The Bride(zilla) of Christ: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

bridezillaThe Good:

This was an unexpectedly beneficial read. I was expecting horror stories of fist-fights in the foyer, worship wars over the contemporary bagpipe harmonica band, or maybe pastors become crack addicts to make it through board meetings. Admittedly, that would have been a fun read, but less helpful. Bride(Zilla) did give plenty of honest stories, enough to know the authors had been on the receiving side of plenty of church hurt. But, the book offers hope for the church and ourselves, pushing back hard at the idea that all the hurt is caused by others, leaving us off the hook. Other than being convicted (how dare they), I loved the book.

The Bad:

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more practical help for “What to Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People,” (the subtitle). Gluck and Martin did emphasize that the gospel has the power to reconcile severed relationships, and pushed back hard on the idea to simply run away to solve our problems.

The book also jumps around a bit, hitting on some tangents that seem to be big issues for the authors. The church not focusing on singles is one. And the idea that that the church has become a place of entitlement for spoiled believers is another. It was a bit of a tangent, but the chapter on entitlement was one of my favorites, helping to me to think through why we do what we do, and how we might unintentionally be enabling the entitlement mentality at our church. Here are some quotes from that section. . .

“There’s a lot of talk these days about entitlement…. The disease of entitlement has historically had just as much of a hold on the church as anywhere else… Let me get straight to the gist of this chapter: the overflow of an ungrateful heart is consumerism…  We attend church to be served, not to serve. We attend church to be won over, not to worship. We attend church to complain, not to confess… we simply attend, and we believe the church should attend to the space that we’re paying tithes to fill… The problem, of course, is that consumerism in the church creates causalities.”

The Ugly:

As a pastor, I can say with some experience that there are times when church sucks – and times when it is the most wonderful, powerful, life-changing place on the planet. This book had to focus on the ugly side of church, but somehow, for me, it ended up being medicine for healing some of the old hurts, and helped me realize how I was part of the problem.

I loved this encouraging line: “The hurt is not the deepest thing. Grace is deeper still.”

I was hoping I’d get a new car for writing this review. Had that been the case, I might have lied. However, all I got was a book free from the Blogging for Books Blogger Review Program. As a result, I was honest. Dang it.



Don’t Buy This Book

essentialsOfTheHeartSusan Weagant has updated her book, Essentials of the Heart. I was asked to write an endorsement. Here’s what I think.

Don’t buy this book. It will make you think about where you are, and where you would like to be, and give steps to change – you don’t want that. You’ll get engrossed in the stories, and then hit in the heart by the scripture woven in. The next thing you know you will want to make the changes suggested, and you will start down the path to a life of fulfillment. Trust me, it’s much easier to stay stuck. Put the book back.

Daniel Cooley





How Your Church Family Works: the good, the bad, and the ugly

I always wondered why God chose the church. We petty, anxious, selfish people can make a mess of His message. A supernatural “Jesus Saves” written with mountains floating in the air would cause less drama. Assuming God knows what He is doing, we need a way to work together in this family called church. For that, Steinke’s book is priceless.


The Good: This book was great – fun to read, immensely practical, convicting and encouraging. I can’t recommend it highly enough – especially to those in ministry. I especially liked the “7 Responses to Promote Health: Self not others, strength not weakness; process not content; challenge not comfort, integrity not unity; system not symptom; direction not condition.” OK, you need definitions to apply, but trust me they are good.

I also was helped by the idea of Triangles. “When A is at odds with B, the most anxious of the pair introduces C (third party) to reduce anxiety between A and B. For example, God confronts Adam about his disobedience. Anxious Adam shifts the burden to Eve. When she encounters God, Eve blames the snake.” So glad I’ve never done that.

And my favorite quote: “Anxiety creates its own disaster.” Gregory Bateson.


The Bad: The first half is more theoretical; the second half has more stories to illustrate the truths. And graphs. So, the second half is way more interesting. The bad thing is, you can’t really understand the second half without reading through from the beginning. Trust me on this one. To Steinke’s credit, even the first half is a good read.


The Ugly: I’ve been in church work for about 30 years, and now this book comes out. I’d have handled a lot of ugly in a more redemption fashion, had Steinke written this and I applied it sooner. So, it’s all Steinke’s fault. Thanks Steinke, now no more anxiety between me A and them B.




RENOVATE: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

renovateThe Good: Léonce Crump lives in a city that needs help. Radical help. Rather than give up on it – he believes God has called us to do something about the mess our world is in. I love the way he challenges us to see where we live as a gift from God – a gift to bring heaven to earth, to bring change to our cities and our own lives. It’s a new idea to me, this idea of settling down to bring lasting change and reconciliation to our community. In spite of the bad and ugly, I recommend this book!

The Bad: In the chapter The Way Home Leonce makes a point out of Heaven being a temporary place where God currently lives. He shows that our world will be reborn when Jesus returns, and so he believes we should look, strive really, for a universal restoration of all things. I get that theology, but also see other scriptures talking about a later time when our world seems to be blown to cinders. At any rate, it seems like he is making a big deal out of something that’s difficult to prove from Scripture. I also disagreed with the idea from page 25 that Eve after the Fall would somehow long after her husband’s role. In a book with this much theology, that’s not much to disagree on. But, it brings me to the ugly.

The Ugly: I felt at times (like those listed above) that Leonce stretches Scripture to find more support for his thesis of “Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are.” That being said, I like the thesis. Sometimes, however, I think you change who you are by learning to accept where you are. But, he loves Atlanta. Yuck. Maybe I’m wrong – if you can love Atlanta, you can love anywhere.

OH – I received this book for free from Multnomah Books for writing a review. Trust me, a free book didn’t change my review. I might can be bought, but not for ten bucks.



