Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review of Mugabe and the White African by Ben Freeth

Mugabe and the White African
By Ben Freeth
ISBN 978-0-7459-5549-9
Published by Lion
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Recently, a documentary called Mugabe and the White African began to garner awards across the globe. Now, the companion book written by the “White African” in the documentary named Ben Freeth has hit the presses.

Mugabe and the White African recounts the compelling story of one man’s struggle to maintain his land and way of life in the face of great adversity. In Zimbabwe, where this book was written, land owned by white persons was being taken from whites and given to blacks in an attempt to reverse the influence of colonialism. The leader of this movement was a man named Robert Mugabe, who eventually became President of Zimbabwe, and remains in that position to this day. This unlawful seizure of land and property was often violent. Ben Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Campbell have stood boldly against this policy that they believe to be unjust, and in the process have also managed to establish a strong, loving Christian witness with many around them.


As one reads this story it is easy to notice several things. First, the Campbell/Freeth clan has truly been treated unfairly. Their struggle is epic, and Freeth’s command of the details makes it clear he has been careful to stick closely to the facts of the situation he is in as best as he knows it. Your heart breaks for the family. They are simply seeking to make a living and build a business in a country they have always called their home.

Although the story is compelling, the actual text of Mugabe and the White African is poorly written. Often the details of legislation are overly explained, bogging down the reader. Also, details of what happened to Ben and his family are given interpretation by Mr. Freeth in an awkward, stilted, and self-promoting kind of way. In other words, there were times I felt like this text would be a better political tract than an autobiography that needed to be marketed.

Also, one must be warned, as this story makes it to an American audience, not to make straight line comparisons between the racial and political tensions in Zimbabwe to those we experience in the United States of America. Some may try to compare the plight of the whites in Zimbabwe to minorities in America. This does not work because of the history of each of the nations. Blacks were forced to America in slave ships. Whites in Zimbabwe colonialized Africa. Also, others may want to compare the more progressive policies to address social inequities of our African-American President with this African leader. This is an unfair as well. Mugabe is a totalitarian dictator. President Obama is our elected leader. Mugabe has killed thousands of innocents to accomplish his goals of power and control over a nation. Our president has done nothing of the sort.

Nevertheless, despite the textual weaknesses of the writing style of Mugabe and the White African, this is really a story that has been forgotten by our media and the church, and a story we need to hear. It helps to remind us that evil and bigotry lurks everywhere, and wherever we see it, we as Christians need to fight against it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review of Route 66 by Krish Kandiah

Route 66
By Krish Kandiah
ISBN 978-0-85721-018-0
Published by Kregel
Reviewed by Clint Walker

For years, I have been eager to find a strong curriculum that gives an overview of Scripture in a way that is both thorough and easy to understand for everyday people sitting in the pew. Krish Kandiah has put together just such a book, newly released with Kregel Publishing, and I could not be more pleased.

Route 66 is a neat little book. It serves as both a curriculum piece, and as a book someone can read as a regular book. It covers 8 major genres of Scripture, clearly going over the basic distinctive characteristics of each type of writing. Then, at the end of each chapter, there is both a small group study and a set of lessons to be engaged on a personal level. The idea is that each person can read the text, and go through the personal studies during the week, and then join together to discuss what they have learned and grow even more with the small group study once a week.

The book is full of charts, side notes, and helpful little tidbits that are fun to read as you study. There are also a few appendices that are also helpful to guide people in further study. I am impressed with the tremendous amount of useful tools that this relatively small book has to offer.

As a matter of fact, I am thinking about presenting this to my Sunday School class as a study to kick off our year together. I highly recommend everyone who wants to have a tool to help people they lead have a bigger picture of what is going on in the Bible, or who wants that overview themselves to grab this book quickly. It WILL deepen your knowledge of the Word, and how to read it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review of A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester

By Tim Chester
ISBN 978-1-4335-2136-2
Published by Crossway
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I have been on a diet lately. In discussions about food and diet, two opinions predominate. One is that the world would be healthier and a better place to eat in if people gave less thought to food, and simply saw food as fuel to keep our body going. The other side of the discussion says that what we need in this world is people who make their eating choices more intentionally, thoughtfully, and wisely. According to this second group, one achieves weight loss by thinking more about food and what and how they eat.

