Recent Books

Here are a couple of books I have recently finished. I hope this is helpful.

Plastic Jesus: Exposing the Hollowness of Comfortable Christianity
Eric Sandras

This (164) pager reads real easy; I actually felt like I was reading an extended devotional. Sandras brings up some great points on how easy it is for those of the CHRISTian faith to get caught in a system of doing rather than experiencing the ultimate love of our Lord.

There were several interesting points I made sure to highlight. I appreciated his description of God's prodigal nature:
"prodigal: One who extends money extravagantly, viciously, or without necessity; one that is profuse or lavish in any expenditure; a waster; a spendthrift.

If we apply this definition to the characters in the parable Jesus tells in Luke 15, then the story is not just about a prodigal son (who represents us), it is also a bout a prodigal father (who represents God). God and humanity both are lavish and wasteful. One in a lift-stealing way and God in a life-giving way."
Sandras seems very willing to allow his readers to share in some of his personal struggles; that is a characteristic of an author I always admire (when appropriate). That is actually a topic point later in the book--being willing to share our hurts and failures with others. The story he told of Budapest Frank was pretty affirming (page 91--read it!).

One last comment I underlined was towards the end. Speaking of trying to do the good that God wants us to, he talked about the difference between committing and surrendering (committing yourself to do, or not do, something and surrendering to God and allowing Him to make the change):
"The biggest difference between commitment and surrender is who you put in control: God or yourself. Give up trying to overcome your hurt, addiction, and brokenness. Surrender. It is the only way you will succeed."

I did feel like he went overboard trying to come up with as many illustrations, or quips as he could. Overall, I enjoyed the read and am considering reading his other advertised book Buck-Naked Faith.

Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus
Mark Yaconelli

This book was very reassuring to me. I can't reprint all the yellow marks in my copy. Knowing there are others who believe that youth ministry doesn't have to be all about the over the top programming, and that some of them have shared in many of the great experiences I have as well did me some good. If you are interested in considering what youth ministry is really about then you should have this book (or borrow my copy). The Yaconellis have a great reputation for surfacing real issues in youth ministry.

Getting Students to Show Up: Practical Ideas for Any Outreach Event-from 10 to 10,000
Jonathan McKee

It was worth the $10 to get a few new ideas/perspectives on a couple of things. Easy read that should be beneficial for anyone who has never planned an outreach event for students.

Stay blessed...john

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