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Monday, April 6, 2020

"What Every Christian Needs to Know About Judaism" (Rabbi Evan Moffic)

TITLE: What Every Christian Needs to Know About Judaism
AUTHOR: Rabbi Evan Moffic
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2020, (224 pages).

Christians generally recognize the link between Judaism and Christianity. Jesus ministered among Jews. Many religious rituals came from Jewish culture. The twelve disciples were all Jews. The Bible contains many references to Jewish practices. There were feasts and rituals that are familiar to the Jew. However, from these, not much else is known to the layperson. In this book, author Rabbi Evan Moffic's primary purpose is to unpack Jewish teachings for Christians, to establish a deeper appreciation of Judaism and Jewish culture. In this manner, he hopes that Christians will learn to grow closer to Jesus by understanding the times, the contexts, and the uniqueness of Judaism. In doing so, he aims to build bridges between Jews and Christians to share the common heritage. Throughout the book, Rabbi Moffic shares the common elements. First, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures is the same as the God of the Bible. He addresses common questions surrounding the nature of God; His Revelation; topic of suffering, etc. On suffering, he helpfully points out the three different approaches to suffering: Job approach; Jeremiah approach; and the Maimonides approach; Lurianic approach; and the Kaplan approach. These are definitely eye-opening approaches that Christians would benefit from learning.

Friday, April 3, 2020

"The Learning Cycle" (Muriel I. Elmer and Duane H. Elmer)

TITLE: The Learning Cycle: Insights for Faithful Teaching from Neuroscience and the Social Sciences
AUTHOR: Muriel I. Elmer and Duane H. Elmer
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020, (224 pages).

From time to time, I would hear graduates speak about how disconnected their college education was from their jobs. Some would say that what exists in practice do not quite match up to the theories they learned in school. Among older folks, they prefer to tell us that experience is worth much more than the educational qualification. This common sentiment is also felt among seminarians and those who had theological education. I once came across a study that shows how inverted the expectations are between seminaries and churches. What church elders and members claim are more important often do not align with theologians and biblical scholars' expectations. Ideally, they should be the same. Practically, they are more different than thought. Helping to bridge this divide is the aim of this book. As educators for the past 50 years, the authors share their passion for teaching and give us insights about how to learn. Their underlying assumptions are:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"Work Worth Doing" (Tom Heetderks)

TITLE: Work Worth Doing: Finding God's Direction and Purpose in Your Career
AUTHOR: Tom Heetderks
PUBLISHER: Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2020, (176 pages).

If there is one thing we all do, it will probably be work. Whether it is working at home or in the office, proft or non-profits, small or large, or any kind of activity, we are all part of the economy of work. For we are all recipients of someone else's work. For example, imagining turning on the TV. Some company employees have manufactured the machine. Others have packed it, shipped it, sold it, delivered it, and installed it for us. There is the cable or Internet company needed to provide services to the TV. Then there is the power company to supply electricity to our device and the distribution network. These and many more are needed for all to happen at the push of a remote control button. This is one small illustration of how our work impacts so many others in society. The point of work is not simply to make a living. If we were to look at work from a bigger picture, what we do provides varying levels of essential services in the economy.  Author Tom Heetderks expands on this notion of work to share that work is essentially something worth doing. With conviction, he gives us an acronym: Worship Our Risen King, to remind us that as believers, we work as a means to honour God. Of course, non-believers might feel a little out of place to hear things like that. Not only that, employees might find it hard to work for a boss they don't respect. Heetderks challenges us to list down our top reasons for work and to compare that to this bigger picture. For non-believers, this big picture is about the wider benefit to society. For believers, we serve and work not just for the sake of our neighbour, but for God's kingdom. In that manner, this book should appeal to a wider audience, both believer and unbeliever.

Monday, March 30, 2020

"Living the Resurrection" (Eugene Peterson)

TITLE: Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life
AUTHOR: Eugene Peterson
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2020, (160 pages).

