Dangerous Faith: Growing in God and Service to the World by Joel Vestal (NavPress)
“Churches are either focused on mission or maintenance.” That is an oft-repeated observation. “Mission” is the biblical mission of the church, and “maintenance” is just continually doing the things that keep the people there. Some say the percentage is 80/20, with the 20 percent focused on mission. Others say that percentage is optimistic.
Joel Vestal’s book, Dangerous Faith, is dangerous and disturbing. Vestal claims Christians are actually supposed to follow Jesus in evangelism, discipleship, life transformation, caring for the needy and social justice. And discipleship should even include our finances.
Vestal, still a young man, has traveled the world as something of a Johnny Appleseed being used of God to sow seeds of hope, challenge, resources and partnerships. This book is rich with examples from those countries and encounters with some amazing Christians.
No, this is not just a book about overseas missions. It is about getting a missionary heart. As Rick Warren notes: “You don’t become a missionary by crossing the sea. You become a missionary by seeing the cross.”
Very few can live the life of Joel Vestal. But the principles in this book can transform our lives, our churches and our communities. And perhaps we can change that ratio to 80/20 or better.
Bill Blackburn, president
Partners in Ministry
Being the Presence of Christ: A Vision for Transformation by Daniel Vestal (Upper Room Books)
Being the Presence of Christ is vintage Daniel Vestal. His many friends and the thousands of people who have heard him preach have sensed his passion for living like Christ so that others experience Christ in their lives. His new book transmits that passion far beyond the sound of his voice.
“We can be the presence of Christ to one another and the world. It’s a simple yet profound truth that could revolutionize our lives and our world,” promises Vestal, executive coordinator of the Coopera-tive Baptist Fellowship and a former pastor in Texas and Georgia.
But he realizes achieving that divine design means Christians must be “transformed”—embracing physical, spiritual, individual, social and cosmic change. And he knows people instinctively resist such radical change.
So, Vestal provides a guidebook for transformation.
He clearly and concisely describes the disciplines necessary for spiritual transformation. He explains how love, Scripture, silence, surrender and prayer—particularly prayer—guide believers to pattern their lives after Christ.
Vestal also details what all this means. Embracing Christ is not a solitary undertaking, because the world is a community.
He describes the broader implications of Christ-likeness on individual behavior and impact on others. I’d call that ethics, but Vestal would see it as Christ’s love in action.
Marv Knox, editor
Shakespeare for Everyone to Enjoy by David R. Brown (Ascribed)
California pastor, educator and Shakespeare expert David Brown shares facts from William Shakespeare’s life and insights from his work. Brown enthusiastically desires today’s Americans would seriously study and joyfully rediscover an appreciation for the great Bard’s genius and artistry.
Brown offers some strong evidence that Shakespeare was a Christian and that he demonstrated a commanding knowledge of Scripture—from the Geneva Bible—that influenced him to include spiritual themes and values in his plays.
For those who believe “all the world’s a stage” and followers of Christ can lead the way in producing great art and creativity in the culture, this short book might be spark some to look to Shakespeare and the classics for inspiration.
Greg Bowman, minister to students
First Baptist Church