Mini-Reviews #8

Just finished another great batch of books:

Work Matters by Tom Nelson.

This is a terrific book on a subject not explored fully enough in contemporary evangelicalism: a theology of work. As usual, Nelson (pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas), shares a comprehensive, balanced, biblical view of the doctrine of work.

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias, a friend, is a gifted writer. The last few years she has devoted herself to writing what she calls “bold” fiction. She tackles a thorny social issue and weaves a story around it, opening up the reader’s eyes to issues of justice and suffering. I recently read and reviewed her novel, Deliver Me From Evil which puts a face on the scourge of human trafficking. It so disturbed me that I’ve renewed a committment to help in this fight.

A Christmas Journey Home tackles the subject of illegal immigration, something that provokes heated debate on both sides. What Kathi does is share the stories of two widows about to collide. One is the wife of a slain border agent. She and her son struggle in the year after his death, wondering why God allowed it to happen and taking her anger out on the illegals that cross the border. In her anger you can hear the frustration of those who wish the border was more secure.

The other story is one of a young pregnant Mexican wife who, with her husband, fled the violence in her hometown. Their once quiet neighborhoods were now racked by violence, the indiscriminate murder of innocent women and children. Her father gives the couple his life savings and urges them to try to cross the border. In their story you see the struggle to find a better situation for their growing family.

The two stories collide in a setting not dissimilar from the humble conditions of Jesus’ birth. It is the story of the Nativity that calls the border agent’s wife to find the forgiveness and grace to engage the wife of the illegal. This is not a book that offers bullet-point solutions to the issue of illegal immigration, but readers will put a human face on a problem, pushing past the stereotypes, posturing, and politics that plage the immigration crisis.

This is a great book first for church staff, pastors, and missionaries. Quite often we either send a message to the lay people in our congregation that their day job is less important than that of a ministry leader. We don’t preach often enough on the important doctrine of vocation, of work not simply as a means to an end (tithing, evangelism), but as a form of worship itself. Nelson covers the full orbit of work in a pastoral, encouraging way.

This is also a terrific book for lay leaders. Often you feel as if you’re “secular” work is sort of secondary to church involvement, as if what you do on Monday-Friday has no connection to worship on Sunday. Nelson will shatter that myth with biblical truth and give you a solid foundation from which to glorify God in your vocation.

After reading this book, I’m thinking of doing a future Sunday morning series on the theology of work. We pastors often fail to properly spiritually equip our people for their chosen calling in this world. Work Matters will go a long way toward helping us do that.


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