Three new releases
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.
these books look interesting,i kind of gave up on books,for a while,a lot of them seem to be the same old dead ends,though now books are becoming a lot more personal,unlike the internet which can get old.
I know what you mean, but I am very excited by some of the grace books that have been published in the past few years.
Are you the king of book reviews? I love what I have just read.
Now reading Snap, thanks for sharing.
Thank you for suggesting these books. I will look into them. Recently checked out a book from the library that was supposed to be about grace, but it was the usual mixture.
I just finished reading “Snap”……oh man….
Can’t tell you how much this book was in season. …
I honestly felt like I was reading my life on paper… not only my past… but my present & funny enough a glimpse of what my future could look like….
thanks 4 the book review
& Thank u Mike for an amazing story
The reason why God wants us to be thirsty and hungry is so that he might satisfy us with Himself and his righteousness Ps 42.1; Matt 5.6. Our natural state is contentment with the riches of this earth, but God wants us to have the riches of his kingdom. The metaphor of eating and drinking is important. We hunger and thirst for righteousness and are filled, but after a while we get hungry and thirsty and again and turn to God again for satisfaction. We are not permanently hungry or replete. ‘From the best things that earth imparts we turn unfilled to thee again’.
Hey Brian, I hope its ok that I reply to you.
When you wrote that our natural state is contentment with the riches of this earth, it just seems that you’ve put aside the verses about us being new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
If its not Gods natural state to be content with the riches of this earth, then it can’t be ours either because we share his nature.
Just to add, Jesus said to the woman at the well in Samaria, that anyone who drinks this water, will become thirsty again, but those who drink the water he gives, will never be thirsty again (John 4:13-14). Therefore in Jesus’ words, we know we don’t become thirsty again, or need to turn to him again to be satisfied, because that would imply that we need to do something, in order to benefit from his blessings.
I hope I’ve come across friendly and haven’t irritated you by jumping in like this.
Take care 🙂
I found a new title that I think you would enjoy. It is “Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough” by Jefferson Bethke.
It is a grace book that if I didn’t know who the author was I would guess it was you! It came out last month and already has 228 reviews of which 208 are 5 stars! It is written by a 20-something year old guy who has lived both self-righteous pharisaism to compromised lukewarmness. He is honest about his past mistakes and is humble enough to admit he sometimes still wrestles with self-righteousness. I know you will love this book and I’d like to see you review it here on ETR.
Thanks, I did see that one and am looking forward to reading it.
It is a wonderful blessing to see a website other than Joseph Prince speaking the good news. Praise our Lord for this site. God Bless Tracey
Upon your suggestion I read ” Snap”, but I was so disappointed. It was more a treatise on the emergent church than on the grace of the gospel. When I came to the chapter where Frank espouses his belief in universalism, I quit reading. I have an insatiable appetite for good writing on the subject of grace, but this made the freedom of grace look silly. Cussing and swearing? Really? That’s freedom? Smoking? I know that God’s grace covers it all, and it surely covers cussing and swearing, but it seemed to me that this story trivialized grace. Frank looked petulant, immature, and, well, graceless.
I’ve recently found your web site and have signed up for the emails announcing your new posts, but now I’m wondering if this is what you’re promoting—the emergent church philosophy of no absolutes. To be clear, I am not a critic of the “hyper grace” movement. In fact, I consider myself to be a part of it,. But this book seems to encapsulate a ridiculous shallowness that totally misses what the grace movement is all about. Radical grace is not about jettisoning the cardinal doctrines of scripture, but it is about fully understanding what those doctrines mean to the believer. For too long, evangelical Christianity has talked about grace but has not understood how vast and inexhaustible it is.
I really want to keep following your posts, but I’d love to hear where you are regarding the issues I have raised. We proponents of the marvelous grace of God need to sitck together! I’ve agreed with you on everything I’ve read on your blog so far. That’s why your recommendation of this book is troubling to me. Help me understand where I may be wrong.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t smoke or cuss and I certainly am no universalist. I don’t think you will find I have written anything to encourage those things.
However, when it comes to enjoying the writings of others, it is not essential that authors share my views 100%. If I only reviewed books where that were the case, I would review no books. I recommend when reading you take that which is good and spit out what you can’t digest. I enjoyed Mick’s book because, as I say above, I grew up as a pastor’s kid. I am familiar with many of the hurts church folk can inflict on one other. I also know people who are just like Frank.
Mick has painted a fairly accurate picture of the different ways we react to grace, both good and bad. If his story promotes discussion about grace, freedom, and how to love those who see things differently, I think that’s a good thing.