Eugene Peterson is one of the most loved authors in the evangelical world. What makes him most readable is his creative use of words and how he crafts ideas together in a manner that helps us see ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Most of all, he is Bible-centered. He is what I call a word-smith, and a teacher of the Word of God. What is the book about? It's about the resurrection of Jesus. Here, Peterson shows us at least three things that help us incorporate the reality of the resurrection into the reality of our present lives.

First, he helps us take a closer look at the particular aspects of Jesus' resurrection. Beginning with the gospel narratives of "wonder, astonishment, surprise," there is a sense that the resurrection is beyond our biggest imagination. All four gospels give a unique perspective about the state of wonder. Matthew's narrative looks at the women's perspective that reveals the shift from wonder to worship. Mark shows us how the women were stunned beyond words. Luke gives us a sense of awe and confusion rolled into one. John invites us to see and to be thoughtful about the truth being revealed. Pointing out six references to the common fear, and helps us see the difference between human fear and holy fear. Peterson gives us the biblical perspective of holy fear: fear of the Lord. In doing so, he shows us the beauty of heavenly encounters that transcend human paranoia. How do we connect from earth to heaven? How do we comprehend the meaning of the resurrection? Simply put: It all starts with wonder. Refuse to let our human intelligence and desire for control interfere with the working of the Holy Spirit. He shows us five ways to do that. We should not be afraid of mystery but be open to God showing us the beauty of the resurrection. After all, he describes life on earth as "not a vacation paradise" but a "war zone."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"The Whole Counsel of God" (Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid)

TITLE: The Whole Counsel of God: Why and How to Preach the Entire Bible
AUTHOR: Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020, (256 pages).

One common question among preachers is this: "What should I preach?" As one who preaches regularly, this is a weekly encounter. Some would preach topically while others insist on going through a Bible book at a time, something we call expository preaching. There is the the Big-Idea Preaching, the Christ-centered preaching, the Gospel-Centered Preaching, the Expository preaching, etc. Many preach on the Bible with selected passages but few advocate for preaching the entire Bible. This is understandable from a length-wise standpoint, for the Bible comprises 66 books altogether. Reading through it alone is already daunting but to preach through it? This is exactly what the authors, Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid are convicted about. It is only through preaching the entire Word of God that listeners will be adequately fed. For many, the problem is not about desire but about even entertaining the possibility of preaching through the entire Bible. After all, just reading through the Bible is already a huge feat, let alone preaching it. The authors are well aware of this challenge and takes pains to explain that it is far more profitable to try than to be bogged down by details. In fact, they go further to show us how to preach through the entire Bible. This is perhaps the key reason to get this book.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Following Jesus Christ" (John K. Goodrich and Mark L. Strauss)

TITLE: Following Jesus Christ: The New Testament Message of Discipleship for Today
AUTHOR: John K. Goodrich and Mark L. Strauss
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019, (392 pages).

The big problem with the modern Church is that it is far more apt at receiving the gospel of grace but less prompt in following Jesus. Perhaps, that is why discipleship is often considered secondary among many believers. Discipleship is essentially about following Jesus. When asked to describe what the Bible says about discipleship, many believers would point to the gospels about Jesus' tough call to discipleship. It is so demanding that the famous WWII martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer even titles his book as "The Cost of Discipleship." Apart from the gospels, when asked about how the rest of the New Testament talks about discipleship, it becomes more challenging. Editors John K Goodrich and Mark L Strauss have gathered a team of scholars to contribute an essay for each of the New Testament books. They show us the concepts of biblical discipleship. They consistently remind us that discipleship is not simply something embedded in a few verses in the gospels but throughout the New Testament. By broadening our understanding of discipleship throughout the New Testament, it is hoped that readers will be able to go beyond the gospels. More importantly, they will see the process of following Jesus is the consistent messaging of discipleship. Matthew's gospel talks about discipleship from a narrative angle. Mark emphasizes the cost of discipleship. Luke summarizes the link between discipleship and the Great Commandment. John's gospel is an invitation to readers to "come and see." In Acts, we see how discipleship is lived out as the early believers venture from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the outer parts of the earth. Paul's epistles are consistently Christocentric, with traits on a Christian disciple (1 Corinthians); presence of Christ (Colossians); Community (Philippians); Holiness (1 & 2 Thessalonians); Church leadership (Titus and Timothy); etc. Hebrews recovers the lost concept of discipleship while James reminds us of the need for single-mindedness in following Christ. Peter's letters exhorts believers toward the themes of holiness, orthodoxy, resurrection, and hope as we follow Christ. Revelation shows us the prophetic vision of discipleship. By looking at the New Testament from the angle of discipleship, we get to see a fuller picture of the purpose of Christ.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

