The Empowered Leader – Book Review

Amazon $10.18

I have read a lot of books over the years, and my book shelves are blessed to have such authors as Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, John Maxwell, Mark Driscoll, Mark Batterson, Adrian Rogers, and many other greats.  I am privileged to announce that I will be adding the Empowered Leader by Calvin Miller to my “favorite books” shelf.  This has to be the greatest book on leadership that I have ever read.

I read this book as part of a church planting network to encourage and generate conversation during one of our Mega-Meetings, and it did much more than encourage, it generated a wildfire of discussion.  I think I can speak for everyone in attendance that this book engaged and challenged each of us on levels that will forever change the way we lead.  This book covers everything from the importance of networking, casting vision, coping with difficult people, the art of delegation, surviving a visible mistake, and so much more.

Whatever your leadership role, this book offers fresh insights and new tools to help you lead with confidence and power. God’s power!

This book is a must for your next leadership coaching, network, or even personal growth.

(I wrote this review simply out of my appreciation for everything I gained from this book.  Thank You Dr. Calvin Miller for your God given insights.)


“The Summit” Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone – Book Review

I recently was asked to review the book “The Summit” Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone by author Eric Alexander, and I was given a free copy to do so.  I am not required to provide a positive review, and comments below are strictly my own, and do not reflect that of New Leaf Publishing.

The Summit is an adventurous tale about author Eric Alexander, blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, and their teams ascent to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain.  This is an epic journey filled with experiences of grace, faith, and trial.  As you read through this book, you will see a true test of endurance, desire, and devotion.  You will follow in their footsteps, and learn about faith, dependence upon God, as well as the perseverance needed in your own life.

It’s beyond survival, not just  simply survive, but to thrive.

One of the things that just stuck out to me the most was the character of Eric Alexander, and the heart he has for the disabled.  To take a blind man hiking would be amazing, but to help him climb to the highest peak in the world while fighting off such dangerous surroundings is astonishing. I loved how this book was packed with Biblical insights.  At the end of each chapter the author provides what he calls “Deadpoint Reflections” which consist of the Crux – most difficult part, the Hold – how to overcome the difficulty, and the Anchor – the support you should hold on to.  These reflections are extremely practical, and are capable of helping individuals climb whatever mountain is in their path/lives.

I also really enjoyed reading the facts and details into each leg of the climb, which is provided at the first of each chapter.  Also each chapter begins with a viable scripture verse and timeless quote that will help engage the reader into deeper understanding.

I have to say that chapters 1 and 9 were some of my favorites.  Reading about the author’s first near-fatal fall, and the tragedy that hits in chapter 9 really kept me on the edge of my seat.  There were times I couldn’t put the book down.  I have to admit though that there were times I wanted to speed read, but the majority of the book was awesome.  Overall I have to give this book a five star rating.  It is worth every minute of the time I spent reading it.

Be sure to check out the Higher Summit Website at:

or purchase your copy today.

I also highly recommend Shannon O’dells book “Transforming Church in Rural America,” be sure to check it out as well.

Change Your Church For Good – Book Review

Change Your Church For Good by Brad Powell is a book filled with innovative truths to challenge every church leader.  It brings insight to the issues that are facing today’s church to include settling for less, poorly executing strategy, irrelevance,  excepting failure, and failure to change.  It also challenges pastors and leaders to dream big by investing in those around them to accomplish God sized plans, aswell as exposes the necessity of change.

Go from a 3D perspective from what the church is, to a 4D perspective to what it can become  by developing and implementing a Ministry Charter.  The book points out that this will require communication, creativity, hard work, huge faith, and commitment.

This book is about changing the church in its conduct without compromising the character of God’s truth. (p.76.)

I normally despise it when I purchase a book with dog ears in it and I have vowed to never do that to my books, but when I received this book with clean crisp pages I couldn’t help but write all over them, and fold the corners of numerous pages for reference purposes.  I absolutely loved the section of the book titled “Relevance is Different for Different People”.  It gives you a whole new look on how we minister to individuals by comparing them to a “Sippy Cup”, “Big Gulp”, “Starbucks Cup”, and a “Drinking Hat.”  Pure genius!!  It is all the practical ideas like this that really won me over on this book.  I have only given a few five-star ratings on books, but this one should receive six stars.  I feel I have gained more insight from this book and Shannon O’dells book “Breaking All the Rurals”, than any of the Seminary courses I have taken on church planting, church leadership, or church development.

Transforming Church in Rural America

Transforming Church in Rural America is an awesome book written by Shannon O’Dell, a former youth pastor in Texas who took a huge step of faith to answer God’s call.  This is a book that challenges pastors and lay leaders to break all of what Shannon calls the rurals.  In this book you will learn how to generate growth through transformed lives, engage your community through active evangelism, enhance your worship experience, inspire volunteers, and transform your church.  This book is also accompanied by creative online videos that reveal significant factors in the development of Shannon’s church Brand New Church.

