Category Archives: Book Review

“Authority in Prayer”

dutchI just got through reading Dutch Sheets, “Authority in Prayer.”  It was one of those books that is difficult to put down once you start.  The subtitle is, “Praying with Power and Purpose,” which is really captures the whole idea behind the book.

Dutch opened my eyes to the incredible authority we have in prayer.   Everything he teaches is backed up with Scripture and illustrated through his own personal experience.  I liked the book so much that I went to his website to order the mp3 teaching which was just four dollars. The link for the mp3 is:   The mp3 teaching is not nearly as thorough as the book and it touches more on interceding for our government.

The book helped me to realize the authority that Jesus wants me to bring into every situation.  My purpose is to use every opportunity to bring Jesus’ authority into every situation..  We are His representatives (ambassadors) and prayer is one of the main tools God has given us to bring about His will in a fallen world.

I love the fact that Dutch Sheets is so REAL when he writes about prayer.  He doesn’t pretend to be the expert and to have all the answers.  What he does have is unique ability to inspire God’s people to take prayer seriously.  He has a way of helping people to see how prayer can be a vital part of a person’s spiritual life.

I am a lot more confident in my prayer life as a result of reading this book.  While I am familiar about praying God’s will using the Scriptures, there was something about the way that Dutch presented it that really “clicked” in my spirit.

I loved reading about some real life examples to how God used prayer in Dutch’s ministry and was overjoyed to hear how God answers prayers.   The chapters were short and could be easily read as a devotional book every day.

I received a free copy of this book by Bethany House (even through I already owned a digital copy when the book was offered for free at Amazon) in exchange for a honest non-biased review.

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The Reason For My Hope

billyBilly Graham has presented the gospel face to face to more people than any than anyone else in history.  I’ve been a pastor for over 22 years and have always been inspired by Billy Graham.  I remember chartering buses to take people to hear Billy Graham when he came to San Antonio in 1997.  We weren’t sure how we were going to pay for it, but by faith we decided to put out a bucket at the front of each bus for people to make a donation.  We had more than enough money to cover our expenses.  The Crusade was incredible.  What I saw was a very humble man who gave a very simple message.  There was nothing homiletically impressive about his presentation, but when the altar call went out… people came forward!   I was reminded of what Paul said to the Corinthians…

1 Corinthians 2:1–5
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

This past November (2013) I watched what a lot of people were calling Billy Graham’s last sermon in the nationally televised special simply entitled, “The Cross.”  He was 95 years of age! Again, I was touched by the simplicity and power of the message that I had to read what a lot of people are calling his last book, “The Reason for My Hope.”

Again, I was moved not by the complexities of the material… but rather the simplicity.  The book is an EASY read and EVANGELISTIC in nature.  Yet, the book does a really good job capturing the basics of the faith in a very relevant way.

The chapters are:

  1. Rescued for Something
  2. The Great Redemption
  3. Sin is In
  4. The Price of Victory
  5. Where is Jesus?
  6. Defining Christianity in a Designer World
  7. No Hope of Happy Hour in Hell
  8. He is Coming Back

Each chapter was illustrated with many relevant examples.  I found myself filing away a lot of them to use later.  I read the Kindle edition and it was nice to be able to click the “NOTES,” and be able to open the “HYPERLINKS,” directly to the cited reference.

This book will appeal to people of all different levels of spiritual growth and serves as a type of “last will and testimony” of a great man of God.

I received the eBook version of this book free of charge in exchange for a nonbiased honest review of its contents.


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New Spirit Filled Life Bible (NKJV)

New-Spirit-Filled-Life-BibleThe NEW Spirit Filled Life Bible in the New King James version.

The NKJV translation is a winner. It is easy to understand and suitable for devotion as well as in depth study. I reads at a 7th grade level. I favor the NKJV since it brings out the differences between the different NT manuscripts.

Review of the study Bible notes and articles.

Let me preface my review by saying that I am not what a lot of people would label as a “charismatic.” Technically I would consider myself a charismatic since I definitely believe in the workings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet, at the same time I’m cautious because I have seen spiritual gifts misused and abused within the church. In the words of Mark Driscoll I would classify myself as a charismatic with a seatbelt.

