Mini-Reviews #11 and Book Giveaway

March 29, 2012

I’m back with another batch of mini book reviews. This time I review four books and have a special book giveaway (courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers).

Here are the reviews and you can scroll down to the end of this post to have a chance to win a free book.

Walking the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned much about the Jewish culture in which Jesus did his ministry. Quite often we mistakenly interpret the gospels through our Western mindset and miss the nuances and richness of the Jewish world. For instance, we often say that Jesus came to “abolish the law” as if Jesus was anti religious and anti law. Actually, Jesus came to fulfill the law.

This book is loaded with original insights into the Hebrew language. What amazed me most was how rich the original Hebrew language is. Hebrew had something like 8,000 words where the English language as around 40,000. So many words we read in Scripture have multi-layered meanings. For instance, the word, “hear” means much more than simply audibly grasping a word. In the Hebrew language it meant to hear, to act upon, to obey.

Tverberg has a wonderful way to bringing out these gems from the original Hebrew text and writes in such a way that the average layperson could read and understand and come away with a better grasp of Scripture. I highly recommend this book not only for pastors, but for any serious student of the Bible.

Sifted by Wayne Cordeiro with contributions from Larry Osborne and Francis Chan

It’s rare to read a book on church leadership that is written specifically to small churches or church planters. Maybe there are others out there, but most of the good ones seem to address church leaders with vast ministries and huge staffs. I appreciated sifted because it was biblical, from the heart, practical, and challenging.

This book really challenged me in powerful ways. One important way that Cordeiro (and the others) get to the heart of the matter is by stripping away our earthly motivations for ministry success. Why are we in ministry? What is our motivation? Who brings the results–us or God?

There is also a ton of just practical stuff that goes beyond the typical church pastor books. Like most, they discuss the workaholic tendencies of pastors. But they also come from the other side and challenge pastors to work hard, that there is no substitute for sweat, toil, and labor in the ministry. For me, one of the most helpful sections was the discussion of “seasons” in ministry. Instead of striving for balance, we should recognize that there are seasons when we’re giving a ton of our time to the ministry and seasons where we are giving a ton of our time to our families, etc.

This book was super encouraging and super challenging. I highly recommend it.

Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

I have enjoyed Chris Fabry’s career. He’s had a long career in Christian broadcasting and as an author. I’ve always enjoyed his perspective. He’s real, somewhat humorous, and approaches faith from a humble perspective. But, this is the first novel of Chris’ that I read, to my regret.

Chris tells the story of Truman Wiley, a world-class journalist whose life is in a shambles. His son is dying of a heart disease. His marriage is on the rocks because of his own poor choices, and he’s got a gambling problem that has stripped away his dignity. But he’s got one more chance to do something redemptive with his life. This is an authentic, earthly novel about a man’s search for meaning and purpose. It’s a riveting, rollicking, real-world tale, full of humor and grace.

I enjoyed Not In the Heart from the very first page. I was captivated by its twists and turns, the suspense, the drama, the intrigue. It’s some of the best fiction I’ve read in a long time. Not predictable. The writing is tight, crisp, and original. And the subtle message underneath points to the only hero of our life stories: Jesus Christ.

Healing Your Church HurtStephen Mansfield

It’s hard to find anyone who has attended church long enough not to be hurt at some point in their journey. Churches are filled with sinners. Redeemed? Yes, but sinners nonetheless. Sometimes it’s our own spiritual families who inflict the most pain. So, how does  a Christian overcome their church hurt? How do they find the grace to continue to serve Jesus and His Body after being abused by people who are supposed to love?

Stephen Mansfield, a pastor, author, and speaker shares a very candid, heartfelt book that addresses this important topic. What separates this book from many others is that it’s not an angry screed against the church. It’s not the words of a person who has given up on the church. It’s not yet another anger-fueled prescription for church change. Actually this book is written as both a comfort and a challenge to those who find themselves outside the Church they love.

What I particularly like about this book is that it offers both comfort and constructive rebuke. Stephen encourages victims of church abuse to forgive, to move forward, to examine their own heart and lives for the sin they so readily identify in others.

I appreciate Stephen’s candor and wisdom in this book. It will be a help to many who struggle after a bad church experience.

(Complimentary copies of each book reviewed were provided by the respective publishers)

Free Book Offer: 

Tyndale House has graciously offered one copy of Stephen Mansfield’s book, Healing Your Church Hurt. To be eligible to win, I need you to tell me, in the comments below, the best book you have read so far this year (besides the Bible). I will pick on winner. The deadline is Midnight (CT) tonight.