christian theology

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jim Cymbala

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By Jim Cymbala

Looking for a book to read one day, on Christianbook.com, I happened to see Spirit Rising was on special. I thought: “Oh neat, a book on the Holy Spirit. I’ve always wanted to learn more about that.” (since in most Christian circles the talk is usually about Jesus or God, but not on the Holy Spirit.) I ordered it, because I wanted to learn more on a subject I admit I’m not as experienced in as I probably should be. When I received this book, I thought an endorsement from Francis Chan was especially interesting so I began reading Jim Cymbala’s book.

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit is a book, which as you probably are able to imagine it is, about the Holy Spirit. Jim opens the book on expressing a thought which I expressed earlier in this review: various Christian circles neither understand nor talk enough about the role of The Holy Spirit and that needs to change. The meat of the focus for Mr. Cymbala’s book is The Holy Spirit, his church in Brooklyn, and testimonies from a few of his own parishioners. Does Jim speak of The Holy Spirit in a heretical way? And how insightful is Mr. Cymbala’s book concerning The Holy Spirit? Spirit Rising does a good job getting started on helping a Christian become more in tune with The Holy Spirit, but it is a light dusting of the surface readers are craving.

I am glad Mr. Cymbala did not promote anything heretical within his book, because the very phrase: “Tapping into the power of The Holy Spirit” is a risky phrase some might misinterpret as a piece of lingo from the heretical Immergant Church movement. I also appreciate the testimonies his parishioners gave for Spirit Rising, because some are very inspiring to read. My favorite testimony to read was concerning the woman immigrant from Latin America; though at times sad the ending is encouraging. Though these things are good, I also felt there could have been more to this book, because there were some unanswered questions… The book seems primarily focused more on trying to convince you into agreeing The Holy Spirit is a neglected teaching and ought to be further pursued through the example of his church in New York, rather THAN actually teaching you things about The Holy Spirit itself… Though I learned some things while reading Mr. Cymbala’s book, I was a little disappointed that time was more spent on talking about Brooklyn Tabernacle than The Holy Spirit itself…

Book Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Top Ten Most Influential Christians by Ken Lambert and Abby Matske

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Back in January I had a radio interview with Ken Lambert about figures within Christian history. The overall agreement within this interview was simply “Christians need to know their history and some of the people within it better“. Part of this thought comes from the statistical fact in which many say they dislike studying history; though I think math’s still considered the worst. Although this is in regard to general history, it is arguable many Christians don’t even know much about some of the figures who had affected their present spiritual lives. Because of this fact, Ken Lambert and others cowrote and published this book.

Top Ten Most Influential Christians isn’t a personal commentary about who should be on the top 10 list, but rather looks at the result of a recent Christian based survey. This book examines the results of the survey, gives a historical examination on who those people were, and some of what they said and did too. It’s not that people don’t know who they are, but rather they don’t know enough about them. Because of this, Ken Lambert and others give/source historical information regarding various figures within Christian history who made an impact; though not all of them necessarily in a positive light.

Because I admittedly don’t know as much about certain figures within Christian history as I should, I found this book very helpful. For obvious reasons I can’t reveal who all the figures were within the book, but one section I really liked a lot was in regard to John Wycliffe. I knew a bit about him, but I found the analysis of who he was as well as certain things he said and did to be very inspirational and fascinating; I am grateful he was one of the people who fought to give me a personal Bible. I was also surprised to learn of certain figures I hadn’t even heard of who had made a positive impact on present day Christian life. Despite personal opinions one might have about certain theological beliefs as well as the various denominations some may be associated within, I felt this book did a good job of not sounding bias and I think this a very positive quality. The only thing I wish this book was better about is simply for it to have been a bit longer so I could have learned even more. 🙂 Based on what I’ve read, I cannot help but believe Top Ten Most Influential Christians is a good, introductory look at various figures within Christian history; especially for those who are beginners.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

p.s. Be sure to check out Ken Lambert’s blog, which is sourced in the second paragraph for more information about the book as well as the project itself. And for purchase, click on the photo in the upper left. Also be sure to never forget the most influential Christian of all… Jesus Christ! Happy Resurrection Day!

The Gospel for Real Life by Dr. Jerry Bridges

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by Dr. Jerry Bridges

Technically this is the third book I’ve read from Dr. Jerry Bridges. Based on the two previous books I read, I feel he is a very good author who is underappreciated within Christian circles. I really enjoyed reading The Discipline of Grace, especially and with the theme of that book I wondered what differences this book would have from his other books? Well after reading this book I have to say there are certainly some similarities of the two, but there are a few extra features. If you don’t know what I mean, I guess the best way to describe Dr. Bridges’ writing style is that with each book he tries to tie in previous books while introducing something new at the same time.

Like The Discipline of Grace, Dr. Bridges’ The Gospel For Real Life has the gospel centered as a chunk of its theme, only this seemed to be a book less complicated in theological discussion as well as having the basic gospel message as being the primary theme for this rather than being complimentary like in The Discipline of Grace. Now this book specifically goes over most of what an outsider of the faith or someone who is new to Christianity, should or ought to know. I feel this is a very good book which at times has a bit of humor, but is quite theologically educational and isn’t too long of a read. There is also a study guide included in this edition and I think this would be helpful for those who like to have Bible Study discussions; especially if you decide to lend this to an outsider of the faith. I highly recommend this book to anyone including someone who is not a Christian.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: Ben Umnus was given a free copy of this book by NavPress Publishers, but he was neither paid for his review nor was he commanded by NavPress Publishers to write a positive review. This review is the personal, written opinion of Ben Umnus.  This disclaimer is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”