Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Missional Entrepreneur: Principles and Practices for Business as Mission – Mark L. Russell

© 2010 New Hope Publishers, Birmingham

BAM. No, you are not reading the script from a campy 1960s Batman episode. BAM is the acronym for Business as Mission, an innovative way of approaching missions around the world. Mark Russell is an excellent person to bring this issue to the foreground for missionaries and businessmen alike because he has education and background in both ministry and business. He spent years working in Russia, Chile, and Germany on the cutting edge of BAM enterprises.

The Missional Entrepreneur is divided into five sections which introduce, define, provide foundation for, and examine models to doing business as mission. The book reads a lot like a textbook which sometimes makes it hard to muddle through, but at the same time makes it a trusty reference tool for Christians in business and missions alike. The scholarship used in producing this book is obvious in the use of visual representations throughout the text as well as the citations and index found at the end of the book.

Russell uses examples drawn from his experience and especially from research work done in Thailand to portray positive models for BAM, and contrasts them with instances that have caused BAM to struggle or even fail from time to time. After defining BAM from his own viewpoint, Russell gives biblical foundation for the practice from the life of Paul. He concludes the work with a couple of chapters dealing with Missional Leadership (which was very helpful) and Offshoring (which was less than helpful).

I would highly recommend this book for use as a textbook for any business class in a Christian setting or for all missionary training courses. It would be a welcomed addition to the library of any pastor, missions organization leader, missionary, or Christian businessman (especially those contemplating impaction the world for Christ through their business). I can give The Missional Entrepreneur four and one-half out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, June 23, 2010

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Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer – John Grisham

© 2010 New York, Dutton Children’s Books

In the year 2000, John Grisham did something different. He wrote a novel that was NOT about lawyers. Well, at least it was different for him. The book was originally published in serial form in the Oxford American literary magazine. Subsequently, Doubleday released the book version of A Painted House in January 2001. The author has since released other non-lawyerly stories (Skipping Christmas, also Doubleday 2001; Bleachers, Doubleday 2003; and Playing for Pizza, Doubleday 2007). Now he is again trying something new. This time he is entering the juvenile market—albeit with a lawyer novel.

Theo Boone is the thirteen-year-old son of two lawyers—his father, a real estate lawyer, and his mother a successful divorce attorney who only represents the wife. He loves court and all the drama therein. He even loves to watch old Perry Mason reruns with his parents. His dream vacillates between being a high-profile courtroom lawyer and becoming a powerful judge in that same courtroom. In his eighth-grade class, he is the go-to guy for all problems involving the law (from escaped and impounded dogs to arrested brothers). In the midst of the biggest murder trial to hit the town of Strattenburg, Theo finds himself in possession of the only evidence to guide justice. And he’s promised not to tell anyone.

This is a fast-paced novel which is a great introduction to “lawyer fiction” for most readers. Appealing about this book is the moving story with rich characters and the absence of foul language and sex scenes that permeate courtroom dramas aimed at an older audience. You can almost overlook the main drawback—scenes that seem to drop a line or two, requiring the reader to fill in a bigger gap than he should.

For this excellent effort in introducing his writing to younger audiences, I can award Grisham a solid four out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, June 23, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tilly – Frank Peretti

©1988, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL (Special Edition ©2003)

It was about eighteen years ago when the secretary at the church where I was on staff read and suggested I read this little Peretti book. I had read several of his books—including the acclaimed This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. Some I liked, some – not so much. But I fully intended to read this one, having the “this is a really great book, you ought to read it” recommendation to go on.

A couple of days ago, the Blushing Bride and I found this special edition copy (complete with forward by Michael W. and Debbie Smith) in a local used bookstore, and finally took the day or two to read it.

Tilly is a touching story about mistakes, forgiveness, and redemption. Kathy and Dan have a secret. And they spend the entire hundred twenty pages learning to cope with it. Any other details would probably require spoiler alerts. Suffice to say that the book is touching without being sentimental. It is perhaps not the masterpiece that I was led to believe, it is well worth your time for a mid-afternoon peruse.

Peretti fans will like it. Others might find it a bit maudlin. But I will give it four out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, June 5, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mississippi Vivian – Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson

© 2010 Five Star, New York

With this one, Bill Crider claims to be everywhere. So he might as well be here, too. And he is. And I’m glad. In the second outing for Ted Stephens, Crider and Wilson have another winner. Sadly, Wilson passed away after the writing but before the publishing of this novel (October, 2008). Even so, you will be glad to pick up a copy of Mississippi Vivian for your own shelves.

The setting is August, 1970, and Ted Stephens, Houston private detective, finds himself on assignment in the backwoods town of Losgrove, Mississippi. It’s in Losgrove that Ted meets the title character—one of three Vivians in town who are distinguished by their points of origin: Texas Vivian, Idaho Vivian, and Mississippi Vivian. She becomes a part-time informant for Ted as he investigates some claims fraud cases for National Insurance. What he discovers is that in Losgrove, Mississippi, his suspects are dying all over town, and the rest of the town—including the sheriff—aren’t interested in talking to him.

Filled with Crider’s trademark down-home characters, and his wry humor, Mississippi Vivian is another example of nostalgia married to an investigative procedural. One of the things to like best about Stephens is that he doesn’t really care when people put him off, he just wants to do his job. If you’re skeptical just read a page or two, and you’ll find him saying so himself. You sometimes even forget that the setting is from thirty or forty years ago, until Stephens mentions the Falcon that he rented for the job.

Thanks again for a great afternoon’s diversion, Bill and Clyde. And here’s your five reading glasses for the trouble.

Benjamin Potter, June 1, 2010

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