Stott on the Christian Life by Tim Chester –Book Review

When I started this book, I really knew nothing about John Stott;  by the time I finished, I had a good grasp of his life, his ministries, his preaching style (expository), his theology and view of Scripture, and along the way a better understanding of the world-wide evangelical movement.  Author Tim Chester covers a great deal of material in a clear, engaging style.  It’s not a difficult read.

I came away with admiration for Stott as a dedicated Christian who lived his faith to the fullest.  His long-time secretary said working for Stott was like driving a car with an ambulance behind you, with light flashing and siren blaring.  His sense of urgency and dedication resulted in a highly fruitful life.  He was the All Souls Church in London for many years;  he wrote books, he worked with university students, and he was actively involved in any number of networks and organizations, some within the Anglican church, others outside.

Stott considered Scripture to be the highest authority and when presented with differing interpretations, he sought balance by “double listening” —  thoughtfully taking the good points from each view.  He was an irenic personality who worked for peace and reconciliation between groups and individuals.  Although he did not discount the religious experiences of others, he believed that study of the Word was the most important factor in determining correct theology.  He was devoted to the church and saw it correctly as a disciple-making community.

Chester quotes Stott extensively, as well as other evangelicals of his era, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll wind up with a list of other books you want to read.

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  Not only enjoyable, but challenging and informative.  It’s part of a series, Theologians on the Christian Life, and so it may be interested in trying some of the other volumes.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received this as a free e-book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger –Book Review

This is another book I’ve had for a while, and am just getting around to reading.  As usual Thom Rainer does not disappoint, and not only that, Simple Church has a lot to do with our monthly theme, clarity.  Don’t tell me God doesn’t guide my reading!

What Rainer and Geiger describe is not a new church model — it’s about designing a process for discipleship.  That process should be simple, and involves four key steps and words:

  • Design a simple process that has clarity — it should be easy to communicate and for people to understand
  • Place your key programs along the process so that they encourage movement toward the goal of spiritual maturity
  • Align and unite all church ministries around the process
  • Develop focus by eliminating things (even good ones) that fall outside of the process

The authors make the point that many church leaders and members are involved in so many programs that they have little time for real ministry.  The programs often compete with one another, and lack an intentional process for spiritual growth.  Becoming a “simple” church may actually involve eliminating activities that do little to further true growth in discipleship.

There are examples from real churches and quite a bit of statistical jargon and information (the authors admit to being research “nerds”).  I found their arguments logical and compelling.  It is an interesting perspective and one I had never considered.  As a member of a small congregation where many are scrambling to get things done, the idea that less is more is certainly appealing!

The point is made that the process is not necessarily easy.  When congregations have become “complex” it is difficult to eliminate programs because of their history and the attachments people have to them.  It requires prayer and movement that is fast enough, but not too fast.  In other words, handle with prayer!

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  Well worth considering for pastors and leaders.

For more books by Thom Rainer see these posts:

Anatomy of a Revived Church by Thom S. Rainer–Book Review

Scrappy Church – Book Review

Scrappy Church by Thom Rainer–Book Review #2


Small Groups Made Easy – A Book Review

Ryan Lokkesmoe is a well-known author of several books on small groups, as well as, small group curriculums. The book is divided into 2 parts. The first part addresses the practical applications of small groups. He covers logistics, planning, leaders, childcare, and location, as well as many more.

He gives practical, simple principles to follow to make sure the group is instituted, planned and lead well so that it can succeed in the first part. I found the principles to be easy and effective if a bit simple.

The second part is based on 12 basic Christian studies which I enjoyed more than the first part. I felt that the studies were well thought out and provided ample questions to engage all participants. He backs up his study material with ample scripture references and ends each study with the most important thing – Prayer.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I felt it was well-written and gave sound advice but could have given a little more detail in the implementation part.

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

A Quote on Kindness

This is another quote from my daily devotional.  The author is A.P. Stanley(1815–1881) who was an English churchman and academic, Dean of Westminster.  The topic is kindness, one that has been coming up in my reading and study recently.

