Books We Are Reading

 
Have you ever wondered what books the pastors and staff at IBC are reading? Do you ever feel you don’t know where to begin when looking for a good book to read? Here are some that have moved and challenged us. Occasionally, we’ll include a video that has been meaningful to us as well.

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

David Murray’s book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture came at a good time for me. The past year has been very challenging: The loss of my spouse due to brain tumor and cancer, serving as caregiver for my aging mother, and her stroke and passing. It is situations like these that we cannot avoid and that can overwhelm us that catch us when we are pushing things “to the limit” in the first place.

 

This book is written specifically for men—specifically pastors and other Christian leaders, but the information shared is applicable to anyone. The author and his wife are planning a second volume specifically for women, although the author welcomes women to not wait for this second volume which will address things very specific to them, but to feel free to use this book for now as most of what is shared will be applicable to them too.
 

Murray ran into a health crisis when he was in his forties due to stress and overwork. God led him to rediscover God’s mercy and slow down establishing “patterns and rhythms that will help [the reader] live a grace-paced life.”

He uses the analogy of automobile repair bays. As you enter each “bay” you are walked through steps to not only repair and restore the immediate symptoms, but to take steps to live life in a way that you can remain healthy. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding the fact that one of the first steps immediately after “reality check” and “review” is “rest.” In fact, of the ten “repair bays” virtually all of them force the reader to slow down as they do things such as review, rest, relax, rethink, and reduce. Murray repeatedly uses the phrase “grace-paced” throughout the book. This is in such contrast to the ordinary me-driven burnout speed our culture tends to live in. Slowing down and allowing God’s Word to rejuvenate and recharge us will certainly help us to avoid the downward spiral of burnout that is so common around us and in which many of us (myself included) are in danger.

I recommend this book to everyone. In this burnout culture, virtually all of us need a tune-up of our lives. Hopefully, crisis won’t be interrupting your life anytime soon, but preparing ahead and tuning up your life to live grace-paced now will help you through the inevitable “bumps in the road” the future brings.
 
For more information or to purchase, click here.
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I received a free copy of this book from Crossway Publishing in exchange for my honest review here.  (Mike Fischer)


The Curious Christian

Would you say you are a curious person? For some, curiosity is a characteristic they wear proudly and openly and they constantly ask questions. Who? Why? What? Why? Where? Why? When? Why? How? Why? The questions and the “Why?” keeps coming. Others wear their curiosity more secretly. Sometimes, we might call them the “learners.” They are constantly reading, and looking for sources. They live and breathe “Google” and their bookshelves, Kindles, and search history lists show clearly the wide diversity of subjects in which they are curious. Then, there are some who suppress their curiosity. Perhaps, someone once challenged their natural curiosity as resisting absolute truth or authority, and so they learned to stop asking questions for fear that wasn’t what Christians should do. Still others would say that the questions like these keep us from getting things done. They would say that curiosity is a distraction from productivity.

Barnabas Piper challenges the reader to rediscover their curiosity. To rediscover simple wonder. He describes the traits of the truly curious:

  1. Curiosity is loving – It explores the depths of our unworthiness, God’s love and grace.
  2. Curiosity is humble – It sees its own limitations and the bigness of God and the world.
  3. Curiosity is caring – It has a genuine interest in others as image bearers of God.
  4. Curiosity asks and wonders because it yearns to know.
  5. Curiosity listens because it genuinely values what others say.
  6. Curiosity watches and observes loved ones, cultures, news, art…
  7. Curiosity is tenacious – It seeks to really hear and understand and see.
  8. Curiosity solves and finds brokenness and problems as opportunities for change.
  9. Curiosity hopes – Curiosity rests in the hope of God’s faithfulness.
 

Albert Einstein counseled in 1955, “The important thing is not to stop questions…Never lose holy curiosity.” Piper provides practical steps to encourage curiosity in one’s Christian life and to discover and rediscover the wonder of God’s perfect and sovereign plan.

This book is a great challenge for me to keep asking questions in my own life, to keep learning subjects of diverse interest, and to never stop seeking the wonder of grace.

For more information or to purchase, click here.

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I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishing in exchange for my honest review here.  (Mike Fischer)



A Martyr’s Grace

I would guess that anyone reading this will go through this day without even the thought that God might be calling them to be a martyr. D.L. Moody was once asked if he had the grace to be a martyr. He answered that he did not, but if God wanted him to be one, He would give him a martyr’s grace. 
 
When I think of martyrs, it is easier to think of martyrs from long, long ago, but there are those that are willing to give it all for God’s glory and mission today as well. This book looks at 21 Moody Bible Institute alumni who gave their lives for Christ. MBI’s legacy spans 130 years, so there are some from the past–the first shared is from 1898–but also some from the present. The book begins with the story of Bonnie Penner Witherall who lost her life in Christ’s service in 2002. 
 
The book provides stories of inspiring lives and challenges us what it really means in Philippians 1:21 when it says “To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” Critics may ask the question, “Why this waste?” as they read these stories. As the book shows the reader, the only answer to that question is one short word–GRACE. Their life goal was to share the grace of the Savior Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and at any cost. God gave them the grace to be this message-bearer even when the cost was their own lives. 
 
