Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Texas A&M’s Historic Collapse Against UCLA

Josh Rosen

(Photo Credit: LA Times)

On Sunday night, September 3, 2017, UCLA made history, mounting the second largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history. The largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history occurred in 2006 when the Michigan State University Spartans overcame a 35-point deficit to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats 41-38. After trailing 44-10 in the 3rd quarter to the Texas A&M Aggies, the UCLA Bruins ended the game in dramatic fashion—Josh Rosen, UCLA quarterback, faking a spike and throwing the game-tying touchdown, followed by the go-ahead extra point conversion. From now on, Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M’s head coach, will vividly understand the meaning of playing a full 60-minute game. This loss is unacceptable, putting Sumlin at an even greater risk of being terminated.

Kevin Sumlin Shouldn’t Be Fired

Although Sumlin does not deserve to be fired, considering he’s one of the top coaches in the nation, having a victory over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide on his resume during Johnny Manziel’s time at A&M, surrendering a 34-point lead in the 3rd quarter warrants frank and robust criticism. Texas A&M Athletic Director Scott Woodward would make an unwise decision to fire Sumlin. Yes, this loss is embarrassing and disappointing, and expectations are high in College Station for the football team, but Sumlin deserves a little more time to meet those expectations.

Should John Chavis Be Fired?

In his long tenure at LSU, John Chavis, former LSU defensive coordinator and current Aggies defensive coordinator, demonstrated that he was a great defensive coordinator. Keyword, though, was. Before leaving LSU, Chavis seemed to be decline—evidenced by his defenses not performing as they should against several teams. Sumlin, therefore, might want to consider replacing Chavis in an effort to ameliorate his defense, a defense that yielded 35 unanswered points in the second half to the Bruins. Yes, the offense could’ve done more in the second half. The offense was responsible for 44 points on the board, which should’ve been enough points to win this game, however. Simply put, A&M’s defense was pitiful in the second half. While it’s not time to panic in College Station, it’s time to make the right changes. The right changes may include finding a new defensive coordinator.

Don’t Count Out Texas A&M

Again, Texas A&M does not need to panic. Make the proper adjustments before entering into SEC play, and the team has enough talent to have a successful season. It would be a grave mistake to think the Aggies are finished. This team will still contend passionately for the SEC West title.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Never Give Up by John Mason: Book Review

Never Give Up by John Mason

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

John Mason’s Never Give Up: You’re Stronger Than You Think offers readers 52 powerful “nuggets,” motivation keys, to encourage them to choose faith in what’s possible over toxic unbelief. Mason, a minister, inspirational speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including You Can Do It—If Others Say You Can’t and You Can Be Your Best—Starting Today, desires for people to remain committed to their dreams. The author contends that people fail to tap the perseverance that lies within them.

Mason’s principal inspiration for penning this book is those on the verge of surrendering their dreams. He desires for them to regain their commitment to their dreams and to pursue those dreams with passion. As I reflect on the millions of people living in poverty, I wonder how many of those individuals stopped believing in their dreams, how many stopped believing in themselves before falling prey to poverty.

The author notes that everyone has been blessed with certain abilities, and those abilities can propel them to success. Unfortunately, too many people compare their abilities with those of others, leading them often to feeling inadequate, an inadequacy that emerges because they’re too busy concentrating on what they don’t have instead of cherishing what they do have.

For Mason, when a person receives God’s salvation, He places purpose, His purpose, on the inside of him or her: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The author states that one of the most vital points in this verse is “the fact that God doesn’t quit. Therefore, we can have great confidence that He will complete the good work He has begun in us” (p. 15). When we place our confidence in God’s confidence about us, then fear doesn’t have an opportunity to disrupt our belief in what God declares we can accomplish.  

I teach my students about the value of a question, and I was pleased to see Mason share a similar value and enthusiasm for inquiry. People often rush to arrive at an answer without investing the necessary time to pose the right question.  

Even if a person is not deeply spiritual or is an atheist, this book still offers significant value. Mason’s book serves as a constant reminder that believing in yourself is essential to executing any task and achieving your heart’s greatest desires.

I strongly recommend everyone to purchase and read this book. It’s one of those works you can treat as a devotional, one you can use as daily motivation to overcome challenges the day may present.

Revell Books provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

All In For Him by Gwen Thielges: Book Review

 

Gwen Thielges

(Photo Credit: Gwen Thielges)

In All In For Him: Twenty-One Devotions For College Athletes, Gwen Thielges offers college student-athletes a 21-day devotional that empowers them to combine strong athletic preparation and performance with robust spiritual practice and commitment. For Thielges, any athlete, including a college student-athlete, cannot become a complete athlete without building and buttressing his or her spiritual life and foundation. Intending this book to inspire college athletes to develop a closer relationship with Christ and use their platform to display His glory, the author wants these athletes to maximize the potential of their platform to spread Christ’s message and win souls for Him. This book aims to help college student-athletes practice daily gratitude for the opportunity Jesus has given them to perform athletically and be a part of an athletic team.

Athletes, at any level, will find the “Day 1” devotion quite useful: begin the season with a prayer for God’s favor.  The “Day 3” devotion calls for them to abandon negative thinking and discourse and refuse to surround themselves with negativity in any form. On “Day 7,” Thielges makes an important point for college student-athletes to pray for their coaches. As any athlete knows, and the author highlights, a coach is a critical dimension of any team’s success, for if the team is to experience success, it will need a coach who employs principle and discipline.