I thought the Spirit Filled Life Bible provided well-balanced view of what it means to be a charismatic. I felt totally unthreatened by Paul Walker’s statement, “No Biblically oriented Charismatic ever views a non-Charismatic as ‘less saved’ or less spiritual than himself.”

I made a point to go to Bible passages that “Charismatics” love to go to and found an obvious charismatic slant, but found nothing that I would be willing to fall on my sword over. Though I was not sure what to believe about the study note found in 1 Corinthians 12:30, “…Do all speak with tongues?” The study note: Not everyone will manifest the gift of tongues in public worship. Yet, in private devotion everyone is encouraged to express themselves through their spiritual language (see 14:5-8)

In addition to study notes at the bottom of the text there are several other study note tools:

– Kingdom Dynamics: forty-one themes and timeless topics that are reinforced throughout the Bible.

– Word Wealth: Detailed, easy to understand definitions of over 550 important terms.

– Truth in Action: Basically applications in chart form

– In Text Maps

– Practical Articles: In the back of the Bible are a number of Pentecostal/Charismatic articles on a wide range of subjects including evangelism and witnessing.

– Concordance

– Color Maps

Overall, the study Bible is good especially for those with a Pentecostal/Charismatic leaning. It is not a Bible I would personally choose, but not a Bible I would discourage someone to buy. I would’ve been happier with thicker pages and bigger print.

**I received this Bible at no cost in exchange for a non-biased review of it’s contents by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Humble Orthodoxy

BIG IMPLICATIONS for such a Small Book! harris-humble-orthodoxyI just read Joshua Harris’ book, “HUMBLE ORTHODOXY: Holding the Truth High without Putting People Down” and it will certainly go down as one of the most relevant books I’ve read this year. Harris’ book is a timely and relevant book for a time when more and more people are straying from Christian orthodoxy. The word ORTHODOXY refers to right thinking about God. Joshua Harris list Christian orthodoxy in terms of the historic creeds of the faith: There is one God who created all things. God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s inerrant word to humanity. Jesus is the virgin-born, eternal Son of God. Jesus died as a substitute for sinners so they could be forgiven. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus will one day return to judge the world. Harris points out that one of the problem with the word ORTHODOXY is that it is usually brought up when someone is being reprimanded. What Harris recommends is something he terms “HUMBLE ORTHODOXY,” in which Christians have a strong commitment to sound doctrine, but we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people. The bottom line is that TRUTH MATTERS… but so does our attitude. It’s possible to be right in our doctrine, but wrong with the attitude that we impose that doctrine on others. Harris points out other destructive options to HUMBLE ORTHODOXY: 1. One is ARROGANT ORTHODOXY in which we are right in our doctrine but are unkind and unloving, self righteous and spiteful in our words and behavior. Harris writes, “One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus, but not love like Him.” 2. The other option is HUMBLE HETERODOXY in which a person abandons some of the historic Christian beliefs but is a really nice person who can’t bear to offend unbelievers or the general culture and seems open to almost any teaching in the name of inclusion, kindness, and open-mindedness. This approach avoids conflict. Harris spends the rest of the book flushing out the implications from these extremes and gives useful guidelines on how we can embrace a HUMBLE ORTHODOXY. J.D. Greear gave a short and to the point summary in the forward of the book: Pharisaism has less to do with what doctrines we hold than with how we hold them… getting doctrine right is a matter of life and death, but holding the doctrine in the right spirit is essential too. A great deal of damage is done by those who hold the truth of Christ with the spirit of Satan. The book is an extremely easy read with only four chapters long for a total of 61 pages. The last part of the book are 18 pages of extremely useful study questions both for private reflection and group discussion. I give the book a SOLID 5 Stars and consider it a must read. I received this book free of charge from Multnomah Press in exchange of a bias free review.

