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change_your_churchYou know it is a dirty word. Some of your people probably even hate to hear it come from your mouth. That word is “CHANGE.” In fact, so many churches have avoided this word that they have ended up becoming little more than country clubs or short-term “pit-stops” for people that get their feathers ruffled a bit at their previous church (who will only be at your church until their feathers get ruffled again). In many churches there is no relevance of its mission to day to day life of the people that attend. It becomes little more than something to check off the list of “spiritual duties” to perform for the week. And this is only one symptom of churches that do not change: they become isolated, consumer driven and self-seeking individually as well as corporately. I love what Brad said in the chapter “It’s All About Delivery.”

Jesus revealed the Father’s love to those who were broken, guilty and far from God. He didn’t isolate Himself from them, nor should His followers today.

I appreciated the way that Brad approaches and lays out the process of change that he took his church through. Thought there were times of uncomfortable confrontation and even losing some people who could not see the vision, Brad was still very sensitive to the nature and speed of change that he led his church through. Brad’s desire to change was tempered by a Biblical view of the church and the mission that it assigned. The change he took his church through was also based on Scriptural principles and a desire to remain theologically centered. Another thought that Brad shared that really impacted me was this:

By aligning our vision to God’s eternal principles rather than specific practices, we can stay the course even as we continue to change many of the ways we do ministry.

Change can be difficult. Especially if a church does not have a culture of change established. Change is not to be feared, but embraced so that we have the greatest opportunity to make an impact for the Gospel in the day we live in.

I would highly recommend this book to any pastor or church leader that is looking to lead effective change in their church.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers with the request that I give an honest review.

After hearing Jeff Manion’s session at the Global leadership Summit, I immediately went out to the book table and bought his book titled, “The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions.” His talk resonated with me as we are in our own “land between” as we wait on God’s leading and timing in our life.  Personally, this book was a great reminder of God’s working in my life, and how that tends to happen more in the tough times than the good times.

Jeff takes us through the story of Israel and their travel from Egypt to the “Promised Land.”  During this time, Israel had multiple opportunities to trust in God’s plan and leading, and yet they consistently made the choice to grumble, complain and turn from God.  Jeff describes the “Land Between” as a place of transformational growth or a place where faith goes to die.  As Israel continues to make destructive decisions and responses to God’s leading, God continues to try and draw them to Him through provision and discipline.  Neither work, and as we know, Israel enters in to the 40 years on wandering in the wilderness.

Jeff shares personal stories, as well as stories from people he has encountered in many years of ministry that illustrate how the Land Between has the ability to shape us in to what God plans for us to be.  These times of difficult transition are what God uses in the stories of His people throughout the Bible to be used in a great way.

This book was certainly a great encouragement to me, and I know it will be to all who read it.  We will all go through these times.  How we respond will depend on whether we have transformational growth, or the death of our faith.  I choose to grow!

If you have ever been walking down the path you had planned for your life and come to a roadblock that kept you from continuing to fulfill the plan you had, then you will appreciate this book!

As someone who is facing a “Plan B” in my life at the moment, it was refreshing to read the stories presented in the book (Biblical references and personal references from Pete) and see that there are others that are facing an end to the path that they had planned as their “Plan  A” as God takes them down another path that may hurt at first, but also prepares them for who He wants them to be for the rest of their lives.

Pete’s writing is simple and down to earth, and is very genuine, not preachy.  I it easy to provide a bunch of Scriptures and tell someone that everything will work out for good.  But to hear stories of how people, including the author, faced and end to their own plans and embraced what God has for them is a great inspiration and compels you to seek out God’s Plan A.

I really appreciated what Pete wrote about Joshua and the Children of Israel as Joshua takes the mantle from Moses and prepares to lead the people. Pete writes:

God is just giving him a little pregame pep talk: “Joshua, just remember what you know.  Be strong. Be courageous. And whatever you do, don’t forget I am with you.”

God has a few words for Joshua’s people as well: “Don’t live in fear. I don’t want you to make the same mistake you parents did. Listen to me, pay attention to my instructions, and everything will work out for you.

Finally, God makes the whole nation a promise: “If you trust me, if you’ll follow me, I’ll be with you. Every place you set your foot in that land, I’ve already gone ahead of you. My power will be available for you. You’re not going to have to undertake the rest of your life on the power of just your own resources.”

Here is the deal, and really the point of the book.  What you consider to be “Plan A” in your life may never happen. If it does not, we need to remember that God is sovereign, that He is in control, that He works from the future back and has already been where we are headed. As long as we trust Him and follow Him, what we may consider to be “Plan B” will actually be what God intended for us from the very beginning.

You can read a sample of the book by clicking on this link.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to review this book, which was provided to me by Thomas Nelson and BookSneeze.

As a pastor, I can say that some of my most discouraging moments come when people come to you for guidance in their life, listen to all you have to say (that is based on God’s Word), and yet decide to continue down the same path that they were headed.  It is hard to see that.  It breaks my heart to see people suffer things that they did not have to suffer. Andy Stanley’s book, “The Principle Of The Path” is all about this idea that people think they can end up where they want to go by going down any path they choose.  Andy puts it this way:

“It breaks my heart how many people I speak with  who don’t connect the dots between the choices they make and the outcomes they experience.  They’ve come to believe the popular notion that as long as their intentions are good, as long as their hearts are in the right place (whatever that means), as long s they do their best and try their hardest, it doesn’t really matter which path they take. They believe somehow they will end up in a good place. But life does not work that way.”

No matter how simple and elementary that may seem, there are so many people that do not get.  I would actually venture to say that all of us at one time or another have thought this way.  I know I have.

Andy uses real-life stories (that will relate to every one who picks up this book) to drive home his point that “direction trumps intention every time.”  I wish everyone could read this book, capture the truth and then act on it.

“Your final destination is determined by the path you choose and where it leads, regardless of your intentions.”

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing the book for review.

millionmilesHow can I make a difference in the world I live in?  How can I impact the lives of other people? Will the story of my life be worth reading when it is over?  These are questions that Donald Miller tackles in his new book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.”  As two film makers come to him to make a movie from one of his books (Blue Like Jazz), Donald looks at his life and realizes that there really is nothing exciting about the life he has lived.  The rest of the book is a description of how Donald sets out to change that; to write a better story for his life. Donald’s writing is so different from any other author I have read.  He is authentic, honest and sometimes would be considered irreverent by some mainstream denominations.  One part of the book that really grabbed me was this paragraph;

If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as thought to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I created you.

God has given us the freedom to be creative and to write a great story for our life.  As Donald elaborates throughout the book, that great story inevitably will include conflict, and inciting incident that will stir our souls to do something that will make our stories better as we live within the great story of God.

Our stories may not include as exciting of a journey as Donald’s did.  That is not his point.  His point is that we should do our best to live a life that matters. That we should get off of our butts and live to impact others around us.  That alone will create a better story.

You can win a copy of this book by leaving a comment here on this post.  Winner will be chosen by random drawing on Friday!

You can purchase the book here at Amazon.com.