Tag Archives: Multnomah Publishers

Book Review: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

This is one of those rare books that has an absolutely ridiculous sounding name but is actually very good to read.  In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is all about seeing your daily struggles as God-ordained opportunities to mature your own faith and grow His kingdom.  The title is a reference to the Biblical character Benaiah, who is found in II Samuel 23:20-21.  Benaiah (for those of us who have never heard of him) was a man who literally killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day – hence the name of the book.

Batterson introduces his thesis by sharing the story of Benaiah and examining it in some detail.  Then he sets out seven skills needed to properly view obstacles as God-ordained opportunities to thrive, spending a chapter examining each one: Overcoming adversity, Unlearning fears, embracing uncertainty, calculating risks, seizing opportunities, defying odds, and looking foolish.  The irony of reading this book for me is that I’ve got a couple of challenges I’m facing now in my jobs, and just last week (before I even picked up the book!) I was sharing with Melissa that while the challenges seem to be great in many ways I also feel that God has placed these in my path for a specific reason.  In short, I feel they are God-ordained opportunities for me to guide and help others while at the same time growing in my own faith.

The only complaint I had about the book is that at times I felt like I was re-reading Soulprint because there were some sections that seemed as if they were verbatim from his previous book (which I reviewed).  Batterson’s style is easy to read and enjoyable yet at the same time he raises some great points which require careful and deep consideration.  I’m going to recommend reading this book if you need help seeing your every-day circumstances as God-ordained opportunities to grow in Him, giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

One disclaimer, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but am not required to post a complimentary review in exchange for it.


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Book Review: Awakening by Stovall Weems

Okay, somehow when I ordered this book I missed that it was on fasting.  Ooops!  The book is titled Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom is subtitled 21 Days to Revolutionize Your Relationship with God.    The book is a short and quick read (about only 150 pages for the book itself, then it follows with 21 daily devotionals), but definitely worth the time.

Weems puts a lot of time into developing what he terms the “awakening experience” and laying the groundwork for the need for a 21 day fast.  He also does an excellent job – perhaps the best I’ve read yet (and I’ve read a lot) – on the difference between fasting under the Old Covenant in the OT and the New Covenant in the NT.  His final conclusion is spot on: we fast not to get something from God but to draw closer to Him, and a reminder that God is a filler, not a forcer, but in order for God to fill something we need to first create a void which needs to be filled.

One of the highlights of the book is that each chapter (there are only 12) ends with “An Awakening Story”, or a personal testimony from someone who has undertaken the 21 day fast and grown as a result of it.  Some of the stories were the predictable, miraculous ones one would expect, but others were more down-to-earth.  But all were a reminder that God does work in peoples’ lives in miraculous ways.  The only point of contention I might have with Weems is the huge emphasis he places in the book on the importance of feelings in our walk with God.  Too often feeling are deceiving, and I got the impression at several times that it would be easy to mis-interpret or mis-understand what Weems is saying about following our feelings to justify getting off-track.  But this is a minor issue, and, when viewed through what he says in the rest of the book regarding following the Word of God and setting up boundaries, I believe it would be a gross misrepresentation to twist his emphasis on feelings to justify sin.

One area I wish he would have spent more time in would be when he actually defines and describes beginning a fast.  Weems does a fantastic job for the first 124 pages of establishing the need for prayer, fasting, and Bible study, but then devotes only 20 pages to actually describing the 21 day fast in any detail and only 7 pages actually going into detail about types of fasts and actually deciding how to fast.  Over all, I’ll give this book 4/5 stars.

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One disclaimer, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but am not required to post a complimentary review in exchange for it.

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Under the Overpass by Mike Yankosi

Under the Overpass is the story of two college guys who voluntarily decide to live on the streets as homeless men for five months.  They spend between 3-4 weeks each in six different cities so they can experience what it is like to be homeless: Denver, Washington, DC., Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego.  Please note that this review is for the “Updated and Expanded Edition” published in 2010, not the original book published in 2005.

