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Showing posts from December, 2012

The Searchers

The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt by Joseph Loconte
Drawing on everything from Rembrandt to Thomas Becket, historian Joseph Loconte retells the Emmaus road story with wit, wisdom and insight.  As Loconte focuses in on the elements of the story in Luke 24 he writes, “What follows is a layman’s reflection on the meaning of that exchange, a story of hope, despondency, and faith.  It is a story latent with insight for the believer, as well as the honest skeptic” (xxiv).  Yet, what I thought was most insightful at the beginning of The Searchers is the way Loconte describes the unsettling nature of the story, the way in which the men walking down the road were shaken to the core by the events they had just been a part of. 
In the startling passage where Jesus comes up to the men and walks by them, we find a very interesting phrase that Luke records, saying “but they were kept from recognizing him.”  Loconte makes a unique point here by writing, “Perhaps we can learn …

A Tale of Two Governments

A Tale of Two Governments: Church Discipline, The Courts, And the Separation of Church and State by Robert J. Renaud & Lael D. Weinberger
The separation of church and state is often a widely misunderstood and misapplied idea by media, the news, and people in the pews.  In their new book, A Tale of Two Governments, law graduates Robert J. Renaud and Lael D. Weinberger bring clarity to the issues revolving church and state and focus directly on church discipline.  In the introduction, the authors bring to the page the clear conception of separation of church and state by writing, “Separation of church and state, at its most basic, simply means that the church and state are separate and distinct institutions” (13).  This teaching is not the excision of God from the realm of civil government nor is it the state mandating a particular religious faith but identification that separate institutions have different goals and purposes.   Taking cues from history, theology and practical judic…

Handy Guide to the Greek New Testament

The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman
In a mere 112 pages, Professor Douglas Huffman of Biola University has put together a supplemental guide to those with at least one year of Greek under their belts.  More than just a number of charts on verbal conjugations, this handy guide is a welcome addition to textbooks on Greek grammar.  As I went through this book, having taken Greek in seminary, I found this book as a helpful guide alongside Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.  Rather than drumming on about particular grammatical issues addressed in the book, I aim to give three reasons why this book would be a valuable addition to your library.
The Concise nature of the Book At only 112 pages, this book is easy to carry with you if you are preparing sermons, studying passages in the Nestle-Aland GNT, or just wanting to brush up on your Greek.  More than the small stature of the book is the clear explanations Huffman g…

The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life

Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life by Jack Levison
Jack Levison, professor of theology at Seattle Pacific University is well known for his work on the Holy Spirit with is earlier book entitled Filled with the Spirit.  This new work, Fresh Air, is a monumental book that takes weaves together biblical teaching on the Spirit, pastoral application, and a forward sense of directing the reader to ask the right questions concerning the Holy Spirit.  With one foot in the Pentecostal tradition and one foot in the mainline traditional Methodist camp, Levison navigates the waters of the ecstatic and meditative elements of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, what I thought was most extraordinary about the book was Levison’s goal for his readers: “the spirit is in every human being, spirit is particularly present in social upheaval, the spirit inspires whole communities, the spirit drives the faithful into arenas of hospitality, and the spirit inspire ecstasy and restraint” (10).  Some of these po…

God with Dirty Fingers

The God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond (Kalos Press)
Have you ever wanted to call it quits at your job?  Have you ever wondered if God even cares for people like you who muster out a living working mundane jobs thinking that no one cares?  To these questions comes a mighty rush of fresh air from the pen of Matthew B. Redmond, author of the new book entitled The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People. Redmond narrows in on the focus of the book by writing, “The goal of the book was to comfort Christians where they were – to help people believe the mundane stuff matters” (1).    Yet, what I thought was even more insightful was not so much the goal of the book but the audience he had in mind, the stay at home mom and the man stuck in a job making him feel small.  Why?  More than anything, I’ve been in that situation and often find myself wishing Monday would not come so quickly.  I think Matt speaks for a whole host of men and women who often wonder if their…

The Deadline

Deadline by Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn, popular Christian author of books like Heaven, The Treasure Principle and others has written a work of fiction with an eye towards murder mysteries. The book centers around a newspaper reporter named Jake Woods, who writes weekly columns on controversial and interesting subjects. He and his best friends are going to pick up pizza for their weekend party ritual when they crash into the side of the road, eventually killing Jake’s best friends Doc and Finney. What happens next points the novel in the murder mystery direction as Jake receives a note that this crash was not an accident but a planned murder.

