Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff

Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff, a Review

Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, by Jon Acuff, is enjoyable, motivating, and perfect for overthinkers. This is a book your internal monologue needs to hear!

My name is Bret Hammond, and I am an overthinker.

(This is the part where you say, “Hi, Bret.”)

I am an overthinker. This is very true; my thoughts are loud and are not always helpful or kind. I’ve not exactly been a big believer in motivational writings and speeches. I find a lot of them to be kind of hokey. However, I love Jon Acuff’s work and have always found him both inspirational and relatable.

Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff

Jon calls the interior thoughts that we’re always listening to “Soundtracks.” As with a movie, the soundtrack sets the tone and the mood for your life. If your soundtrack is always telling you “I’m not good enough” and “I’m going to fail,” then you’ve got to find a way to change the soundtrack—turn it off or turn it down. You cannot allow your overthinking to control what you don’t do.

Continue reading
Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit

Preaching Hope in Darkness, a Review

Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit by Scott M. Gibson and Karen E. Mason is excellent for addressing one of the most vital and yet ignored topics from the pulpit.

For every fourteen suicide deaths each year, approximately five hundred people attempt suicide, and three thousand people think about suicide. About 8 million Americans have suicidal thoughts each year.

Page 9
Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit

The first time I preached a funeral for a victim of suicide, it was overwhelming, numbing, and I felt ill-prepared to care for the survivors afterward. That also describes every other time I have preached a funeral following a suicide. It’s easy to complain about the things we didn’t learn in Seminary. However, we are blessed with resources from experienced pastors and caregivers that continue to sharpen our service and give us the help we need to minister in the most challenging circumstances.

Continue reading

Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel according to Johnny Cash

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book. I think I was, in part, expecting neat little quotes about spirituality and Johnny Cash that could be distilled into bite-sized memes and encourage and impress my friends. This book is a lot deeper than that.

Can it be read devotionally? Absolutely. Should it? I’m not sure.

But if the gospel according to Johnny Cash is anything, it’s really not about our ability to walk the line. The gospel isn’t about our faithfulness to God; it’s about God’s faithfulness to us. Johnny Cash couldn’t walk the line. Nor can you or I or anyone else. God walks the line for us.

Page 22
Continue reading
Dream Big

Dream Big by Bob Goff, a Review

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What you’re Going to Do About It, by Bob Goff, offers practical encouragement to turning your dreams into realities. Who doesn’t need that??

Some of the most important work you will do is to identify who or what has been keeping you captive and to break free. We can’t fix what we don’t understand.

Bob Goff, Dream Big

I’ve read all of Bob Goff’s books. Everybody, Always has been my favorite, but I think this one just surpassed it. Like Bob’s other works, it’s filled with stories and experiences that will leave you laughing, crying, and wondering how on earth this man has done this many things? Does he ever sleep?!?!

If you want to achieve great things, find a couple of these people to do life with. Also find a couple of difficult people to engage with love. Don’t make them projects; make them friends.

Bob Goff, Dream Big

Big and Practical

Dream Big

Dream Big seems to me to be the most practical of all of Bob’s books. It’s not just about where he’s been or what he’s done. He leads the reader, step-by-step toward their dreams, punctuating the journey with his stories of successes and failures. You can learn from both.

Bob’s outline is superb. He includes important exercises to move the reader toward fulfilling their ambitions and purposes. The end of the book is filled with questions to lead both individuals as well as groups. This would be an excellent book to read in concert with other “dreamers”

God’s not leading us to the safest path forward, but to the one where we’ll grow the most.

Bob Goff, Dream Big

One Big Complaint

My one complaint about the book will likely sound picky, but . . . So what? I’m picky! I have to wonder who did Bob’s proofreading for him. Bob’s a Bible guy, and he’s got plenty of preacher/ministry friends. Did they not spot the goofs that were so apparent to me?

The big one was in chapter 10, where he recounts the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Bob writes (on page 62), “One of my favorite stories about availability is the two boys who gave their lunches to Jesus to feed the people who had followed Him out into the field.” He continues the chapter, building on the story of these two boys. The only problem is, there was just ONE boy (John 6:9).

Someone at Thomas Nelson should have noticed that. Someone who proofread or wrote a recommendation surely had enough Bible knowledge to spot that!

Maybe I’ll call Bob up and offer my services for the next book. I have his number around here somewhere. Oh well . . . I can always dream!

Update: I actually called Bob on my birthday in 2020 and thanked him for this book. And yes, I mentioned the error about the kid and his lunch. Probably not Bob’s favorite phone call ever. I’ll call him back on my birthday this year and apologize.

As a quick aside, here’s a tip worth remembering if you want to achieve your ambitions. Don’t be so eager to correct people; welcome them instead. Accept them. Love them without any angle or agenda. Start with yourself.

Bob Goff, Dream Big
Review Header

Gospel Allegiance, by Matthew W. Bates

Could it be that we’ve limited our definition of “faith” to our hopes and feelings? Could it be that by doing so we’ve limited our understanding of what the gospel is and what it calls us to?

Reading Gospel Allegiance

Gospel Allegiance by Matthew W. Bates

I’ll be the first to admit, this book is a little out of my wheelhouse. I likely wouldn’t have picked up a copy of Gospel Allegiance on my own, but when a free book shows up, you read it!

Note: This should not be taken as a request to send me more free books. But who am I to stop you?

In our world today, the word “gospel” has become shorthand for any truth that seems so apparent no one could miss it. In the church today, “gospel” is often a nebulous and smarmy word that defines everything from music to message, but far too often misses our mission.  Add to that, the word “faith” has been relegated to the heart at the expense of the head, and Bates concludes, “we need better language and a new model to more accurately convey what Scripture teaches about salvation” (page 15).

Continue reading