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Monday, January 27, 2020

"Small Groups Made Easy" (Ryan Lokkesmoe)

TITLE: Small Groups Made Easy: Practical and Biblical Starting Points to Lead Your Gathering
AUTHOR: Ryan Lokkesmoe
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2019, (160 pages).

As the saying goes, "No man is an island." We all need community. Whether it is a family related community, or having a group with people of common interest, it is the very nature of human beings to connect and be connected to one another. Sometimes, when the desire is there but the know-how is not, it can be crippling. This book is written to address that very need. How do we start a small group? What are the logistics and practical challenges? How do we go about addressing the personal and spiritual aspects? Four chapters of this book summarize the principles behind the need for small groups. Here, author Lokkesmoe talks about the need for leadership to be like Jesus. It is less about competence or knowledge; more about serving and relying on God. This is indeed a good reminder for us as leading small groups is a spiritual calling. He has good pointers for logistical matters as well, helping us think through factors for attendance; appropriate communications; raising up co-leaders; timing and place; and other practical matters to help make small group meetings a fruitful one. He then guides us through some sticky matters such as managing conflicts; gossip; and the four types of people (needy; monopolizers; silent; and the disinterested) that present unique challenges to a successful small group.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"When Narcissism Comes to Church" (Chuck DeGroat)

TITLE: When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse
AUTHOR: Chuck DeGroat
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2020, (208 pages).

Self-love is not entirely a bad thing. After all, Jesus did tell us to love our neighbour as ourselves. So, what is the problem when it comes to self-love? The one word answer is: Narcissism. Self-love beomes bad when all the focus, or most of the focus is on ourselves. Someone has said that love is not love until it is given away. Narcissism fits that description of the kind of love that is not given away. How do we recognize it when it arrives? This is what this book is about. Chuck DeGroat has pointed out the major prognosis: It must start with the leadership, in particular, the pastor. The Church of today is swimming in the cultural waters of narcissism. Whether it is a #MeToo or #ChurchToo taglines, many are increasingly impatient about matters pertaining to their needs. More astutely, the author takes us to a deeper level of understanding the roots of narcissism. Taking a leaf from Christopher Lasch's definition of narcissism as "the longing to be free from longing," it is a critical look at narcissism as an unhealthy desire to be dehumanized superhumans. In other words, narcissism makes us "less human." Written over a period of twenty over years, DeGroat shares his experiences with people who had gone through brokenness, pain, and healing. We need to be careful not to carelessly apply labels on people. While we are all capable of narcissistic behaviour, it would be inappropriate to call anybody a narcissist. I think that makes sense. Keeping it as an adjective is more redeemable. Some of the observations about narcissism in the church do offer food for thought. These include:

Thursday, January 9, 2020

"The End of Youth Ministry?" (Andrew Root)

TITLE: The End of Youth Ministry?: Why Parents Don't Really Care about Youth Groups and What Youth Workers Should Do about It (Theology for the Life of the World)
AUTHOR: Andrew Root
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020, (240 pages).

What is youth ministry for? What is its purpose? Some say it is for helping young people not waste their lives, to learn to be good people. Others say it is for God. Still, others, especially parents would want them to learn something good for the soul, on top of other priority activities. Still there are those who think that youths need their own space. So they carve out a ministry for young people and call it youth ministry. Does it work? According to Andrew Root, he thinks that times have changed. The youth ministries we have known in the past are now dwindling fast. Not only is it difficult to sustain the model of the past, it is impossible to see it growing in the future. Rather than to immerse ourselves into some archaic dying model, we are challenged to rise above these things of old to embrace the central motivation for ministry: Joy. Author and professor of youth and young adult ministry, Andrew Root has seen many signs of the "somewhat directionless" youth ministry. The title of the book is essentially a challenge for all to re-examine the implications of such a shift in the ministry. The purpose of such a ministry is clear: To reach out to the young for Jesus. Yet, the methods and strategies need to be adapted in order to meet the needs of changing times. By understanding the reasons behind the cultural changes, it is hoped that not only will we refresh our outreach to this generation, we will also learn about what it means to live a good life. The central concern of this book is two-fold: First, it is to refresh our understanding of the purpose of youth ministry. Second, it is to tie together parents' vision of a good life and how such a vision influences and impacts their children. Root's central thesis is that any such ministry must be led by joy and to progress toward true joy. This whole book is thus an "ode to joy."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

"Five to Thrive" (Dr Kathy Koch)

TITLE: Five to Thrive: How to Determine If Your Core Needs Are Being Met (and What to Do When They're Not)
AUTHOR: Kathy Koch
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2020, (240 pages).

