Jesus Called – He Wants His Church Back (Book Review)

This book sports a title that is easy to agree with, but with a title like this stating things are wrong, you might expect a lot of negativity about what a terrible state the church of today is in. But it’s a really solid, positive, uplifting read. Ray writes with a humility and grace. He makes profound, insightful statements.

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Called-Christians-American-Missing/dp/0718079566/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

What I really appreciate about this book is that is something that you can (and should) personalize to your own personal walk with Jesus. This isn’t a book bashing the church as an organization, or bashing Christians as a whole. You can read this book and if you apply it, you will become a better Christian, and help make your church better.

This book covers a wide variety of topics while not feeling scattered, but rather thorough.

Highly recommended read for Christians, whether they love their church or not. There is a lot of convicting content that’s straight to the point.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book courtesy of BookLook Bloggers.

Jesus Called – He Wants His Church Back (Book Review)

What Keeps You Up at Night? -Pete Wilson – Book Review

A Good Read for Sleepers and Non-Sleepers Alike

I expected this book to have a fairly narrow purpose, namely addressing things that worry us and how to deal with them. Being fairly young, and having had a fairly non-tumultous life thus far, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just a good overall read for the believer on how to do life well – whether you’re going through a valley or not. And of course, valleys will come. There’s likely a lot of great advice in this book for you whether you feel your life is going great, or about to come off the rails.

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Pete has a way of writing things in an encouraging, but not over-the-top manner. Early in the book Wilson writes: “One of the things I hope to convince you of in this book is that the object is not learning to fear less; it’s learning to trust God more.” I think that statement is a great way to summarize Pete’s heartbeat behind this book. In a lot of ways What Keeps You Up at Night is a book about God, not us. And that’s what makes it so good and worthwhile reading. There’s a lot of meat and truth in here.

The content is Biblical and excellent, and the presentation was well written, including stories and illustrations with a great personality behind it. The book doesn’t get the 5th star as I didn’t find the book as engaging to me as I would’ve liked. It’s good, just not 5 star fantastic. It’s still a very great book to get your hands on, whether you’re a worrier or not. You might just have to take it slow as you work your way through it.

I received a complementary review copy of this work courtesy of the publisher and the BookLook Blogging Program.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

What Keeps You Up at Night? -Pete Wilson – Book Review

The Drop Box Film – Documentary Review

The Drop Box is a heart-rending documentary filled with both beauty and horror. For myself, it’s the kind of movie I’d honestly rather just not see – not because it’s poorly done or boring, it’s hard to watch because the movie is about some pretty terrible things that shake you. This is not something you watch to be entertained. It’s something to watch to help you realize again how broken this world is and how desperately Christians need to get busy loving people.

Watch this documentary to be challenged by a man’s love for unwanted, unloved babies. Watch him live out his faith. Watch him give his faith legs and make it work. It’s an amazing story. It will make you uncomfortable. It should make you evaluate your own life and the level of sacrifice and selfishness which are manifesting themselves in your own life. For those coming from strong homes it will help you see once again how blessed you are.

The documentary is well done. The camera work is solid. Although the feel is very heavy, there thankfully are bright spots in the film. There are smiles.

The movie itself brings up the issue of concern with what Pastor Lee Jong-rak is doing. Is he enabling parents to just abandon their babies, or is he rescuing babies who would’ve otherwise need neglected to die on the street?

Most of the speaking is in Korean, so almost all of the conversation has to be read in the subtitles. You might get used to this, you might not. What this does is helps to give the film a in-the-trenches feel. The movie is raw and real. See it for yourself.

Very well done and highly recommended. Tremendous story.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

I received a complimentary advance viewing of this film courtesy of Nuts About Books by Graf-Martin Communications.

The Drop Box Film – Documentary Review

ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible

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An answer to the question: “So what?”

These excellent study notes help drive the message of Good News into your heart.

