December 29, 2014

Book Review

Through The Bible Through The Year by John Stott

This is a daily (52 week) reflection on the bible from Genesis to Revelation. There are three parts to the book, each dealing with a particular theme during the Christian year. The first part of the book is from Creation to Christ which covers the months of September through December. The second part of the book is from Christmas to Pentecost which covers the months of January to April. Finally, there is Pentecost to the Parousia which covers the months of May to August.

The daily devotions were not the best. They were either too opinionated, too much non-biblical references, or simply no detailed enough to explain the passage of Scripture. I also did not agree with all of the authors theology, especially with his writings about the book of Revelation. The author seems to have a more symbolic view of Scripture rather than a literal view for many passages.

Therefore, I do not recommend this book. There are other daily devotionals that will get your through the bible in a year.

December 16, 2014

Book Review

Being a Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur

The purpose of this book is to use Scripture to describe the role of a father in the family setting. As usual MacArthur does an excellent job. There are 6 chapters that fill this 143 page book. MacArthur provides the right balance of Scripture and explanation.

I think the final paragraph on page 140 sums up the book nicely:

"As a father, then, you are called to be strong and courageous. You are urged to live with conviction and not waver when opposition comes your way. You are to summon your courage from the assurance of God's presence, from knowing you are pursing a just cause, and from the promise of God's sovereign power over all things. And you are to pass on your strength and courage by exhorting your children, encouraging them, and imploring them. As you do so, you will fulfill your obligation to ensure they walk upon and stay upon the path God has called them to."

This is a great book to give someone as a gift.

November 14, 2014

Book Review

John MacArthur's Bible Study Series
The Fulfilled Family

This book is part of an older bible study series based on John MacArthur's teacher and preaching.

This study examines the Godly family as described in Ephesians 5:21 - 6:4. There are 8 chapters dealing with:

  • Marriage
  • Wives
  • Husbands
  • Family
  • Children
  • Parents
Each chapter is presented in outline form as MacArthur preached it. The audio is also available for download from Grace to You. There are sidebars with additional insight scattered through the book. This information was not part of the original message delivered by MacArthur.

Finally, at the end of each chapter are some questions that are simply facts from the chapter. There are also a few questions that enable the reader to think more deeply and apply the biblical material to their life.

While this is an older book, first published in 1981 and is probably no longer in print, the material and study still applies today. If you come across a copy, it certainly is worth a read.

October 29, 2014

Changing Light Bulbs

Recently, I had 2 light bulbs burn out. These were the CFL bulbs. I didn't think much about it until I purchased a new pack and saw on the pack the life expectancy is 11 years.

Last week another bulb burnt out and I happened to see that I wrote on the bulb that it was installed in April of 2013!

I am thinking the average life span is 1.1 years not 11!

At least I get to fill up the landfill with mercury now.

Always thinking about something....

October 23, 2014

Slime Tire Gauge

About a year ago I purchased a Slime brand tire pressure gauge, the round type with a needle to show the pressure in the tire. It broke after only a few uses, so I contacted Slime and they replaced the gauge free of charge.

Last month, the tire pressure light on my car came on. This didn’t surprise me because it happens when the temperature drops. So I check the tire pressure and three of the tires were a few psi low, and one was about 10 psi low. I pumped up the tires and everything was good.

The next week the tps light illuminated again. I checked the tires and only the one was about 10 psi low again. I figured there was a slow leak in the tire, so I took it off and searched for a leak. I couldn’t find anything. I took the tire to the local garage and they couldn’t find the leak either. I put the tire back on and figured I would see what happens.

The tps light didn’t come on for a couple of weeks, so I thought I would check the tire pressure again. Sure enough it was about 10 psi low, but the tps light didn’t come on, so I figured something was wrong with the tire and tps. No big deal, I’ll just check the tire pressure each week to see what is happening.

After a couple of weeks, I got tired of dragging out the compressor and extension cord, so I purchased an air tank to top off the tires. This was much easier. I found all the tires on both of my cars were reading different air pressures each week. Each week I would pump them up to the proper psi.

Finally after almost two months, I decided to try a different tire pressure gauge. All of my tires should be 33 psi per the manufacture. When I used the Slime gauge they were reading 23 to 28 psi each week. When I used my craftsman digital they read 40 to 45 psi! I got a cheap pencil gauge and it was also reading in the 40 to 45 psi range.

Unbelievable, I was furious. I spent weeks messing around with my tires and even bought an air tank all because of a stupid, inaccurate tire pressure gauge made from a company that sold a defective product from the beginning!

The scary part is I used this tire gauge on my motorcycle too! Having an under or over inflated tire isn’t as dangerous in a car as it could be on a motorcycle.

