April 2003

New books explore the Christian journey of faith

By Hershel Shanks
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With all the cute bunnies and Easter eggs around, sometimes it's easy to forget that there's a deeper meaning to Easter. The celebration of this holiday marking the resurrection of Jesus offers Christians an opportunity to pause and reflect on their faith, and several new books can serve as guideposts for the journey.

The God Who Hung on the Cross (Zondervan, $18.99, 214 pages, ISBN 0310248353), by Dois I. Rosser Jr. and Ellen Vaughn with a foreword by Chuck Colson provides a testament to the power of the Christian message in far-flung spots around the world. Now in his 80s, business entrepreneur Dois Rosser founded International Cooperating Ministries, which works with Christian leaders in developing nations. Since it began in 1988, the ministry has established more than 1,400 churches, developed a radio program that reaches nearly three billion people, and helps care for the orphans and poor. Not bad for a guy most of us have never heard of.

And that's the message of this fascinating book. God uses little people like you and me to accomplish His biggest miracles. The authors include stories of faith from such diverse locations as Cambodia and Zimbabwe, and along the way readers begin to recognize the God who hung on the cross from a global perspective. Readers interested in an historical view of Jesus should consider The Brother of Jesus: The Dramatic Story ∧ Significance of the First Archaeological Link to Jesus ∧ His Family by Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington. This new book explores what some are calling the “the most astonishing find in the history of archaeology, ” first announced by scholars last fall. An inscription on a newly discovered, first-century ossuary (a limestone chest where the bones of the deceased were stored) reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The inscription carries significant religious implications, since it serves as what the authors describe as the first confirmation of Jesus' existence in an archaeological context. This easy-to-understand book examines the inscriptions, the response of the media to the discovery and the role of James in the early church. Anyone with an interest in archaeology or the historical Jesus will find this book fascinating and find themselves digging a little deeper into their faith this Easter season.

If you know anything about popular writer Joyce Meyer, you're probably aware that she doesn't mince words. This gifted Bible teacher, speaker and author of more than four dozen books cuts right to the heart of the matter in her latest title, Knowing God Intimately (Warner Faith, $21.99, 301 pages, ISBN 0446531936). Loaded with Scripture, anecdotes and solid Bible teaching, Meyer's book explores in-depth the Holy Spirit and His role in believers' lives. The book is divided into four sections described as intimacy levels. Each section is designed to challenge readers in the depth of their relationship with God. In practical terms, Meyers explains how the Holy Spirit can be a tangible part of every believer's walk with God. And, finally, as a Sri Lankan minister and director of Youth for Christ (YFC), Ajith Fernando is on the frontlines of church work. He has seen firsthand how discouragement, moral failure and compromise can get the best of church leaders, and he challenges Christians of all ages and stages to adhere to the basic tenets of the faith in Jesus Driven Ministry (Cross- way, $19.99, 255 pages, ISBN 1581344457). In this well-written, practical book, Fernando walks readers through fundamental principles of church leadership such as growing team ministry, discipling, scheduling retreats and making pastoral home visits. The pages are filled with inspirational reflections that older believers will find helpful and newer believers will find encouraging. Best of all, Fernando's background as a Sri Lankan gives him a fresh perspective on timeless truths. Margaret Feinberg writes on Christian publishing from her home in Sitka, Alaska.

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