"Worship is man's full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again." A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Empty Promises by Pete Wilson

After reading Pete Wilson's first book, Plan B (review here), two years ago, I was excited to hear about his brand new book, Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You're Believing. On the back cover Pete writes this, "We all long for more of something in our lives. In our endless pursuit to feel worth and acceptance we find ourselves sacrificing everything for the promise to be a little more beautiful, a little richer, a little more powerful and successful, a little more loved." Pete brings up a topic that is very real and relevant right now and that is dealing with idolatry. The truth is, it's been an issue for a very long time as the Israelites struggled with it when Moses was up on the mountain with God getting the 10 commandments. For the purpose of this book, Pete defines idolatry like this: "Idolatry is when I look to something that does not have God's power to give me what only God has the power and authority to give." We all have a longing and a yearning for something that God put into our DNA when he created us. We are a people that are created to worship. As Pete writes, "The question isn't 'Do we worship?' The question is 'Who (or what) do we worship?'" Pete presents and talks through various different idols we get caught up in. He is truly a pastor in that he wants to shepherd those that pick up this book. He is open and candid in his own struggles. I really appreciate that as it helps me to connect to what I'm reading. It causes me to open up and look into my own life. Towards the beginning of each chapter, Pete will have questions for us to ask ourselves to begin to explore whether these issues are a problem or not. I can say that I struggle more than I would have admitted prior to reading this book. I've read other books along the same lines as this one, but I feel that Pete does a great job helping us to not only understand these idols, but how to fight them and get out from underneath them. The last three chapters of this book are critical to our understanding of how to beat our idols. The biggest thing is that we've replaced God with other things and those other things will never satisfy in the way that only God can. We need to stay connected to the Truth. I finish with a quote from Pete Wilson,
"Simply identifying our idols and wanting to replace them probably won't lead to any kind of personal transformation. What we really need is a way to experience God daily so we can continually break through the self-deception and realize just how lifeless and empty our idols are."
We are who or what we worship, and worshiping anyone or anything other than God will leave us empty. We must be on guard regarding these empty promises that will never be carried out, are worthless, and meaningless. As it's written on the back of the cover, we must discover the joy and freedom that comes with seeking after God with your whole life. Learn how to replace, and not just relinquish, life's empty promises by turning your focus and worship toward Him. It is the only thing that will set you absolutely free from the endless pursuit of everything else.

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookSneeze for providing this complimentary book to read and review. You can purchase the book here on

Monday, May 28, 2012

Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard

Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard, I believe, is going to be one of those books that revolutionize men and their marriages and I'm praying that would be the case for mine. Justin writes this in the beginning of the book, "Marriages can be jumpstarted; the sacred union between a husband and a wife can receive new life and power. Everything can be made new. It's harder and easier than you think. Men, it starts with you. You and I and the men we know want something more. What you really want is a marriage that feels like a mission, a marriage that's moving forward toward something exciting, mysterious, and grand―kind of like the way dating felt." Justin asks for us to think back to our first date; "What was your first date with your wife like? Where were you? What did you do? What did you talk about? What did you learn? What were you feeling? What was she wearing? How did your date happen in the first place?" He then goes on to say, "What's your story? My assumption is that all of our first date stories have one thing in common: we acted like men. We pursued our wives-to-be. We made the move. We initiated. We took a risk. We took the lead." For some reason, we as men and husbands have seemed to forget about all that as soon as we say "I do." We viewed getting married as the mission and once we said "I do." it was as if we had arrived and didn't need to worry about all the stuff we did while we were dating. However, as quoted earlier we want a marriage that feels like a mission. I soon as we get married, the mission hasn't ended, it's really just begun. Justin reminds us that we as husbands need to date our wives.

He breaks the book up into four parts; the good, the bad, the new, and the perfect. Marriage is good. God created for two people to share. Justin shares that the first time a man looked at a woman, Adam and Eve, marriage happened. Adam and Eve didn't invent marriage, God did. Then there's some bad news for husbands out there; we are the problem with our marriage. We have failed at the job gave us through Adam, to cultivate and guard our wife. We begin to have a religious mindset in our marriage, that it's all about our performance and that will be good enough. And we failed to keep on pursuing our wife. We did so well at it while we were dating, but we believe that the mission ended when we got married. That's the bad news. However there is good news. Justin says that "If you want to change a marriage, change the man." Where marriages go wrong is with the husband; that's the bad news. However, where marriages go right is also with the husband; that's the good news. The difference is instead of trying to do everything in our own power, we draw our power from God. We are given a responsibility, but we have to have the right power source to carry it out. Justin uses this quote from another guy, "Responsibility: My response to His ability." It's a lot to do with identity. We as men are always trying to find ways to measure our success, but becoming new is because of our response to the gospel. We now can rest in the fact the true measure of a man is from God says about him. It boils down to an idolatry problem, but we can now beat that by focusing on the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Through the power of the gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ we can have a new future. The last chapter brings everything full circle and links us back to the job God gave Adam in the garden and that is to cultivate our wife, to help her flourish in her relationship with Christ. Justin calls us to look at the end, "until death do us part," when she will become truly perfect, her future glory-self. Justin writes this about the structure of the book,
"This book has followed a four-fold structure: the good, the bad, the new, and the perfect. This is the four-fold storyline of the Bible and of our marriages. Things start out good. Relationships are in tact, secure, and exciting. Then things go bad. We sin, we screw up, we hurt, and we get hurt. We cry out for help. Then God hears, and God shows up. Grace happens. Jesus comes to us, forgives us, and makes things new. And, eventually, everything becomes perfect."
Another part of this book I really appreciate is that Justin's wife, Taylor, writes a small section at the end of the book specifically for wives. This is a book that I think every husband and engaged man needs to read.

Special thanks to Crossway for providing this complimentary book to read and review. You can purchase the book here on

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The gospel is central to what we believe as Christians and recently there have been a lot of books published related to this topic of the gospel or gospel-centered __________. You wouldn't think that these books would be necessary, but I believe they are because at least for me after reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, I realize that I still have a long way to go to really understanding what the gospel is and how to communicate it. Before I get to far into this, if you're like me, I had to look up the word explicit as I wanted to get an accurate definition of that word; 1) fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied, 2) clearly developed or formulated, 3) described or shown in realistic detail. It's amazing to me how adding one specifically selected adjective can completely enhance the understanding of the word it's describing. Chandler writes this about the book,
"Even if you go to church, it doesn't mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn't there―at least not in its specificity and its fullness."
That was, and is, me. I grew up in the church all my life, but I know I had this idea that I had to do all these things to earn God's love. It's so easy to get caught up in the dos and don'ts, that we so easily forget that the cross says, "Done!" As Chandler expresses in this book, the gospel is more than the message of Christ dying for our sins and being raised from the dead so that we can be saved and set free from sin and death, but that it's also God's message of the restoration of all things from creation till He comes back again. Chandler uses two metaphors for this throughout the book, 1) the gospel on the ground, which focuses on the power of grace in our personal lives, and 2) the gospel in the air, which is a "tour de force story of creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation―a grand display display of God's glory in his overarching purposes of subjecting all things to the supremacy of Christ." Chandler stresses that we need a balance of both of these views to completely understand the gospel. He finishes the book by giving us warnings and things to watch out for should we focus on one or the other of these positions too much, dealing with moralism (the idea that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior), and the message of the cross. This is one of those books that will not stay of the shelf, but one that will be read again and again as I continue to learn and grow in the gospel. I would encourage everyone to read this book. I end with this that Chandler wrote,
"Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!"

Special thanks to Crossway for providing this complimentary book to read and review. You can purchase the book here on

Thursday, May 3, 2012

1000 Days by Jonathan Falwell

1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ by Jonathan Falwell gives us a concise look at Jesus' three years, roughly 1000 days, of public ministry. He brings the accounts and stories of the four Gospels into one book. Falwell's pastoral nature comes out in his writing as it's not just information, but he also adds application. This book comes across like it could be, and maybe it has been, a 15-week sermon series. As the book progresses through each chapter we encounter a different aspect of Christ's ministry. It's not a difficult book to read and it's not one that has some sort of new astounding idea. These are not bad things though. I think so often we get caught up in the new, out-of-the-box, creative ideas to share a message that we forget about the basic, stripped-down message. If you've been a Christian or in church for a while, most likely you've heard sermons on these same topics, but it's nice to have a collection of these messages all from the same person. I also love the heart of Falwell as he shares personal stories that illustrate points so well. I also appreciate how Falwell incorporates word studies throughout the book. He brings things back to the original Greek and gives us definitions. I was really captivated in the chapter about Christ's messages from the cross. So many time I've heard Christ's words, "It is finished." and know what the message is behind it, but seeing what the word finished means gives new meaning and depth to this message. Falwell writes that the word finished, tetelestai, means "a past completed action that has continual and enduring results." "It is finished" is a message that spans the test of time and still has the same power now that it did then. This book is one that shows us how Christ lived and then challenges us to live like He did. Early in the book we see how Jesus called His disciples, and I think it leaves us with the perfect question to ask ourselves, "Their [the 12 disciples'] response to Jesus' call was to forsake everything and follow Him. What will be your response?" What will your response be? What will my response be? As we gain more insight and understanding of how Christ lived during his three years of public ministry, will we follow Him and live like He did.

This book also contains a lot of study tools. At the end of each chapter there are questions to be used for personal reflection or small group discussion. Falwell also includes a Bible study guide at the end of the book.

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookSneeze for providing this complimentary book to read and review. You can purchase the book here on