Books I’ve Read This Month: January 2022

Before You Lose Your Faith

It’s no secret, and least in my circles, that there are seemingly many (at least from the looks of my social media feed) that there are those who are going through deconstructing phases of their faith. It’s been a tension point for me both on a personal level and a pastoral level. While there are things in my experience with the church and religion that have caused me to question some aspects of the Christian faith, I have not walked through a deconstruction phase in the sense that we see it today. However, this topic is not just occurring now but has been since the dawn of man. This is why our understanding of this topic is an important one.

“Before You Lose Your Faith” is an excellent collection of a wide range of topics that many are wrestling with in their deconstruction—issues such as sex, race, politics, science, social justice, and much more. Various writers thoughtfully tackle each of these areas to help challenge all of us to think about how our faith in Christ should impact how we interact with each of these topics. I would encourage anyone, whether or not you are deconstructing or not, to read this book. There are things within the church that need to be shaken up and thought about more clearly. This book may be one tool we can use to get us moving in the right direction.

Favorite Quotes:

“Many people want to maintain something resembling Christianity, since they believe religions are good when they provide us with purpose and make us kinder and more decent to others. But such attempts to keep part of Christianity without the whole, or to revise it according to our preferences, only leaves us unsatisfied.” (Pg. 15)

“Will that story receive as much scrutiny as the Christian story you’ve rejected? Will your new community be held to the same standards as your old community? Will your self receive as much critical examination as your Savior did?” (Pg. 17)

“The question is not, “Will you shape yourself or will you allow someone to shape you?” The question is, “Will you be shaped by an all-powerful, all-merciful Creator who loves justice and righteousness and mercy? Or will you be shaped by the endless parade of fads and tribes?” (Pg. 64)


This has seemed to be a book on everyone’s reading list recently. It has probably been since I was in high school that I had first read this book. Let me just say, it hits a little different as a guy in my mid-thirties with a wife and kids! While I do not gravitate towards gloom, doom, and conspiracies, I think there are some helpful things that George Orwell points out in this work in particular. It’s a classic piece of literature that, in it’s fictitious scenario, should cause us to pause for reflection on the modern realities we are facing as Americans. If you would like a more in depth overview of this book, I’ve got a resource I can point you to and would be happy to share with you if you message me!

Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Curses

Martin Lloyd-Jones is the guy when it comes to kitting me exactly where I needed it! This book collects 21 sermons that he preached from London’s Westminster Chapel. In these messages, he deals with sin, regret, fear, negative emotions, doubt, discipline, trials, and many more topics that attempt to steal our joy in Christ. Satan would love nothing more than to shut down a Christian, making him ineffective in his witness to the world. I wholeheartedly recommend you take the time to read this book!

Favorite Quotes:

“Ultimately, the only thing which is going to drive a man to Christ and make him rely upon Christ alone, is a true conviction of sin. We go astray because we are not truly convicted of our sin.” (Pg. 28)

“The essence of the Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him!” (Pg 34)

“What a miserable thing self is, what an ugly thing, what a foul thing. We are all guilty, of this, every one of us, in some shape or form. The devil comes to us and we listen, and we begin to doubt whether God is just and righteous in His dealings with us. Self needs to be exposed for what it is. Sin in its ugliness and foulness needs to be unmasked…It is the greatest enemy of the soul, and it leads to misery and unhappiness. It is bound to do so for every reason. It is utterly wrong, and there is nothing to be said in its defense.” (Pg. 128)

“It is grace at the beginning, grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our deathbeds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us at the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace, wondrous grace. ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’ ‘Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’” (Pg. 132)

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days

The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

This was a great find that I genuinely enjoyed reading. It follows the story of Mildred Harnack, who led an anti-Nazi resistance movement in Germany. She and her husband, Arvid, passed along economic intelligence. Mildred became a resistance fighter as a Berlin anti-fascist espionage group, later called the Red Orchestra. This is a fantastic story of how a school teacher became an anti-Nazi resistance leader. Both Mildred and Arvid were arrested in September 1942. Arvid was executed in December of 1942 at the age of 41. Mildred was executed a couple of months later, on February 16, 1943, by guillotine at the age of 40. It is a powerful story and one that reminds us of the importance of history in a world that wants to forget the past.

Read on!

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Thanks for reading!


UnashamedCoverAs a white male who has only lived in the predominately white neighborhoods of South Carolina, the farm country of Illinois, and the hill country of New Hampshire; I am unable to relate to what it is like to grow up in the inner-city surrounded by the culture and temptation of gang life. It is hard for me to wrap my head around being a part of a poverty-stricken culture that pushes you to do unspeakable things to find money and acceptance. However, as a Christ-Follower, I am called to love people, care for them, and share Christ with them. Therefore, insight is helpful.

Lecrae, a rapper who is a Christian, has opened us up to his childhood and what it was like for him growing up in the type of environment that many of us only see portrayed in movies. Lecrae opens himself up by sharing the details of being abandoned by his father, being abused, and his roller coaster life choices. Lecrae opens up about some very dark moments of his past but makes it clear that he has been rescued and forgiven by Christ and now he lives to get that same Gospel message out into a world that tries desperately to glamorize the lifestyle he grew up in.

As Lecrae shares his story it becomes very clear that God has called him to be a light in a very specific culture and he challenges his readers to think about their opportunities to share Christ as well. We are Christians who are in a specific environment in which we should be witnesses of the light we have. Lecrae is clear about the calling he has from God:

“I wasn’t some church kid who was trying to be hip-hop because it was cool; I was a kid who grew up in hip-hop who was making music as a Christian.”

~Lecrae, Unashamed

Plenty of critics have found Lecrae to be an easy target. Critics of both Christian and non-Christian have given him great grief. However, Lecrae handles his struggle with the critics very well as he describes what his mission is.

This is much more than a story about an African-American kid who grew up to become a rapper. It is about a broken hurting person who found true hope in a Father who would not abandon him. This book is about a hurting soul who found true hope in a relationship with Christ. It is a picture of what our lives should look like as believer’s.

“But more than anything, Lecrae is a child who is unconditionally loved by God. I’m a sinner who has been rescued by God from my brokenness and called to glorify the One who has never left my side.

That’s who Lecrae is, and that’s who I’ll always be.

~Lecrae, Unashamed

I would recommend this book to anyone. But especially to those who are working with or wish to work with inner-city ministries. This book is not a how-to on working with inner-city kids, but it is a way to get a glimpse of what these kids are growing up in. For me, this book helped me see how I can better reach out to and pray for those within my own inner-city here in central Illinois.

May you find this book a great resource in not just getting to know a rapper named Lecrae, but that it will challenge you to be a better light in the community you are in right now!


*B&H Publishing has kindly provided me with a copy of Unashamed to give away! Sign-up to follow my blog, share this review, follow me on Twitter (@joshprather) and Facebook in order to win! A name at random will be chosen on Friday (May 6, 2016) from those that follow and share the most! Thanks for reading a sharing!

Purchase your own copy today!


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