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Reason’s For Belief

ReasonsI just got through reading Norman Geisler’s Reasons for belief: Easy-to-understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions. The book is thorough and basic apologetic book on the Christian faith. Geisler is well known as one of today’s leading Christian apologist. His book is very well thought out and organized. His defense of the faith is well grounded in the laws of logic and flow from some of the basic and broad issues of the faith to the more specific and personal issues.

Geisler addresses 10 essential questions and their implications to the faith. The 10 essential questions (reworded) addressed in the book addressed are:

1. Why are you a Christian?
2. Does real truth exists?
3. Does God exist?
4. If God exists, is He the God of the Bible?
5. Do miracles happen?
6. Is the New Testament full of errors?
7. Is Jesus God?
8. Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
9. Is the Bible the only ultimate truth source?
10. Is Jesus the only way to God?

I like how Geisler contrasted the Christian faith with some of the other major faiths of the world. It helped me appreciate the uniqueness of the Christian faith.

The charts (especially the comparative religions) were extremely beneficial.

I especially like how Geisler addressed the question: Is Jesus the Only Way To God? He addressed the faulty mentality, “God is big on sincerity, so whatever you understand or think about God, if you truly have faith and are committed to your beliefs, everything will turn out fine for you at the end of your life.” Such a mentality gives way to all sorts of misguided statements:

“All roads lead to heaven.”

“We’re all going up the same mountain –we’re just taking different paths to the top.”

“Everyone’s on their own journey, but all good people will arrive at the same destination.”

An example proponents the sincerity mentality that is often used to justify this faulty logic is known as “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” Six blind men are asked to touch an elephant and explain what they think it is. One man touches the tusk and says its a spear. The second touches the trunk and thinks its a snake. The third touches the leg and thinks its a tree. The fourth grabs a tail and thinks its a rope. The fifth touches the ear and thinks its a fan. Finally, the sixth guy touches the elephants side and thinks its a wall.

People love to use that illustration to demonstrate how sincere people reach different conclusions about the same object. But the illustration has a major flaw. The elephant is NOT a spear, a snake, a tree, a rope, a fan, or a wall. None of the men came to a correct conclusion. ALL WERE WRONG. the reason they were wrong is that they were blind. If they could see they would know truth –that they were all touching an elephant –but they would also know they had come to the wrong conclusion.

The same is true of our beliefs. If my premises are wrong, my conclusion will be wrong too. If my beliefs about Jesus are wrong, I’ll reach the wrong conclusion about who He is.

Overall I love how the material was organized and presented. I would classify the book not as an easy read, but not a difficult read either and give it a solid 4 star rating.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest non-biased review.

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When Word & Family Collide

WorkI just got through reading Andy Stanley’s “When Work & Family Collide,” which deals with keeping your job from cheating your family. I would classify the book as an easy and practical book.

To really understand the book you have to accept Stanley’s definition of what it means to cheat. To me, the word, “cheat,” is a strong word that conveys the moral idea of doing something wrong. Stanley, however, guides the reader to think of cheating as, “choosing to give up one thing in hope of gaining something else of greater value.” When you think of cheating in those terms, we are all cheaters. Daily we choose to shortchange one thing in order to fully experience another. Stanley puts it like this, “Someone is going to get cheated. Worse yet, somebody’s going to FEEL cheated. In that sense, the issue is never AM I CHEATING? The issue is always WHERE AM I CHEATING? (p.12)

One of the most common areas to cheat involves the tension between work and family. The premise of the book is that you are going to cheat, the question is who are you going to cheat; your family or your work.

Stanley challenges the reader to choose to cheat at work rather than at home. He points out that you are not nearly as iindispensableat work than at home. The book is divided up into two parts:

Part One: Inside The Cheated Heart. Stanley goes into the heart of the people we cheat… our families.

Part Two: Strategy For Change. Stanley offers up some practical guidelines on how create an implement a plan to rescue our families. He offers up the example of Daniel in the Old Testament as someone who was faced with a decision of who he was going to cheat; God or his Babylonian rulers when it came to compromising his convictions.

