Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: Communicating for a Change

By Andy Stanley and Lane Jones
If you do any public speaking, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Authors Andy Stanley and Lane Jones craft their writing in a way that illustrates the points they want to make, so it’s an easy, engaging read. By likening the process of developing a speech to a journey, they tell the story of a trucker and his passenger discussing communication.

The first half of the book covers the authors’ major points while the second half elaborates on them. As with a trip, you must determine your destination—a short statement that summarizes what you want to say. Then, according to the authors, an effective communicator wraps that statement in story, story so compelling you don’t need notes to tell it. There are seven main points in all.

Excellent examples light the way for those of us on the communication journey. And the authors offer plenty of questions to check the effectiveness of our talks. I appreciated their nod to those, including Andy Stanley’s father, Charles Stanley, who offer informational talks. Despite the authors’ commitment to relational talks, they admit there are times when informational talks are appropriate, so they offer guidelines for taking that alternate route.

There’s a lot to digest in this book published by Multoman in 2006, but I look forward to pulling my talks from the file drawer and tackling them one by one. Stanley and Jones provide a handy GPS to guide my journey to more effective communication.

If you've read this book (or would like to) and receive this review by e-mail, leave a comment by clicking on my name at the very bottom of the page. That links you to my blog. You cannot reply to this e-mail. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Review: Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World

What does it mean to be a man? That is the question Carolyn Custis James seeks to answer. And a thought-provoking question it proves to be, since “maleness” differs from culture to culture. James seeks to discern God’s definition as she examines the lives of men from the Bible, such as Judah, Boaz and Joseph of Nazareth, and women, such as Deborah and Jael. She notes modern-day individuals who show the same spirit: Malal Yousafzai, a 15-year-old- Pakistani schoolgirl who defied the Taliban and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state.

James opens her book with this statement: “The maelstrom is the seaman’s nightmare, but the ‘Malestrom’ poses an even greater threat to men than the hidden dangers of the open seas.” She discusses “The Genesis of the “Malestrom,” how a biblical culture of patriarchy may not mean it is divinely ordained. Since we are made in God’s image, both genders are needed for complete representation of that image, working together in what James calls a “Blessed Alliance.”

Her analysis leads to the manhood of Jesus, his image bearing, his actions and his relationships with women. In a final chapter titled “Liberating Men from the Malestrom,” James spells out how the gospel of Christ can free men from the grip of the malestrom, since it freed even a leading religious terrorist named Saul of Tarsus.

Each chapter ends with discussion questions, and end matter offers plenty of notes to back up James’ points. She is well known for writing books relating to the roles of men and women in Christian life. I appreciated this book because it reminds us that men and women can work together and are desperately needed to reach a world pulling farther away from Christian principles, values and Christ Himself. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How's Your Connection?

Every now and then I get domestic. I dislike cooking. Don’t like to clean. But strawberries are in season (I’m writing this in June) and company is coming for several days, so today I am highly motivated. Yesterday I made four batches of strawberry jam. Today I made vegetable soup. It feels good while I’m doing it, but it tires me out. I hear a lot about hiring VA’s, virtual assistants. Well, I need a CCA, a cooking and cleaning assistant.

I write all that to say sometimes we act like that spiritually. We don’t like to read our Bibles because we don’t understand them. We don’t like to pray because it feels unproductive to sit and talk words into the air. However . . . when we’re hit by one of life’s storms, we become highly motivated. We blow the dust off our Bibles and find a verse that comforts our hearts. We pray. It feels good. We’re blessed by the experience. But it takes time, and so we soon give up connecting with God until the next emergency.

Well, just like I need to cook and clean on a daily basis—after all we must eat and I do want an orderly house—so we need to connect with God on a daily basis, whether or not we feel like it. We need the daily nourishment of God’s Word. This morning I was reminded in the book of Hebrews of how Jesus intercedes for us. I meditated on that for a while. Does that mean I should only pray to Jesus? I usually start my prayers calling on the Lord. In my mind that word covers all three Persons of the Trinity. But sometimes I pray to my Father God. I concluded that Jesus intercedes for us by representing us before the Father. After all, were it not for Him, we would have no access to the Father.

So if you haven't been taking time each day to connect with God, I encourage you to start making time to do just that. Yes, He hears our 9-1-1 prayers during the storms, but by taking a few minutes to connect with Him when the sun is shining. He is honored, and we are blessed.

An article I wrote, “24 Ways to Connect with God in 24 Hours,” can be viewed at these websites: http://zhane15.tumblr.com/post/111149353820/24-ways-to-connect-with-god-in-24-hours
https://www.idisciple.org/post/24-ways-to-connect-with-god-in-24-hours. If those links don't work for you, just send me an e-mail by reply or through my blog or website, and I'll e-mail a copy to you. And please share your best ways for connecting with God in the Comment box.

Have a Blessed Fourth of July.

Shirley Brosius

Upcoming Engagements:
July 14, 11:45 a.m. - Fredericksburg (Virginia) Christian Women's Club
July 15, 9:30 a.m. - Culpeper Christian Women's Club
July 16, 9:30 a.m. - Warrenton Christian Women's Club