The popular cliche says: "Don't just try to survive, thrive!" It is a nice way to inspire one to grow beyond the status quo. Yet, there is also a sense that such motivational phrases might have become too common, or overused. Strangely, many people still pay lots of money to go to motivational seminars and lavish conferences to get a new kick at life. The trouble is, once the initial hype is over, everything goes back to square one. What happens next? Another motivational project? If only there is a proven way not only to get a motivational impetus, but to make it sustainable. This book acts on that principle, not just driven by our human determination, but linked intricately to divine dependence. At the same time, there is sufficient qualitative and quantitative data to support the way to thrive. Thanks to Kathy Koch, we have one helpful avenue to improve our lives. The way to do that is to determine our core skills in our journey to being whole persons, fully in tune with who we are and what we are created to be. We cannot be less than who we are. The moment we are able to be the best of ourselves, that is where thriving begins. Author Kathy Koch lists five things that can make us whole. She calls these the "five core needs."

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"3 Words That Will Change Your Life" (Mike Novotny)

TITLE: 3 Words That Will Change Your Life
AUTHOR: Mike Novotny
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2020, (192 pages).

Is God far away? How can we experience God more intimately? All you need are three words: "God is Here." Sounds too good to be true? Perhaps, but author and pastor Mike Novotny has creatively used this phrase as a powerful catchphrase to connect us with our relationship with God. It is simple and easy to follow. Before that, he shows us some "life killers" that could derail us from properly following God. Some of these warnings include treating God like some kind of a distant "vague higher power." Some people are mystified when they think about God. In fact, many young people don't even think about God when asked about their life goals. They don't even live with any thoughts of God as they make their life decisions. Apart from thinking God as some distant irrelevant being, the other danger is to see God as some future celestial coming, which is another way of pushing away God's relevance in our lives. For if God is only God of the future and not for the present, then is He really God? Another mistake is to see God as relevant for others but not for us. This is a sad misreading. With Novotny putting to death the three erroneous "life killers," we are set to see God as Someone who is here for us now, in the present, and also in the future. God is here always. The author shares about how Ps 73 saved him and guided him to a deeper and personal relationship with God. God is bigger than any of our problems. Our biggest problem is that we don't think much of God in the first place. This needs to be corrected because it is simply not true. The Lord's Prayer is a reminder to us that we pray to a Living God who is here. Otherwise, that prayer has no meaning.

Monday, January 6, 2020

"I've Seen the End of You" (W. Lee Warren)

TITLE: I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know
AUTHOR: W. Lee Warren
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook, 2020, (272 pages).

What do you do with a tumour that has a 100% fatality rate? How do we cope with situations where there is no more hope for survival? Hope is one of the most cherished and necessary virtues for life. With hope, we can still grind through life. Without hope, it is a completely different story. He writes his experiences with patients, family, and loved ones with regard to life, faith, doubt, pain, gratitude, and hope. In a book that reads like a personal memoir, author and neurosurgeon, Dr Lee Warren shows us what he had learned from the experiences of people nearing death and losing hopes for survival. Many things he thought he knew, only to be humbled to realize that there are still many things he did not know. He shares these experiences in this personal revelation of faith, doubt, despair, and hope. The key question throughout the book is the very question the author wrote to Philip Yancey: "How can I pray for my patients when I already know how God is going to answer?" This is with regard to the type of brain cancer called "Glioblastoma Multiforme" (GBM), where from his medical experience has 100% fatality rate. For Warren, it is also a question of faith. "What happens when our messy lives mess with what we think we believe?"

