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Why Oz The Great And Powerful Sucks

Oz the Great and Powerful

(Note: This review has spoilers near the end. I will announce spoilers are coming before I get to them)

On March 8th, Oz the Great and Powerful hit movie theaters. If you’re like me, you’ve been excited for this one since you first heard about it last year. After seeing it last night, I walked away disap­pointed. This morning, after thinking it over, I want to let you all know why I didn’t like it and see if anyone else agrees.

Oz The Great And Powerful

Oz The Great and Powerful follows Oscar Diggs, aka Oz, a clever but selfish circus magician who swindles his crowds with claims of true, powerful magic but when asked to actually help someone, he runs and hides. Oh, and he’s a womanizer who tricks pretty girls into being a part of his act (and falling hard for him) before he tosses them to the curb.

Oz has to run for his life in a hot air balloon after a girl’s husband finds out that Oz wooed her. Thank to the magic of tornadoes, he ends up in The Land of Oz where he’s quickly proclaimed to be the great wizard who will defeat the wicked witch and lead the people into a future of peace and joy.

The Review

I had 3 major issues with this movie. The first two aren’t spoilers, so keep reading if you’re curious. (more…)

Review of Who Do You Think You Are by Mark Driscoll

Who Do You Think You Are?

This review is based on a free book I received as part of the Book­Sneeze review program. For info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ is the latest book by Mark Driscoll. In it, he works through the book of Ephesians using the letter to reveal the true Christian identity. The audience is anyone who struggles with their identity in Christ.

The Good

The infor­ma­tion in this book is solid. He deals with the test well and doesn’t take bible verses out of context. Driscoll’s heart is evident in the many stories he places throughout the book, stories of indi­vid­uals and families destroyed by sin, who have found their identity in Christ.

Also, he doesn’t make the “I follow Christ and every­thing is okay” fallacy. Many of his stories are filled with indi­vid­uals who are satisfied in Christ while still living in pain and misery. It’s a beautiful picture of the suffi­ciency of Christ and an encour­age­ment to all who are strug­gling with identity. Ulti­mately, Driscoll says, even if life sucks it doesn’t change who you are in Christ.

The Bad

There’s not a lot wrong with this book. If I had to find one critique, I’d say the writing style is sloppy. The sentences are written the same way Driscoll likes to talk (something he didn’t do in his other books). This means sometimes stories feel a bit confusing or the wording is jarring. It was sloppy enough for me to be bothered by it, but not bad enough for me to forgo reading it.

Final Thoughts

Who Do You Think You Are? is a great book written by a pastor to a hurting world. It isn’t the deepest theo­log­ical book to come from Driscoll, but where is it written that every­thing he writes has to be Vintage Jesus or Doctrine? I enjoyed this book and I will certainly give it to friends as they grow in the under­standing of their identity in Christ.

4 out of 5.

Review of Wisdom Meets Passion by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza

Wisdom Meets Passion by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza

Wisdom Meets Passion by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza

This review is based on a free book I received as part of the Book­Sneeze review program. For info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

Wisdom Meets Passion is the latest book by world renowned career coach Dan Miller. In Wisdom Meets Passion, Dan and his son Jared come together to explain the differ­ence between gener­a­tion X & Y’s career goals and work ethics and how the wisdom of the older can be partnered with the passion of the younger to create change in the world while earning a profit.

The book is written mostly by Dan, with Jared injecting stories into the various chapters to show how passion has directed his career and his life.

The Good

Dan Miller is famous for good reason — his advice works. He is easily under­stood and his encour­age­ments throughout the book will lead anyone into success in this new work envi­ron­ment. The stories by Jared are inter­esting, and usually are related to the point of the chapter. In addition, Dan Miller and Jared Angaza are inter­esting. They tell good stories, will make you laugh, and show you that work can be different than what your parents expected.

The Bad

This book isn’t necessary. Every­thing in this book is a rehashing of No More Mondays. I was excepting new insights and deeper inter­ac­tion with his son. It’s more like they took No More Mondays, cut out some of the how-to sections and threw in Jared’s stories. A good book with good infor­ma­tion, but not for those who have already read No More Mondays.

The other thing I didn’t really like were Jared’s stories. They were always inter­esting, but rarely enhanced the discus­sions going on in the rest of the chapter. I wish they explained more of the “how” it happened and less of “what” happened.

Final Thoughts

I give this book 3 out of 5. While an inter­esting read, it’s a mostly unnec­es­sary in a Dan Miller library. I wish Jared’s stories were more infor­ma­tive and less descrip­tive. But I still thought the infor­ma­tion Dan Miller gives is sound and it was a great shot in the arm for someone who hopes to live his life in the style Dan and Jared recommend. If you have to choose, I’d suggest picking up No More Mondays. If you don’t, it might be fun to pick up this book, read through it, and then enjoy No More Mondays with Jared’s expe­ri­ence in mind.

