016 - Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions

Religion Saves... is a great book that covers a huge variety of topics that are "hot" issues in today's culture and society. The book explores the topics of birth control, abortion, sex, dating, humor, predestination, and more all from a Christian perspective. Mark Driscoll is an excellent writer and offers not only solid theology, but also great practicality for his readers. His book is full of humor and that really keeps the book moving. Rather than getting bogged down with the heavy theology the funny stuff keeps things running smoothly.

Driscoll's book is recommendable to anyone wondering about the various topics covered. His book is full of footnotes pushing the reader back to Scripture or to other great writers. He tackles issues few other pastors are willing to touch, but he does it all in a very loving and compassionate way. Great fresh insights into often over debated issues.

015 - Running in Circles

Running in Circles, is a decent book written by an author I have never heard of. Kim Engelmann is a pastor at a Presbyterian Church in California. She tells her story and how she worked through the difficulty in which she was raised. Engelmann has a great deal to say about abuse in all it’s forms. Throughout the book you will find her view on physical and alcohol and verbal abuse.

Her book tries to get the reader to “get out of the hamster wheel.” The hamster wheel is the symbol of the way people live their lives in cycles. However, the book quickly begins to repeat itself leaving the reader is a hamster wheel of sorts. This book wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s worth the time it takes to read it.

014 - The Shaping of Things to Come

The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch is a great read for church leaders seeking to reach out to the upcoming generations. The authors write from a very post-modern viewpoint as to how the church can minister to young post-moderns. They believe that the current model of church is quickly become ineffective and push the reader to begin shifting their paradigm to a more "missional" one. In recent years the church has become more and more rejected by most people in the Western world. Even worse, the church has been experienced and then rejected. The topics of spirituality, meaning, and God have become more readily available but Christianity has been rejected as the answer to these topics.

The author's do an excellent job of showing what needs to change in the church to become effective again. They also build a case against the arguments that many reader may build while reading the book. I would highly recommend this book to be read by anyone in church leadership or anyone interested in the future of the church. Fairly deep and thought provoking, yet also adding practical advice and steps to the theology it teaches. Plenty of quotable portions and plenty of graphs for the visually-minded.

013 - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I recently received Donald Miller's new book in the mail. I had pre-ordered it and was waiting with great expectancy for it to arrive. Once it arrived it took me 2 days to finish. The book was that good. Miller often challenges the reader through subtle story to change their lives. This book is about creating your story and how to make it exciting and worth living. A book of stories about creating your story at first seemed odd, but as I read it the idea began to grow on me. The book is extremely well written and easy to read (like any good story). Miller gives the reader a look into his life meanwhile challenging them to examine how they live their own lives as well.

The idea of living our story out to the best of our ability was a new concept for me which was perhaps part of the reason why I enjoyed this book so much. Miller offers plenty of nuggets of wisdom throughout making this book a combination of a novel and instruction manuel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good page-turner. The stories really move the book along and the 250 pages seem to fly by. If you are looking for a good book, go get this one. It is well worth your time.

012 - Forgotten God

I recently read through Chan's first book Crazy Love and thought it was so good I went and got his second book. This book is all about the Holy Spirit. Chan makes it clear from the beginning that he will not get too heavy into the theology of the Holy Spirit and more about what it means to have the Spirit working in our lives. I've read several books on the theology of the Holy Spirit and several books like this one about how to let the Spirit work in our lives.

First let me say that this book is very well written. There are several quotes and nuggets of insight throughout the book. Several of the illustrations were hastily underlined and I'm sitting waiting to use them myself. Chan writes in a very readable style and puts some of the heavier theology on the bottom shelf so anyone can grasp it and comprehend it...

However, there are a few fallbacks of this book. First of all reading this book doesn't guarantee the Holy Spirit will move in your life. Second, Chan pretty much recycles a lot of the information that other authors have already said. This book isn't groundbreaking by any means. Despite the offer of easy reading and good illustrations all the information in this book can be found elsewhere. So all in all I would recommend this book if you haven't read a book about the Holy Spirit recently, but if you're an expert or if you've read widely on the subject of the HS then you probably shouldn't bother with this book.