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"Where Goodness Still Grows" (Amy Peterson)

TITLE: Where Goodness Still Grows: Reclaiming Virtue in an Age of Hypocrisy
AUTHOR: Amy Peterson
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2020, (224 pages).

The American evangelical image is going through an ugly patch right now. Believers are divided. Unbelievers are disgusted. The silent majority are shaking their heads. American evangelicalism is broken. It has split believers into more ways than one. More often than not, political allegiances dominate personal integrity. Standing up for values becomes more important than character of the person. The ends justify the means. Power trumps truth. Many people have used at least five things to demonize the perceptions of Christians these days: Judgmentalism, Legalism, Intolerance, Sexism, and Hypocrisy. Of all these five, hypocrisy has been something that haunted Christianity through the ages. Even during the time of Jesus, hypocrisy has been rearing its ugly head in the lives of the Pharisees and various religious leaders. Author Amy Peterson captures this state in American evangelicalism today. She notes: "Something has gone terribly wrong in the culture that taught me about virtue. I learned how to find truth in Scripture and orient my life around loving God and my neighbor from a community that seems to have stopped believing many of the things they taught me—things like the value of every human life, the importance of religious freedom, and the sanctity of marriage; things like hospitality, purity, modesty, truth, and love. I find myself now wondering if the ground I grew up in was radioactive all along and whether anything good can grow here. Does this hypocrisy mean I need to discard everything I learned growing up in the evangelical church?"

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"Christianity for People Who Aren't Christians" (James Emery White)

TITLE: Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians
AUTHOR: James Emery White
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2019, (240 pages).

What does it mean to share the gospel? What about those who don't understand the Christian language or common lingos? Is there are way to share the gospel simply without expecting pre-requisite knowledge from the hearers? Yes there is a way. Author and pastor James Emery White shows us the way to answer common questions that non-Christians ask, and how we could answer them.

He tackles the question of God by asking: "What kind of God do you believe in?" Going into the sciences and the question of origins, White raises question after question from the perception of the seeker. How do life begin? What made it come together? Is the idea of supernaturalism realistic? White approaches the topic from a scientific angle, asking probing questions to show readers that all of the human race begin with significantly common ground. Things happen from something. We are more than simply a body of DNA. He makes a strong case that without God, explaining life does not make sense. He asks questions about morality, about family, and things which society at large are concerned about. Science is great but it can only cover limited ground.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Following Jesus" (Henri J. M. Nouwen)

TITLE: Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety
AUTHOR: Henri J. M. Nouwen
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Convergent Books, 2019, (144 pages).

We are restless people easily given to fear and driven by anxiety. In a tired world, we gravitate toward doing too much or doing nothing. How can we make sense of our calling in the midst of such a stressful and anxious culture? The simple words of Jesus beckon us: "Follow Me." This is the main idea in this small book about discipleship and spirituality. More important than simply finding a solution to be less anxious or stressful, we are gently encouraged to look to Jesus at every step of the way. Under the teaching of Henri Nouwen, one of the most famous spiritual guides of our age, we have a little gem of spiritual direction. Nouwen sketches six steps in the process of following Jesus. Each step builds on the other to give us a journey to look forward to. The book starts off with a plain questions: "Are you following Jesus?" For many Christians, it would be far too obvious a question to answer. Some might even think it is sarcasm. For Nouwen, it is an essential question that ties together six aspects of spirituality.

Monday, December 23, 2019

"Understanding Transgender Identities" (James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, eds.)

TITLE: Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views
AUTHOR: James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, eds.
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, (272 pages).

As Western society becomes more liberal, traditional and conventional forms of understanding sexuality will be challenged in more ways than one. Editors James Beilby and Paul Eddy observe that since the 60s, sexuality and gender have become more openly discussed and debated. While many have spoken about women's rights and issues; marriage; homosexuality; there is little mention about transgender identities. This book aims to provide a platform for scholarly and respectful discussion and debate. Five contributors are invited to give their views. One of them in particular, Justin Sabia-Tanis "transitioned from female to male more than twenty years ago." This gives the book a more unique perspective into the inner struggles of transgenderism. Like most "four views" books, the editors invited scholars, theologians, researchers, educators, counselors to offer their views on transgender concerns. Unlike books that focus on just the pros and cons of each view, this book takes the approach of examining the underlying reasons for each view. Beilby and Eddy set the stage up by looking at the issues from a historical angle; contemporary concerns; and how to promote conversations to engage different views.

