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.

 

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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.

 

42 Seconds: A Review

42 Seconds The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis

As Christians we’re called to share the gospel, the good new of what Jesus has done, with those we come across. How do we do that? Carl Madearis in this book explores Christ’s conversations in the gospels to help readers see a pattern for personal evangelism in how Christ interacted with people.

This book is comprised of twenty short chapters divided into four sections. The first section explores the principle of being kind to those we are interacting with. The idea behind niceness being that we are to notice people, greet people, and developing a personal interest in people. The second section addresses the importance of being present attentive to the person we’re talking to as opposed to simply thinking of what we want to say and how we’re going to fix their problems. The third section addresses the need for boldness in making a gospel transition. The final section addresses the importance of Christ-likeness in gospel conversation.

Overall this book provides good insights into evangelism. While it might not revolutionary or groundbreaking it is a biblical and thought provoking reminder of the importance of sharing of faith and the importance of following the model of Christ.

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.

 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus 3rd edition: A Review

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Last year noted author, apologist, and convert to Christianity from Islam finished his course after a battle with stomach cancer. Later this month a third edition of the book that explored his journey from Islam to Christianity will be released.

Like many Nabeel began his exploration of Christianity as one opposed to it and sought to disprove it, and it was his journey to disprove Christianity that led him to faith in Christ. As he explores his journey he provides the reader helpful background information on Islam and its belief system. In addition to his story of coming to accept Christianity as true, the appendix with supplementary material from some of the best Christian apologists. One contribution that I found particularly helpful was Josh McDowell’s chapter on the role of dreams in Muslim conversions to Christianity.

In a time when Islam is still growing and poses such a challenge for the church Nabeel’s testimony is powerful reminder of the transforming power of the gospel. While Nabeel has finished his course hopefully through this book and others he has authored his story will continue to impact others by demonstrating the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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 Come Back Effect : A Review

The Come Back Effect by Jason Young and Jonathan Malm

This year has brought two great resources for understanding how to best reach out and engage with church visitors, the first resource was Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer which I reviewed here earlier this year. The second is this title.

This book helps church leaders thing through the things they do to to engage and understand those they are seeking to create a meaningful connection with. It does so by focusing on the role of hospitality in the local church. Oftentimes in the church we view hospitality as what is done for those in the Bible, a concept alien to the New Testament. I think one of the most important chapters in this book and the most applicable to churches of all sizes is chapter 4. In this chapter the authors discuss the importance of as they call it “being fully present.” This chapter addresses the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication in conveying attention, cues that are applicable to any social interaction.

There are aspects of this book that are more applicable to larger churches but the general principles apply to all churches and all believers. It’s easy for church leaders to forget how someone coming to a church for the first time might see and experience things, this book explores the impact that taking those first impressions can have if done well.  If you’re trying to figure out why people visit your church once and never return this book will prove to be very helpful.

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.

Preaching by the Book : A Review

Preaching by the Book by R. Scott Pace

While there is no shortage of books on preaching and sermon preparation R. Scott Pace has provided a concise and valuable contribution on the task of preaching.

In three sections composed of eight chapters Pace provides a general overview of the what, why, and how of preaching. In the first section he explores the importance of textual preaching and the priority of allowing the form of Scripture to shape the form of the sermon. In the second section he addresses studying the text and forming the sermon outline. In the third and final section he addresses the importance and use of introductions, illustrations, and invitations.

This book would make a helpful refresher to experienced preachers and a helpful introductions to those starting out as preachers. As a preacher I know I must constantly be growing, learning, and improving on this area of ministry and this book has helped me to do just that. The two chapters that have helped me the most are the chapters on illustrations and invitations. If you’re a preacher I would encourage you to get this book, if you’re aspiring to pastoral ministry this book should definitely be added to your list of reading.

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 Essential Jonathan Edwards : A Review

The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney

In 2010 the five-volume Essential Edwards was published by the authors of this volume. The authors have compiled much of that work into this present volume, making it much easier to access their previous work. If you’re just discovering Jonathan Edwards this book would be a great starting point to understand his life and his work as one of if not the greatest theologian America has ever produced.

This volume is divided into five sections following the same structure as the five-volume series published eight years ago. The first section provides a biographical overview of his life. The second explores the theme of beauty which was a common theme in his written works and sermons. The third section traces Edwards understanding of the good life. The fourth section addresses the nature of true Christianity as opposed to nominalism. The final section traces Edwards’s understanding of heaven and hell and how that understanding shaped his life and ministry.

This year will mark the 260th anniversary of Edwards’s passing and after all those years his works are still in print and still relevant today. Edwards served his day as a model pastor-theologian a dying breed in our day. His love of God and his commitment to sound doctrine and true godliness are evidenced not just in his writings but in his life work. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards you won’t go wrong with reading this book.

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 Fellowship of Suffering: A Review

The Fellowship of the Suffering by Paul Bortwick and Dave Ripper

While many books seek to address the why of suffering or how to cope with suffering this book addresses he formative role suffering plays in light of ministry and mission. The authors draw from Scripture and the lives of others to illustrate the important role suffering plays in shaping believers for ministry to God’s glory.

In four parts the authors point to different ways suffering is important for our spiritual formation. In the first section the authors address how we view suffering and how we should understand suffering in light of Scripture especially the fact that suffering will not disappear in this present age. The second section addresses the role suffering plays in drawing us closer to Christ and in fostering spiritual growth. In the third section the authors explore how suffering makes us better able to minister to others who suffer. In the final section addresses the role of suffering in relation to the Church’s global mission of making Christ known.

I’d commend this book to pastors and especially those who are preparing for ministry. To often in ministry we find ourselves unprepared for suffering or unsure what role past suffering might shape present and future ministry and this book ably addresses those two realities.

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.

Supernatural Power For Everyday People: A Review

Supernatural Power For Everyday People by Jared C. Wilson

This book gets to the heart of a problem many professing Christians find themselves experiencing, the problem of a stagnant and boring spiritual life.Whereas we are often forgetful of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers Wilson helpfully reminds readers of the crucial importance of the indwelling Spirit for the vitality of the believer’s spiritual and everyday life.

In the first chapter of this book Wilson addresses the problem which this book so ably addresses. In each of the following nine chapters Wilson explores how the Spirit serves as the divine provision for our problems. If I were to single out one chapter it would be the final chapter which addresses the baptism of the Spirit. In that chapter Wilson cuts through much of the confusion that shrouds peoples understanding of the filling or baptism of the Spirit and provides greatly needed biblical clarity.

For those who feel stagnant in their spiritual life this would be an encouraging and informing read. It is a helpful reminder pointing of the role of the Spirit in the Christian’s life.

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.