In a postmodern epoch where many college student-athletes demonstrate such egregious selfishness, “Day 8” provides a sobering reminder of their need to commit themselves to humility and place their confidence in Christ. If athletes, as “Day 10” explains, walk in humility and in the confidence of God, they will serve as role models for their community, nation, and world. Living a humble life, one where confidence in God is at the center of the athlete’s life, he or she will have a proper understanding of how to conduct himself or herself when using social media, as revealed in “Day 12” and “Day 13.”  

Thielges encourages college student-athletes to win with grace. When one considers how nasty, how vicious college sports have increasingly become, her words are timely, calling these athletes, specifically Christian athletes, to serve as an example of what grace looks like in athletic competition. For the author, when athletes win with grace, it’s not about belittling their opponents but more about thanking God for the opportunity to perform successfully and more about showing gratitude for the spirited competition their opponents gave them.

As a coach and scholar who focuses on student-athletes, I am happy to see this book published. For this book to reach its maximum value, it must reach the hands of as many college student-athletes as possible. The publisher and/or author needs to send a copy of this book to college athletic departments across the nation. While this will cost some money to do, I’m confident that this will be a profitable investment, leading to a significant increase in sales, and more importantly, strengthening the lives of college student-athletes.  

To have an interest in purchasing and reading this book, one, most likely, will need to an authentic investment in student-athletes, especially college student-athletes, for its written to and for them. Having said that, though, I would recommend that coaches, athletic administrators, higher education administrators, advisors, mentors, and tutors of college student-athletes, parents of current and future college student-athletes, and serious college sports fans read this book. By reading this book, one gains a stronger understanding of what college student-athletes need, the challenges they face, and how to maximize their impact on and off the field.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Disturb the Phony Peace

Disturb Peace

(Photo Credit: Master File)

To be a free black man, it’s a beautiful thing. When you don’t mind exposing false notions of peace, it’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, not enough people truly embrace their liberty—they’d rather maintain their status as docile, milquetoast, sycophants for individuals who enjoy dominating their lives. One of the core reasons why our nation is in such bad shape right now is we’ve failed to engage in bold, frank discourses in many spaces. Why maintain a phony idea of peace? Why not disturb disingenuous ideas about peace?

Just to keep people happy around them, too many folks will allow themselves to grow more and more miserable. When you have authentic disagreements about something or several phenomena with people in various spaces, let your candid views be heard. Don’t allow anyone to silence you; don’t be afraid of anyone. Yes, they will say, “you’re sowing seeds of discord,” “bitter,” “disgruntled,” “wicked,” “unsaved,” “sad,” “depressed,” “angry,” “holding grudges,” and etc. You, however, must not permit their distractions to prevent you from freely expressing your thoughts that have the potential to engender the change needed.

Any organizational leaders contending that their organizations don’t have any divisions in them are promoting lies and communicating a message that intellectual diversity, a diversity of ideas, is not welcomed. Expose this. Disturb this false peace.

Most clear-thinking people love freedom. Why is it, though, that many of those same people are often willing to surrender their freedom for the sake of an artificial peace?

Muster the courage to speak truth; speak truth to power.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Memory Will Protect Your Heart

 

Sad Black Woman

(Photo Credit: Ex-Superwoman)

Psychology teaches us to judge people by their previous actions. While one should forgive people, and forgive them immediately, don’t forget their track record. Even when you’ve just met a person, evaluate his or her words and assess his or her fidelity to those words. Unless you have some type of mental condition adversely affecting your memory, it offers great power to protect you from heartbreak. Listen carefully to what people say and closely observe whether they deliver on what they communicate.

One of the central reasons why an individual must engage in close analysis of what others communicate and their corresponding actions is selfishness often enters the equation. People’s selfishness can have devastating effects. Although you cannot guard yourself against all acts of others’ selfishness, valuing the power of memory permits you to diminish opportunities for falling prey to such selfishness.

It’s okay to trust people—just exercise good judgment. As much as possible, make sure the people you trust have a track record that merits trust. Words alone are meaningless. What real evidence is available to help you determine whether to trust someone? If you ask that question each time you make a decision, you will greatly ameliorate your outcomes.

Memory, an invisible best friend often neglected, is waiting to collaborate with you to defeat those who would attempt to do you harm. Let memory guide your thoughts, your actions, your values, your principles.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope by Victor Morgan: A Brief Book Review

Heaven's Great Hope

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope: A Divine Revelation of Hope Granted for Overcoming in Challenging Times, Victor Morgan offers readers a scriptural treatment of hope. For the author, closely engaging the biblical notion of hope is necessary during these precarious times. According to Morgan, those who will experience success during these times will embrace and apply hope in every area of their lives. Dr. Morgan declares that hope is God’s gift to humans, allowing them to find wholeness even in seemingly impossible conditions. While this book does not intend to provide the reader with an exhaustive understanding of biblical hope, the reader comes away from a reading of this work with some valuable knowledge about hope.

The writing could have been much better. Lower tiered seminaries or theological schools like Interdenominational Theological Center and Zoe University aren’t known for the most rigorous research and writing standards/expectations, however. Also, at times, the writer makes statements that need to benefit from scriptural support. When Dr. Morgan cites verses, he gives a fairly decent explanation of them and how they relate to the “divine revelation of hope” he intends to divulge.

The greatest strength of the book lies in the inspiration it furnishes about the hope we have in Jesus. This book will motivate you to do a careful and comprehensive study of biblical hope.

Although Dr. Morgan’s work has its problems, it’s a worthwhile read. The author demonstrates a strong understanding of biblical hope and passes it along to the reader. In media and politics we hear and read much about “hope,” often a deeply confused idea of hope; this scholar, however, imparts an informed, scriptural-based rendering of hope.

I recommend this book.

Book Crash supplied a copy of Dr. Morgan’s book to help facilitate this honest review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison