Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#struggles by Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel has delivered an eye-opening, culturally relevant book for this generation.  I too have a love-hate relationship with technology.  Sure, in some ways technology makes our lives easier.  But does it also come with a cost?  This book reveals the ways that our "devices" are influencing our culture.  Its goal is not to condemn social media and technology, but to help us view and use them in healthy ways.

Like many of his previous books, Craig Groeschel writes in an easy-to-read manner full of stories, humor, and biblical truth.  He focuses on 8 biblical values and how they are affected by social media.  Here's a few things to think about...

1. Contentment - How much easier is it for us to envy and compare ourselves with others?
2. Intimacy - Is our online relationships taking the place of real friendships?
3. Authenticity - Do we crave affirmation from others in the form of "likes"and comments?
4. Compassion - Are we being desensitized to others pain and failing to love others well?
5. Integrity - Are temptations more easily accessed and kept secret?
6. Encouragement - Do we post things online that we would never say face-to-face?
7. Worship - Could our phones be becoming idols?
8. Rest - Is having a distraction always at our fingertips robbing us of rest?

I urge you to read this book and delve more into these topics.  The key lies in finding balance.  It was said that the "fear of missing out" is one thing that keeps us addicted to our devices.  If you find that to be true, check out this quote: "Instead of the Fear of Missing Out online, what you really should be afraid of is missing out on the people right in front of you.  You may be missing out on your children growing up.  You may be missing out on enjoying an intimate marriage.  You may be missing out on deep friendships filled with meaning.  Is your fear that you're going to miss out on something causing you to miss out on what matters most?"

Appendix 1 at the back of the book gives us "Ten Commandments of Using Social Media to Grow Your Faith and Share God's Love".  The list shows how we can use social media in healthy and uplifting ways.  Appendix 2 suggests many safeguards against temptations/inappropriate content that can be downloaded on your computer and/or phone.

If you use social media on any level, I suggest reading this book and evaluating if changes need to be made.  Even if you don't struggle deeply with these issues, I'm sure you know someone who does.  It's the world we find ourselves in.  This book will open your eyes to these struggles and enable you to take back control.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

No Fear by Tony Perkins

Real stories of a courageous new generation standing for truth.  This is what drew me in.  I wanted to hear stories that would instill hope and courage in the younger generation, inspiring us all to stand up for what's right. 

The selection of stories was not quite what I had expected.  They mostly revolve around people risking ridicule, employment, or even jail time to take a stand against laws/expectations that restrict religious freedom.  These people courageously stand firm in their beliefs and do so in a peaceful manner.  I was just hoping to read some stories about people radically loving others, with less focus on legal matters. 

I like the way the book is set-up.  Each chapter contains a story about an individual, giving just enough background information and detail to explain the situation.  That is then followed by an account of a Biblical figure who was in a similar situation.  The author writes in an engaging way that is easy to understand.  Each chapter closes with a few questions for further thought and/or discussion.

Instead of simply telling these stories, I felt that the author interjected his own opinion frequently - and sometimes in poor taste.  For example, when explaining about a public gathering that some individuals had planned to repent and pray for our nation, he writes "less than 25 percent of Charlotte's churches participated - some of the megachurch pastors apparently felt that joining in might hurt their book sales."  Really?  I sense some bitterness there.  I sometimes got the feeling that the author was trying to push his own agenda rather than simply reporting the facts.

No Fear does tell stories that are worth being heard.  It links them to biblical accounts and helps us to see that there are different challenges in all generations - but that we can all stand up for truth when God asks us to.  These recent and ancient examples can inspire us to act with courage.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.