Current Reads

I’m currently digging into a few new books, compliments of the best Christmas present ever, an shiny new Amazon Kindle 2:

Once I’ve finished them off (and hopefully provide some reflections on this rather stale blog), I’m planning on heading into:

I’d love any and all thoughts you have on any of these books…drop me a comment!

adoption books

Book Review | Adopted for Life

The third book I had the opportunity to read through was Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell Moore.

As a short synopsis, Moore paints the theological foundations of adoption in the first portion of the book, asking the church and Christians to consider our calling to serve and minister to orphans.  The latter half of the book focuses on specifics of adoption, including the challenges of the adoption process and engaging the church after you have adopted.  He uses his personal testimony of adopting two boys from Russia as the narrative thread of the book, providing personal insight into a variety of topics.

In his own words, Moore aims to:

In this book I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption–whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt–can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregation.

Below is the table of contents:

  1. Adoption, Jesus, and You: Why You Should Read This Book, Especially If You Don’t Want to
  2. Are They Brothers? What Some Rude Questions about Adoption Taught Me about the Gospel of Christ
  3. Joseph of Nazareth vs. Planned Parenthood: What’s at Stake When We Talk about Adoption
  4. Don’t You Want Your Own Kids? How to Know If You—or Someone You Love—Should Consider Adoption
  5. Paperwork, Finances, and Other Threats to Personal Sanctification: How to Navigate the Practical Aspects of the Adoption Process
  6. Jim Crow in the Church Nursery: How to Think about Racial Identity, Health Concerns, and Other Uncomfortable Adoption Questions
  7. It Takes a Village to Adopt a Child: How Churches Can Encourage Adoption
  8. Adopted Is a Past-Tense Verb: How Parents, Children, and Friends Can Think about Growing up Adopted
  9. Concluding Thoughts

This book is a worthwhile read for anyone, regardless of your interest in adoption.  It contains a great deal of material associated with the adoption process, and certainly some practical insight into the realities of adoption, but the book goes so much beyond the mechanics of adoption.  Through his excellent presentation of the nature of the family of God, to examining particular individuals in Scripture, Moore did an excellent job of articulating the character of God and the heart of the Gospel through the lens of adoption.  You will be blessed theologically, should you pick up this book, as well as pastorally and practically blessed with respect to adoption.

One of the particularly poignant portions of the book for me was chapter 2: Are They Brothers?.  Moore does an excellent job of working through the issue of our identity as children of God, and the practical outflow for us as a body of Christ.  I loved his articulation that we as believers ought to view the Old Testament as OUR family history, not just a family history, as we are indeed the spiritual children of Abraham.  He also has an excellent section about our relationship to Christ as our brother, which began a series of excellent thoughts for me.  You can read the chapter here.

I thoroughly enjoyed Chapter 3, which is a biblical and historical understanding of how adoption is actually spiritual warfare and battling against the very heart of evil.  He does an excellent job of highlighting the major attacks on defenseless babies throughout the Bible (using the genocide of Pharoah in the time of Moses and the genocide of Herod in the time Jesus as primary examples) and history.  This chapter did more to elevate my view of the spiritual reality of adoption than the rest of the book combined.

The practical sections of the book are useful in that they are a good first-hand account of Moore’s adoption, but they deliberately do not provide much in the order of details for adoption.  If you are looking for a pragmatic book, I’d suggest going elsewhere.

I urge you to pick up this book and read, even if you have no interest in adoption, because you will absolutely be blessed by its depth, and convicted by the call of God to care for the orphan.

books college ministry missions

Buy a Book, Support a Mission


College Students: As you are preparing for you return to campus and your fall classes, inevitably you are going to purchase your textbooks. Makarios, one of our partnering organizations in the Dominican Republic, has set up a site where you can purchase your books through Amazon and they receive a percentage of the proceeds.

Friends: If you have books you’d like to purchase from Amazon, please consider using the link below, as a portion of the proceeds will go to our ministry partners in the Dominican Republic, Makarios.

Books cost exactly the same (new or used) as they would on Amazon, so you can get a great deal on your books and support our friends in the DR!

books church missional theology

Book Review | Total Church


The second book I read over my vacation was Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester.

The overall perspective of the book is applying to the church the two foundational principles of gospel and community.  As a short synopsis, it is an excellent basic theology primer coupled with an application into a decentralized, organic multiplying church movement in theory and practice.  It packs a lot of punch for such a small book!

Here’s the table of contents:

  1. Part 1: Gospel and community in principle
    1. Why gospel?
    2. Why community?
  2. Part 2: Gospel and community in practice
    1. Evangelism
    2. Social involvement
    3. Church planting
    4. World mission
    5. Discipleship and training
    6. Pastoral care
    7. Spirituality
    8. Theology
    9. Apologetics
    10. Children and young people
    11. Success

Total Church was an excellent read from cover to cover, and chock full of material that is very useful for the theology and practice of gospel-centered missional communities.  Below are a few points that I found particularly beneficial from the book.

