Islam and the Jews:
The Unfinished Battle
By Mark A. Gabriel, Ph.D.
230 pages, hardcover, $13.99
Reviewed by Tom Gill
Mark Gabriel, in Islam and the Jews, has captured the essence of why conflict rages in the Middle East. He sets the record straight by dispelling false information and revealing how and why Islam teaches Muslims to hate Jews. However, Gabriel is quick to add that Muslims are not the enemy. The enemy is a religion that trains people to hate and encourages violence.
As a former Muslim and scholar of Islam, Gabriel brings a non-Western point of view to the teachings found in the Quran, the Islamic holy book, and Hadith, the reported sayings and actions of Muhammad. He shows how the Quran handles seemingly conflicting revelations given to Muhammad and how later
Reviews revelations replace the earlier. This answers how early revelations of peaceful coexistence received in Mecca were annulled by later commands to jihad against the Jews given in Medina.
Through his own story, Gabriel shows that the only avenue of peace is through Jesus. Islam and the Jews issues a call to understand what's behind the hatred and violence, and to subdue it through love.
I strongly recommend this book to leaders and laity alike. Read it and discover the important role you have in praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
Stories of Emergence:
Moving From Absolute
By Michael Yaconelli, general editor
236 pages, paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Mary Sailors
Stories of Emergence is a concise and poignant compilation of essays on Christian belief. Focusing on the postmodern movement and how it affects the faith process, Stories of Emergence is one of many tools stemming from the EmergentYS line at Zondervan. The line was originally launched by NavPress in response to what it called a "cultural shift and inevitable changes the church will face." This book explores traditional roles played by the church and delves deeper into where the postmodern church is headed.
The collection spans many viewpoints as it draws on three major "crisis" arenas in a Christian's life: Ministry, Worldview and Faith. Addressing many modern as well as postmodern movements in and outside of our faith community, the collection's relevancy surpasses that of other publications in that an assortment of people can benefit.
Those in ministry will benefit from the story of the former megachurch pastor who pinpoints lurking issues with the church that he identifies as "spiritual McCarthyism, Darwinism and isolationism" and moves past them to offer viable insight into the growing dilemmas. Those dealing with a true faith crisis as all Christians do (be it public or private) will find a grown-up Jay Bakker expounding on the issue of grace that he has struggled with in the aftermath of a family avalanche. Women who wear many different hats will relate to the frustration of the former feminist who struggles with personal and spiritual identity, but see her emerge with a biblical worldview and a genuine sense of identity in Christ.
The common thread in all of the essays in the collection is that they are truly stories of emergence as each one penning his or her struggles moves to a different place, offering us an authentic glimpse of growth and change. Each essay combines biblical truth with raw experience, providing readers a haven where they can truly understand the issues faced by the church today.
The Next Generation Leader
By Andy Stanley
160 pages, paperback, $14.99
Reviewed by Chris Maxwell
As today's leaders hope to apply biblical tradition with the most effective methods of ministry, books often only enlarge the lists of possible means of success.
In The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley presents five key elements for all types of churches to lead in a culture of uncertainty and change: competence, courage, clarity, coachability and character. He explains each theme in practical ways for church leaders. His mistakes and successes, his years as a preacher's kid and a pastor, and his study of biblical examples all give readers a look into his heart and his case.
He believes no progress equals no growth, which then equals no life. For him leaders of the next generation must be willing to take the risk of abandoning the known and embracing the unknown with no guarantees of success.
How can today's leaders apply Stanley's perspective? By truly leading, not performing. By accepting the assignment to take people where they have never been before. Developing teams and delegating responsibility allows pastors to pastor and administrators to administrate. Stanley says, "Having the right people in the right positions is essential to the success of your organization."
He also cautions such leaders, "Age and experience have a tendency to leave us in a rut, doing the same thing the same way with no one around to spur us towards change."
As the world continues changing and as people bring new angles to our churches, Stanley's essentials can shape today's leaders. Those leaders can then shape the future.
The Gallup Guide:
Reality Check for 21st Century Churches
By George Gallup Jr. and D. Michael Lindsay
Group Publishing Inc.
175 pages, paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Tom Gill
A healthy physical body is critical to longevity. The same is true of the body of Christ--it must be healthy to fulfill its mandate on Earth.
The Gallup Guide is a resource that can help determine a church's health, direction, motivation and action. With the tools included, a local church can identify their beliefs about God, moral values, prayer, evangelism and stewardship.
Many times, the pastor is on one track, the staff ministers on another, the lay leaders on yet another, while the members wonder who is going where! This resource will help rally everyone to the same mission.
Surveys included will help identify values that shape the community; problems that affect families; and expectations regarding a new direction. These surveys do not replace the Holy Spirit's guiding the church. However, they can make leaders' work easier and help bring members together in united purpose.
A Spirit of Worship
A Spirit of Worship
By Shane Barnard and Shane Everett
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg
If you missed them the first time around, Shane Barnard and Shane Everett are back with their sophomore release.
Carry Away has a radio-friendly pop feel and worship-driven lyrics.
Those unfamiliar with Shane and Shane will find a refreshing vulnerability in the songs. They desire to know God more and make Him known. They know that Jesus "is better than anything or anyone else, and He loves you."
Their passion for God comes through in their music and lyrics. The guitar-driven title song could double as an older Steven Curtis Chapman tune with its catchy chorus and rhythm. The tender, slower-paced "Be Near" sings a worshipful prayer for God to draw close.
There's an urgent, penetrating cry for God found throughout the album. Shane and Shane have a special ability to merge Scripture, prayer and worship into music form. This is one of those albums that the more you listen, the better it gets.
You and You Alone
By Various Artists
Reviewed by Ginny McCabe
You and You Alone, the latest offering in the Vineyard Worship series, is geared to today's modern church. The album features well-known Vineyard worship leaders Dan Wilt and Kathryn Scott, who focus on helping listeners get in tune with God and the very essence of who He really is through these 13 new, engaging contemporary praise songs.
From the opening, upbeat title track to the catchy "Your Amazing Love," the project is packed with refreshing songs that will appeal to anyone who has a heart prepared to worship. The music is simple and melodic, allowing the compelling lyrics to be this project's primary strength.
As a bonus, the CD is enhanced with chord charts and overhead song masters that will serve worship bands, praise teams and congregation members alike.
You and You Alone follows Vineyard's long-standing heritage of bringing fresh songs to the church body, yet is diverse enough to stand on its own merits.