Religion

Christ’s Perfect Example of Love

Jesus Love on the Cross

(Photo Credit: CNN)

Christ is the highest expression and embodiment of love.

Suffering the most barbarous and mortifying sacrificial death one can ever witness or imagine—all to proffer an invitation for eternal union and fellowship with Him—Christ loved everyone even before anyone ever loved Him.

Giving those willing to believe in Him and His redemptive work on Calvary’s Cross as the final atonement for all sins, Jesus offers an everlasting love, a love that never leaves, never forsakes, never separates.  

Faithful to us when we’re unfaithful to Him, Jesus loves unconditionally because He is love.

To know love, therefore, is to know Him.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Advertisements

Words of Grace by Scott Patty: A Book Review

Words of Grace by Scott Patty

                                            (Photo Courtesy of LifeWay)

Written prayerfully and from the heart, Words of Grace: A 100-Day Devotional, penned by Scott Patty, pastor of Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee and a graduate of Belmont University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a powerful spiritual devotional that illuminates the most essential message of the Bible: grace. Through the devotional pieces in this book, Patty strives to “open up the meaning, relevance, and application of God’s Word of grace to people” (xi). The author hopes readers “hear God’s Word, see the grace of Christ in it [the Bible], respond to him [Christ] in faith, and come to know him [Christ] personally” (xi).  

As a minister and theologian whose teaching praxis and theology centers on grace, this book is a welcome addition to my library. Each devotional piece begins with one or two scriptural verses, and then Patty starts teaching the reader critical truths and principles based on the verse(s), triggering valuable spiritual reflections and personal calls-to-action. When reading Words of Grace: A 100-Day Devotional, therefore, don’t think you’re about to pick a book that’s not about to challenge you to experience spiritual renewal and transformation. This book has the power to produce a truly new you; a new you in virtually every area of your life.

One of my favorite devotional pieces in the book is “God, the Just and Justifier,” based on Romans 3:21-26, which is arguably “the most important paragraph on salvation in the Bible” (9). This portion of the book is a beautiful (and brief, of course) explanation and reflection on how God’s grace has liberated those who believe His grace is sufficient to forgive and cleanse their sins forever. Patty writes, “As such, when Jesus died on the cross he took our sins to himself, bore the punishment of God against our sin in his body, and thereby freed us from condemnation for our sin. God sent Jesus to be our substitute. This is the definition of grace” (9).    

In short, I highly recommend that you purchase and read this book. As you read this work, you will grow deeper in your comprehension and appreciation of grace. To help facilitate a critical review of Patty’s work, B&H Publishing Group/LifeWay supplied me with a copy of Words of Grace: A 100-Day Devotional.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Say Goodbye to Regret by Bob Santos: A Book Review

Say Goodbye to Regret Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In Say Goodbye to Regret: Discovering the Secret to a Blessed Life, Bob Santos offers readers powerful advice and inspiration to help them liberate themselves from the prison of their past and poor decisions. Emphasizing that making mistakes is a part of what makes us human, Santos advocates for people to use their past and poor decisions as tools for learning and progress. The book is a reminder of the bible’s practical relevance and significance to our everyday lives. For Santos, a stronger investment in God’s Word, reading it, studying it, and meditating on it, yields better decision-making, decision-making informed by the wisdom of the Word.

Say Goodbye to Regret: Discovering the Secret to a Blessed Life aids readers in understanding how aligning their lives, their ways and thoughts with God’s ways and thoughts empowers them to experience victory over regret. A spirit of regret seeks to incarcerate you, dominate you—inevitably enslaving you to the darkness of depression and despondency. To defeat the spirit of regret, Bob Santos recommends accessing and using God’s love to conquer this deflating spirit.

