found the only way I could read this book was to read it with a pen, to underline key lines and to write my thoughts in the margin so that I was able to keep reading without worrying about forgetting my thoughts. I would highly recommend this book to anybody, believer or not. For a believer it is an edifying and sanctifying experience. For a non-believer, by God’s grace, will it lead to belief. That being said read the book not because of Packer or because of me rather because it gives one a deep insight into ones heart.

Submitted by - Sam Morris

019 - Don't Waste Your Life

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper was a great read. Piper expresses his desire for the reader to not near the end of their life and to have wasted it. He writes this book to encourage and help those seeking to live for something meaningful and lasting. Piper tells many stories and uses lots of illustrations throughout the book. The only problem is that for a period of about 3 or 4 chapters Piper only uses war illustrations.

All in all this book was great. Very interesting and a quick read. However, if you have read his book Desiring God then this one will seem to repeat some of that information. Don’t Waste Your Life has plenty of great information and since Desiring God is sort of Piper’s masterpiece there is no wonder why some of it’s ideas ended up in this book. Still, worth your time and would be a great gift.

018 - The Teeth of the Tiger

I own several Tom Clancy books, but have unfortunately never had the chance to read through any of them. I’ve heard plenty of great things about Clancy, mostly from men. And now after reading his book I know why. Clancy writes for men. In the same way that most war movies, spy sagas, and violent pictures are geared for men, Clancy designs his plots, characters, and twists to appeal to men.

For the most part, The Teeth of the Tiger was a great read. As stated earlier since it was written for men, and I am a man, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only problem came near the end of the novel. As I approached the last 50 pages I began to wonder how the book was going to end. And then it did. It was interesting up to the end, but nothing to make the book memorable. No great obstacle to overcome. Just an ending.

017 - Eragon Series

Christopher started writing the Eragon series when he was just fifteen years old. Now he is a New York Times best seller and into his early twenties. Don't let his young age fool you, though. His wisdom and insight into human emotions combine with his genius imagination for adventure and brilliant eloquence place him on a plane beside older, more experienced writers. I never thought myself to become enthralled in fantasy novels, but Paolini carries me, captivated over hundreds of pages of adventure.

Eragon, a simple farm boy begins his journey outside the walls of his hometown when a dragon egg hatches for him. He becomes a chosen dragon rider and the one true hope against the evil of a tyrant king. His social circle takes a dramatic change from blacksmiths, shop keepers, and farm animals to dwarves, elves, urgals, and magicians.

The amount of war and death in the story makes your stomach turn and provokes your mind to examine and question the reasons behind war. Though not condemning war, this series unmasks real life issues attatched to the souls of warriors. For a youthful, fantasy series it tackles many real life issues. I am amazed at how a youth like Paolini can have so much insight into life experiences. Eragon. Eldest. Brisinger. And now we await the fourth and final book of this amazing adventure.