40 Days With Jesus (book review)

Martin Luther said, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me.” Truly, the Bible is God’s Word speaking to us every time we peer into its pages, so I love how Sarah Young strings passages of Scripture together to allow us to hear Jesus speaking to us in a first-person voice. 

40 Days With Jesus was designed as a series of readings during the Lenten season, as we walk with Jesus to the Cross and His resurrection from the dead. But any time is a good time when we can walk with Jesus and hear His unmistakable voice reassuring our hearts. 

Are you walking through a dark time in your life? Know that Jesus is walking with you. 

Do you want to live a life of purpose and lasting value? Listen to Jesus counsel you. 

Are you standing at a crossroads trying to make the right decision? Let Jesus point the way. 

Each time I read a Sarah Young book, it reignites my heart to read the Bible as though Jesus is personally speaking to me. Because He is! 

40 Days With Jesus is a great starting point for you to learn to hear Jesus speaking to you every time you open your Bible. The Holy Spirit will then use those words read in your quiet time to continue to bring you direction and reassurance all throughout your day (John 14:26). 

I highly recommend this book (or any other book by Sarah Young)!

Life In The Spirit Study Bible (book review)

I love to read, averaging about 30 books per year. In addition to books, I have a lot of news feeds that I check daily. But hands down, everything else comes in a distant second place to my number-one read: the Bible. 

I read the Bible for myself. I read the Bible to prepare my Sunday messages. I read the Bible to teach classes. I read the Bible to confirm or refute what I am reading in other books and news feeds. And with all that Bible reading, I have also gravitated toward my favorite study Bible—The Life In The Spirit Study Bible. 

At one time people referred to this Bible as “the fire Bible” because of the graphic on the front cover depicting the fire that fell on praying Christians at the Pentecost celebration immediately following Christ’s ascension into heaven. That fire still falls in my heart every time I read God’s Word!

The study notes in this Bible are fantastic! But don’t be deceived by the name: these are not study notes that focus on the Holy Spirit out of proportion; rather, the role of the Spirit is merely noted where others have ignored it. Far too many people don’t ponder very much about the Holy Spirit’s involvement, except for perhaps the Book of Acts and maybe Paul’s instruction on the operational gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians. The Life In The Spirit Study Bible simply seeks to make us aware of the Spirit’s involvement. 

In addition to the short commentary notes at the bottom of each page, there are several insightful and scholarly articles throughout this whole book that will make the Scripture come alive in new ways. 

This is my “preaching Bible” that I take with me for every sermon I deliver, which means it is the Bible I am diving deep into each day as I study. I cannot recommend this Bible to you highly enough. 

Shepherding God’s Flock (book review)

T.M. Moore founded the Fellowship of Ailbe, a ministry patterned after the example of the Irish Christians who kept the spread of the Gospel alive during history’s dark times. A key component of the Fellowship’s ministry is the equipping of pastors for their tasks, and Shepherding God’s Flock masterfully lays out the role of pastors like few other resources. 

Throughout the Scriptures, God uses the picture of a shepherd caring for his sheep as a consistent image of how God cares for His people, and how He desires for pastors/elders to care for those under their care as well. God has stern warnings for shepherd-leaders who misuse or abuse their positions, but He also showers His blessings on those shepherd-leaders whose hearts beat with God’s heart. David talked lovingly of the Lord being our Shepherd, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, and the Apostle Peter called for elders in the church to shepherd the flock under their care. 

Shepherding God’s Flock helps pastors work through the practicalities of their shepherding role. And I do mean work through these concepts. This book is as much a workbook as it is a textbook. T.M. Moore gives valuable insights for pastors, but he intersperses penetrating discussion questions throughout his teaching. You will also need to keep your Bible handy while reading Shepherding because Moore will send you to passage after passage to undergird the principles he is teaching. 

I can’t recommend this book highly enough to both current pastors and those preparing to enter into pastoral ministry. It would probably be a good idea for lead pastors to read this book alongside their elder/deacon boards. 

As Moore notes in his closing words, “Shepherding is the work God has chosen for the care and nurture of His flocks. We’ve neglected this ministry for too long. Let us resolve to bring the work of shepherding to bear on the task of building Christ’s Church.” 

To that, I add my hearty “Amen!”

Surprised By Paradox (book review)

Many years ago, as I struggled with some of the either-or challenges of Christianity, I read C.S. Lewis’ wisdom that the safest course between two either-or extremes was a course straight between them. Jen Pollock Michel embraces this profound wisdom in her thoughtful book Surprised By Paradox—The Promise of And in an Either-Or World.

Jen wrestled with many of the same either-or struggles I wrestled with, which I actually found encouraging. The reason I find this encouraging is that it tells me that I’m not alone in my wrestling, and you aren’t either! So embracing the same C.S. Lewis wisdom that helped guide me, Jen opens up her heart to us in an intimate journey of discovery. 