It was good for me to read this book, because even though our Christian walk may have difficult times, most of us could never imagine the trials these individuals experienced and how through God’s grace they gave their lives in His service for His glory. Even younger readers would be moved and inspired by the stories in this book. For more information or to purchase,
click here.  (Mike Fischer)
 


The Good of Giving Up

Did you grow up in a church that recognized the season of Lent? Every year, the season of Lent comes and goes and as Baptists, we simply disregard the season in its entirety. Many of us view it as ritualistic and extra-Biblical, even a works-based religious act, so therefore something we shouldn’t do. Author Aaron Damiani shared these views until he made the intriguing discovery that Lent can be something incredibly good–something that can be a great benefit to prepare our hearts for the worship and celebration of Easter. Rather than simply focusing on the personal sacrifice of giving up food, drink or some other thing we love, Damiani shows us that the true focus of Lent is our need for Christ. As we “give up” in Christ, we recognize our need for Him and that is what Easter is all about: A loving God glorified through His son paying a ransom we could never pay. Damiani first presents a case for Lent and provides a perspective through an Evangelical lens. Then, he carefully and thoroughly guides the reader through an experience of Lent that keeps Christ center and glorified. “Giving up” can be done any time of year, and is not limited to a period of time leading to Easter, but the forty days leading to Easter is a wonderful time to experience it. I encourage any believer to learn about this powerful opportunity to grow closer in relationship with their Savior as they read, learn about and experience Lent with Aaron Damiani’s guidance in The Good of Giving Up.
 
The forty days leading to Easter begins this Wednesday (2/29/17). I encourage you to get a copy of this book to enhance your own preparation for a celebration of Easter. The Kindle version can be found
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I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishing in exchange for my honest review here.  (Mike Fischer)


Crazy Busy

I (Clint) walked into Pastor Rob’s office for a meeting one day and was asked how things were going.  My response was ‘crazy busy.’  Rob immediately introduced me to this book as a response to being busy.  Frankly, I am extremely happy he did because this was a very interesting book to go through, and the best part about the book is that it is only 118 pages.  What was most beneficial for me regarding the book was the realization that Jesus was busy, but His busyness was the correct busyness in working on kingdom work.  We get caught up in adding these new fads, and trends that try to provide an easier lifestyle as well as correct our issues but instead add to our busy lifestyles.  The book challenges our faithfulness to God and making him the priority.  What we have to understand is that there is a difference between busyness and productiveness, as well as questioning whether our productivity is yoked in Christ or in this world.
 
Find it on Amazon!


George Verwer Video — George for Real

There is a great movie out about one of the missionaries we support. God has used George Verwer in great ways as a founder of the missionary organization Operation Mobilization and this movie takes you on a journey with George and you get to hear his story of triumph, personal failure, success, and discouragement and how through God’s grace George continues to carry on his mission to bring the Gospel around the world.
 
While you can watch this trailer for free, The full hour-long movie is a video rental and you can learn more about renting or purchasing the video here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/georgeforreal for instant streaming playback and download.


Radical – David Platt

radical
The book’s subtitle states: “taking back your faith in the American Dream.” How often do we get caught up in our lives and forget about the last time we invested in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Unfortunately what we think of the gospel message at times becomes an American version of the gospel itself. Platt challenges us to go back to the basics of what God desires from us in a simple command, GO.
Radical provides tangible ways for us to refocus our mindset towards evangelism and live the Gospel in Truth. As the book concludes, there is a great summary of what Platt explains throughout the book: “Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism.
 
Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.” The book finishes with providing a one year plan of action for us all to consider how we can change this current American Dream mindset and instead bring back the true faith found in Jesus Christ alone. (Reviewed by Clint Steinke)
 
You can purchase a copy of this one in our church lobby or download it on Amazon by
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Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper

dont-waste-your-life

When I (Rob) was a younger pastor this book was used to speak to what I was feeling about my own life but could not put into words. I remember sitting at the dining room table and not being able to put it down. The Bible warns us that the only things that are going to last into our eternal life are those things done for Christ (Mt 6:19-21). If we believe this, how will it affect our choices, our budgets, or vocations? One imagery in the book that struck me as I read was the alarming condition of young men who are pressured to waste their lives. In his book, Piper shares the account of a young man who was just seventeen when he snuck into the European theater during WWII and found himself on the beach at Normandy. Here is a young man who sneaks himself into the conflicts of war in order to invest himself in the greater cause. We can contrast this with the current temptation within ourselves to shrink back from great responsibility and opportunity. In the end we can see that the danger of wasting our life is present at every turn.
In addition to being a great book (especially for young men who are rising to the occasion of God’s names sake) it’s also free. Just follow this link and download the e-book.    http://www.desiringgod.org/books/dont-waste-your-life  (Reviewed by Pastor Rob)


The Explicit Gospel – Matt Chandler

explicit-gospel
There might be no more frequently used word in the Christian church right now that the word “gospel.” Honestly, it might mean different things depending on who’s using the word. Most often in our circles people mean the invitation to accept Christ. Matt Chandler, the Pastor of Village Church near Dallas, does a great job explaining that the gospel “is not the response to the gospel (pg 82).” The gospel is explicit however. It is not something we can subtly hint at or something we can tailor for certain individual responses. If you believe that “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16) than this might be a good book for you. (Reviewed by Pastor Rob)
 
Find it on Amazon
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Sticky Church – Larry Osborne

sticky-church
This summer, as we read and studied small group programs in the process of retooling and re-visioning our own small group ministry at IBC, this book was inspiring and encouraging. It clearly presents the strengths and benefit of uniting small groups together as sermon-based small groups. As a small group leader, you will find this book provides many good ideas and encouragement as we grow into our own sermon-based small group ministry. As a congregation member, this book can help you understand the benefits and goals of sermon-based small groups. If you’re in a small group, you’ll be encouraged, and if you are not in a group, I’m certain you’ll find yourself wanting to find a small group.  (Reviewed by Pastor Mike)
 
Check it out on Amazon.