Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I admit it: I have become weary of the “life purpose” discussion. Not because I do not believe that God had a purpose for our lives; the Bible is clear that he does. Purpose has become coopted by both the religious, like good ole Rick Warren, and by the non-religious alike. It is hard for me not to roll my eyes when talking to people who are disappointed with their jobs because they don't think that they have quite found what they were “made to do.”

I have read Kevin DeYoung before, and so when I found his book on the topic of purpose and finding God's will, well, I can't say that I wasn't skeptical. Yet, if anyone could give the topic a good treatment I have to say that I expected him to be one. Conclusion: not disappointed.

Simply put: DeYoung says everything I have wanted to say about finding purpose and God's will that I have wanted to say, and more. Does God have a plan for your life? Yes. Is it the kind of plan that he will tell you in advance? No. Have you read the Bible? Even the “heroes” of the Bible rarely, if ever, get told what God wants them to do in advance. Even the prophets generally are told “you are my prophet,” then “say this.” Even Moses, granted he was told that he would be the one to lead the people out of Egypt, he was only told what the ultimate end would be, but only one step at a time in the process.

God's will is for your sanctification. God wants you to become holy. That is his main purpose for your life. Everything you go through is to accomplish that goal in your life and in the lives of those around you. God's purpose for your life may be extremely hard and challenging. It may bring heartache and tears. Finding yourself in the gutter may not be any indication of your having made a misstep or fallen from God's will. It may be the crucible in which you are being pruified and perfected.

Stop fretting about what God's will is for your life; just love him and then just do something!

 

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Review: Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up
Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up by Francis Chan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Somehow people have gotten the impression that Christians, at least the conservative ones, really like the idea of hell.  I do really love the idea of sin and death being cast away for all eternity; can you imagine a world like that?  But people must visualize God as Mr. Burns, wringing his hands just waiting for the chance to make the lowly condemned people in sector 7G get what is coming to them for their shoddy disregard for the task he demands of them.

On the contrary, like a parent warning that a knife is not the best thing to put into a light socket, the Christian who is passionate about the topic of hell is so because of the fervent fear that people will indeed find themselves perishing.  In fact, it is said to be impossible to really understand Christianity without also facing the reality of our due penalty in hell.

In his book Erasing Hell, Francis Chan does a very good job at describing his own pain when he considers the idea of hell and how his quest for the truth from the Bible about this unpopular concept in effort, at least in part, to simply explain it away.

Not coincidentally written on the heels of Rob Bell’s now infamous book Love Wins, Chan debunks the idea that hell is some general concept about reaping what we sow on earth, and how Jesus himself really did teach that hell is a real place and that people will really go there.

Because of the nature and content of this review, I am turning off comments for this post.  If you would like to interact on this topic, hit me up on Twitter or send me a message via the Contact and Connect page.

Audio version of this book available at christianaudio.com.

Legal: a review copy of this work was provided by the publisher as compensation for this review.  No requirements for a positive review were made; these are my honest thoughts about this work.


Review: The Donkey Who Carried a King by RC Sproul

The Donkey Who Carried a King
The Donkey Who Carried a King by RC Sproul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Encounters with Jesus can affect people in so many ways.  In our own day there are people that use Jesus’ teachings to as permission to hate other people, to burden people with requirements on how they should live, and some reject him either quietly or sometimes loudly.  Even when Jesus walked on the earth people felt much the same way as they came for healing, for blessing, or to curse and eventually plot to kill him.

RC Sproul tells a story of Davey, a little donkey who had a unique encounter with Jesus.  Even though he was passed by for other important jobs, Davey was picked to be the one for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem as king on Palm Sunday.  On going back home, however, Davey decided that he did not need to do his regular work because he was special enough to carry a king.

