The Vine Project

Book: Payne, Tony, and Colin Marshall. The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture around Disciple-Making. Matthias Media, 2016.

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Point: Making and maturing disciples is not something that a church does, it is something a disciple does. Here is a workbook on how to pursue disciple making in all of church life.

Path: The authors lay out five phases to work through, making sure that everyone understands that this is not as much of a how-to-manual, but rather a workbook. They lay a biblical foundation, explain logical truths, and give practical examples. This isn’t a book to just read, but to work through with others.

Sources: Based on their previous book and the interactions they have had since then, the authors do a great job at walking the reader through both biblical truth and e

 

veryday experience.

Agreement: Top shelf book. I am so thankful how they presented these truths not as a “five steps to your best church now” but “take time to think through these principles with others and you will change”.

Personal App: Am I seeing every relationship as an opportunity to encourage the other individual to take one step toward Christ?

Favorite Quote: Engaging unbelievers on Sunday is ”like taking in a gues

 

t at your house for Christmas dinner. This often happens in our part of the world. If there’s someone at church who doesn’t have any family to share Christmas with, then you invite them to join your family for Christmas lunch. Now in doing so, you don’t change who you are or what your family does in any significant way at all. But you make very sure that your guest is looked after. You warmly welcome them, and introduce them around. You explain what is going on at different points— why Uncle Fred always has to sit in that chair, what the background is to your funny family games or rituals, how to play, and so on. You put yourself out to make your guest feel at home and part of the family, even though it’s not their home or their family. Likewise in church— outsiders are not part of our church family. We don’t stop being who we are, or pursuing God’s purposes, just because we have guests present. But we do welcome our guests, who, like the ‘outsiders’ in 1 Corinthians 14, turn up and (God-willing) come to know and worship the living God in our midst.” (Kindle loc. 2967).

 

Stars:  5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • is planting a church
  • is leading a church
  • is
    serving in a church

Other books along this theme would be:

Anyabwile, Thabiti M. What Is a Healthy Church Member? 9Marks. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.

Dever, Mark. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Expanded. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004.

Marshall, Colin, Tony Payne, and Matthias Media. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything. Kingsford, N.S.W.: Matthias Media, 2009.

Rainer, Thom S., and Eric Geiger. Simple Church. B&H Publishing Group, 2010.

Encounters with Jesus

Book: Keller, Timothy. Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions. Reprint edition. Penguin Books, 2013.

For the full review, click on the title above

Path: Keller has given us a unique book which is both apologetical and devotional.

Keller takes a chapter to explain the interactions of various individuals with Jesus and how they can challenge us. Those individuals are: Nathanael the skeptic, the Insider – Nicodemus and the Outcast – the Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha the Grieving Sisters, the disciples and town at the wedding party,  Mary Magdalene, Satan and his temptations, Jesus at his Ascension, Jesus in the Garden, and Mary after the Angel’s revelation.

Keller explains the interactions in an interesting and enlightening way, and then applies them to skeptics, seekers, and mature believers.

 

Favorite Quote: “Jesus not only died the death we should have died in order to take the law’s curse for us, he also lived the great life of love and fidelity we should have lived in order to earn God’s blessing for us.“

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is skeptical about Jesus
  • Is seeking to know more about Jesus
  • Is seeking to love Jesus more

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Pocket Guide to the Papacy

How is that for a title?

Book: Chirico, Leonardo De. A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Papacy. Christian Focus Publications, 2015. Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.01.32 PM

 

(For the full review click on the title)

Point: The papacy is a global institution with incredible influence but no Scriptural support.

Path: The author helps the non-Catholic navigate the question of the Papacy by explaining its origins, its history, its influence, and its current manifestations.

Favorite Quote: “…the official titles of the Pope: ‘Bishop of Rome’ ‘Vicar of Jesus Christ’ ‘Successor of the prince of the Apostles’ (i.e. Peter) ‘Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church’ ‘Primate of Italy’ and ‘Archbishop and Metro-politan of the Roman Province’ ‘Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City’ ‘Servant of God’s servants’. This list of Papal titles is astonishing and covers various religious offices, political tasks and organizational responsibilities. Each title provides a different perspective on the Papal office, and taken as a whole they help one appreciate who the Pope is and what he does” (Kindle, 97).

Stars:  4 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is or was Catholic
  • Has an interest in Historical Theology
  • Is going to visit Rome

 

God’s Battalions

Book: Stark, Rodney. God’s Battalions. Reprint. HarperCollins, 2009.

 

[Read the full review by clicking the above link]

Point: “The Crusades were not unprovoked. They were not the first round of European colonialism. They were not conducted for land, loot, or converts. The crusaders were not barbarians who victimized the cultivated Muslims. They sincerely believed that they served in God’s battalions” (kindle 3371).