The author asks readers to answer two valuable questions: “Think back to a regretful decision. What factors led to your poor choice? How might you have done things differently?” (p. 29). Too often we fail to think critically about why we made the decisions we did—whether favorable or unfavorable decisions. Without serious reflection on the decisions we make, we will never grow, never advance to the type of humans we long to be. Critical reflection, therefore, is crucial to breaking free from the bondage of regret and the frustrating web of deception that accompanies it.

In short, I highly recommend this book. As a minister and life coach, I deeply understand the the importance of spiritual health. When a person is not well spiritually, it affects every dimension of his or her being. The spirit of regret is so enslaving that it can completely overtake an individual. This work, however, enables a person struggling with regret to comprehend how to employ the Word of God to defeat the vise-grip and stranglehold of regret. The Word of God is always the answer but one needs to know how to use it triumph over the pain regret inflicts and desires to continue to inflict.

To facilitate the penning of this honest review, Book Crash supplied a copy of this work.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Way to God by Dwight L. Moody: A Book Review

The Way to God Dwight L. Moody

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

Dwight L. Moody’s The Way to God offers a strong understanding of God’s agapic love and how that agapic love can transform the lives of all people willing to receive Him into their hearts. Recognizing that Christ is soon to return, Moody challenges people to answer His call to salvation, allowing them to enter into the joy of the Lord. The book primarily centers on several sermons he delivered across England and the United States, although he added more material in this work. His chief desire is for the reader to “be strengthened, established, and settled in the faith of Christ” (vii).

One of the most important elements of the book is Moody’s emphasis on sharing the message of God’s love with everyone, especially with the unsaved. For Moody, those sharing the message of God’s love need to have a deep knowledge and understanding of this love. The author is convinced that the more we help people know and experience God’s love, the many more souls that will be rescued from a burning Hell. Salvation, though, isn’t simply a “fire insurance plan”; it’s about possessing an intimate relationship with God and experiencing a victorious life in Christ.

Moody contends that Christ’s greatest and most vivid example of His love for all is the work He did at Calvary for us: dying on the Cross to give all who believe in and receive Him in their hearts eternal victory over sin. Without Jesus dying on the Cross, humanity faced eternal damnation in Hell. Christ demonstrated His divine love for us by suffering the most brutal beating and death ever at Calvary. Therefore, as the writer asserts, if one longs to see what divine love looks like in public, simply see the Cross and observe our Savior’s blood shed for us “while we were yet sinners.”

The author divulges that when a person receives Christ’s salvation, the Holy Spirit comes into his or her life and aids him or her in living a life that pleases Him, a life empowered to escape the temptations Satan will attempt to present him or her daily. Satan’s agenda is “to steal, kill, and destroy,” but the power of the Holy Spirit working in us enables us to conquer everything Satan tries to throw at us.

This is an important book, especially for unbelievers. I encourage every true believer to purchase at least two copies of this book: one for himself or herself to read and one for an unbeliever to read. Although passing out tracts is okay, we need to modernize our evangelistic efforts; giving a book like this one to a lost soul is a more modern evangelistic effort.

Again, read this book and share a copy with an unbeliever.

I received a copy of this book from Aneko Press to compose this honest review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Wheels of Wisdom by Tim and Debbie Bishop: A Book Review

Wheels of Wisdom Book

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

Although Wheels of Wisdom: Life Lessons for the Restless Spirit masterfully penned by Tim and Debbie Bishop is avowedly not a theological book, the inspiration one gains from reading it will allow him or her to experience the wondrous presence of God. Tim and Debbie Bishop, after remaining single until 52, married one another. For their honeymoon, they embarked on three fascinating bicycle tours across the nation—totaling over 10,000 miles. The valuable lessons they learned about God, life, nature, and humanity (including themselves) are detailed in this work.

Instead of traditional chapters, the authors composed 52 “lessons,” with 3 “personal reflection” questions at the end of each “lesson.” The “personal reflection” questions enable the reader to delve deeper into the ideas engaged by each lesson. At the beginning of each lesson, the writers provide powerful words of inspiration to engender an alluring context. As I was reading the book, I found myself constantly highlighting the beginning inspirational words, and these words offer some of the most rewarding takeaways.

