Posts filed under: Books

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.

Beat-God-to-the-PunchDr. Eric Mason is the cofounder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship.  Dr. Mason’s latest book is titled Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life, and it hit the shelves on September 15th.  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Dr. Mason’s work for review purposes from BH Publishing Group.

In Beat God to the Punch, Dr. Mason encourages readers to “beat God to the punch” by submitting their lives t the lordship of Jesus Christ and living a grace-filled life.  The punch that Dr. Mason refers to is the judgment that will fall one day upon all of creation that chooses not to recognize Jesus as He truly is: Lord of all.

There are some really good things to this book.

  • First, it is a quick read.  The book is a whole 108 pages long (including the notes).  In our fast-paced lives and busy schedules, not many have the time to sit and devote a great deal of time to reading.  Dr. Mason has done a good job of making some great points in a short amount of time.
  • Second, this work is saturated with Scripture.  Dr. Mason is quick to share his thoughts but truly leans on the word of God to validate the points that he intends to make with this work.  There is hardly a page in the entire book where a Bible verse is not mentioned or eluded to.  This goes a long way with me.
  • Third, the movement of focus to the grace of God.  Dr. Mason moves the focus quickly from the coming judgment to the grace of God.  It is not so much about missing the coming judgment as it is living life in light of the wonderful grace of God.  Dr. Mason does a terrific job in bringing the reader’s focus to this point.

Recommendation Grade: B-

I have been told by BH Publishing, that a copy is available for a giveaway.  If you would like a free copy of Beat God to the Punch, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog telling why you would like a copy.  One winner will be chosen on Friday, September 26, 2014.

IAMAChurchMember-webYesterday, I picked up a copy of I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer.  I had heard many good things about this book through social media like Facebook and Twitter.  I have a reading list a mile long, but as I was going through Lifeway, I came across this book (and it was on sale!) and decided to go ahead and pick it up.

My first reaction in looking at the book was “it’s a lot smaller than I anticipated.”  The book is only about 80 pages long.  In my mind, I wondered if this little book could really be what all the hype I was hearing about.  After finishing the book this morning, I was reminded that dynamite comes in small packages, too.

As a Christian and a pastor, I have seen the deterioration of church membership especially within the denomination that I am part.  Many do not see the need to be official members of a local church.  Those who are members of local churches many times do not have a proper view as to what it means to be a church member.  Part of the reason for this is on the churches themselves.  There have been many times when I have been a part of a local church but there was no teaching as to what a church member should be.

I must agree with the 23 people who endorsed this book on the beginning pages that Thom Rainer has put together a great little book to begin the process of helping churches and members know the importance, reason and responsibilities of a church member.  It is a great little read that is very thought-provoking and causes one to address some important issues of being a member of a local church.

I would highly recommend that every person who is a member of a Christian church or anyone curious to what the big deal with church membership is about to pick up a copy of this little book and dive in.  I believe strongly that you will not be disappointed.