Sunday, April 27, 2014

Taking God at His Word, by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung has always given us good books to help us grow in our walk with Jesus Christ.  This book is no exception.  His desire is to help us embrace Scripture as it rings true in our heads and resonates in our hearts.  He wants us to see how this is God's word and can give us immense security in understanding that God is Knowable!

His introductory Chapter points out three things (yeah, Pastors always have three points:),
1.  God's word says what is true
2.  God's word demands what is right
3.  God's word provides what is good

I appreciated also DeYoung's candor in his writing about scripture.  He states, "To be sure, the Bible can feel dull at times, but taken as a whole it is the greatest story ever god, and those who know it best are usually those who delight in it most."  I like the fact that he doesn't shy away from peoples perception of scripture (that it can be dull at times), but he goes right after the criticism and reminds us that as a whole the Bible is a tool for understanding God, understanding His attributes and understanding His desire to love His people and provide and protect them.

The Chapter titles give you a good idea of what he is after in his writing:

Chapter 3, God's Word is Enough
Chapter 4, God's Word is Clear
Chapter 5, God's Word is Final
Chapter 6, God's Word is Necessary

Along with those topics he also talks about how Jesus validates Scripture through using it in His teaching and in using it to defeat the wily attacks of Satan in the desert.  DeYoung writes with a solid style that is easy to read and understand.  His writing will move you to desire to read your Bible more, work at understanding it better, and finally to listen to the still small voice of God as He speaks to you through Scripture.

Finally, if the book isn't good enough to answer your questions, which I think it is, DeYoung gives you an Appendix of Thirty of the best books on the Bible.  He even rates them for you as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  This list is worth the price of the book itself.

I know you will learn much from DeYoungs writing and that you will be encouraged through his good defense of the Inspiration of Scripture.


Friday, March 28, 2014

The Measure of Success by Carolyn McCulley with Nora Shank

I pulled this book from the Vine Program because the title caught my attention. I have read a lot on the subject of the role of women in the church, women in the family, women in society, etc. But this caught my eye because it was the role of women in the work force. I was hoping for something new to challenge my thinking. I wasn't disappointed.

First of all I loved the collaboration of the two writers. Carolyn McCulley is a single woman in her late forties / early fifties who is not defined by her status of being single, but by her status of being a smart, savvy, business woman who knows what she wants to do and knows what God wants her to do (bring Him honor and glory in all her work). Then there is Nora Shank, a mother of two children, happily married and also working as a dietitian. She is younger than Carolyn, so she grew up in a bit of a different culture.

The two women bring different perspectives, but they have the same goal. They want to honor God with their lives and with all that they do.

I felt that Carolyn was very candid about who she is. She was raised at a time where the feminist movement was very strong. She did not become a Christian until after college and well into her career life. She is not married because she doesn't like men or because she thinks marriage is too traditional. Instead, she desires a husband and a family but she knows that God has not yet brought the right man into her life. How refreshing to have her honesty.

She also shares about how her views of women and the Bible changed after she became a Christian and started to study the Bible. She seems Paul's teachings on women with a very refreshing perspective and a well studied depth of knowledge of the culture he was writing to. As such, she sees him not has a chauvinist but she sees him as the out front thinker / changer of society that he truly was. He was progressive in his thoughts! How's that sound guys? Take time to read her thoughts and it will help you think more clearly about some perspectives.

The book goes through the history of work for women, the history of the family unit and how it has evolved over centuries. It then goes through the process the two women writing experienced in learning about work and the woman and then it delves into the Biblical Theology of Work.

The book is well written, well thought through, well laid out and guides you through the topic is a fresh and inviting way that will give you lots to stop and think about.

I now want to meet Carolyn and Nora and sit down and have some long discussions with them, I think it would be absolutely fascinating to gain from their wisdom.

I believe that all lay people and pastors would benefit from reading this book. I now look forward to going back and reading Carolyn's other two books about women. I can't wait!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Uprooting Anger, by Robert Jones

Are you Venting your Anger or expressing a Lament?

Robert Jones gives us a good in depth look at Anger and why it is such a problem for people today.  Anger doesn't just cause us to bring disrespect to the Name of God, but it destroys are relationships with those around us as well as our relationship with the Lord.