Review of Exploring the Unexplained by Trent Butler

Exploring the Unexplained: A Practical Guide to the Peculiar People, Places, and Things in the Bible

Exploring the Unexplained: A Practical Guide to the Peculiar People, Places, and Things in the Bible

This review is based on a free book I recieved as part of the Book­Sneeze review program. For info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

Trent Butler’s Exploring the Unex­plained: A Practical Guide to the Peculiar People, Places, and Things in the Bible is a part of Thomas Nelson’s A to Z series of books which is basically a dictio­nary style look-up for the Bible.

Exploring the Unex­plained says it “answers all your questions about unusual, hard-to-explain, and difficult-to-understand stories in the Bible.”

I first got excited about the book when I read that I would “learn more about people like Enoch, Moses, and the Nephilim”, which are all subjects that interest and confuse me — espe­cially the bit about the Nephilim (One of the Bible’s great mysteries).

The book is written like a dictio­nary where subjects are broken down alpha­bet­i­cally by name. Next to each word is the book, chapter, and verse where the word is found. Under­neath there is a brief expla­na­tion of the word followed by an “issue” that you are asked to consider after you’ve read the explanation.

The Good

The book is easy to use. The first thing I did was flip to the part on the Nephilim and I found it without issue. Also, for new Chris­tians the book, chapter, and verse next to each name is helpful for finding infor­ma­tion on the same subject through multiple books.

The Bad

Most of the expla­na­tions are short and unhelpful. The longer expla­na­tions are for subjects like the Nephilim, but instead of explaining the confusion and discussing different ideas about the Nephilim, he dives right in and says they are “children of humans and angels…”. Really? You know that for sure?

In addition, the “issues” at the end of each expla­na­tion are unhelpful and usually have very little to do with the issues in the text and more to do with random issues loosely connected to a few words in the expla­na­tion. Since I’ve already talked about the Nephilim, I’ll use their issues as an example:

Tradition is filled with fright­ening horror stories of gigantic warriors. Be careful to note the reaction of your children to stories you tell or read, letting the children see the good side of the story rather than the fearful one. Why would the Bible want to scare us?

While that is an issue about “monsters” it isn’t an issue from the text and, honestly, isn’t an issue relating the Nephilim. Most of the issues I read were similar, having little to do with the text and mostly trying to create a family discus­sion. Also, this may just be me, but the answer the author seems to be looking for in “Why would the Bible want to scare us?” is “the Bible wouldn’t want to scare us”, which isn’t true. God scares us all the time. Jesus does too.

Final Thoughts

While I like the idea of this book, it fell short for me. Butler’s expla­na­tions don’t really explain much, and he’s too confident on the ambiguous subjects he explains fully. In addition, the issues aren’t helpful in explaining the text or dealing with real issues that text brings up.

I give this book a 2 out of 5. While seeing all the passages about a subject is helpful, and it’s possible to use this to find parts of the Bible you’ve never dived into before, the expla­na­tions and issues would hinder and confuse a new believer and leave a seasoned believer frustrated.

Review of I Am Second by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett

I Am Second

I got this book for free as part of the Book­Sneeze book review program. This did not effect my review in any way (as you will see). For more info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

I Am Second is a book born out of a website. At the site, famous people tell the story of becoming Christian and giving their lives and their fame to God. There’s every­thing from authors to athletes; football coaches to rock stars and every­thing in between. If you’re famous, Christian, and willing to talk to the I Am Second crew you’re probably on the site.

In the book, 20 of these stories have been inter­preted by Bender and Sterrett in an attempt to spread the site into a new medium. But does it work? Is this a book you should read? (more…)

Nearing Home by Billy Graham

Nearing Home by Billy Graham

Nearing Home by Billy GrahamI got this book for free to review through book­sneeze. It did not affect my review in any way. For more infor­ma­tion on how I do reviews, check out my Disclo­sure Policy

I’ve always liked Billy Graham. He has an authen­ticity about him that I’ve always respected.

At 93, he’s not done sharing himself.

In Nearing Home, Graham writes honestly and openly about getting old. He’s regularly in pain, he’s lost his strength and his wife and closest friends have all passed away. He always thought he’d die around 50 and is shocked by the emotions and expe­ri­ences he never thought he’d see.

Through it all, he sees a lot of good in growing older. Graham has learned there is “nothing new under the sun” and the elderly have priceless knowledge they can pass down to the younger gener­a­tion. He sees retire­ment as an oppor­tu­nity to expand God’s Kingdom without the restraints of a job – even, as for one woman, it means all you can do is pray.

