Don’t read this book if you don’t want to be challenged. Don’t read this book if the sum total of your Christian experience consists only of going to church on the right day and affirming each and everyone of the church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
If, however, you want to emulate Christ and His ministry methods, read this book. Read it again. Read it and share it with people who likewise want to be challenged to practice Christianity that’s primitive, raw, and unadorned.
The first thing the author does in If You Can Eat is to remind readers that most of us no longer live in homogeneous communities. Peter Roennfeldt, a former pastor and church planting coach, describes the neighborhood where he lives. Next door is an Indian family that practices Sikhism. Beyond that home lives a family from Sri Lanka who are Buddhists. On the other side of his house lives a family of Muslims from Albania. The neighborhood is also populated with Christians who are Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Seventh-day Adventist. Thus the subtitle of the book: Sharing Faith in a Multi-faith World.
The rest of this short book is a prescription, biblically based, about how Jesus and His earliest followers engaged people who may or may not have shared the same religious, ethnic, or economic status.
The author’s point is that Christians should seek to share their faith with others, but that they should do it in ways that do not come off as arrogant or condescending. Often, he says, the best opportunities for sharing our faith come in neutral settings, such as at meals or at other social gatherings. His assertion is that now more than ever people of practically every faith tradition are looking for answers to society’s intractable problems: war, poverty, weather-related disasters, intentional violence perpetrated against unsuspecting and innocent targets.
The author ingeniously ties Bible stories about how God’s people interacted with the nations around them with historical accounts of how Christians through the centuries have tried (and sometimes failed) to reflect the values Jesus demonstrated in His earthly life and ministry.
This is an extremely practical book. It contains short summaries of several of the world’s great religions: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism. As with Roennfeldt’s previous books, Following Jesus and Following the Spirit, each chapter concludes with application questions that help readers understand that being disciples of Christ is more than just knowing all the right answers; being disciples means reflecting Christian values as we model Christ to those around us.
The Gospel of Sex: Dating, and Mating is one of the clearest, most balanced, and practical books on the subject of dating, sex, and relationships I’ve read.
Author Dustin Hall does an amazing job at applying just the right balance of common sense and logic to this often-difficult topic. He then follows up with a well-reasoned plea that is solidly biblical, but not guilt-inducing. He couches his core message of abstinence in two core ideas:
Hall does a masterful job of writing with the successful and effective recipe of Bible verses, relevant Ellen White quotes, and actual teen vignettes/narratives. He weaves everything together in a lively and quick-paced writing style. I appreciated most that he describes and explains very difficult topics, such as the emotional consequences of premarital sex, the brain chemistry changes involved in sexual activity, and associated clinical research. Then he takes the next necessary and crucial step and effectively applies what he’s writing about to how it affects readers, either positively or negatively.
Chapters are clean, direct, and short. Hall doesn’t shy away from describing and discussing sexually transmitted diseases, including statistics—something I rarely see in a Christian book on this topic—and addressing directly the parents of teens.
This is a well-researched and well-written book. As a trained and certified sex educator and mental health counselor, I will be requiring this book to be read by all my teen clients—and their parents.