Jones starts off with a good Biblical Look at the issue of Anger.  The scope of scripture he uses is a good tool for anyone who experiences anger or is trying to help a fellow Christian who is dealing with anger.  I found myself putting each of the scriptures he was referencing into my scripture memory app on my iPad so that I could start to memorize these and put them in my heart to help me deal with anger when it arises in my life.

Jones then goes on to talk about the two main ways people deal with anger, Venting and Stuffing.  We either express our anger in tantrums of venting where we loose our tongue and let the verbal attack spew forth towards anyone that is around us.  The words are hurtful and never healing.  Afterwards we may feel better because we have released some steam, but those around us are now struggling with anger at being the receivers of our venting.

The other style is that of "stuffing" our anger.  We bury it deep within ourselves.  People around us don't necessarily have a clue how angry we are.  But it takes a toll on our health, our emotions and our spiritual condition.  Stuffing usually leads to bitterness and distrust.

Jones gives 7 practical steps to help us deal with venting and 7 practical steps to help us deal with stuffing.  I found that point #7 on both lists was the same and the most practical, "Study Scripture more and hide God's word in your heart."

Finally Jones has a discussion on "Anger at God."  I found this the most poignant part of the book for my life.  I was feeling that it was OK to be angry at God as long as I told Him about my anger.  But Jones pointed out how selfish and wrong this was.  It displeases God and brings disrepute to His name.  What I saw in scripture as others being "angry at God," was actually others offering "Laments" in their prayer and meditation times.  It seems like they are almost the same, but Jones points out that the Lament shares our pain and hurt with God while acknowledging that He is loving and powerful and desires the best for me.  It is a good reminder to allow God to be God and allow me to be His servant.

The book is good and the Appendix section provides homework assignments that you will find useful to use in getting at the roots of your own anger.

This is a great book for laypeople as well as counselors and pastors.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ethic's / Pastors / And the Christian Community

I haven't written editorial's before on my BLOG, but there is always a first.  If you haven't been following the recent events at Mars Hill Church in Seattle you may be in for a bit of a surprise. It seems as though Pastor Mark Driscoll's newest book on Marriage was a huge success in it's first week of sales.  It hit the New York Times Top 10 list.  That is quite an accomplishment and one that the Christian community should be proud of, a book on the Biblical aspect of Marriage topping the charts.

But wait, not all was well within the world of Christian Ethics.  It turns out that Mars Hill Church and Pastor Driscoll hired a marketing firm and paid them a large amount of money to purchase 10,000 copies of the book in the first day or two of sales.  This marketing firm guaranteed Mars Hill that the book would hit the top charts because they had learned how to play the numbers game in purchases / days of sale / popularity.

So, the book sold 10,000 copies like hot cakes.  The problem was it wasn't consumer's buying the book.  It was marketers buying up copies to push the book up the charts.

While not illegal in my humble opinion it is highly unethical.  This has brought a real tarnish to the name of God and His Church.  It makes us look bad.  Sure we are suppose to be as wise as a serpent when it comes to the ways of the world, but that doesn't mean that we crush our Ethics in the name of sales / popularity / fame.

Below are three links to articles regarding this issue.

Friends, please review your own set of Ethics and remember that we are being watched by the non-Christian world and they examine all that we do.

Do not forget the words from I Peter 2:11-12, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshy lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."  (NASB)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Inside Marine One, by Colonel Ray "Frenchy" L'Heureux

This is not a Christian Book as such.  But the story is very incredible and it paints President and Mrs. George W. Bush in such a wonderful light that it shows their Christian Character shining forth.  Thus I think you will love the book.  Below is my review of the book for Amazon.

Colonel Ray "Frenchy" L'Heureux gives us a wonderful story about his role as a Marine Helicopter Pilot who gets to fly The President of the United States in Marine One.  The read is quick and highly interesting.  There is plenty of detail and plenty of personal human interest to go along with the technical.

The book actually has four stories, although I'm not sure that was the intention.  They are all interwoven together to form one unique biography of a Marine Colonel.

