God’s Secret Plan by R. Keith Parks (Condeo Press)
Keith Parks’ heart beats for missions. He gave 45 years to career missions service as a missionary in Indonesia, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board and first global missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. This collection of 10 sermons by Parks provides a compelling case for a new generation to answer God’s call.
God has a secret plan. The eternal God entered history and became a man to reveal himself to humanity. “Jesus became a human being, so now we can understand who God is. He spoke ‘humanese,’” Parks writes. Now, Jesus Christ lives in and through each member of his body—the “called out” people of God. God’s plan involves seeking and saving the spiritually lost, and God desires all people to be reconciled to him. But the secret plan becomes a secret message when members of the body of Christ fail to fulfill their mission. All Christ’s followers are responsible to share the Good News of Jesus with all people.
Parks deals with vital issues such as the distinctive claims of Christianity in a pluralistic world, the importance of prayer and strategies for reaching unreached people groups. Parks writes from his heart, and in the process, he reminds readers how God’s heart aches for people estranged from him.
Ken Camp, managing editor
Walking with Giants by Elmer Towns (Regal Books)
Memoirs tend to go in one of two directions. They either are self-indulgent or revealing. Fortunately, Walking with Giants by Elmer Towns is the latter.
I first heard Dr. Towns speak at an event John Maxwell hosted more than 15 years ago. I was familiar with Towns through his writings. A pastor was cleaning out his library when I was in my late teenage years, and he handed me copies of The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and Church Aflame. Those books made my heart beat faster. They set me on a path that led to where I am today.
Towns writes the way he speaks. He is forthright and engaging. He still makes my heart beat a little faster as I read how God has used him. Towns learned an important lesson early in life: “If I made work fun, I’d never hate cutting the grass again.” He said, “Work defines our lives and gives us dignity. … When you feel good about your work, and you know that your work contributes to others—but most of all, when you realize your work is pleasing to God and advances the kingdom of God—then your work can give you great enjoyment, because you’ve fulfilled God’s purpose for your life.”
An important lesson Towns learned from spending time with giants like Henrietta Mears, Howard Hendricks, Gene Getz and others was that he could walk on equal footing with them. He had something of value to contribute. The stories of God’s work in his life are inspiring. I wanted to speed-read this book but found myself devouring every page. The life lessons are instructive. God’s activity is clearly observable. Towns’ passion for evangelism is evident in every ministry opportunity he engaged in along the way.
This book would make a good Christmas or birthday gift for any leader. Read it yourself, and then hand it to a young leader. Beware—you will want to purchase more books by Towns after reading this one.
David Bowman, executive director
Tarrant Baptist Association