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What’s that you’re reading?

The weather’s cold now. Darkness falls before dinner. No one’s too happy about that, but it does leave more time in the evenings to settle in with a good book. Here are recommendations from some of our church leaders. All of these books are available in The Scroll Resource Center.

 

The Spirit-Filled Life

Beloved pastor and author Charles F. Stanley turns his attention to the power, joy and meaning brought by the Holy Spirit. He also answers tough questions: who the Spirit is (and isn’t), how being filled with the Spirit works, and what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.

From Chapter One: “For too many believers the Christian life boils down to simply doing the best they can. There is no power or distinction that sets them apart from the way everyone else in the world exists. The good they do can be attributed to their own discipline, determination, and devotion to God, rather than His activity in their lives. … The real tragedy is that we have lost our ability to function in our society the way God originally intended.”Stanley then unpacks what the Spirit-filled life looks like, how to have it … and why so many Christians don’t.

This book is recommended as a complement to our current sermon series on the book of Acts.

Pastor Luke Uran says:

“This is the book that the Executive Elder Board is currently reading and discussing. This book was recommended to me by our church chairman, Paul Geddes. I appreciate the way in which Charles Stanley honestly and biblically assesses the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.”

Aaron Biby (one of our elders) says:

The Spirit-Filled Life is an easy read, but a challenge to process. Identifying the Holy Spirit as the person through which we are able to bear the fruit of the Spirit is a life-altering idea that can take some time to wrap your head around. The freedom comes in discovering that no matter how hard we try, we cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit out of our own strength. Rather, if we focus on nurturing our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit can and will begin to produce that fruit in us naturally.”

 

Acts 1-12 For You; Acts 13-28 For You

By R. Albert Mohler. Part of the God’s Word For You series, these guides are intended to help regular people, as the introduction states: to read, to feed and to lead. If you want to go deeper into Acts and apply the book’s truth to your life, or if you’re leading a Life Group, these books are a great resource. And you don’t need a theology degree to keep up.

Pastor Luke Uran says:

 “I found these easy-to-read commentaries as I was preparing to preach through the series in Acts. I appreciate the way that these commentaries help the reader delve deeper into the passages and make some of the understanding and application a little bit more practical in nature.”

 

Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church

Keith and Kristyn Getty  are noted hymn writers, worship leaders and they host the annual Getty Worship Conference, which several of our church staff members attended this past summer in Nashville. From the book description, here are their five key goals for readers:

  • To discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing;
  • To consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives;
  • To cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life;
  • To equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity; and
  • To inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world.

Renee Cooper, Director of Classic Worship, says:

“First of all – throughout the Bible we are commanded to sing. This book is about the importance of the congregation singing, based on Biblical principles. Worship is not a passive, spectator sport. It requires active participation. That means everyone – not just the leaders on the platform.

As a worship leader, I want to do just that: lead in worship. When we come together as God’s children, and we lift our voices in praise and worship of him, there is not a sweeter sound that can be heard! I want to hear the congregation singing!

Often we will leave a service humming one of the songs we have sung that morning. That music stays with us. So, we need to be careful to choose songs that are theologically sound. Those songs help us to remember what we believe, and to learn more about Who we are worshipping.”

 

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

From the book description: Peter Scazzero learned the hard way: You can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Even though he was pastor of a growing church, he did what most people do:

  • Avoid conflict in the name of Christianity
  • Ignore his anger, sadness, and fear
  • Use God to run from God
  • Live without boundaries

Eventually God awakened him to a biblical integration of emotional health, a relationship with Jesus, and the classic practices of contemplative spirituality. It created nothing short of a spiritual revolution, utterly transforming him and his church.

Pastor Josh Pardee says:

“In Christ we are new creations, freed captives, but the author explains that our history stays with us and impacts us unless we learn about it and learn to operate from a place of biblical awareness, in love with God and with compassion toward ourselves. This allows us to be real with our sin and actually deal with it as opposed to sweeping it under the rug.”

 

The Best Gift Ever Given

By Ronnie Martin, illustrated by Nathan Schroeder. This is a great Christmastime devotional guide for families: “A 25-day journey through Advent, from God’s good gifts to God’s great Son.” These are short, family devotionals for Dec. 1-25, and are aimed at families with kids from kindergarten to about grade four. Each day’s entry begins with a Scripture, then a short piece about the day’s topic, one or two discussion questions and a prayer.

Pastor Luke Uran says:

“We bought this book for our daughter for Advent and we are looking forward to going through it together as a family. I appreciate the way Ronnie Martin brings forth the message of Jesus on every page in a way that is understandable for young readers and listeners, and the book’s great illustrations back it up.”

 

And then the whole world changed

In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Josh referenced YouTube videos where people who are colorblind try on EnChroma glasses and see full color for the first time. A wonderful illustration, but I sat there thinking, Why doesn’t he just show the video?

Now that I’ve watched a couple of these, I understand why not. Josh would have reduced our congregation to a quivering, sobbing mass.

Here’s one of the videos, under the heading, “Try Not to Cry Challenge.” I held it together until the 8:50 mark, when a dad puts the glasses on his colorblind son. And all I could think about was: Imagine the day when God shows us the world as it was meant to be.

I like to think I’ll do the same thing the boy in the video does.

 

 

Acts series: The church then … and now

Headshot of Lead Pastor Luke UranA new sermon series, focusing on the book of Acts, starts Sunday, Oct. 6. We spoke with Lead Pastor Luke Uran about this series, which will run through January 2020.

 

Why Acts? Why now?

As I was praying through the preaching calendar for the upcoming year, one of the books that kept coming to mind was Acts — the work that the Holy Spirit does through the early church, and the way that the church back then was truly a movement. It was growing and healthy and full of life. That’s not to say the church can’t be like that today. But I also look at the early church and think it looks very different than it does today.

 

Do you think today’s American church typically misses something in this book?

We tend to think, “That was the church then. Those kinds of things aren’t for the church now.” And yet the same Spirit that indwelled the church then indwells us now. The disciples preached, taught, healed and showed the love of God in schools, homes, marketplaces, roads, courtrooms, streets, hills and even on ships. Wherever God sent them, lives were changed. Now it’s our turn.

 

What do you want the takeaway value of this series to be for our congregation?

Three main things. One, to have a better understanding of the birth and the growth of the church. Two, to know that we, too, have been given a mission like the early church to go and make disciples. And three, to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.

 

Luke wrote the book of Acts very methodically, and yet at the end of chapter 28 he just kind of stops in the middle of a story. What do you make of that?

We are still living between that 28th chapter and Christ’s glorious return. It’s very open-ended — almost like Luke is saying, “OK, write your own ending.” As a church, our mission is to bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ. Our vision is to go, tell and show the love of Christ in the city of Rockford and around the world. Those statements drive home that the 29th chapter of Acts is us.

 

What would you suggest as a quick way for someone to get a big-picture view of Acts?

The Bible Project has two animated videos that take you through the whole book in about 8 minutes each. We even showed these to some of our staff as we started thinking and praying through developing this series.

 

Any suggested reading to go along with this series?

There’s a seven-day Scripture reading plan from the Bible app themed around The Forgotten God by Francis Chan. We’re doing this one in our Life Group. It doesn’t focus specifically on Acts, but on the Holy Spirit.

Also, The Spirit-Filled Life by Dr. Charles F. Stanley. This is one of my recommended books available in The Scroll Resource Center.

And then of course you can read ahead for the coming Sunday’s sermon. The weekly email sent on Thursdays always contains the sermon preview and text.