Friday, December 20, 2019

"From Judgment to Hope" (Walter Brueggemann)

TITLE: From Judgment to Hope: A Study on the Prophets
AUTHOR: Walter Brueggemann
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019, (140 pages).

What comes to mind when we think about the biblical prophets? Perhaps, a cursory reading might make the reader think that they were mere judgment prophets, always giving bad news to kings and leaders of corrupt nations. While they do pronounce judgments from God on evil kings, they are also prophets of hope, and in the words of the author, they are "emancipated imaginers of alternative." This vision of hope per se needs something else: Their realization from loss to restoration. Thus, the main thrusts of the prophetical books are two-fold: 1) "from judgment to hope"; 2) "from loss to restoration." Not only is this the prophetic thrust, it is also the gospel emphasis as stated in the Eucharist: "Christ has died. Christ is risen, Christ will come again." The prophets are more than mere judgment or statements of hope. It is the whole revelation of God from judgment to redemption; and from loss to restoration. What a holistic view of the prophets. Filled with gems for interpretation and many insights to the major and minor prophets, readers are in for a treat in this book.

Friday, December 13, 2019

"The Soul of Wine" (Gisela H. Kreglinger)

TITLE: The Soul of Wine: Savoring the Goodness of God
AUTHOR: Gisela H. Kreglinger
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019, (144 pages).

What has wine got to do with God and spirituality? How does wine appreciation and faith matters relate to each other? What is the soul of wine? Author and wine-lover Gisela Kreglinger leads us through the vineyard of spirituality to connect the beauty of God's creation of wine to the profound meaning behind God's intent, purpose, and goodness. Instead of letting spirituality speak into the world of fine wine, Kreglinger goes the other direction to let wine speak to us about spirituality. Jews believe wines gladden their hearts. Many cultures throughout the world hold wines in a special albeit with a mysterious awe. Going back to the Bible, we learn about Jesus's encounters with wine. From the wedding at Cana where He turned water into wine; to the Last Supper where He served his disciples with bread and wine. Even the apostle Paul mentions wine for medicinal purposes. There is also a lot that we can learn about wine itself. It not only reveals God to us, it leads us to God's gifts for us. This is what the author aims to do: "help us rediscover wine as a spiritual and cultural gift." We need to sip it bit by bit in order to savour the goodness of the colour, the smell, the taste, and the overall experience. This cannot be rushed. When we are thirsty, we often gulp down a glass of water. Sometimes we do the same with wine. This reduces wine to simply a liquid to be swallowed instead of a gift to be savoured. This is the author's second book on wine and faith matters. Her first was "The Spirituality of Wine" which links the whole process of wine-making, wine-tasting, and wine-drinking, with the ordinary things in life. This book continues that orientation but with a more personalized focus on God and His desire to reach out and touch us. Her thesis is this: "Wine is an affair of the heart. Savoring wine can and should be an affair of the heart where we are moved and touched and elevated." This affair is essentially about God reaching out to us. Thus, this book goes beyond mere spirituality toward an encounter with God. How does wine teach us this? Kreglinger describes this in 14 chapters. I like to mention a few highlights.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

"Who is an Evangelical?" (Thomas S. Kidd)

TITLE: Who Is an Evangelical?: The History of a Movement in Crisis
AUTHOR: Thomas S. Kidd
PUBLISHER: New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019, (200 pages).

A few decades ago, evangelicals were understood as people who were Bible-believing church goers of the conservative stream. As more of them engage in politics, they have become associated with Bible-thumping activists pushing the Republican agenda in the name of Christianity. Due to the sizeable influence of such lobbying to tilt the results in their favour, many see with disdain the mixing of politics and religion. In contrast to the born-again believer affirming the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, the evangelical label is going through a unpleasant public perception, especially in North America, thanks to the Trump. However, according to author Thomas Kidd, historically, evangelicalism was never defined by partisan politics, unlike today's climate.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

"40 Questions about Heaven and Hell" (Alan Gomes)

TITLE: 40 Questions about Heaven and Hell (40 Questions Series)
AUTHOR: Alan Gomes
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2018, (384 pages).