What it does well:

First of all, I love the ESV translation. I’m not a Bible scholar, but to me it seems very readable yet being very accurate to the original languages.

Second: This Bible looks NICE. I like the graphic design work. It’s very aesthetically pleasing. It looks clean.

Thirdly. The notes are simple and generally not-too technical. It’s easy to read, yet not too simplistic.

Fourth. From what I can tell, the references to Jesus aren’t wacky and far fetched.

Fifth. Great, simple, short book introductions. One and a half pages. Boom. You get a great summary in a few minutes.

Sixth. The clincher: it really does point to Jesus throughout. The notes are filled with Good News! Read this Bible when you’re depressed, when you’re sad, when you want to give up, and when you’re flying high. It’s filled with hope, not “do more, try harder, be awesome”.

What it is not:

It is not highly technical, with a commentary on each verse. Rather, it tends to look at passages in their larger context and show how it displays the Gospel. It reads more devotionally. By saying that, don’t think this is full of fluff. This isn’t just for new Christians and non-academics (although definitely great for those who wrestle with studying the Bible). The Gospel is meat. This Bible could benefit anyone!

What I’m not huge on:
The placement of the cross references. The scripture is on the top part of the page, with the notes underneath. The cross references are down here beside the notes. It’s just not quite as convenient to spot the references. It’s a minor issue.

This is a highly encouraging resource, and I highly recommend it.

I especially recommend it to those who find the Bible confusing, depressing, boring, or meaningless. Yet at the same time I’d recommend it to those who love technical works. I think this will be good for you. You can read a passage, read a paragraph of commentary, and Jesus will look big and glorious. Nothing too fancy, nothing to complicated. But oh so refreshing. Jesus loves you, it’s true.

I received a complimentary review copy of this Bible courtesy of Crossway Publishing.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Jefferson Bethke the last year or so. Having a few years on his 23, I’m blown away by the man of God he is and by what he’s already accomplished at his young age. He is cranking out a lot of great content. He’s relevant. He knows how to connect with his culture and generation. He’s artistic. He does what he does well: very well. He’s got a lot of insight. Sometimes people like this end up turning you off and leaving you bummed out by just how good they seem. How can you be so courageous?How can you read so many books? How can you be influencing so many people?

Enter Jesus > Religion. You soon realize Jeff’s entire life isn’t filled with sainthood. Throughout the book Jeff shares his story. It’s honest, raw, and at times very dark. And yet it’s a beacon brightly blazing on Jesus. As we often hear, the one thing people can’t argue is our personal testimony. What I love about this book is that Jeff has been through the motions of trying to be good, of trying to find fulfilment in sin, and ultimately being captured by grace. It might be easy to roll your eyes at a cute, rich pastor’s kid raving about how great God is – but Jeff’s story is hard to argue with. It’s not pretty, but it’s glorious.

Jesus Is Greater

I’m not going to go over every chapter, since you should read the book yourself. The title tips you off on the angle of the book. Here are a few things that stuck out to me that I wanted to mention about this book.

#1 The book addresses the topic of sin head-on

In Jeff’s words:

God doesn’t hide sin. In fact he put it on display two thousand years ago in a splintered T-shaped piece of wood. Jesus came down to earth, live the perfect life we never could have, and died the death we should have. And every drop of blood that poured from him was another drop of love falling on us.”

He took your shame. He took your sin. He took your filth so that God could be both just and justifier of those who put their trust in Jesus. He doesn’t just let you off the hook; he put Jesus on the hook for you. Stop working to do something Jesus has already done. It is finished. If you trust him, your faith is counted as righteousness.”

#2 Jesus deserves more glory than we’re inclined to think

God should get a lot more glory for things than we give him. If we only give God glory for explicitly Christian things, we are thieves. He wants all the glory. When we bite into food, we are to let him know how awesome he is for making food. When we listen to great music, we are to do the same. When we don’t we are stealing. There is glory God deserves that he is not being given.”

