Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice - Philip Kosloski

Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice:
11+ Ways to Distinguish Between God's Voice, Satan's Voice and My Voice
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski

I do not even recall how I came across this book, it might have been recommended based on other books I had read or bought. But to be honest you cannot beat the price. The ebook is available for a very reasonable rate. In many ways it reminds me of a bible track or 4 Spiritual Laws booklets that were used for evangelization by non-denomination groups when I was at university. It is a very short volume. But in reality has a pretty solid message.

The main focus of the book is to be a guide to help us in growth of discernment during our times of prayer and meditation. The main focus is that we hear four voices when we pray, two are internal and two are external. The internal one's or distractions and or our own wish fulfilment, the external are either Satan trying to lead us astray or the authentic voice of God speaking to us and guiding us. In the introduction the author states: "As always, I suggest taking everything to a trusted spiritual director, who acts as God's instrument and can help you sift out what is true and what is false. I hope this short eBook gives you the clarity you are searching for." And even for someone who has prayed for years there are some good tips in this book worth pursuing. Through the rest of the book Philip gives clear concise teaching, drawing heavily upon saints and church tradition to help us learn how to discern between the four voices. He draws extensively from Saint Ignatius and he has an amazing quote from Father Jacques Philippe.

One of the greatest strengths of the book is the two page appendix, it gives some amazing jumping off points to go deeper on the lessons taught in this book. Of the 22 books recommended I have read a few but after encountering quotes in this book have added a few more of them to my to be read pile. This book was a good enough read at such a great price point that as soon as I finished it I bought another of his and immediately read it also!

Books by Philip Kosloski:
Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice
3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II's Visit to Wisconsin
Star of the Sea: A Mariner's Journey
Serviam: A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Distractions: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer
The Horarium: A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer Schedule That Will Change Your Life

Monday, 2 May 2016

Motivation Code - Anthony Smits

Motivation Code
Anthony Smits
ISBN 9781310634604

There are a couple of adages or sayings that really do not apply to this book. The saying goes "You don't get something for nothing." or "You get what you pay for." But neither is true for this book. I discovered Anthony as the editor of Michal Stawicki's books, when I found out he had a few of his own I was very intrigued. Then to find out that both of his books were available for free I was blown away.

This book has a lot of great information condensed and presented in an easy to read, encouraging and friendly manner. The chapters in this brief volume are:
Success Requires Self-Motivation
Your Sphere of Influence
Action 1: Unmask Your Character
Action 2: Train for the game you like playing
Action 3: Choose a distinct path and follow it
Your Sphere of Effectiveness
Action 4: Justify your choices
Action 5: Commit to campaign until you win
Action 6: Consistently Show Initiative that Enacts Your Plan

To be honest there was not a lot terribly new in this book, but it was great reminder. It is sort of like going on a motivational retreat or conference but doing so by yourself and with Anthony as the guide through his writing instead of paying huge to attend a live event with Robin Sharma, Dan Millman or Stephen Covey. You can get a great start and some amazing tools from this book. Then if you want to pursue costlier advice by all means, do so. But Anthony has some excellent advice and guidance so give is book a try, you really cannot beat the price!

Books by Anthony Smits:

The Motivation Code
Inspiration Language: The East Way to Motivate Others

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Epistle to the Hebrews - Shane Kapler - and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics

The Epistle to the Hebrews:
and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics
Shane Kapler
Kenneth J Howell (Foreword)
Jared Zimmerer (Preface)
Angelico Press
ISBN 9781621381662

With averaging over 100 books a year I read a few amazing books, a few great books, a lot of good book and many that I give up on and never finish. Both this book and its companion volume The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living by Dr. Kevin Vost are in the amazing category. Until now I have only read a book that Shane co-authored, Tending the Temple, some of his books have been on my to be read pile for a while and after reading this one they really jumped up that ever growing list. I literally read this through in two 3 sessions and know that I will reread it again soon.

Shane takes the book of Hebrews and breaks it down into sections teaching on core Catholic truths. The chapters in this book are:

1. The Trinity (Hebrews 1-3)
2. The Incarnation (Hebrews 2-5)
3. The Word of God (Hebrews 4-6)
4. Christ's Priesthood, Our Salvation (Hebrews 7-11)
5. The Communion of the Saints (Hebrews 11-12)
6. The Eucharist (Hebrews 13)
7. The Authority of the Church's Leaders (Hebrews 13)

Each chapter is broken down into a number of sections or teaching points, with between 3 and 8 sections per chapter. As someone who spent 20 years as an undergrad, I greatly appreciate the scholarship in this book but also its brevity. Shane writes in a succinct manner with a tight economy of words. I wish had had encountered more books like Shane's during my religious studies degree. Not only was it intellectually stimulating but was engaging and addictive to read. As a seasoned Catholic I greatly enjoyed the book, especially the chapter on the Communion of the Saints.

I have always had a great appreciation for the Eucharist, and it was pivotal in drawing me back to the Catholic Church. Shane's chapter puts into words some of what I could only feel in my heart and spirit and not adequately describe. And why it is so pivotal to what it means to be Catholic.

Before I had even finished this book I recommended it to a few friends who have also in reading it got as much out of it as I have. It is an excellent read and I can think of a single reason not to commend it to you.

This book was an amazing read and to be honest as soon as I finished it I put it back on my 'to be read list' to read through it again. There is also a companion volume by Kevin Vost The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living. Separately they are each a great read but together they are awesome. And they really should be read together for the magnifying effect the teachings of each has upon the other. So give this book a chance it will have a direct impact upon your faith and practice.

