Books

Book Review – Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

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Image of Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples
by Francis Chan
David C. Cook 2012
Paperback 336

Disciples make disciples. Though this three word sentence is as clear as a cloudless sky and given by Jesus in one of the clearest passages of Scripture (Matt. 28:19), it has been one of the most largely undeveloped and neglected aspects of church and Christian life. That is, disciples of Jesus Christ are not so adept at making new converts to Christ into disciples of Christ. While some groups can be very productive in evangelism, that is often where it stops and thus the church is filled with undiscipled disciples of Christ. Granted, once one becomes an adopted child of God they are a disciple of Christ in its most bare sense of the word. However, being a disciple of Christ is not merely a static state of existence one has in relation to Christ, once saved. Rather, it is a dynamic relationship that is growing. Thus, discipleship is properly a description of the ongoing growth of a self-identified disciple of Christ.

This idea of disciples making disciples is the passion behind the new book Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. Chan and Beuving’s desire is to help believers understand what it means to be a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ. The goal of discipleship is to be like the person you are following. For the Christian that is Christ. “That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process” (p. 16).

It takes a church

Though disciples are individuals, discipleship is not accomplished individually. “The proper context for every disciple maker is the church. It is impossible to make disciples aside from the church of Jesus Christ” (p. 51). After all, how would one fulfill and be a recipient of the over 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament on their own outside of the local church? Further, if disciples are to obey the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations, they cannot do that one their own. Discipleship happens in the life of the individual within the life of the church. Read more about Book Review – Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

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Book Review - 7 Truths that Changed the World

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As a pastor of a church plant with many new Christians, I found 7 Truths that Changed the World by Kenneth Richard Samples, to be a great foundation for a sermon series on the simple foundational truths of Christianity. The author does a great job of taking very complex subjects and making them palatable for the common reader like me. The book is not overbearing with the amount of information, nor is it too weak in defending the truth. It is a perfect balance between the academic and practical.

The book is built around the seven truths, with a section devoted to each of them.  Samples articulates and defends the specific truth and also explains the positions of other prominent worldviews.   This review will focus on a brief summary of the author’s explanation and defense of each of the seven truths.

Dangerous Idea #1: Not All Dead Men Stay Dead

The hope of Easter is defended quite well by Mr. Samples.  Samples deals with the following seven historical facts: the empty tomb, the postmortem appearances, the short time frame between actual events and eyewitness claims, the extraordinary transformation of the apostles, the greatest conversion in history, the emergence of the historic Christian church and the emergence of Sunday as a day of worship. Each of these points are summarized and a fundamental defense of the resurrection of Christ is advanced.  Read more about Book Review - 7 Truths that Changed the World

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Book Review - Interpreting the Parables

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Image of Interpreting the Parables
by Craig L. Blomberg
IVP Academic 2012
Paperback 463

People like to tell stories and they like to listen to them. They like listening to the retelling of history in story form and the telling of made-up stories for the purpose of making a point. While interpreting the retelling of history is fairly straight forward the interpreting of made-up stories is not. Many people groups and religions use stories for various and similar purposes. Christianity is no different. Stories that are made-up with the intent of teaching a lesson are typically called parables. While there are few parables within the Old Testament the New Testament Gospels are saturated with them.

Following a long line of contributions to the field of hermeneutics and parables, and amidst a myriad of proposals, Craig Blomberg has updated his original work on the parables with the second edition of his Interpreting the Parables by IVP. In many ways this is two books in one as it deals with both the history of hermeneutical method and a discussion of proper hermeneutical method. Further, as one reads the book it becomes apparent that the book serves as more of a handbook (though a rather long one) than a straightforward theology of the parables since there is only one chapter dealing with the theology of the parables and the section dealing with Blomberg’s proposed hermeneutical method is not exhaustive (though extremely helpful). Read more about Book Review - Interpreting the Parables

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Book Review - Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City

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Image of Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
by Timothy J. Keller
Zondervan 2012
Hardcover 400

I saw a slight criticism of Tim Keller’s book Center Church about a month after it was released this September, but there was no way that the critic could have read the entire book so fast! The criticism got my attention and after reading what Keller had to say about his own book, I decided to buy it and check it out.  I had my doubts after having read a few comments from people who voiced their reservations about Keller’s direction. So, I want to lay out a report of what the book is about and what some of the key thoughts are that drive the direction of this book.

1. The Gospel

The first and most important issue that Keller addresses is the gospel, it’s content and it’s exclusivity. He also makes it clear that incarnational gospel living isn’t enough, words are necessary! It must be preached verbally. The gospel is a story that begins with creation and ends in the consummation. Different parts of the plot line of the story of the gospel are better starting points to share with unbelievers than others depending on the culture. There is no “one size fits all” presentation of the gospel that fits in every time and place. Neither is the gospel just a hoop we jump through to get converted:

It is inaccurate to think the gospel is what saves non-Christians and then Christians mature by trying hard to live according to biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our minds, hearts, and lives by believing the gospel more and more deeply as life goes on…. (p. 48)

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The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com

President Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) is known as “the Great Communicator” not merely because he had the polished delivery of an accomplished actor, but because he actually had something substantial to say and often said it very well (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”).

Among the tools of effective communication is the employment of suitable quotes, aphorisms and stories to illustrate or drive home a point or to clarify an idea. Mr. Reagan had a sizeable private stash of quotes and quips and jokes that he had accumulated over the decades, all written out by hand on 4” x 6” cards, ready to be accessed as needed. This stack of cards was kept close at hand in his personal desk drawer for easy reference. At his death, the contents of his desk were boxed up and deposited in the Reagan Presidential Library in California. During some renovations in 2010, this stack of hand-written cards was rediscovered, and a selection of them is herein compiled and published.

The quotes, stories and jokes are divided up into nine sections, viz., “On the Nation,” “On Liberty,” “On War,” “On the People,” “On Religion,” “The World,” “On Character,” “On Political Theater,” and “Humor.” These are followed by a “glossary”—really a brief description of named authors quoted—and a topical index.

Many of the quotations are outstanding—I quote a few of the crème de la crème below (having to leave out many very good ones), but unfortunately, none is documented in the book beyond naming the original author. Reagan’s cards did not provide chapter and page references, but the editor should have, as far as he was able, provided documentation. Read more about The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom

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