Friday, August 29, 2014

Crash the Chatterbox (Book Review)

Let me preface this by saying two things:

1. I have read 2 other books by Pastor Furtick - and I really liked them; I talk about them frequently.

 2. Prior to reading this one, I already had mixed feelings because of some "sketchy" and questionable things that have come up now about Furtick. I am not judging him, but I am questioning his intentions for God's Church. Some of these things include: children's coloring pages that portray himself in the way a cult leader would be portrayed, "spontaneous" baptism that is actually staged to reel more people into seeking baptism, living in a multi-million dollar home that also raises questions of whether it was built with his money or the church's, and refusing to be transparent with finances as most pastors and churches are expected to do. But I won't go into anymore details about these things - you can do that for yourself if you are interested. I only bring up this point so I can be clear that I was a little wary going into this book and, thus, it's possible that contributed to my overall perspective on this book.

 Now that all of that stuff is out of the way, I can move right into my review of the book.

 I didn't like it.

 When I read Christian living books, I try to read them with these questions in mind: Would I want my child to read this? Is this appropriate for everyone, someone specific, anyone at all? And what is the point, the purpose, of this book? I would not give this book to a child or teenager.

 Let me start with the basic stuff.

 1. The book opens with the following quote: "I wish I had a little devil on my left shoulder. I could flick him off and tell him to go to hell." It's one of those statements that isn't bad or wrong, because there's truth to it; but it's what I would label as a "borderline" statement. I would not want a child repeating this because I would not want him generalizing that statement to other things.

 2. The quote at the top of Chapter 1 is from Jay-Z. Is that really appropriate? I understand that you don't have to be a good role model to say something meaningful, but, at the same time, I don't think the quote was powerful and meaningful enough that it couldn't have been replaced by something said by someone more admirable or reputable. The quote was simply,"I'm losing myself, I'm stuck in the moment. I look in the mirror, my only opponent." I typed this into Google and found that it comes from a song by Jay-Z and Kanye West titled "Welcome to the Jungle." And I counted at least 6 "F" words, one time the Lord's name is taken in vain, and at least one time it mentions marijuana (it specifically says "weed" then, but there may be innuendos thrown in there). Excuse me? I don't listen to this kind of stuff because it is inappropriate. I do NOT think my pastor should be familiar with these lyrics either. And I do NOT want my kid to read this quote in a Pastor's book, like the quote, then get on Google and look that up to listen to the music...thinking that it must be okay since the Pastor listens to it, too. No!

 3. Is it necessary to make a joke about Cialis ("Because discouragement will arrive at the doorstep of your mind as certainly as a Cialis commercial will air during the Masters.") in this book? Again, this is something that i had to look up online. Sorry, I'm not familiar with all the medications out there for erectile dysfunction. And quite frankly, I hope my children don't. But I guess if they ever read this book and decide to Google what that is, they'll also learn all about that. So, again, not something for my children...especially little girls.

 4. Another thing I did not enjoy was the story about the time he yelled curse words in his front yard in front of his young child, who repeated it. Not only that, but the background of the story was that this was Christmastime and, since this was a busy time for him, he wanted to relax and, thus, only wanted to be in the car with his quietest the rest of his family left for their trip early while Furtick and his son left later. Why is Pastor Furtick telling us that he just didn't feel like sucking it up and spending that extra time with his family in the car at Christmas? And the only happy ending was that he read this part of his book to his son (years later) and his son said he didn't remember the curse word being yelled. Well, that's good. On a similar note, he told another story about taking his whole family on an extended vacation to a lake house but basically locking himself down to write this book instead of actually spending time with his family. Way to teach good parenting?

 Ok, now let's get a little more into the meat of the book.

I thought this book was pointless. The book is about "hearing God's voice above all others." This book did a great job at telling us about all the bad chatter we are hearing on a daily basis. From others, from ourselves, from the devil's influence. We got a lot of negativity thrown at us daily and it can wreck our intimacy and trust in God. And, in a way, it's comforting to know that pretty much everyone experiences this. We are not alone in wondering where God is sometimes, wondering why we can't hear Him, or wondering what in the world we are supposed to do next when we feel like the world around us is crashing and burning.

 But he stops there. I found very little information in this book to be practical. He told stories - lots of them. He even provided a diary entry from Mother Theresa that showed her doubt and worry, her own calling for the Lord to pour His love over her when she felt lost and uncertain. But there was nothing to follow. There was no guidance, no direction, of what to do. How are we supposed to "Crash the Chatterbox" if we've only scratched the surface of what the Chatterbox actually is? This book had so many opportunities to dig deeper and tell us what we are missing. WHAT should we be doing? HOW are we supposed to hear God's voice above all over things? Is this even possible?