Surprised By Paradox felt like I was getting a glimpse at Jen’s personal diary. Every chapter seemed like it could start out “Dear Diary…” with Jen sharing what prompted her wrestling thoughts, the alternatives she considered, and then the AND solution that God revealed to her. I could feel her growing in insight and confidence as I turned to each successive chapter. 

This book will cause you to question and ponder and wrestle as well. And that’s a good thing! To help you along the way, there are some very helpful discussion questions sprinkled throughout the book. Although these would be fine questions for you to answer on your own, I encourage to invite someone else alongside you on your journey. Surprised By Paradox will help you and your friends grow in your spiritual maturity. 

I am an IVP book reviewer. 

Missionary God Missionary Bible (book review)

Technically speaking, Missionary God, Missionary Bible by Dick Brogden is a pre-book. It is being released through 2019 as a daily email and then it will be published as a book next year. But I urge you to jump in on these stirring thoughts today! 

God is a missions-minded God, so it makes sense that the Bible would be a missions-centered text, speaking to the hearts of both those who don’t know Jesus as Savior yet, and to the hearts of those Christians who should be missional in their lives. 

Dick is a veteran missionary, and he brings his decades of ministry experience to this monumental work. Dick is using The Chronological Study Bible to take us through the Bible in one year and to look at every text through a missionary lens. The Chronological Study Bible is a fascinating read in itself, as it places the biblical texts in the order in which the events happened, but then when Dick’s insights are added to those historical events, something even more powerful stirs in my heart. 

Each day’s devotional also includes a prayer focus for an unreached people group, along with the vital statistics about these precious people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus. 

This study Bible, read alongside Dick’s missional insights, and then combined with a prayer for a group that needs to receive the Gospel, makes for a life-changing devotional time. You will definitely want to get the book when it is published, but please don’t wait until then to begin to have your missionary heart enlarged and engaged in this fantastic daily study. 

You can subscribe to the daily emails by clicking here.

The Infographic Bible (book review)

I love studying the Bible! I enjoy reading it in different translations, consulting my atlas to see where certain events took place, studying the culture of the biblical settings, and even diving in to the Hebrew and Greek definitions of words. But I’ve never seen the biblical story portrayed as uniquely and so visually beautiful as Karen Sawrey has done it in The Infographic Bible.

The subtitle of this work is “visualizing the drama of God’s Word,” and Karen does this in ways you have never seen before. 

The Infographic Bible flows in the same order as the Biblical text, except that there is very little text involved. You will see how the biblical books were compiled and then walk through God’s story in both the Old and New Testaments.

In graphics that typically span the full two-page spread (and sometimes even more), you will see in vivid colors, bold designs, and memorable graphics how God set about to redeem His people and tell His story. You will see the two Genesis accounts of Creation portrayed side-by-side, you will understand genealogies better by seeing their timelines flow through generations, you will appreciate the biblical themes and fulfilled prophesies, and you will look forward to the hope of things to come in Revelation. 

There is so much to discover in this book! The Infographic Bible is a coffee-table-size book, and the beautiful graphics inside will definitely make it a conversation piece to leave on display for your guests. I commend Karen Sawrey for her outstanding work, and I highly recommend this book to you.

Studies In The Sermon On The Mount (book review)

Many people have called Christ’s Sermon on the Mount the most profound sermon ever preached. It would be hard to argue that conclusion! Reading the Sermon is one thing, but living it out is something entirely different. Oswald Chambers helps us live out these amazing words in his book Studies In The Sermon On The Mount. 

Not only did Chambers provide us with an excellent commentary on this Sermon, but his life showed his devotion to practicing what he preached. At a memorial service for Chambers in December 1917, a close friend described Oswald’s life as “the finest commentary on the Sermon on the Mount I know.” May that be said of all Christians! 

This is one of the finest commentaries I have read on this life-patterning sermon that Jesus gave us. It’s a great read, but it is also quite challenging at times. To be honest, Chambers’ thoughts are so deeply profound at points that it takes several readings to grasp the implications. But it is worth your effort! 

A colleague of Chambers—J.F. Knapp, who founded God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, OH, where Chambers taught for seven months in 1907—described it better than I could: 

“‘But,’ says some simple soul, ‘I don’t understand [Chambers].’ The more is the pity. Leave then the evening newspaper, the book of religious wonder-tales, the high-flown writing watered with adjectives, but empty of thought or power, and read these pages again and again until the truth soaks through to your innermost consciousness. … To heed the words of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount as interpreted by Oswald Chambers will transform holiness people into holy people, and faithless verbosity into Christian humility. Unto which glorious result God speed the day!”

To Knapp’s words I can only add “Amen!” If you want to understand the Sermon On The Mount better, you shouldn’t miss out on this premier Oswald Chambers book. 

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