011 - Tortured For Christ

I have owned this book for several years, but have never gotten around to reading it. Now I have. And to be honest, I'm not sure what took me so long. This book was one that I couldn't put down, but at the same time was tough to read. The book is the story of the life of Richard Wurmbrand who was a pastor in Romania who was captured and tortured by the Communists. This book was written merely days after his release from the country. It is moving and powerful. The stories of Wurmbrand's life are miraculous and unexplainable. The way God uses him is something many of us only dream about. But throughout the entire book Wurmbrand gives God credit for everything that happens. He blames the Communist system for his imprisonment, not the Communists. In fact, he shows perhaps the best example of Christ's love for his enemies that I have ever heard or seen.

This book has left me wanting more. More stories. More of God moving in my life. More copies of the book to give out to anyone who will read it. I would recommend this book to Christians. Anyone who follows Christ and wants to read the story of a man who is passionately pursuing God. Incredible read.

010 - Velvet Elvis

So I sat down to re-read Velvet Elvis (by Rob Bell) the other day and quickly discovered why I enjoyed the book so much the first time through. Bell writes in a very conversational way, and seems to be alright with everyone. He is slow to pick a fight and pretty much wants to live in harmony with everyone. Velvet Elvis explores a more "post-modern" view of the church. Bell lands with the Emerging Church (even though he denies being a part of it) on many topics. His book is very popular among young people looking for a new way to look at their faith. To be honest, the first time I read through this book I was in Bible college and still sorting out where I was theologically. At that point it was one of the best books I had ever read. This time through I was still impressed and challenged, but came away disagreeing with Bell more than last time.

I would recommend this book to a variety of people. I would recommend it to those who hate Bell but have never read through any complete work he's written. I would recommend it to those who are needing a fresh take on Christianity. I would recommend it to those who perhaps have already read it and have grown since then. I advise that when reading through this book follow the advice written on the back cover, "Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it." Bell humbly writes, "Just became I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed. I'm contributing to the discussion." Anyone who reads the books should keep these things in mind.

009 - Vintage Jesus

Vintage Jesus was an incredible book. Mark Driscoll makes a book about the defense of a historical Jesus fun to read. His book never drags and offers the readers plenty of insights mingled with laughter. He breaks down the gospel of Mark like no one else ever has or ever will. His words are powerful and cut to the point. He offers the reader two options, either accept Christ as Lord or reject him as nothing.

Driscoll shows a mastery of history and culture as he quotes John Lennon and Augustine as well as countless others from both church history and pop culture. He references atheists, theologians, musicians, poets, nuns, and comedians. However, don't be fooled by the diversity of quotes he pushes the idea that Jesus came to earth as fully God and fully man, he died a sacrificial death so that we can go live forever with Him in heaven. Driscoll may come across as unorthodox in his presentation, but don't be fooled, his theology is superb. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. To those who are seeking to know more about Jesus to seminary students this book offers plenty and well worth the investment of time and money.

008 - Corporate Canaries

I found this book in a Christian bookstore several months ago and picked it up. I was genuinely surprised at how well the book was written. I’ve never heard of Gary Sutton, but he lets the reader know his credentials right off the get-go, sort of a “why should I be writing this book” list. His list is impressive and his insights are incredible.

The book is very unique look at leadership and management skills. Sutton takes a few pages to tell the reader a story from his grandfather’s life as a coal miner. He then draws conclusions for managers based on the life lessons his grandfather learned. The only drawback I can see is that I bought this book assuming that it would include something transferable to church leadership. However, most of the practical steps were designed for managers and higher-ups in companies, not necessarily the church. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking advice in the area of business or management.

007 - The Testament

This story was inspirational in such a way as I did not expect from John Grisham. I have only read one other book by Grisham, but so far this one stands head and shoulders above it and the reputations of his additional ones. I was captivated by several elements. The opening chapter was one of the most exciting beginnings of a book I have ever encountered. Grisham had my heart from page one.

Additionally, I did not expect so many spiritual aspects in a John Grisham novel. I felt like I was reading a Christian novel, except it was really good. He tackles the issue of greed and pierces the hearts of his American readers.

Grisham does a great job of painting a picture of what the love of money can do to a person. His characters are highly developed and their financially destructive behaviors are portrayed brilliantly. Your stomach turns sick as you encounter the wastefulness of the rich in opposition to the hunger and disease of the poor. These irresponsible spenders are contrasted against the selfless Christian missionary. Worldviews and morals clash in this adventurous journey toward the eternal.