Debbie Bishop offers excellent advice for those needing to discover their vocation or remain committed to their calling. She encourages readers to endure the hardships that will inevitably emerge as they walk in their callings, understanding that these hardships are “part of the process” (p. 9).

One feature of their unconventional—to say the least—honeymoon I appreciate the most is how it exposed to them how much they have to be thankful for, especially how blessed they are to have found one another at this late stage of their lives. An enthralling romanticism surfaces as the intense connection between Debbie and Tim becomes more and more clear through what these bicycle tours teach them about their embryonic marriage and the possibilities available to them through their marriage.

For those contemplating marriage, they should read this book to observe how a lasting intimacy, as the one the Bishops possess, requires more than what’s physical; an immutable intimacy reveals a profound spiritual bond. Unfortunately, too often, couples thinking about marrying or newly married overlook unearthing the spiritual imperatives of a healthy, fulfilling marriage. The Bishops, however, challenge these couples to create more mature visions of their own unions.

Both authors emphasize the significance of a willingness to change as critical to a successful marriage. In any relationship, individuals must demonstrate a willingness to change for it to remain satisfying and productive. Tim and Debbie employ their differences as vehicles for loving and appreciating one another more. This lesson about honoring differences is timely for our nation, considering Americans are increasingly become more hostile, even bloodthirsty, over their differences. Our differences should unite us—just as they unite the beautiful couple, Tim and Debbie Bishop.

In short, I highly recommend this fascinating book. Tim and Debbie Bishop and their uncommon honeymoon experiences extend to us a hope of what’s possible when we refuse to lose hope, when we devote ourselves to love, giving it and receiving it, and when we invite God into our lives as our supreme guide and comforter.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Matt Carter: Book Review

The Real Win by Colt McCoy

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success, penned by former superstar Texas Longhorns quarterback and former NFL quarterback Colt McCoy and megachurch pastor Matt Carter, offers men a view of biblical manhood that can help them to experience a productive and sustainable relationship with Christ. McCoy and Carter, recognizing their own personal failings as men, call for men to learn from their errors and commit to lives reflecting God’s will for their lives, lives as men of God.

For both authors, it’s unacceptable for men to continue to use their mistakes as crutches, but it’s time to employ those mistakes as lessons learned that guide their future of sustained progress. They’re displeased with notions of manhood that lead to men evincing seesaw, inconsistent moral conduct. McCoy and Carter proffer a critical intervention for men allowing troublesome ideas of manhood to derail their lives and the lives of their families: their answer is biblical manhood.

The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Success desires to send a clarion call to men, especially those struggling to be honorable men, to surrender their morally bankrupt definitions of success and replace them with God’s definition of success. In our postmodern epoch, we’re arguably witnessing the most selfish and reckless behavior in history. This book causes men to pause and see what they can do to ameliorate their homes, their communities, their states, their nation, their world. For the writers, men must first place complete trust in God to lead their lives. Without God leading the way, men and women will fail and are failures.

The book contends that authentic confidence emerges from a life seriously committed to serving God. This point, one that should not be overlooked, has the power to transform so many men’s lives—if only they would embrace and implement it.

McCoy and Carter want men to be true leaders in their homes, role models for their children, and living lives that please God. With numerous men around the nation neglecting their roles as fathers and as leaders in their homes and communities, this book is a vital one, and church leaders can improve the men in their churches by engaging them with this book, leading to increased opportunities for community members to see real men of God extending invitations to receive Christ.

In short, readers will find this a worthwhile read. One can tell that this work emerges from the authenticity of their lived experiences. After reading this, men should feel empowered to strengthen their commitments to living the lives God has called them to live.

I highly recommend that not only men read this book but also women. If we want to live in a better country, in a better world, then it starts with recognizing where we need to change and how we can initiate that change.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison