Books I’ve Read Recently

gospelGospel by JD Greear. This book has been on my reading list for a while. I decided to go ahead and read it in preparation for a teaching series I was doing with my students on the gospel. What I found was not only a helpful book for shaping and writing that series, but a book that challenged me personally and helped me go deeper in my love and understanding of the gospel. Greear says, “The gospel is the announcement that God has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son Jesus to die as a substitute for our sins, and that all who repent and believe have eternal life in Him. I want you to see the gospel not only as a means by which you get into heaven, but as the driving force behind every single moment of your life” (page 5). This books helps Christians understand that the gospel is everything. “The gospel is not merely the diving board off which you jumped into the pool of Christianity,” says Greear, “the gospel is the pool itself” (page 248). The book is centered around what Geear calls “The Gospel Prayer.” It’s a tool Geear says helps him saturate himself in the gospel. He spends the majority of the book walking the reader through that prayer and helping them understand the implications of the gospel on their life. I really enjoyed chapter 8, which was on generosity. Geear does an excellent job at explaining what the relationship should be like between a gospel-centered believer and money. It was both a challenging and refreshing chapter to read. I’ve always enjoyed Greear books and would recommend this one to everyone who wants to go deeper in their love and understanding of the gospel.

HoleInHolinessBookCoverThe Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. I read my first book by DeYoung not long ago so I was excited to grab a copy of this book and give it a read. I also really enjoy reading, discussing, and studying the topic of personal holiness in the Christian life, which is what this book is about.  DeYoung spends the first chapter of this book surveying the landscape of holiness within Christianity today. He states there is a “gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness” (page 21). At first, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with DeYoung or not. But the deeper I got into this book the more I saw what he was pointing to. An intentional, disciplined pursuit of holiness is not a major theme in Christianity today. I have even seen this tread in my own Christian life at times. In this book, DeYoung urges the Christian to pursue holiness and make it a priority in their life. DeYoung keeps the gospel and Biblical teaching at the center of this encouragement. This was a short, easy to read book and God used it to help give me a better understanding of my relationship with holiness as a Christian.

41N8edp473L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Other Preacher in Lynchburg by John KillingerI have always been fascinated with reading and researching the life and ministry of Jerry Falwell Sr. Even though I don’t agree with all the things he did, I have great respect for his love for God and his boldness to do great things for God while he was on this earth. His legacy can been clearly seen in Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, both located in Lynchburg, VA. I ran across this book a few years ago on amazon and just now got around to reading it. I was excited to read a book about Falwell and his endeavors in Lynchburg through the eyes of another pastor that was in town during Fallwell’s prime. If you do any research on Killinger, you will quickly find him and Falwell were on very different sides of major issues regarding Christianity. However, this book isn’t necessarily focused on the theological differences of Killinger and Falwell, even though that obviously came up a few times, but more on what it was like for Killinger as a pastor doing ministry in the same town as Falwell. The book covers Killinger’s time both in Lynchburg and his time after moving away from Lynchburg to take another ministry position in Los Angles. This was very interesting book that made me appreciate Falwell even more, but at the same time scratch my head and wonder why he did some of the things he did.

Refuel Innovate Church Conference 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend the first day of the Refuel Innovate Church Conference at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. I saw this conference online a few months ago and thought it looked real good, but wasn’t planning on attending. I was planning on traveling up to Ohio for a week to visit my girlfriends family with her so we decided that on the way to Ohio we would stop at Refuel for the first day of the conference. I am so glad we did because God used the first day of the conferences yesterday in my life in great ways! I try to enjoy, but also think critically of every conference I go to so I can either encourage or discourage someone to go to the same conference and know enough about the conference to spread the word if it’s a good one. So I will try and cover some important areas here so hopefully this post will help you consider attending Refuel in the years to come.

Speakers: The speakers were great! Because it was put on by Thomas Road and Jonathan Falwell they had a strong pull to probably get any big time speaker they wanted. The speaker line up was John Maxwell, Ed Stetzer, Steven Furtick, Jonathan Falwell, Ron Luce, Johnny Hunt, Jud Wilhit, and Tom Mullins. Since I only attended the first day of the conference I only got to hear John Maxwell, Ed Stetzer, and Steven Furtick. All three of these speakers did a great job at sharing their hearts about ministry and leadership as well as preach the Word of God faithfully and powerfully. Maxwell spoke about having a “life list” where you put various things down on a list that you focus on doing, or being, daily. Ed Stetzer spoke on ministry idolatry which was extremely convicting as he spoke on how ministry becomes an idol many times. Steven Furtick, with all his passion and heart, spoke about believing God to accomplish the dream and vision He has given you. As far as the conference goes, the speakers where the best I have heard in a long time. If your looking for a conference with great speakers this conference is for you. I give this conference a 10 out of 10 for speakers.

Schedule: This is the only part of the conference I did not enjoy. Refuel was scheduled like this: two main sessions, roundtable lunch workshops, then two more main sessions. The second day was going to scheduled the same way except for the lunch workshops. I would have liked to have one main session in the morning then throughout the day have various workshops on different topics or issues in ministry. This is how most of the conferences I have been to have been set up and I enjoyed it very much. The Simply Youth Ministry Conference, which I would suggest for all youth pastors and youth workers, that I have attended for three years is like this. The day starts with a main sessions then you have fifty plus workshops and tracks to choose from to enjoy throughout the day and then the day closes with another main sessions. Now I understand of the smaller size and less speakers at Refuel, that keeps them from scheduling it this way, but more workshops would have been better than just main session after main session. Because of the world class speakers the main sessions back to back was not that bad and it was still enjoyable. I give this conference a 8 out of 10 for the scheduling.

Location and Facilities: You could have not asked for a better place for this conference. The campus of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University has been one of the best places I have ever seen for a big conference like this one. The main sessions were held in the worship center of Thomas Road and the that place is extremely comfortable. The seats have to be the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in within a worship center. Main street is what Thomas Road calls the area outside the worship center and that holds their coffee shop, book store, bathrooms, kids area, and more. Each speaker had their books out on main street at a booth for sale as well as different organizations such as Liberty University, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, World Help, and more had their booths set up. The facilities of Thomas Road are top notch and made it a perfect place to hold this conference. I give this conference a 10 out of 10 for location and facilities.

Price: The price of this conference was perfect for all that it included. If you registered before April 19th you only had to pay $49 and then if you waited until conference you was paying $59. For the speakers, free conference materials, and lunch this is pretty good. Since I am a college student I was able to go for the college student rate of $15! I give this conference a 9 out of 10 for the price.

Overall I would highly suggest this conference for all church leaders both full-time and lay leaders. I hope I can attend this conference again in the future and I’m sure it will only get better and better each year. I hope this short review of the conference might help you decided if you would attend in a future year or not.