First Part:  How a young boy gets fascinated in flying through his mother giving him the gift of a flying lesson.  The rest, as they say, is history.  He grows up, goes to college, enlists in the Marines and becomes a helicopter pilot.

Second Part: Is about his career as a Marine.  We start off with Paris Island and boot camp and work our way up through thirty years of his life as he progresses from boot camp to Officer Candidate School, to Flight School, to every other school needed so that he eventually ends up with HMX-1 the Marine unit that deals with flying the President of the United States around the country and the world in a Marine Helicopter.

Third Part: Details of the type of Helicopter that the President gets to fly in.  You learn much of the technical aspects of the aircraft (without giving away any top secret material).  You learn about the men who operate it, maintain it, provide security and well just down right have to make miracles happen to get the Helicopter to where the President needs it.  This part is fascinating.

Fourth Part: Colonel L'Heureux gives us a glimpse at President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hilary.  He shares with us their gracious and grateful attitudes and warm welcome for the Marines and their service.  He then goes into a very lengthy section talking about his relationship with President George W. Bush, #43.  He became a good friend of the Presidents and spent lots of time with him on mountain bikes, building trails at the ranch and hanging out at Camp David.

I very much enjoyed the fourth part of the story as it gave a great look at President Bush from an angle that most people would never have.  It is very warm and fulfilling.  Now, I will also say that I was very surprised by his views on President Clinton and how warm and welcoming Clinton was.  I never thought of him that way.

This book was fabulous.  It is a must read for anyone that loves our country and loves our military.

Thank you Colonel L'Heureux for your service to our country, your service to our Commander in Chief and for your wonderful recollections of the time you spent serving.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pastors at Greater Risk, by H.B. London, Jr.

H.B. London, Jr. has given pastor's and lay leaders a great gift in this book. It was written in the 1990's to start with but then reworked in the early 2000's. 

The book has lots of statistics gathered from a multiple of sources that will give Pastor's and Elders a good idea of the risks that Pastor's face in their ministry. I was shocked by some of the statistics. The sexual failures are overwhelming.

Now, the book isn't necessarily written to be a down type of book. London gives the statistics but also gives good guidance for the Pastor on ways to overcome the dangers and to avoid the pitfalls that await them in the Pastoral Ministry.

This book is a must read for Pastor's. I think it is also a must read for Elder's so that they understand some of the pitfalls better and can help keep their Pastor's safe by keeping them accountable for their work and lifestyle. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce, by John Piper

There have been many books written about the life of William Willberforce.  You will find other
books that have a much more detailed accounting of Willberforce's life.  But Piper has given us a short little vignette that gives a clear picture of the man more than a clear picture of his theological and political prowess.  

This is a good book for a group discussion starter about the life of a saint and his persistence in the calling that God placed on his life.  Piper points out the following about Wilberforce:
1.  He was not educated in Theology, but he had a firmer grasp of the truths of the doctrine of Justification and Sanctification than many learned men of his time.
2.  He was a wealthy man who didn't need to get involved in social issues of his day.  He could have lived a quiet uneventful life in wealth and done just fine, but he chose to get involved.  Have you chosen to get involved?
3.  He found his calling from God and never wavered from it. How many people would spend forty years fighting for the abolition of Slavery and continue to do so after being voted down by parliament year after year?  He found his passion and stuck with it.
4.  Wilberforce though was not just a one social issue politician.  He was involved in dozens of issues and worked hard for them, it's just that abolition was the most focused.
5.  Did you know that Wilberforce loved children and loved having fun and laughing?  In his period of life wealthy men hired nanny's to care for their children and push them out of sight.  Wilberforce loved though to play with them and have family meals and read to them and care for them.  Unusual for that day and age, but even unusual in ours.
6.  Wilberforce suffered from physical ailments.  BUT, he didn't let those keep him from his work.
7.  Wilberforce wrote guides for practical Christianity that are still relevant today.

All in all Wilberforce was amazing, and John Piper in just a short 82 page book gives us a glimpse into a side of Wilberforce's life that many other biographers don't address.

Don't make this your only book you read about William Wilberforce, but maybe make it your first if you have never read any at all.