"Our Good Crisis" (Jonathan K. Dodson)

TITLE: Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes
AUTHOR: Jonathan K. Dodson
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019, (192 pages).

The word "crisis" nowadays is very much an understatement. With the recent pronouncement of the Covid-19 as a pandemic, many people are living in a state of an emergency. There are chaos in many places, though some may say organized pandemonium. Author Jonathan K Dodson brings clarity to the meaning of crisis. He presents a whole potpourri of moral conundrums that are fast becoming confusing and troubling. He compares and contrasts the difficult choices behind abortion, sex, financial scandals, and various forms of injustice on age, gender, ethnicity, etc. He also questions the way the society at large have been using (or abusing) the word "crisis." How can it be good? In order to answer that, author Jonathan Dodson adopts three approaches. The first is the etymological approach, to study the origins of the word 'crisis.'  He goes all the way back to the original mention of trees in Genesis, namely, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Secondly, he traces the history of how the word crisis has developed through the ages. What was originally used for moral judgment, the word has evolved to describe "momentary uncertainty." This parallels the rise of relativism and comes at a time where there is increasing dilution of moral clarity. He laments how this leads to the confusion surrounding the essence of what is good and what is not.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

"A Public Missiology" (Gregg Okesson)

TITLE: A Public Missiology: How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World
AUTHOR: Gregg Okesson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020, (272 pages).

Has the Western Church becoming too individualistic for her own good? Can a privatized religion do justice to the very identity of the Church? How relevant is missiology to ecclesiology? What does it take for the Church to live out an integrated sense of mission instead of delegating the work of mission to outsiders? These are some of the issues discussed in this book. The main thesis of this book is to rouse up the sleeping Church to move from passive talk about mission to active witness. Some people used to say that we can change the world one person at a time. In this book, the focus is not on that one person, but on the "we" as a community or congregational witness. This is because our vision of the gospel has become too self-limiting, to the point that it has made people hesitant about public witness.  He says that the "thinness of our faith struggles to penetrate the thickness of the public realm." In other words, we cannot evangelize on our own. We need to evangelize as a community. Whatever negativity that has been associated with Church cannot be allowed to undermine the calling of the church. Do not throw out the proverbial baby (Church) with the bathwater (negative perceptions). Author and Professor Gregg Okesson integrates three key things in his model for public missiology: Congregations, Publics, and Witness. After some qualification, he then defines a public missiology as "congregational witness that moves back and forth across all “spaces” of public life in order to weave a thickness of the persons of the Trinity for the flourishing of all of life." 

Friday, March 6, 2020

"Mission 3:16" (Paul Borthwick)

TITLE: Mission 3:16: God's One-Verse Invitation to Love the World
AUTHOR: Paul Borthwick
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020, (176 pages).

Sermons have been preached about it. Conferences have been organized to promote it. Books have been written to describe it. Yet, nothing beats a one-verse definition of the mission of Christ. Arguably the most famous verse in the Bible, we are talking about John 3:16 as that one verse definition of God's mission to love the world. It is the gospel wrapped up in one crisp and concise statement. Author Paul Borthwick calls it Jesus' "Elevator Speech." In order to understand that verse in context, he takes us through chapter three of John's gospel, and points us to the larger picture of God's love. There are themes of "born again," "light," "life," "the world," which all are linked together in John 3:16. God is the initiator and motivated by His love for all the world. His love is so deep that He offered the deepest expression of love, his sacrificing his only Son. The beneficiaries are the world at large, that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

"Lent in Plain Sight" (Jill J. Duffield)

TITLE: Lent in Plain Sight
AUTHOR: Jill J. Duffield
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2020, (169 pages).

