Book Review w/ J. Curtis | Brother Lawrence & God’s Presence

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Title: The Practice of the Presence of God and The Spiritual Maxims
Author: Brother Lawrence
Publisher: Digireads
Year: 2016
My Genre Category: Christian Living/Disciple


Synopsis (5/5)

Certainly, the Monastic life is not for most people! Brother Lawrence also had struggles with this life, and especially the job he had – managing the kitchen and making meals! However, he made the most of the opportunity and simply focused on maintaining, as much as he could, an intentional gaze on the presence of God with him. In this work, he tried to explain his ups and downs in this process and share why he thought this the utmost goal of all believers, at all times. There certainly were aspects of the work where I struggled, for various reasons, however, the overall goal as Brother Lawrence presents it – focusing on God – is certainly an area where I have deficiencies (to put it nicely). In that regard, it was an important book to read.

Content/Writing (3/5)

There were times when I had difficulty in following Brother Lawrence’s thought. However, I am not certain if it was a lack of writing skills or a deficiency in intelligence on my part that made it difficult. Probably a combination of both. As such, I’m putting this in the middle of the road. Overall, however, the message is conveyed well and you can certainly takeaway the most valuable pieces. Lastly, hearing some of this struggles that he walked through I found encouraging in this current stage of my life.

Design/Font/In Hand (2/5)

This has probably been one of the least enjoyable books I have interacted with in a while. I do really like the cover design, but the layout, font, etc. was not too enjoyable to me. To be fair, it wasn’t really designed to be either. I do think the publisher did what they set out to do which was to make a simple and cheaper version easily accessible. There is much in that regard that I appreciate. Also, being overly simplistic is probably a great choice for a Monastic read! Nonetheless, if left me wanting for more.

Impact (4/5)

I have really been going through some challenges lately! It’s been tough, but also rewarding in how it is shaping me – I sincerely hope! – to be more like Christ. With this said, I would say this had a good impact on me. I was handed this book a few years ago, and I’m grateful I got around to it in this season. Focusing on the presence of God and living by faith certainly have been two important themes in my life over the last few years, but in particular, this last year.

Recommend (4/5)

For Christians, I would say this could be a great read. What’s nice is it has some challenging questions and probes well into how we are, and perhaps should be, living. It’s also a short read that you can plow through in a relatively quickly. For me, I am not ready to consider it a necessary read, but it is certainly a good perspective to wrestle with. I’m curious to see – if I read it again down the road – if my perspective on that changes.


“That this trouble of mind had lasted four years; during which time he had suffered much. But that at last he had seen that this trouble arose from want of faith; and that since then he had passed his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. That he had placed his sins betwixt him and God, as it were, to tell Him that he did not deserve His favors, but that God still continued to bestow them in abundance.” p. 8

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God and The Spiritual Maxims (Digireads, 2016), 8.

“I say again, let us enter into ourselves. The time presses, there is no room for delay: out souls are at stake. I believe you have take such effectual measures that you will not be surprised. I commend you for it; it is the one thing necessary. We must, nevertheless, always work at it, because not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord, who reposes in it, and He will quickly calm the sea.”

Lawrence, 20.

“He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of the soul and body.”

Lawrence, 25.

Overview (3.6/5)

I would certainly recommend this book to Christians seeking to deepen their walk with God, but again wouldn’t consider a necessary read for me just yet. However, it does have some great nuggets in it. Hopefully I can come back to this one in a few years and see how it has grown on me.


© J. Curtis, 2022

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Book Review w/ J. Curtis | Coach Wooden

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Title: Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours
Author: Pat Williams
Publisher: Revell
Year: 2011
My Genre Category: Get it Together!


Synopsis (5/5)

John Wooden; extraordinary coach and extraordinary man! In this work, Pat Williams shares the 7-point creed that Joshua Wooden, John Wooden’s father, shared with Coach Wooden when he was a child. Coach Wooden lived by these creeds throughout his life and attributes his success as a man and a coach to his father’s wisdom. He also made sure to pass these points of wisdom along to others! Mr. Williams does a great job in telling many wonderful stories about Coach along with making these points applicable to daily living.

