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Showing posts from March, 2013

God's Good Design

God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women by Claire Smith
This new book by Claire Smith about the roles of men and women is very refreshing because it seeks to ground the arguments throughout the book by going back to the Scriptures.  What we end up finding in this book is a complementarian approach to the roles of men and women that is both well-reasoned and biblically faithful.  What I find most appealing in the book was the broad and narrow lens with which Claire sought to examine the Scriptures from (narrow in looking at grammatical and exegetical issues and broad with an eye towards contextual issues). 
In the beginning of the book, Claire outlines the three waves of feminism that have brought a host of questions regarding men and women.  While being open to the idea that ‘feminism can advance God’s plans for justice, peace, and his glory,’ she tempers this concept with the idea that ‘where the agenda of feminism is different from God’s agenda …, it is wo…

Galatians for You

Galatians for You by Timothy Keller
In this new series of commentaries published by the Good Book Company (U.K.), the design is to give readers a snapshot of biblical books with an eye towards solid commentary on application.  In Galatians for You, Pastor Timothy Keller expounds the book of Galatians around the central theme of the gospel.  He writes, “But in this short letter, Paul outlines the bombshell truth that the gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life.  It is not only the way to enter the kingdom; it is the way to live as part of the kingdom.  It is the way Christ transforms people, churches and communities” (9).   Living out the gospel and the consequences in believing the gospel helps address the main contextual aspects of Galatians from the Jewish/Gentile arguments to racial division.  Furthermore, what is apparent throughout the book is that the permanent nature of the gospel being central to all things runs right through the heart of every page, helping the reader to f…

Deeply Loved

Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent
This new devotional by Keri Wyatt Kent is a look into the heart of Jesus, through both his teachings and actions.  The devotional could also be a great Lenten exercise also, being divided up into 40 short sections with Scripture, commentary, and a call to practice each particular theme or concept.  I wasn’t initially sure how I would feel about this book, primarily because the devotionals I’ve seen are either too fluffy are disjointed.  Yet, I think this devotional has a lot to offer with both good biblical insights and practical application.  Furthermore, the way the devotional is constructed with more attention to larger themes such as self-examination, intercession, and redemption that pushes the reader into the text to witness the mighty grace of God.
One great example of this combination of solid biblical insight and practical application is found in the section entitled ‘Listen.’  Quoting the go…

God's Grace for All of Life

The Romance of Grace by Jim McNeely III
To be honest, when I received this book in the mail I had visions of what it might be like with a title like, ‘The Romance of Grace.’  The emotional rollercoaster and one-sided perspective on how our emotions fuel our faith was my presumption about the book, but this was the furthest thing from the truth as I started reading.  The Romance of Grace by Pastor Jim McNeely III is a careful look at the movements of grace in the way God pursues us with his love and his desire to get us to love him back.  McNeely writes, “We are entering a cosmic romance with a passionate lover, and He is interested in our heart’s truest desire.  His deepest objective isn’t to make us more moral; it is to get us to love Him back.  Virtue is the fruit, not the root” (18).  Why is this helpful?  For one thing, beginning with God’s initiating grace frees us from starting out on the wrong foot in the way we tell the story and live in God’s world.  McNeely hints that ‘Grace…

Discovering Biblical Community

The Connecting Church 2.0 by Randy Frazee
Many will be familiar with Pastor Randy Frazee, he is the senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio where ministers alongside Max Lucado.  This second edition of the Connecting Church is Randy’s distillation of his study and research in the span of the last ten years since Connecting Church was published.  This book is really a goldmine of biblical and spiritual truth!  The book is divided into four major sections with the major labels: common purpose, common place, commons possessions, and connecting church.  What was most helpful in each section was the remarkable clarity of thought that Randy brought to the table.  In each section, he addressed the problem, wrote about characteristics of the theme he was developing and brought it all together by a rediscovery of the outworking of his goal.
In addressing the difficulty in small groups, Randy points out a particular problem about the individualism found in these small groups.  Bolsteri…

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…