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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Gospel of Yes

The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn
This book was a puzzle to me because I really think there are some good truths here alongside some confusing points.  By framing the tenor of the book through the ‘gospel of yes,’ Glenn gives the reader a many examples of what he means by this very statement.  Early on in the book, Glenn writes that “When you accept the “yes” of Christ’s redemptive grace and respond with the “yes” of faith, everything finds its rightful place.  Your life finds order, meaning, and its rightful fit in your community” (23).   As Christ said yes in submitting himself to the Father’s will joyfully, so we as Christians say yes to God’s grace in salvation and work that out in the context of a believing community.  What I did like about this initial chapter is his focus on finding our rest in the things that we stand behind, support and put our energy into.  Often, Christians are known for what they oppose rather than what they support.  Part of this might be the way Christian…


Echoes by Robin Jones Gunn

Falling head over heels for someone on the internet, finding it hard to move on after a painful breakup, these are all elements in Robin Gunn’s new book entitled Echoes.  I think the real heart of this book was met in Lauren’s character, her being given the opportunity to step out in faith that although her heart might be crushed again, she was willing to step forward.  To be honest, I had a little trouble getting into the story because I think some of the characters were not fully developed in the way they could’ve been.  For instance, we get a little window in Lauren’s fiancĂ©e Jeff, as one who is on the quick path to success, monetarily, but we don’t get a lot of backstory about why he kept pushing the issue to move to New York and why he acted in such an abrupt manner.   In Lauren there is a tinge of teenage gush mixed in with her driven self, pursuing certification in teaching and being a banker.  Yet, I was hoping for some more engaging details about h…

Prayers of a Young Poet

Prayers of a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke/Translated by Mark S. Burrows
As other reviewers have mentioned, the translation of these poems by Mark S. Burrows is quite extraordinary!  Burrows wrote both the introduction and the afterword that beautifully captures the vision of Rilke in his poetry.  Burrows gives us a solemn warning which I took to heart after reading this book by writing, “Readers who prefer poems written in the plain language of conversation will be sorely disappointed with his poems…..One might even say that Rilke rarely wrote with readers in mind, a puzzling statement to make about an artist who work has proven so popular” (119).  But, even if this point is true in reading Rilke’s poetry, his work is marked by a searching or longing for meaning and purpose that places the words and phrases squarely within a human perspective.  Challenging and honest, these prayers are illuminating for highlighting the human condition and the longing for relief from the cantanker…

I Still Believe

I Still Believe by Jeremy Camp with David Thomas
Those who listen to Christian music on the radio will know the name of Jeremy Camp, Christian singer and songwriter.  His memoir, I Still Believe tells the story of Jeremy’s ascendance to the stage of singing and songwriting but more importantly, his struggle in dealing with his wife’s death from cancer.  Camp writes with a sense of lingering pain and deep struggle as he sought to come back from the devastation of Melissa’s death.  Pick up your guitar, a voice he attributed as God telling him to get back into doing what you love was part of what it took for Jeremy to regain his strength.
What I found compelling in the book was how Jeremy continually used the story of Melissa, his love for her and her terrible death to bring hope and healing to others.  Melissa’s battle with cancer gave Jeremy an opportunity to sink even further into the pit of despair, but thankfully Jeremy was able to open his eyes to the opportunity God was giving h…

Finding Our Identity in Christ

Who Do You Think You Are? / Finding Your True Identity in Christ by Mark Driscoll
Outspoken, gruff and even abrasive are a few words that describe Mark Driscoll’s style in teaching and ministering.  Yet, he also brings a healthy dose of biblical faithfulness and theological creativity whenever he writes.  Who Do You Think You Are, his latest work, is no different.   Combining close interpretation and application through the book of Ephesians, Driscoll draws his readers into the text without a fluid combination of insight and story, meaning and questions.  The great draw for this book should be its simple yet profound message of finding our identity in Christ and not the million other things that we vainly run after.  Driscoll reminds us that we are living in age of identity crisis, where the latest catastrophe brings out the true idols of our heart, whether they be in sex, money, other people, etc. 
In the second chapter Driscoll seeks to open up the course of study throughout the e…

How to Pray the Dominican Way

How to Pray the Dominican Way by Angelo Stagnaro
I’ve never prayed the Dominican way before, these 9 ways of prayer, but I am glad to get a little more background and understanding of these practices of prayer.  To begin, Stagnaro writes that these ‘prayer forms brought St. Dominic to tears and inspired in him a love of Christ and His Blessed Mother’ (29).  Prayer that instills a greater love for Christ is a form of prayer that I get behind.  Stagnaro goes on to mention that these ‘ways of prayer connects body and soul’ and that ‘it is important to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as to how things are going to unfold in your life’ (29, 31).  As I began to pray in these forms at different periods during the week, I noticed that the very posture of my body was an indication of the state of my focus on Christ in prayer.  Before, I wasn’t even fully aware that if my attention was divided as I was praying, typing on the computer or reading, then it became nearly impossible for my prayer…

