Today I’d like to share with you two very intriguing books I recently read that both release today. (Happy book birthday!) Each of these books cover somewhat unpopular topics in Christianity today, in my experience. The first is the greatly expanded and revised edition of Signs of the Times by author Greg Laurie and the second is Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell by author R.T. Kendall.
As you may have noticed from my previous book reviews, I enjoy reading books that challenge me, make me ask hard questions of myself or my faith, or push me out of my comfort zone. Both these books did just that.
I was eager to read Signs of the Times, the subtitle alone – What The Bible Says About The Rapture, The Antichrist, Armageddon, Heaven, and Hell – promised answers to questions I had always been afraid or embarrassed to ask. You see for most of my childhood I grew up in small, Hispanic, Pentecostal churches so hearing about end times and how we were in them was a regularity. I heard often that “Jesus was coming!” but I didn’t necessarily know what that entailed. As I grew up I read the “spooky” book of Revelation but honestly didn’t have that much understanding of it. I’ve never, in my 31 years heard a sermon or participated in a Bible study that explained the end times in a way that I could keep up with or understand – it seemed like my teachers always had such a theological base and understanding of these things that didn’t allow me to catch on or keep up with what was being taught. To be honest, I was expecting my experience with this book to be more of the same but my curiosity on the subject and my desire to finally grasp some understanding of what I always believed to be such an important part of the Word of God compelled me to give it a read and I am so glad I did. Not once while reading this book did I feel overwhelmed by its content or left behind(pun intended 😉 ) by the author. Instead, I felt informed and encouraged to further my study of this important and sometimes controversial topic. This doesn’t need to be a topic that we as Christians are afraid of or embarrassed about or wish wasn’t a part of the Word of God. The truth is, we are in fact in the end times – just because we may have heard it all our lives doesn’t make it any less true, it actually makes it even more true because the time of Jesus’ return is drawing nearer. Greg makes this point so clear in this book which can be just as easily read and understood by a believer who is new to the faith as a one who has been in the faith for many years, and not to mention someone who may not even be a part of the faith–yet. It’s an unpopular topic in most circles but it is one we should be familiar with to say the least.
We need to be ready to go at any time, because the Lord will come for His own, and snatch us away in the twinkling of an eye. – Greg Laurie, Sign of the Times
R.T. Kendall’s new book – also releasing today – Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell was another I was not expecting to have the impact that it did on me. To be honest, my thinking was, “I don’t care about being either of those things, I just want to make it heaven” and R.T. addresses that exact thinking in one portion of the book. What I love about this book is that I believe it can speak to so many people in my generation and this social media age. There are so many Christian “influencers”, bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, etc – most trying to figure out the winning formula for more followers, sponsorships, and publicity or better put “popularity”. I’m one of them! We each feel like we have a message worth sharing(hopefully the message of Jesus’ saving blood) and we try our best to get that message out there and if we have to suffer by being popular here on earth so be it [sarcasm implied]. But in his book R.T. challenges his readers not to seek popularity here on earth but instead to seek it out in heaven through evangelism, turning from sin, standing firm in our faith, and simply pleasing God in all we do. He does make the point that sometimes as we strive for popularity in heaven we may, as a side effect, gain popularity here on earth but that should never be the focus of our service or we risk losing both.
As for being famous in hell, R.T. reminds us that hell is a real place and the devil is a real enemy. He warns us not to fall into the two categories of 1. focusing on the demonic all the time or 2. never dealing with it at all. He says, “…one should not be afraid of the devil…He is pitifully weak compared to almighty God. Do not be like some who have more fear of the devil than they do of God!” He warns that we should have a healthy awareness of the devil and his demons – but we shouldn’t go running around looking for demons to exorcise like the 7 young men in Acts 19 who tried to cast out a demon from a demon-possessed man “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13) and ended up running away naked and beaten when the demon manifested and overpowered them all. He tells us that the qualification for being famous in hell comes down to two things: having boldness and courage and having been with Jesus. That’s all it takes. And after reading his book, I believe him.
Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.
I’m thrilled that I got to read these books together as I feel they really compliment each other well. They each challenged me in their own ways to be unafraid of how the world looks or thinks of me and to live and embrace the complete Word of God, without fear or shame because it is the inerrant word of truth. Pick up a copy of Signs of the Times by Greg Laurie and Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell by R.T. Kendall today wherever books are sold and come back to discuss. I’d love to hear your thoughts on each! Can’t wait to hear from you. 🙂
Each of these books were provided to me as advanced reader copies.