Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What are the questions being asked by churches in the face of rapid global urbanization? Why are we seeing an emphasis and a focus toward urban ministry? Is our view of cities simplistic? Will the urban generation rise up to the challenge of spreading the gospel in the cities? Will our proclamation of King Jesus serve to unite Christians? This well-written thoroughly Biblical book provides the answers to these questions and more. It highlights God’s special love for cities. It espouses that a new generation of Christians who are passionate about seeing the kingdom of God everywhere will take root and flourish. They will thrive in some of the darkest, yet most strategic places on earth. This book is divided into four parts: 1) Foundations of City Understanding, 2) God’s Heart for the City – How Cities Change, 3) Issues in City Living – Learning to Thrive in the City, and 4) Strategic Principles and Actions – Reaching the City. This book inspires the reader to be part of what God is doing in cities. It covers a wide spectrum of topics ranging from ambition and sex to ethnicity and children. All these are added together with Biblical insight and 21st century relevance. In this Gospel-centered book, Dennis combines the faithful exposition of central Biblical texts with wise pastoral guidance. His goal is to help people who love, work, serve and worship in urban communities to honor God’s redeeming purposes for the city. Is our view of the city simplistic? Is it overly positive or overly negative? Dennis helps us answer these questions with clear Biblical discussions and straightforward applications. This will encourage us to have Godly aspirations and zeal for the Gospel. In Christ + City, he calls the church not to an Exodus (out of the city) but to a Gospel -driven Eisodus (back into the city). His years of experience, knowledge of the modern city, and the writings of urban philosophers allows him to give us a book that is radically Biblical, prophetic, and visionary. This book contains the essential strategy for world evangelization as an answer to the cry of global urban Christians. They desire a radical, Gospel-centered Christianity to spread from city to city and to unreached areas beyond. Highly recommended.

The Prayer God Longs For

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What is the proper way to pray? What should I do when it seems God does not answer my prayers? How can I be sure I am praying according to God’s will? Must I persistently pray until my prayer is answered? What is the prayer God longs for? The breath of spiritual life is prayer (p. 10). Prayer is vital if we desire to have a personal relationship with God because it is the best way to communicate with God. The specific prayer God wants to hear us pray is the prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). White provides an analytical look at the world’s most famous prayer by taking it line by line, and consider the meaning behind it. He explains to us why we address our prayer to God (“Our Father”) and not to a triune Being, Lord Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit. Yet, he emphasizes that prayer is still deeply Trinitarian in nature, we pray to God the Father in Heaven in the name of the Son and through the Holy Spirit. He explains why our prayers to God should have similar structure or format. What should we pray for? We have been directed to pray for our past (forgiveness), our present (bread), and our future (temptation and evil). He answers questions that are often in our mind. White considers the Lord’s Prayer as presented in two movements: first, the focus on God himself – His name, kingdom, character and will. The second movement focuses on our needs: daily sustenance, forgiveness, and deliverance. Why do we pray for our daily needs and spiritual sustenance when God already knows we have those needs? When we pray for our daily bread, we are coming to God to say that we be given today the insight and patience we need, the sensitivity and commitment for our relationships, the money, knowledge and strength we need in the spirit of daily dependence, not demand. We are encouraged to pray to God when we have problems overwhelming us, face pressures that seem insurmountable, or too busy to pray. He reminds us never to forget to pray to Abba who longs to give the desires of our heart, according to God’s will. Allow the Lord’s Prayer to guide your conversation with God. Read it also as a meditation on prayer. White reminds us that when we confess and pray for forgiveness of our sins (God, forgive me for all my sins), we are confessing specific sins by identifying them and seeking forgiveness for them. There must be true repentance when we seek forgiveness of our sins. This book does not say anything about whether we should stand, sit, kneel or lie down when we pray; it does not mention the best time or day to pray, much less a direction to face. Jesus does not care what we should wear. Read the book and find out other questions about prayer, which White adequately answered using scriptures. Highly recommended.

Through The Eyes Of A Lion

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Why does God allow suffering? Are tragedies and other life’s challenges inevitable part of our journey in life? Are we supposed to find meaning in tragedy and rationalize why it happened to us? Why should the godly people suffer more than anyone else? Where is God when we really need Him? Her parents called her Lenya Lion with her ferocious personality and thick, long hair like a lion. Her unexpected death five days before Christmas after an asthma attack devastated her parents. Her father, Pastor Levi Lusko, wrote this book to teach us how to look beyond the grief, how to hurt with hope, and look at the things we cannot see but will last forever. It is an amazing testimony on faith, hope and love, and how to live each day with hope because Jesus rose again. It was both a painful and cathartic experience for Levi to write about love, life, death, and God. Their faith strengthened the family, drawing them closer during the painful time after her death. The insights he gained from this tragedy will both inspire and challenge you. Ask Jesus to turn off the dark (sins) in your heart and be transformed from the inside out. The book talks about the way he handled his trials. His journey to set up a church in Montana was against the advice of his friends but he felt he would be disobedient to God if he did not preach the gospel there. Looking back, it was easy to see the fingerprints of God as He unfolded his plan to bless him and the Fresh Life Church. By seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, his church is blessed a thousand fold (Mt 6:33). This book changes old acronyms to something else for believers. For example, “Rest in Peace” or RIP over a grave takes a new meaning as “Raised in Power”. This book is not only for those who have lost a loved one but for all who have suffered some loss and are now walking without God beside them. It is also for those who feel truly happy and fulfilled in their lives to prepare them for the inevitable challenges that will come their way. Highly recommended.

Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Are you willing to suffer and live for Jesus? Would you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Are you experiencing frustration in your faith? Is your life centered on following Jesus and nothing else? Are you on fire for Jesus? Muslim converts in Africa, Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries have answered “Yes” to these questions knowing the cost to themselves and their loved ones: persecution, torture and sometimes death. They deemed it an honor to have been chosen by the Lord to spread His Word. This book relates true stories of survivors who underwent tremendous suffering for their desire and willingness to spread the Word. They endured the unendurable by clinging to Christ in the midst of their brutal persecution. Every miracle, every answered prayer, every miraculous escape, each torture session and (for some) painful death was an everyday reality for them as new Christians. Yet, they persevered and shared the gospel joyfully and prayerfully with those who had no hope within the Muslim faith. They chose faith over survival in spite of the terrifying circumstances. Persecuted believers see Jesus Christ reaching down to the hurting, the desperate, the forgotten, and all those who suffered. Jesus is also reaching down to us when we are affected by the pervasive evil in the world and when there are attacks on Christians online or in print media. Killing believers has not stopped people from believing the Gospel. Rather, killing believers has emboldened them in their walk with the Lord, accelerating the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. May our faith in Jesus in the free world be as strong as these persecuted believers.

Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member & Contributor

Surveys show more people claimed to be believers than those who attend church regularly. Believers who find the worship services boring and indifferent raised a few questions: Is church really necessary for a believing Christian? Isn’t it enough to read the Bible and know Jesus more? What can I get from church? Philip Yancey’s book centers on this blunt and simple question: Why bother with church? He relates his reflections and experiences on his Christian pilgrimage away from and back to church. He left the fundamentalist church in Georgia because he disagreed with the sermons and felt the church kept him away from Christ by its strict rules. His exposure to the broader world led to his disenchantment with the church. He only returned to church when he began concentrating on his own spirituality and accepted the church family with its imperfections. Yancey urges us to look up, look around, look outward, and look inward to gain a new perspective: see church instead of merely tolerating it. He learned to love the church, which made it easier for him to return. Yancey provides a biblical overview of the purpose of the Church today and why we should be involved in it. He confessed that when he abandoned church, he suffered. His faith began to fade and he became unlovable. Church has filled in me a need that could not be met in any other way (p. 23). This paved the way for a renewed love for God’s church by seeing its true purpose: Christianity is not a purely intellectual, internal faith. It can only be lived in a community (p.23). There are many lessons to learn in this book. Rather than going to church services wondering how they will minister to us, we should go to services to worship God. We should ask ourselves, “How did God view my worship?” rather than the self-centered, “I did not get anything out of that church service.” It is often said that the church is the community of believers. Scott Peck believes that peace would come more naturally if the leaders of hostile states first learn to live in a community, and then work on resolving their conflicts. It is not the other way around: get together and hammer out the peace agreement, and then learn to try and live in peace. The church is a place where people around you are different – socially, financially, professionally, and in preferred worship styles. Thus, on the surface, we have little in common. However, our common commitment to Jesus Christ transcends our differences, giving us much in common. Highly recommended for personal reading as well as group discussions.

Healing for Damaged Emotions

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member & Contributor

Is there anyone not damaged somehow by past events or perceived wrongs in their life? Seamands provides insights on damaging emotions, among them depression, low self-esteem, perfectionism, anger, and resentment. He dispels the myth that damaged emotions only happen to those who are not true Christians by providing biblical proofs that men of faith Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Jonah ((Jonah:3), and Jesus Christ (Matt 26:38) were also depressed. We are urged to share our deepest needs by answering the question, “What is it in your life that keeps you from doing your best for Jesus Christ?” Our answer will help us understand where we need healing and recovering or reconstructing our self-esteem and understand the difference between “the real me” and the “super me”. Damaged emotions are scars that affect our relationships with others, how we view ourselves, and the way we look at life, God, and others. Dr. Seamands deals specifically with the special care and prayers necessary for damaged emotions and unhealed memories. Biblical principles with scriptures lead us to a place of healing and hope through the Holy Spirit. By studying God’s word in context, with the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, we are able to nurture a personal relationship with God. We place our hope in God to help us overcome our struggles. This informative, practical book shares how to move from being crippled by emotions to experiencing wholeness. It is suitable whether you are the hurting person or walking alongside someone who is deeply hurting. The hurting person needs somebody who sees and understand his pain and hurt; the one walking alongside understands the pain and is sensitive to the damaging emotions the hurting person is going through. All of us are damaged in one way or another, some more severely than others. This book helps us receive healing and in turn, helps us in healing others. Thank God for the trial in your life and place your hope in Him. He is faithful and his mercy is new every morning (Lam 3:22-24).