Do Your Children Believe // Terence Chatmon

Read the Bible.

Go to church.

Pray.

Some pretty standard answers that are given when asked what we should do to grow in our relationship with God. All are pretty good indicators that we are moving in the right direction and are generally accepted as steps all followers of Jesus should be taking.

In the opening pages of his book Do Your Children Believe?, author Terence Chatmon shares this statistic:

“. . . the hard truth remains that fewer than 10 percent of Christian families ever really engage with one another for the express purpose of encouraging or informing their growing faith. And not 1 percent could show you any kind of written plan that even briefly describes the spiritual direction they’re praying for and working together toward.”

So while we know we should read the Bible and pray, it seems that the majority of families do not practice those things together.  Into that gap of knowing verses doing (especially in the context of the family), Chatmon offers his insights.

Now normally the emotion that is associated with Bible reading and prayer seems to be guilt.  Guilt that we don’t read enough.  Guilt that we don’t pray enough.  Guilt that we aren’t consistent in either arena. Chatmon doesn’t pile onto that feeling of inadequacy.  Instead he shares his journey of how this became a priority in his life, even admitting that for a number of years he was not actively involved in doing what he writes about. He mentions multiple times that he doesn’t have it all figured out nor is he an expert. He confesses that he is not a Biblical scholar, but has in recent years taken seriously the role of leading his family.  From that experience and obvious passion he offers his thoughts.

In the chapters of the book the author offers ideas on identifying each family’s values, crafting a vision and a mission along with other steps to help families achieve a written plan for family faith development.

One of the things I appreciated as I read the book was that while Chatmon offered direction and shared many personal stories, he didn’t give too many specifics on what his family put together.  He didn’t want someone to fall into the trap of simply adopting what his family did.  He stressed the importance of each family identifying their own values, their own mission, their own prayer focus, ultimately making their plan their own.

While he shared some good insights and clear steps, there were a couple of phrases I highlighted that I considered memorable.

Near the end of the book Chatmon was expressing a long view of his family’s faith development plan.  He painted this picture:

“The thought of my kid sitting around a table with their kids, teaching and training them how to sit around with their kids – my great-grandkids – learning and living the ways of the Lord . . . I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

His vision reaches beyond even his own lifetime.  The generational impact could move far beyond his own years on this earth.  A pretty powerful picture.

In the final chapter he concludes the book by underscoring why he is passionate about families developing a written plan:

” . . . my most direct route to fulfilling this enormous calling of mine (and ours) is to live it and share it and instill it within those who are closest to me:  my family. They are the essential starting point where any hope of my being effective, any hope of becoming my very best for the kingdom, must begin.”

Chatmon offers practical tools to help families (especially fathers) to become intentional about a faith development plan and create specific steps to leave a spiritual legacy.

My Teenage Zombie – a review

I have a confession as I begin this post: I’m not really into the zombie thing.  I have not watched a single minute of The Walking Dead.  I don’t watch zombie movies like World War Z, Shaun of the Dead or even Night of the Living Dead.

Probably the closest thing I’ve seen in the zombie genre is a particular episode of Phineas and Ferb that my son likes to watch and, of course, Michael Jackson’s classic music video, Thriller.

So, when I first saw this title, My Teenage Zombie, it didn’t really strike a chord with me.  However, as I read it, I found it to be a great description that Dr. Henderson carries throughout the book and is an image I as a parent could relate to as he spoke about the adolescent years.

This book is not bashing the adolescent years or railing against today’s teenagers.  It is rather a solid resource for parents who either have a teenager living under their roof or, better yet, have children that will be entering adolescence in the future.

In My Teenage Zombie Dr. Henderson addresses all the changes that teens are going through as well as the unique pressures students in our current culture are enduring.  He also offers some great insight to parents from his education and experience about how to understand and then engage with “teen zombies.”

He gives an apt description of what he considers a teen zombie:  “Undead adolescents are directionless, and this lack of direction leads them to focus all their attention on one thing:  themselves.”  As some students go through adolescence they sometimes fit this description and parents are left with the task of addressing their son or daughter in this zombie like state.