He encour­ages his aged readers to continue striving towards God’s kingdom, to actively pursue the younger gener­a­tions and impart wisdom to them.

It is a great book that I’ll be passing along to my grand­mother when she moves into town. And at a mere 180 pages, I recommend it to anyone going up in years.

If I had to find something negative to say, it’s that a 25-year-old like me had some diffi­culty relating to a 93-year-old Graham. He talks about things I’ve never expe­ri­enced and works through emotions I’ve never dealt with. But even with that limi­ta­tion, reading this book guar­an­tees I’m more prepared for growing older.

Review of Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow

Why Men Hate Going to ChurchI received this book from Thomas Nelson for review purposes. It has not affected the review in any way.

David Murrow’s book Why Men Hate Going to Church is not only provoca­tively titled, it is provoca­tively written.

Murrow breaks the book into three sections that define the problem for men, the problem for the church, and the way the church can bring men back. I’ll talk briefly about each section.

Part 1: Where Are The Men?

This is probably the best section in the book. In 50 pages, Murrow repeat­edly proves why men are leaving the church. He boils it down to a few things: The feels feminine, makes men feel unneeded, and treats Jesus as a boyfriend instead of a leader.

While it feels aggres­sive and over­stated, Murrow makes a fantastic case for himself.

Part 2: Church Culture vs. Man Culture

In part 2, Murrow dives into church history, theology, and gender distinc­tions. He specif­i­cally focuses on how the church became feminized, why it stays that way, and how men feel about it.

The main points of this section are: Churches advertise to women because it is prof­itable, they don’t have male-gifted service oppor­tu­ni­ties, and they use feminine language in the pulpit.

Again, it is difficult to disagree with him. He proves his case really well. As someone who has been in the church his whole life, I have seen these things time and time again.

Part 3: Calling the Church Back to Men

Part 3 is the most contro­ver­sial. Murrow gives practical ways churches can change to bring men into the church.

He calls churches to change the language from family/intimacy language to kingdom/king language. He suggests repainting the walls darker, man friendly, tones. And he suggests taking the emphasis off female gifts and putting it on ways men can serve.

My Thoughts

After reading this book and digesting it awhile I’ve come to the conclu­sions that I highly recommend it.

Why Men Hate Going to Church chal­lenges churches to get men in the door and keep them there. Murrow asks church leaders to swallow their pride and change the way they’ve been doing things.

It is a hard pill to swallow and it means churches need to change their focus, preach more aggres­sively, and change the way it has been done their whole life. But it works.

If you are a church leader, a member of a church, or a person who wants to see men in the church then pick up Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow.

If nothing else, it will force you to think differ­ently.

31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo Review

31 Days To Finding Your Blog Mojo(Sometimes I get free stuff in exchange for a review; this is one of those times. This doesn’t affect my review at all. For more infor­ma­tion on how I do reviews check out the Disclo­sure Policy).

Written by Bryan Allain of KillerTribes.com, 31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo promises to “not only be the funniest book on blogging you’ve ever read, but … help you become a better blogger and reach more people than you ever have before”.

I’m surprised to say, Bryan totally delivers! Not only is the book funny, it has made me a better blogger.

The Break Down

31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo is broken up into 31 days. Each day explains something you need to know for blogging and ends with a “Mojo Action”, which is a way to use what you just learned. Between each day is a short joke.

The Good

(more…)

The Review: Jesus, My Father, the C.I.A., and Me: a memoir…of sorts

Jesus, My Father, The Cia, and Me: a memoir...of sorts by Ian Morgan CronI stand 10 people back in line waiting to speak with a grey haired, blue-eyed, well dressed man. He has a quiet smile that lights up his face as each person in line hands him a book to sign and thanks him for being at The Storyline Confer­ence .

After trading names, he laughs about how difficult it is to come up with something mean­ingful and original to sign in every book. I laugh with him and when I get my book back I open it to see the word “Jump” written on the title page.

He tells me there’s a differ­ence between jumping and falling. And if you’re going off the edge either way, it’s always better to jump. (more…)

The Review: How To Be A Presentation God

How To Be A Presen­ta­tion God by Scott Schwertly sells itself as a book that will teach you how to “build, design, and deliver presen­ta­tions that dominate! But does it deliver? My answer is…below. (I’m not giving my secrets away that easily!) But first I want to say this: I won How To Be A Presen­ta­tion God from Michael Hyatt. I was never asked to review it or to give it a positive review.


1000-Foot View

At 253 pages this isn’t a massive book. Scott has broken it down into 5 sections:

  • the new era of presentations
  • content
  • design
  • deliver
  • engage

Each section deals with a different part of presenting. (more…)

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