Related to this discussion are the social implications of how, when, where and what we eat. For example, In his book Eating Animals, progressive activist Jonathan Foer argues for veganism as an act of social justice. In Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger Ronald Sider argues that American beef production and consumption may be greedy in light of global poverty. In his new book A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester argues that there are spiritual implications related to how we eat.

Chester focuses in on the gospel of Luke and six specific passages where Jesus either was at a meal or discussing something relating to a meal. He argues that how Jesus ate his meals, with whom he at his meals, and the lessons that he taught at those meals demonstrates key theological concerns of his ministry. Furthermore, A Meal with Jesus argues that as we put some of Jesus’ lessons around the table into practice with our table habits, we will be better disciples and better witnesses to the gospel of Jesus.

The introduction to this book is better than most introductions. Any reader would be wise not to skip over it. In it the author considers the statement by Jesus that “the Son of Man came eating and drinking”, and discusses the centrality of the meal to the gospel message.

The individual chapters will be wonderful not only for personal edification, but for a Bible study group or even as the basis for a sermon series. Each chapter examines one passage more in depth, and shares more about how what happens in that passage ties into the expressed mission of Christ on earth. I plan on using this book at one point for sermons related to the Lord’s Supper.

I encourage anyone who struggles with eating, loves to eat, or is curious about how food consumption relates to the gospel to read this book. What the reader will discover is that the meal is about far more than putting food in one’s mouth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review of PUJOLS by Lamb and Ellsworth

By Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth
ISBN 978-1-59555-224-2
Published by Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I grew up reading sports biographies. I still remember details about Brian Bozworth and Reggie Jackson through the autobiographies they wrote. I also learned a lot about players that I never had a chance to watch play on television and in person through books. The nice thing about reading a sports biography is that you get to understand the story behind the story about what drove athletes to greatness, and what makes them tick today. PUJOLS: MORE THAN THE GAME draws us into the life and the career of Albert Pujols. What we discover is an athlete of fierce determination on the field, and a strong Christian faith that he lives both on the field and off the field.

I have enjoyed this biography, which tracks Albert Pujols from early days in the Dominican Republic, his adolescent years in Kansas City, and throughout his career to the present day. It was informative, and made me more of a fan of “The Machine”.

This book, however, may not be for everyone. The authors are very frank about Pujols’ Christian faith, and put that front and center when they communicate about this great baseball player. They believe that Albert Pujols’ deep Christian faith is foundational to his success on and off the field, and this is a big part of the reason why Lamb and Ellsworth write this book. To me, the sometimes polemical book is encouraging and inspiring. You will have to decide if this works for you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Great Preaching Battle: Manuscript vs. Outline

I have been, for most of my 17 years of preaching, a manuscript preacher. I have chosen this route in the past for a multitude of reasons. First, I am not good at "ad-libbing". When I speak off the cuff I feel I am unclear. I feel that I do not speak well when I don't have my manuscript. I use fillers like "umm" or "rrr" a lot when I do not have a script to refer to. Also, I like to be precise in what I am saying. Off and on for years, people have asked me what I said. When I have a manuscript I can refer back to it. If there is controversy, there is a clear source to return to. Also, most great speeches were done by manuscript. Our current president is well-spoken, and he almost always has a teleprompter with a script uploaded to it.

This year I set a few goals to stretch my preaching skills, and to move me out of my comfort zone. One was choosing to do a set number of sermons with a one page outline. Two of the Sundays I have used this outline have been this Sunday and the Sunday before.

Here are a few things that I noticed:

1. The sermon takes less time to prepare.
2. The one-page part of the format pushes me to focus my thinking more. This allows me greater clarity in what I am saying. The sermons are easier to digest for the most part.
3. I am more free to move, interact, gesture, and make better eye contact.
4. My sermons take about the same amount of time

1. I feel less confident and more vulnerable
2. I think I use less "illustrative" content with this style of preaching
3. I do use more "fillers"--and I repeat key points over and over--maybe too much

Some have commented favorably on my recent sermons. Most have no comment. My wife likes the outline sermons better because they are more conversational. I think I will, most likely, blend styles in the future.