Discover the possibilities and value that lies within your church, and reach for a new horizon by reading Shannon’s book.  You will gain a clear and concise understanding to what V.A.L.U.E. truly is. 

The last part of the book description reads: “Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches – no matter where the location or how small it may be”  reading this book was exactly that, a life changing experience.  I don’t think I will ever look at ministry the same again.

Just reading this book made me want to go find the most countryfied hickville rural church I could find, and see if they would let me Pastor, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that He has me right where he wants me, and I am to implement some of these things right where I am serving NOW!  Now, is correct.  And if God is leading you to get this book, get it NOW!, go sacred cow tipping, and start experiencing transformed lives.

Message to Shannon: Dude, if you ever read this blog post I want you to know that God has done a wonderful work through you, this book, and Lead Hill/Bergman.  My wife’s family was some of the last members of Elixer Baptist Church, and I know how set in their ways Southside and Elixer was.  Only a miracle by the Grace of God could do what you and your team have done.  You are a true inspiration.  May God bless you for your endeavors, and may His kingdom be richly multiplied because of it.  I look forward to meeting you at the Transforming Church in Rural America Conference May 25th.

As part of my review I’m going to be giving away a FREE copy of Transforming Church In Rural America.  One out of every ten comments will win a copy.  Read carefully; here is how you get your FREE copy.  Take these three steps:

1. Leave a comment below. State that you would like a copy of this book in your own words of course and share why you would like one.

2. Fill out the form to enter HERE. New Leaf Publishing will send you a free copy if you win and they will need your address. Click this link and fill in your information, so New Leaf Publishing Group will know where to send your FREE copy in the mail.

3. Send a link to this post through Twitter or Facebook.  If you aren’t on either, just say so in the comments.   Use this status update:   Get a FREE Copy of @shannonodell’s new book, Transforming Church in Rural America, from @justinsrefuge at #TCIRA

If you win a copy of this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it, and what steps you learned that you are planning on implementing.

Good Luck!!

Bible Maps and Charts – Book Review

Nelson’s Complete Book of Maps and Charts Third Edition which includes full color reproducible maps and charts from the Old and New Testaments is an invaluable study tool that brings scripture to life.  Each of the 66 books of the Bible are dynamically expounded upon with rich detail.  This is like an Old and New Testament Survey all in one. Each chapter of the books of the Bible are given and introduction followed by the author, date, theme, and outline of the book.  Each chapter is jam-packed with biblical knowledge that is sure to enhance the development of study habits and lesson/sermon preparation.  Pastors, ministers, professors, small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, and individual Bible students will greatly benefit from the insightful knowledge and user-friendly structure of this book.  All maps and chart’s are also available for free download with the purchase of this book.  Use the charts and maps in your sermon/teaching illustrations.  This book is a visual overview of the whole Bible at your fingertips!

I would highly recommend this book.  It took me some time to read the whole thing, but it was completely worth it.  Very seldom do I give a book five stars, but after reading it how can I not.  After receiving it, I thought to myself…”this will just be another book on my shelves that collects dust”, however I use it on a regular basis.  It still sets on a shelf from time to time, but it has the privilege of being placed next to my favorite Bibles and sermon preparation tools.  I am still intrigued at how in each chapter that discusses every book of the Bible they present a clear presentation of how they each point back to Christ.  I love that aspect about this book, it always points back to Christ.  I can’t say enough good stuff about this book, but like I said before I highly recommend it, five-star, get yours today.

Ministry Getting Messy

I started reading a book today called “Killing Cockroaches” by Tony Morgan, and in the forward by Andy Stanley I read something that hit really close to home for me due to my current circumstances. It is an amazing insight to ministry, and It is something every ministry leader needs to hear.

*”Whether it’s our approach to service programming or discipleship or teaching or any number of ministry functions, leaders must constantly battle the status quo. We have to challenge the existing process and identify new methods for fulfilling our mission. Yes, the message is the same, but we live in an ever-changing world. The language that we used in the past doesn’t always translate in today’s culture. And what works today likely won’t work tomorrow. We can’t let the church get complacent.

There’s also the temptation to do church for those who are already going to heaven. You know what I’m talking about. If we’re not careful, we’ll begin to make decisions about programming and teaching to keep those who are already here at the expense of those who need to hear. That’s not God’s design. He wants us to communicate the fact that people matter to him. He wants us to talk that way and act that way and worship that way. It’s counter to how we’ve always done church, though. It’s also not easy. In fact, ministry to reach the unchurched is downright messy.”

* Andy Stanley – Forward to Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan

Wow, that truly inspired me to stay faithful to my calling to reach out to the teens in this dying generation.  The Gospel will be my guide, and innovation will be my tool.  Ministry is a dirty job, so lets get messy.