It is popularly said, "Seeing is believing." Faith reverses the paradigm to say that belief is seeing. In the Bible, especially the book of Hebrews, we read of people of faith who believed even when they have not seen the results. Having eyes of faith essentially means we believed even when our eyes do not see God. Having said that, it is entirely appropriate to use signs to point us to God, just like Jesus's seven signs in the gospel of John, that all points to Him and His working out of the will of God. Without derailing our minds on the need for faith to be fixed on the invisible God, we can use objects as reminders of that very focus. We don't worship the things or focus our devotions on these things. Like a prayer mat to enable us to kneel or a quiet room to help us focus on prayer in silence, objects can enhance our remembrance of Christ's journey to the cross. Enters this Lent devotional with ten objects to help us do just that.

Dust reminds us of how we have been created. This is most appropriate as Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, where believers are reminded that "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," we were created from dust, and our bodies will return to the earth as dust. Dust reminds us we are mortal; that we are limited; and that we are created beings made in the image of God. Bread reminds us of gratitude to God, and about the Lord's prayer where we ask for our daily bread. The Cross is about self-denial, and has much to do with the call to discipleship, to caution us of the cost of discipleship. It entails the suffering and pain that we all experience from time to time. Coins prompt us of the various episodes in the gospels; how Jesus answered the Pharisees with regard to paying taxes; how the poor widow's donation of two copper coins exceed the giving of the rich; and the parable of the lost coin. They also warn us about the betrayal of Jesus, because of Judas Iscariot's greed and self-interests. Shoes point out the holiness of God, how Moses was specifically told to remove his shoes as he was standing on holy ground. They emphasize our mission for Christ; humility to tie other shoelaces; wearing the armour of God with shoes as instruments of peace. Oil is for anointing; for preparing our lamps in anticipation of Christ's coming; for generosity; for compassion, healing, etc. Come Holy Week, the author introduces four more objects to guide us through our Lenten journey. The Coat marks the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Towel brings us back to the Upper Room where Jesus washes the disciples' feet and asks them to do the same for others. The Thorn is a reminder of the crown of thorns Jesus had to bear. Finally, Stone is about the tomb where Jesus was buried; albeit a soon-to-be- empty tomb.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

"The Voices We Carry" (J. S. Park)

TITLE: The Voices We Carry: Finding Your One, True Voice in a World of Clamor and Noise
AUTHOR: J. S. Park
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishers, 2020, (288 pages).

Many of us have heard about the differences between the head and the heart. The former popularly refers to the intellect while the latter describes the emotions. Using the head means we let our thinking and rationalizing decide our next steps. Using the heart means we allow our emotions to lead the way. Truth is, we need both head and heart for authenticity. Instead of separating the head and the heart into two entities, how about looking at it from the perspective of voices that speak to us, regardless of whether it is to the head or heart? This makes sense because the line between the intellect and the emotions is not easily distinguishable. What is more important is how we listen to the voices, both from outside and from the inside. Author JS Park writes this book with honest inquiry and personal experience about the many different types of voices that come at us, both voluntarily and involuntarily. In an age of social media, we are susceptible to all kinds of comments, both positive and negative. Even the most well-intentioned posts could trigger a whole spectrum of criticisms and trolls. One may claim to communicate facts but others would be quick to clothe all kinds of feelings and judgment on them. External voices create all kinds of inner ripples, some good, some bad. The best way forward is to discern the facts, determine what's helpful and what's not, and to find our own voices. Don't cave in to lies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

"Living Into Lent" (Donald K. McKim)

TITLE: Living into Lent
AUTHOR: Donald K. KcKim
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, (160 pages).

