Posts filed under: Books

_140_245_Book.1875.coverI was recently given a copy of Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston to review.  I enjoy reading books.  I really enjoy reading books about the Christian church.  This post will be my thoughts from reading this book.

Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in a North American Christian church and compared it with what they read in the New Testament book of Acts will notice that something is different.  I know that as times change certain things have to change.  The best way that I heard this put is “the message is never changing but the methods have to change.”

In Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back, Johnston talks about how the picture of Christianity has changed since the 1950s.  He states that

  • In the 1950s, we lost innocence.
  • In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority.
  • In the 1970s, we lost love.
  • In the 1980s, we lost values.
  • In the 1990s, we lost faith.
  • In the 2000s, we lost security.
  • In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future.

He also goes on to share that the time we are living in now is one that is far better than any time before.

  • We have better resources.
  • We have world-class buildings.
  • We have corporate-level leadership.
  • We have better communications.

If we have all these “betters,” then why does the church look so different?  Why is it struggling so much in our culture today?

Johnston’s book is divided into two basic parts: ways we have gone wrong and the Jesus that most people miss.  In the first part, Johnston shares that thoughts such as hedonism, materialism, pragmatism, humanism, and fatalism have found their way into the life of the church.

In the second part, Johnston shares seven characteristics of Jesus that are (by his definition) missed by many people who are in the church today.  By missing these characteristics of Jesus, Johnston shares that the church in North America has gotten off-track.

My Thoughts

As one who has spent the good portion of my life in the North American church, I see a lot of what Johnston is writing about in this book.  It does not take one long to see the distance of many churches in our land from what we read about in the pages of the Bible.  I do not believe that it is too late though.  I still believe that “the local church is the hope of the world” (Billy Hybels).  That is because it is the local church has the responsibility of taking the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back is another work that brings light to the ways in which the church is falling short on its task.  I didn’t really find anything “new” in this book.  It had some good stats and attempts at humor at points.  Johnston reminds readers of some ways to get back to the point where the church needs to be.

My Recommendation

If you are looking for some new insights to the current state of the North American church, this book doesn’t really give them to you.  If you are looking for another book to remind and encourage you to help make the church what it should be, then this book might just be for you.

Influence.  There are those who have it, and there are those who want more of it.  It is a powerful commodity in our day and time. There seems to be so many jockeying for position in the arena of influence.

As followers of Jesus Christ, Christians are to be influential people.  We are to use the gifts and tools that God has given us to influence those that we come in contact with closer to the God who loves them so.

VIPO.S. Hawkins, the President and CEO of Guidestone Financial Resources of
the Southern Baptist Convention, has put out a new book that talks about being a person of influence.  He states that the common acronym, VIP
, should be redefined to “Very Influential Person.”  In VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose, Hawkins lays out characteristics that one needs to have to be influential (Vision, Integrity, and Purpose).

VIP is a short read (around 116 pages).  In this short work, Hawkins shows how these three characteristics work to make a person more influential.  He uses different stories and phrases to help make the points of his book more memorable.  Sometimes the “catchiness” of phrases and trying to make them work through alliteration or other means took away from the content. Hawkins frequently (and well s0) uses the Bible to make his points.  I think that this is one of the strong points of this book.

My Recommendation

I think that it is important to be a person of influence.  Whether you like it or not, someone is looking up to you.  That means that you are influencing someone.  I think that there needs to be more materials that help us use our “influence” in ways that it is intended.

I believe that Hawkins has put together a decent work in VIP, but if you are looking for it to be something that is life-changing, I think that you would be disappointed.  The characteristics that Hawkins talks about in VIP – vision, integrity, and purpose – are desperately needed for a person to be successful at being influential.  I just wished that he would have shown a little more about how they work into being influential without the “sermon points”.

My Rating

3 out of 5 stars

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

41lFguGku0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Great Commission has been said to be the mission statement of the Church.  These verses show what Christians are to be about in their daily lives.  When one reads Mark’s version of the Great Commission, a few words come come up that sadly scare many followers of Jesus.  These words are “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NASB).

For some reason, people are all about becoming a follower of Jesus, but to go and tell others how they can become a Christian seems to be a scary thing because there are not many doing it.

In Tell Someone, Greg Laurie shares a format of sharing the gospel with people that anyone who has trusted Christ themselves can do.  In this very short book (134 pages), Laurie shares how a Christian simply needs to share what Christ has done in their lives with others.

There seems to be many various approaches to sharing one’s faith, but I truly believe that what Laurie shares in Tell Someone (sharing your story along with clear Scripture) is the best approach across the board.  People do not want to hear another practiced “sales pitch.”  They are wanting to know what actually works.

