Lead Different

Learning to lead biblically. . . .

Lead Different: Insight, Clarity, and Encouragement for Engaging the Heart of Servant Leadership  -     By: Bruce Ratzlaff, Verna Ratzlaff

Bruce and Verna Ratzlaff. Lead Different: Insight, Clarity, and Encouragement for Engaging the Heart of Servant Leadership. 160p., $14.99, Deep River Books.

In Matthew 20:26 (NLT), Jesus said, “among you [leading] will be different.” How so? Different than what? Different in what ways?

Bruce and Verna Ratzlaff provide a framework of biblical servant leadership by contrasting it with what it is not.

In Lead Different, the Ratzlaffs provides readers with unusual clarity, new self-awareness, and encouragement for engaging the heart of servant leadership. Unusual clarity results as components of biblically sound Christian servant leadership are compared and contrasted to their opposites. Understanding what is and is not servant leadership enhances self-awareness, as leaders are encouraged to consider their own tendencies. A thorough exploration of the characteristics of biblical leaders offers hope and encouragement as readers gain inspiration through real-life examples of how leaders learned to course correct and become more wholeheartedly servant leaders.

Bruce and Verna Ratzlaff assert that the kingdom mission we are called to pursue is often delayed or destroyed by ineffective leadership, though well-intentioned. Their call for genuine servant leadership is the antidote.

This book is practical to the core, but piercingly direct in speaking to the foundation of leadership, our heart. When readers truly engage their hearts, their leadership becomes not just different, but more impactful for the kingdom.

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Obedient Nations

That part of the Great Commission we tend to gloss over. . . .

Stephen M. Spaulding. Obedient Nations: What’s So Great about the Great Commission? 304p., $15.99, Deep River Books.

Stephen Spaulding sees a clear line of thinking and action running from the Bible’s patriarchs and prophets through the life and teachings of the Anointed One, Christ. He continues to trace this line through the apostle Paul’s calling and career as well as his visionary writings and on to the future reality which the apostle John portrays at the end of his book of Revelation. He calls it his own, new baseline—primary sum up—of the Great Commission. It is quite simple and stark. He summarizes it as “obedient nations.” That simple phrase, according to Spaulding, encompasses most of what we as Christ’s followers have been involved within mission for the past century, but also much more.

In this comprehensive evaluation of the Great Commission in light of both biblical history and the modern age in which we are living now, as well as the potential future to come, missiologist Stephen Spaulding presents the WHAT, the WHY, and the HOW of fulfilling the great commission toward the ultimate scriptural goal of “obedient nations.”

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The SABERS Cycle

A Bible study on learning to listen to God—especially leaders . . .

SABERS Cycle book cover image

The SABERS Cycle: A Cutting-Edge Study on Responding to God introduces new insights on responses to God that increase cutting-edge sharpness and purposeful stability in the waves of adversity that confront all Christian leaders seeking to impact our world.

Responding to God instead of reacting to circumstances develops through practiced faith. The SABERS cycle Seeks, Acknowledges, Believes, Expects, Receives, and Surrenders to God’s love. Each life-changing response cuts to the “state of the heart” and points to a purposeful life in Christ. SABERS highlights heart-responses to Biblical principles and encourages turning to (Is. 45:22), praising (Heb. 13:15), and trusting God. (Jer. 17:7).

Scripture reveals the heart of relationship with God and guides through six cutting-edge responses.

  • Encouragement ensues as we Seek God’s Presence during difficult times.
  • Inspiration illuminates as we Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty in the unknown.
  • Renewal rejuvenates as we Believe God’s Character instead of doubts.
  • Assurance abounds as we Expect God’s Faithfulness to replace fear.
  • Motivation multiplies as we Receive God’s Grace instead of frustration.
  • Victory overcomes as we Surrender to God’s Love, the place of freedom.

Hope, joy, peace, and purpose reignite through responding to God.

A 9-week stand-alone study for groups, couples or individuals with over 500 scripture passages, application questions and leadership challenges, The SABERS Cycle establishes a Biblical foundation that transforms leaders.

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Sacred Strands

Turning mythology on its ear . . . .

Lois Clymer. Sacred Strands: The Story of a Redeemer Woven through History. 144p., $14.99, Deep River Books.

Christianity did not begin in Bethlehem. Likewise, the promise of a Redeemer was not written only in the book of Genesis but also in the early constellations and ancient myths, among artifacts and early worship practices. Christianity was not borrowed from these myths and mysteries; rather, they contained an imperfect knowledge of a perfect Redeemer from the earliest ages.

In her new book Sacred Strands: The Story of a Redeemer Woven through History, Lois Clymer explores these connections between mythology and faith, giving readers a deeper understanding of both history and mythology—and more importantly, a deeper understanding of their own faith. Sacred Strands examines the beliefs of early civilizations from Sumer and Akkad, to Greek and Roman mythology, to Norse and Aztec myths, and shows how they all these “sacred strands” tie into Jesus.

In the process, Clymer flips the script on today’s secular narrative: Christianity did not borrow from these ancient myths, many of which the early Christians could not have possibly had knowledge of. Rather, these myths and mysteries all pointed to the sacred promise that would be fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

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A Commentary on James

And the commentaries keep on coming. 🙂 It’s James’s turn this time. . . .

A Commentary on JamesAida Besancon Spencer. A Commentary on James. 352p., $26.99, Kregel Academic.

This commentary sheds exegetical and theological light on the book of James for contemporary preachers and students of Scripture. Listening closely to the text while interacting with the best of scholarship, Aida Besancon Spencer shows what this epistle meant for the early church and what it means for us today. In addition to its comments on the biblical text, this volume examines James’s four key themes: speaking wisely, using wealth, persevering in trials, and becoming doers of the Word.