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books by Shane Kapler:
The God Who Is Love
Through, With, and In Him
The Epistle to the Hebrews
Tending the Temple

Books contributed to:
Man Up!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Porch and the Cross - Kevin Vost - Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living

The Porch and the Cross:
Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living
Kevin Vost
Kenneth J Howell (Foreword)
Jared Zimmerer (Preface)
Angelico Press
ISBN 9781621381709

I have been a fan of Kevin Vost's writings since I first encountered them. And even though I seldom read physical books any more I made an exception for this book as the eBook is not yet release. For as much as I have truly loved all of Vost's book I have read to date this book has had a massive and immediate impact on my life. For in this volume Dr. Vost takes us on a whirlwind tour of stoic philosophy, specifically 4 Philosophers and how as Christians we can leverage their wisdom and help take our practice of the faith to a new level.

The stoic scholars that we encounter are:  Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, Lucius Annaeus Seneca or Senica the Younger and Marcus Aurelius. No to be honest I had encountered three of our four teachers, and have read Aurelius's Meditations numerous times over the years. Vost approaches these four in a unique way, first he provides a brief biography, then he draws extensively from their own work some with more commentary than others and the a final chapter on each how in applying it we can become better at being. Then as a finale Vost ties it all together in a conclusion that unites what is good from stoic wisdom with true Christian love and how they combined can have an immense impact on our world.

While reading this book one of the biggest things that impacted me was the concept of how our reaction to an event or circumstance that drives our response. If we can learn to step back and look at the event, as just an event then often our reaction and out interpretations of those events will be radically different. From my first encounter of this though in the book I have been applying it there has been drastic change in my home life, my professional life and my social influence. By learning to look at events from the perspective of what is under my control and what is not and always moving forward towards what is best my life has already been changed. Matthew Kelly often states that God's plan for our life is "to become the best version of our self", Kevin through these four philosophers gives us numerous tools and techniques to work and strive for that one goal.

I must however give you a few warnings about this book. First if you are not open to change, to striving to be better do not bother picking up this book. Second if you do not have a true hunger and thirst for righteousness; "Blessed is he who does hunger and thirst for righteousness for he shall be filled" Matthew 5:6 leave this book on the shelf, it will challenge your beliefs about who you are, your role in the world and your calling as a Christian. And third if you simply want to read a short 200 page book, and then by all means leave in the store, for once you read you will likely reread it, or go off and read more from our 4 teachers from the porch. It will likely kick off a long reading list as you endeavor to go deeper into these lessons and work to achieve true wisdom. But if you are willing to take those risks, then this book is tremendous and can have a wonderful impact upon you; then because of the changes in you, on your family, your workplace your community. In my opinion the reward far outweighs the risk!

Kevin in quoting Mark Forstater about Marcus Aurelius  quotes: "It's in the nature of books about the spirit that they can be visited again and again. How often we return to books after a gap of some years and find that, with broader experience, we are able to read them in a deeper way, to see new facets that we had previously missed. Marcus Aurelius's book is one of these - it can't be outgrown; it does not date. It reads in a different way to someone who is twenty than to someone who is sixty yet still has something profound to tell them both about living the real good life." I belive the same could be said about Kevin's books in fact reading this one has inspired me to pick up and reread some of his other books.

This book was an amazing read and to be honest as soon as I finished it I put it back on my 'to be read list' to read through it again. There is also a companion volume by Shane Kapler - The Epistle to the Hebrews: and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics. Separately they are both great reads but together they pack an amazing 1, 2 punch. And should be read together for the magnifying effect the teachings of each has upon the other.

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books by Dr. Kevin Vost:
One-Minute Aquinas
Memorize the Reasons!
St. Albert the Great
Hounds of the Lord
Seven Deadly Sins
Three Irish Saints
The Porch and the Cross
Memorize the Mass!
Tending the Temple
From Atheism to Catholicism
Unearthing Your Ten Talents
Fit For Eternal Life
Memorize the Faith!
Full Range of Motive

Books Contributed to:
Man Up!

Author profile interview with Dr. Kevin Vost.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Lost Stone - Jordan Quinn and Robert McPhillips - Kingdom of Wrenly Book 1

The Lost Stone
The Kingdom of Wrenly Book 1
Jordan Quinn
Robert McPhillips (Illustrator)
Little Simon an imprint of
Simon an Schuster
ISBN 9781442496927

This book was a recommendation based on other books read and reviewed. I showed the cover to my youngest two and read them the summary and they were clamouring to read it. That enthusiasm stayed through this book and we are now part way through book two. The book was so exciting to children they often did not want to stop and kept asking for one more chapter. Reading the eBook we pause and expand every picture and take a closer look at it.

This is a short story about friendship, responsibility and adventure. It is the story of Prince Lucas, and his desire to have friends, after sneaking out of the castle his father relents and allows him to play again with his only childhood friend his age, Clara the daughter of the queen's seamstress. The adventure is Lucas and Clara receive permission to hunt for the Queen's lost emerald. So together Clara and Lucas travel around the kingdom retracing the Queen's steps for the past few days, to try and find the stone. The two set out to retrace her he way through Primlox, Burth and Hobsgrove.

As an adult reading the series it seems a lot of time is setting up things for other books. There are currently 9 books out in this series and a tenth on the way in under two years. As such this story is a little slower than the next in the series.  The kingdom of Wrenly is composed of a mainland and four magical islands, Each island is predominately inhabited by one type of creature, Primlox for the fairies, Hobsgrove for wizards, Burth for the trolls and Crestwood for the dragons.

Overall it was a good read. The kids loved it and love the illustrations and there are lots of them. We will continue on and see how the series progresses.

Books in the Kingdom of Wrenly Series:
The Lost Stone
The Scarlet Dragon
Sea Monster!
The Witch's Curse
Adventures in Flatfrost
Beneath the Stone Forest
Let the Games Begin!
The Secret World of Mermaids
The Bard and the Beast
The Pegasus Quest