Book Review: Unstuck by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross

To-do lists and Bible studies abound, but Unstuck is different.  The authors first make a convincing case, based on quantitative and qualitative research, that engaging with the Bible regularly has significant benefits for followers of Christ.  The authors studied a variety of factors that affected spiritual growth and fostered spiritual maturity among Christians.  The key factor was this: Christians who interact with God through the Bible at least four times per week reaped significant spiritual benefits.  Benefits included resistance to temptation, power to overcome past trauma, and joy in the journey of life.

Unstuck explores why we become “stuck,” i.e. stalled or stale in our walk with God.  The book then leads the believer to a living, two-way relationship with God.  The vehicle for this relationship is Scripture—letting it get into us, speak to our lives and change us.  Unstuck advocates for Bible reading with the expectation that God will show up!

This book is designed for individual study and is also suitable for use in a small group setting.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House for review.



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New in the Library: Viral by Leonard Sweet

Leonard Sweet has written this book to help the body of Christ minister to today’s culture.  He dubs this culture TGIF: Twitter, Google, iphone, Facebook.  The two groups of Christians he addresses are the Gutenbergers and the Googlers, the word-based Christians and the relationship-based Christians.

Gutenbergers, named for the inventor of the printing press, value the written Word of God.  Over the past several centuries they have expanded global missions, translated the Bible so that diverse peoples can read the Word for themselves, created an impressive array of church programs, and given humanity big ideas like religious toleration, the rule of law and freedom of speech. They tend to value individual effort and the accomplishment of goals.  Their methods were amazingly effective in many ways for the culture that preceded the recent revolution in communication technologies.

Googlers, named for the dominant search engine on the internet, value relationships.  In many ways, Googlers seek to reestablish the human relationships that formed the backbone of pre-industrial societies—and to accomplish it using cutting-edge technologies.  Like neighbors over picket fences, they read each other’s tweets and status updates.  They are lost if their phone battery dies and they lose connection with their network of friends.  While Gutenbergers fear that Googlers’ relationships are shallow, many Googlers would counter that they interact with their family and friends more regularly than a workaholic Gutenberger.  Through blogs, tweets and social networking profiles, Googlers can create a network of influence and relationships that can lead to opportunities to advance the Kingdom.

If the church is to reach a lost world, it must reach the world as it is, not as it was.  Gutenbergers like myself need to learn the culture and learn to value human relationships over church programs, people over policies.  Working together, Googlers can help the Gutenbergers enjoy relational evangelism (the kind Jesus did) and avoid nasty legalism.  Gutenbergers can learn the language of the new culture while maintaining their rightfully high regard for the Word of God and helping Googlers achieve depth as well as breadth in their lives.

I highly recommend this book for bookish curmudgeons and iphone addicts alike.

I reviewed a free digital version of this book provided by Waterbrook-Multnomah.

Kimberly Schimmel

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New in the Library: To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Calloway

Humorist Phil Calloway accepted a challenge from his editor:  be perfectly honest for an entire year and write about the experience.  The resulting book is profound, hysterical, convicting and just plain fun.

Follow Phil to his class reunion, where everyone confesses to high school pranks now that the statute of limitations is past.  Read his online correspondence with an atheist at Post-Rapture Pet Care.  Listen in as he deals with Mormon missionaries, self-righteous ushers and non-Christian golf buddies.  Phil doesn’t manage to be perfectly honest—he’s human, after all—but everyone can identify with his struggles.

In the course of the year, Phil encounters some very non-humorous situations and asks God some honest questions.  Friends with cancer, his mother’s dementia and a bad investment are just a few of the trials Phil faces during his year of complete honesty.

Along with the humor, the reader is invite to consider just how honest we are with God.  For example, as the congregation sings that they feel like dancing, nobody actually dances.  Read this book and see if you are willing to try the challenge as well.

Review by Kimberly Schimmel, who received this book for free from Multnomah Publishers for this review.

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Book Review: The Jesus Mission by Stephen K. Scott

Book available at Life Community Church, Wendover Campus

This book provides an outline of Jesus’ incredible mission to Earth.  His mission was planned before the foundations of the Earth and implemented to perfection.  Learn about the 27 missions Jesus completed and the 4 missions Jesus gave to His followers.

Scott searched Scripture and found 11 primary missions:  missions that tell us why Jesus came.  They include: to testify about the truth and to do His Father’s will.  The 16 tactical or supporting missions include: to perfectly fulfill the law, to heal the blind and to raise Himself from the dead.  Jesus’ mission could only be performed by Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  If he failed, we all would die in our sins.  Reading about these missions will overwhelm you with gratitude toward the God who initiated these missions on your behalf.

I especially liked Part 3, which Scott begins by stating, “You can’t follow Jesus if you are not sure about who He is.” Scott then has a word for our world today: Jesus was not a socialist (or Santa Claus or anything else we decide we’d like him to be.)  He cites the parable of the vineyard owner (Matt. 20:1-15,) the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) and the story of the servant in Luke 17:7-10.  Jesus will not accept the labels we place on Him to fit our own agendas.  He knows His mission and He knows our mission.  We need to be doing our part of the Jesus mission instead of twisting Jesus into an image we find more to our liking.  In light of all He accomplished for us, how can we refuse the mission He has given us?

Review by Kimberly Schimmel

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book free from the publisher for review.

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