Tag Archives: Crossway Books

Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper

 

After finishing this book, it took me a couple days to actually begin writing this review. One reason is I was busy, but the other reason is I was so overwhelmed with everything this book said I was trying to let it soak in. Rhythms of Grace is a book that I would recommend every church leadership team read together. It is THAT powerful! Mike Cosper is a founding pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky where he serves as pastor of worship and arts. He is also the founder of Sojourn Music. To put it in simple terms, this is his heart and he speaks with conviction, wisdom and understanding that we in the church should take the time to listen to.

The best thing about this book is all throughout it, Mike constantly points to the center of the Christian faith and the reason why we do what we do (or should be why): the Gospel. If the Gospel is not at the center of everything a church does, what is the center? Would that church really make a difference? Or will it become so self-centered that it transforms into some sort of spiritual country club where the gospel is hardly mentioned at all and it is simply a social hub. The way a church worships should be centered on the gospel. If how the church worships does not bring glory to God, it is bringing glory to something else, which is idolatry.

The back of the book makes this statement:

“Is it singing? A church service? All of life? Helping Christians think more theologically about the nature of true worship, Rhythms of Grace shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Mike Cosper ultimately answers the question, What is worship?”

This is what makes this book so great. Mike does not just attack styles or methods but goes right to the heart and soul of worship. Why do we gather as a church? What is the purpose of the church gathered? How can the church gathered utilize its time for the greatest impact for the kingdom of God? Worship is more than just singing and he tackles that in a tactful manner that will get people thinking. Worship is everything we do throughout life, not just the songs we sing on Sunday morning. If we believe that worship is only what happens on Sunday morning, then we are truly missing the heart of worship and what the Christian life is all about. From the moment of creation to now, life has been about worship. All of creation was made for worship. We were made to worship God. Church was not instituted by God to all of a sudden be the only place people worshiped. God created people for the purpose of worship and fellowship. Unfortunately, we in the church have made it more about style and how we feel than about who God is and who we are singing to and about.

This book will challenge you and your church to worship God with all that you are and actually take a look at how you set up your worship service and why you do it that way. Worship is all about the gospel and if we do not have an understanding of the Gospel, we will not worship as we were created to worship. Because only in the Gospel can true worship take place. If the only time we think about the gospel is Sunday morning, then our hearts will not be ready to sing. If our lives Monday through Saturday do not match what we profess to believe, then our Sunday mornings will not bring a smile to God’s face either. Worship is so much more than what we the church have made it about. It encompasses all of life and that is the only way true worship happens, when it actually invades our lives. The world was created in a rhythm. Sin upset that rhythm. The Gospel helps us see the rhythm and move back towards it while restoring our hearts to the real reason for worship. From the very beginning, life has been about worship, and worship has been about the Gospel. If the church does not grasp this, then the church will not be truly worshiping.

Rhythms Of Grace was packed with quotes but I want to share a few that stood out to me as I read through this book. Maybe it will help pique your interest in this book.

“At it’s heart, worship is rooted in love.”

“Worship as an activity that’s somehow separate from the rest of life appears nonexistent and frankly, unnecessary. In the seamless perfection of that virgin world, it is all worship – a constant reflection of God’s love, glory, and brilliance.”

“When worship gets married to a particular style of music, the consequences are huge.”

“We need to lead worship in such a way that when people gather, they see Jesus.”

“Only someone with a deep background in the Scriptures and pastoral theology can make discerning decisions about songs, prayers and rhythms of grace in the life of the church.”

“A congregation is just as responsible to sing the gospel as the preachers are to preach it.”

“Because we tend to define worship as singing, we tend also to treat singing as an individualized encounter with God. Worship is a broader thing than music, and music’s purpose in the church is bigger than my personal experience. It’s not merely my song, but our song. We sing together, uniting our voices and our words.”

I sincerely loved this book and highly recommend every church leader read it. I would take that a little further and say that I believe every follower of Christ would benefit from this book as it is a refreshing look at worship and church and the Gospel in a way that is God-centered, not man-centered. May we learn from this and realize that worship is all about the gospel, the gospel is all about worship and it is a cycle that feeds off of itself and changes our lives from the inside out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review. Thanks for taking the time to read this review and feel free to leave comments or questions.

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Thinking. Loving. Doing.

Matthew 22:37 states that the Great Commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Christians, and even non-Christians today, have lost the ability to truly unleash their mind. Colleges try to teach people how to have an open mind but in essence they want their students to believe what they believe, feel what they feel, etc. If they teach that there are no absolutes, they want their students to absolutely believe it. We want young people to use their minds but we do not teach them how to. In the church, we have done even a greater disservice in this area. David Mathis makes the point that “Healthy Christianity clearly appreciates the life of the mind.” (p. 15)

True Christianity encompasses all of the emotions. Thinking. Loving. Doing. Is a book that truly challenges how we use our mind. It challenges us to even question whether or not we are even using our mind. As I sometimes do in my reviews, here is what the back of the book has to say:

“Here is a call to holistic Christianity. A challenge to be thinkers, engaged and serious about knowing God. And to be feelers, pulsing with passion for Jesus and His gospel. And to be doers, endeavoring great acts of love for others. Our Savior himself shows us that holistic Christianity is comprised of mind, heart and hands. And he shows us that the Christian life is multidimensional – irreducibly and inseparably thinking, loving and doing.”

I use the back many times because the way they word the description or purpose of the book is the best way to put it. This book is all about challenging Christians to be fully devoted followers of Christ and to do that, we must be engaged in all of our emotions. That is how Jesus set the example, He loved, He felt and He did so why should we be expected to do any less as His followers. With the great commandment being to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, why do we think that is an option? The best way to live the Christian life, and the only way to live the Christian life, is with all of our being; anything less than that subconsciously says that we do not have to obey the greatest commandment.

This book began as actual messages spoken at the Desiring God Conference from 2010 and has contributions from Rick Warren, Francis Chan, R.C. Sproul, R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Thabiti Anyabwile. Each of the contributors adds their own unique ability to communicate to the book which makes this book a great read and challenge for anyone desiring to truly walk with the Lord.

Rick Warren begins the book with speaking of the battle of the mind. We face a war for our minds each and every day. There is so much trying to grab our attention and get us thinking about it that for us to truly begin thinking in a Christian way, it will take effort on our part. Albert Mohler follows with speaking on the way the world thinks and how the natural mind is at work within all of us because of the fall of man. R.C. Sproul then moves us on to thinking about the Bible because it is what actually gives answers to life’s biggest questions. Thabiti Anyabwile speaks on Islam and Muslims and how our thinking has affected our reaction or thoughts towards these people. Francis Chan then gives a great challenge to think about whether or not we truly love God and love others. John Piper concludes the book with a challenge on how thinking is what will actually help lead us more fully into experiencing true and lasting joy.

Over all, this book is a great read for any Christian who wants to be challenged. And yet what this book will lead you to is actually begin thinking, and even thinking about thinking. That is what it did to me. After reading many portions of this book, I would find myself sitting and actually just thinking. Our minds are powerful things and as one famous quote states, a “horrible thing to waste.” For the Christian, this is extremely important because the greatest commandment says we are to love with ALL. If we are to love with ALL our mind, it must cause us to think and to think deeply. Not to become more knowledgeable and prideful because of our knowledge, but to think because thinking leads to loving which leads to doing; and that is what the Christian life is all about. So go ahead and pick this book up and read it. You will find yourself challenged and glad that you did pick it up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review.