Books We Are Reading 

Have you ever wondered what books our pastors and elders 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.


We are created by God as worshipers of His glory. Due to the fall, we struggle to worship appropriately. This means that we are created worshipers, but due to spiritual death or theological misgivings we can inappropriately direct our worship to things other than God. In the introduction to the book Tripp says “Our hearts are always captured by something—that’s how God made us. But sin threatens to distract us from the glory of our Creator. All too often, we stand in awe of everything but God. Uncovering the lies we believe about all the earthly things that promise us peace, life, and contentment, Paul Tripp redirects our gaze to God’s awe-inducing glory—showing how such a vision has the potential to impact our every thought, word, and deed.”
This is such a common problem. Tripp identifies the problem and then gives the reader a clear challenge to focus their worship daily on our great God. The absence of awe is a sad state for the Christian, the family, and the church. I think this book is an important read for all of us. I hope it will bless you as it has me. (Rob Love)
You can find this book here.

The Holiness of God

“The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God.”

R.C. Sproul


This statement from R.C. Sproul’s book entitled The Holiness of God, was written 25 years ago, but still aptly describes the condition of evangelicalism today. Sproul asserts that the majority reader “salutes the holiness of God and protests loudly that it believes in God’s sovereignty, [but] still entertains delusions about our ability to incline ourselves to God, to make ‘decisions’ to be born again.” Thumbing through the pages of this book will leave a person in the deep end of thought, treading over hard questions, and forcing the reader to tear the veil of inaccurate perspectives to see God for who He is: Holy.


As Sproul comments, “The task that is given to mankind in creation is to bear witness to the holiness of God, to be His image bearer. We are made to mirror and reflect the holiness of God. We are made to be His ambassadors.” If you have an interest in setting aside a superficial understanding of who you are, and who God is, consider picking up The Holiness of God, a book that has graced Christian bookshelves for the last 2 1/2 decades. No matter your stage in life, today you can more accurately reflect God’s holiness by his grace and become His ambassador to the world. (Ben Graham)
Click here to find this book.

Never Enough

For many years, Ron Blue has been helping Christians get their finances in order and to live a Kingdom-focused life. In this book, he and his daughter, Karen Guess, lay out a simple framework for managing finances.

They begin by pointing out how money and life are tied together and just as importantly, God and money are linked:

  1. His wisdom applies to your money.
  2. His work in your heart is tied to your financial struggles and victories.
  3. His Word applies to every part of your life, including money.
  4. His “why” can inform your “how,” transforming your money story.

We all have a pie–a pool of money–to start with. We begin with our income and savings no matter how great or small, and then there is our debt, and spending habits. While all of our “pies” are of differing sizes, the principles of management are the same. That is why it seems strange that we might know one person with very little who is very content and one with great wealth who never seems to have enough. Each of us is  going to be more like one of these two and the question is are we living content or always running short.

The book weaves very practical advice with some great stories to connect with the reader and helps us divide that pie into inequal pieces, the largest being live and the others falling into place based on this one.

The pieces are:

  • Live: Spend less than you can because every success in your financial life depends upon this habit.
  • Give: Give generously because giving breaks the power of money.
  • Owe Debt: Avoid debt because debt always mortgages the future.
  • Owe Taxes: Pay taxes with gratitude because they indicate God’s provision.
  • Grow: Set long-term goals because there is always a trade-off between short-term and long-term.

Simple steps are laid out–small, but incrementally more powerful–that enable one to grow into a Kingdom-focused life no matter where they are beginning. The reading is interesting, and the teaching is very helpful. I am by no means one who can say I’ve always had my life together financially and Kingdom-focused, but this book provides great help for anyone–even me–to live contently with a Kingdom-focused life. (Mike Fischer)


I received a free copy of this book from BH Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review here.
You can find it here.

How To Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus

In my opinion, the sense of smell is one of the most powerful of our five basic human senses.  Even the smallest scent can transport the mind back in time, flooding a person with emotional memories of past joy and even sorrow. But have you also noticed that you can often tell where a person has been just by their aroma?  Subway is one of those restaurants where you can’t help but walk away with their signature smell.  After leaving, we become a walking advertisement for Subway’s fresh bread until the smell slowly fades away.  Sometimes this is annoying, especially when you’re around a Subway-hater. 

But when you’ve bumped into an elder, have you taken note of their aroma?  Has the scent given you a glimpse into where they’ve been?  In Jeramie Rinne’s book, Church Elders:  How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus, he writes:  “The shepherd (elder) is among the sheep.  He’s not off somewhere else.  He is walking in the midst of the animals, touching them and speaking to them.  He knows them because he lives with them.  As a result, he even smells like sheep.”

Whether you are an elder, an aspiring elder, or among the sheep, this book is for you.  Consider cracking open the cover of this book to explore practical guidance for elders and insight that helps church members better understand and support their spiritual leaders.  IBC has recently experienced change in church polity and with any change comes confusion.  May the fog of confusion lift as you page through Rinne’s biblical commentary on the topic of church elders. (Reviewed by Ben Graham)
For more information or to purchase, 

Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor

Are we able to show and demonstrate Christian love to a neighbor who is gay? How do we or should we respond to a friend who has told us she is a lesbian. Glen T. Stanton helps the reader understand these issues better through his own experiences. As director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family, Stanton would most likely be seen as anti-gay. He regularly debates LGBT advocates and has unwavering Biblical understanding of these issues. But regardless of these truths, Stanton is known as one who cares for and truly loves those who have opposing views from his own.

He brought the noted author, journalist, and gay rights advocate, Jonathan Rauch, to Focus on the Family Headquarters to address the staff and dialogue together.  Stanton stresses the importance of relationship and dialogue. Homosexuality and LGBT issues are increasingly mainstream in our society. Stanton stresses that the Bible calls each generation to understand the peculiarities of its culture in order to better serve it. As the church trips and stumbles in our new culture, it is more and more important to understand one another. Stanton says we need to “step out of the safe, neat Christian boxes” and cultivate relationships with those who are LGBT. He challenges us to build relationships and friendships solely for that purpose. While we should always be willing to share the Gospel, these relationships are not simply for that, but to understand and relate together as fellow humans.

In the book, he shows that the stereotypes we see of the LGBT community harm them much like the stereotypes of the Christian community are an unfair representative of us as a whole. He challenges us to move in from extremes, stereotypes, and preconceptions, and embrace relationship and friendships despite our differing  viewpoints.

I appreciated the chapter where he discusses human sexuality. His beliefs are Biblical and are undoubtedly at odds with the LGBT movement, but he frames this by highlighting other sins addressed equally in the Bible—lying, arrogance, pride, and scoffing—and challenges us as Evangelicals to not elevate one sin as more sinful than another. He stresses that the universal desire for intimacy is the root of sexual sin. He reminds us that all people are created in God’s image and have “equal dignity and value.”

I also appreciated his discussion regarding some tough questions we deal with as society such as public restrooms, relating to friends or family who are gay, and whether or not we should attend a gay marriage when invited. These are situations most of us will encounter at one time or another in the next few years.

The bottom line is simple: Treat all people with love and grace. We don’t have to compromise our Biblical values and beliefs, but our responses and relationships must be built on these two things: grace and truth. (Reviewed by Pastor Mike)

For more information or to purchase, click here.
I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishing in exchange for my honest review here. (Mike Fischer)

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. (Reviewed by Pastor Mike)
For more information or to purchase,
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. (Reviewed by Pastor Mike)

For more information or to purchase, click here.


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. (Reviewed by Pastor Mike)
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
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. (Reviewed by Clint Steinke)
Find it on