In the past I have written to consumer reports and popular mechanics regarding tire pressure gauges. A couple of times a year they harp on the importance of proper tire pressure in your vehicle. They usually even state something like, even 1 psi off can make a difference in fuel economy and handling. Well, I have used multiple tire gauges on my cars and have gotten different results repeatedly. So, I asked them to do a report on tire gauges to see which one is most accurate. As you can imagine, no response and I have yet to see a report testing them.

Moral of the story, I will be using two tire gauges to check the pressure in my tires from now on. I suggest everyone else to do the same.

October 22, 2014

Book Review

The Fulfilled Family by John MacArthur

This is a great book to give as a gift to someone getting married or starting a family.

MacArthur defines the family roles using scripture, mostly from Ephesians 5 - 6. There are five chapters:

  • The Family - mutual submission
  • The Wife - submission
  • The Husband - love
  • The Children - obedience
  • The Parent's - nurture and admonition
This is a short book, only 125 pages, and a quick read. MacArthur covers the material in enough detail to emphasize each member's role in the family structure. He also provides footnotes to other resources for further information.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the biblical role of the family and its members.

October 13, 2014

Price Discrepancy

I have been using the Gillette Sensor 3 disposable razors for a while now, mainly because of the price. I have noticed at Walmart a price discrepancy between the 4 pack and the 8 pack. The 4 pack sells for $4.97 or $1.25 a piece. The 8 pack sells for $13.47 or $1.69 a piece. This doesn't make any sense to me, sure the plastic bubble on the package is slightly larger to hold 4 more razors, but $0.44 extra per razor? Seems kind of strange to me.

I purchase the 4 pack for $4.97 with a $3 off coupon so my cost is closer to $0.50 a razor. Not too bad, especially when I take them off of the plastic disposable handle and put them on the sensor handle. The Sensor 3 replacement cartridges are about $2.50 a piece.

Gillette's pricing scheme just doesn't make sense to me.

Still thinking....

October 06, 2014

Mostly Reading, but still thinking on occasion.

The bulk of my most recent posts have been nothing but book reviews, but every once in a while I still think of something and here is today's thought.

We all have our morning or bedtime routines. It probably involves washing our face and hair, brushing our teeth and whatever else. Well I noticed something this morning. All of the products I use (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc) have a label on that gives you directions on how to use the product and also warnings about misusing the product.

Don't believe me, take a minute and check it out for yourself. They all have the label. Except for one product that I stumbled across this morning. My razor! I am currently using the Gillette Sensor 3 disposable razors and there are no instructions on the package nor are there any warning labels. What is more dangerous, a bottle of shampoo or a razor?

Very interesting thinking for today!

October 03, 2014

Book Review

Be Real by Warren W. Wiersbe

Warren Wiersbe takes the reader through the book of First John in his own unique way. I have seen many of Wiersbe's books advertised, but this is the first one I have read. It won't be the last either. I have a few more sitting on my shelf.

Each chapter, of which there are ten, examines a portion of First John. The author typically quotes portions of the passage being examined, other portions of Scripture, and includes a story or two to further illustrate his point.

The author attempts to guide the reader into living a real life of love and right living, all based upon First John. It seems to me the author came up with a clever title to his book and then made First John fit into his title.

First John is not about being "real." First John is about the fundamental basics of Christianity. Sure, love is a part of being a Christian, but so are faithfulness and obedience.

Overall, I was disappointed in this book. Sure, Wiersbe makes some great biblical points, but I wouldn't call this book a study guide or a review of First John. That being said, I will certainly read some other books of Wiersbe. He isn't wrong. The book just wasn't what I was expecting.

September 08, 2014

Book Review

Lord, Teach Me to Pray by John MacArthur

This book is a basic and brief introduction to prayer. It is published in a "giftbook" format. I am not a fan of these giftbooks, simply because the content is usually limited and rather light.

Given the giftbook format, MacArthur does a good job at introducing the reader to prayer. He briefly covers topics like why pray, how to pray, and when to pray.

MacArthur doesn't really provide a formula, but gives a basic start to prayers: praise God, pray about yourself and other's needs, thank Him for what he has given you and who He is, and praise Him again that His will shall be done.

I do recommend this book to anyone new to prayer or looking for a basic introduction for prayer. However, there is no verse by verse in depth study in this book that MacArthur usually preaches and teaches.

August 22, 2014

Book Review

The Ride of a Lifetime by Paul Teutul, Sr

I have watched a few seasons of American Chopper and formed the impression of Paul Sr as nothing more than a big, mean, dumb, oaf. I could never figure out how he made so much money (other than through his celebrity status), so I decided to get his (this) book and read about his business skills.