Content/Writing (4/5)

Mr. Williams delivers well on this goal. He shares the principles that Coach Wooden lived by in such a way that they are relatable and easily applicable. This is mostly done by the stories that he shares of Coach Wooden’s life as well as his own. Certainly straight-forward writing and not very artistic in that way, but this is to be expected in this type of work. Well done.

Design/Font/In Hand (3/5)

The book does feel good in hand. I used a hardback version from the public library. I like the front cover as well. The font is good size, but somewhat bulky. The chapters were broken up well and often had Wooden quotes boxed into the chapters on the margins. Again, a straightforward format which fit the style of the book.

Impact (4.5/5)

Overall, I probably would not rate the impact of this book quite so high. I would not consider this to be a must read. However, for me it has a high impact as I have looked-up to Wooden for many years now and I had read about these principles previously. Mr. Williams did a fantastic job capturing these principles well and making it an enjoyable ride. I thought these principles were profound when I first read them but enjoyed them even more when attached to the stories and challenging questions Mr. Williams shared.

Recommend (4/5)

I certainly would recommend this book for anyone looking to add some simple yet profound and wise principles to their lives. Also, for sports fans – especially basketball – since Coach Wooden is considered to be the greatest coach of all time in any sport. Lastly, for anyone looking to be an entrepreneur or leader, certainly worth considering! These are great principles to stand on.


I can’t get enough of Coach Wooden and his wisdom. And I can’t get enough of his father, Joshua Hugh Wooden – a man so wise and so rich in insight that he formulated these seven life principles:
1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day by the life you live.
7. Pray for guidance and counsel, and give thanks for your blessings each day.

Williams, Pat, and James Denney. 2011. Coach Wooden. Revell. pp. 20-21

With each new morning, we receive the gift of 86,400 seconds, 86,400 ticks of the clock. We choose how to spend each second. We can invest each second, make it count, treat it as something rare and irreplaceable, or we can simply kill time. … Life is precious. Time is irreplaceable. You don’t have a moment to lose. So make each day your masterpiece.

Ibid, p. 84

A library of good books is a wise collection of friends, mentors, counselors, advisers, and encouragers. Books instruct and entertain. Books affect the course of our lives. Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard University in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, put it this way: ‘Books are the quietest and most constant friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.’

Ibid, p. 101

Overview (4.1/5)

Mr. Williams delivers a solid read and a great way to interact with Coach Wooden and ponder the wisdom he graciously and humbly shared with those he interacted with day-to-day. If you enjoy reading about sports leaders or about leadership in general, this will certainly be an enjoyable and worthwhile read. Enjoy!


© J. Curtis, 2022

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Book Review w/ J. Curtis | Denmark Vesey

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Book Info

Title: Denmark Vesey: The Buried Story of America’s Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Lead It
Author: David Robertson
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1999
My Genre Category: History


Synopsis (4/5)

Mr. Robertson has captured the remarkable story of Denmark Vesey, a free man in Charleston, South Carolina. Vesey was born into slavery and lead the conspired event of what would have been the largest slave rebellion in American history. How did this man, who gained his own freedom, get to where he almost overtook the city of Charleston?

Content/Writing (4/5)

Mr. Robertson did well painting the picture of the life of Vesey. He had strong descriptions and filled in the surrounding context very well. One of the things I enjoy the most about reading history is seeing all the surrounding context and backgrounds that helped shape the event of focus and Mr. Robertson accomplished this task. At times, you can see Mr. Robertson’s own political thoughts spill out. I had mixed feeling on this. On the one hand, I appreciate an author putting pieces of themselves in their work. I think this important. On the other hand, for a history book, I rather stay in the context of the story. However, although I could tell we would probably come to different conclusions and have a different sway of the topic, I did appreciate how Mr. Robertson’s own thoughts did not overshadow the story. He put pieces here and there, but it did not distract from the story. As such, I thought it was well done.

