Posts filed under: Books

The church now has the opportunity to bear witness in a culture that often does not even pretend to share our “values.” That is not a tragedy since we were never given a mission to promote “values” in the first place, but to speak instead of sin and of righteousness and judgment, of Christ and his kingdom.  (Onward, p. 9)

Dr. Russell Moore has put together a strong work to help the Christian church (especially in North America) to think about how the gospel of Jesus Christ works in all facets of life. It is apparent that the culture that the Church finds itself in today is one that quickly running in the opposite direction of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The encouragement that Dr. Moore shares in Onward is a breath of fresh air.

onward-russell-moire

In Onward, Dr. Moore seeks to show how the gospel is needed in various areas of our culture like human dignity, religious liberty, family stability, and more. Dr. Moore uses not only illustrations from everyday life but drives the reader back to the source of truth (the Bible).  Dr. Moore shares timeless truths in a fresh way by using references and wording that people of all walks of life can relate to as he points to the necessity of the Church living out the gospel in the sphere they find themselves.
I am grateful to Dr. Moore for this work. It is a faithful reminder of the call that every Christian has been called to: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and 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 28:19-20).
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in this world. Dr. Moore has provided some great tools to help one stand boldly in a culture that just wants you to sit down and keep it to yourself.

 

Recently, I received a copy of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear.  I had heard about this book from different people.  I was very anxious to read this book.  I will admit that the title of this book had me intrigued.

In Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, J.D. Greear puts forth a work that attempts to tackle the issue of assurance of one’s salvation.  Greear shares from his own journey with Christ and dealing with doubts about his own salvation.

The biggest strength of this book is Greear’s use of the Bible.  When it comes to finding out the truth on a matter and giving someone a guarantee of something, there is no better source than the Bible.  Greear does an excellent job of showing how the Bible gives a person complete assurance of salvation.

This is one topic that I believe is troubling many people in the church.  There are many people who believe that they are in good standing with God because they said a “prayer.”  There is also a lot of good Christians who are sitting on the sidelines wrestling with doubts who could be on the front lines helping bring the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  Greear helps clear the air in this small book on how a person is “saved” and can know for sure that they are in the family of God.  I would suggest that every Christian and even those who are investigating the claims of Jesus Christ read this book.  It will give some pointed answers to some very important questions.

I Will! Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian
by Thom S. Rainer

This book is the follow-up work to I Am a Church Member by the President of Lifeway Christian Resources.  That book was intended to show what the attitudes of Christian church members should be.  The main points from I Am a Church Member are covered briefly in chapter one of I Will!

After the first chapter, I Will! focuses on the actions that a Christian church member should have.  They are introduced in eight chapters.

In this book, Thom Rainer does a good job in making sure that readers understand that it is not just about having the correct attitudes, but that there are some specific actions that need to accompany the correct attitudes.  He uses examples from the Bible and everyday life to show how these actions look in life.

One point that I think was really good in this book is the term that was introduced: “churchianity”.  This is a term that Rainer defines as “practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines” (93).  Sadly, while the term ‘churchianity’ may not be found in the dictionary, it is found across the land.  Many churches are operating not in the power of the Holy Spirit, but in the power and according to the desires of people.

Recommendation:  I would recommend this book to any person that is wanting to understand a little better what a Christian church member’s life is to look like, especially in the context of church life.  Thom Rainer does a good job of pointing people to what biblical church membership looks like.

I am one that likes to read. I also like to share what I read with others. When I was asked by B&H Publishing Group if I would like to read one of their latest books and give a review, I gladly accepted. I had the privilege of reading Forward by Dr. Ronnie Floyd.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor at Cross Church, which has multiple campuses across Arkansas. He is the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have had a deep respect for Dr. Floyd for some time now. It was exciting to have the opportunity to read Dr. Floyd’s latest work, and the following is my take on it.

Overview

Ronnie Floyd is a man who wears many hats.  Along with being a family man and pastor, Floyd has a deep heart for those who are called to be leaders in any arena.  This book that he has written is one that examines “seven distinguishing marks for future leaders.”  These seven marks are: forward truth, cross-generational, futuristic thinker, culturally sensitive, growing teachability, compelled by compassion, and driven by something more.  Floyd seeks to use these seven distinguishing marks to show upcoming leaders how they can lead forward.

Things I Liked

  • The focus on Christ.  If you know Ronnie Floyd, you know that he has a love for Jesus that matched by few.  In this book, Floyd really tries to take every opportunity he can and point people to Jesus.
  • Transparency.  As Floyd goes through chapter after chapter, you can see that he is quick to be transparent about issues he even has.
  • Quick, easy read.  I finished this book in just a couple of days.  We are all busy – especially leaders.  This is a good, quick read that will encourage and help you on your leadership journey.
Things I Did Not Like
  • The repetition.  I know that repetition is a great teaching and learning tool, but for me, there was way to much in this book.  There would be times where the author would repeat themselves every other sentence.  I know that might be picky on my part, but it was a little of a distraction for me.
  • The wording.  When I read this book, there were times where it seemed that certain phrases or words were used just to push a point or stay in line with a point.  It sometimes would come across like the wording that was chosen was done so that readers could easily use this in sermon form.  I really liked the book and the material it presented, but I do believe that some of the wording might have been better if the author would have just stated what they were thinking and not trying to fit it into a certain word bank.  

The Final Grade

When it comes to Forward by Ronnie Floyd, I believe that this work would be a good benefit for leaders especially in the church to read and have on their bookshelves.  Though there were some things that I would have done differently, this book really encouraged me and showed me some things to be looking for as a leader.

I would give this book a B.

Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us
by Preston Sprinkle
Published by David C. Cook

One topic that never gets old is the topic of grace.  I believe that it is because at the core, we all realize that we are in desperate need of grace.  Grace from God, family, friends, co-workers, etc.  We all need grace.

In Charis, Preston Sprinkle puts another book out on the market that tries to help the readers get a little better grasp on the grace of God.  In the preface of the book, Sprinkle begins with “Seriously?  Another book on grace?  Trust me, this one will be different.”

After reading this book, I would have to agree that this book is definitely not many others that try to tackle the topic of grace.  Sprinkle brings his teaching experience to show the grace of God as it is played out throughout the entire Bible.

When people typically think about grace and the Bible, it is common for their attention to turn to the New Testament.  Sprinkle does a good job of showing in this book just how rich the Old Testament is with the theme of grace.  There are 10 chapters in this book, and 8 of them deal with the Old Testament.

One of the things that I really appreciated about this book was the language that was used.  Some might find some of the language offensive, but I believe that Sprinkle has developed a work that speaks to real life situations and helps bring the story of the Bible to modern-day readers that might not be so entrenched in Bible terms.

Recommendation Grade: B

It was a quick, easy read that helped bring the topic of God’s amazing, scandalous grace into focus for us today.  I would not say that this is a MUST read, but I would not turn anyone away from it either.