First, the book is an excellent, balanced correction for the professionalization of ministry and calling for the participatory nature of the body of Christ.  This case is made on several fronts, from developing leaders to planting churches to pastoral care.  Perhaps the best view of this comes in the chapter on pastoral care, and the championing of the community as the best place for counseling, even in some very difficult issues.  They make the basic argument that great damage has been done to the community of believers with the over-prescription of individualistically focused professional counseling.  In removing counseling from gospel community, you are removing elements of accountability, but also relationships which provide the necessary support for enduring through difficulty.

Secondly, I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter on evangelism, and particularly the role of the gospel community as a validation of the truth claims of Scripture.  They do an excellent job (although with somewhat cheesy illustrations) of demonstrating the power of the gospel community in contextualized evangelism, and the many weaknesses of more individualistic methodologies.  Succinctly, they argue that the declaration of the gospel in word makes infinitely more sense as the gospel is demonstrated in the practice of a gospel-centered community.

Timmis and Chester also do an excellent job in the chapter on social involvement of instructing on the supremacy of the gospel word in gospel deed ministry.  In working through issues of justice and mercy, they continually exalt highly the truth of the gospel and champion maintaining the centrality of the gospel word in this kind of ministry.  I think what struck me so much about the chapter is that they do not diminish the importance of either social engagement or gospel proclamation, while calling clearly for both in proper relation to one another.  They simply did not engage the “which one is more important” argument, and the chapter rang refreshing and true.

Finally, the chapter on apologetics contained a very useful synopsis of basic philosophical concepts necessary for presuppositional apologetics, and it applies a gospel lens to answering challenging, but typical questions we often face as believers in the West.  I would highly recommend it if you would like to read a brief introduction to some major apologetic themes that will be immensely helpful (think of it is a very short Reason for God).

I would highly recommend that anyone read this book, as it will be beneficial from a variety of different perspectives.

In a post coming soon, I want to compare some of the concepts in Total Church with those in Vintage Church, as they were certainly interesting to read back to back.

books church theology

Book Review | Vintage Church

Although it wasn’t the first book I read on vacation, I’m going to start with Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.

I have grown to thoroughly appreciate the ministry of Mark Driscoll, and am consistently thankful that he preaches the gospel faithfully to his church, as well as faithfully ministering through the international platform that God has given him.  This book is the result of his biblical study of ecclesiology and the 10 years of practice in “doing” church at Mars Hill, in response his experience that so many practitioners of church he was surrounded by had very little biblical basis/knowledge of what they were doing.

The book is broken into chapters by a series of questions posed about the nature of the church, from which you can understand the gist of what Driscoll and Breshears are teaching:

  1. Preface
  2. What Is the Christian Life?
  3. What Is a Christian Church?
  4. Who Is Supposed to Lead a Church?
  5. Why Is Preaching Important?
  6. What Are Baptism and Communion?
  7. How Can a Church Be Unified?
  8. What Is Church Discipline?
  9. How Is Love Expressed in a Church?
  10. What Is a Missional Church?
  11. What Is a Multi-Campus Church?
  12. How Can a Church Utilize Technology?
  13. How Could the Church Help Transform the World?
  14. Appendix: Sample Church Membership Covenant

The book is essentially a reformed baptist understanding of the mature church (the right preaching of the Word of God, the practice of the ordinances/sacraments of communion and baptism, and the exercise of church discipline under qualified leadership – elders and deacons) applied to our immediate context of American Evangelical Christianity.  Toward this end, the book is an excellent synopsis of the theological positions which Mars Hill church has adopted (as well as The Austin Stone, my home church).  It is far from comprehensive, however, and if you desire a robust reasoning and biblical defense for the positions, or a historical understanding of the development of these doctrines, you will be left wanting.

There were three particularly helpful sections in the book for me to read.  The first, on a practical note, is talking through the concept of first among equals in eldership, and that effective leadership from an elder team requires recognizing unique giftedness of individual elders and the practical leadership within a team of equals.  They do an excellent job of fleshing out the nature of positional leadership as an elder, and the varying degrees of influence as an elder, and how the dynamic interplay of positional leadership and influence can easily be skewed in one direction or another.  Their model of eldership does a great job of balancing both ideas, and maintaining room for leadership within a peer team.

Secondly, I am tremendously thankful for the practical insight into the development of multicampus church, and their honest presentation of what has and has not worked for Mars Hill.  As our body continues to move toward multisite, the chapter within this book will be immensely helpful as we think through leadership structures, technology, and where/when we extend into new campuses.  If you are a multicampus church, believe God is moving you toward multicampus, or are simply interested in the practicality of multicampus, then I suggest you read this chapter.

Thirdly, chapters 7, 8, and 9 on unity, discipline and love are an excellent discourse on the essential nature of the body of believers, and the biblical perspective of the local church as a body.  I am thankful that they spent as much time working through these issues as they did, because so often the focus on ecclesiological discussions drive toward leadership, government, and sacramental theology.  These three chapters together provide a pastoral and practical understanding for everyone in the church as to how the body should function biblically and practically to display Christ’s magnificence to the world around them.

On a final note, I continue to be thankful that everything Driscoll writes includes the Gospel and Christ’s atoning death on the cross.  He never fails to hold high this central truth, keeping it rightly at the center of all applied doctrine.  He very much understands that what becomes assumed often becomes forgotten, and it is always encouraging he doesn’t assume the Gospel.

Has anyone else read the book?  Care to share your thoughts?