Monday, June 26, 2006

a sampler of many treats.

This has definitely been a reading summer for me, and i've read some real gems in the past few weeks. So instead of blogging about each one, i thought i'd post all the ones i enjoyed with a brief synopsis. All of these are highly recommended, so y'all can check them out for yourselves, instead of hearing me ramble on about them ^_^

Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did
Randy Newman

This is a book we studied together as a Montreal Staff team--its by far the best PRACTICAL book i've read on evangelism. The book starts off by teaching the reader to ask questions instead of giving answers straight off the bat. In reading the first couple of chapters, the reader learns that by asking questions, we can actually address deeper underlying needs, as well as pave the way for answers to be given and ultimately the gospel to be presented. Part II of the book addresses some tough questions that people might ask such as, "Why are Christians so homophobic?" or "Why should we believe an ancient book written by dead Jewish males?" or "Why are Christians so intolerant?" Newman gives creative ways to address these questions, and anticipates rebuttals that we, as Christians, will often hear from people we are sharing with. I'd highly recommend this book as a summer read; it will be useful to have read this book before heading back onto campus in September.

Postcards from Corinth
edited by Rick James and Betty Churchill

Well, for those of y'all who went to Summit 2 years ago, Rick James was the guy who spoke about defecating in some random person's basement during a marathon. Regardless of that sketchy story, he's done a good job writing for and compiling this book. The book is essentially a book on discipleship. it's comprised of numerous articles written by different cru staff members, and is pretty much a gem. There are six sections in the book. The first section deals with the goals of discipleship, the second with different sin struggles disciplers may have to deal with their disciples. The third section includes an article for men and an article for women--addressing needs that each gender will have in terms of discipleship. The fourth section details the essentials in ministry (i.e. Satisfied? Follow-up), the fifth includes some quick articles and the final section (primarily written by Roger Hershey) talks about the fundamentals like selection and foundational crusade discipleship topics. Also a summer must-read. It'll definitely prepare you for the upcoming school year :) Like Questioning Evangelism, it is also a humourous and quick read.

Blue Like Jazz
Donald Miller

Admittedly, y'all have probably already read this. I was a little slow on the uptake. You know, the rebellious nature in me refusing to read any popular books that people usually swoon about. However, i got this book free from Andy and Loni, so i thought i'd check it out. And what d'ya was actually captivating. Its definitely a quick read--i finished it in less than 2 hours--but its also a beautiful read. Granted, there are some things i wouldn't agree with, and Miller teeters on the verge of being a bit po-mo...but isn't full out po-mo and is actually quite enjoyable. He's blunt and poetic and truthful. He doesn't avoid confrontational topics, but rather jumps right into them, and explains Jesus in a refreshingly new way. Its an especially good book to give any of your seeker friends.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Phillip Yancey, "What's so Amazing about Grace?"

YEAH! I loved this book. Yancey is not a Piper/Spurgeon guy, where it's slow and methodical. Kinda like a fine wine... someone once told me.
Anyhow, Yancey's big claim is that the church is the only institution capable of dispensing grace. everything else works on systems of merit. As recipients of JC, Christians have this supernatural ability, and should be using it.
Yancey cited stats that show Evangelicals are often as tied to divorce, porn, abuse and everyone else. He also pointed outhow Christians often act on ungrace, resulting in lots of unconfessed, unchecked immorality and judgement.
I really appreciated how he was able to pin most of the churches lack of saltiness on a lack of grace. It puts a way better spin on the problem. We don't need to just better our morality, but demonstrate unconditional love to each other as we seek to improve.

On a personal level, Yancey hit me well. I think for a while I'd been (and still am) operating on a 'earn God's favour by doing good Christian stuff' scale. I knew about the grace of God, but I had begun to treat it like something to be recieved at a later date or something. But a quote that struck me was (off of memory) "God's love for you right now is 100%. No good you do can increase that, no evil can decrease it." Man that's sweet to the heart.