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Book Review: Faithful Finance

The topic Jesus discussed most in his public ministry? Money. One of the leading causing of marital strife? Money. The arena of life that still lurks in the shadows so as not to be discussed? Money. Learning how to manage the resources entrusted to you is one a hallmark of good stewardship. However, most people have not had meaningful training in handling their personal finances.

Into this important arena enters Faithful Finance by Emily Stroud. Now if you have ever had any training in handling your finances from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to Howard Dayton’s Your Money Counts to similar books or trainings, there is nothing terribly new here: create a sustainable budget, save for a rainy day, manage debt wisely, start as early as possible with saving for retirement to leverage the power of compounding interest, give generously, etc. If you have never wrestled through these important financial basics, Faithful Finance is a great invitation to do so. Through personal anecdotes and a pleasant voice throughout, Emily Stroud points her readers to consider the fundamentals of good stewardship of financial resources. If you have wrestled through the topic before with FPU or another training, this could be a good reminder, but it doesn’t chart any new territory.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Fake Book Covers from Reformed Authors

In the lead up to the PCA’s General Assembly this year, we created some fake food-related book covers from some of the most well-known Reformed writers, pastors and theologians. Ever wonder what Tim Keller thinks about an American classic, the hot dog? Or imagine John Piper writing about leftovers. Well, here you go! Here is the full collection. Enjoy.

*Special thank you to Chris Meadows for his invaluable assistance in creating these graphics.

The Prodigal (Hot) Dog by Tim Keller

The Prodigal (Hot) Dog
by Tim Keller

Don't Waste Your Leftovers by John Piper

Don’t Waste Your Leftovers
by John Piper

Three Free Cinnabons by Steve Brown

Three Free Cinnabons
by Steve Brown

The Pizzamaker by Ken Sande

The Pizzamaker
by Ken Sande

He Gave Us Streusel by Richard Pratt

He Gave Us Streusel
by Richard Pratt

Christ-Centered Eating by Bryan Chapell

Christ-Centered Eating
by Bryan Chapell

Book Review: Dangerous Church by John Bishop

I want one thing for my life. I want one thing for the church I serve. That one thing is to push all our chips to the middle and to declare that we are “all in.” It’s to stop playing church and worrying about the next program or whether the offering be enough to prevent that always uncomfortable up front announcement about how we are going to have to cut back on the donuts and coffee.

What I want, what I long for, is to risk big. Either we will fail epically or we will see God do things more amazing than we ever dared to ask or imagine. But either way, there will be a story to tell of how God’s mission was worth everything. It is to this place of risking everything that John Bishop calls us in Dangerous Church.

There are two particularly penetrating (and convicting) insights that from the book that I would like to highlight:

  • It starts with the pastor: Pastors, we are in a strange place. We are just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. And yet, people look to us to model the gospel in our own lives. If we aren’t gospel risk-takers, why would they be? If we don’t share the gospel with unbelievers, what makes us think they will? If we don’t live out the gospel through caring for the outcasts and outsiders, is there any chance they will? Convicting words.
  • It’s all about God: Ultimately, we – me, my church, any of us – do not have the power to change lives. Only God does. We are called to be faithful and embrace his radical mission in the world. He alone can make the blind to see, the lame to walk and raise the dead to life. Only God. That’s an important truth easily forgotten.

If you are looking for a book that will call you and your church to radical places and to take radical risks for the glory of Christ, this is it. It’s time to stop pursuing being a safe church. It’s time to become a dangerous church. Let’s roll.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as part of the Dangerous Church blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Book Review: TrueFaced by Thrall, McNicol & Lynch

TrueFaced, by Thrall, McNicol and Lynch is one of the most compelling and convicting books I have read in a long time. I plow through books. I devour words. Few books make me want to slow down and carefully reflect the way that TrueFaced did.