Lent is here again. The word "Lent" means "fortieth" in Latin. IT is 40 days to Easter, starting from Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, we exclude Sundays in the counting, so Lent concludes with that great Resurrection Sunday. What do we do during these forty days? Some believers fast from something as a constant reminder about Christ's journey to the Cross, how He offered Himself up to do the Father's Will.  Other believers spend more time in prayer or in various spiritual disciplines. The key themes of Lent are prayer, meditation, contemplation, silence, resisting the world, faithfulness, obedience, fasting, sacrifice, etc. One helpful way to observe Lent is to use devotionals to help us through each day. This book is one such devotional. There are several features that make this book stands out.

First, it is biblically referenced. Each theme is centered on the Bible. The author does not flood us with chunks of Bible to overwhelm us. Instead, he takes selected verses and guides us through the Word. Depth is key. As a devotional, it should be simple and focused, rather than to be expounded and analyzed. As a devotional, the Word is used to guide our mind to think deeply of God and to make our hearts bigger for God. McKim does well to give us brief notes without too much explanation, giving readers ample time to pause and to pray.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

"Three Pieces of Glass" (Eric O. Jacobsen)

TITLE: Three Pieces of Glass: Why We Feel Lonely in a World Mediated by Screens
AUTHOR: Eric O. Jacobsen
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020, (288 pages).

Relationship is the glue that bonds a society together. Driven by a desire to belong, we live in a challenging environment to navigate between our inner needs and outer cultural climate. Author Eric Jacobsen calls refers to this as "the crisis of belonging." Why a crisis? It is because of three key challenges or barriers that are keeping people from one another: Relational; Place; and Narrative. Throughout the book, readers will see how these three challenges constantly prevent people from finding their sense of belonging. Written in four parts, Jacobsen skillfully guides us through the reasons why we are increasingly lonely. Beginning with the scene from Cheers where the chorus chimes, "You want to be where everybody knows your name," he paints a picture where we all long to belong. With rising fragmentation of society, the diminishing common spaces to gather, and the loss of a common story that we can share in, it is becoming harder to build relationships.  The irony is that, while we all want to have our own private spaces in life, we hide that innate desire in us to want to connect publicly. Jacobsen looks at the problem of relationships and belonging through several different angles.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

"Practicing" (Kathy Escobar)

TITLE: Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World
AUTHOR: Kathy Escobar
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2020, (247 pages).

We have often heard of pleas to walk the talk; to put ideas into action; and to put theories into practice. Whatever the expressions, the common theme is that people are sincerely wanting to live out their faith authentically and tangibly. Practice is also about change: Not more but deeper; not bigger but stronger; not better but integrated. For faith is not a static belief but active practice. For author and pastor Kathy Escobar, it is not just one but ten practices that we can do to change the world beginning with ourselves. In a powerful introduction, she gives several reasons why all Christians need this book. Generally, in a world where people talk more than they walk, we need to do the reverse, to declare faith as a verb to be practiced instead to be passively talked about. That does not mean that we do not talk. It simply means that whatever we talk, be ready to apply. So the word "practice" is the active verb throughout the book. She explores the nature of practicing via several dimensions. It is about being "tangible" to make our faith visible. It is about walking with people, to mourn with those who mourn, and to rejoice with those who rejoice. It is about becoming like Christ before others. It is about "improvement," where we move from popular words like "more, bigger, or better" toward "deeper, stronger, and more integrated." This improvement begins from the inside out. While emphasizing the practicing more than the talking, she admits that conversations are still necessary. She even gives us six broad sets of ground rules to begin the conversation process. In summary, we are called to be Christ's physical ministry to others. The ten practices are:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"Post Christian" (Gene Edward Veith Jr.)

TITLE: Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture
AUTHOR: Gene Edward Veith Jr.
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2020, (320 pages).

