Letters to an American Christian (A Review)

Bruce Ashford, provost of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a valuable resource for Christians seeking to navigate our current cultural and political milieu without compromising Christian conviction.

Written in the form of letters to a young Christian in college Ashford addresses a wide range of issues. He addresses the role faith plays in the Christians public life, making clear that one’s faith influences life in both the public and private spheres. Ashford often makes clear that often times there is a reductionistic understanding of issues such as immigration on both the right and the left.  He helps readers think through hot-topic issues such as transgender movement and how Christians should respond to it.

I hope this book would have a wide readership and that those who read it will actually be moved to more thoughtful interaction with the issues of our day. If social media is any indication many believers are more prone to knee-jerk reaction than thoughtful response to the challenging cultural issues of our day. If you’re a parent of a teenager I would strongly recommend getting this book and studying it alongside your child. If your a pastor or youth pastor it would be a beneficial resource for believers of all ages.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Jesus Revolution (A Review)

Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today by [Laurie, Greg, Vaughn, Ellen]

Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie & Ellen Vaughn

Looking at our contemporary context many find themselves asking if anything can transform a drug-addled and sexually confused culture. In this book which recounts how a generation which was much like the current one saw a mighty work of God. In this book Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn provides readers an eyewitness account of the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s especially as in relation to Laurie, Chuck Smith, and Calvary Chapel in California.

Having not had a great familiarity with the Jesus Movement I have found this book to be both historically informative and encouraging. Like any revival in the history of the church there were extremes and at times false converts, but as is seen in this book there was lasting good that occurred as a result of that movement. As the authors note in their concluding chapter, “Revivals are unorganized, messy, and fraught with risks for those who are not wearing the full armor of God (p. 245).”

I hope other readers will be as encouraged by this book and see the need of revival in the church today. While revival, a genuine work of God, cannot be manufactured it is something we should all pray for.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Call (A Review)

The Call by Os Guinness

The Call since its original publication 20 years ago has become a spiritual classic. In this work Os Guinness provides readers with a better understanding of the biblical teaching regarding the call of God.

In thirty chapters Guinness addresses the many different aspects of God as they are found in Scripture ranging from such topics as the call to be a distinct people in the world today to the final call of death in which believers are called home. This book is biblicaly rooted and gospel-centered. In every chapter one finds there is material for reflection and conviction. For instance in chapter 20 Guinness addresses the dangers of greed in relation to God’s exclusive call on our life. He points to the contrast of a calling economy and a commercial economy, pointing readers the fact that we are to live life for God’s sake. The chapters are short and this edition includes a study guide in the back to help readers reflect on the call of God. This book would lend itself well to either reading in a group study or as a daily devotional.

This book would prove to be beneficial to both believers and nonbelievers who are expressing interest in Christianity. I would heartily recommend this rich and engaging book to all readers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

When We Say Father (A Review)

When We Say Father by Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers

Adrian Rogers was one of the most important Southern Baptist pastors of the 20th century. He was a prolific preacher and author. One of the final writing projects Adrian Rogers undertook before his death was this book which has been edited and completed by his son Steve. In this book Rogers expounds Jesus’s teaching on prayer as found in Matthew’s gospel.

This book provides a devotional and practical look at Jesus’s teaching on prayer, specifically the Lord’s prayer. In six chapters Rogers addresses the petitions found in the Lord’s prayer providing insight on how these petitions should continue to shape and form our prayer life today. In the final chapter Rogers addresses the promise given regarding prayer in Matthew 7, namely that God promises to answer diligent prayer that is in accordance to His will.

If you’re looking for an easy to understand book on prayer this would be a great title to read or to pass on to new Christians.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Passion in the Pulpit: A Review

Passion in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley

Those who have studied preaching in seminary, and even some who have not, may be familiar with the concept that logos,ethos, and pathos are the essential parts of preaching. Much attention is given to logos, the content of epreaching, and attention is given to ethos, the character of the preacher, but pathos, the persuasive nature of preaching is often neglected or even ridiculed. This title helps serve as a corrective to that neglect and disdain.

In this book author Adam Dooley provides an exploration of each topic in the various chapters with Jerry Vines providing illustration of how the principles at hand are applied in the pulpit. One chapter that particularly stood out to me was the second chapter, which serves as a warning against personality driven preaching. I do have to disagree with what was said in chapter 4 when it states, “Though the Law is not binding as a moral standard for believers, it remains a relevant hermeneutical  key that helps us understand God and ourselves better (68).” Overall though this book is a helpful resource giving practical tips on how to be a better and more convincing preacher, pointing to the importance of heart felt preaching in persuading others of the truth of the Word.

I would commend this book as a valuable resource for any preacher. It offers practical insight and application in an area of preaching that is often ignored by preachers and writers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

12 Faithful Men: A Review

12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson

Pastors can never have too much encouragement in the trenches of pastoral ministry. Encouragement is exactly what the contributors to this volume have provided for pastors.

