Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus
Jared C. Wilson (Crossway)
The gospel is about saving individual sinners. You hear the message of Christ's atoning death and resurrection, you believe it, and you get to spend eternity in heaven. Sounds great! But is there anything else to the story? More, says pastor Jared Wilson, than we could ever imagine. "[T]he gospel of Jesus Christ," he writes, "is big. Like, really big. Ginormous, if you will. And deep. Deep and rich." In this follow-up to 2011's Gospel Wakefulness, Wilson plumbs the depths of our gospel's ginormousness, revealing something far grander than a one-time transaction between sinner and Savior. Not only does he address our tendency to diminish, through individualistic notions of salvation, the cosmic dimensions of God's redemptive plan; perhaps more importantly, Wilson reminds us of the gospel's continuing relevance in the lives of believers. It's not something we move beyond or "graduate from" once we've heard it and believed it. Like the author's MacBook Pro computer, there are "functions" of which we are entirely unaware, and layers upon layers of mystery to explore.
The Life of the Body: Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation
Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold (IVP)
I love to exercise. I also love eating foods (in immoderate quantities, alas) that negate the benefits of that exercise! Clearly, this split-personality disorder has implications for my health and outward appearance. And anecdotally, at least, I've often sensed a connection between my physical condition and intellectual sharpness. Until encountering The Life of the Body, however, I hadn't really pondered the spiritual impact of oscillating between workout warrior one moment and glutton the next. Rejecting the body-soul dualism to which Christians have often succumbed, authors Valerie Hess and Lane Arnold reflect on the many ways fitness, nutrition, and other aspects of bodily care can aid or impede a relationship with God.
Pursued: God's Divine Obsession with You
Jud Wilhite (FaithWords)
One reason people resist Christianity is that they suspect God, having kept a meticulous record of their wrongs, just wants to punish them. Even committed Christians can find themselves fleeing God's gracious embrace, fearing they need to continually earn his love through good deeds and the avoidance of sin. Fortunately, says Las Vegas pastor Jud Wilhite, God keeps lovingly pursuing us—even when we reject his advances. God, Wilhite now realizes, "wasn't pursuing me to give me a ticket and send me to jail. He was pursuing me to give me the life I was meant to live." Wilhite takes readers through the Book of Hosea to illustrate how God's steadfast love overcomes even our bitterest betrayals.
Apocalyptic Fever: End-time Prophecies in Modern America
Richard G. Kyle (Cascade Books)
If you're like me, you don't get all hyped up on doomsday stuff. You like to congratulate yourself for keeping your senses when some kook starts sounding off about the looming end of the world. You scoffed with everyone else in 2011 when Harold Camping made his ill-fated forecasts of apocalypse. You made facetious quips about slacking off at work last year, on account of the Mayan calendar's speculations. But for all this self-styled sobriety, contemporary America retains its stubborn fascination with end-times scenarios. In Apocalyptic Fever, Richard Kyle shows how surprisingly widespread this mindset has become. "Americans," he writes, "have a tremendous appetite for prophecy, more than nearly any other people in the modern world." It's not just Protestant fundamentalism scratching the eschatological itch, says Kyle, but a veritable "hodgepodge" of denominations and movements. And don't forget secular strains of the apocalyptic virus, typically focusing on such fears as overpopulation and global warming. Of course, it's worth remembering that, like many wrongheaded passions, end-times zealotry isn't so much wrong as misplaced. After all, there really will come a Judgment Day, even if we'll never learn the exact date from the un climate change panel or Camping.
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