HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: How Is Jesus Good News?
Author: Ray Notgrass
Publisher: Resource Publications, 1992
Related website: www.notgrass.com/
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Notgrass, Ray. How Is Jesus Good News? (published in 1992 by Resource Publications, 202 S. Locust St., Searcy, AR 72143). Ray Notgrass is a homeschooling father and a preacher associated with Churches of Christ who now lives in Cookeville, TN, and operates the Notgrass Co. which publishes homeschooling curricula and related items. I first became familiar with his name through articles that his son John, a homeschool graduate, has written for several years in Home School Digest (many of which have been published in a book, Make It Your Ambition). A few years ago I was able to hear John speak and met some others in the family briefly at a homeschool convention. Then later, Ray and his wife Charlene visited a campout that several families of homeschooling Christians had at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, and I came to be acquainted with them even more.
The material in How Is Jesus Good News? was originally put into manuscript form in 1988 for a lectureship in Oxford, MS, when Ray was minister with the Philo Rd. church of Christ in Urbana, IL. In the book, Ray explains thirteen reasons why Jesus is good news. The material is very basic but presented with great insight. With thirteen chapters, it would make a good quarter’s study in a Bible class that would help Christians in better presenting the gospel message to unbelievers; or something to give an unbeliever who would be willing to study it to help his understanding of God’s plan; or part of a teenager’s homeschool Bible curriculum. While I might not have said some things exactly the way that Ray did, for many books that I review and even recommend I have to add a disclaimer that those of us in non-denominational churches of Christ may not agree with everything in them but that is not the case here.
Now, people of other religious persuasions may not agree with some of the points that he makes, but I must say that for everything he says, he gives a firm Biblical basis. Here are a couple of quotes. Concerning “self-esteem”: “A positive self-image does not begin with self, but with God. Someone has said that humility is not so much a squashing down of oneself as it is gaining the proper perspective on God. Humility that beings with an effort to be humble enough begins at the wrong place and simply continues this fleshly-minded focus on self. When you get your thinking straight about God, then you have the proper basis for thinking about self. For the Christian, your ‘self’–in other words, your identity–has been swallowed up in Christ” (pp. 35-36). Concerning suffering: “If God could bring so much good out of something as terrible as Jesus’ death on the cross, then surely God can bring something good out of the bad things that happen to us if we let Him” (pp. 78-79).