Which form of speaking notes do you use most often. Which do you prefer? Why?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review of Don't Check Your Brains At the Door

By Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler
ISBN 978-0-8499-3234-2
Published by Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Josh McDowell has been working hard to challenge teenagers and young adults to be fully committed to Christ, and intellectually grounded in their Christian faith. Many of his books handle apologetics in depth, or otherwise teach believers to hold on to uniqueness of their faith. DON’T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR is not that much different. As a matter of fact, this book is a reprint from work the two authors did together nineteen years ago. The text is repackaged and reworked for a new generation of teens that are more adrift in a relativistic culture than they have ever been. It will be a valuable gift to give to intellectually curious teens, or even for creative Sunday School teachers to use with their teenage classes.

Each chapter in the book addresses a specific myth about God, Christianity, or the Bible that a reader or their friends may hold. In two to three pages, Hostetler and McDowell correct that myth, and then give the readers baby steps in following through with what they have learned through Bible Study and/or journaling.

I like the witty names for each chapter. I also think the short, quick hit format is very appropriate for teens who read less and less than the teens that came before them. I would recommend middle school kids and high school students use this book for a devotional, especially if they are curious about the world and/or struggle with doubt.

DON’T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR may be a reprint, but it contains information that is just as important to understand today as it was twenty years ago. With its new packaging and set-up, it should make a difference in people’s lives all over again in this generation.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mamma Maggie Gorban on Silence and Spirituality

When one has nothing, God is everything

In silence you leave the many to be with the one

To be in silence is to be fully inside your own self

Silence your body to listen to your words;
Silence your words to listen to your thoughts;
Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart
Silence your heart to listen to your spirit
Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit.

Read more about her work and ministry HERE

Quotes from Global Leadership Summit: Steven Furtick

I don't believe God has called me to survive this world, but to change it.

How do you get from inspiration to implementation? THE CHALLENGE

If your vision is not intimidating to you, it is probably insulting to God

We tend to compare our behind the scenes faith and life to everyone else's highlight reel.

Life can beat the audacity out of you

Notes and Quotes from Global Leadership Summit: Les Schlesinger

Who he is:

  • Harvard Business Professor

  • President of Babson College--#1 Entreprenurial School in the World

  • Author of 10 books, including ACTION TRUMPHS EVERYTHING

  • Quotes:

  • "Failure does not mean game over, failure means try again WITH EXPERIENCE"

  • "Believe in the future by creating it first"

  • "If you cannot predict the future, create it"

  • "Treating an uncertain world as if it were predictable only gets you into trouble"

  • "You cannot get THERE, without being clear what is unacceptable about HERE"

  • "Stop worrying about what you want to do, and start worrying about what you want to do NEXT"

  • "Action trumphs everything because it gets you more times at bat"

  • Notes:

    Method for innovation/entreprenurial leadership

    1. Know what you want

    2. Stop obscessing about what you can't do

    3. ACT

    4. Take steps based on your means and what you can afford

    5. Focus on baby steps and small wins

    6. Bring others with you and remain flexible

    7. Repeat process

    Tuesday, August 09, 2011

    Battle of Bulge: Before and After

    Here is a helpful set of pictures of last year at this time verses this year at this time with my weight loss. Long way to go, but perhaps there is a noticable difference. Click to enlarge.

    Posted by Picasa

    Monday, August 08, 2011

    Bubba's Birthday List

    If you are having a hard time deciding whtat to get me for my birthday......

    Here are some ideas

    Amazon gift card
    IPOD plug in to play music in car
    Oregon Ducks Hoodie
    Oregon Ducks flag
    Oregon Ducks t-shirt
    Casual Male gift card
    Seahawks t-shirt
    hangover babywear tshirt
    hawaiian shirt
    seat covers for the van
    Casual male pocket ts
    sleeveless tshirts in white and black

    will add more later

    Saturday, August 06, 2011

    Keystone Beer and Bluegrass Festivals--Beer Reviews

    Unfortunately, I cannot remember all the beer I had where. I had a few more reds than I could find online, and some of the beers that the companies served were not on their regular sales list.

