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Showing posts from October, 2012

Hope for Those Drowning

Walking on Water by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt
Depression and anxiety wreak havoc in the lives of those sitting in the pews and those who have never graced a church with their presence.  The real benefit of this book is the lack of Christian sentimental mush that so often accompanies books on depression, but rather, instead, this book offers a common sense look at the effects of very real people struggling with these things.  As many people know, Tommy Nelson is a nationally and internationally known pastor who preaches and teaches on a regular basis for Denton Bible Church and also puts together the ever popular Song of Solomon teaching series.  The other author, Steve Leavitt is a Christian counselor who recognizes the power of anxiety and depression in his own life and in the lives of those whom he counsels. 
In the first chapter of the book, Tommy Nelson tells his story of being hit with the startling truth that he was going through severe anxiety and panic attacks.  Tommy be…

The Wisdom of Chesterton

Kevin Belmonte, having ploughed through the Chesterton landscape before in book form, has edited A Year with G.K. Chesterton: 365 Days of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder. The unique thing about this book is that it gives a good snapshot of Chesterton's writings from many different facets. At one point, Belmonte draws from a passage which Chesterton writes, "This world and all our powers in it are far more awful and beautiful than we ever know until some accident reminds us....If you wish to realize how fearfully and wonderully God's image is made, stand upon one leg. If you want to realize the splendid vision of all visible things-wink the other eye" (4). Chesterton has a unique way of dealing profoundly with the most common of objects, including aspects of the human body, and relates them to God's design in the world. Belmonte goes to great lengths to provide us from Chesterton's own writings the splendid worldview of a man who was both poetic and uniquely articulat…

Creeds for Life

The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman



The mantra “No Creed but the Bible” has been common among pastors who seek to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching but remain misguided in their attempts.  On the scene comes Carl Trueman, professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary, seeking to bring a breath of fresh air by writing a book on the importance of creeds.  The unique aspect of this book is the way Trueman orders his writing on the creeds; one, he begins with the cultural case against the creeds, moves to the foundations and early church teaching on the creeds and then brings together concepts of usefulness and doxology in light of the classic Protestant creedal formulations.  Why does he order the book this way?  By focusing on the issues of the past, language and the authority of institutions (church), Trueman builds a bridge between the countercultural nature of these concepts in relationship to creeds and the voice of opposition that we find even in the church regarding the…

The Exact Place

The Exact Place: A Memoir by Margie L. Haack
Deep in the woods of northwestern Minnesota where the temperatures drop easily below freezing and the neighbors drop in at any time, Margie L. Haack tells the story of her life growing up with five siblings, a mother and a stepfather.  The portrait she weaves is both intimately personal and public, brimming with details of her search for her stepfather’s love and the daily grind of life on a farm.  Margie’s writing shines forth with an amazing clarity on account of her willingness to bring the reader to experience what she has experienced and to step back with a perceptive glance at the details of her own life.
One of my absolute favorite parts of the book was Margie’s description of her early love for reading.  Although Margie wasn’t led early on in reading by her family, her passion for books came to the surface very early on in life.  She describes it by writing, “Words began to light up in spellbinding stories…..Books exploded into ta…

Radical Again

The Radical Question and A Radical Idea by David Platt



David Platt has made a name for himself through his books centering around the idea of being 'Radical' for Christ. What I think this book does well is distill in a small format Platt's teaching from his earlier book entitled Radical Together. The first part of the book devotes considerable space to bringing forth a new vision of how Christians should live in God's world. Settling in to the material driven society we live is not good enough for those who name the name of Christ. To see what Platt is describing, he writes, "A movement of Christians who are forsaking the priorities and pursuits of this world for the spread of the gospel and the glory of Christ. A movement of Christians who have decided that settling for casual, comfortable, business-as-usual Christianity is not longer an option" (35). Looking outside the bounds of your own city to the needs of others, even the basic needs of those in poorer …

Playbook for Dads

To begin with, I think the concept of writing on parenting within the game of life is a great idea.  The metaphor of a game encapsulates much of what happens in parenting, the ups and downs of life including the struggles.  Yet, as I finished this book it was more geared towards a look at the football days of Jim Kelly.  No doubt, Jim Kelly was a great quarterback who took the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl three times and was handed three defeats.  Yet, it seems like the book is more about the glory days of a great quarterback than a book on parenting.