I must admin, I was very impressed with this book. In fact, I found it much better than some of the expert professional business and management guru's. Paul Sr is not as dumb as he may seem on television.

The book is under 200 pages and contains fourteen chapters on how Teutul thinks and operates his business. Some of the topics include: passion, change, leadership, hiring people, and learning from mistakes. This is a quick easy read, but is full of useful information.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in business or management. I believe it should be required reading for all college business students as well. This book will be added to my collection.

August 11, 2014

Book Review

How to Let God Solve Your Problems: 12 Keys to Finding Clear Guidance in Life's Trials by Charles F. Stanley

The purpose of this book is to guide the reader into a better understanding of why God allows us to experience times of trials. I don't think the title reflects the purpose of the book. In fact, after reading the book, I am not sure what Stanley's 12 keys to finding clear guidance from God really is.

I couldn't get into this book for some reason. It did not appear to be laid out or presented in a manner that flowed together nicely. This is certainly not Stanley's best book. The book is light on Scripture references explaining and demonstrating the power of God at work.

There is nothing wrong with what Stanley writes, but even though it is less than 100 page and a quick read I don't recommend this book.

July 14, 2014

Book Review

Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence by Craig A. Evans

The purpose of this book is to examine some of the archaeological evidence pertaining to Jesus Christ. The author takes very complex and scholarly material and makes it easy to read and understand by the average person.

There are five main sections the author focuses on:
1. What was Nazareth (Jesus's hometown) like?
2. Were synagogues around when Jesus was growing up? If so, what were they like?
3. Would Jesus have been able to read or write based on societal standards?
4. What were the priests and the temple like?
5. What were Jewish burial traditions and how does the account of Jesus's death compare?

Two other minor questions were answered in the appendixes:
1. Have we found the family tomb of Jesus?
2. What did Jesus look like?

The author does a good job at answering these questions based on archaeological findings. The author also provides information about other resources for further reading.

Overall, this book is an interesting read and certainly worth your time if you are interested in the historical world of Jesus's day.

June 23, 2014

Book Review

The Ultimate Conversation by Charles Stanley

This book is about talking to God through prayer. Its twelve chapters include something for everyone. The author starts with biblically describing who God is and ends with having an intimate relationship with God.

Each chapter has a principle or lesson to it. Scripture is used throughout the book to backup and explain the author's point. Most chapters also give an example from Stanley's life about the topic. Finally, each chapter ends with a prayer.

So often prayer becomes a list of things we want and we focus on those things rather than what God wants. Stanley provides an excellent prayer to start each day (page 169),

 "Father, I want you to guide me and lead me today. Speak to my heart. Make me sensitive to Your promptings and to what is happening around me in the lives of those I meet. Fill me with Your supernatural joy, and use me today for Your purposes. I surrender fully to You."

Even when praying for others we usually ask for what we want or what we think they need. Stanley provides and example to pray for others (page 243),

"We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world who faithfully proclaim the Gospel despite terrible persecution. Father, we ask You to keep them safe, encourage them, help them understand Your will for their lives, and show them how to walk in a manner worthy of Your name. Please make their work fruitful, increase their knowledge of Your ways, give them strength to endure, and create a heart of joyful thanks within them. May they lead many into growing relationship with You."

This is a great book for anyone interested in deepening their relationship with God.

June 01, 2014

Book Review

Fire Your Boss by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine

The theme of this book is about taking control of your work life. The approach to this is outlined throughout the book in part one. Part two gives a few examples of the process.

In brief, the concepts are to fulfill the needs of your boss and always be looking for a better job. Forget about a career, you should not try to find your satisfaction in life from your job. Instead you should try to work less and make more money so you have time to do what fulfills your life during your personal time.

The authors list twenty factors to consider when comparing jobs, some are important, others may be important, and some are not important, but good to consider during a comparison.

Important Factors: income, opportunity for learning, paid time off, proximity, unpaid time off.
May Be Important Factors: disability insurance, health insurance, retirement plan, tuition reimbursement
Not Important Factors: amenities, auto reimbursement/allowance, challenging work, culture, environment, expense allowance, opportunity for advancement, stability, status, title

The book is almost 300 pages long. In reality, there is about 50 pages of material in it. The authors just keep stating the same ideas and examples over and over again. While I do not agree with everything the authors write, they do make some good points.

Overall, I do not recommend this book, simply because there isn't enough good information to make it worth while. It seems to me the authors just wrote a book to capitalize on their success from writing other books.