Design/Font/In Hand (4/5)

The book feels good in the hands. It’s a nice size, has good supporting pictures – which I find highly valuable in a history book – has a capturing cover, and unique chapter headings. The only real critique I would give would be to use a different font, but it still works well.

Impact (5/5)

I am probably biased in this category. Being a history major, I think the more history we can read and learn from the better and the greater impact it would have on us. Especially when the author is being true to the actual history of what occurred, versus so much of the history we see today when authors write modern day thinking and convictions into the past. History must stay true to the context. I think Mr. Robinson does that well, even while sharing his own thoughts. As such, I would probably give this a 4/5. However, since this is a story that had such significance at the time and I have never heard of the story before, I bumped it up to a 5.

Recommend (3/5)

I would not put this in a must-read category for most people. If you are a history fan or a history student, then I would give it more weight. For the general public, I still think it holds value and would encourage it but wouldn’t consider it necessary. I will probably add it to my children’s reading list for late-high school.


“Die like a man!” From their common cell at the Work House, Peter Poyas and Denmark Vesey shouted this encouragement to each of the other blacks arrested and brought to the prison during the period from June 18 to June 30. Vesey’s and Poyas’s shouts gave voice to the fears and anticipations of each black man thrust, under guard, into the city’s prison for the confinement and torture of slaves: that once arrested and charged with insurrection, a black salve’s death was inevitable, and that a fair trial by whites was an impossibility. The only way to resist was to die stoically and silently, revealing as little about Vesey’s plot as possible.

David Robertson. Denmark Vesey: The Buried Story of America’s Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 88

Overview (4/5)

Denmark Vesey tells a vivid story of this mysterious man who arose as a leader in his community and plotted and planned America’s greatest slave rebellion. His actions have created a quiet but definite slow burn on the timeline of our history as he periodically arises again through other leaders – even of the ranks of a Frederick Douglass. Certainly, an interesting read that was well written.


© J. Curtis, 2022

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Book Review w/ J. Curtis | Knowing God

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Book Info –

Title: Knowing God
Author: J.I. Packer
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Year: 1993 (20th-Anniversary Edition)
My Genre Category: Christian Theology


Synopsis (5/5)

Knowing God is the 1973 classic by J.I. Packer. It is an overview of Christian Theology and Doctrine, written to be accessed by the layperson. It is intended to be an introduction to how Christians have interacted with Scripture throughout the centuries and also to help understand the character of God. In this fashion, to me it is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’s work: theology to be ingested by the common man!

Content/Writing (5/5)

While tackling broad topics of Christian theology and the deep character traits of God, Mr. Packer does so with grace and wisdom. He not only makes these ideas easily accessible, but also firmly plants his feet and does not hold back the sharp edge of his pen when he feels it necessary!  

Design/Font/In Hand (4.5/5)

The cover is good, but for some reason leaves me slightly wanting. Beyond that, thoroughly appreciate this aspect of the book as well. It is a good size, fits in my hands well, the binding is pliable and easy to maneuver, and the font is crisp and clean; I really enjoy the question marks! The chapters can be long, but it’s a work of theology and this is to be expected. The chapters have good breaks in them.

Impact (5/5)

In this Lewis-style writing, the context is accessible, educational and challenging for a Christian at any point in their walk. Additionally, for those wanting to learn more about Christianity, or God in general, this work they also may find intriguing. Additionally, this book can be impactful for a seasoned and well-read Christian. Even if much of it is review, the way Mr. Packer writes and the questions he often poses, particularly at the end of some of the chapters, leaves you not only wanting more, but looking into your own spiritual walk.

Recommend (5/5)

For the reasons expressed in this work’s Impact, I highly recommend for those seeking to read anything relating to Christian Theology/Doctrine.