In offering some insights to parents, Dr. Henderson talks about these areas to address to resurrect an undead adolescent.  He writes that a teenage zombie lacks these three elements that are necessary to sustain life:

Pulse = direction
Spark = motivation
Fiber = determination

In the book he elaborates on each one both from the perspective of the teen and what he/she is going through, but also from the perspective of parents who could be feeling frustrated, confused and ready to give up.

Dr. Henderson had some good advice to parents and I thought this was especially poignant:  Parents are the stable framework that help a teen grow into a strong & mature adult. Be that stable & predictable framework for your kids.  What a good reminder that our teens need parents who will offer stability, predictability and consistency as they navigate the adolescent years.

The author offers a balance of medical information (I found the chapter that talked about the adolescent brain to be very interesting), real-life examples from his own experience as a psychiatrist, reflections from his own journey through adolescence and Biblical principles that speak to both parents and teens.

My Teenage Zombie is a good resource for parents who want to understand how to address the undead adolescent who might be living in their home and a great tool for families who look forward to navigating the ups and downs of the teen years.

To read more info on the book or to order a copy, click on the image at the top of the post to be directed to the publisher’s website.

Chase the Lion – Mark Batterson

chase-the-lion-mark-batterson-mobile-wallpaper-lion-and-textJust over five years ago I posted a review on Mark Batterson’s In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Last week I finished reading a follow-up to it called Chase the Lion. The newest offering used In a Pit with a Lion as a literary springboard and continued looking at Benaiah as well as several other of David’s Mighty Men written about in the Old Testament.

The byline of Chase the Lion is this: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small. Through the pages of the book Batterson refers to David’s mighty men, followers of Jesus from scripture and history and contemporary Christ followers who live out this Lion Chaser manifesto.

As I was reading the book, I would mark quotes that stood out to me and then dog-eared the page so I could find them later. Upon concluding the book, I saw that I had a number of pages with bent corners. Batterson knows how to turn a phrase and pack a punch in a sentence of two.

On page 70 he had this good reminder for those who are chasing a dream God has given them: “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year or two, but we underestimate what God can accomplish in a decade or two. If you’re discouraged, zoom out. you can’t just dream big; you have to think long.”

Good reminder.

One of the more powerful parts of the book for me personally was near the end when he wrote about the importance of thinking long-term when it comes to the work we are doing in the kingdom of God. Sometimes (or perhaps most of the time) we think about what God is doing for us or for those around us. On page 171 Batterson wrote, “We think that what God does for us is for us, but it’s never just for us. It’s always for the third and fourth generations. We think right here, right now, but God is thinking nations and generations.”

He shared several examples how men and women who lived and served generations ago are still impacting people today. Whether is was planting a church, starting a scholarship, launching a ministry or introducing someone to Jesus, Batterson showed how God used the efforts of previous men and women to impact third and fourth generations.

What a great picture to have in mind as we serve today. To think that the work we are doing now has the potential of impacting or grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren is both humbling and inspiring.

Batterson’s encouragement throughout the book is to continue to Chase the Lion. Whatever God has called to do, our task is to remain faithful and allow Him to take care of the results.

The Comeback

ComebackWe all need a comeback.

In his latest book,Louie Giglio shares several stories, from scripture, from others’ experiences and even his own life, to underline the fact that at some level, everyone needs a comeback. It could be a huge comeback, where huge obstacles are overcome with God’s help. Or, as he states in an early chapter, “it may be a deeper sort of comeback, where Jesus redeems the worst of our circumstances for his glory and our best.”

We all need a comeback.

One of the more powerful parts of the books was when Giglio shared about the comebacks in his life. He shares with some vulnerability a time in his life when he needed a comeback, where he needed God to move in his life and help him overcome a setback. One of the refreshing parts of his personal story was that it wasn’t instantaneous. God didn’t swoop in and deliver him from his struggle with a quick stroke of His brush. It was a process, where God taught him and grew him.

