Monday, February 15, 2010

Blog Tour: Life Lessons From A Horse Whisperer (Interview & Review)

Horses may seem like a strange way for most to convey the gospel, but for Dr. Les Sterrett, the animals are exactly the right tool that he can use to reach out to those needing to hear the message of Jesus Christ.

“Horses are the conveyor belt that carried me from a very wounded, withdrawn individual to friends and neighbors and community leaders who gave me a helping hand,” Sterrett said. “My interest and success with horses brought me to other crossroads where godly people who loved horses led me to Christ.”

In fact, Sterrett says, horses, to him, were the rein in his hands – much like the fishing net used by Peter, or the rod used by Moses.

“They would become the means by which I could both understand and illustrate significant biblical principles of life,” he said. “They eventually became the background for lessons of life and leadership that would transcend every human barrier.”

In his newest book, Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer, Sterrett relates a variety of Christian leadership principles, using illustrations from his experience as a horse trainer and through his ministry, “Sermon on the Mount.”

“ ‘Sermon on the Mount’ lessons mirror human life and process,” explained Sterrett. “In an entertaining and pithy, yet very practical way, Sermon on the Mount presents in a different format much of the conflict and tensions that take place in our homes, churches and workplaces.

“Without a word, they mirror the unspoken language of the heart and spirit that accounts for success or brokenness in relationships. Students often relate to this because they are at a pivotal time in their life, because they are looking for things to trust in and pattern their life after. Sermon on the Mount presents a road map for the hope of a constructive and fulfilling purpose in life.”

In his book, Sterrett relates the gospel through numerous stories, including one featuring a horse named Spotlight, who, while on a trail ride, becomes tangled in barbed wire – and is saved because of a trust that was developed during training.

Other stories feature horses from Sterrett’s ministry, including Berry, the first “major” Sermon on the Mount horse; Spark, who Sterrett describes as a loyal friend and an outstanding servant; and Romeo, a horse with a “very fun personality.”

Through those personal experiences and stories, Sterrett hopes people will experience a deeper relationship with God.

“It is my hope that all readers will walk away from this book with a deeper appreciation of the relational God and the redemptive work that He offers mankind,” Sterrett explains. “It is my hope that readers will identify with the ups and downs of life for both humans and horses and will be willing to look past their resentments and hurts to hear the voice of the gentle Shepherd and kind Trainer who calls you to trust in Him.”

The SOTM Key MessageIn both his book, and Sermon on the Mount presentations, Sterrett’s message focuses on one word – hope.

“Though the horse rarely understands all that the trainer is trying to do, little will be accomplished if we take away all hope the horse has of pleasing the trainer. Crowding a scared horse is a dangerous thing,” Sterrett said. “Like a horse, people perform poorly when they feel criticized, crowded and defenseless. Though God confronts the issues of sin, He does so to bring true and lasting hope of eternal life.

“Hope that is founded upon the character and promise of God strengthens the purpose and resolve of one’s life.

Finding God In His Ministry, LifeSterrett said he continues to live, along with his horses, in a training process, with exercise, trials and testing ongoing.

“While these things are a part of my everyday life, they are also the very issues that keep my heart dependent and listening to God’s greater purpose in my life,” he said. “Though I am 57 years old, I believe that we are standing on the threshold of great opportunity.

“I am particularly interested in writing and illustrating those truths and principles that will help today’s leaders give a hand to the next generation.”

Who Is Sterrett?Sterrett describes himself as a “very average person, with a very average life.”

“Growing up on the farm in a large family and coping with the loss of a father set the stage for a very above-average God to go to work,” Sterrett said. “Though unrecognized at the time, the context of my life was woven with the loving support of a heavenly Father who drew me to Himself and led me through many wilderness experiences.”

A profound part of his life and message, explains Sterrett is his wife, Melodie, and their two adopted sons, Jeremiah and Daniel.

“[They] introduced us to a world of concern that we have little understanding of and need to rely on God to guide us through,” Sterrett continued. “The message of God’s redemptive work in our lives is far beyond any accomplishments of our own.”

While he has spent much of his life speaking in camps and conferences, Sterrett’s ministry has expanded in recent years, to international venues, as well as working with corporate, athletic and leadership training venues.

"In the next phase of my life, it is my hope to be an encouragement to encouragers,” he said. “We must make it clear that the gospel is about having a responsible relationship with our Creator, our conscience and our community.”


What Did I Think?
My first thought was  - I want to check out this book, because I'll bet my dad would like it. (He raises horses and I was sure he would find this very interesting.)

Surprise surprise, I enjoyed the book. I thought the stories related by Sterrett were great and related managed to relate a variety of Christian leadership principles in a non-threatening, easy to understand way.

I think you can read this book in two ways: The first, you'll find a nice, simple story, that will leave you feeling quite "warm and fuzzy" at times (even as Sterrett relates some tough stories and issues.) The second, you'll find something that will help you identify some ways to strengthen your leadership skills - especially if you work with students of all ages.

Sterrett uses the illustrations given to him through his horse training, to find ways to talk about leadership growth and potential - without sounding preachy or tough. Instead, he does it in a casual, laid-back manner that will cross gender and economic lines.

I'm glad I picked up this book - oh and I still think my dad will like it!


More About The Book
A champion trainer and true horse whisperer, Dr. Lew Sterrett has used patience and a firm but gentle hand to earn the trust of more than 3,500 horses.

In this book, Sterrett tells the stories of his work with these horses and the lessons each one has taught him. Sometimes heartbreaking and often uplifting, he has condensed his lifetime of learning into messages for the Christian life. Today, Sterrett shares these messages with more than 50,000 people each year through horse training presentations at Miracle Mountain Ranch and nationally through his Sermon on the Mount Ministry.

The author's engaging style and adroit mixture of well-tested anecdotes and thoughtful instruction make this a winning read-and not just for horse lovers.

More About Sterrett
A champion trainer and true horse whisperer, Dr. Lew Sterrett has used patience and a firm but gentle hand to earn the trust of more than 3,500 horses.

Sterrett had little idea that his boyhood interest in horses would open doors internationally for speaking and training. During his years in 4-H, he savored many opportunities to train and show horses and earn national recognition. As a student leader at Penn State University he benefited from many mentoring relationships from which he received valuable training, experience and honors. This foundation provided a basis for an extensive horse career with a unique emphasis on training youth and community leaders.

Sterrett has served as the Executive Director of Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, Inc. (MMRM) since 1977. MMRM, located in northwestern Pennsylvania, is home for a summer youth camp, and a leadership training center for youth, adult, and family groups. He has also promoted safety in public riding programs, serving as President of the Certified Horse Association for seven years. A licensed pastor, certified Youth, Marriage and Family Counselor, he earned his Ph.D. from North Tennessee Seminary in 2007.

Find out more about Sterrett on his website: http://www.sermononthemount.org/

Want to Buy the Book?
http://ow.ly/16a7d

Read an Excerpt
http://store.kregel.com/client/excerpt/978-0-8254-6316-7.pdf

It's A Contest!
Tweet the following to be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card & signed copies of Lew's book!

TWEET THIS: (must use hashtag #lewsterrett to be entered - no limit on entries! Tweet away!)

Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer: not just for horse lovers! http://ow.ly/169ym RT to win $50 to @amazon #LewSterrett

Blog Tour - Want to See What Others Think?
Visit: http://ow.ly/169ym to read more reviews!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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