The book itself is an enjoyable read and offers what I can only assume to be an accurate portrayal of life on the streets.  My biggest complaint is that the book was edited to keep out “common street lingo” (as the “Note to the Reader” refers to it).  The authors write, “Vulgarities and crude insults become part of everyday conversation, even between friends.  But out of respect for our readers and the standards of this publisher, this element of street life is not present in the pages you’re about to read.”  My question is, “Why not?”  I’m not suggesting that they litter the book with F-bombs and other inappropriate language, but why shy away from the truth?  There could certainly be ways to use blanks or abbreviations if they wanted to stay away from the actual words.  It’s like trying to act out the story of Jesus but never assigning someone to play Judas.  Sometimes life is ugly and we do an injustice when we display it any other way.

Yankoski does make some great points throughout the book which should make the reader seriously reflect and contemplate how they treat others who are made in the image of Christ.  Let me share a few of my favorite quotes:

“If we are the body of Christ – and Christ came not for the healthy by the sick – we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken.” (p. 36)

“[O]ur good intentions and sound theology are wasted if those we minister to don’t feel that we care about their immediate concerns.” (p. 37)

“Love can’t cover wrongs if we let frustrations and failures keep us apart.” (p. 161)

“The bottom line is that real love always shows itself in action.  Nothing happens or changes in this world unless, by faith, we actually do something.” (p. 213-4)

I particularly appreciated Yankosi’s honesty as he reflected on his own struggles in what he experienced during his time on the streets, particularly his realization that he “wanted to live in plenty but remember the sharp lessons of living in want.” (p. 209)

Overall, I’ll give the book 4 out of 5 stars.  Definitely worth the read.

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I received this book free from Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Non-Fiction

Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny by Mark Batterson

Cross posted on I Respond to Jesus

Soul Print is supposed to be a book about discovering your unique identity. Mark Batterson follows major events in the life of King David to demonstrate how God works through circumstances to mold and model us into the people he wants us to be. He opens his book with a simple yet profound statement, “There has never been and never will be anyone else like you. But this isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to God who created you.”

By using major life occurances in the life of King David (the defeat over Goliath, the encounter with King Saul in the cave, his affair with Bathsheba, etc), Batterson sets out an example of how we can view situations in our own lives to allow God to work in us. He makes some assumptions about David that, while conceivable, are not necessarily Biblical, but there isn’t anything really wrong with that accept to remember while you read it that it is an assumption he makes which may or may not be correct.

As a church music director I found quite a bit of insight that can be applied to how I lead my congregation in worship in Chapter IV (Alter Ego), but that’s only because I read it through the lens of a worship leader. Batterson’s message in that chapter is for everyone – in fact, it is specifically for the lay worshiper. His insights will definitely show up in my writing over the next couple of months on worship (found at I Respond to Jesus and Grace Notes).

One of the key components of the book that will make it applicable is to take the time to work through the reflection questions at the end of the book.  The contents of the book have the potential to impact and change your life if you take the time to work through the refection questions at the end of the book instead of merely reading through it.

Over all I’ll give this book 3.5 out of five stars.

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One disclaimer, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but am not required to post a complimentary review in exchange for it.


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Radical by David Platt

Radical by David Platt is one of the few books I would consider “life changing” and is definitely in the top 10 – if not top 5 – most influential books I have ever read.  Dr. Platt challenged me in many ways, more than I can include in a brief review here, but the one thing I have been constantly reminded of and had a renewed understanding and appreciation of is the grace of God in my life today.  And as I reflect further on the grace God has shown me individually I am more motivated to respond to Him in a lifestyle that shares his love with those around me.  I am more convinced than ever that I need to do a better – meaning more intentional – job of sharing Jesus with people I come in contact with every day; and I also need to be prepared to share Christ with those outside my own little circle of influence.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone who is serious about their faith, but I would caution you that you may walk away convinced you need to dramatically (ie, Radically) change your attitude and actions.  Dr. Platt bases everything in the book soundly on scripture and shares very moving and personal testimonies throughout the book that serve to both challenge and convict readers to live out the life God has called them to live.  I remember specifically, over 10 years ago, sitting on a couch several months after the death of my younger, teenage sister.  I was angry with God and couldn’t understand why he had allowed her to die.  He very directly spoke to me and said, “Tom, it is time for you to either live what you say you believe, or change what you believe to match how you live.”  That was a turning point in my life that radically altered my faith and trust in Him – for the better.  This book is now serving that same purpose in my life today.

You can download a free sample of chapter one by clicking here.

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One disclaimer, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but am not required to post a complimentary review in exchange for it.  Even if I had not received it for free it would have been worth paying twice what it cost.

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