The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review

I received a copy of a devotional by this author,The Insanity of Sacrifice by Nik Ripken , — Book Review and I enjoyed it so much that I checked his earlier book, The Insanity of God, out of the local library.

In this spiritual autobiography (one of my favorite genres), you’ll learn Nik’s full story, and it’s fascinating.  In response to God’s call, Nik travels from his home in Kentucky, to seminary, then with his wife, Ruth to Africa and eventually to Russia, the Ukraine, China and more.  He takes the direction of the Great Commission in Matthew seriously, and maintains it is for all Christians.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

In Somaliland he deals with discouragement.  After years of relief work, providing food and medical care to starving people, he still feels he has failed in taking the gospel to this largely Muslim country, because very few converts were made.  He even questions whether he should be trying to convert people who will then suffer, be persecuted and possibly die for their faith.

This leads him to a study of persecuted Christians around the world, and what keeps them going.  He finds that in many places, Christians expect persecution.  Being imprisoned for the faith is normal.  Becoming mature in the faith requires suffering, and a willingness to sacrifice for God and others.

You’ll find this to be a challenging read.  It made me ask myself hard questions, and look at my Christian life in a different way.  According to Ripken, the miracles and signs of the church described in the book of Acts are still going on around the world.  I certainly recommend it.  Five stars!

The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs–Book Review

This book review was written for our Fanning the Flame team by one of our members, Barbara G.  I have edited it a bit to make it shorter for the blog.

The author of this book truly loves the Lord and is trying to convey to the reader what we, as people who love Jesus, should do with our lives.

This book is divided into sections.  The first stresses the mission of the world.  That mission is Christ’s Great Commission that he gave to his disciples before his ascension.  The Great Commission is for the whole church of Christ and not just the apostles.  Jesus said there were four horizons for the apostles to spread God’s word.  The first was Jerusalem.  The Jerusalem for the church should be the town in which we live, work and raise our families.  What are you and your church doing to draw people to Jesus in your Jerusalem?  The second horizon is Judea.  This is our country.  We send our ministers to all parts of the U.S.A. to spread the word of God as Jesus commanded.  Is your church  doing their part in your Jerusalem?  The third horizon is Samaria.  These are people in our community who are different from us.  There is a lot of hostility in our country today and that is why we must preach the word of God to everyone in our community.  Is your church building bridges in your community to those who are red, yellow, black and white?  The fourth horizon is the Ends of the Earth.  Is your church sending missionaries to countries all around the world to reach those who know nothing about Jesus Christ?  Barr says the last horizon is the original, literal Jerusalem and Judea.  God is not forgetting the people of Israel.  They are God’s olive tree into which we are grafted, if we are Gentiles.

In the next section the kindness and perseverance of God are explained.  God doesn’t give up on us. Our personal history is part of God’s plan. Someday we will meet someone we can introduce to God, and then we will see clearer God’s plan for our own life.  In this section, he gave his testimony and explained the barriers we face when we decide that we want to evangelize to the world.

In the final section, he reveals how we must respect all those with whom we share God’s word, and explains how Jesus did it.  We must learn about the beliefs of other people so that we can see how and why they live the way they do.  We must use much kindness, love and understanding as we clarify God’s good news to those we try to reach.  Lastly he explains how Paul denounced the Greek’s confidence in rhetorical skills, rather than in truths.  Paul said, give God’s truth in your quest to win souls for Christ and God’s truth will be the words that convince their hearts.  Clever words are not necessary.