What happens once a person dies? What kind of afterlife is there? What about the questions surrounding the intermediate state of being between death and resurrection? What about the final judgment? What does the Bible say about the eternal state of believers and the eternal state of hell? These questions are part of 40 well thought-out questions and answers about heaven and hell. Written in a way like the catechism of old, this book categorizes the questions in four parts:

  1. Overview of the Afterlife (9 questions)
  2. The Intermediate State (5 questions)
  3. The Final Judgment (6 questions)
  4. Eternal State for Believers (9 questions); Unbelievers (11 questions)

Some of the questions may not reflect the way the sections are named. For instance, the part about eternal state for animals don't exactly fit into the believers category, but the authors put the question there. At the same time, some questions do cover across different categories. Thus, I would say that the categories are mainly to be used as a general guide. A more accurate guide would be the the question set forth. The style reflects a catechism style of questions and answers. A key difference would be the length of answers. Catechisms give brief answers. This book provides much more. The answers look more like detailed articles to teach and to serve as a resource for anyone interested in the topic. Some of the very interesting topics for me are:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

"Leveling the Church" (Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield)

TITLE: Leveling the Church: Multiplying Your Ministry by Giving It Away
AUTHOR: Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2019, (192 pages).

Ministry is more about people and less about programs. It is more about serving, less about receiving. It is about directing people's attention to God more than anything else, through discipleship and multiplication of more of such 'directors.' Church leadership is precisely called to do that. After a long period of serving in church from youth pastor to senior pastor, authors Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield reflect on their ministries and if they had to do it all over again, they would focus on the multiplication of people to do the ministry instead of doing everything themselves. In rethinking leadership and how to lead in Church, they acknowledge that the "biblical plan for church leadership is to develop a culture of multiplication: to not only see people come to faith, but also help them grow into maturity." Examining Ephesians 4:11-16, they are convinced that God is calling the Church to enable the people in Church to serve. That's what the spiritual gifts are there for. Growth is not just about numbers. It is about growing the fundamental trunk of servants. Teaching good sermons is not enough. We need to train servants to serve. Growing numbers is not enough. We need to grow in maturity. Being faithful in service is not enough. We need to bear fruit. The three key thrusts in this book are: Discipleship, Leadership, and Mission. At the onset, the authors take time to examine the way of Jesus, how he was investing his time with his disciples. After putting forth the biblical stance, he goes to show us the barriers that prevent many churches from practicing that. One could get bogged down with history and traditions that hamper the introduction of new ideas. A key problem is the mindset of running church with paid professionals. Another problem is with the wrong expectations placed upon the functions of church. This is followed closely by the problem of "applause" where leaders serve on the basis of pleasing people. Naturally, these three erroneous barriers create a poor measurement scorecard. The authors propose a better one: 1) Deliver the Word; 2) Disciple the Believer; 3) Deploy the Church.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

"Intensional" (D.A. Horton)

TITLE: Intensional: Kingdom Ethnicity in a Divided World
AUTHOR: D.A. Horton
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: NavPress, 2019, (224 pages).

Different groups describe justice differently. For some, it is about retaliation. For others, it is about making sure the culprits are brought to justice and punished accordingly. Then, there are those who would use perceptions of injustice to do other forms of injustice. In a divided world, it is not just definitions or perceptions that are divided. People are deeply divided over matters of religion, political stance, language, looks, and especially ethnicities. If there is one thing that is badly needed, it is reconciliation. It is about building bridges instead of walls. It is about learning how to live and to accept one another's differences with grace and humility. This is what the kingdom of God looks like when it comes into the world. The biblical story is divided into four seasons: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. As Horton works through the process of conciliation, he guides us with a theological principles of how the Church should practice and embody Galatians 3:26-28, the part about all people baptized into Christ, regardless of human distinctions. He warns the Church, especially the American Church about the "sin of partiality." If we take sides among our human race, then we are sinning against God. Looking at James 2, we learn about the dangers of using poverty and social ranks to judge people. We need to apply the golden rule. We need a "Color Blind Christianity," one that affirms a person's ethnicity. Affirmation is neither idolizing nor ignoring. Accepting one another's ethnic differences means we don't make it superior nor inferior.