Pastor Furtick missed the mark when he completely neglected to add the "What Now" portion of this book. The only practical pieces included were thrown into stories (ex. he said, at one point, that we begin with gratitude and being thankful, which was a valid point) and those points were really quite few. At the very least, he should have summarized and included a list or a short description of what to do, especially for young believers who do not have a firm grasp of the Bible yet.

 Pastor Furtick closes the book by repeating "CRASH!" multiple times. Unfortunately, the only thing that crashed was my excitement for reading his future books.

 I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Unstoppable (Book Review)

Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic is a powerful set of memoirs written to inspire. The author's genuineness, honesty, and vulnerability give readers a window into Nick's life while also providing a comfort and a hope for their own lives--in the midst of whatever struggle or challenge they may be facing.

The beauty of this book is that it appeals to all people. The anecdotes and truths in his writing, both from experiences in his own life and experiences shared with him through the lenses of people he has known, are incredibly diverse. He addresses issues from self-harm, depression, and suicide attempts to anxiety, addiction, fear of never finding love, and trust issues. He addresses issues from broken families, domestic violence, and bullying to doubts and lack of direction. And he addresses medical conditions and disabilities that, in the past, have been viewed as debilitating. Nick shows people how disabilities aren't taking away from the person; they are giving the person new and different abilities. It's empowering and enlightening for all, regardless of ability.

Not only that, but it's a great reminder that we are loved and treasured by a God who is bigger than any mountain we will face. As the old Veggie Tales song goes, "God is bigger than the boogeyman." We are of value and God will never leave us behind. He will protect us and provide for us, and see us through the pain and the fear.

My recommendation when reading this book is to view it as a challenge. Understand that this book will give you hope and motivation to do something great--that is, something greater than yourself. When Nick Vujicic acknowledged that God wanted to do something big--something meaningful and powerful--through the abilities with which God graced him, he listened. He followed God's lead. He didn't take "no" for an answer. He went where God called and He trusted God for provision along the way. That's something that we don't typically do--regardless of our medical or mental status. We aren't a people of risk-taking when it means that we have to offer a load of faith in order to get a miracle. But God wants to see our faith in action.

After all, we are His people and we are called to do His work, so why aren't we doing it? He gave us each a purpose. Nick stated it perfectly: "Nothing will bring you down faster than living without a purpose or losing track of whatever you are most passionate about: the gift that gives you joy and makes your life meaningful" and "You are custom-made for your purpose, just as I am for mine."

Let's allow God to make us all unstoppable.

If you would like to read chapter one of Unstoppable, please click here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Talitha, cumi

To the little girl who avoids the mirror in the morning but clings to the scale at night…
To the little girl who fears the clothing racks and the dressing rooms because she just can’t find that “right” fit…
To the little girl who cries herself to sleep because she’ll never look like those stars on the cover of CosmoGirl or Teen People…
And to the little girl who still hides in the heart of every grown woman…

Talitha, cumi – little girl, arise.

Little girl, arise.

Rise above the toxicity of the thin ideal; of the idea that there’s only one definition of beauty and that you have to look a certain way - be a certain way - to be beautiful, accepted, or worthy.
You already are beautiful, accepted, and worthy.

Rise above the exhaustion that the thin ideal brings - the physical and emotional draining that comes with always trying to attain an unrealistic, falsified, and photoshopped image of perfection.
Instead, let your energy be consumed by your passions and the things that provide joy and excitement.

Rise above the competition with other girls and the pull toward self-deprecating statements. Rise above the pressure to conform to the standard ways of suppressing the positive and amplifying the negative.
Instead, stand in front of a mirror and remind yourself that you are beautifully and wonderfully made - and you don’t have to fit a mold to be that way. Then, remind the rest of the world. Be confident. Resist conformation and be different simply by loving yourself.

Rise above the tendency to bankrupt your wallet by buying the latest fashion and the newest diet trend and the tendency to bankrupt your mind by buying the lies that society tells you.
Instead, bankrupt others of negativity and fill them with positivity. Fill your body - your whole body - with love and happiness and then let it overflow into others.

You are valuable, you are precious, and you are unique…because you are YOU…and nobody else can be YOU for you. So don’t waste time trying to be someone else’s "you."

I know society tells you that we have to live for other people. We’re taught at a young age that it’s normal to hate our bodies and to always strive for this idol of “perfection,” but this thin ideal is anything but perfect and anything but ideal. When you aim at “gaining” that particular body, you run the risk of losing everything else. So don’t live for other people. Live for yourself and for your God.

Every day, praise the Lord for your differences. Thank Him for the subtle things that make you special, for they also make your beautiful.

And when you struggle and you’re just not sure what to do, just remember one concept: talitha, cumi. Little girl, arise.

Inspired by Mark 5:41 (ESV):
Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”