    I learned a lot about beer and the kinds of beers that I like. With a few exceptions I discovered I like Hefeweizen better than a Pilsner. I also tend to gravitate toward maltier beers as opposed to hoppier ones. I thought I would not like stouts, but I had at least 3 samples of stouts and liked them all. I liked the wheat beers a lot. I like a smooth beer, more than a bitter beer.

    I tend to like red beers, ambers, wheats. I hated IPAs, ESBs, and the like. I enjoyed the earthier stouts, and I did not think I would like them. And there were some beers that were just a little to bland for me. The biggest surprise for me were the chili beers, and I liked them A LOT. I like most mexican style beers. Also like the fruitier beer mixes, even though that may lose me respect with more macho beer drinkers.

    AC Golden Brewing Company—Handcrafted Amber Lager. All elements from Colorado. Decent but not spectacular
    Dillon Dam Brewery-- I had the pilsner. Did not like it very much
    Durango Brewing Company--I went back twice for the blueberry wheat ale. It was wonderful!
    Pug Ryans-- I had a Helles Bock beer and loved it!
    Back Country Brewery --I had the Wheeler Wheat and it was quite tasty
    Grand Teton Brewing Co.--I had the Sweetgrass APA. Good stuff.
    Tall Grass
    --I had an IPA from Tall Grass and I hated it. I am learning I don't like Tall Grass
    Crazy Mountain --I had a stout and it was better than average.
    TommyKnocker Brewery--I had a Whacker Wheat. It was a nice smooth beer.
    Oskar Blues Brewery--I had a pilsner from this fine brewery. And they gave out lots of stickers and toys!
    San Luis Valley Brewing CO--I had a scenic rail pale ale and it was delicious. My wife had a kiwi based beer and it was even better. Best beer company in my opinion.
    New Belgium --I had the sunshine wheat here. Good, smooth, and basic beer. Nothing spectacular.
    Breckenridge Brewery --Agave Wheat Beer here. Yummy stuff.
    Palisade Brewery--I drank the Dirty Hippie Beer. It was good, but not great.
    Odell Brewing--I had an IPA here. Didn't like it. Thinking I don't like IPAs.
    Wynkoop Brewery--Perhaps the best beer of the day was my last. I LOVED the chilie beerthey offered.
    Grand Lake Brewing -- This stop had a Milk Stout. Loved it.
    Great Divide Brewing -- I had a rice ale here. It was different but yummy.
    Del Norte--I sampled bothe the Manana and Orale Mexican style beers. Good stuff.
    Bristol Brewing
    Boulder Brewing—I had a wicked red beer at Boulder Brewing. It was excellent.
    Twisted Pine Brewing Co.—I had Billy’s Chilis Beer. It was quite good

    What beers are your favorite? Why?

    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    Book Review of Safe From the Past by Patricia Miller Mauro

    Safe from the Past Written by Patricia Miller Mauro
    Published by The P3 Press.
    Reviewed by Patricia Walker
    ISBN 978-1933651842

    This is the author’s own story of growing up under difficult and stressful circumstances that never seem to end. Yet she finds her strength in faith and determination to overcome many difficult circumstances despite roadblocks. Through her faith in God and with the help of friends she is able to change her life.
    This story is a good example of what people can accomplish even under the most difficult of circumstances. After her parents’ divorce her mother struggled with providing even the basic needs for the author and her sister. The girls were often left alone in a home without heat or lights. Her mother tells them that their father no longer cares about them. Daily life was a battle for all of them.

    After her mother remarries, life seems easier at first, but soon becomes even worse for the girls than before. Both adults start drinking heavily and become physically and mentally abusive to each other and the girls. Throughout this time, Patricia’s mother kept telling her to go to school so that she could have a better life. Finally Patricia is sent off to find her own way through school…with only enough money to pay for the first term and with the hurtful warning from her stepfather to not come back home. She is in a strange place and on her own.