Fishing for Faith: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

fishing4faithThe Good: Leanna Craig LeBato has a great way of taking every-day occurrences and seeing something special in them. She helps both parents and their children understand that God is always there, even in the small things. Fishing for Faith is a refreshing read.

The Bad: This is a good book, not The Good Book, but a good book – I’ve nothing bad to say about it. And that is saying something.

The Ugly: The girl in the pictures looks a bit odd in some of them. Not ugly, just… odd. Maybe that makes it more accurate?

Buy it. You’ll like it.

Confession: I did some editing for Leanna on this book, so yes I’m biased. I’m also right.


The King of Torts: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

5356The Good:
John Grisham is back to writing his more typical legal thrillers. It’s a great way to waste some time when nothing is pressing and The Bachelor is the only thing on TV. Until you get to “the ugly” that is

The Bad:
The good guy is… rather yuck. It’s hard to feel bad when the good guy falls – and lands in his $45-million-dollar jet.

The Ugly:

At the end of the book there is a trial at the Coconino County Courthouse in Flagstaff AZ. The book says it was the second week in September that morning, and temperature was already pushing 105F. Not likely. I grew up in Northern Arizona. When Jesus returns, I figure He will set up camp in Flagstaff. Maybe.

Flagstaff is 7000’ above sea level, making it 2000’ higher than Denver. It has NEVER hit 100F. Ever. It’s most extreme temperatures range from -30F in January of 1937 to 97F in July of 1973. It has an annual snowfall average of over 100 inches, making it one of the snowiest cities in the USA.

OK, so it was a pretty good book and this is just a glitch. But little things like a revolver that has a magazine, emergency brakes that lock up the front wheels, and cities described incorrectly somehow jerk me out of the story. So John, if you’re googling your name on a boring day when The Bachelor is the only thing on TV, and find this blog, I hope you’re listening.




Nothing to Lose: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Nothingtolose_leechild(Jack Reacher book 12) BY LEE CHILD

The Good:
I love Lee Child’s writing style. His descriptions draw you in instead of bore you, and he has a way of keeping the suspense building. But, for this book, the writing style is the best thing about it.

The Bad:
Reacher’s political views must be the author’s views, because they just don’t fit a guy like Reacher. And to see our current middle east military actions as unjust and, in comparison, our previous ones as just – this made no sense to me. Had Reacher never heard of Vietnam? And then there was Reacher picking fights and maybe killing people that didn’t seem to deserve it. And our hero Reacher talking a married woman into sleeping with him because her husband was comatose. But, the worst part of all was the religious lie. That was flat ugly.

The Ugly:
Lee lied. Well, not exactly, instead he had an Anglican minister lie in a convincing way to make the Bible seem foolish. And his argument is, well, a lie. Attacking people’s beliefs, attacking the Bible is fair game. However, lying to do it is a cheap shot.

In talking about the book of Revelation, Lee has the Anglican minister say, “It was written either in Ancient Hebrew or Aramaic, and copied by hand many times, and then translated into Koine Greek, and copied by hand many times, and then translated into Latin, and copied by hand many times, and then translated into Elizabethan English and printed, with opportunities for error and confusion at every single stage. Now it reads like a bad acid trip…”

No Anglican pastor could be so ignorant. Nor should an author be that ignorant, even if this is fiction.

This paragraph makes it sound like our English Bible is so many copies removed from the original languages that it is unreliable. It’s a lie. I have, in my office, a Greek to English translation of the entire NT. And, shock to Lee Child and his Anglican pastor, although people spoke in many languages (including Hebrew or Aramaic) at the time of Christ, Greek had been the common written language (the lingua-franca) since the conquests of Alexander the Great around 330BC.

So, John’s original writing of Revelation was in Greek – and we currently have Greek to English direct translations. What we have is reliable copy of what he wrote. Maybe you believe it and maybe you think it is a bad acid trip – but it is reliable. Where Lee got this copy to a copy to a copy idea and why he put it in is a mystery. I hate it when fiction slides into the realm of non-fiction so the author can “prove” his point. It’s just ugly.



The President Writes Back!


Since this is the President George H.W. Bush week, I thought I’d re-post this.

He and Barbara have done some things for the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation. Since the proceeds from Bizarre Bible Stories 2! go to the CCRF, I sent them a book.

But he wrote back, and that I think, is really cool.

I’d vote for him now!



xmas web header

The Assassin – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

the assassinThe Good: It’s hard to find a good thing about an assassin, but this one is fairly likeable, as assassins go, but bad enough to want him dead. As for the book, it is far and away the best of the Isaac Bell Series, highly recommended!

Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is that a portion of the story takes place in the country of Georgia, where I spent a few weeks one summer. The author’s description of the area and the people of Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia were much as I remember. Some good research was done here – great fun to read.

The Bad: There is WAY less bad in this book then in the previous ones. Normally I have to skip over the descriptions of the perfect main characters, their perfect hair, food, and dress. Gag me. In this Isaac Bell adventure, most of that was missing.

The Ugly: A great twist or two at the end, but it felt ugly not to have guessed what was coming before the authors pulled the trigger. Foolish is more accurate, but Clint Eastwood used Ugly. I loved this book. It’s way better the previous ones in the series – well done Clive and Justin!


Damage: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

damageThe Good: A great read, easily one of the best by Dick or Felix Francis. Lots of fun horse and horse racing facts mixed in what a good thriller.

The Bad: It seemed to end too quickly – abrupt really. Maybe that just shows I liked it a lot and didn’t want it to end? Nah, lousy author.

The Ugly: It took some research to figure out this one was written by Felix, the forth since his dad Dick’s death. Sad to see him have to write alone, pretty cool to see the son pick up where his dad left off.