Monday, December 24, 2012
According to his biography, Pastor Robert Morris reaches a potential audience of up to 90 million people each week with his TV Program The Blessed Life. The church he Pastors, Gateway Church in Dallas, has an active membership of over 25,000 people. So, even though I had never read any of Pastor Robert's previous works, I was excited to have an opportunity to review his recent book, The Blessed Church, and I was not disappointed with the selection.
Pastor Robert states at the outset of the book, "On the pages that follow, I hope to reveal why I think we've experienced the blessings we have" (pg. 5). The Blessed Church goes on to tell the story of how Gateway Church has grown and developed over the years and the principles the church has employed to facilitate that growth in a healthy and God honoring manner. One of the things that makes the book a "blessed" book is that the author does not exalt Gateway as the model of perfection. He uses it a an example of what God can do through anyone who is open to allowing Him the liberty to be at the head of the 'leadership chart'.
How does he tell the story? He divides the book into six sections. The first begins with the Gateway story, but the remaining five sections outline the major areas that have encompassed the principles that Pastor Robert emphasizes have been so vital to the growth of Gateway Church. These sections include Blessed Vision, Shepherds, Leaders, Government and Church Culture. Each section has chapters that detail the principles behind the processes. And in relating the stories which illustrate the timeless truths the author wishes to impart, he paints a picture of how blessed a church can become by pursuing the God who blesses abundantly.
The book is primarily geared to church Pastors and leaders, so some may think that the book's material does not apply to them. However, Biblical truths about vision and leadership can apply in all arenas of life, from our jobs, to our family and to serving in a local church. I don't believe you'll be disappointed to learn more from this seasoned minister of God. And as a special feature, for those who want some "action points", throughout the book are spread 'keys to a blessed church', which are points of emphasis to help you remember some of the main points each chapter addresses.
In the conclusion, Pastor Robert writes "I wanted to present to you, in all humility and gratitude, the principles, purposes and passions that have driven our decisions since founding Gateway Church back in the year 2000" (pg. 201). You succeeded Pastor Robert and have delivered a balanced and detailed account of the blessing of God that rests on one church, but is available to any church who will follow the leader and the principles God has designed for the local church. I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. I am thankful I had the privilege of reading it. You may read an excerpt of the first chapter at Read Chapter 1 .
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The book is very thorough in following the life of Jesus, but not just from His birth. They begin, instead, with who Jesus was from eternity past (in the beginning) and continue all the way up until His second coming. This is something not normally attempted when writing a normal biography about Jesus, and the authors cover the full spectrum of Jesus life, past, present and future with an acute emphasis on not missing the big picture. The big picture to them is showing from the scriptures themselves that the entire Bible is all about Jesus from beginning to end.
One of the things which makes the work unique is the extensive note section at the back of the book. Coming in at close to 100 pages, the writers document extensively to support their claims and leave no question as to whether or not they spent the amount of time needed in researching this project. The notes section contains enough books, articles and other resources listed that it would take someone months to even begin to follow up on their labors in study. This is a strong point for anyone interested in studying the subject further.
While the book uses many of the Old testament types and shadows to paint a picture of Jesus, it also utilizes many illustrations, symbols and character portrayals, such as Moses, Joseph and even Abraham to fill in the details more precisely. Some may take issue with the use of a few of these comparisons and claim they lack enough support to warrant their use. But, there are more than enough items which carry strong sciptural support to reveal the person of Jesus Christ throughout the Biblical pages.
If you're looking for light reading, this may not be the book for you. But if you are desiring to go beyond merely the face of the Bible stories you've read for so long, you may discover a whole new treasure of riches, waiting to be revealed. This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com. If you want to know more about the Bible and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this might be a good place to begin.