Even in my criticism, I want to offer some good wisdom about parenting that was gleaned from the book.  On the chapter on Respect, Kelly writes, "As a parent, it's much more of a challenge.  You have to gain your kids' respect by being consistent...Your children need to know that you're trustworthy and capable of keeping your word.  And most of all, by loving and caring for your wife.  Kids have an innate sense of t…

The Beauty of the Transfiguration

This is My Beloved Son: The Transfiguration of Christ by Andreas Andreopoulos
This book is a remarkable journey into an Orthodox understanding of the Transfiguration of Christ found in the Gospel narratives.  Right from the beginning, Andreopoulos locates the story of the Transfiguration within the concept of a ‘journey.’  Understanding the plight of the Christian as a journey to the kingdom of heaven, Andreas writes, “The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is an important landmark in this journey.  It is a timeless story, a wonderful and miraculous episode from the life of Jesus Christ that reveals a lot about our own journey toward salvation” (2).    Andreas goes on to locate the story of the Transfiguration within the present context of the church gathering for sacraments, for the grace that comes through the ecclesia (6).  What is significant about these statements concerning this event in the life of Christ is the way in which the church is drawn up into this event through worship …

Saved from Drowning

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack is a story about three Mexican fisherman who were saved at sea alongside the unraveling of Joe's life surrounding the big screen. What I enjoyed about the story was here were three fisherman scattered at sea with no hope and yet they held on to faith in God, the Bible and the desire that they would be found in due time. Although the story focuses on the plight, struggle and finally rescue of the three fisherman, the story of Joe Kissack intertwines throughout the book. Producing such shows as Seinfeld and Texas Walker, Joe had it all including a beautiful wife and family, the luxury of a home and a Porsche. Yet, in his struggle with painkillers and prescription drugs, he was left feeling hollow as a shell.

The story of the three Mexican fisherman in quite extraordinary in that they were swept off thousands of miles from where they started and saw before their eyes two of their men die. Furthermore, they drank turtle blood, drank salt water and be…

Our Heavenly Guides

A book on angels is an ambitious project much like taking on an accurate report on the Afghanistan conflict. Yet, as Joel J. Miller points out, angels are seen very early in Genesis 3 as 'guards serving the Lord's behest and as deceivers trying to foul humanity' (6). Taking his cue from both the Scriptures and ancient literature (focusing on the early church Fathers), Miller seeks to understand who angels are, how they came into existence and what their role is in the early church and today. Miller is clear to point out early on in the book that although there are differences between men and angels, angels often resemble or appear as men (even mistaken for men) (13). We got an acute sense of the purpose of angels in an illuminating sentence when Miller writes, "But their primary task is to reflect the knowledge and glory of God upon creation and point us to the source of that knowledge and glory" (19). In essence, the angelic host is like a shining ray of light …

Living for More than the Temporary

Scott Stapp lays out his life in Sinner's Creed in a very personal and moving way. If you want to know what goes on in the lives of those who make it to the top, the struggles that come with fame and the consequences of life without restraint, then this book will be for you. What first hit me about this book was the back and forth relationship that Scott had with his step father. Early on the bond was strong between Scott and Steve, centering around sports and God (18). As time went on though, the remnants of Steve's anger and crazy ideas about religion emerged with Scott being dealt out beatings for little things like listening to rock and roll music. We learn from the book later on that Scott gave Steven over 1 million dollars to pay off his house only to find out later that he wanted more money.




From early on, Scott was a great admirer of music, from U2 to the Stones. Forming his band early on, Creed sought out gigs at any place they could play, for any number of fans. Aft…