Monday, November 4, 2019

"Paul's Idea of Community, 3rd Edition" (Robert J. Banks)

TITLE: Paul's Idea of Community: Spirit and Culture in Early House Churches
AUTHOR: Robert J. Banks.
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020, (240 pages).

Many people have pretty positive views about the word 'Community.' It is a good way to deflect attention from self toward others. We have all learned the importance to be in it for the greater good. Unfortunately, this word has been overused, even abused. It can also become a cliche for political correctness or to score points with our support base. For many Christians, the word 'community' has become a part of their Church or non-profit names. Lest we diminish the true meaning of community, it is good to come back to the biblical definition and understanding of community. The prime example: The Early Church. This book takes a look at community using references from his epistles to the various churches at that time. The third edition thoroughly revises and updates the material for a new generation. Also include is an article with a catchy title: "Going to Church in the First Century." However, the crux of the book is the same: to highlight the key themes of community from the many epistles of Paul in the New Testament, the apocrypha, Jewish writings, and extra-biblical sources. The main source will remain the New Testament epistles. Although Paul did not proceed step by step to build on his theology of the community, Banks actually did by arranging the book according to themes. He begins with a sociological and religious settings to give readers a context from which Paul's ideas were cultivated. This will give us a better understanding on the origins and nature of community in the first century. The goal of community was not some kind of altruism or harmony, but Christian maturity. This is important because it points us back to Christ. A community that is Christian in the first place must lead us toward Christ. It cannot become an end in itself. A community is visible through its interactions and members' behaviour toward each other. Through meals and signs of fellowship, the body of Christ is a unity of body, mind, and spirit. The acts of baptism, communion, fellowship, the sharing of possessions, gifts, and ministry support of one another allow the gifts of grace to be evident. The gifts of God to the community are there to help members edify the body.  They are there to promote unity and diversity at the same time.

There are some chapters on specific issues such as women's role in the community, especially on Paul's prohibitions on women. At least on a relative scale, Christian communities at that time give women more rights than societal norms. Paul also takes time to dissolve any legalistic distinctions that threaten the fabric of unity. That was why he takes pains to tell the communities that neither male nor female; slave or free; Jews or Gentiles; priests or laity; or any distinguishing status in society should ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Paul also argues for the abolishing of all kinds of discriminatory practices; in particular, gender, race, and class distinctions. On leadership in the community, Paul teaches leadership by function rather than by position. There are also teachings about how communities ought to welcome visitors, guests, and missioners. Paul makes an important point about a community that needs to look outward more than inward. The chapter on the link between mission and the Church does exactly that. The community of Christ is both local and global; centralized and decentralized. This is a powerful reminder that structures don't define communities. It is the reverse that is true.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Don't Give Up" (Kyle Idleman)

TITLE: Don't Give Up: Faith That Gives You the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going
AUTHOR: Kyle Idleman
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2019, (240 pages).

How do we encourage someone? Do we use the soft gentle approach like Mr Rogers? That might tempt one toward self-pity or worse, a sense of depression. Or do we use the William Wallace approach to usher in courage? That might move us beyond our comfort zones. In this book by bestselling author and senior pastor of one of the largest mega churches in America, we are told not only to never give up but to press on with the exhortation from the Bible book of Hebrews 12:1-3. After showing us the powerful examples of faith in the long list of people in Hebrews 11, we receive a “battle cry” to press ahead to finish the race of faith. There is a time for sympathy and a time to spring into action. Idleman’s key thesis has to deal with the latter. His three-part strategy is based on the Hebrews 12:1-3 text, especially verse 1.
  1. Listen to the Crowd
  2. Throw off the Weight
  3. Run Your Race