Sunday, March 20, 2016

Renovate by Leonce Crump Jr

      I honestly had never heard of Leonce Crump or Renovation Church, which he Pastors in Atlanta, GA, until reading his recent book "Renovate-Changing Who You Are By Loving Where You Are". However, I had heard of Matt Chandler, Pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas, where I currently live. So, when I noticed that Pastor Matt had endorsed this book, I was interested to read it. I received this book for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at and the views expressed are my own.
     The book is a look at changing our cities through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But, it differs from other books in this regard by proposing not just having 'pity on' or 'helping' those that we consider less fortunate, but by becoming a part of their lives. As an example to help elaborate my point, Pastor Crump and his wife, along with many members of their congregation, moved their families into the urban inner city, only minutes from two of the worst crime areas in America. Some of you may be familiar with the Christian musician Lecrae, who is also a member of their church. They attract people from all walks of life, irrespective of social standing.
     It is hard to express in a short blog the ideas from scripture that Pastor Crump proposes. But, in sharing his ideas, he writes about learning to love where you are and how to become a part of the culture, rather than leaving it for a safer place. He exhorts his readers to recognize the hand of God in sending you where you are. The book pointedly addresses issues of transience, prejudice, poverty and racism, confronting the hearts of his readers to examine themselves in the light of scripture as to whether they are helping to change the problems, or may be inadvertently contributing to the factors that create division and perpetuate these areas (You'll have to read to see what I mean).
    All in all, the book is excellent. However, I did find some places where I felt the author was espousing his ideas without scripturally supporting them as well as I would have hoped. But, the book challenges the reader to become involved in making a difference. It is a call to renovate the places where we are, and in turn become more of who God made us to be. I pray that you (and I) will take to heart what is written and act on it to be ambassadors of the Gospel in the world in which we live.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi

       National political tensions in Western society could perhaps be speculated as being some of the highest that they have ever been. And, one of the key contributors to this struggle can be considered as the misunderstandings connected to the subject of radical Islam. With militant groups, such as Hamas, Al Queda and ISIS gaining national prominence, the media does not always clearly paint the pictures of each group and tends to throw them together, as though they believe the same. But, in his latest book, "Answering Jihad", best-selling author and speaker Dr. Nabeel Qureshi stresses that there are many differences among Muslim believers. And, he also believes that only by understanding what Islam is, what radical Islam is and the beliefs of the groups that compromise each element can we truly begin to bring love and truth to such groups, seeking a 'better way forward' as the sub-title says to address these issues.
       For those who are not familiar with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, I would suggest reading his previous book "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus", which serves as an auto-biography of his life. As a result of reading the first book, I was looking forward to delving into his latest work, "Answering Jihad", which I received for free through the book review program for bloggers, which is available at . The views expressed are my own.
      First, Nabeel is very intelligent and his works are well researched. His personal background of having been raised as a Muslim gives him a great perspective about Islam. It is also his studious work that helps "Answering Jihad" to deliver a wealth of information for the reader. The book seeks to answer the majority of questions that people ask about Islam, radical Islam and the confusion that surrounds there subjects. Each chapter addresses one individual question and the response are not very long. They are filled with historical data to support the answers that the author provides.
     Again, it was very well researched. My only disappointment came because his first book was so well done that I expected much of the same impact. However, the author's first book told his story and this book seeks to give information by answering questions. Hence, it is not the same easy read as the other work. And, I found him being almost too careful in his approach to some of the questions, so as not to offend anyone. But, overall, it is still a good work and you are likely to learn much about what has been called the "religion of peace" as well as how to understand it's adherents so that you may love them and provide a better way than radical extremism, which is the way of love and grace.