Vanishing Grace

Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? (Zondervan, 2014)

Reading Yancey’s book, Vanishing Grace, took me back 20 years when I read his excellent volume, What’s So Amazing about Grace? At the time, the book held its place in my life as one of the best books I’d ever read.

As I read this new volume, it struck me as tackling a similar thrust: we live in a world thirsty for God’s grace and Christians often throw salt on the wound rather than live as dispensers of grace.

Bible Reader's Joke Book

The Bible Reader’s Joke Book (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition, 2014)

What’s so funny about the Ten Commandments? Wonder no longer. Need a good one-liner for your upcoming Bible lesson on relationships, or your sermon on giving, or your youth talk on purity? You’re all set.

A few years ago, my friend Dr. Stephen Bramer told me he was writing a joke book for the Bible. I laughed. I thought he was joking.

Turns out, he was! (And the book totals more than 2000 jokes.) The subtitle says it all: A collection of over 2,000 jokes, puns, humorous stories, and funny sayings related to the Bible: arranged from Genesis to Revelation.

  • Arranged in biblical-chronological order, this thick volume is jammed with jokes, puns, one-liners, and funny (dare I say, “corny”?) stories sure to cause every reaction from a chuckle to an eye-roll.
  • You can look up a joke by Bible verse or by topic.

The funniest part of the book to me? The copyright page.

Seriously. Check it out here.

Question: Know any good Bible jokes? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Maxwell Leadership Bible

Maxwell Leadership Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014)

When I first began reading through this Bible, I thought the content would show itself as simple rehash from Maxwell’s other books. Well, if it is, it’s amazingly relevant.

Seeing these truths in the context of Scripture gives them a better framework for application than they might find in any other book.

Maxwell explains:

My goal in creating this Leadership Bible is to enable you to raise the “lid” on your own effectiveness. I want you to reach your potential in Christ! To become more Christlike you need to think and act more like a leader. You must become a person of influence.

Scattered throughout are lessons of leadership, which are often only lessons of character that every Christian should aspire to.

The Hope Quotient

The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You’ll Never Be the Same (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Ray Johnston delivers a positive message with an upbeat voice. His no-frills writing undergirds a powerful principle that surrounds each chapter:

The truth is, the greatest gift you or I can give anyone is hope. — Ray Johnston

After a brief introduction of why we need hope in a world of discouragement, Johnston dives in to seven elements that help bring hope in your life.

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong [Book Review] (FaithWords, 2014)

In Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong, Brad Gray walks us through the life of the strong man who lived a life of weakness and failure. But it’s more than a cautionary tale.

The book employs a surprising blend of history, geography, archaeology, linguistics, and culture—what most folks might consider dull and dry—and explains how Samson’s struggles often mirror our own.

  • Learning from the pride and lust and unforgiveness (and faith) of this weak judge allows us to get right what Samson got wrong.
  • I enjoyed learning about how the author of the book of Judges used the theme of Samson eyes as an example of what “everyone in those days” did—what was right in their own eyes.

Brad Gray combines many personal illustrations along with his explanation of Samson’s life to produce a potentially life changing resource for all of us who have failed (that’s all of us). Samson’s presence in Hebrews 11 reveals that God can still use us—even when we fail Him.

God doesn’t want our failures to remain failures. He wants our failures to become investments in learning to get things right. He want us to learn from our mistakes and to keep moving forward. —Brad Gray

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong has pulled Samson from the Sunday School flannel graphs and revealed him as the flesh-and-blood Hebrew he was. Human, frail, desperate, alone, failing—and yet, believing.

Just like us.

You’ll enjoy the book. You can grab it here.

Redefining Leadership- Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders

Redefining Leadership: Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders (Zondervan, 2014)

Most leadership books focus on methods, tactics, strategic planning, and vision. This book hubs on a more essential part of leadership.

The leader.

Joe Stowell redefines leadership from the perspective of a shepherd rather than a CEO. From a person driven by character as opposed to a manager driven by results. From one who leads by serving rather than one who keeps score of outcomes.

Redefining Leadership comes in three parts:

God Is Just Not Fair

God is Just Not Fair [Book Review] (Zondervan, 2014)

When I began the book, I didn’t realize the author is blind. As I read and understood, my eyes were opened to how much her blindness has allowed Jennifer to see clearly.

With a shift in emphasis, book’s title, God is Just Not Fair, gives away the answer to the problem it poses. God is JUST—Not Fair, that is, His actions are based on justice as God defines it and have nothing to do with what we deem as fair. “Perhaps the real question you and I should ask,” Jennifer Rothschild writes, “is not ‘Is the master fair?’ but ‘Is the master just?’ In other words, Did the master do as he said he would?”

Total paradigm shift. We tend view God as a slightly better version of us. Instead, He is completely wise, sovereign, and just. If He were fair, we’d all be condemned—because we all fall short of His holiness.

The One Jesus Loves

The One Jesus Loves [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

I chose to read this book because I love the grace of God and good books about God’s grace. The book’s title intrigued me: The One Jesus Loves: Grace is Unconditionally Given, Intimacy Must Be Relentlessly Pursued.

I love the title. The book, however, seems to take portions of the Bible and make application without careful attention to the larger context in which the passage rests. Two examples are enough to illustrate:

The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land

The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land [Book Review] (Chicago: Moody Publishers; New Edition, 2014)

Travel guides about journeying to the Holy Land are a dime a dozen. I have read many of them. But the newly revised and updated edition of The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land represents the best general volume for the Evangelical.

I have recommended this book to many people, and I know of a number of ministries that regularly go to Israel who distribute this volume to each traveler. Written by veteran Israel travelers, Charles H. Dyer and Greg A. Hatteberg, this volume will enable you to:

  • Gain a general overview of all the major sites of Israel with a brief introduction for each site, including primary scripture passages, maps, charts, and photos.
  • Know what to do with regard to practical needs such as packing, safety, weather, and photography.
  • Get the skinny on what to see, where to go, and what not to miss.

The authors have extensively revised the first part of the book on “Preparing for the Trip,” updating all the content–from applying for a passport, to using online resources, to traveling to Israel for the mobility impaired. Parts 3-6 of the book offers a similar overview of key sites in Egypt, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey.

Unique to this guidebook—I’ve never seen it anywhere else—are sections outlining a 4-week schedule for Bible reading, prayer, and Bible study.

Whether you’re looking for a book for yourself or one to recommend to someone else traveling to the Holy Land, The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land will serve you well.

Question: Have you read this book? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Forgiveness is something we all struggle with. For many of us, the struggle began early.

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers does an excellent job of connecting with someone whose parents have blown it (which, on some level, is all of us). But more importantly, this helpful volume walks readers through the morass of pain, shows them how to process it through a scriptural filter, and releases them into the freedom of their future made possible by God’s grace in Christ.