Archives For *Featured Reviews*


Michelle DeRusha

Faithful and Courageous Lives

A Review of

50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of Faith

Michelle DeRusha

Paperback: Baker Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy


Take out a piece of paper and a pencil. Quickly jot down all of the Christian women you’ve learned about over the years in your community of faith. Next to each name, write a couple words describing what they are known for. How many did you come up with?


I came up with 9.


Thankfully Michelle DeRusha did us all a favor and put some great research and writing into her newest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of the Faith. 357 pages of research are filled with brief biographies of 50 courageous, faithful women from all walks of life who have a few things in common: loving the Lord passionately, sensitivity to His voice and obediently walking the path before them.

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Anne Marie MillerBeauty and Redemption in Brokenness

A Feature Review of

Lean on Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable and Consistent Community

Anne Marie Miller

Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2014
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Reviewed by Sarah Winfrey
At its most basic, Anne Marie Miller’s Lean On Me is a book about friendship. It’s about making friends and keeping them, about accepting the places in ourselves that need to be friended and learning to make connections that go beyond passing the time of day. On a deeper level, though, Lean On Me is about the significant ways other people can help us, hold us, lead us, and change us, and its about learning to let them do that.
Our culture focuses on independence, where being strong looks most like taking care of yourself and handling yourself without needing to rely on other people. Even in the Church, people who request a lot of support are considered “needy” and we are trained to be wary of how much energy we offer them. And heaven forbid we become one of them, seemingly unable to function normally without the help of others.

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Tim SuttleA Text for the Little Guys

A Feature Review of

Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture

Tim Suttle

Paperback:  Zondervan, 2014
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Reviewed by Katie Savage


Last week, one sweet parishioner pulled me aside after the Sunday service and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry—it will happen.” She must have noticed me scanning the crowd (can you call it a crowd when only twenty of the, perhaps, 200 seats are filled?). To be honest, I wasn’t necessarily concerned about the numbers at that moment.  But there are always reminders that, culturally at least, I should be.
“The church is facing a huge problem,” writes author and pastor Tim Suttle. “We have become enamored with size. We have become infatuated with all things bigger, better, stronger, higher and faster.” In his new book Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture (Zondervan, 2014), Suttle attempts to change the Christian leadership conversation. Faithfulness, he reiterates again and again, is the name of the game, not success.
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J.R. BriggsEducating, Maturing and Preparing

A Feature Review of

Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure
J.R. Briggs

Paperback: IVP Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Micheal Hickerson
Earlier this summer, my wife and I visited about ten unfamiliar churches around Cincinnati. For every healthy community we encountered, there was another that was slowly dying, with a small group of survivors still meeting in a mostly empty sanctuary. At several, we were among their few visitors all year. One church, itself in the midst of a long pastor search, had recently merged with another that had been forced to sell its building, producing the strange scene of a pastor without a church attending a church without a pastor. Even flourishing churches bore scars of recent wounds, such as the wealthy and well-attended church whose lobby featured protraits of every pastor since the 1920s. Every pastor, that is, except for the most recently departed.
Fail grew out of Briggs’s own failures and his subsequent launch of the Epic Fail conferences, a series of intimate gatherings around the country unlike any church conference I’ve ever attended.

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Deirdre CornellBlessed by the People that the Empire Forgets and Disdains and Shuns

Jesus was a Migrant

Dierdre Cornell

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2014
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Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield


The front cover is of a man drawn in a Byzantine style, curly haired and bearded, trapped behind a wall of barbed wire. As he grabs a sharp strand of the fence in his hand he stares out at me, the reader. I notice the wound, dark and red, gaping from his palm. As anyone who ever went to Sunday School will know, this man is obviously Jesus. The title of the book competes with the wounds and eyes of Christ for my attention: Jesus Was a Migrant, it proclaims with boldness. I do not quite know what this means. I want to ask questions of it, wrestle with this claim, right from the beginning. I feel so very far away from him, and far away from the experiences of the stateless wanderers our world produces.

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Steve AlmondFootball: A Lover’s Struggle

A Feature Review of

Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

Steve Almond

Hardback: Melville House, 2014Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Cody Stauffer
I love football. I have played it well. I have inflicted damage and my body has taken damage. I have devoted entire days to watching it live and listening to people talk about the glorious nuance of the game.
Lately, I have struggled with my love for the sport. It began when Dave Duerson, a Super Bowl champion safety, took his own life in 2011. He left a note requesting that his brain be donated to a brain bank doing research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain injury found in many boxers and now an increasing number of former NFL players. It became serious when I learned about Nathan Stiles, a 17-year-old football player who died shortly after his homecoming game due to a series of concussive and subconcussive blows to the head.

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Marcia Mount ShoopThe Gifts of Vitality, of Community, and of Transformation

A Review of

Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports

Marcia Mount Shoop

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Bernie Schock
In Touchdowns for Jesus, Marcia Mount Shoop offers a unique perspective on the inside world of big-time college athletics, especially big-time football. She is a trained theologian (PhD in religious studies from Emory University), an ordained Presbyterian minister, and her husband has coached in the NFL and NCAA Division I football.


Even though Marcia Mount Shoop and I may not agree on all issues, I appreciate her efforts to find “God’s fingerprints” in the world of sports. She believes that God is involved in complex ways in the details of our lives—even our sporting lives—and she is on a “quest for truth that can both convict and transform us.”

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Brian ZahndIs there No Peace in the Land?

A Feature Review of

A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Brian Zahnd

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2014.
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Reviewed by John W. Morehead


In recent years an increasing number of Evangelicals have taken up the work of peacemaking. No longer seen as the sole purview of progressives or liberals, these Evangelicals have connected their work in peacemaking as a central facet of the Gospel and a broader Christian theology and praxis. Brian Zahnd makes a thought provoking contribution to this growing body of work through his book.

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Bernard McGinnA Life of Savory Knowing

A Feature Review of

Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae: A Biography

Bernard McGinn

Hardback: Princeton University Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Alden Lee Bass

“If Thomas Aquinas were alive today, he’d be a holy-roller,” I recently heard a Catholic professor explain. Looking at a few of the many paintings of St. Thomas made by his admirers, one does not get the impression that he ever broke into holy laughter, or laughter at all for that matter. Which just goes to show how diverse the reception of Aquinas has been over the centuries since his death, and by his most influential and representative writing, the Summa theologiae.
Thomas published a great deal more than the Summa in his short lifetime (he died at age 49). He wrote many beautiful commentaries on scripture, for instance, as well as commentaries on existing theological texts such as the Sentences of Peter Lombard. He also generated a large number of philosophical and theological treatises on such questions as: What is truth? What is evil? What is the soul? Though Thomas is mostly remembered as a man of sky-scraping intellect, in his own day his works were read widely by laymen and people of modest intelligence.

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Jon M. SweeneyWhen Exactly Did Francis Save the Church?

A Feature Review of

When Saint Francis Saved the Church: How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages

Jon M. Sweeney

Hardback: Ave Maria Press; 2014
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Reviewed by Adam P. Newton


Anyone attempting to write a book about St. Francis must face this key issue at some point: we know very little about him outside of a few hagiographic biographies that his followers penned in the decades after he died. He left behind a limited written record of his own intentions for how Franciscans should live, and his ideas were so radical that even his own brothers strayed from those principles while he was still alive. Is it a good idea for us to adopt his standards of living in the 21st century as a way to evoke a more Christ-like way of operating in the world? Certainly, but the ideas of Francis are so potent that they’ve superseded the facts about his life, transcended reality, moved to the world of myth and legend.

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