A little over two months ago, I received a copy of Heaven’s Star: Check This Ancient GPS written by Jim Woodell* and was asked to review it on my blog. So below is my review. The book is available in print and kindle editions. Before I review the book, I want to express my thanks to Jim Woodell for putting in the labor and time to share with others what he is passionate about, which is Jesus Christ and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
The book itself is very easy to read text of 134 pages intended for any Christian who wants to become more proficient at evangelism. In fact, the author makes this evangelistic purpose clear (p. viii) and so the book is written almost as a manual to some extent. At the same time, the book intermixes personal stories, very practical suggestions, and a study of some key passages without getting bogged down into details that would be unhelpful in an evangelistic Bible-study.
An undergraduate professor of mine once said about evangelism, “What we win them with is what we win them too.” His point was that if we evangelize people with trying to teach them a particular set of doctrines or about the organization of the church, that is what we will win them too. But if we teach people about Jesus, we will win them to Jesus. The good news as it pertains to Woodell’s book is that he wants to encourage us to teach about Jesus and win people to Jesus. Thus, the writers says:
It is so easy to get side-tracked, to focus on “what” instead of “who.” It is too easy to campaign on behalf of a church or a particular doctrine or plan, and fail to share the good news—Jesus! (p. 8)
So to accomplish this task, the author divides the book into two sections. The first section provides a rationale for why evangelism is necessary. In the second section, the book demonstrates what the author calls the “Romans Approach” using Romans 4-8 as a way to teach people about redemptive work God accomplishes in Jesus Christ.
One limitation the book has may be with making disciples. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus is gives a clear command for his people to go and make disciples. Now to the author’s credit, he is all for making disciples of Jesus (p. 25, 89), so my mention of this issue is not a disagreement with the author but more about the limitation of this book. A disciple, I believe, is not someone who just merely believes in Jesus for salvation and becomes a part of the church. Rather, a disciple is someone who not only believes in Jesus but also learns to live as a follower of Jesus and his way of life. This book will certainly help Christians evangelistically teach so that others may come to believe in Jesus but lacks somewhat in helping Christians to think about teaching the ways of Jesus. Nevertheless, this does not diminish the books value. It is just helpful for readers to know up front what a books strengths and weaknesses are.
Overall, it is refreshing to see a book being published that encourages more evangelism but does so in a Christ-centered way. If you want to become more evangelistic, you may find this book to be of great help. Thanks again to Jim Woodell for sharing his passion with us.
* Jim Woodell is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Jim has served as a Preacher/Minister within Churches of Christ and currently serves as Executive Director of River City Ministries, a ministry to urban poor of Little Rock, Arkansas.