Spencer offers guidance to preachers and teachers wanting to do a series on James, with homiletical trajectories for each passage to show how historical narrative can be presented from the pulpit and in the classroom.

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The Jesus of the Gospels

A study/entwining of the Gospels that’s both academic and understandable. . . .

The Jesus of the GospelsAndreas J. Köstenberger. The Jesus of the Gospels: An Introduction. 432p., $34.99, Kregel Academic.

The Jesus of the Gospels brings together the best elements of a survey of the Gospels and a commentary on the Gospels to help readers know Jesus and understand the good news. Drawing on decades of experience teaching and writing on the Gospels, Andreas Köstenberger presents a holistic portrait of Jesus by leading readers through an in-depth study of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each chapter explores one gospel account, beginning with a short introduction that highlights the gospel’s individual distinctives, followed by an outline of the book. Köstenberger breaks each gospel into short sections, explaining the meaning and how it sheds light on Jesus and His mission. Numerous sidebars, maps, and diagrams highlight supplemental information, and regular “Recap” sections summarize key points. For those interested in further study, footnotes point to useful resources. In addition to helping readers follow the storyline and theology of each gospel, Köstenberger also emphasizes practical application, showing readers how to apply what they’re learning to their lives.

Ideal for those who are new to the study of the Gospels, and for instructors looking for an accessible introduction based on solid scholarship, The Jesus of the Gospels offers readers and students to the riches of the Gospels and a deeper knowledge of Jesus and the good news.

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40 Questions About Islam

For those seeking to understand and reach out to Muslims. . . .

40 Questions About IslamMatthew Bennett. 40 Questions About Islam. 304p., $21.99, Kregel Academic.

Islam is one of the most significant forces shaping the world today, but most Christians are confused about its key beliefs and practices. Many wonder about the apparent similarities and obvious differences between Christianity and Islam, and want to reach out to Muslim friends or neighbors with the gospel but don’t know where to begin. Having spent several years living in North Africa and the Middle East, missions professor Matthew Bennett guides readers through Islam’s key tenants and provides answers to critical questions, such as:

  • Who was Muhammad and what was his message?
  • Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
  • What are the differences between the Qur’an and the Bible?
  • What is shariah law?
  • What is the Islamic view of salvation?
  • What happens in the mosque?
  • Is Islam inherently misogynistic?
  • How should a Christian share the gospel with Muslims?

Helpful summaries at the end of each chapter encapsulate important information, followed by discussion questions useful for personal or small-group study. Whether you want to understand Islam better or reach Muslims for Christ, 40 Questions on Islam is an indispensable primer and reference book.

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Ephesians: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching

Another one o’them commentaries for you to absorb, this one on Ephesians. . . .

EphesiansBenjamin I. Simpson. Ephesians: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching. Big Greek Idea series. 448p., $36.99, Kregel Academic.

Big Greek Idea provides all the relevant information from the Greek text for preaching and teaching the New Testament. Each New Testament book is divided into units of thought, revealing a big Greek idea (the author’s main idea in the passage), and individual clauses are displayed visually to illustrate their relationships, portraying the biblical author’s logical flow. Greek clauses are accompanied by an original English translation.

Additional commentary explains how the syntax and vocabulary of each verse clarifies the biblical writer’s intended meaning. The authors of each volume have scoured major reference works and commentaries on each book, saving readers countless hours of research. The series is ideal for busy pastors consulting the Greek text for sermons, instructors preparing lectures, and students looking for supplementary study aids.

Each volume in this series contains many practical features:

  • Helpful charts, tables, and diagrams illustrate key points
  • Numerous callouts provide deeper insights into word meanings and theological issues
  • Visual cues highlight important information
  • An introduction to each biblical book summarizes the grammar, style, and vocabulary of the book as a whole, including reminders and explanations of key terms
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FracMan Conflicted

And now, for something completely different: a Christian romance novel based around the fracking industry. And it’s decidedly more interesting than you might suspect. . . .

Book Cover Image for FracMan ConflictedIan Dexter Palmer. FracMan Conflicted. 360p., $15.99, Deep River Books.

Fracking for oil is both dangerous and controversial. Cautious and talented Kelly is a successful young petroleum engineer intent on climbing the corporate ladder. She suddenly finds herself on shaky ground when assigned to work with the FracMan, Jordan, a reckless older engineer whose risk-taking propelled him to the top of the field. Their unlikely attraction brings challenges to them both, as they wrestle with love, risk, and tragedy, while seeking God.

A love story that is both entertaining and informative, FracMan Conflicted takes readers on a journey around the world and into the everyday workings of the oil and gas industry.

Explore the science of fracking and earthquakes while contemplating love, loss, and the need for faith that goes deeper than it all.

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The Gift of One Day

Learning to appreciate life in the midst of grief and pain . . . and the story of one life in a day . . .

Chris and Kerry Shook. The Gift of One Day: How to Find Hope When Life Gets Hard. 240p., $22.99 (hadcover), $11.99 (eBook), WaterBrook Multnomah.

Kerry and Chris Shook’s grandson, Jude, lived for only one day after he was born. That one day changed the way they now live every day. Now they share their lessons of faith and hope.

As they recount the compelling true story of Jude’s short but inspiring life, Kerry and Chris reveal the transformative insights they learned when tragedy struck their family. Told with humility and transparency, their story illustrates the goodness of God even in overwhelming circumstances as they share answers to the question: How do we live each day with attentive hope when life is often so crushingly hard?

Exploring the power of gratitude, the privilege of prayer, and the blessing of suffering, The Gift of One Day is a compelling and accessible Christian message of hope and encouragement for those wrestling with life’s difficult days and seasons.

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