“What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the ‘eternal life’ that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. ‘This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ (Jn 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bring more joy, delight and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God. ‘This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me.”’ (Jer 9:23-24).”

J.I. Packer. Knowing God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 33

Overview (4.9/5)

This is a great read to either learn about God or Christianity. Even for a seasoned believer, it serves with great reminders and penetrating questions. I will keep this book in rotation and reread it every few years. Grab a copy, get a large mug of coffee or tea, and make ready the pen, pad and highlighter!


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Book Review w/ J. Curtis | The Final Quest

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Book Info –

Title: The Final Quest
Author: Rick Joyner
Publisher: MorningStar Publications
Year: 1996
My Genre Category: Christian Prophecy/Fiction


Synopsis (3/5)

The Final Quest is the first book of Mr. Joyner’s trilogy. It is based on a prophetic dream Mr. Joyner had regarding the last days of earth and the spiritual battles that are ensuing. It gives a “peek behind the veil” of the battles between the spiritual forces of good and evil, along with the roles that Christians play in these battles.

Content/Writing (4/5)

Much of the writing was well done. It gives some intriguing insights into our spiritual lives along with what we encounter day-to-day (and over the course of years of our lives) may look like from a Heavenly perspective. I did have a high appreciation for many of those aspects of the book. In addition, I think Mr. Joyner had very good descriptions along the way. Enjoyable read certainly.

Design/Font/In Hand (3/5)

Average. Font was plan, but easy to navigate. The addition I have is small and fits in the hand well. Nice companion for the nightstand or for traveling with. Additionally, the chapters were broken up into sections well which I appreciate, particularly for night reading. Designs were nice as well.

Impact (4/5)

I would go slightly above average on impact for me. I tend to be cautious – maybe to my own fault, granted – about “prophetic” works. I just tread cautiously with getting too caught up with certain details that we may take with more confidence than we ought. However, I did find portions of this work profoundly encouraging. Particularly the interactions with Christ. In that regard, for me it was like reading Narnia and having an encouraging encounter with Aslan. Thus, I go slightly above average.

Recommend (3/5)

I certainly would not put this in a must-read category, however, if you like a good story or if you find interest in Christian Eschatology, this work may be enjoyable and even impactful. Give it a go!


“I finally asked one of them why they did this, as even the smallest was much more powerful than I was. ‘Because of the mantle,’ he replied. ‘That is the highest rank in the kingdom.’ ‘This is just a plain mantle,’ I protested. ‘No!’ the angel insisted. ‘You are clothed in the grace of God. There is no greater power than that!’”

Rick Joyner. The Final Quest (Fort Mill: MorningStar Publications, 1996), 62

“And love will be what bring My kingdom. Love is the banner over My army, and under this banner you must now fight.”

Ibid, 170

Overview (3.4/5)

Overall, I really enjoyed this book as a personal read. Again, I think at times Mr. Joyner comes off as this work being an authoritative prophetic vision. I could be reading too much into that. I proceed with much caution with any work with a “thus saith the Lord” type of approach. However, it was a good story and gave me much to ponder while also providing comfort and encouragement in the face of life circumstances. It was worth the read.


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New Site | Among the Lentils

As mentioned in my previous post, I have started a new site for the New Year.

The link below will take you to the homepage. You can see the first post by clinking the link in the box.

I hope you enjoy!

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Project 5782 | Derailed!

Well, clearly my plan for the daily writing – Project 5782 – has been utterly derailed!

My wife and I got sick for a couple of weeks…which caused me to already get behind…

Then I started a new, self-employed job…which takes up a lot of time…

Then we had Baby #4…

Yeah, no time for writing basically! lol

I apologize for those who had been following.

There is new news though…

I am starting up a new page! I will still post to this one every now and again and primarily focus on book reviews for the time being. However, for the new page, I will be starting a semi-monthly posting relating exclusively to professional development – with a spiritual lens, of course.

