Book Review: Fusion

fusionFusion: Turing First-Time Guests into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Nelson Searcy gives the practical insight into developing healthy first-time impressions (no matter your church setting) and strategic follow-up systems that are not overly cumbersome. The practical elements of Searcy’s book can help a church look for holes in its operations that may be allowing first-time guests to fall through the cracks.

Unfortunately, the revised and expanded edition of the book does not seem to be very much revised or expanded from the original book that I read when it Searcy first released Fusion. Given the passage of time I was hoping for fresh content, insights, follow-up ideas, and/or troubleshooting tips when a church thinks it has Searcy’s systems in place yet something still doesn’t seem to be clicking on full efficiency.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Book Review: Favor

favorFavor: Finding Life at the Center of God’s Affection by Greg Gilbert does a wonderful job of helping pull a person out of a performance-mode mentality – in the overt and subtle ways that we go there – in order to be favored by God.

The author helps the reader understand that God’s favor is absolutely necessary for us to have and to be assured of being maintained and then strips away all of the false ways that we humans attempt to gain and maintain that favor.

The real gem of the book is the chapter on our union with Christ – how this is the key to having God’s favor, keeping God’s favor, and enjoying God’s favor – and how this is all about our position from God through salvation.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Read and Reflect with the Classics: Classic Hymns

read and reflectRead and Reflect with the Classics: Classic Hymns by B&H Books is a well put together volume that takes time in hymns to a deeper level. The editors do a wonderful job of lifting up classic hymns to the level of Scripture – the way some people do in order to promote their cultural music preferences – and instead offer these lovely collection as a way to engage God in song (or poem), Scripture, and meditation.

While I was familiar with many of the hymns chosen for the collection, there were many others that I have not sung before. Encountering the new songs opened up the door to genres and lyrics to be learned and engaged with in a world of curiosity.

The book is worth traveling through as you reflect upon the lyrics of saints from the past and the timeless truths of Scripture.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B& H Publishing Group through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Reading People

reading peopleReading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel is a great introduction to the world of personality and personality inventories. The author does a wonderful job of introducing and walking through the upsides and downsides of multiple personality tests without sounding overly clinical or introspective. If you are looking for a good explanation of the tests talked about in the book and how to benefit from them personally and interpersonally then Reading People is a good book for you.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Spiritual Wisdom for a Happier Life

spiritual wisdomSpiritual Wisdom for a Happier Life: How Your 8 Key Emotions Can Work for You by Mark W. Baker, PhD provides insight into how good theology and good psychotherapy can come together to help a person heal and thrive in the midst of life’s struggles.

The author does a good job of dispelling some common myths that we and well-meaning people can propagate which actually keep us stuck rather than moving forward. The short chapters and easy to follow illustrations make the book easy to read and digest the core concept being taught in the subsections of the eight key emotion sections.

The downside to the book is the other side of the coin of having short illustrations and points – there is not a lot of direction for a person to take action on by themselves given in the book. The upside of the downside is that this apparent limitation may help a person act on the hope for change and contact a good therapist to help them through the often difficult journey forward through the struggles of life.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: God-Shaped Heart (aka Love Wins Part 2)

The God-Shaped Heart by Timothy Jennings, M. D. can be summed up as a sequel to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. The author rejects the biblical view of the death of Jesus upon the cross as a substitute for our sins and sets up the biblical truth as necessarily contrary to the love of God described in the Bible.

The author describes anyone who holds to the need for the punishment of sin as “level four or below [on Kohlberg’s model of moral development]” (p 86) and not to be trusted (pp 68-69). He writes that if sin were legally needing to be punished by God then we would be “worshipping a dictator god” (p 91) and by necessity be unable to have a “love for others and [a] living for a higher purpose” (p 91).

The book goes on to say that salvation is not through faith in Christ alone but that all who show self-sacrificial love have experienced the “rebirth” from Christ and are “members of God’s kingdom” (p 175). Furthermore, the book asserts that “what determines our eternal destiny is not God’s judgment upon us but our judgment of God” (p 279) and that it is a “lie” that God will judge sin (p 278).

Needless to say, if you want a God-shaped heart as described by the God of the Bible do not buy, read, or endorse Jenning’s book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Enjoying God

enjoying godEnjoying God: Finding Hope in the Attributes of God by R.C. Sproul brings the reader into the world of enjoying God for who He is in His virtues, character, and attributes. The reader quickly discovers how R.C. Sproul finds enjoyment in presence of God through deep meditation upon the traits of God from a rich theological perspective.

The author gives insight into his own personality and ways of enjoying God when he pens, “As I grew older my concept of God grew up as well…I studied theology in college, seminary, and graduate school. My concept of God became more refined, more sophisticated, more cerebral” (p 83). If you are the type of person who finds that they enjoy and enter into the presence of God through Sproul’s way of engaging God, then you will find Enjoying God a real treat.

If you are the type of person that struggles with enjoying God in the deep theological pondering style of Sproul, but instead enter into God’s presence through the reading and prayer of the Scriptures, then Enjoying God may not be the book for you in your devotional/self-feeding time – though it is a good book to help you think more deeply about the nature and attributes of God as you pray the Scriptures.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.