Stanley states: Contentment is found neither in the marketplace nor the family alone. It’s found when we align our priorities with his as it relates to both areas of responsibility. There’ nothing honoring to God about the workaholic who neglects his or her family. But the man or woman who refuses to provide for the family brings no honor to him either. (p.26)

I liked Stanley’s Strategy for Change because it deals with cautiously and prayerfully going to your employer and working out a strategy in which both of you are mutually satisfied and the work gets done. Stanley offers practical advise on how to approach your employer. He is realistic to point out that sometimes it is not possible to work out a mutually agreeable solution. Then your faced with the decision of are you going to continue to cheat your family or trust God and look for a different job opportunity.

The book is short 143 pages that is designed for both individual and group study. There are good discussion questions in the back for group study.

I liked the book so much that I went to the North Point website (Stanley’s church) and purchased the mp3 message entitled, “Choosing to Cheat,” for $1.00 at

I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review from Multnomah Press.


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Real Marriage

marriageI just finished reading, “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together,” by Mark and Grace Driscoll and was really taken back with how PRACTICAL the book is in all aspects of marriage. Mark and Grace are not afraid to address the difficult questions that a lot of married couples struggle with in their marriage. I also like the fact that both Mark and Grace did not come off as experts, but rather presented their material with humility and sensitivity admitting their mistakes and clearly stating that they too are in the process of building a strong marriage. I found their openness and transparency refreshing.

The book is divided up into three major parts.

I. Marriage
Mark and Grace talk about the unique differences between male and female as well as address the different roles and needs of husbands and wives. The material is firmly rooted in Scripture and they not only rely on their own personal experience, but also through their ministry experience.

II. Sex
This is the boldest section of the book in which the Driscoll’s talk straight about sex from every possible angle. This could very well be the most upfront Christian discussion of sex in printed form. Both healthy and unhealthy sex is discussed in detail. Steps for healing for those who have been sexually assaulted and abused are also outlined.

III. The Last Day
This is the shortest section of the book and consist of a single chapter designed to help the reader reverse engineer their marriage by taking the reader to where they want their marriage to be and then working backwards. This is accomplished with a bunch of worthwhile reflection questions that deal with a whole range of areas: Spiritual, Health, Employment, Financial, Marriage, Sex, Family, etc.

The book also had worthwhile suggestions to build and strengthen not only your marriage, but your spiritual life. Some of the suggestions I took to heart was

* Take something off your plate whenever something is put on. This is a conscious way to avoid overcommitting yourself.

* Use simple systems and write everything in one place, like a notebook. Most systems are too complex. The key to keep everything in one simple place together -prayer requests, grocery lists, to-do lists, and things God is teaching you.

* Every night spend a few minutes organizing your priorities for the next day in your notebook. Do not simply have a long to-do list. Have a priority list and do the highest priority item first. You will never finish everything on your list, so don’t worry about it. Do what is most important first and the rest as you are able.

* Get a life coach if you can. If you can afford a professional Christian life coach to help you get organized, that might be a great investment.

* Work on your life, not just in it. Most people waste their whole lives working in them. If you take the time to work on your life, you will save time and increase your odds of living passionately, fruitfully, and joyfully.

I would classify the book as an easy read with its content extremely practical and organized and likely to have something useful for everyone who reads it. As a pastor, I would recommend it to those struggling with their marriage as well as those wanting to take their marriage to the next level. I can tell a lot of blood, sweat, tears and PRAYERS went into the book and it is destined to become a classic on the subject.


** I received this book free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a honest non biased review of it’s content.

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“Enemies of the Heart”

Enemies-of-the-Heart[7]I just got through ready Andy Stanley’s ENEMIES OF THE HEART: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You and all I can say is, “WOW.”  I never knew how ignorant about the four destructive emotions (Guilt, Anger, Greed, and Jealousy) and how they wreak havoc on our relationships.