May 13, 2014

Book Review

Die Broke by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine

This book is a different way to view finances and life. The authors describe the plan in four parts: Quit Today, Pay Cash, Don't Retire, and Die Broke.

This book is about 300 pages, separated into two parts. Part one is the Die Broke philosophy as described below. Part two is basic information about financial topics from Accountants to Wills.

Quit Today - the idea here is to quit trying to find meaning in your job, to stop making your job your life. Companies are no longer loyal to their employees, so when your current job no longer meets your needs in life, then move on.

Pay Cash - this is rather obvious, don't go into debt for stuff except for maybe a home. If you don't have the money for it then don't buy it.

Don't Retire - people are living longer and are not able to enjoy their retirement, either due to poor health or poor finances. The authors believe people should work in some capacity to not only maintain their financial stability, but also their physical and mental health as well.

Die Broke - the authors are not in favor of passing on an inheritance to relatives. Instead they recommend to give the money to them during your lifetime so everyone can enjoy the gift.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the authors take on this "radical, four-part financial plan." I have been following the basics of this "radical" plan long before I discovered this book. It seems to just make sense for the most part. I don't agree with everything the authors wrote about finances, but this makes for a great read and good plan to follow.

Up next is Fire Your Boss from the same authors.

April 21, 2014

Book Review

The Second Coming by John MacArthur

The purpose of this book is to examine what the bible says regarding the return of Christ. Much of the exposition focuses on the Olivet Discourse.

One thing MacArthur does in this book that he doesn't usually do is focus on what other people say and believe about the second coming of Christ. He then uses Scripture to disprove or discredit their ideas. He explains terms like amillennialism, pre-millennialism, postmillennialism, and preterism. None of these terms are found in Scripture, but are terms that people have used to describe their stance regarding Christ's return.

I think because MacArthur focused on disproving other ideas, I couldn't really get interested in the book until the final few chapters, which are spent explaining in detail the three parables at the end of the Olivet Discourse.

If you are interested in learning about other thoughts and ideas regarding the second coming of Christ then I would recommend this book. If you are interested in understanding and looking for an exposition of the Olivet Discourse, then I would just read the last few chapters of this book.

Keep on reading!

April 11, 2014

Water Problems - Option #1 - The Solution!

After doing some more research, I found a couple of companies that sell the parts I need; a pump, tank, and soda ash. The pump and tank were purchased online from US Water Systems and the Soda Ash was purchased online from Discount Filter Store. The other miscellaneous parts I could pick up at Lowes.

The total cost for me to install was less than $500. I decided this was the option for me.

I opted for the adjustable feed, 17 gpd Stenner pump and a 35 gallon tank. I installed the pump and wired it to the pressure switch, so when the well pump kicks on, the injector pump kicks on and adds the soda ash solution to the water line before the pressure tank.

The project took me longer than I anticipated, but I didn't really have a lot of time in one block to dedicate to the install. Of course, I had a few leaky pipes along the way, but it all seems to be working well now.

I used about 7, 8 oz liquid measuring cups of soda ash (Neutra 7) to 5 Gallons of water. I retested the water and the pH level is right where it should be. I can either adjust the mixture or the feed rate if the pH needs to increase or decrease based upon water conditions.

Overall, this wasn't a hard project and I saved myself almost $500 and hopefully no more broken pipes!

Mission Accomplished!

April 10, 2014

Water Problems - Option #3 - Culligan & Local Company

The second company to test my water and give me a recommendation/quote was Culligan. The salesman tested the water and said the only problem was the pH level. The water is too acidic. Of course, I know this already, but I am ready for his sales pitch.

His solution was to install a Soda Ash feeder using a Pulsafeeder pump. Total cost was about $950 installed.

This solution sounded much more reasonable, but I wondered if a local, not a national company could give me a better price.

I contacted a third company, the same company who drilled the well for me, and they gave me a quote over the phone for about $1500. They wanted to sell me some other type of system that neutralizes the acid, but makes the water hard, so I would need a water softener as well.

After two quotes I decided the Soda Ash Injection System was the way to go.

Now, the question became: Can I install this system cheaper?

Find out tomorrow.....

April 09, 2014

Water Problems - Option #3 - Kinetico

As mentioned in my previous post, we have acidic water. The simple solution to solve acid water is to add soda ash or some other chemical to increase the pH level.

I decided to get some quotes from companies to see if this is a project worth doing myself or just have a professional install the system.

The first company to give me a recommendation to fix the problem sells Kinetico equipment. The sales person tested the water for all kinds of stuff and the main problem was.....acidic water. Of course, he still gave me this hour long sales pitch/demo of how great their products are.

