Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Am I Really A Christian

Earlier this summer I was in a mall in Worcester, Massachusetts when I saw a shocking advertisement from a health care facility. It said “Pride kills thousands of men each year.”

I can attest to that statement. At my dad’s funeral, someone came up to me and told me that my dad might have been suffering from a risky medical condition but that he did not want to get treated or tell anyone of the situation. It was due to pride. He ended up dying alone, separated from his family and any friends he might have still had.

Those stories told simply to say that we need to humble ourselves and seek truth and help. 

“Am I Really a Christian”  by Mike McKinley is a book that encourages Christians and those that want to be Christians to humbly “go to the doctor’s appointment,” and take any measures necessary for spiritual heath.

Author Mike McKinley does a great job of examining scripture to look for solid truths on what it means to be a Christian and then teaching us to look for evidences of God’s mighty saving work in our lives.

While some could take this book as provocative, it asks an eternally important question in a simple, gospel driven, and straight forward way. Jesus himself says there are many who will get to the end and expect to walk through the pearly gates, only to hear, “I never even knew you,” from God himself. (Matthew 25). The purpose of the book is to explore such things deeply, before it is too late.

The book is laid out in nine chapters, each addressing what it means and does not mean to be a Christian.  Each chapter goes to scripture to discuss what it clearly says in regards to being born again.  At the end of each chapter there is a response section in which the author thoughtfully calls us to reflect, repent, remember, and report through different questions and scripture references.

McKinley does a great job at addressing how self deceived and comically limited our own self awareness is by showing us that being a Christian doesn’t mean checking a box once, or just claiming that we are. It requires a change of heart, a change of team.

McKinley takes on popular misconceptions of what a Christian is. He goes head on against the idea that you are a Christian simply because you love Jesus. He also challenges our hearts by showing us that we are not Christians if we continually abide in sin, deliberately keep in it, and happily make it a practice. I appreciated the chapters on loving others and not loving our stuff.  He again, goes to scripture to show us that being a Christian means we will have a heart that loves others, dying to ourselves, and putting our hope in Christ instead of worldly goods.

 I really appreciated how it also talks about the goodness of God. God delights to save his people and he is not some swindler trying to trick us into losing the race. Graciously God has given us some guidance on who belongs to himself. “You shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). Essentially, we need to prayerfully take heed to Jesus’ warnings and cling to his promises.

The book repeats the gospel often, and helps us to see that “human beings are not spiritually wounded, we are spiritually dead.” Many people who claim to be Christians are just working on fixing themselves up, but “self improvement is not the solution to these kinds of problems. A radical overhaul is.” Chapter two dives in to what it looks like to be born again and what it means to essentially have a total alteration of your cosmic allegiances. He tackles the question “how can you tell that you are born again,” and shows us five basic things that all Christians have. (Belief in true doctrine, hatred for sin in your life, perseverance over time, love for other people, freedom from love of the world.)

I loved that involvement in a local church is stressed as an essential help to our faith. This book explains that when we are around others, they can help us locate our blind spots. Also, being immersed in good biblical teaching can help us align our values and measurements with God’s.

Time and time again the reminder sounded that I need to place my trust in Christ for my salvation, and not in a resume of religious works.

This book is a helpful instrument for anyone. It will help you peel back your heart layers and look for the evidence that God has done a mighty saving work in our lives. Even as someone who has grown up in and around Christian culture, claiming the gospel for myself at a young age, this book presented a much needed assessment. 

Check out more resources and purchase it here: Am I Really A Christian by Mike McKinley.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

eBook Review: 31 Days to Blogging Mojo

I recently received a copy of and read 31 Days to Find Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain.

This e-book is a helpful tool for any blogger, whether 2 days into a blogging career or 6 years in (like me).

I found it extremely easy to read and not overwhelming like other “30 days to…” books. Each day was clearly laid out in a humorous but helpful manner. I tore through this ebook in one sitting, and hope to go back and take each day at a time.

Bryan has a good understanding of what tips and tricks help one to really grow and focus their blog. He gives helpful tips like thinking about who you want to read your blog, then start to write each post as if you were addressing that person specifically. He also focuses on being proud of your writing and not being shy about your work.

I appreciate that he has a lot of wisdom and advice because he has been there and learned each step through his own trial and error.

Though sometimes the random humor quips at the end of each day seemed to be pulling for straws, they helped make this book a really useful but light hearted read… perfect for any blogger who is already in the blogging trenches, busy with trying to write up a storm.

After going back through this book, I really think my tired blog will be a new and more enchanting place.
If you are interested in giving your blog a boost, finding your blogging passion, growing your audience, or just figuring out what to write, I definitely recommend this resource.

It is available now. RIGHT HERE  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I rested my bike up against the bench and laid facing the cloudy night sky as I listened to the water splash on it's merry way. Sometimes after a long bike ride, this favorite bench near the Woonasquatucket River is my oasis to think and pray.

A trip to my secret bench tonight seemed extra necessary.

"God, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm at the point where I cant even pretend or even take one measly step forward in confidence. I feel like I am getting opposing wisdom from valued parties. I am confused. I am rushed. I am yearning. I am aching for truth."

The other evening I was at a friend's house while she was taking care of her children. The little one was crying and grabbing and slurping.

"He does this when he gets hungry," she said. "Like he is insatiable."
She put the bottle in his mouth and he hungrily sucked and gummed all that he could take in.

 1 Peter 2:2 tells us that we need to be as hungry for spiritual things as a baby is for his milk so that we can grow. I wondered to myself if I craved the word, or if my tear filled ache for wisdom tonight was a direct reflection that I have been starving myself of the bread of life.

If I am honest I can admit that I have lately been living on measly ramen noodle nutrition when I could be feasting on a divinely fulfilling meal. I even know the recipe, but like any good meal, it takes the dedication to set aside time to it. That is a problem. Laziness, "busyness," convenience... selfishness.

"God, I see that I crave your wisdom and your word. I am starving for it. I will fall to the wayside without it. I am shaky and weak without it. Please help me. I don't even know what to say other than help."

I rode my bike back to my house. It's about 1:30am at this point. I've come to understand my longings as almost starvation. My body aches for sleep. My first meal of the day tomorrow will be the bread and meat of the gospel.