#3 We can be who God created us to be.

I love that God made us different, to do different things, to be different parts of the body. But that’s hard to accept sometimes, so I’m glad for the reminder Jeff gives us. In my own words, when Jeff became a Christian he quit the baseball time to study the Bible. He felt he needed to go to seminary – become a pastor or a theologian, because that’s what great Christians did, so he thought. Looking back, he realizes that he wouldn’t have enjoyed or been very good at that. Now, instead of studying how to parse Greek verbs he’s making a huge impact doing what God created him to do, making amazing Youtube videos that are reaching millions of people. How cool is that?

#4 Christians should be great at creating

He hammers on music, but the spectrum is even bigger than what we think of as art. While we’re not all overly ‘artistic’, we shouldn’t always be lagging 10 years behind our culture. As he says:

The problem with trying to be relevant is it makes us copy what culture is already doing. To be relevant, you have to copy what is cool. So we put our mouths on the tailpipe of secular culture in hopes we can recycle some of it and use it for ourselves.”

Jeff’s story is a testament to the fact that God can use you and your gifts for his glory – whatever they are. He’s using social media well. He’s helping make Jesus famous. He’s a modern day missionary.

#5 Jesus Rules.

Really, there’s nothing better.

In conclusion: this is a great, easy read. Instead of trying to amaze us with the knowledge he’s accumulated from a lot of study, or how he managed to get millions of Youtube views, he brings us to Jesus – the real Jesus. This is a book of great news for sinners and saints alike. Love it.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

An ancient topic with a fresh voice

ImageGods at War, by Kyle Idleman (book review)

A book about the idols that wage war for your heart? You may think it’s bound to be old-hat, boring, preachy, and full of ‘Sunday School Talk’ that you’ve heard dozens of times.

Actually, in my opinion this is a great book on a hugely important subject, and it’s well worth your time. Here are some of the reasons I love and recommend it:

1. Kyle shows, over and over through the book that Jesus is what fills the void we try to fill with idols of our own choosing.

2. He asks a lot of great, soul-searching questions.

3. You can understand what he’s trying to say. It’s crisp and easy, but not dumb. 

4. He’s funny. Be sure to check out the footnotes, this is where some of his best ‘funnies’ lie.

5. He wants to help you, not tear you down.

6. There’s lots of meat for thinkers, but it’s very accessible for the masses (like me).

If you’re a reader, I highly recommend this work. If you read one book a year, definitely consider reading this one as an extra bonus throughout the year, it’s that good. Plus, it might help you find some joy in reading.

I received a complementary review copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars.

 

An ancient topic with a fresh voice

Ouch, Boom, Bang…Wow! (Accidental Pharisees, Larry Osborne – Book Review))

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

This book packs a serious punch into your spiritual gut! It’s very well written, very interesting, very easy to read, and very thought provoking and practical. It’s also very important.

Larry really opened my eyes to my own life and the things I can easily find myself caught up in not realizing that I’ve become an accidental Pharisee. Despite the often attention-grabbing statements Larry makes,  he writes in a very gentle, friendly and conversational manner.

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There’s a lot of strong statements in this book, things that make you stop and see if he did in fact just speak negatively about what you cared so much about. The book moves at a brisk pace, yet he backs up the reason for his comments. You might fear a book attacking Pharisees might be old hat, but I sure didn’t feel like Osborne was beating a dead horse at all.  

This is a very, very highly recommended book for you to read, whether you’re curious about what’s so bad about Pharisees, or are convinced that you’re not one of them. There will likely be things that will hurt, things that you won’t want to believe, things that you think he’s wrong about, and a whole lot of things to make you think and push you closer to Jesus. Read it!

I received a complementary review copy of this book courtesy of Zondervan and Booksneeze.

Ouch, Boom, Bang…Wow! (Accidental Pharisees, Larry Osborne – Book Review))