What really stands out in this book is the emphasis that is placed not just on sharing the gospel but with following it up with discipleship.  While evangelism (leading someone to faith in Christ) is a part of discipleship, it is not the entirety of discipleship. Laurie does a great job in reminding readers of this concept.

So, let’s say God has graciously allowed you to lead a person to Christ.  Is that the end of it?  No, actually that is the beginning!  Now it is your privilege to disciple them (p. 109).

To finish the book out, Laurie includes a section that is geared towards pastors, teachers, Bible study leaders.  This “postscript” contains five steps to help keep an evangelistic culture in the area you oversee.  I found this very helpful.

Recommendation

Tell Someone is a small, easy read for anyone who is interested in seeing evangelism grow in their lives. It will not take long to read through this book, but it is still packed with some great principles and illustrations to encourage the reader to be more active in sharing their faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe that this book is a great tool that should be read and applied to a Christian’s life.  Laurie has a way of talking with you through this book and not at you.  Check out Tell Someone, and more importantly share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone today.

Giveaway

I have the privilege of giving away one copy of Tell Someone to one lucky reader.  In order to qualify for this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment in the comment section.  I will choose one winner and that person will be notified on Friday, February 26th.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Dude's Guide to MarriageIt is no secret that as you look around our society, the marriage relationship is coming under fire from many different directions.  This sacred institution is the heart of a society, and it is definitely worth the risk, effort, and whatever else to protect and make as healthy as possible.  If this precious relationship is not protected and strengthened, then it will be the Achilles’ heel of our society.

Darrin and Amie Patrick have put together a work that is intended to help the men in these relationships understand a little of what is expected from the other side of the relationship.  The Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well is this work.  I had the privilege of being asked to write a review about this book, and that is what I intend to do here.

One of the big things that I really enjoyed about reading this book was the fact that it was not just some guy writing to a bunch of other guys about what we should be doing or like.  The Patricks work together to speak to guys to help them see what the other side of the relationship is looking for.  This is huge because there are many times where we “don’t get it.”  We need someone to just shoot straight and show us what they are looking for.  By this couple teaming up, the reader (intended to be men) gets a wife’s perspective on issues that helps clarify some things greatly.  It was a great move to allow Amie Patrick completely write the chapter on pursuing your wife.

I really wondered about how well this would be because to cover ten topics on marriage for men and the book is only about 200 pages, I wondered if it would be like skipping across the top of a lake.  I came to find out that it was not that at all.  The Patricks carefully take us beneath the surface on these important issues and provide helpful, Bible-driven points to strengthen these areas.

I will admit that as I began reading this book, I thought that it was intended for those who were preparing for marriage.  Some of the chapters were bent this way, but many of them applied to those of us who have been married for some time.  At first, I felt that this was a little confusing, but now I see that as a great benefit of this book.  It can be used by men no matter what stage of life they are in.

I would highly recommend this book to any man out there.  Darrin and Amie Patrick have done a fantastic job in putting together some timeless wisdom in a way that is easy to work through.  It is straight to the point.  It will cause you to think and help move you to become the man that will love his wife well.

we cannot be silentThe world in which we find ourselves living is one that does not resemble what it was just a couple of decades ago at all.  Some might be inclined to think that if you were to hold up a picture of our 21st century world to a picture of what it was in the 20th century, one might be inclined to think that these are two different places.  While the world and culture is changing quickly around us, some of these changes are not so grand.

With the passing of legislation that has approved marriage for same-sex individuals in the United States of America recently, it has drawn attention to a culture change that has been moving for some time.  In We Cannot Be Silent, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. puts forth a call to those who say that they are followers of Jesus Christ to not be silent.

One of the reasons that culture has spun so quickly away from the Judeo-Christian principles that were so prevalent not too long ago is because the Church in certain areas took the approach that “nothing will really come of this.”  Well, they were wrong.  Dr. Mohler issues a challenge to followers of Jesus in this book to not make the same mistake again.

Dr. Mohler is a respected intellectual and theologian.  He serves as the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  I have respected the work of Dr. Mohler for some time as he has served as an intelligent voice for evangelical Christians around the world.  In We Cannot Be Silent, Dr. Mohler does an excellent job of showing how we got to this point in our culture by pointing out some key things that have happened through the years leading to this point.  Dr. Mohler does not leave it with just looking at how we got here, but he also shows ways in which we can stand and not remain silent.

I would highly encourage anyone who is a follower of Jesus and concerned with the state of our culture today to pick up a copy of this book and give it a read.  You will be educated, convicted, and (hopefully) inspired to make the stand that we should have been making all along.

Note: I received a copy of this book as part of the Booklook bloggers program.  I was given the book in exchange for an honest review.