What I resonated with about the book is that it spoke of the real life events that lead to damaged relationships caused by sin, divorce, and brokenness. Throughout the book, Jake is trying to figure how he can repair his relationship with his daughter, who suffers greatly at the hands of bad choices. Yet, knowing the right thing to do and doing it…

Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace

Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace by R. Larry Moyer
Bringing together the good news of Jesus Christ and the workplace is not an easy task to practice for many professing believers.  This book, Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace by R. Larry Moyer is designed to build up the confidence of believers in sharing the gospel with those whom they work with in a daily context.  Rather than focusing on a specific method or approach in evangelism, Moyer looks at the ways in which believers can communicate their testimony, life, and witness of the good news to others. 
I particularly thought that chapter 5 was very insightful because it dealt not only with the verbal message we send to others but the example of a life given over to following Jesus.  Moyer writes, “But what can’t be said on the job can sometimes be said off the job.  What gives us that opportunity is very often a Christian life well lived on the job” (48).  Consistently telling the truth, thinking about the …

live second

Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First by Doug Bender
The real aim of this book is to challenge people to put Jesus first in everything they do, say, and particularly, how they live and engage God’s world.  I think at the outset that this is a noble goal.  Not having read the first book, I Am Second, I was a bit unfamiliar with the whole philosophy beyond the movement.  Yet, this book, Live Second, is more of a devotional, taking a Scripture reading, adding a brief commentary on the passage and giving some points of prayer and action.  What is unique about this type of devotional is it’s connected to a QR code on most pages that sends you to a video related to the theme of the day.  Most of the videos are either by athletes, Christian authors, pastors or people in the pew.  I actually found the videos to be more enlightening and encouraging than the comments on the Scriptural passages in the devotional.  I don’t think this was always due to the fact that Bender was dull or not ins…

Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President

Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President by Allen C. Guelzo

I enjoyed Guelzo's biography even more than Donald and Carwardine.  In Guelzo's account we find the tension in Lincoln's mind of a war that in governed by the control of God's providential oversight.  Yet, this kind of view partly taken from his hard shell Baptist upbringing does not bring much solace for Lincoln.  Guelzo does well to bring out the Whig political struggles and the political setbacks that Lincoln faced on a continual basis.

We also get personal insight from Lincoln's friends and public reporters on the background of his marriage to Mar Todd, her mental unhinging and the emotional toll Lincoln felt trying to care for her and their many devastating family experiences. Guelzo even brings out the ugly side of Lincoln, the side of him that is so concerned about political matters that he seems more interested in elections than his family.  We get a sense that Lincoln is much more human than many com…

Oliver Twist on Audio

Oliver Twist: The Parish Boy’s Progress by Charles Dickens (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre)
Oliver Twist is certainly one of the greatest works of literature written by Charles Dickens.  Telling the story of an orphan and his plight through the terrible world of abuse, poverty and near starvation, Dickens sheds new light for the reader concerning the state of London in the 19th century.  Often, in the book, we see those most apt to provide little Oliver with shelter, turn out to be those who want to capitalize on his poverty and lack of good family stock.  We get a glimpse of this misfortune through the character of Fagin, who as an overseer of pick pockets seeks to provide Oliver with a few good meals in turn for transforming him into a master thief.  This Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version of Dickens’ Oliver Twist is an extraordinary recording of a magnificent book.
What I enjoyed most about this audio recording of the book is the way recording particularly brought out th…