Posts filed under: Books

I enjoy reading books. This has not always been the case. In middle and high school, you would hardly ever see me reading anything. In college, something began to change. Maybe it was one of my professors that I admired sharing one of his little rhymes – “you must read to succeed!”

I have found myself devouring books both physical and electronic since I got out of school. You will see authors of various kinds on the bookshelves in my home and office at the church. You will see men who see things very similar to what I do. You will also see men that I differ in viewpoints on. I believe it was Rick Warren who said something along the lines of “if you cannot learn from those you disagree with, then you are in trouble.”

I have enjoyed being a blogger reviewer for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I have read some really great books through their program. I began to notice one troubling pattern developing: the authors I was reading were all men. As a man, I appreciate having other men speak into my life. I need that. But I also believe that God is using some women to speak into the life of the Church, and they deserve an audience. This is one reason that I signed up to review Rebekah Lyons‘ book, You Are Free and give my honest opinion. 

The Book Itself

You Are Free is a book about experiencing the freedom that Christ died to provide each and every person that puts their trust in Him. Lyons shares a story of how she came to experience freedom in various areas of her life. She reminds readers often throughout the book, “Christ doesn’t say you can be or may be or will be free. He says you are free.” You Are Free contains fifteen chapters, each devoted to a specific area of freedom to experience. 

My Personal Thoughts

I did not know much about Rebekah Lyons other than what my wife had talked to me about. I had read some of her husband’s work (Gabe Lyons), and was a big fan. With Ann Voskamp writing the forward, I thought that this would be worth the read. I was not wrong. 

You Are Free is a great little read for those who are looking for a personal story of what freedom looks like in a person’s life. Lyons uses this entire book to walk the reader down the path of her life with each chapter setting up the next well. I really liked the personalness of this book.  It was much more than just a “how to” book or an information dump… this was a woman sharing her story of what God had done in her life. The vulnerability that Lyons shows is refreshing to see/read. 

Lyons makes sure to use Scripture well throughout this book. Most of the references are footnoted and gives the reader the opportunity to check what God’s word has to say on the various subjects discussed. 

My Recommendation 

I would say that if you are looking for a “how to” book, then you will probably be frustrated with You Are Free. It is just not that (and I’m so thankful that it is not). If you are more interested in hearing/reading the story of a woman’s journey to finding freedom in various areas of her life with some helpful tips along the way, then this book is for you. 

I thought that You Are Free was a refreshing break from my normal reading. It was good to get the perspective from a God-loving female author. It is encouraging to know that God is still gifting and using ladies for His work to speak to and edify the Church. I look forward to many more in the near future.

Spiritual gifts is a topic that has intrigued many throughout the ages. There are various thoughts on how they work, are they still around, when a Christian gets them, and more. As the jacket of the books states, “pastor and author Sam Storms offers practical steps to understanding and exercising spiritual gifts in a way that remains grounded in the Word and centered in the gospel.”

I was interested in seeing what stance this book was going to take on the subject of spiritual gifts. In my experience, spiritual gifts is one of those topics that is very polarizing.  The forward written by Matt Chandler (whom I respect greatly) made me want to see what this book was about. 

The topic of spiritual gifts has interested me for some time. I have heard the arguments about how some spiritual gifts are no longer needed or in use today (cessationist view). I have also heard of those who believe that the gifts are all still in use today among the church (continuationist view). 

Sam Storms is one who holds the continuationist view, but presents his convictions with a strong use of Scripture.  He writes in the conclusion, “The foundation for the experience of spiritual gifts is and always must be inerrant truths articulated in the Bible. Any attempt to move forward apart from the parameters set for us in the [New Testament] will likely lead to experiential excess, theological error, and an unbridled fanaticism that will serve only to bring disgrace on the name of Christ and do damage to those very people you are trying to serve and help” (237).

The manner at which Storms takes the Word of God and uses it as the starting platform and guardrails makes this book and great and reliable tool.  The words and thoughts that are presented in this book are ones that are backed up with Scripture. 

One of the only issues that I had was that there was not equal attention given to the gifts mentioned in the book. I know that to write a full work on each gift would be too much for one book. I even get why Storms chose the gifts that he did in this book. I just didn’t get why three chapters were devoted to “prophecy” and one to the others. 

Recommendation

As for a recommendation, I would highly recommend Practicing the Power by Sam Storms to the Christian that is looking for answers to the question of whether some particular spiritual gifts are still at work today. I believe Storms gives some great insight and uses Scripture to show that you do not have to check solid, grounded in the Word theology at the door to believe that the Holy Spirit is still distributing the gifts that some think are long gone. 

discerning-your-call-to-ministry-how-to-know-for-sure-and-what-to-do-about-it-by-jason-allen-0802494633

Discerning Your Call to Ministry

I received a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry by Jason K. Allen recently.  I had heard about this book while listening to the Rainer on Leadership podcast.  I was intrigued by what I had heard on this book.  I believe that the content of this book covers some thoughts that those who are wrestling with what God is wanting to do in their lives wrestle with.  Below are some of my thoughts about this book.

At the beginning, Allen jumps right into definition mode.  In the introduction, he shows the difference of being called to minister, called to ministry, and called to the ministry.  This is an important distinction that I believe many do not see.  Allen does a good job of showing the difference and importance of each term.

