Category Archives: Book Review

Spiritual Depth

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When I think of spiritual depth I am more and more convinced that it has more to do with your personal relationship with Jesus and less to do with leadership- yours or anyone else’s! In a world innundated with leadership books, we have precious few examples of real character in leadership. This is why I was initially excited to read Going Deep. The book re-visits Pastor Gordon MacDonald’s fictional congregation in his book, Who Stole My Church. While I have not read that book, I was excited by the following thought: “The future of the Christian faith will not be determined by the number of people who fill the pews but by the spiritual depth of those people.”

Going Deep offers a detailed plan of helping churches cultivate people of spiritual depth… A VERY detailed plan. To say I found this book to be extremely slow-moving would be an understatement. Gordon MacDonald writes the book like a journal of a fictional church that is going through a major change in their discipleship process. I am very detailed but this book was sinking into a detailed muck. Unfortunately, I feel that most of the good principles were lost in pragmatics. The concepts themselves were great but the presentation was baffling to me. While the setting was fictional the book is written as reality which makes for a very confusing read. For me, this book was so extremely slow that it became a chore to read.

To the authors credit, I do think this book could be helpful for pastors and church leaders making some intense discipleship changes. Also, true change as it is described in the book would take a long time, just as the pressures of deep sea diving must be slowly acquired and adjusted to at each depth. I think a church using this book could read it and do the meeting described at the same time and finish fairly close together.

I received this book as a part of Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

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Has God Spoken?

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Has God Spoken is a detailed review of the evidence supporting the authenticity of the Bible. Hank Hanegraaff skillfully presents differing types of evidence to expound upon the accuracy of scripture. The book is laid out in a simple structure comprised of 4 acronyms: Manuscript COPIES, Archeological SPADES, Prophetic STARS and Scriptural LIGHTS. Using this accessible format, Hanegraaff makes sense of what could otherwise be an overload of information. The topics range from copyist practices to Assyrian archeology and from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the typological prophesies of the Old Testament.

Hanegraaff’s presentation of this historical evidence is anything but dry! Indeed he seems to make the Bible come alive with background information that breathes new revelation into age old stories. While I honestly admit to being a Christian, I found the information in this book compelling and thoroughly researched with plenty of endnotes for further study.

There were a few personal preference objections I had to the way the author wrote the book. First, the author seems wholly too sold on the power of alliteration for my liking. Take this example from page 16:

In short, the contention that careless, capricious copyists created cartloads of clearly contaminated copies simply does not correspond to reality.

Secondly, Hanegraaff appears to be writing much of this book in response to research by Bart Ehrman, an obvious decrier of scriptural truth. While I obviously do not support Ehrman’s views, I am not sure I’m comfortable with how openly Hanegraaff criticizes his assertions. However, if you can read the critiques in the light of passion for his cause, Has God Spoken is a truly interesting and educational read for any faith level.

With

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In With, Skye Jethani explores the five different positions we take in our relationship with God. “Life under God sees the world as governed by the capricious will of God. Life over God places immutable natural laws at the center. Life from God assumes the world orbits around the self and it’s desires. And life for God sees a divine mission at the core of all things” (p. 100). Jethani notes how each of these positions, though seemingly good, place something else at the center of our lives thereby disrupting our relationship with God. He asserts that the only conclusion is to live in a position of life with God.
This book is not written describing unbelievers but rather believers who have a skewed relationship with God. Jethani spares no feelings for the passive Christian who merely wants to go on believing that their life is exactly as God would have it. The book is direct and challenging to anyone who has an open mind and is willing to examine their own heart. Being a Christian for decades now I was shocked at how my mentality of God closely resembled several of the detrimental positions. Taking cultural considerations into account when describing the five positions, Jenthani’s With is both enlightening and thought provoking. He concludes with thoughts on living life with faith, hope and love. A fabulous book for any faith level! I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

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I have been a Christian for a long time, so when I saw this book I was enthused to read something that posed difficult theological questions. What I found was a book that discusses the reasons Christianity is the one true religion. While the book became somewhat more intriguing as the dinner continued, the main character, Nick, spends most of the book unwilling to believe that he is actually having dinner with Jesus. For me, this was the most insightful lesson; that humanity often doubts that God would actually want to come and be a part of our everyday lives.

While the books subject matter was nothing new for me, anyone who is searching for answers about religion may find the conversations intriguing. The main topics seemed to come from a mix of several authors including Bill Hybels, C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. The advantage this book did have was that the fictional setting made the facts much more palatable and intriguing than other books which state the same information in a strictly informational way.

Despite the book not meeting my expectations, it was an easy read that sparked many more questions in my mind. I began to wonder what expectations I had for an author who was attempting to describe an encounter with the divine. Did I really expect him to attempt to answer all the questions of the universe? If he had, I think I would have been far more disappointed!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.