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Showing posts from February, 2015

Book: The Art of Work by @jeffgoins

(Click the image to get more information about the book in pre-sale and bonuses available for it.)In the modern American Christian world, there are two major schools of thought about finding your life’s work. Both views have their proponents and books, and both have positives to commend them to you. The first view is that one needs to absolutely only ever obey God. The other view is that one needs to “find yourself” and go with the flow of the universe. This latter view is often Christianized by attaching random Bible verses. It’s also so much fluffy nonsense. The other view, of only obeying God, is a no-brainer. If you are a Christian, then you have made that your life’s goal: obey God in all ways and all things. One is then back to the original question: what do I do with my life? How do we find those things that we best glorify God by doing? Into that conversation comes The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Goins acknowledges the need to find personal fulfillment in work, but bases it no…

Book: 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution

Book Blitz gets deeply theological.When it comes to the debate about the origin of humanity or the origin of the universe, one has two basic options. You can start with a belief in a supernatural possible origin, or you can start without one. If you start with a belief that there is no possible supernatural origin, then that’s where your search ends. The universe is what it is, it happened how it happened, and we’re done here. If you start with a belief in the possibility of the supernatural, then you have further ideas to examine. For example, one must determine which supernatural accounting should be considered. One must determine how the supernatural interacts with the scientifically observed and tested. These are the questions that feed into Kregel Academic’s 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution.The first observation on this work is that the authors are theology and Old Testament professors. This demonstrates that the work is aimed at answering questions based in the Bible a…

In the Future: Luke 21

In Summary:

Luke 21 opens with what is probably the most famous of all Jesus’ teaching on giving. This is the story of the Widow’s Mite, where a widow gives her small amount at the Temple. She is contrasted with the religiously self-important, who give greater gross amounts, but do it for the publicity. Additionally, she has put a larger percentage of her resources—without divine support, she will be in great need. The important folks? These gave from what they did not need.

After observing the giving at the Temple, Jesus goes on to speak of the end of time. His return will come after a great deal of chaos and destruction. One challenge in using this chapter to foretell a specific date—or even era—is that two major events are intermingled here. The return of Christ and the end of the ages is the major one, but secondarily included is the destruction of Jerusalem, likely at the hands of the Romans. (Or, perhaps, the destruction of Jerusalem at the end of time. You get the challenge.)

As a…

Book: The Leadership Handbook

Book blitz continues today…just a few more days and it’s all over with.John Maxwell has been writing on leadership since I was in junior high. He’s been at it awhile now, because I’m getting old. His current work is called The Leadership Handbook. The question for a new Maxwell book on leadership is not whether or not the content is quality. That much is assured. The real question is: if I already have Maxwell’s other books, do I need this one? Because if you haven’t read up on leadership, you absolutely need to. This one, by boiling down the principles in most of Maxwell’s writings, is a good introduction. I like it better than his 21 Laws book, though that is a matter of preference. Why is this a good starting point? Each chapter presents a summary statement of leadership, then gives three ideas to expand it. After that, the chapter presents application exercises and concludes with a one-paragraph “mentoring moment” that encapsulates the ideas from that chapter. The 26 ideas pr…

Sermon Recap for February 22

Good morning! Here are the sermons from yesterday. For the next several days, I’ll be posting a book review every day as well as normal posting. If you’re subscribed through MailChimp, then you will still only get one email.Morning Sermon: The Treasure Matthew 6 (audio)I. Beware of practicing righteousness _____________ II. Do not give __________________ III. Do not pray to be heard _______ IV. Do not fast___________________ V. Store your treasure rightly and your ______ will follow Evening Sermon: Romans 5:8 (audio) Extended morning notes:The Treasure 92744.75 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21Ever-fixed mark: The Treasure of Life is found in the grace-given relationship we have with God. If I gave you 1 hour to load up and evacuate, never to return, how would you spend it? A heart check: Where is your heart? Where does your heart lead you? Not sure? Let me give you a different way to look at it: what do you treasure? Whatever your treasure is, your heart will follow it. If you treasure this…