“We may, if we choose, make the worst of one another.  Every one has his weak points;  every one has his faults;  we may make the worst of these;  we may fix our attention constantly upon these.  But we may also make the best of one another.  We may forgive, even as we hope to be forgiven.  We may put ourselves in the place of others, and ask what we should wish to be done to us, and thought of us, were we in their place.  By loving whatever is lovable in those around us, love will flow back from them to us, and life will become a pleasure instead of a pain;  and earth will become like heaven;  and we shall become not unworthy followers of Him whose name is love.”

Loyal to the End — A Quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Generations of Leaders

We sang this hymn in church recently.  It reminded me, that we can always look to Christ and many generations of His followers as examples and inspiration for our own walk.  Read your Bible to find the leader you want to emulate, then follow in the train!


Eschatological Discipleship–Book Review

Not a discussion of various end-times beliefs, author Trevin K. Wax focuses his book on eschatology in a much more general sense.  His definition of eschatology includes concepts of life beyond death and everything connected with it — heaven, hell, reincarnation, resurrection, immortality, rebirth, last judgement and more.  It is not limited to Christianity, as other religions and even atheists still have a vision for humanity’s future, and this vision influences the worldview of those who hold it.

The big question Dr. Wax poses is for Christians is, “What time is it?”  or more specifically, “What do I do in light of what time it is?” In other words, if we recognize that our discipleship is influenced by the place we are in (for example a church in China vs. a wealthy U.S. suburb) we should also realize that the way we function as disciples and our God-give task will be shaped by the time in which we live.

He begins by defining the terms eschatology, worldview and discipleship and proceeds to a study of eschatological discipleship in the Old and New Testament and Acts.  Next he discusses some of the worldviews which are “rivals” to Christian eschatology:  the Enlightenment, the sexual revolution and consumerism;  and finally he evaluates a variety of evangelical conceptions of discipleship in view of  Christian eschatology.

I found parts of this book fascinating because it address the “why” of how people think.  Unbelievers often do not “get” the Christian lifestyle because they have an entirely different worldview and understanding of where humanity is headed and what will happen to us as individuals when we die.  Their “faith” is as deeply entrenched as our own, and arguing will usually not change it.  He also explains how even Christians are subtly influenced by the cultural worldviews which surround us.

Verdict:  Very well written and interesting, this book will challenge the average layperson.  Dr. Wax writes in an academic style and uses many technical terms.  He also assumes a knowledge of world history and philosophy not everyone will have.  It’s probably of most interest to Pastors, seminarians and professors of religion.   If you are interested in purchasing this book, you may use the link below:

How to Bear Fruit

“Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me, and I in him,  he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:4-5

Jesus is speaking to the disciples here, and his words are clear.  To be fruitful, they must abide, or remain in Him.  He compares the Christian life to a vine which will wither and die if it is separated from the root.  The fruit of the spirit flows from a life that is rooted in Christ.  The disciples could not do it on their own, and neither can we.

How do we stay connected to Christ?  It’s simple.

  • Stay in His word.  Read it daily.  Study it.  Memorize it.  Think about it.  Respond to it.
  • Stay in prayer.  Prayer is our lifeline, our personal connection to Him.  Pray first, last and always.  Pray to ask, and pray to listen.
  • Stay with His people.  Go to church.  Offer hospitality.  Encourage one another.  Love one another.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”  John 15:8

Interactive Bible Study-Hebrews Chapter 13

Here is Michele’s take on the last chapter of Hebrews.  Have you enjoyed reading along with her? 

In this, the final chapter, we are told how to live our lives as the disciples of Christ.  By loving one another, being hospitable to strangers, staying true in marriage, and so forth.  Exclaim the message of Jesus on your lips often.  Do good works in His name, with no desire for recognition.  Do not allow yourself to be swayed by false teachings, require all  told to you to be from God’s word.

In conclusion, I have found the book of Hebrews to be a blueprint for how things were before Jesus, and how we should live now under the new covenant.

Thank you for your patience and I hope I have given you some insight into this book.