Showing posts in 'Book Reviews'

Respectable Sins: Confronting the sins we tolerate

Richard John | March 21st 2012

“Respectable what? Respectable sins?” exclaims the worried-looking customer on our church bookstall, which I run. It’s fun to watch their bemused reaction when they spot this book!

As the sub-title indicates, Respectable Sins is about tackling the sins we tolerate - the ‘subtle’ sins which, as Jerry points out, we in reality consider ‘refined’ or ‘acceptable’. What honest Christian doesn’t sometimes convince himself a certain sin is ‘OK’?

Jerry has had a long, valuable ministry among students and in the community, and what he writes is relevant to all Christians. He is one of my favourite authors and his books have stood the test of time. His first book, ‘The Pursuit of Holiness” (1978), has sold over one million copies. You are always spiritually the better for reading one of his books.

In the first five chapters, Jerry looks at how the concept of sin is disappearing, it’s awful power, the remedy for sin, and the Holy Spirit’s power to combat it. There is then a helpful chapter with guidance on dealing with specific sins, followed by the core of the book, fourteen chapters examining in turn individual sins that we tend to consider ‘acceptable’. Finally, there is a practical chapter - Where do we go from here?

The core chapters cover some of the more obvious ‘respectable’ sins - e.g. pride, selfishness and anger, but also sins that we often rationalize as ‘OK’ - e.g. frustration, envy, lack of self-control, irritability and ingratitude. The style is easy to read, but the content is challenging and thought-provoking. I found that every single core chapter exposed my hidden sinfulness and made me wince. There is a great balance between the ‘negative’ and the ‘positive’. Assured that God no longer counts our sin against us, and extremely thankful for that, as Jerry says, ‘This twofold effect of encouragement and gratitude together produces in us a desire to deal with our sin’.

Respectable Sins is a book that can be used in many ways. I have recommended it at church; our Ladies’ Reading Group are currently reading it together and using it one-to one; and it could also form the basis for a sermon series, midweek prayer meetings and home group studies.

If we are serious about seeking to be more Christlike personally and towards others, then this book’s wise, biblical, practical and positive teaching is an excellent aid. It’s a book that you won’t regret reading.

Richard John,
Bookstall manager, Selhurst Evangelical Church (FIEC), S.E.London

A Meal with Jesus

Andy Kinnaird | December 1st 2011

Tim Chester recently released, A Meal With Jesus. The Good Book Blog interviews Andy Kinnaird to see what he thinks about this latest book from IVP...

There's no doubting that Christians like their food, there are acres of it at every church event! But why do we need a book about it?

We need to be reminded how important it is to eat together. Not just occasional meals with close friends but the fact it is important to develop a culture of being regularly hospitable. More importantly we need to see how Jesus used meals to bring people to himself.

What’s so special about sharing a meal?

Eating together is a relational experience. There’s something about a relaxed meal that enables people to be themselves. That deepens our relationships with each other. And when we know each other better we can then serve the each other’s practical and spiritual needs in a much greater way.

So, eating together is both a faith-deepening and a mission-enhancing activity? Can you explain more of what Tim Chester says about that?

Tim takes six meal-based passages from Luke’s gospel and shows us how grace, community and mission are tied up in the simple task of eating meals together. He takes clear steps in each chapter to show how the simple act of a meal paves way for the gospel to be seen, in both the way life is lived and what is said. The clearest presentation of this is in the fifth chapter of the book where he takes us to the Lord’s Supper. Here we are shown how Jesus takes a meal and powerfully roots the reason for his mission in every day life.

That sounds quite deep! Is the book a difficult read?

Not at all! It’s one of those books that it is more difficult to put down than it is to read! One of Tim’s great strengths is his ability to take passages and bring them alive in a clear, accessible way. His passion for people and sharing the gospel through everyday life is incredibly infectious.

What impact do you think it would have on the church if we all took this call to hospitality more seriously?

Acts 2 clearly shows the early church’s commitment to being community. They were keen to serve each other with what they had and break bread together to show their unity in Christ. If this becomes our heart, then the church will be a far more open place with no-one at the margins because we’d be including each other in our lives. The church would also be far less individuality, reflecting more of the Bible and less the culture around us.

So are you up for being part of that change? ... I know of one person who completely rearranged their living room as a result of reading this book! What practical difference has it made to your life and ministry?

I’m definitely up for being part of that change. I’m trying to see myself as less of an individual and more as part of a community of believers. I have a heart to involve people in the meals I enjoy, especially people who I don’t know as well or who don’t feel part of the community yet. So now, on a Sunday, my wife and I try to cook more than we will need with the intention of inviting people from church. I see that as the start of being relational with brothers and sisters I don’t yet know.

If you’re interested in reading this excellent book too … check back later for a great blog deal!


First review of Love Wins

Tom Beard | March 9th 2011

Tim Challies has just posted the first actual book review of Rob Bell's controversial Love Wins.

He concludes: If Love Wins accurately represents Bell’s views on heaven and hell (at least if our understanding of the book accurately represents his views on heaven and hell), it reveals him as a proponent of a kind of Christian Universalism.

Thorough review. Worth clicking though.


Book Review: Ephesians Good Book Guide

Tom Beard | January 12th 2011

Every now and then we come across a review of one of our resources which explains it far better than we do! Matt Smethurst's review of our Ephesians Good Book Guide on the Gospel Coalition site is a case in point. Really helpful as an overview of the series as well as the Ephesians guide itself.’s-big-plan-for-christ’s-new-people/


Book Review: The Archer and the Arrow

Tom Beard | January 10th 2011

John Richardson has just put up an extensive book review of the follow-up book to The Trellis and the Vine, The Archer and the Arrow.

"If you are new to preaching, or even if you have been preaching for some time, you will undoubtedly come away the better for having read it."

Full review here

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