So, if you find interest in that, please be on the lookout for that launching soon!

As always, blessings to you and yours!

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Short Intermission

Hello everyone!

I am going to be taking a short break from my daily postings.

I am feeling under the weather and taking care of the fam., so I will be back next week and fill in on the days I missed.

Hope all is well with you!

Published in: on 7 PMpWed, 13 Oct 2021 22:07:08 -040007Wednesday 2016 at 10:07 pm  Comments (2)  

Project 5782 | Day 22

Not as it Seems

Scripture Portion

Psalm 82

1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
   in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
   and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
   maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
   deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
   they walk about in darkness;
   all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
   sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die,
   and fall like any prince.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
   for you shall inherit all the nations!

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Quote from Reading

“On the issue of slavery, it was essentially Western civilization against the world. At the time, Western civilization had the power to prevail against all other civilizations. That is how and why slavery was destroyed as an institution in almost the whole world. But it did not happen all at once or even within a few decades. When the British finally stamped out slavery in Tanganyika in 1922 it was more than half a century after the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, and vestiges of slavery still survived in parts of Africa into the twenty-first century.
“The unique position of the Western world in the history – and especially the destruction – of slavery need not imply that there was unanimity within the West on this institution. In addition to whites who defended the enslavement of Africans on racial grounds, or who opposed general emancipation on social grounds, there were many whites – and even blacks – who defended slavery as a matter of self-interest as slaveowners. Although most black owners of slaves in the United States were only nominal owners of members of their own families, there were thousands of other blacks in the antebellum South who were commercial slaveowners, just like their white counterparts. An estimated one-third of the ‘free persons of color’ in New Orleans were slaveowners and thousands of these slaveowners volunteered to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Black slaveowners were even more common in the Caribbean. In short, there were many defenders of slavery in the West, even in the nineteenth century – and, outside the West, slavery was too widely accepted to require defense.”

Sowell, Thomas, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Encounter Books: New York, 2005, pg. 126-127

Provocative Language

from “Alone”

Have you ever
Sat in a room
Full of people
Yet never felt
So alone…

No acknowledgement
No conversation
No nothing.
My company,
My phone.

Bhathal, Ritu, Poetic RITUals, 2016, pg.
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Project 5782 | Day 21

Stand in Truth

Scripture Portion

Galatians 1.6-10

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Quote from Reading

“The antiracist movement has many of the hallmarks of a cult, including staying close enough to the Bible to avoid immediate detection and hiding the fact that it has a new theology and a new glossary of terms that diverse ever-so-slightly from Christian orthodoxy. At least at first. In classic cult fashion, they borrow from the familiar and accepted, then infuse it with new meaning. This allows the cult to appeal to the faithful within the dominant, orthodox religions from which it draws its converts.

“This new cult has created a new lexicon that has served as scaffolding to support what has become an entire body of divinity. In the same manner, this new body of divinity comes complete with its own cosmology (CT/CRT/I); original sin (racism); law (antiracisim); gospel (racial reconciliation); martyrs (Saints Trayvon, Mike, George, Breonna, etc.); priests (oppressed minorities); means of atonement (reparations); new birth (wokeness); liturgy (lament); canon (CSJ social science); theologians (DiAngelo, Kendi, Brown, Crenshaw, MacIntosh, etc.); and catechism (‘say their names’).”

Baucham, Voddie, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, Salem Books: Washington D.C., 2021, pg.67

Provocative Language

“For who, in Heaven’s name, would describe as natural or normal the man from whom these failings were wholly absent? ‘Natural,’ if you like, in a quite different sense; archnatural, unfallen. We have seen only one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can’t really be very well ‘adjusted’ to your world if it says you ‘have a devil’ and ends by nailing you up naked to a sake of wood.”

Lewis, C.S., The Four Loves: An Exploration of the Nature of Love, Mariner Books: New York, 2012 edition, pg. 54
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