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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Smooth Stones by Joe Coffey

Smooth Stones is now the third book I've read from Cruciform Press (the first two being Cruciform and the pilot book Sexual Detox by Tim Challies) and it is in my humble opinion the best book yet from this young publishing company. If you haven't heard anything about Cruciform Press, you can check out the review of Cruciform to read more.

Joe takes on six of the biggest questions that challenge Christianity, namely:
  1. Is There a God?
  2. Does Science Disprove God's Existence?
  3. Is the Bible Authentic and True?
  4. The Question of Evil and Suffering
  5. Aren't All Religions the Same?
  6. Is Jesus for Real?
I know, I know, one of the chapter titles isn't in the form of a question. That bugged me too. But after flying through this book in one day, I was ready to forgive. As a self-proclaimed apologist, I pride myself in at least being familiar with all the big questions and answers surrounding Christian apologetics. Yet Joe surprised me on more than one occasion with simple and fresh approaches to answering these popular challenges.

The simple beauty of this book is in its brevity. This book may be the best resource I've seen for a church to keep on hand to answer common objections in every day language. I know of a number of young men in my church family who would benefit from reading a book like this, but would instantly start having heart complications if I suggested they read anything larger. I, for one, will be commending this book to my pastor to keep on hand for those questioning Christianity.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Your church resource library, arm-chair apologists, doubters

This book was a free review copy provided by Cruciform Press.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester

It has been a while since a book so surprised and delighted me as did A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester. The way in which something so mundane and average as a meal was vested with such theological depth and significance was astounding. And yet, Tim is only following in the pattern that Jesus set in his ministry. He has found the gospel in the grub, or as the subtitle puts it: "Discovering grace, community, and mission around the table".
Jesus is called "a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." This is why eating and drinking were so important in the mission of Jesus: they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors and sinners. His "excess" of food and "excess" of grace a linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community and mission. So the meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook. But they give that new reality substance. Jesus's meals are not just symbols; they're also application. They're not just pictures; they're the real thing in miniature. (p. 14)
This book has been a very timely one for me as I am just about to make a shift in my community group from one that was very content-heavy to one that is more community-driven (I know, where'd I come up with it, right?). The only unfortunate part to changing our format is that I can't make this book required reading.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Ministry leaders, especially small group leaders, anyone looking for a fresh read from the usual Christian fare

Westminster Bookstore has A Meal With Jesus at the best internet price I could find: $10.04 (33% off)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Cruciform by Jimmy Davis

Cruciform Press is a brand new publisher that seems to be on the cutting edge of publishing in the digital age. One book is released each month (in print, ebook, and audio) and they are concise enough (about 100 pages) that you can finish one before the next comes out. But the really unique thing about Cruciform Press is the fact that you can subscribe to their monthly releases for dirt cheap.

So, it is only fitting that one of the first books released by Cruciform Press is called Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life. Jimmy Davis presents a simple and simply beautiful picture of what living a life shaped by the gospel looks like and it forms the crux (pun intended) of the book.
"The Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, along with the prescription for the Christian life found in the rest of the New Testament, have convinced me there are two major roles in which disciples progressively become like their Master (Luke 6:40). As we each become more and more conformed to the image of Christ, we increasingly live as son and love as servant." (p. 35)
The book resonates with these twin themes of son and servant, and Jimmy's writing is at its best in such simplicity and clarity. Consequently, this simplicity is lost when Jimmy begins to diagram the aspects of the Christian life into the shape of a cross. The constant references to the diagram and the various explanations of the pictures seemed to break the flow of the book for me in a way that hurt rather than helped me follow his train of thought.

However, there is much to be commended here in both author and publisher. If this book is a sign of things to come, I expect great things from both!
"When through the gospel we have become sons, then through the gospel we can become servants." (p. 55)
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Any Christian seeking a gospel-driven life

This book was a free review copy provided by Cruciform Press.