I was quoted for a Soda Ash injection system (using a Stenner pump), two sediment filters, and a water conditioner (this was optional, but he recommended it and most people get it). The filters are $14.75 each and would need to be changed about every 2-3 months and 6-8 months. The pump tube should be changed every 6 months at $16.49. Finally a bag of soda ash is about $50 and I would probably need one or two of those per year. Of course, he also recommended a drinking water system for the kitchen sink. Total initial cost for the system was about $6,000!

I was stunned. I know I can replace all of the copper in the house for less than $6,000. The house is less than 10 years old and uses mostly pex plumbing. The only copper is a little bit in the basement and the fixtures.

Maybe the next company will have something better to say! Check back tomorrow for more!

April 08, 2014

Water Problems - Broken Pipe

About two months ago, I entered the house and heard some water running. I want back to the bathroom to find a hole in the pipe to the faucet. I shut the water off and accessed the damage. Most of the water ran down the pipe into the basement, where there was a floor drain so the clean up was pretty easy.

I went back upstairs and removed the fixture. I noticed some greenish blue tarnish on the copper plumbing, but didn't see how a hole could get punched into the copper line.

The faucet is a MOEN so I called the company and they sent me a replacement within a few days. I also asked them to send me 4 new drain stoppers since all of the other ones in the house were broke.

The installation of the new faucet was pretty easy and only took about 15 minutes. Project done, but I was still wondering how this happened. I did some research and it looks like acidic water can eat through copper plumbing.

I knew we had acidic water, but didn't realize how bad it really was. The next day, I purchased an aquarium pH tester from Wal*Mart. Sure enough, our water was acidic, about a 5 on the scale, 7 is neutral.

Now the question is, what to do?

Option #1 - replace all of the copper plumbing pipe in the house.
Option #2 - install a water Neutralizing system.
Option #3 - have someone else install a water Neutralizing system.

I decided to start with getting quotes for Option #3. Check back tomorrow to continue the adventure.

March 18, 2014

Book Review

The Heart of the Story by Randy Frazee

The purpose of this book is to build upon and explain each chapter in "The Story." I did not enjoy "The Story" nor do I recommend it (you can read my review here).

Therefore, I didn't think I would enjoy this book either, however, I was wrong. At least partially. The book seems to have developed from sermons the author preached at his church. The author does an okay job at describing the heart of Old Testament. In my opinion, however, he fails with the New Testament. There were a few factual errors in the text as well, for example, regarding our solar system.

There were even a few things that he seems dogmatic about that I question. For example, on page 203, the author states, "It became clear early in his ministry that, even though he was the only child of a humble carpenter from Nazareth, he was special." Only child? Really? I wonder how the author explains the many references to Jesus' brothers then? Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 are pretty clear. As is Mark 3:31 and John 2:12. There are many other Scriptures to review in this as well (John 7:3-4, Luke 8:19-21, Acts 1:13-14).

Overall, this was an okay read. It is a short, fast read as well. If you choose to read this book, you can probably stop at the end of the Old Testament section. You will be disappointed with the minimal coverage of the New Testament material.

February 27, 2014

Book Review

The Story: The Bible as one continuing story of God and His people.

The concept of this book is to tell the major parts of the story of God in chronological order. The text is the New International Version. There are 31 chapters in the book, starting with creating and ending with the end of times. The other 29 chapters fir in the "big stuff" the authors thought the reader should know about God.

I have seen this book advertised for some time and was very excited to finally get a copy to read for myself. After reading it, I was very disappointed with this "bible." I have read many different versions and translations and I found The Story as one of the worse. So many details and events were skipped that I got lost a few times and had to refer to a real bible to refresh my memory about the situation.

I really have nothing good to write about The Story. There are better chronological bibles. There are better beginner/introductory bibles. There are better witnessing bibles. There are certainly much better study bibles. There are easier to read bibles. The only reason I can determine why this "bible" was compiled is to generate revenue.

The Story is being pushed by Zondervan, Christian Book Discounters, and others as an entire curriculum. Max Lucado and Randy Frazee wrote the forward which is less than one page and 200 words that really don't tell you much.

Overall, I do not recommend The Story to anyone for any reason.

January 03, 2014

Book Review

Grace for Today: Daily Readings from the Life of Christ - Volume 3 by John MacArthur

This is an excellent daily devotional reading from John MacArthur. This is volume 3 of 3. This volume focuses on the end of Christ's ministry and His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. 

MacArthur may spend several days on a particular passage of scripture. Each devotion ends with some thought provoking questions.

I highly recommend this series of daily devotionals to anyone looking to get a deeper look at the life of Christ.