I think at times we want God to come in and, in a moment, solve the problem we are experiencing. While I believe God can do that, it doesn’t seem to be the way He chooses to operate. Giglio’s story shows a dependence on God to move and the process God took him through.

As Giglio shared stories from scripture, I found the chapter on Samson to be so relatable. While Samson had uncommon strength, he displayed the same problems many of us face. He made poor decisions, sometimes more than once. He had areas of weakness where he continued to stumble. While Samson had some pretty remarkable victories, he also had a number of just bad choices. Isn’t that the story of a lot of people? We experience success, but then it’s followed by a bad decision, missed opportunity or some level of failure. What we see in Samson is that despite his poor decisions (where we may be wondering what Samson was thinking when he did what he did), God still uses him. God still offers Samson a comeback in the midst of his missteps and struggles.
The Comeback is also pretty quotable. This was probably one of the more powerful statements in the book: You may not run the exact race you thought you would be running, but God still has a race for you.

That’s a good description of the message of the book. Whatever our race might look like or where we are on the journey, we all need a comeback and God is working for our best and for His glory.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy – the book

I remember sitting in my basement flipping channels and came across the movie, “Rudy.” I had heard of the movie, knew the basic story behind it, but had never watched it before. I think it was a Saturday afternoon and I didn’t have anything else going on. I decided to watch it…and loved it. Seeing Rudy get in the game after all the practice and effort and dedication was pretty cool. Then, when he sacks the quarterback and gets carried off the field, you are pumped up and ready to go do something great.

I think one of the coolest parts of the movie is when some of his teammates start the chant: “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.” It picks up steam on the sidelines and then people in the stands join in. “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.” Pretty exciting stuff.

Being a fan of the movie (although it was probably out for 8+ years before I saw it), I was intrigued when I saw Rudy wrote a book about his story. I thought if it was nearly as exciting as the movie, it would be worth reading.

Rudy, My Story is not just the story of how he played for Notre Dame, but a deeper look into what led him to Notre Dame, where that desire came from and the obstacles he had to overcome. The pages of the book offer much more time to provide details of upbringing, struggles in school, family dynamics and all that went into who Rudy was leading up to his days at Notre Dame.

Part of the book shares what Rudy did after his 27 seconds of Notre Dame fame and the trials he endured trying to get his story made into a movie. That in itself was a time of perseverance and determination to see that dream become a reality.

Rudy is very open and honest in this account, sharing not only the difficulties he had growing up, but also after making it onto the big screen. He shares his successes and failures in order to help others work to achieve their dreams.

If you saw the movie, you will want to read the book. If you like the underdog – or even feel like one yourself – this book is for you.

**I received this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my review.

Win a Book By Rating Review

I’ve posted before about checking out my reviews on the Blogging For Books website.  They have added a new feature – when you rate a review, you are entered in a drawing to win a free book.  Naturally it would be one of the books from their selection of books, which of course have been reviewed by a blogger (like me).  A rating does require you to enter your email address, but that also allows them to contact you if you win!

If you are interested in offering a rating on one of my reviews and thus have a chance to win a free book, you can click here.

90 Days – a Refreshing Read

There are many different devotional books on the market.  This one truly was a refreshing read.  As I read each day I found something that seemed to jump off the page, either a statement made by the author or the scripture that was chosen for that day….sometimes both.

Alcorn’s format was fairly simple and straightforward.  He chose a scripture to start each reading, followed by his own thoughts, experiences or a story from someone’s else journey and then concluded it with a brief, but meaningful prayer.

If you are one who has either grown up in the church or been a part of a church for an extended period of time, you probably have learned the art of the “giving the church answer.”  Alcorn faces some of the difficulties of life in a real way and allows the scripture to speak to that experience.  Where some devotionals may gloss over some of life’s obstacles, the author of 90 Days faces them with insight from God’s Word.

If you are looking for a devotional tool that will strive to speak to the journey of following God and seeing His goodness in even the ugliness of life, this book would be a good pick.

For more information on this book and to read an excerpt, check out this link.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)

If you would like to offer a rating on my review, please visit my review page.