    This is an easy book to read and I enjoyed it. There were some repetitive phrases such as, “…huddling around a space heater for warmth in the winter with blankets that hung at every doorframe to trap the lukewarm air that it provided.” But for the most part it was a good story. Patricia’s life could have led her to repeat what she knew, but is a good example to others that you can change direction if you have faith and determination.

    (This book was provided to me by Litfuse publicity in exchange for an honest review)

    Book Review of Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

    Larkspur Cove
    Written by Lisa Wingate
    Published by Bethany House
    ISBN 978-0-7642-0821-8
    Reviewed by Patricia Walker

    This is an enjoyable book which may seem like a typical romance at first. But it surprises you with a mystery that becomes dangerous and suspenseful in the story. The main character, Andrea has a lot to deal with and since her faith was destroyed she is trying to do it all on her own.

    Andrea has just moved to Moses Lake after a humiliating, life-changing divorce. Her faith is shattered, her new job is a struggle, her parents annoy and criticize her and her teenage son gives her attitude. She doesn’t think things could be much worse until the lake Game Warden brings home her son who was caught in the wrong place with the wrong crowd.

    The Game Warden is also there to escape his past. But the story puts the two together as they try to solve the mystery of a little girl who appears to be abandoned to an unlikely person. The mystery expands to a suspenseful conclusion as both characters realize that they need to reclaim their faith and forgive themselves.

    Larkspur Cove is a great story and I will be looking for more books to read by Lisa Wingate.

    This book is reviewed by my mother Patricia Walker, and given by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review

    Wednesday, August 03, 2011

    Further Reflections on Got Style?: Assesment Questionairre

    The final two chapters of Got Style? Are directed toward walking people through a questionairre that will label them with an evangelism style, which they then in turn can begin to implement.

    These two chapters are very helpful. Many evangelism tests/assesments tend to charge the reader a little extra money somewhere. Johnson includes the assesment, in its entirety, right in his book and encourages each reader to use it.

    Other evangelism tests are long on questions, and short on how you evaluate and understand the assesment you just have taken. Got Style?'s explanation of the assesment and how to interpret it is thorough.

    Make sure you do not miss this section of this book. It might be the most important of the whole text.

    Book Review of Words Made Fresh by Larry Woiwode

    By Larry Woiwode
    ISBN 978-1-4335-2740=1
    Published by Crossway
    Reviewed by Clint Walker

    Once in a while, when you spend a lot of time out of the suburbs, you happen to drop into a restaurant that you only eat at because you are eager to discover something novel, or because it is your only visible option and you are hungry. And whether it is a small Polish diner in the inner city, or a greasy hamburger joint on the edge of logger country, you discover that in your desire for mere sustenance you have stumbled on some sort of culinary perfection.

    Stumbling onto WORDS MADE FRESH was just such a surprise. Given to me by Crossway Books via LibraryThing in exchange for a free review, I was not expecting what I received. Crossway Books generally publishes books designed to elucidate basic Christian teachings. And Larry Woiwode was an author I had never heard of before. However, as I started reading, I discovered a highly intellectual, thoughtful read about how certain authors and issues in academic and literary culture speak to a thinking Christian faith.

    The first few chapters ground the author of this collection of essays in the Western rural landscape of North Dakota. Well travelled and full of insight, Woiwode shares personal reflections from his experience as well as deft analysis of a diverse collection of authors such as John Updike, John Gardner, Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, and Wendell Berry.

    I especially enjoyed WORDS MADE FRESH’s discussion of rural culture, Western culture and the relationship and the challenges in that culture to living out one’s faith authentically in that setting. My favorite chapter in the book, though, was the stirring argument that Woiwode makes in his essay “Deconstructing God”. Essentially, in this text, Woiwode argues for the inclusion of non-sectarian religious education in public schools, and in a return of schools in many ways to the local community and culture from whence it has sprung.

    I would recommend this book for anyone who loves literature and the Lord, or for anyone who loves to take time to consider the world of ideas that literature of all kinds leads us to be curious about.

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