Out loud and together.
That’s how my patient husband and I are reading through the Bible this year, and, believe it or not, we’re just about on schedule! Right now we are taking in the book of Acts in great gulps, two or three chapters at a time interspersed with the corresponding epistles. That breathless pace feels about right for the book of Acts, for in this solitary book of New Testament history, everything was full steam ahead.
Gregg Matte plowed into the book of Acts, harvested principles from the early church, and has endeavored to sow them in the soil of Houston’s First Baptist Church where he is senior pastor. Awed by the power of the Gospel’s shockwaves through his community, he now offers his observations and experiences along with their application to the 21st century church in the pages of Unstoppable Gospel.
Studying the book of Acts, it’s easy to lose the forest among so many trees: geographic regions, people groups, and multiple missionary journeys. To counteract the blur, Gregg lays out the big picture in terms of Acts 1:8:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This mission statement for the church is 100% relevant because, in Gregg’s words, “the first century church didn’t receive anything that you and I don’t already have. We received the same power they had on the day we became Christians . . . Now our work extends from our doorstep to the ends of the earth.”
And as we journey through the book of Acts with Pastor Gregg, he shares with exuberance the acts of the Holy Spirit in Houston, Texas as they relate to growing the church. Christ is the starting point, and from Him stretches a chain of dominos — a series of encounters and events — that ensure that God’s plan is in perpetual motion. Unstoppable Gospel seeks to awaken in the reader a desire to find his/her unique place in that two thousand year long line of dominos.
Gregg’s words will meddle with your comfort-zone if you give them half a chance. For example, Acts 4 demonstrates Peter’s courage in the midst of a life-threatening event. Turbulence is the rule rather than the exception in the book of Acts, so prayer is a way of life and is conducted on the fly.
- Peter’s been imprisoned by King Herod — yes, the same guy who executed James! Impromptu prayer meeting at Mary’s house!
- “Hey, Ananias, Saul the persecutor is in town. Go and talk to him about your faith.” Gulp.
Unstoppable Gospel unpacks the Greek word describing this kind of earnest prayer: “at full stride.” For the believer who wishes to connect with unbelievers of all backgrounds, this kind of prayer will cultivate the right kind of heart response — to slow down and notice needs, to be sensitive to sin, and to show up where the need is greatest. Paul may have been more comfortable at the synagogue, but he hung out in the market place too.
If the book of Acts seems to end with a cliffhanger, it’s because the final chapter has not been written. The life changing power of the Unstoppable Gospel is at work in the world through believers today. Could it be that the most exciting chapters are yet to come?
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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