Personal App: When people bring to the conversation arguments about the Crusades and why ISIS cannot be blamed for their horrific violence, I can now say, “Yes, about those Crusades…””

Stars:  4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is interested in history
  • Is interested in the Muslim world

Do More Better by Challies

Book: Challies, Tim. Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. Challies, 2015.

Pages: 119

Point: To be productive is not merely to complete more tasks. Productivity means that one does what is most important and does it well. “Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.”

Path: Challies does an excellent job of defining what productivity is, what it is not, why it is necessary, and how one can plan to be productive through the effective use of tools.

Sources: This book is not a composite of “prodicutivity gurus.” In the pages you can find hints of David Allen, Peter Drucker, and other time management specialists, but you don’t find strings of quotes.

Agreement: This is an excellent book and I found it very helpful. I went through Matt Perman’s book, “What’s Best Next” early this year and also Challies’ blog series on productivity, so my habits have not changed dramatically, but it was an excellent read. His brief but thoughtful critique of our obsession and misunderstanding of productivity was challenging to me. Everyone with a computer or smart phone would benefit from reading his chapters on tools.

Personal App: Am I just trying to get things done, or am I intentionally investing my time in meaningful pursuits in a manner of excellence?

Favorite Quote: “Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose” (10).

Stars:  5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • feels like they are daily spinning their wheels
  • wants to streamline their workflow
  • struggles with disorganized living
  • is way to busy to read a book
  • is just starting college or a new job

Other books along this theme would be:

  • DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. Crossway, 2013.
  • Perman, Matthew Aaron. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. Zondervan, 2014.
  • Glei, Jocelyn K., and 99U. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Amazon Publishing, 2013.
  • Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review

Like swallowing chocolate covered arsenic…

I have been convicted about how I use my words. The conviction is part of the reason I picked up this book, and more conviction came as I read this book.

I criticize because I think I know better.

I mock because I think I could do better.

I belittle because I think I am better.

These ought not to be so. They are symptoms of a sinful heart. In “Resisting Gossip,” Mitchell defines gossip in this way, “Gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” And while it is tempting, pervasive, and easy, there is hope in Christ for those who gossip and those who are hurt by it.

I would recommend “Resisting Gossip” to individuals and small groups in personal reading, Bible studies, or church groups. It will be a challenge whether you have been on the receiving end of gossip, or the carrier. It will help to define, spot, and deal with gossip in your own heart and in your circle of friends.

Click here to read a full review, and consider picking up this short book and reading through it with a friend.

Mitchell, Matthew C. Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue. CLC Publications, 2013.

There’s a book for that…Homosexuality and the Believer

Book: Hubbard, Peter. Love into Light: the Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church. Ambassador, 2013.

619QRcXh-cL._SL1500_Point: The answer to SSA (same-sex attraction) is the Gospel – shared, taught, and lived out.

Agreement: This is the best treatment I have read on the issues of homosexuality and the church’s response to it. I will be referencing this work again.

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Struggles with SSA
  • Has a friend or relative who struggles with SSA
  • Goes to church and wants to truly love others
  • Wants to know more about the big issues behind same-sex Marriages

There’s a Book for that: the Reformation

Are you:

  • interested in church history?
  • a lover of a good story
  • coming from a catholic or lutheran background
  • confused on what “Protestant” or “Evangelical” actually means

Than I would highly recommend this book: Reeves, Michael. The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. B&H Publishing Group, 2013.

Point: A return to the authority of Scripture opened the eyes of the reformers to see justification by faith alone, and forever changed history.

Path: In a clear and engaging manner, Reeves explains the background, the major players, and the continuing effects of the Reformation. He gives sufficient information to peak interest, but does not dive too deeply into debates and arguments from scholars. I would categorize the tone of the book as something akin to “sarcastic storytelling,” and have to admit that it is very appealing! The story is engaging, there is both suspense and humor, and the broad picture of the Reformation Era is very helpful!

For a full review click on the title above.

Who would actually say, “I think I pray too much…”

Here is a book for someone who wants to grow in that area. Click on the title to see a full review.

Book: Carson, D. A. Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. Baker Academic, 1992.

Point: Paul’s prayers in the NT to the sovereign God teach us why we can pray, how we can pray, when we can pray, and for what we can pray.

Favorite Quote: One of many, “Just as God’s Word must reform our theology, our ethics, and our practices, so also must it reform our praying” (17).

Stars: 5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Wants to learn how to pray biblically
  • Struggles with what to pray for
  • Wants to grow in their love for God and faith in him
  • Anyone who may pray at least once in their life

There’s a book for that…

Do you ever wonder:

  • if there isn’t something greater to give your life to?
  • why you get so upset about little things?
  • why it is so hard to forgive sometimes?

Read this book: Tripp, Paul David. A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2008.

Point: When we are the center of our solar system we live within a shoebox. When our glorious God is the center of all that we are we are pulled into a universe full of his glory.

Read the full review on Amazon by clicking on the book title. Let us know if it is helpful.

It is on sale on Kindle now. Definitely worth it.