This book presents a simple, yet challenging story of the life of the Christian.  Even though we have been chosen for salvation, we have also been given work to do, and any work assigned by the king is kingly work and should be done in his honor.  Davey learns this valuable lesson by witnessing the life of Jesus firsthand and we can learn from his experience and by the witness of the Bible:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Colossians 3:23

With warm and vibrant pictures, Sproul tells Davey’s story that intersects with Christ’s during Holy Week, but it is not overtly an Easter story.  Share this book with your children any time of the year to help them learn the value of their everyday lives in service to God who loves them enough to send his Son to take their place.

Note: a copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.  No obligation was given to give the book a positive review; all views expressed are my own and not influenced by the publisher.


Review: The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About The Humanity Of Christ

The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About The Humanity Of Christ
The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About The Humanity Of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Sure, Jesus was the Son of God, which means he was fully man, but he was also fully God, right?”  That is certainly where most of us Christians like to draw the line.  After all, when we consider the majority of attacks on our faith, talking about Jesus’ humanity is really not a priority.  Why, then, in trying to defend our faith against those who deny the divinity of Christ do we bother looking into his humanity?

 That is perhaps a perfect question to bring you to read this impressive book by Patrick Henry Reardon.  The spotlight is turned to the humanity of Christ, his formation, and his understanding of his personal mission to save sinners.  Reardon talks about how it may be that Christ did not just know his goal was to die on the cross, but that he may have come to that understanding gradually.  After all, Mary was told that he would “save his people from their sins,” but it was not a plan fully innumerated.

Reardon also makes brilliant points about how Christ’s humanity means as much as his divinity in his role as our intercessor, our substitution, and our imputed righteousness.  After all, the fact that Jesus lived a human life and never failed to live up to God’s standard means not only that he qualified to be our substitute, but that we stand to inherit his perfect record; his perfection is credited to our account!

Although there were sections that went a bit off track into other aspects of his character, this was a book that definitely challenged me to see more clearly what the book of Hebrews means when it says that Jesus was not ashamed to call us his brothers.

Note: a copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.  No obligation was given to give the book a positive review; all views expressed are my own and not influenced by the publisher.


Review: Relentless Pursuit: God’s Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us

Relentless Pursuit: God's Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us
Relentless Pursuit: God’s Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us by Ken Gire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do you ever feel alone? Do you have resentments about the past and regrets about where those bad decisions have taken you? Have you found yourself in the gutter with no idea of how you got there? Are you aware that as much as you have tried, you still do not see how you can live a pure and moral life?

If we are honest, we have all been there and may be there still. Our world is wrecked beyond recognition of those who saw God’s original design for his creation. We all bare the stain of sin and wickedness. But it is no state that God cannot not find us.

In his book Relentless Pursuit, Ken Gire takes us into the raw ugliness that life can bring and shows us that even in these bleak times, God seeks after what is lost with wreckless abandon. He leaves behind the 99 who have been found to search for the one who is lost.

Gire sets this scene in the haunting poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson, who in the late 1800s found himself alone, abandoned, and addicted. Yet in his most desperate condition, he experienced God’s incessant involvement in his life, as a hound that chased him with the goal of his capture. What started as something fearful to escape, Thompson, at the end of the poem, describes his surrender to the only one who could save him.

The first chapters of this book were beautiful, and at times even the prose were poetic as the author shares not only his story, but experiences of others who have described their pursuit by God in so many powerful ways. The appreciation of this book breaks down for me in later chapters as the author begins to deemphasize God’s loving pursuit and begins to turn the light on us as individuals and lays on the burden of self-discovery and self-recovery. I had a difficult time connecting what the author thinks of the pursuit of God and our personal responsibility in the process.

Gire definitely uses an approach to talking about God in terms of relationship and experience rather than theology and exposition of the Bible, which is what gave this book its weakness. No doubt there can be a balance between this author’s gifts of story-telling and creativity with a solid grounding in the truth of Scripture.

I do not know that I would recommend this book, even with the beauty and power of its opening chapters. If you do decide to pick this one up, don’t feel badly about abandoning it early.

Note: a copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.  No obligation was given to give the book a positive review; all views expressed are my own and not influenced by the publisher.