Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book: A.D. The Bible Continues

A.D. The Bible Continues: The Revolution that Changed the World by Dr. David Jeremiah

Straight out of the gate, let me say that David Jeremiah’s A.D. The Bible Continues: The Revolution that Changed the World (hereafter, A.D.,) surprised me. Knowing it was connected to the NBC television event that dramatizes the events of the biblical book of Acts, I expected to find that Jeremiah had written some Bible-blurbs for a ghost-written novel. This is certainly not that.

In fact, what I have on my shelf for A.D. will function well for a church group study on the basics of the New Testament after the Gospels. It is clearly written, well organized, and accurate.

What is A.D.? Essentially, it is an explanation of the book of Acts with background material in history and Old Testament theology placed alongside it. Further, Jeremiah gives some flash-forwards to the materials in the rest of the New Testament, like Paul’s Epistles.

Overall, this work is doctrinally on-target, though clearly there is an attempt to remain neutral on some matters that are debated today. Baptism is discussed but not nailed down, likewise the role of church governance and how exactly Christian people interact with a pagan government is left for the reader to hash out elsewhere.

This is more on the mark for a youth to adult range study into the basics of the early church. How did we get from the Resurrection to the era of the church? That is the question at stake, and the question Jeremiah provides a solid Bible framework for in this book.

Free book in exchange for the review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book: Modern Manners

Modern Manners by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler (yes, that Liv Tyler.)

In the modern text message society, it is easy to lose the traditional concepts of etiquette. After all, one is often busy trying to keep up with the newest and greatest—how much time do we have to remember the old-fashion ways?

Yet decorum and etiquette should never be out of style. Additionally, the ability to conduct oneself with propriety in a given situation is a step toward having a successful interaction. Consider your own viewpoint: given the choice between two equally qualified business proposals, which would you take? The one presented by people who spoke with full sentences who looked you in the eye or the one presented with half-sentences and distracted looks?

Following the general pattern of etiquette, though, is not natural for most of us. In truth, I would suggest that the reason etiquette goes so far in establishing the distinctiveness of a person is because it requires effort to present. Anyone can grunt hello without looking up…or slurp down a milkshake, but doing something beyond that demonstrates the value of the relationship.

In that vein, I would commend to you the book Modern Manners by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler. Johnson is the founder of The Protocol School of Washington while Tyler is an actress. (Personally, if Arwen Evenstar says something is good manners, I would not argue with her. Don’t mess with elves.)

Modern Manners is laid out as a reference book on basic etiquette. First, there is a simple organization to the work. Each major section addresses specific situations: “Meetings and greetings” or “Out and About.” Second, specific instances, like seating or toasting, are spelled out simply in a matter of 1 or 2 pages. Third, the authors clearly delineate the differences in formal and informal situations. The clarity in those areas is helpful.

Johnson and Tyler do an excellent job of presenting the basics of what to do, with a touch of the why to do it sprinkled in. One of The Protocol School’s other works may be more detailed or academic, but this functions well as a general introduction and practical work on etiquette. I will be applying many of the lessons, as well as using it with my children as we practice etiquette for the years to come.

Free book received in exchange for the review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sermon Recap for April 26

Good Afternoon! Here are the sermons from yesterday.

Morning Sermon: The Good Shepherd John 10:11-18 (audio)

Evening Sermon: Hebrews 4:16 (audio)

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

E. Some videos are up on Vimeo, but budget constraints have ended my posting to Vimeo for the time being.

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra Page

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baby Stone Sheep! 1 Peter 2

In Summary:

Peter, unlike Paul, does not spend as much time on the theological background issues of his epistle. Instead, as we see in 1 Peter 2:1-3, he comes rapidly to the point of action as he commands his audience to put aside evil actions and words. This is not prefaced with a long instruction about why—Peter gives the “why” after this: “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

He then goes on to summarize the Christian life with three examples. The first is that we are to live as newborns, desiring to feast on the pure Word. The second is to be as stones that are used to build up the house of the Lord Jesus. This is likely done in parallel to Psalm 118 and the references to the rejected stone that became the cornerstone, which Peter applies to Jesus.