The book is built around the Scripture, “Guard Your Heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Andy is very concise and organized in dealing with these four destructive emotions.  The book is divided up into four parts:

Part 1: Where did that Come From?
This is where he illustrates how difficult it is to deal with heart issues. I agree with Stanley when he writes that we’ve all grown very good at deceiving ourselves to the point that most of us have no idea just how corrupt we really are.  This book is an attempt to shed light on the subject.  The Bible says, “The truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

Part 2: Deeper Debts
This is where he exposes the four destructive emotions in detail.  (1) A Guilt: I Owe You (2) Anger: You Owe Me (3) Greed: I Owe Me and (4) Jealousy: God Owes Me.

Part 3: For True Change
This is where Andy discusses the antidote (habit) for each of one of these destructive emotions.  Guilt says I OWE YOU so the solution is confession.  Anger is fueled by the notion that YOU OWE ME, so that debt is remedied with forgiveness.  Greed is kept alive by the assumption that I OWE ME –a twisted way of thinking that’s remedied through generous giving.  Jealousy says, “GOD OWES ME and the answer is to CELEBRATE people’s successes.

This part was the best part of the book for me.  The truths are so simple and yet so powerful which makes them easy to apply in your life and those around you.  My favorite part of the section was one that dealt with anger and forgiveness… WOW!  The book is worth ready just for that section!

Part 4: Moving Forward
This is where Andy touches on how we can teach our children how to guard their hearts?

The book is loaded at the end with great discussion questions for each of the chapters.  Overall, I would give this book 5 stars because it has something that everyone can relate to and use.  The four habits he lays out in response to the four destructive emotions are very practical and enable a person to love the way God would have us love.  Well done, Andy!

This book was received free of charge in exchange of a bias free review of it’s contents.

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“Why Men Hate Going To Church”

I just got a reality check by reading David Murrow’s, “Why Men Hate Going To Church.”  I originally thought that the book would provide a superficial look at how to attract more men to church.  What I did not expect was for Murrow to pain such a graphic picture of not only why men hate going to church, but also the importance of men in church.  The book gave me a lot to think about and has definitely caused me to rethink how I do church.

He describes men as the “Miracle Grow,” of the church and backs it all up with hardcore data.  He writes, “Put men in a church and it will grow!”   You look at church history and you will find that there is no significant move of God without men.  However, whenever a church has a higher proportion of women, it is associated with decline rather than growth.  On the flip side, churches that draw a majority of men are three times more likely to be growing than those that are majority female.  In fact, once a church’s adult attendance is 70 percent female, you can almost write the church’s obituary.

David Murrow really shows how the today’s church system is engineered to reach women.  He writes, “Men are the church’s largest unreached people group.  Men have a unique culture, language and way of life.  They respond differently than women.”

David Murrow describes that there are really two Jesuses afoot in the world today.  They are both based on a partial understanding of Christ.  He calls one, “The Lamb of God,” and the other, “The Lion of Judah.”

The Lamb of God is extremely popular in the church today.   People who never rad the Bible (but think they know a lot about God) endorse this Jesus.

The Lion of Judah (a.k.a. the King of kings) is the one you don’t hear much about.  He’s the one who seemed to revel in conflict.  He’s the Christ who declared, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  This Jesus even used physical violence to advance His kingdom.  The sad truth is that most churches have locked the Lion of Judah out of the church and in the process have feminized Jesus.  It’s no wonder there’s a gender gap in church!

Some thinking points that grabbed my attention were:

