It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any books. Here are three good ones that have come out recently.
It’s All About Jesus, by D.R. Silva
I like good questions which is probably why I like this book. In it, D.R. Silva asks many questions that will break bad mindsets and help you to better appreciate the finished work of the cross. Here’s a taste:
Most of us have probably been told of the importance of staying desperate, hungry, and thirsty for God, but let’s think about that for a second. Assuming he is good, would a rich king ever leave his children desperate, hungry, and thirsty? Would he only feel motivated to feed them if they gathered together at his feet and begged for their daily bread (perhaps including statements of how “unworthy” they are to be in his presence)? Or instead, since they are his children, and because he is rich and his resources cannot be exhausted, would his children not always be supplied with more than enough?
Questions like these should change us. They should prompt holy face-palms and real repentance. “Of course, my heavenly Father is rich and no, he isn’t running his kingdom on a tight budget. So why do I think he wants me hungry and thirsty? He doesn’t! He wants to satisfy my deepest desires because that’s what good fathers do!”
It’s All About Jesus is a book about, well, Jesus. At a time where you will hear about everything but Jesus, the message in this book shines like a beacon.
Grace on Tap, by Eric Dykstra
This is a passionate book by a “former freaked-out Christian overachiever who is now resting in the grace of God.” It’s about one pastor’s discovery of radical grace.
Since I used to be one, I love stories about pastors who got hit on the head by grace. Unlike regular folks, our transformation is on public display. Everything changes and everyone sees it. For me, the revelation of grace prompted me to burn all my sermon notes. For Eric Dykstra, it meant a public apology. But it’s all good because pastors have influence. Get the pastor, get the church!
Here’s my favorite line from Grace on Tap:
We are celebrators of Christ’s accomplishment. We are grace-revelers. Do you know what a reveler is? A reveler is someone who needs to calm down. If we understand grace, nothing will settle us down. We will be the wildest, loudest partiers on planet Earth. We will be the most vocal, happy, excited, joy-filled people in existence!
And indeed, this is a happy, exciting, and joy-filled book. The chapter on how God’s unconditional love is greater than our unconditional love is a grin-inducing ripper!
Grace on Tap is for those who are new to, or perhaps wary of, radical grace. It addresses a lot of misconceptions about grace – what Dykstra calls the “Big Buts” of grace.
Snap, by Mick Mooney
Growing up as a pastor’s kid I heard about rebellious teenagers who ran from the church and got caught up in bad stuff like drinking and smoking. These backsliders, I was told, had turned their back on God. They had run from Jesus. In Mick Mooney’s latest novel, Snap, a young man called Frank runs from the church in order to run to Jesus. He runs because the Jesus he encounters in his father’s church is a loveless Pharisee. This is how Frank explains it to his dad.
Your savior is a Pharisee! It’s not Jesus, at least not the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know will never be tamed by religious dreamers—ever. You may hate the thought, but I’ll tell you what I see in the life of Jesus when I read the Bible. I see that Jesus is on the side of the cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking, foul-language-using public. He stands between the self-righteous with their stones and the very people they want to throw them at. He defends the unworthy, befriends the untouchables, believes in the unaccepted.
Frank’s exit triggers a crisis both within his family and the church itself.
Snap is a raw, gut-wrenching story about the damage we do to ourselves in the name of churchianity. And it’s about the healing power that is released when we choose to love without conditions. This book is a bomb that will demolish religious prisons and it’s a salve that will heal the brutal wounds of shame. I loved it.