(I once heard this related to a story from the construction of Solomon’s Temple, where the builders found that a stone they felt was useless was actually the perfect finishing stone for the building. I can’t find that reference, though, so I offer that as only a faint memory.)

The third parallel with Christian life is at the end of the chapter where we are compared with wandering sheep. We were continually straying, Peter says, but have now returned to our Shepherd. Sheep sometimes wander—especially if they are distracted—and need to be sought out by their shepherd. Fortunately for us, if Peter is right, our Shepherd not only sought us but also took the penalty for our wandering in His own body (1 Peter 2:24).

In Focus:

Peter’s middle segment draws a couple of important points up, and I think I’ll deal with some of it in a separate post. Here, let us put 1 Peter 2:16-17 under our focus. We see a summary command: live as free people, not using freedom for evil, but to serve God.

From that point, Peter develops four commands that express how he expected the believers to do this. Some translations make this verse one long sentence, as the NASB. Others, like ESV, make four sentences. Then there’s the NLT, which makes v. 17 into two sentences.

Which I think suggests a useful possibility for understanding. Look at the verse in ESV:

“Honor everyone.
Love the brotherhood.
Fear God.
Honor the emperor.”

Now, look at the verse in the NLT:

“Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.”

Leaving aside whether it’s appropriate to translate “brotherhood” into “family of believers” or the lesser concern of “king” or “emperor,” look at how the ESV makes a series of commands while the NLT makes a pair of contrasting commands.

The first pairing is that everyone should be respected (or honored,) but the family of faith is deserving of special love. The second suggests that God is worthy of fear, and the king only deserves respect.

This shows the differences in how Christians, as aliens, interact with the world around them. We are not antagonistic toward the wider world, nor towards its rulers. Instead, we respect and honor these as appropriate.

However, our hearts quicken even more as we deal with our folks—the family of of faith, the brotherhood of believers. And our respect for the king never eclipses our reverent fear of the Lord God Almighty.

In Practice:

What does this contrast look like in practice? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Love bears with it a sense of intimacy, while respect and honor do not. My closest struggles and greatest successes should be shared with the family of faith more than the wider world. Likewise, my dearest friends should come from within the household, including those of you who are seeking a spouse. We should develop respectful friendships with anyone—but that deeper love? It has a home.

2. There are times when decisions require prioritizing relationships. While I do respect my completely pacifistic brethren in Christ, I am not from that branch of the family. Instead, I think there is a time that violence is regrettably necessary. And the hierarchy falls along the lines of honoring all but loving the family: I would stand with a weapon between violent people and the children’s department at church. My love for the family overrides my respect for the wider world.

3. This extends to the question of obedience to authorities. My respect for the emperor (used here for any government, not as a comment on the behavior of current American government people) is crucial, but I must fear God above the emperor, putting the needs of the Kingdom of God above the needs of the nation. Therefore, I might pray for a strong dollar to aid mission efforts though it is not better for exporters and the economy. Or I might pray for a longer negotiation with other nations at the cost of national prestige if it allows the spread of the Gospel.

Those are just some examples of how that might look in practice.

In Nerdiness: 

Not a lot of words left for nerdiness—let’s grab a few translation issues.

First, the word NASB renders “aliens” in 2:11 is not the same as the word rendered “aliens” in 1:1. There may be exegetical significance in the difference, and there may not be. 2:11 reflects those who reside away from home while 1:1 has the context of those who reside temporarily out of place. Of interest is that the word rendered “strangers” in 2:11 is the same Greek word as “alien” in 1:1. This is a good example of context driving meaning, and the lack of one-to-one equivalence between languages.


