Friday, April 29, 2011

Review for "Radical Together" by David Platt

After reading and being thoroughly challenged by Radical, I had high expectations for Radical Together. David Platt delivered everything I had hoped for in this followup book! Radical Together explores what happens when whole communities of faith "get radical" together. Platt uses stories from his own church and from readers of Radical to illustrate and inspire. When the people of God get serious about following Jesus and living lives of surrender and sacrifice for the gospel, resources are released and harnessed for global ministry! The poor are reached, orphans are cared for, hungry are fed, new people groups hear about Jesus for the first time, ministry becomes de-centralized and grass roots, and the Kingdom of God spreads!

I appreciate that David Platt writes persuasively yet humbly. He clearly states that he is not lifting his own church's experience up as a model for everyone to follow, nor does he have answers for how specific churches should follow God's call. Instead, he presents probing questions and facts that are important for communities of believes to wrestle with. He is not afraid to question the status quo. Both tradition and innovation are challenged. He strips the church of its trappings down to the core of what God has called her to be: and that is to be the messenger of His gospel. I am now even more motivated to recruit others to get "radical together" and live God's adventure!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers, and am not required to give a postitive review. 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review for "Desiring God,Revised Edition" by John Piper

I was glad to have the opportunity to review a "new" version of a classic Christian book! I had heard references to John Piper's "Desiring God" before, but never read the book, so this was my first experience with any edition of the book. Some of the statistics had obviously been updated, but other than that I could not tell where the updates had taken place, they were integrated seamlessly into the text. It was a fresh, relevant read. The basis for the book is Piper's discovery that the Christian life is not meant to be drudgery, but joyful pursuit of happiness in God. What a refreshing message for anyone caught in legalism or simply striving to please God and gain His approval! Piper exhorts the reader with personal illustrations and many scriptural supports to realize that seeking happiness is not a selfish motive, but a very necessary motive to the Christian life. The reason is that our ultimate happiness can only come from God - we were made in His image and designed for relationship with Him - so pursuing happiness in Him is the highest calling one can follow.

In case the reader wonders if Piper is ignoring the Biblcal passages on suffering and sacrifice, these are all addressed in the book. Yes, they are a part of life but do not preclude our seeking the deepest joy possible in God. I especially appreciated the chapters on prayer and missions and felt personally challenged. I did dislike the fact that some of the book read like a defense against Piper's critics. I am always a proponent of making your case by presenting it positively and attractively, not defensively. Still, it was a worthwhile read, and deserves to be classified as the "classic" it is. The revised edition should keep it fresh and hopefully introduce the book to a new audience.

4 out of 5 stars. I received this book free for purposes of review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group, and am not required to give a positive review.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review for "The Final Summit" by Andy Andrews

I should mention that I have not read the previous "David Ponder" novel, so this was my first introduction to both the author and the main character. In "The Final Summit", David Ponder is escorted by the archangel Gabriel to a summit of "Travelers" (important characters from world history) with the challenge of saving humanity from destruction by God. To do this, they must correctly answer the question, "What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?" This question and the debate over the answer comprise the main portion of the book. Various characters from history, such as Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, and several others both well and lesser known, offer their unique perspective on the question and its answer. The narrative becomes a mix of history lesson and philosophical discussion, which is actually presented in a colorful and interesting manner.

This was a light read and I enjoyed it, yet not one that I will likely revisit. I enjoyed the history lesson and seeing the characters brought to life. Since it was my first exposuree toi David Ponder, the recap at the beginning of the book of his prior experience (in a prior book) was helpful. Even so, I felt it was too long and bogged down the interest of the plot. The question posed by the author is audacious to say the least, especially when he claims his characters find "the" answer. The intellectual debate over ideas is interesting, but not what I expected from a book billed as "action adventure." I was disappointed with the triteness of the final "correct" answer (I will not spoil it for future readers!) Still, I believe the author somewhat succeeded in creating an interesting look at history and philosophy set in a fictional setting, although not with exceptional quality. 3 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from BookSneeze, part of Thomas Nelson Publishers.