Book: Beneath the Forsaken City

Book blitz ventures into the Fantasy World…I have not read the first book in the Song of Seare series, a fault I will definitely seek to remedy after reading Beneath the Forsaken City. C.E. Laureano has crafted a fantasy world that fits well into the Christian allegory/fantasy genre. It’s not straight allegory like Pilgrim’s Progress, but still carries some of the ideas of Christian life wrapped in a good narrative. Having not read the first book, I was a tad bit lost as I started on this book. Fortunately, the adventure stands decently on its own. One is not entirely sure what’s going on in the universe of Seare, but I was able to fill in the gaps. Laureano’s characters, Conor and Aine, are presented well. Further, the “bad guys” are clearly bad—there are no doubts about good and evil. That is a positive for fantasy literature. I would suggest having a quick thumb to the back pages with the pronunciation guide… How well does the allegory stand up? I find no fault in the theology pres…

Book: From Plato to Jesus

Book Blitz continues! This book is as far from the last one as I think one can get.One of the great things about being a book reviewer for Kregel Academic is that they let me have an extra book, of my choice, as a birthday present. I don’t have to hide in a cave with it, I just have to review it. This year, I asked for C. Marvin Pate’s From Plato to Jesus. Dr. Pate is a professor at Ouachita Baptist University’s Pruet School of Christian Studies. (In the dark ages, it was just the Religion Department.) I am an alumnus of OBU, so I try to keep up with all religion publications from the faculty, because it makes me look smart. Dr. Pate’s hard to keep up with—I’m about a dozen behind on his books. From Plato to Jesus addresses this question: “What does philosophy have to do with theology?” Obviously, Pate feels the answer is more than “Not a blessed thing.” Instead, he develops the extended answer to this question. He traces first the historical development of philosophy. This begins wit…

Book: Food, A Love Story

The Book Blitz Continues, but shifts moods! I am a typical Baptist pastor. I like food. A lot. I remain thoroughly unconvinced that no major problems in this world should not be solved over a good meal together. In fact, I I think an oft-overlooked historical fact is that the most effective summits between the USA and the USSR were the best catered. Most likely with barbecue. (NOTE: “barbecue” is slow-cooked meat, not anything cooked outdoors. Burgers? These are grilled. You cannot barbecue in a hurry. It is with this strong affection for food that I come to Jim Gaffigan’s second book, Food: A Love Story. Where do I begin, to tell the story of how fun this book can be? A fun food story that he wrote for you and me? Where do I start? That was unnecessarily musical in my head. Gaffigan, famed for humor about whales, blubber, Hot Pockets, and childbirth, gives us his second effort at a book length masterpiece. It is certainly piece of something, whether or not it’s masterful is going …

Book: No Greater Valor

Welcome to the Book Blitz: there will be multiple book posts over the next few days.Jerome Corsi’s No Greater Valor tells the story of the Siege off Bastogne in World War II. I find the work worthwhile for the personal reflections on the war alone, without delving any further than that into the work. World War II is moving from memory to history, and efforts to secure as much memory into a recorded form are worth commending. Knowing that I favor the overall effort of getting history in print, I am predisposed to like No Greater Valor. I have not read any of Dr. Corsi’s other books, so I cannot tell you if this fits his typical style. I will first highlight my chagrin that, once again, a nonfiction book has been saddled with endnotes rather than footnotes. I like references, and I like them on the page they are noted. Overall, the writing here does feel a bit disjointed. Corsi presents the various Allied units involved in the Battle of the Bulge, but of necessity there is a great deal …

In Answering: Luke 20

In Summary:

Luke 20 sees the chief priests and elders confronting Jesus. Again. This is habit of theirs. It’s an ineffective habit, but a habit nonetheless. Perhaps we can learn something right here from the chief priests and elders: if you find yourself constantly arguing and losing, maybe you’re wrong? It’s worth considering.

They come and confront Jesus with a question about his authority to do what he is doing. The likely inciting incident for this direct question is the cleansing of the Temple—they want to know how Jesus thinks he has the right to say what can and cannot happen in the worship center of the people of Israel. Rather than answer them directly, Jesus gives them a question to deal with. Here we see that Jesus is not only the master of answering trap questions, but also the master of asking questions. He hits them with a choice: speak the truth or be politically expedient. They fail and try to equivocate.

The remainder of Luke 20 sees a continued effort by the religious …

Sermon Recap for February 15

Good morning! I hope the ice and sleet have not caused you great grief today. Please be in prayer for those who have to be out in it.Also, do not fail to pray for those whose lives are on the line for their faith nor for the families of those who gave their lives as a testimony of Christ.Morning Sermon: Mark 9:2-10 (audio link) Evening Sermon: Romans 6:19-23 (audio link) We also had a good discussion on some church history and on the nature of eternity in our question-and-answer time.