God, in his incredible majesty, created us in his image. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting his grace, we hide ourselves. We put on a mask. We try to be someone else, or, at the least, invisible. And we are not even just hiding from others. We are hiding ourselves from ourselves. Sounds silly when we write it on paper. But, for many of us, it captures our everyday.

In TrueFaced, the authors invite us all to the room of grace where we can find love, repentance and forgiveness. No more hiding. No more masks. Instead, there, in that room, we find a gracious God who knows the depth of our sin, and loves us still.

If you are tired of performing, tired of faking it and tired of pretending you are something that you are not, read TrueFaced. It will show you the path of trusting God and lead you to the door where you can enter the room of grace.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

Reading The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher was a conflicting experience. Part of “The Ancient Practices Series,” Gallagher investigates Communion and its role in the life of the church today.

On the one hand, I loved her informal tone matched with her obviously deep reverence and passion for the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace. She shares her journey regarding the Lord’s Supper from being this strange ritual to a deeply cherished meal. How I wish that all of the church shared with her that longing for the Supper.

Unfortunately, her theology of the Supper is not equal to her passion for it. Two examples: First, she describes a scenario where someone dropped some wafers and she and the priest immediately fell to their knees eating the wafers as fast as they could. She acknowledges that God wouldn’t have struck them dead if they somehow missed one and it was vacuumed up. That level of mysticism belies a deeper flaw in her sacramental theology. Second, she contends that anyone can come to the table (as opposed to standard practices of fencing the table). As it is, that would be a controversial point, but, let’s see what her argument is. Her argument: If you make a rule that keeps one person away from the table, what will keep you from making more rules. That is both a silly and unhelpful argument.

In short, Gallagher’s passion for the sacred meal is admirable. She could have just used the help of a theological editor or co-author along the way.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah


Moving from one line of the great hymn, Amazing Grace, to the next, Dr. David Jeremiah offers a renewing and encouraging call to engage the gospel in his book, Captured by Grace. Weaving back and forth between the life of the Apostle Paul and of John Newton (the writer of Amazing Grace), the author demonstrates the reality of the hymn’s words in both of their lives and points the reader to Christ, where both of these men found unexpected grace, a new life and a new purpose.

If you are looking for deep theology to dive into soteriology or sanctification, this is not the book you are looking for. If, instead, you want to re-experience the power of the gospel, this is a great read. The book is an easy read. The tendency could be to brush through the pages quickly. Slow down and enjoy the story of God’s grace at work in these two men, anticipating his grace-filled work in your life.

 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Review of The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

“Who am I?” This seemingly simple question has been a central point of exploration all the way from traditional philosophy to the movie Zoolander. And it is into the middle of this diverse and wide-ranging conversation that Mark Sayers new book, The Vertical Self , places itself. Sayers contends, rightly so, that the reason for much of the existential angst and wondering about one’s own identity is because we have lost our vertical selves. That is, we no longer define ourselves vertically as those made in the image of God and part of God’s bigger story, defining ourselves instead horizontally, in context with one another.

Each of us has been made in the image of God. Reading Sayers book helps restore the centrality of that incredibly honorable existence by challenging his readers to rest their identity in the vertical instead of the horizontal. More specifically, Sayers offers excellent insight on two fronts. First, he investigates several of the major cultural factors that influence how we define ourselves from the glamorous to the sexy to the cool. Second, Sayers presents a variety of biblical pictures of our value in God’s sight, not only as those made in his image (Gen. 1:26-27), but also that we are works of art (Eph. 2:10), alive in Christ (Col. 2:13) and a chosen people (1 Pet. 2:9).

For all of its value, there is one major flaw in Sayers’ contribution to a biblical understanding of our identity. He rightly calls us to holiness – to leave behind the dirt and junk of our lives and to grow in holiness. The problem is that in so doing, he leaves the work of becoming holy to us as individuals. Just as there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, there is nothing we can do to make ourselves more holy. That, like our salvation, is the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit that makes us into our true, future, vertical selves. Add in that understanding of how we becoming holy, and Sayers book is a great read for all who want to know who they really are.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”