Recently, my wife and I were walking through our local Books and Co. in Beavercreek, Ohio. We were not really there for books as much as for the yogurt shop. We sat down to enjoy our personally concocted yogurt mixes among aisles and aisles of books. Looking up there was a grand stair case that led to another floor with aisles and aisles of more books. It seems that Barnes and Noble, Books and Co., the Kindle store, Half Price Books and many more offer endless reading options. Solomon stated of the making of books there would be no end. With so many options, it is vital that we choose reading material that will be good for us—good for us spiritually. Let me tell you about a book that I recently chose and would like to encourage you to do the same.
It was on social media that I first saw a post about a book being release entitled, Experiencing Jesus. The title grabbed my attention. It sounded refreshing and encouraging. I had a phone conversation with the author, John Van Gelderen and asked him to give me a quick summary. He did and my interest was further piqued. That day I bought the book and began to read it. I finished the book while on a couple of day retreat with my wife. Really, my heart was reminded, refreshed and reinvigorated about truth that I had heard preached by Bro. John when I was about 18. This book brought it all back to mind. Here are three reasons this book will be a life-changing read for you.
It is Biblical
The basis of many books are far from Biblical and have no aim of encouraging a walk with God. The basis of Experiencing Jesus is Galatians 2:20. This powerful verse says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is very easy to read over this verse and miss the much-needed truth to successfully live the Christian life as Christ intended. Each of the four chapters progressively work through this verse with clarity.
It is Simple
Many authors will take simple truth from scripture and make it complex. Experiencing Jesus is simple truth kept simple. I love the visual diagrams of scriptural concepts. I was inspired to see what happened to me the moment I received Christ by faith. The daily provision of Christ for a victorious life over sin is described in vivid detail. You need not be an intellectual to read this book. I certainly am not.
It is Needed
As a pastor, I am faced with the reality of defeated, discouraged believers. Sometimes I see it in the eyes of those listening. I can almost hear them whisper under their breath, “Sure Pastor! I tried to say no to sin this week and failed. Why try again?” The book concludes with this statement, “Experiencing Jesus makes it possible for us to be regularly victorious.” Jesus did not save us to live a life regular defeat and occasional victory. Truly, there is Victory in Jesus. The Bible truth explained in Experiencing Jesus will help even the most defeated Christ follower discover this victory that Christ alone provides.
Before you buy and read that novel or history book you been looking at, pick up Experiencing Jesus and be encouraged in a way that will be life-changing.
The Insanity of God. An eye catching title, I know! When this book was first recommended to me, I have to admit, it didn’t sound like a book I would read. You can never judge a book by its cover! From the first pages I was struck with the powerful testimony of God’s guidance in the life of Nik Ripkens who sought God earnestly. Here are some of the lessons I learned from the book and why you need read it as well.
- God is a Rewarder: “…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Nik’s heart to seek God and to do His will is obvious throughout the book. There is a progression of growth in the author’s life that makes one thirsty to seek God also. By the last chapter, there a sense that Nik had experienced enormous growth in both the knowledge and love of God. It is time that American believers seek God in sincerity.
- God is Working in the Midst of Persecution: Much of the world does not know the freedoms that we experience in America. Persecution is a daily occurrence for many believers around the world. As Americans, we think restriction and persecution limits the work of God, but the opposite is true. God’s power is revealed in the most amazing ways in the most heavily persecuted countries. Persecuted believers in Somaliland, Russia, China and in Muslim lands are seeing God work as He did in the pages of the New Testament. Though we ought not seek persecution, we ought to embrace living for and serving Christ with same focus and passion as our persecuted brethren. As Stoyan said, reference American believers, “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country.” He went on to say, “DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP IN FREEDOM WHAT WE WOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PERSECUTION— AND THAT IS OUR WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!”
- God uses Dedicated Disciples: I discovered that these persecuted believers knew by experience what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23 when He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I was left asking myself, “Do I know what that means.” They serve Jesus gladly even in the face of death because Jesus is worthy. Reading of their dedication, I have no question why God used them as He did. Let us decide to be dedicated to Jesus no matter what happens. He is worth it!
- God is the Same: The Bible tells us that God is always the same. We read the Biblical accounts of God’s powerful works and conclude, “That was just for Bible times.” Nik asks, “Is the resurrection power that the New Testament describes still real and available to believers in our world today? Nik discovered that the God of the New Testament had not changed and was still able and ready to show Himself strong. Our God is not limited by governments. He is not limited by evil. I was personally convicted of my lack of faith in the unlimited power of God. How we need a fresh realization of the grandness and power of our God.
After reading this book, I plan to recommend it to everybody I can, simply because it was a huge help to me. I am hungry to see God work in America and more specifically in my own community. This book challenged me not to get sidetracked by the thrills of life, but to seek to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.
Available on Amazon
Most of us quake in fear when we think of personally spreading the Gospel in the Muslim world. Preaching the Gospel in most areas of the Middle East legitimately requires that a man would be willing to lay down his life for Jesus Christ. These are precisely the reasons why the autobiography of Edgar Feghaly, Forward in the Face of Fear, will grip your attention. As I read it, I was encouraged by the testimony of a man who chose to walk by faith and not by sight. I was inspired by the countless examples of how God had preserved the life of His servant. Here are five reasons why this book would be a great encouragement to you.
- It is Current—We hear the great missionary stories of the past. They are inspiring but, in our minds they are often relegated as possible in the past, not in the present. Chapter after chapter is filled powerful accounts of God doing the impossible during the lifetime of my generation and last. As a young man, that just encourages me!
- It is Relevant—With all the focus on the turmoil in the Middle East, this book will be one you don’t want to put down. While reading of the power of God, you will also learn enlightening history describing the beginning of conflict in that region. You will gain a greater understanding of the unrest we see there today. Beyond that, you will see that the unrest has not stopped the Gospel from advancing or Christ’s church being built.
- It is Simple—When I hear of the ways God used great men of the past, sometimes I am tempted to think that God used them because they were special. While that is not true, it is easy to slip into that thinking. Edgar Feghaly is just a man who simply decided to follow Jesus early in life and practiced simple faith in God’s extraordinary power. “Although I knew at a young age that God had called me to serve Him, the night I walked the aisle at the Baptist church to surrender to His will I had no idea what a life of service would involve. I just knew I wanted to tell everyone I met about the One who had changed my heart and my family. And soon, God blessed me with opportunities to do just that.”
- It is Challenging—You will be challenged by Mr. Feghaly’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Multiple times his obedience to the Spirit kept him from danger or enabled him to win a soul to Christ. You will be challenged by his contentment to serve God without complaint. After all, there are easier places to preach Christ than Lebanon!
“I am ever grateful to the Lord who called me to minister and enabled me to serve Him in Lebanon. He truly provided spiritually, emotionally, and physically for my family’s every need.”
- It is Applicable—In America we have many excuses for not telling everyone we meet about the One that has changed our hearts. When you read of the circumstances in which Mr. Feghaly preached the Gospel, every excuse will pale in comparison. We have not been touched by unending war on our home soil. We have not faced persecution or even extreme opposition of our faith. Yet in the midst of a hostile, war-torn region, the Gospel went forward. I found myself thinking, “If he can do it there, I can do it here!”
Forward in the Face of Fear will be release on April 11, 2016. You can purchase your print or digital copy at Striving Together Publications.