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Book Review: After You’ve Blown It by Erwin W. Lutzer

Helping You Reconcile With God and Others

In the opening chapter of this concise book (less than 100 pages) *Lutzer writes, “Strictly speaking, of course, not one of us deserves redemption. God owes us nothing, but He nevertheless offers His undeserved grace. Though we deserve damnation, He invites each of us to be redeemed. Worthy or not, we come to Him to receive forgiveness and the assurance that God still has a plan for our lives.”

Using Biblical stories and modern applications to those stories this is a book about how there is hope for anyone, no matter how bad they have blown it, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this book especially for the following types of people:

1)    Those who think they are too “bad” to be saved.

2)    Those who think they are “good” and don’t need to be saved.

3)    Those who are enmity with God and know it – and aren’t sure how to remedy it.

4)    Those who are at enmity with others – and aren’t sure how to remedy it.

5)    Those who need to be reminded that God has a plan for them, and that no matter how bad you’ve blown it – there is hope for you because of the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

6)    Those of you who help others in counseling ministries.

It’s a fantastic little book – concise, full of Biblical wisdom, a clear gospel presentation, and leads and will encourage and give you hope. I also recommend it highly as a gift to give to those who are confused, discouraged, and broken over their sin.

*Since 1980, Erwin W. Lutzer has served as senior pastor of the world-famous Moody Church in Chicago, where he provide leadership to Chicago pastors. Dr. Lutzer earned his B.Th. from Winnipeg Bible College, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. in philosophy from Loyola University, an LL.D. from Simon Greenleaf School of Law, and a D.D. from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Dr. Lutzer is a featured radio speaker on the Moody Broadcasting Network and the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Power of DeathCries from the Cross, the best-selling One Minute Before You Die and Hitler’s Cross, which received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (EPCA) Gold Medallion Book Award. He speaks both nationally and internationally at Bible conferences and tours and has led tours of the cities of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Dr. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area and are the parents of three grown children. (Courtesy of Multnomah Publishers)

 
 

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Book Review: The Gospel Centered-Life by Bob Thune and Will Walker

A Phenomenally Christ Centered Workbook

 I think that the most important concept that Christians can formulate in their minds is how the gospel applies in our lives every day. The authors describe this workbook as “a nine-lesson small group study intended to help participants understand how the gospel shapes every aspect of life. Each lesson is self-contained, featuring clear teaching from the Scriptures and requires no extra work outside of the group setting.”

The Gospel-Centered life is designed to do the following:

1)    Deepen your grasp of the gospel as you see your need for continued renewal.

2)    Grow as you experience transformation from the inside out.

3)    Be challenged to develop authentic relationships as the gospel moves you to love and serve others.

Each lesson contains the following sections: 1) a Bible Conversation; 2) An article from a primary source that teaches some good in depth content on the topic; 3) Discussion questions related to the content and their practical ramifications in our lives; 4) An exercise to take the discussion from theory to application; 5) The wrap-up gives the leader the chance to answer any last minute questions, reinforce ideas, and spend some time in prayer.

Thune and Walker give a helpful summary of how each lesson is organized and what it is designed to accomplish (the “Big Idea” for study, discussion, and application):

Section One – three lessons answering the question: What is the gospel?

Lesson 1: The Gospel Grid – “If the gospel is constantly ‘bearing fruit and growing’ (Col. 1:6), then everything has to do with the gospel—God, humanity, salvation, worship, relationships, shopping, recreation, work, personality…everything! The objective in this lesson is to establish a framework for talking about the gospel.”

Lesson 2: Pretending & Performing – “Each of us tends to ‘shrink the cross,’ which is to say that something is lacking in our understanding, appreciation, or application of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin. This manifests itself in two main ways: pretending and performing. Pretending minimizes sin by making ourselves out to be something we are not. Performing minimizes God’s holiness by reducing his standard to something we can meet, thereby meriting his favor. Both are rooted in an inadequate view of God’s holiness and out identity.”

Lesson 3: Believing The Gospel – “This lesson turns our attention to the positive aspects of the gospel: what remedies has God given in the gospel to keep us from shrinking the cross and depending on our own effort?”

Section Two – three lessons answering the question: What does the gospel do in us?

Lesson 4: Law & Gospel – “Continue to think about how the gospel interacts with our lives, but now we turn to consider the gospel’s relationship to law. What is the law? Does God expect me to obey it? What is the purpose of the law? How does the law help me to believe the gospel? How does the gospel help me to obey the law?”

Lesson 5: Repentance – “This lesson deals with repentance. In our culture, this usually sounds like a bad thing, but repentance is the norm for gospel-centered living. Becoming more aware of God’s holiness and our sinfulness leads us to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus. Biblical repentance frees us from our own devices and makes a way for the power of the gospel to bear fruit in our lives.”

Lesson 6: Heart Idolatry – “The Christian walk consists of two repeated steps: repentance and faith. Turning our attention to the topic of faith, we focus on how we grow through believing the gospel. The goal in this lesson is to take ‘believing the gospel’ out of the abstract and make it concrete.”

Section Three – three lessons answering the question: How does the gospel work through us?

Lesson 7: Mission – “The gospel is simultaneously at work in us and through us. Inwardly, our desires and motives are being changed as we repent and believe the gospel. As we experience Christ’s love in this way, we are compelled to engage those around us with the same kind of redemptive love. God’s grace brings renewal everywhere, in and through us.”

Lesson 8: Forgiveness – “The gospel that works in us always works through us. It shows its power in our relationships and actions. One key way this happens is when we forgive others biblically.”

Lesson 9: Conflict – “Conflict is something we all experience (regularly), but often handle in very fleshly ways. The gospel gives us a pattern and a means to healthy conflict resolution.”

The Gospel Centered Life is designed for:

1)    “Pastors and leaders who want to spur gospel renewal in their churches and ministries.

2)    Church planters who want to form gospel DNA in the churches they start.

3)    Students and campus ministers who are looking to live out the gospel on campus.

4)    Christians who want to be more deeply formed around the gospel.

5)    Small group leaders who are looking for content that ‘works’ with diverse groups of people.

6)    Missionaries who are looking for simple material to disciple new Christians.”

I can’t recommend this workbook highly enough. Another way I have used this material is in coaching and counseling non-believers and believers. If not the best, its one the best workbooks I know of to help others become more Christ-centered and apply the gospel in all aspects of life.

 

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