The Unchanging Impassioned God

God is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion by Rob Lister
The thesis by many modern theologians that God cannot truly love his people if he cannot suffer in his divine nature is taken to be an inarguable assumption by many today.  The attack on those who wish to see God as impassible coincides with a wrong-headed assumption that to be unchanging is to be void of any real emotions.  Yet, this is exactly the point that Rob Lister in his new book entitled God is Impassible and Impassioned  seeks to counter head on.  To begin, Lister understands  ‘that God is impassible in the sense that he cannot be manipulated, overwhelmed, or surprised into an emotional interaction that he does not desire to have or allow to happen.’  Furthermore, ‘God is impassioned (i.e. perfectly vibrant in his affections) , and he may be affected by his creatures, but as God, he is so in ways that accord rather than conflict with his will to be so affected by those whom, in love, he has …

Praying Circles around Your Children

Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker and pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. has written a timely and insightful on prayer and your children called Praying Circles around Your Children.  Batterson in the opening chapter spells out for parents in practical ways some basic truths: one, you will make a lot of mistakes and second, “your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities” (10-11).  Batterson goes onto state that “every blessing, every breakthrough, every miracles traces back to the prayers that were prayed by you or for you” (12).  In other words, prayer is the heartbeat of what it means to be a parent but also to be a believer.  I think his advice at the end of the chapter was very good in that you don’t become a praying parent by a whim but by constant determination, desire to and discipline.  Lest we forget, the discipline of prayer is not to be taken lightly.
While I am not crazy about th…

The Others and Jesus

Mark 14:1-11

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, …

Contextualization in World Missions

Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models by A. Scott Moreau
Andres Scott Moreau has written a comprehensive, well-researched and enlightening book on the issue of contextualization in world missions.  The sheer research that went into this book is amazing even when looking at the bibliography, notes, and graphs.  The book is divided into 2 sections, one that deals with foundations of contextualization and another section that deals with mapping models of contextualization.  Rather than comment on each chapter, I would like to highlight some high impact points that Moreau makes and how they make a difference for the role of world missions and our mission as Christians.
The Nature and Scope of the Book The two sections of the book are designed to be an important reminder that the process of contextualizing the gospel begins with laying a foundation involving presuppositions or prior beliefs.  Only then can you map models of contextualization after an…

Wild Goose Chase

I thought at the beginning of reading this book that I would not be interested in a metaphor the Spirit centered around the Wild Goose Chase.  But, as I began to get deeper into the book, I realized that this book was a great resource to understand how the Spirit works in mighty ways in our lives.

Part of the powerful message of the book was found in Chapter 5.  Batterson explores the the nature of forgiveness and God's love for his people in very helpful ways.  On page 89, he writes, "God's love for us is proactive.  He doesn't wait for us to get our act together.  God always makes the first move.  And we're called to follow suit."  Rather than sit back and watch others take the initiative to love in all the hard places, God calls us to lead with love in the circumstances of life.  Batterson recalls a moving story about his grandfather's fossil collection and the time when he broke one of the fossils.  This fossil collection was a 'no touch' co…

ESV Global Study Bible

ESV Global Study Bible
Amazon Verified Purchase
I have been a big fan of the ESV when it originally came out. This new ESV Global Study Bible is a great addition to the study Bibles put out by Crossway. For what reasons you might ask why this study bible is worth your money?
1. Each book of the Bible is introduced by a Global Message section in which one of the editors draws us into the storyline of the particular book but also to the global message. We get a sense here of larger themes that Christians from every continent can hold onto, understand, and think through. Secondly, this section helps us focus in on the main themes of the book with a witness to God's overarching purposes in the story of redemption. 2. Throughout the study notes, there is small boxes that indicate FACT points that the editor is trying to make that enhance our understanding. Often, these are plot details, cultural customs or key historical events. These fact boxes help the reader narrow in on some important …

The Black Dog

The Black Dog by Reverend John R Dolan and illustrated by Paul J Egel
The experience of a man suffering from chronic anxiety and depression is often not a likely heard subject within the walls of the church much less in the larger community.  Rev. John Dolan, in his new book The Black Dog, navigates this experience with much wisdom and clarity that anyone going through similar paths can easily resonate with.  How?  For one, Dolan began to tell his story not only to close friends and family but from the place of the pulpit.  To his surprise, an Episcopal deacon gave him great praise for his candor and honesty.  Even more, a few congregants spoke to him of their struggle with anxiety and depression (113-114).  For Dolan, being able to tell his story and struggle was a kind of medication that released him from having to deal with the ‘Black Dog’ on his own.
What I really enjoyed about the book was the ongoing conversation Rev. Dolan has with himself throughout the whole book.  Not only …