Twelve contributors explore the example of twelve godly pastors who suffered disappointment and suffering in different ways in the midst of pastoral ministry and remained faithful to the end. Men who are faithful to the end are needed role models for those of us in ministry today as a great number seem to be disqualifying themselves early on through infidelity in the church or in the home. Most of those looked at in this volume are familiar names whose life stories many pastors are familiar with. Three individuals who were unknown to me were John Chavis African-American pastor who faced great difficulty due to 19th century racism, Ugandan martyr Jana Luwum, and Chinese pastor Wang Ming-Dao who suffered under communist oppression.

Christian biography, especially biography of faithful ministers, is a great encouragement for those in pastoral ministry. I would commend this book to pastors and ministry leaders as it is a great source of encouragement.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgion(A Review)

Susie by Ray Rhodes

Susie Spurgeon, one of the most influential women in church history, has been one of the most neglected in terms of Christian biography. This neglect has been remedied in Ray Rhodes’s masterfully research biography due to be released September 4, 2018. Ray has scoured over primary sources to provide as full of an understanding of her life and contributions as possible.

As author Ray Rhodes notes there is scant information on the first twenty years of her life. It is with the calling of her future husband as pastor of New Park Chapel in London that the reader really begins to know Susie. Rhodes sheds light on Susie’s initial impressions of her future as well as the progress of their courtship. Susie’s role as mother to twins Thomas and Charles also brings to attention the sacrifice that the family made arising from the vastness of Spurgeon’s ministry. One can imagine that if Susie had not been a devoted and godly mother they would have turned out very differently.  She shared in the sufferings of her husband as well as bearing her own physical sufferings that took a serious toll on her health. These sufferings proved to be what led her to pursue a ministry that she is greatly known for, providing books for impoverished pastors and missionaries. It is in books that Susie has greatest legacy not only in the ones given as a support for those in ministry but also those written by her.

For those who have appreciated the life and labors of C.H. Spurgeon this title is truly a treasure that has been unearthed. While many of Spurgeon’s biographers will give some information on Susie such as their courtship, her illness, and her book fund. None of them have put in the painstaking effort of researching her to such an extent where she comes alive on the page, which is exactly what Ray Rhodes has done in this work. I’d highly recommend this title because as with her husband’s life story hers is one that has much to teach us today.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Dangerous Good: A review

Dangerous Good by Kenny Luck

The church and our country is facing a crisis with men. Many Christian men are living in conformity to the ways of the world as opposed to the identity they are called to in Christ. In this book pastor and author Kenny Luck provides a wake up call to men.

In ten chapters Luck addresses areas in life men need to address to be a force for dangerous good in the world. Luck addresses issues such as our identity in Christ, morality, treating women with dignity, and courage. I think the first two chapters are the most important as he focuses on men neglecting their Christian identity and the moral confusion found among young men. That confusion was illustrated in the murder of Christopher Lane who was killed in cold blood because teenage boys were bored and wanted to kill someone. In a society where men, even Christian men, are becoming increasingly isolated and immoral this book is greatly needed.

I would commend this book to all men, especially Christian men.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

The Power of Vision 3rd edition: A Review

The Power of Vision by George Barna

In this latest edition of The Power of Vision Barna explores the continued importance of church leaders having God’s vision for their church. Barna’s working defintion for what vision is is “a clear mental image of preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants to advance His kingdom and is based on an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.”

In thirteen chapters Barna explores the meaning of vision, the importance of vision, and the impact of vision for ministry in the local church. I do think Barna gets his components of capturing God’s vision wrong in his sixth chapter he begins with self knowledge moves to contextual knowledge and ends with knowing God. You can’t rightly know yourself unless you know God, you can’t rightly understand the context you are in apart from knowing God. I believe that knowledge of God is foundational for every aspect of the Christian life. He helpfully points to the importance of prayer but should have addressed prayer before knowledge of self and context.

I have a bit of apprehensiveness in regards to book like this as they place a great deal of emphasis on something the New Testament in silent on. Paul doesn’t encourage Timothy and Titus to be visionary leaders, he encourages to be faithful leaders. Barna presents vision as this almost gnostic secret knowledge that God only provides to a select few, whereas in the New Testament we do have God’s vision for the church a community of disciples making disciples walking in holiness.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Faith Among the Faithless: A Review

Faith Among the Faithless by Mike Cosper

What can Christian’s today learn from a Jewish girl who became a queen thousands of years ago? A lot actually as Cosper reveals in this book that follows the life of Esther drawing and fleshing out the implications her life has for believers in a world that isn’t that different from the world she lived in.

In nine chapters Cosper explores the impact that Esther had in the world she lived in while showing how believers can have an impact on the world we live in today. In the  first chapter Cosper helpfully points out that despite our initial thoughts the world of Esther was in a lot of ways like the world we live in today. The reason being while technology has changed the human heart has not and neither has God. Just as God raised Esther to be a faithful witness in her day, bringing deliverance for her people, God raises up believers today to be a faithful witness. Throughout this book Cosper avoids whitewashing the events that occurred in Esther’s life while also showing even though God seems to be hidden in the book of Esther He was always working even in the messiest of situations.

We live in a messy world today a world of pluralism that desperately needs faithful witnesses to Christ. Christians need to be reminded that while the earth seems to be so chaotic, God is still at work in the world. This book calls Christians to faithfulness and reminds them of the God who is always there.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.