Posts filed under: Books

I recently was told about a book that had been released telling the story of how a predominately Anglo-American church in the deep south had become a multicultural community of Jesus followers.  I knew when I heard about this that I had to get a copy of this book and check it out.

Technicolor: Inspiring Your Church to Embrace Multicultural Ministry is a book that was written by Mark Hearn, the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia.  It tells the story of how this “monolithic Anglo-American congregation” has turned the corner and become a “cross-cultural community with members from thirty-seven different countries.”

The story of First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia has been shared in parts in different media outlets such as The Gwinnet Daily Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Facts and Trends (publication of Lifeway Christian Resources).  Technicolor is the account of what God is doing in this church from the perspective of the Senior Pastor who has watched it unfold.

This book covers a topic that I believe is one of the most needed topics that the church in the United States and around the world needs to have.  Whether we like it or not, want to admit it or not, our world is quickly becoming a multicultural place.  Hearn learned this as he found out that there were 57 different languages being spoken at the local high school. As it is shared in the book, “by the year 2050, the United States will no longer have a majority ethnic group.”  I could not agree more with what Hearn says, “Churches in America are going to become extinct, or at least severely crippled, unless we learn how to minister in a multicultural society” (15).

One of the things that I liked so much about Technicolor was that it is not a “how to” manual.  Hearn is quick to mention that this book is a telling of what God had (and continues to do) in their midst.  While Hearn does share some principles, lessons learned, and encouragements for those looking to do more multicultural ministry in their local churches, he is careful not to say anything like “this is the way to do it.”

Recommendation

I would encourage you to get a copy of Technicolor and read it through.  I believe that you will see the shift in cultures that is taking place before us in a fresh new way.  I believe that you will be inspired by the story of a deep south white church that heard the call of God to reach out to the nations.

Technicolor is one work that is definitely needed for both church leaders and church members.  The multicultural ministry is coming to all parts of the land in which we live.  We can either learn to do it well and thrive, or we can refuse to participate and die.  The story of First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia is one that encourages me greatly.

To say that I am a fan of A.W. Tozer’s writings would be an understatement.  I have read many of his works that has been published over the years.  I appreciate his style and approach to topics of the faith.  When I got the opportunity to read a “never before published” work of his, I was a little excited.  The work that I am talking about is The Wisdom of God.

The Wisdom of God is a collection of sermons and thoughts from sermons that has been compiled by James L. Snyder.  This is an important thing to remember as you read this book because you will find that there are topics and statements that are repeated often in various chapters.  At first, it was a little annoying reading the same thing over and over and over, but once I got my brain wrapped around that these were different sermons compiled together into a book, it helped.

Snyder shows how Tozer reveals what the wisdom of God is all about.  As the book cover shares, “wisdom is more than just a list of instructions – it is a part of God’s character, inseparable from His love and grace.”  The book is broken up into twenty-three chapters covering the topic of the wisdom of God and how it applies in different situations.

I would say that this was a different read that the normal Tozer work.  The compilation of various sermons into a book was sometimes repetitive, but the meat of what is shared is still inspiring and causes the reader to look at this topic that plays such a big role in the Bible in a fresh manner.

Recommendation

I would recommend this to anyone looking to get a fresh look at what the wisdom of God is about.  I would remind the reader that this is a compilation of sermons and materials so do not be surprised when certain things are often repeated and when the chapters do not necessarily flow into one another.  Otherwise, it is a good read.

The 4th of July is a day of celebration. We celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as citizens of the United States. If there is anything that is worth celebrating, few things are greater than freedom. 

It is why on this day of freedom celebration that I am choosing to share about a book that I recently read. The book is The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money by Art Rainer. 

There are few things that shackle people in bondage – even in the land of the free – more than money and poor financial choices. Art Rainer has given us a straightforward and practical book that will help any person that takes the time to read this little book. 

I really like how Rainer has illustrated the main points of this book with a continuing story of a young lady who is struggling g to get out of the grip of financial woe. The story makes the points a little more “personal” and not just a checklist of things to work through. 

Many of the things that are shared by Rainer in the 30 “money challenges” are successful tools that have been compiled by Rainer from other sources. Rainer has gathered some very helpful resources and tools and built them together to help the reader find victory in their finances. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is looking to take control of their finances. You may not be in “trouble” yet, but this book and its steps will help put/keep you on the right track. Even if you are in “trouble,” this book will point you in the right direction to finding freedom. 

As we celebrate our country’s independence from tyranny today, may many more find the financial freedom that is available in doing finances God’s way. The Money Challenge by Art Rainer is a great tool to help with that. 

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.