The meat of the book is divided up into 10 chapters.  Each chapter deals with a question to help the reader better see what God may be doing in his or her own heart.  He uses Bible verses, thoughts from Christian ministers of the past, and personal stories to help the reader wrestle with each question.

The conclusion of the book helps the reader by giving points to pursue in relation to what the reader has discovered about himself or herself through the questions.  It is good that Allen not only helps those who come through the questions still feeling that God is calling them to the ministry of the gospel, but he also shares encouragement for those who do not sense that call.  Allen does not devalue those who are not called to the ministry, but he encourages them to be faithful to what God is calling them to.

As one who has felt the call to the ministry, I remember the times of wrestling and trying to figure out what that meant.  I also remember hearing the stories of many who wrestled much longer with what God was doing in their lives – those who were called to the ministry and those who were not.  I am grateful to Dr. Allen for the work that he has put forth here in Discerning Your Call to Ministry.  I believe that this small book will have a big impact on many men and women going forward who are wondering what God is up to in their lives.

If you sense that God might be up to something and calling you to a deeper service… if you find yourself wrestling with what God is wanting you to do with your life… I would encourage you to get a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry and let this great tool help you discern what God is doing in your life.  It will be money well spent.

Recently, I was asked to check out a new book that was written for church leaders.  I love to read.  I love the church.  Reading a book that talked about how to develop leadership both within and outside of the church?  Now you got my attention.

41mpzgq5sl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This book was Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck’s Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development.  

Eric Geiger serves the local church in a couple of ways.  First, he is the Senior Pastor at ClearView Baptist Church.  Second, he serves as one of the Vice Presidents of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Kevin Peck is the Lead Pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX.

In this book, Geiger and Peck look to address the issue that one reason for which the church was created is to be a springboard of leadership.  This leadership was not just intended to impact what took place in the “walls of the church,” but it was to effect every aspect of life.

Local churches should not be outpaced in developing leaders who bless the world and advance His Kingdom. (p.9)

I think that this is one major thing that set this book apart from many that would fall under the heading of “church leadership.”  Many books share about ways in which churches can do better at doing church the way that it has been done for a while now.  Some of these books are helpful in developing some leadership skills in pastors/servants, but others are… let’s just say not so helpful.

Designed to Lead was intended to show that the church is not supposed to be about what takes place “inside the walls,” but that the church is supposed to impact the world around it. I really believe that this is an important thing to look at for the church today.  There are too many churches that are trying to run away from the world instead of impacting and redeeming it with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Geiger and Peck put forth a framework to help churches work on developing leaders that lead both within and outside the church.  This framework begins with conviction, moves through the culture, and creates constructs to make it happen (p. 14-15).  These three elements make up the three major sections of the book.

If you are a leader in the local church and have been feeling that there has been a leadership vacuum both within and outside of your church, then I would encourage you to check out Designed to Lead. Geiger and Peck have written this book for leaders to reproduce leaders and impact this world for Jesus Christ.

Giveaway

I have received a few copies of Designed to Lead, and I would like to bless some church leaders with this book.  If you would like to be considered for this giveaway, please leave a comment in the comment section of this blog (not on Facebook).  I will choose from the comments the winners on Monday, September 19th.

A couple of months ago, I was given a book to read and asked to write a review about it.  The title of this book grabbed my attention almost immediately.  This book was Who Moved My Pulpit?  Leading Change in the Church by Thom Rainer.

I have read many of Thom Rainer’s books before.  I like his style of writing and topics that he predominantly writes about.  I took the the challenge of reading this book on with enthusiasm.

Change is necessary in any orgaWhoMovedMyPulpit_web-212x300nization or living being.  One cannot stay the same and expect that everything will just go like it should.  Living things must change and grow to reach their potential and to reach more people.  @ThomRainer has said himself, “Change is urgent because the gospel is urgent.”  I could not agree any more.

The church of Jesus Christ has the most important task in the history of the world: sharing the gospel with the world.  In order to accomplish this task, the church must grow with the culture.  The message of the church (the gospel of Jesus Christ) must NEVER change.  The methods by which we use to share the gospel with our communities and around the globe MUST change at certain times.  This is because the means of communication change over time.  If the church does not change and adapt to clearly share the gospel with the world around it, then it will fail at carrying out the Great Commission.

In Who Moved My Pulpit, Thom Rainer seeks to provide church leaders with a resource to help them lead their churches through change in a healthy manner.  Rainer first shows that there are different types of “unmovable church members.” Then he moves into what I would call an 8-step process.  He spends a full chapter with each of these steps.

BH-WhoMovedMyPulpit-SS2The appendix to the book is called a “Church Readiness Inventory for Churches.”  I truly think that this might be the best part of the whole book.  This is a series of questions that can help a church leader see where their church stands and how willing/ready they are for needed change.

Recommendation

When I first read this book, it took me all of 3 days to finish it.  I did not want to speed-read through it, but really see what all it had to say and process it.  I found that this is a great book for church leaders to help them in a much needed area of ministry… especially in our ever-changing culture. I want to see churches around the globe fulfilling the Great Commission at their fullest potential, and I believe that Who Moved My Pulpit is a great tool to help make that happen.

You can get your own copy of this great resource by clicking on the image above.  It will take you to a link where you can order a copy.