Skip to main content

Invitation to James

Invitation to James: Persevering Through Trials to Win the Crown by Donald Sunukjian

These published sermons by renowned preacher and Preaching Professor Donald Sunukjian (author of Invitation to Biblical Preaching also) are chalk full of wisdom concerning preaching and understanding the audience.  Taking us through the Book of James, Donald opens both the newspapers of our culture (what’s going on in the lives of those people we preach to), and the world of James (the 1st century Biblical world) to give us God’s wisdom for our lives.  What initially turns out to be some written sermons after reading becomes a clear model of how to preach clearly, effectively, and winsomely.

Opening the book is a sermon on James 1.1-4 is an illustration from Judith Viorst’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair and he goes to bed with his terrible railroad pajamas on and no cat in his bed.  Donald takes up this book in connection with all people who experience anger, frustration, and pain that they don’t want and wish would go away (6-7).  He then goes onto set these examples in light of James’ situation as a church leader in the midst of a hostile world where their shops were boycotted, their lives endangered and harassment at every corner.  In this context, Donald helps his audience understand what it means to “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds,” James 1.2.  Donald goes onto point out that these trials are very specific in nature, they are “the kind of trials he’s talking about are those where you can’t do anything to deserve such difficulty; and there isn’t anything you can do to stop it.  You didn’t cause it, and you can’t end it:…” (10).  Dementia, financial failure because of the economy, pain of having drug addicted parents, all these things are not part of the normal way of things.  Donald has a way of getting to the bottom of issues in the text that point to very real life events in the audience.

On speaking about loving impartially and James 2.1-13, Donald writes, “There’s a second reason why you should love impartially.  You must do so not only because it shows your trust in God, that he is in control, but also because it shows your wisdom about people – that it’s often the poor who have the deepest walk with God….whereas the rich often have no use for him in their live” (45).  We don’t often think about classes of people like this because often we are more concerned about what they can give to the church, money, than about their wisdom in the things of God.  Donald brings about to the underlying truth of James’ words about impartiality. 

This book of sermons is a breath of fresh air for those wanting a sober account of the book of James.  Even more, Donald provides sterling examples of how to dig into the text and into our culture, bringing together the hope of the gospel for the weary soul.

Thanks to Weaver Book Company and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…