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Showing posts from January, 2017

Preaching Old Testament Narratives

Preaching Old Testament Narratives by Benjamin Walton
How does a minister faithfully preach God’s Word from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament?  How must he be faithful to the original intent of the text but bring it to today’s audience?  These questions are answered in Dr.Benjamin Walton’s new book, Preaching Old Testament Narratives.  Walton, president of PreachingWorks, a company designed to help pastors faithfully and consistently preach God’s Word, delivers the goods in this book by carefully bringing us along in his journey. 
One of the aspects of this book that is very valuable is Benjamin’s insistence that we preach CUT’s or Complete Units of Thought, identify historical and theological contexts, and finally at the end craft the take home truth (steps 3-4 include studying the plot and the original theological message).  Why is it important first to preach complete unit of thoughts?  For one, “a poorly chose preaching text can doom the sermon before it begins.  In general, we nee…

The Travelers by Chris Pavone

The Travelers by Chris Pavone

What makes a good spy book come to life?  How does  a writer of suspense and intrigue bring out the subtleties of his characters?  These questions are answered with honesty and creativity in Chris Pavone's new novel, The Travelers.  Many  know of Chris' other works such as The Accident and The Expats, but his work is new to me.  While I was a little unsure about what to expect in this novel, I was caught up in the story line and the characters.

The novel is broken up into various parts aligned with the different characters.  The main story follows Will Rhodes, a travel writer for the magazine The Traveler.  Will takes his writing to new levels as he visits Ireland, Great Britain, France and other international destinations.  Little does he know that at one venture, after a steam night with a lady named Elle, not his wife, that his life would never be the same.  He is thus ushered into a  new life as CIA operative that takes on the role as agent l…

Finding God in the Waves

Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost my Faith and Found it Again Through Science by Mike McHargue

I really thought this book was going to be a dud.  I was under the impression that this was going to be another one of those 'find god through the particles' book that didn't really move anyone to believe or not believe.  Yet, as I read through Finding God in the Waves, it was different, very different.  Mike isn't really trying to sell you something in the book but tell you a story.  Really, the book is good at gathering Mike's story and telling it through the lens of a boy's curiosity.

Growing up in "husky" jeans and being that kid who didn't fit into most conventional groups, Mike felt the pangs of loneliness in his early years.  Even at that, his brain was hardwired for curiosity, he had to know how things worked.  Growing up as Christian at 7 in a conservative Southern Baptist Church, he was baptized early on and began to be involved in the event…

Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr

Simonetta Carr has written some wonderful christian biographies for younger readers.  The books capture the stories of faithful believers in their challenges and in their victories.  Troy Howell, illustrator for the Redwall series by Brian Jacques has teamed up with Simonetta to provide some amazing artwork for this new book on Reformer Martin Luther.

One of the startling things about the book was Simonetta's writing on the sale of indulgences.  I knew the story of Johann Tetzel from my prior study but she brings to life some of the details of this work.  She writes, "Tetzel from town to town preaching about the benefits of indulgences.  "Have mercy upon your dead parents, he said." "Whoever has an indulgence has salvation.  Everything else is of no avai." (18).  This practice of selling of indulgences really brought in a flurry of people from Germany and gave people a sense of hope that was not really that.  Luther was concerned that these indulgences g…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…

All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings

All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss/Illustrated by David G. Klein

This new advent book captures the essence of the Advent season in a unique way.  Gayle Boss, poet, writer and lover of all things nature, has taken the sights and sounds of nature, including animals, and given life to them through these Advent meditations.  The illustrations created by David G. Klein, an award winning graphic artist, are black and white pencil drawings of each animal in its different habitat.  With laser focus on the way these animals burrow and get ready for the winter season, Gayle and David provide their readers with a truly amazing experience of God's wonderful creation.

The descriptions of the animals were quite extraordinary and caused me to want to engage these animals in my own neck of the woods.  Gayle writes about the chipmunk by stating, "I hear a chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp, pointed as a metronome.  Ticking items off some list, a chipmunk sits up tall …

Glory in the Lord

A Spectacle of Glory: A Devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby
The story of Joni Eareckson Tada is a remarkable one indeed, someone who has lived as a quadriplegic for over fifty years and yet been full of faith and trust in the living God.  This new devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, is a book that combines practical wisdom, scriptural insights, and application from a life given over to reveling in God’s light every day.  Yet, one of the greatest assets of this devotional is the way Joni uses her own experience through suffering to shed light on how God brings about his good work through it all, identifying with the certain struggles and sometimes literal pain of those who she’s writing about.
The parts in the book that fueled my spirit were Joni’s prayers at the end of each day.  One day after looking at the connection between sharks swimming with their mouth open and Christians being called to keep moving for Christ, Joni wrote, “Lord, forgive for dwelling on past hurts …