Book Review

The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn

The Gospel of Yes

In The Gospel of Yes, Mike Glenn offers readers an inspiring look at how a personal relationship with Jesus is heavily centered on the word “yes.”  Glenn highlights how the beginning of our personal relationship with Jesus begins with us saying “yes” to Him, and His willingness to say “yes” to a personal relationship with us and “yes” to forgiving us for all of our sins.  The author illuminates how we often allow ourselves to be divided about what Jesus does not allow us to do, but we fail to place a strong emphasis on what he tells us we can do.  For Glenn, the numerous times Jesus says “yes” is undervalued.  This book desires for Christians to engage to characterize themselves more by what Jesus says “yes” to instead of what he forbids.  The author contends that Christianity becomes more attractive and reaches more lost souls when we appeal to the more positive and important things Jesus says “yes” about rather than defeating people with all the things He does not permit.

Mike Glenn writes, “If we understand who we are created to be in Christ, we realize we have an all-consuming calling.  Our calling–our ‘yes’ in Christ–is what focuses our lives and determines how we invest our lives” (p. 24).  What the book wants us to recognize is we will know who we are “created to be in Christ” when we are willing to surrender to the will of Christ.  Although the author could have made it clearer that it’s essential to embrace the things Jesus says “no” to, he captures the power of a life that concentrates on adopting a heart and mind like Jesus.  If you’re really determined to be a true Christian, you’re willing to submit yourself to the totality of the will of Jesus.  Glenn’s book does a great job of elucidating how essential it is to surrender to God’s complete will.

While the book is not super sophisticated and does not attempt to be, it gives the reader a new perspective on mundane things about Christian living.  What I found most interesting was the author’s treatment of the word “yes” in relation to the bible and our relationship with Jesus.  We may not often think about how significant the word “yes” is to having a proper understanding of God’s Word, but Glenn does not allow us to lose sight of this word’s importance.  I highly recommend that you read this book.  It will inspire you to live a better life in the will of God and challenge you to become the best you can be.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His ( by Max Lucado, the popular author of numerous Christian books, presents the dominant thesis that God loves you the way you are but He does not intend to leave you the way you are.  Lucado contends that God wants you to develop a heart like Jesus and He wants to make you just like Jesus.  The author asserts that the central focus of a true Christian’s life is patterning his or her thoughts, words, and actions after Jesus.

I found Lucado’s book to provide a substantive understanding of how God will assist you in becoming what He wants you to be.  At the end of the book, there is a “Study Guide” for each chapter that enables the reader to engage in critical thought about each chapter.  By including this “Study Guide,” the writer evinces his serious desire for the reader to grasp the importance of each chapter’s primary messages.  I agree with Lucado’s overriding thesis that God loves you just the way you are but He does not intend for you to remain the way you are.

Too often religious leaders don’t let people know they have greatness already within them.  When Jesus comes into their lives, He activates the greatness that lies within them.  Lucado’s book is vital reminder to readers that God can use them for His glory as He transforms them into the people He needs them to be.  I found his argument that God longs for total control of humans’ lives to be at the core of what it means to be a Christian and a significant message for postmodern Christians to contemplate and embrace.

I highly recommend you purchase this book today!  The book can be purchased here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/just-like-jesus-5.html and you can read other reviews of this book here: http://www.booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849947438.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men: A Review

The Black Man Can Journal

Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men (2012), penned by Brandon Frame of The Black Man Can, is a powerful journal specifically designed for Black boys and men to engage in critical thought and reflection.  In the 284 pages of the journal, Black boys and men have an opportunity to create a vision and plan for ameliorating their own lives in their own language.  Never has there been a personal journal produced solely for Black boys and men.  Through this journal, they are provided with space to express their thoughts on a range of issues and respond to essential questions.  Powerful quotations from accomplished Black men have been carefully selected and masterfully deployed by Brandon Frame to inspire critical thought.

An extensive body of empirical research has evinced that Black male students throughout the educational pipeline academically underperform all students.  In the face of this reality, tools must be available to militate against the factors that contribute to Black male academic underachievement.  Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men is one of those innovative and valuable resources we need to help Black boys and men to progress academically, professionally, socially and personally.  The issues and questions they will confront in the journal offer them opportunities to face what they must do to make a significant change in their lives.