  • Decision-making in the present day church is frustrating for a man because the current model of decision-making is so geared toward women preventing a man leading like a man.  Instead he must be careful, sentimental, and thrifty; make ever decision by consensus; talk everything to death.  Decisions take months or years to make, and if someone’s feelings might be hurt, we don’t move forward.
  • Men are hard-wired for risk taking and congregation that do not take risks atrophy.
  • Perhaps one of the reason why so many effeminate and gay men attend church is that the church is one of the few institutions in society where there’s no pressure to act like a man.
  • A lot of men feel that church is for women, weirdoes, and wimps.  They think to themselves, Christianity is for little old ladies of both sexes.
  • According to many studies, a long, uninterrupted monologue is the least effective way to teach people anything… especially men!
  • Removing masculine pronouns from hymns, liturgy, and even Scripture, in an effort to make women feel more comfortable may be working, but it’s working at the expense of driving the men away.
  • Many churches (especially the established ones) are decorated more like an old-fashioned ladies’ beauty parlor.  Quilted banners and silk flower arrangements adorn church lobbies.  More quilts, banners, and ribbons cover the sanctuary walls, complemented with fresh flowers on the altar, a lace doily on the Communion table, and boxes of Kleenex under every pew.  And don’t forget the framed Thomas Kinkade prints, pastel carpets, and paisley furniture.  This femme décor sends a powerful subconscious message to men: you are out of place.  (p.101)
  • Men are visual creatures.  Unfortunately, the Jesus they see in church is warping their impression of God.  Traditional holy pictures portray Jesus as thin, pale, and soft with long, flowing tresses caressing an androgynous face.  This Jesus bears little resemblance to the rugged Judean carpenter who possessed the strength to drive out the moneychangers with a whip.

The book is divided up into three parts.  Part one deals with the question, “Where are the Men?”  Part two deals with, “Church Culture vs. Man Culture.”  While part three deals with, “Calling the Church Back To Men.”   I really like the fact that there is a chapter-by-chapter discussion guide as well as other free resources at the website:

The last section, “Calling the Church Back to Men,” offers up clear and simple suggestions that any church can do to call back men and make them feel more a part of church.  I feel really challenged and encouraged to make an effort to reach more men for the Gospel.

People might criticize the book and call it sexist, but if telling the truth about men and women is sexist… I’m sexist as well; but much more significant… Jesus was sexist.  He did not recruit a diverse group of men, women, and children… instead he went after the men and then narrowed it down to twelve guys. The facts are that men are not likely to follow the women into church, but women will and do follow men into church!

This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in helping the church grow and thrive and I unreservedly give it 5 STARS.

*** I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a non-biased and honest review.

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“Thriving At College”

Thriving at CollegeI just got through reading, Thriving at College,”  by Alex Chediak with the subtitle, “Make great friends, keep your faith, and get ready for the real world!”   I WISH I had such a book when I went to college!  It would’ve saved me a lot of  grief.   I read this book because I have a daughter who is graduating from High School this year and I want to do my best to prepare her for her college experience.  Too many teenagers drift from High School to College without any real thought or plan.

I love the way Chediak described college as, “glorifying God with every aspect of your week, loving Him with all your mind, and training hard for the good works that He has prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10), while developing relationships that will reinforce your convictions and propel you in a Godward direction.”  (HUGE run on sentence… but GOOD)

The book is solidly grounded in Scripture and yet doesn’t come out as “preachy.”  It is also loaded with practical and relevant examples from some of the students that Chediak teaches.   In each chapter there are (1) Factoids (2) Q & A and (3) Discussion Questions.

The book is organized around ten common mistakes often made in college.

  1. Chunking Your Faith
  2. Treating College as if it Were High School.
  3. Not Being Intentional
  4. Distorting Dating and Romance.
  5. Refusing to Grow Up.
  6. Being a Flake.
  7. Living out of Balance.
  8. Being too Passive or too Cocky.
  9. Living for Grades.
  10. Wasting Opportunities.

The book did a remarkable job helping the reader see a good healthy balance between work and recreation.  Since college is the Launchpad into the real world, I wish more college students would take the truths behind this book seriously.  College is all about finding your place in this world and this book is a great resource to discover God’s best in your life.

Some of the major topics that the book addresses:

  • Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • How to not only keep your faith, but GROW it.
  • Choosing your friends wisely.
  • Good study habits.
  • How to choose not only a Major, but a Vocation.
  • Staying in control of your finances. (EVERYONE ought to read!)
  • Extracurricular Activities

The book also explodes a lot of myths of College.  One that got my attention was the Myth of Multitasking.  A group of researchers at Stanford University investigating multitasking discovered that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one mob to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.

I would classify it as an “easy read,” with larger print and fewer words on each page.  This would account for it’s 327 pages and a Must Read for anyone in College!

I received this book free of charge in exchange of a unbiased review.

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