There has been lots of talk about postmodernism, so much so that it has become a catchphrase to simply represent anything after modernism. While the theologian Thomas Oden sees modernism as post-Communism and "hyper modernism," and the rise of relativism thought, the author feels that it is more about the loss of moral clarity in an increasingly "spiritual but not religious" climate. In this context, author Gene Edward Veith Jr has chosen to discuss the shape of Christianity in the midst of this postmodern atmosphere. Using the term "Post-Christian," he is careful to explain that it is not the end of Christianity per se, but a "new Christian guide to contemporary thought and culture." With great care and astute observation, Veith highlights the nature of the "universal wolf" having the tripartite of "power, will, and appetite":
  • POWER: Many institutions and movements have become "masks" for power; The fight for power is shrouded as a form of resistance against any form of transgression; (eg. push-backs by LGBTQ against traditionalists, racial minorities against whites, pro-choice against opponents, etc)
  • WILL: The will is higher than "moral meaning." Choice is the ultimate over all other things, feeding on the legislation of human rights.
  • APPETITE: We all have a right to what we want, what we feel, and what we desire.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Seeking Him" (Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom)

TITLE: Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival
AUTHOR: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2019, (275 pages).

Do you want to restore your first love for Jesus? How can we deal with our conflicts and repair our relationships? What does it take to remove bitterness? What are the things needed to rekindle a desire for God? What about refreshing our spirit for a deeper experience of God? These and many more are some of the topics covered in this book under one goal: Seeking God earnestly. Before jumping into that, the authors give us a clearer definition of what kind of "revival" they are talking about. It is not a series of religious meetings that comprise all kinds of activities, including motivational seminar types we see in the corporate world. Neither is it outreach evangelistic campaigns nor seasons of fervour. Rather, it is a planned, intentional, and sustained process of seeking God from the inside out. It can also be used as a group study. Over a 12-week period, this book helps readers do just that. Each lesson comprises a common framework. The typical week comprises:

  • Day 1: Faith-Builder Story
  • Days 2-5: Truth Encounter / Making It Personal
  • Days 6-7: Seeking Him Together.

Monday, February 10, 2020

"Materiality as Resistance" (Walter Brueggemann)

TITLE: Materiality as Resistance: Five Elements for Moral Action in the Real World
AUTHOR: Walter Brueggemann
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2020, (120 pages).

Like many of Brueggemann's books, this book is a corrective against the excesses of the past. It is not about materialism which is bad. It is about materiality, which is the rightful understanding and constructive use of material things. There was a time where the Church has played a key role in "sanitizing" material things. In the sixth century, many people were overly preoccupied with all things spiritual to the detriment of material things. With dualism and gnostic beliefs, people were quick to segregate the material from the spiritual. Taken to the extreme, they consider all material things bad and all spiritual things good. "Materiality as Resistance" is about resisting such dualistic beliefs and to redeem the creative use of material things, without compromising on our spiritual beliefs. The five elements are: Money; Food; Body; Time; and Place.

On Money, Brueggemann begins with a push-back against John Wesley's popular maxim: "Earn all you can; give all you can; save all you can." While generally accepted by believers, especially Methodists and those from the Wesleyan tradition, this common saying about earning, saving, and giving has often been accepted without much critique. Yet, Brueggemann boldly pushes against this by asking three formidable questions:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

"Character Matters" (Aaron Menikoff)

TITLE: Character Matters: Shepherding in the Fruit of the Spirit
AUTHOR: Aaron Menikoff
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2020, (208 pages).

A ministry not marked by the fruit of the Spirit is doomed to fail, if not sooner than later. Most people who read the Galatians 5 passage would readily apply it generally to the Christian life. For author Aaron Menikoff, he specifically applies it to ministry leaders such as pastors and church leaders. More specifically, this book is about pastoral sanctification. They should model such a process of fruit-bearing for the people they shepherd, and to be an example of abiding in Christ and becoming more Christlike. The way to do so is to work through the fruit of the Spirit one by one, which is exactly what this book is about. Character matters enough for any leader or believer to do something about it. For the sake of the kingdom. Menikoff says it well, that "abiding in Christ isn’t just about becoming a Christian; it’s about growing as a Christian. Spiritual fruit is the believer’s sanctification." When working through the nine virtues in Galatians 5:22-23, we are reminded that they are meant to lead us along a path, and are not meant to be an end in itself. The goal is holiness. Along the way we need to deal with our own blind spots. The first is the misplaced notion of self-importance that corrupts what God's love is all about. Good sermons do not replace the need to love people.