Second, the word rendered “honor” or “respect” in 2:17 is one of those that had shades of meaning even in its own day. It appears to be descended from the Classical Greek word that included “fear,” even though “fear” has its own word, “phobeo,” in Koine Greek. The Classical Greek word figures in the expression of “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts,” going back to the Trojan War saga.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sermon Recap for April 19

Good afternoon! Here are the sermons from yesterday:

Morning Sermon Luke 24:36-48 (audio)

 

Evening Sermon Hebrews 4:12 (audio)

 

 

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

E. Some videos are up on Vimeo, but budget constraints have ended my posting to Vimeo for the time being.

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra Page

Friday, April 17, 2015

Excluded: Deuteronomy 23

In Summary:

Well, Deuteronomy 23 is ahead of us today. It opens with a challenging verse and does not get much easier to consider until near the end. The first section of this chapter deals with people who are to be excluded from the assembly of Israel. The mixture of prohibitions here are somewhat confusing, and all carry cause for alarm to the modern sensitivities. After all, one cannot choose to be born Edomite and not Moabite. And the troubling Deuteronomy 23:1 (which I’d prefer not to think much about) makes no loophole for accidental emasculation. No matter how it happens, one is excluded from the assembly. There is something to consider about the connection between Deuteronomy 23:1 and Galatians 5:12, but we’ll leave that to one side for the time being.

Another theme of this chapter is the presence of God among the Israelites, though that is common refrain among the writing in Deuteronomy. The idea that one needs to use proper latrine techniques strikes me as humorous, and yet Moses connects it to the presence of God. That is a way to look at life we often avoid: God is present at all times.

The last thing I’ll take note of here are the commands to allow Egyptians, eventually, into the assembly and to not return fugitive slaves who come to Israel. Both of these were in response to the time the Israelites spent in slavery in Egypt. Essentially, once it was clear than an Egyptian was not from those who had oppressed Israel, they could become part of the people of God. And fugitive slaves were to always be welcome, because the Israelites were former slaves.

In Focus:

Let’s focus on the end of the chapter. Specifically, Deuteronomy 23:21-23 where the Law specifies rapid fulfillment of vows made to the Lord. The people of Israel have, at this point, seen all of the Law and the regulations regarding vows and offerings and sacrifices. They know of required ones and voluntary ones.

The command here is that the voluntary vows should not be delayed. If one made a promise to God out of joy and not obligation, then he should fulfill it rapidly. This was not about repentance and forgiveness sacrifices, though, for not vowing would have been acceptable. These were the vows made in a freewill nature.

In Practice:

I see a couple of applications in practice. First, we see that God knows people pretty well. He knows that we are less likely to deliver the longer it has been since we made a promise or commitment. Think about your New Year’s Resolutions—if you can remember them. This is why it’s important to remind yourself of your lasting commitments on a frequent basis. More than 15 years ago I vowed to live in the covenant of marriage with Ann. I wear a reminder because it is too easy to let a commitment slip as the years go by—even great commitments like that!

Second, we see an important note for our promises to God. We ought not make promises we will not keep—it is better to leave off the promising altogether! Let your yes be yes, your no be no, and avoid bogging everything down with promises. But when you do promise? Be quick to deliver, not slow.

In Nerdiness: 

Is there something to be made of the Septuagint’s use of the word “ekklesia” for assembly here? It’s the same word used for the assembly that is the “church” in the New Testament.


Additionally, I would recommend to you C.S. Lewis’ discussion of economics based on charging interest in Mere Christianity. He raises a good question about how moral the economy can ever be if it is based on something explicitly forbidden by God to His people. If we only have one example of God establishing a nation including its civil law base, which is what we have in the establishment of Old Testament Israel, then should we not consider whether or not that informs some of our practices? Without going into theocracy/theonomy nonsense, but looking at the moral concepts. After all, many of the problems in the American economy center on lending/credit practices. Just some thoughts that need completion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A personal update

For those of you who are interested in tracking my personal life, I thought I’d give you an update. Last summer, I expressed a plan to pursue a Ph.D. Then I backed out of that, needing some time away from distance learning.

My next stop on the planning train was a Doctor of Ministry. It’s a more practical degree, which is good, but therefore less applicable to academic work. Which is bad.