A thought or two about this weekend

This weekend marks one of the three pillars of romantic relationships in mainstream American culture. It’s Valentine’s Day. If you believe the jewelry ads, and the flower ads, and the chocolate ads, February 14 is a critical day to get right. It’s also the easiest of the three, because the other two are your wife/girlfriend’s birthday and your anniversary. Those two are different, and nobody’s screaming on the radio to remind you of them! (And yes, I just went with wife/girlfriend because that’s where the stereotype is.) How important is it? Let’s consider how much a dead flower is worth. Any given day, it’s worth next to nothing because it’s dead. However, given as a romantic gesture, it’s worth a bit more. But the cost of those flowers? It will double, nay triple, by the magical date. It’s a bit insane. I am not an unromantic soul, despite what you may have heard from a few select individuals. Here are a few suggestions, though, amidst the madness. First, remember that a relationship i…

In Triumphant Arrival: Luke 19

In Summary:

Luke 19 gives us the story of Zaccheus in the opening section. This is a well-known event, so I won’t dwell on it. Two things are worth remembering in this story, though, that occasionally get overlooked. First, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. In Luke, that means on his way to the Cross. Yet he takes the time to interact with Zaccheus. I don’t know where you are going today, but you likely have no more on your mind that Jesus did. Second, Zaccheus does not see Jesus from the tree, but when he comes down from it.

Next, we see the parable of the minas and nobleman. It is similar to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, and I will not attempt to deal with harmonizing or separating the two. For me, I don’t see a problem with Jesus using two similar parables. I am not persuaded that every parable must be a true story. Some may fall into the fable-type category. This one, I think, falls into an allegory category. It is a story that reflects the work of Jesus as King of Kings…

Book: The First Principle

Today’s book is free on Kindle for Monday, and then discounted the rest of the week. So, the book review gets jumped to the front of the week.Dystopian fiction is one of the major players in the “young adult” book space these days. Put shortly, these types of books present a world that has not gone well and has the main characters dealing with that reality. Whether that says good things about our society or not is a discussion for the long-term, but I have my doubts—rather than a hopeful view of the future, we seem to be taking a dim view of the likely outcomes.Dystopian fiction typically picks up on the specific fears or concerns of the author. Thus, some show an environmental collapse while others show violence and war. The First Principle, today’s book, takes a look at the collapse of religious freedom.Marissa Shrock’s novel is set in a future world where the United States has collapsed into a consortium of regions. Her main character, Vivica, is the daughter of one region’s govern…

Things that should NOT need saying

This past week, I reached a point of speechlessness. Why?
Because, apparently, there remains a need to address issues in this world that really should not need addressed. I’m going to highlight a handful of them.
First, apparently someone has stirred up a question of whether or not it’s appropriate for Christian women to wear yoga pants. Yep, you read that right. I’ve seen a few links about it on the Net. I, admittedly, have not read the articles. I am terrified that rather than just reading a misplaced, unnecessary tome about modesty I will read some ill-conceived nonsense alleging that the spiritual background of Eastern Meditation that some of yoga derives from is following the pants.
Folks, anyway you slice it: I am less than interested in what kind of pants you are wearing. I believe maturing Christians should ask these questions about their clothing: 1. Does it glorify God for me to spend money on this? (Is this shopping good stewardship?); 2. Does it glorify God or me for me to w…

CSI Israel: Deuteronomy 21

In Summary:

Remember, Israel is forming into a nation out of whole cloth here. Prior to the Exodus, they were not a nation. Instead, they were a small family group. Family rules are, by nature, quite different from national rules. Within the four walls of your home, you can overlook offenses that cannot be overlooked in large scale—and you can punish those that appear minor but reveal major character issues.

This chapter, then, is part of addressing those types of concerns. We can assume that some of the situations eventually happened, but others may not have occurred. We see regulations for dealing with unsolved murders, captives from conquest, inheritance issues, and rebellious children. The hodgepodge that is Deuteronomy 21 reminds us, first of all, that God’s law roams into all forms of life.

While I find the rules about unsolved murders at the beginning of the chapter quite fascinating, it’s hard to make a direct application of this point. I would suggest the thrust here is this: a…