Interview with Mark Bertrand by Mike Duran

There is a great interview of Mark Bertrand over on Mike Duran's blog, deCompose. If you have every wanted to understand why in the world some authors write in first person present tense, this post of Mike's is a must read.


Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O'Dell

At first, I was skeptical. How could anyone understand Rural America if he didn't grow up in rural America? In fact, the blurbs about it didn't sound very interesting, either. However, the subject is dear to my heart so I ordered it. You can check it out at Brand New Church.

As I read this book, I kept thinking "this is exactly the kind of church I want to belong to!" Pastor Shannon O'Dell is the Paul of the 21st Century. He recognizes exactly how God gives talents and gifts and then as a pastor, he taps into those talents and gifts just as God intended.

This should be required reading for every seminary student whether a pastoral student or not, and for every church leader in the world. Especially, for rural pastors. It is high time rural pastors double check to make sure they are called by God and not on some resume building mission.

One thing that stands out is churches are the human hearts not brick and mortar. No one can change a heart, only Jesus can. With the Holy Spirit at work within God's people lives (and hearts) can be transformed therefore churches are transformed. Jesus pointed out that man's traditions were strangling the people, and putting a millstone around their necks which was impossible to throw off. Our traditions have become the same thing for the most part. Becoming radical for Jesus means shaking off the chains of traditions while embracing Biblical principles in every aspect of life both at church and during the week. O'Dell does a great job in shining a light on things that work for a metamorphosed church that is reaching the lost and is pleasing to God.

There are many interactive links to the Brand New Church's website and to Pastor O'Dell's blog. Check those out to expand your learning experience.

This is a BookSneeze Review.

Without meaningful change, thousands of rural churches won’t survive the next decade. *A vital guide for every deacon, elder, and pastor wanting to bring their rural church back to the business of changing lives *No-cost solutions for staffing challenges, upgrading the worship, and generating teams of volunteers *Innovative strategies for growth through transformed lives, relevance in meeting needs, and creating active evangelism in your community.

If you aren’t transforming lives, then the church has no impact. Pastor Shannon O’Dell reveals the need for relevancy and shares a powerful mission for rural churches in reaching the unchurched and lost in their communities. Now, learn the strategies and biblical guidance that turned a church of 30 into a multi-campus church of several thousand with a national and global outreach. Experience the blueprint for transforming into effective, dynamic, and thriving churches which give God the very best!

Learn to add VALUE to your ministry goals: Vision, Attitude, Leadership, Understanding, and Excellence. Discover how your marriage reflects the state of your faith and your relationship with God.

City on Our Knees by Toby Mac

This is one of the best and most inspiring books I've read since I don't know when. It will impact young and old in such a touching way, but the most wonderful thing about it are the people and their stories. If a four year old born with a debilitating can inspire a nation to raise $1 million for cancer research through lemonade stands, then there isn't an individual alive who can say, "I can't..."

The true stories range across a multitude of activities all over the world and how just one person or one couple make a huge difference in people's lives. It made me want to get busy doing something. However, Toby Mac makes an excellent point by saying that we must wake up and ask God, "Where are You working today? May I join you?"

When we do that, we are assured success in that endeavor because God work, no matter the outcome, will succeed.

This is 6 out of 5 stars. The best of the best, the cream de la cream. Buy, savor it and read it daily. God will change your heart and the stories of these people will change your attitude about "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

When we step across the line we can sail across the sea

Amazing, beautiful things happen when people have the courage to live, work, and pray in the spirit of unity and peace. Often, though, to make these amazing things happen, we have to step out of our comfort zone and into a world we find uncomfortable or intimidating. Sometimes that world is physical; other times it can be emotional, relational, or spiritual.

City on Our Knees shows this, encouraging you to take the first step. It offers stories of people who have stepped across lines. Lines of discrimination, persecution, doubt, prejudice, pride, bitterness, self-isolation, and despair. I pray and hope that you will be inspired to see how just one person, or one small group, can be a mechanism for change. 
God can use us right here. Right now. All we need is faith that He has our best in mind. And believe me—He does.—TobyMac
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