Too many Black boys and men are allowed to read and internalize negative narratives about themselves—primarily verbal and written narratives from Whites who do not wish them well.  Harper (2009) contends that Black males must have the opportunity to tell their own narratives in their own voices to offer meaningful and necessary counternarratives to the dominant extant narratives about them—the dominant narratives about them are mostly untrue, demeaning, and racist.  Through this journal, Frame empowers Black males with opportunities to write their counternarratives.

A growing body of professional literature demonstrates that mentoring Black male students leads to higher academic achievement and motivation.  Frame’s journal equips those who mentor with a resource that can be used to aid them in the process of transforming the lives of Black male students.  For those who mentor Black men, it gives them a tool to facilitate proper guidance and support.

Black fathers and sons now have a serious means through which to share and learn from one another.  I envision this journal helping to form Black male virtual and non-virtual communities and spaces where important ideas, challenges, problems, and solutions are discussed, shared, envisaged and implemented.  Additionally, I can see multifarious conferences and think tanks developing from those who read and use this journal.

I highly recommend this journal.  It can be purchased here: Purchase the Journal Here.  For only $15.00, you could save your own life and/or the life of a Black boy or man by buying this journal.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Review of Garfield Hylton’s The Soundtrack to My Life

Garfield Hylton

The Soundtrack to My Life penned by Garfield Hylton, the author of Real Goes Right, is a memoir tracing his significant life experiences, especially those experiences related to intimate relationships, friendships, college, and blog writing.  This memoir, which is an e-book, is approximately 55 pages with 11 chapters.  Hylton is an African American male lawyer and freelance writer.

As a reader who likes to experience a book before someone tells me about it, I avoid reading book reviews until I’ve read the book.  Many book reviews in their attempt to provide the reader with an insightful summary of the works they cover can spoil your reading experience: they give away too much.  In my appraisal of this book, I make a solemn attempt not to spoil it for you by doing a great detail of summarization.  I will not offer a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the book.

From the Prologue of the work, the reader has an opportunity to learn it’s an outgrowth of Hylton’s longing to give the readers of his blog more of an understanding about the man behind the blog.  The writer never wastes the reader’s time.  Each paragraph and chapter is meaningful.  Throughout the book, one will appreciate the brilliant Hip-Hop artworks that serve as excellent backdrops that are not only beautiful but also offer substantive contextualization of the book’s content.  Hylton is heavily influenced by Hip-Hop and he does a masterful job of incorporating it.

The first chapter of the book presents the author’s first experience falling in love.  He shares the excitement and pain resulting from his first love, which occurs during his first year of college.  This chapter is essential reading, considering America is rarely exposed to hearing and reading Black men speak and write in nuanced ways about their intimate relationships.  Black men’s narratives about their relationships are often told through a white voice—usually a white voice misrepresenting black men’s stories.  During his freshmen year, his evaluation of women focused predominantly on their physical composition.  He fell almost instantly in love with his first love without even knowing who she really was.  Chapter 1 reveals the impact this relationship would have on future relationships: sometimes no impact and sometimes a “catastrophic” impact.

One of the typical limitations of reading a memoir or any autobiographical work of someone who is not famous or well-known is the reader is left with an unsatisfying feeling about the value of having read the work; that is, the reader is often left thinking “so what?”  This is not the case with The Soundtrack to My Life.  Hylton does enough critical evaluation of his experiences that readers are able to see how his experiences can help to shed light on their own experiences, and his serious assessments of his experiences permit readers to avoid his pitfalls.

The author explains the potent influence the absence of his father in his life has had on him.  Unfortunately, too many black males have had to grow up without their fathers being in the home and active in their lives.  One thing I value most about Hylton’s statements about the absence of his father in his life is he does not lie and say his absence has been inconsequential; it has been quite consequential.

My greatest disappointment with the book is it’s too short.  I wanted to read more of each chapter but each chapter would end too soon.  Many postmodern readers, however, love to read shorter works because they have distinctively shorter attention spans than readers in any other historical epoch.  The author probably recognizes this reality and constructed the book accordingly.

The Soundtrack to My Life is truly engaging, insightful and authentic.  I highly recommend this book and it’s worth every minute you consume reading it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison