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An Infographic about Evangelism (credit goes to Randy Newman)

In his book Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, Randy Newman got me thinking about evangelism in a new way. I tried putting it into an infographic; let me know if it’s helpful.

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What does “Gospel-Centered” Mean?

I thought this article at the Resurgence did a great job of summarizing gospel-centered theology. To me, it’s the most comprehensive, all-encompassing, Bible-beautifying way to center a life on Christ. Gospel-centered theology was the first thing that captured my heart with the intellectual depth of the Christian life.

Anyways, this is just a quick post to shout out the article!

How does the gospel change everything?

For the past few months, I’ve mostly been stumped when trying to articulate what I mean by this claim: the gospel changes everything. In my head and heart, there is no better or more comprehensive way to describe why the Jesus makes so much sense to me and why living with Him energizes and motivates me.

I first heard this claim while a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, but they certainly didn’t coin it. However, in a newsletter article titled ” Covenant Renewal and Redeemer’s DNA,” Tim Keller does a good job of getting me closer to understanding what it means for the gospel to change everything.

Book Review: Get Outta My Face, by Rick Horne

  • Shepherd Press
  • 192 pp.
  • January 2009

As a high school English and World History teacher, Rick Horne’s Get Outta My Face: How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel is a welcome book. Horne has every right in the world to write a book based on his own authority–a doctorate from Westminster East, 30 years of counseling teens, five adult children–yet this is a book based on the Bible’s authority alone.

Horne begins by defining the problem beneath every teen’s problem–that their desires and actions are corrupted by sin. He helps readers see that beneath all behavioral issues are heart issues, and he stresses the importance of identifying those issues. Yet, at the same time, these teens are made in the image of God, which means that beneath their corrupted actions are “wise wants.” And so, Horne begins Get Outta My Face by calling would-be counseling to humility–in the teen, we see our same sin-corrupted yet image-bearing selves.

The rest of the book is about opening a bridge of communication with your teen, pointing out the natural consequences of his/her actions, affirming the wise wants beneath your teens actions, and creating small, manageable steps toward changes that your teen wants. If you’ve worked with a disgruntled teen before, then you know how valuable some guidance on doing these things might be!

And finally, Horne points us toward the only true change-maker in the world: the cross. By building bridges to our teens, we can show them how the gospel changes everything in our lives.

Buy it at Amazon. (For the sake of transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I do receive a tiny percentage of any purchases made through the link.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: What is the Gospel?, by Greg Gilbert

  • Crossway
  • March 2010
  • 128 pp.

The gospel, thankfully, is being made much of these days–just look at my review list, with titles like Gospel Transformation, Gospel-Powered Parenting, The Gospel for Real Life, Bringing the Gospel Home… and, if you look at my tags, “the gospel” is the #1 most-used. And indeed, this is as it should be. After all, the gospel–Greek for “good news”–is what the Bible is all about.

But the tricky thing with words is that so many of them mean one thing to one person and much different thing to another. Take, for example, the word “Israel.” Depending on who you’re talking to and what you’re conversing about, Israel can mean a modern nation state in the Middle East, a nation of people who left Egypt and settled in Canaan, the Patriarch Jacob–and much more! Obviously, being clear on the definitions for key words in any conversation is one way to ensure successful communication.

And so, with many different authors and groups and churches talking about the 2000-year old gospel, Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel is a welcome little book. C. J. Mahaney’s blurb sums up the need for Gilbert’s book quite well: “Two realities make this a critically important book: the centrality of the gospel in all generations and the confusion about the gospel in our own generation.”

Gilbert uses various apostolic descriptions of “the good news” and breaks it down like this: God, Man, Christ, Response. In greater length, he says that the gospel answers the following questions:

  1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable? (God the Righteous Creator)
  2. What is our problem? In other words, are we in trouble and why? (Man the Sinner)
  3. What is God’s solution to that problem? How has he acted to save us from it? (Jesus Christ the Savior)
  4. How do I–myself, right here, right now–how do I come to be included in that salvation? What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else? (Faith and Repentance)
After expounding on each of these points, Gilbert explores what the gospel brings us into–the Kingdom–and what cheapens the gospel–that is, what takes the cross from the center.
Very appropriately, the cross is the center of Gilbert’s book. In the penultimate chapter, he stresses how making the gospel relevant to people should never go so far as to remove the cross from the center of the message. A man who claimed to be God died on a cross–that is the center of the good news; it is the solution to the great divide that man’s sin built between him and the Creator. And the proof of that being the solution is that the God-man rose from the dead victoriously.
This small book is great.

Buy it at Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Gospel Transformation (Second Edition), by World Harvest Mission

Recommended. The best study on how the gospel changes all of life that I’ve come across to date.

If you’re like me, you believe that, somehow, the good news of God’s love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ–that is, the gospel–changes absolutely everything about our lives on this planet. From the way we approach our work to the way we love our families to the inner workings of our hearts and minds: the gospel changes it all.

But then, if you’re really like me, what that practically looks like each day can be a bit challenging to figure out. If only there was a rich resource that we could work through each day to prompt our hearts and minds to slowly chew and digest the nourishing facets of God’s good news.

That’s why Gospel Transformation has been rocking my world since I received it from New Growth Press. Each of the thirty-six lessons in the course is rich with the practical implications of the gospel. As I’ve worked through the lessons, I’ve been amazed how, day after day, I’m given so much material for contemplation and application that I need to allot a week or more to each lesson.

In GT, I daily find new ways of thinking about the age-old things most precious to the Christian–the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and this news’ implications for all of life.

The 36 lessons of GT are divided into six units, and, to give you an idea of the topics covered, I’ll include the lesson titles as well (I’m having trouble getting the formatting to work correctly, so bear with me):

  • Unit 1: Introducing the gospel
    • God’s story–your story
    • Broken world, broken lives
    • Our need for the gospel
    • A new reputation
    • A new family
    • Sinners in the hands of a loving God
  • Unit 2: Enemies of the gospel
    • Idolatry
    • Self-centeredness
    • The flesh: lust
    • The flesh: anger
    • Satan and the World
    • False repentance
  • Unit 3: Believing the gospel
    • Living by faith
    • United with Christ
    • Believing God and his promises
    • Living in light of the cross
    • Who am I: “saint” or “sinner”?
    • Barriers to believing
  • Unit 4: The power of the gospel
    • Genuine repentance
    • Repentance and transformation
    • The power of the Spirit
    • The desires of the Spirit
    • Life in the Spirit
    • Grieving the Spirit
  • Unit 5: The fruit of the gospel
    • Love: the expression of faith
    • Fruit of the Spirit
    • Imitating Christ
    • Prayer of the heart
    • The goal of sanctification
    • A new community is born
  • Unit 6: The gospel in relationships
    • The wrong use of laws
    • The gospel is for others
    • Incarnation
    • Forgiveness and compassion
    • Honesty versus judging
    • Barriers to love

Another positive aspect of GT is that it is a flexible resource. It’s ideal for group study but can also fruitfully serve as a personal devotional guide. I used it in the latter capacity while preparing for this review, and I feel like my daily times with God are richer than they have been in a long while.

Two recommendations that I would make in using GT are, first, to use the comprehensive leader’s notes in the back to enrich your understanding of some of the tough questions asked in the lessons, and, second, to take the time to actually look up and read the Scripture references used throughout both the lessons and the leaders notes.

Special thanks to Suzy Knapp for pointing me towards this incredible resource — I pray many will hear about it through this review and be changed by it!

Buy it at New Growth Press.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

On Charging Money for Sermons

I recently had a conversation with a friend who thought it wrong that Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City (Tim Keller’s church) charges for sermons. I have several thoughts on this:

  • First of all, I agree with “Robbie” who left a comment to a blog post once, saying, “The reason that Redeemer charges money for the sermons is that every year 1/3 of the congregation leaves due to starting a family or job. Many people are new Christians who do not believe in tithing, if they do it is very little. So the “profits” from sermon recordings go to the gospel ministry.” If someone were to visit Redeemer this weekend, they would find a church that meets in rented spaces and uses a music stand for a pastor’s podium and whose preachers use a corded microphone on a microphone stand (gasp) to amplify their voices. When the sermon mp3s begin by saying, “The net proceeds of the sales of Redeemer recordings are used to support the ministries of Redeemer Presbyterian Church,” they’re not kidding.
  • Second, why do we gladly spend $5 on a healthy meal but begrudge $2.50 for a sermon that will be food for us emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and relationally?
  • Third, as part of their 20-year birthday, Redeemer released 150 free sermons that thoroughly communicate the “DNA” of Redeemer’s message. It’s a categorized, tagged resource that allows people to get manifold looks at the gospel.
I know many will quote Matthew 10:8 here, saying, “Freely we have received the gospel, so we should freely spread it via free sermon audio.” Be careful of context in such Scripture use!
What do you think? Leave a comment.