This brings me back to where I am right now: I think I’d return to the Ph.D. model and pursue something in the academic theology field. But I just cannot bring myself to do the preparatory research languages (German, Latin, French) through the online class model. It was just not working for me. Grades were fine, but I felt that I wasn’t gathering the understanding I wanted out of it.

So, right now I’m leaning in this direction: I’m going to look for ways to fill in the language learning while I weigh out the pros and cons on either one. That, and I’m back to reconsidering whether or not I would be better off with a non-theological degree on the list. There are some options that might be worth considering there.

Why all the time on education? I like to learn. More than that, I like the challenge. That’s one reason I’m leaning toward something like an MPA or MA in Communication Studies. These would push me out of the religious studies bubble and help me wrestle with differing viewpoints.

Is there a plan?

Not yet.

In fact, right now the plan pretty well leaves out school. I’m going to try and write another Advent devotional book as well as tackling creating some home school Bible study/Biblical Interpretation material (basically, a middle-school level study guide for Grasping God’s Word) while still juggling the other things in life.

But the more young preachers I encounter…the more I want to be equipped to help them start off and avoid the stupid things I did as a young ministry student, young minister, and so forth. They may do their own stupid…but I’d like to help slow it down some.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Aliens? 1 Peter 1

In Summary:

We finished Luke a few weeks back, and I’ve been wrestling over how to get into the next book installment of Through the Whole Bible here on the blog. I’ve covered three of the Gospels, Acts, and a few Pauline Epistles. I’m almost done with the Pentateuch (finally!) on the Old Testament side. I’m not ready to tackle Revelation here…I may even pull a Calvin and not ever do Revelation! (Seriously, there are 46 Logos volumes, or 23 print volumes, of Calvin’s Commentaries. He stops at Jude.)

I thought we’d take a trip together into 1 and 2 Peter for the next few months. I’ve written a bit before, in fragments, on Peter’s Epistles (see here), but not as part of this series. As with any of the New Testament Epistles, it’s hard to get past the first verse without camping out. We’ll throw 1 Peter 1:1 under the In Focus section, then, and try to summarize the rest of chapter 1.

Which will not be simple. Peter writes to the church-at-large, rather than to a specific local church. He highlights the mercy of God amid trials (v.4-6) and goes on to emphasize the continuity of the Christian message with the prophets of old.

We also see that Peter is concerned that the believers evidence their faith by acting on it. He does not suggest social improvement projects or joyful community service. From v. 13-19 the command is to live out the holiness of God through a mind prepared for action, with fear of God, and in recognition of God’s impending judgment of humanity.

The chapter concludes with a reminder of the eternal nature of the Word of God, including a reference to Isaiah 40 and the statement that the “Word of the Lord endures forever.” It was a good reminder to those he called “aliens” back in verse 1.

In Focus:

Let us take the focus light and shine it on 1 Peter 1:1. The first point that rises is “Peter.” Peter, whose life changed as he started following Jesus back on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Peter. If you know the Gospels, you’ve heard of Peter. There are whole volumes written about his life, his work, his theology, and his legacy.

What I would focus on in this: Peter opens with his name. Yes, it is the standard pattern of letters in the time. Except for Hebrews and 1-3 John, that is. You see, anonymous was possible—we even accept all four anonymous Gospels, though our traditions tell us the authors. Peter could have posted this to churches that knew him and would have listened.

But he chose to be clear about who it was from. To invoke his legacy, his whole legacy, into the message. He made it personal, not by making it about him but by being clear the message is from him.

The second point of focus is the reference to believers as “aliens.” I’m glad “Christian” stuck as the label, but I could go with alien. Wrapped up in this label are all the things we ought to be: different but present; obvious but similar; foreign but respectful. That sums up the Christian life.

In Practice:

Two quick notes on practice from these focused points. First, make the message personal. It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus—that is absolutely true. But if you are not personally involved in living and proclaiming the message, what are you doing? And what are you hiding from?

Second, be an alien. Your thought processes, your actions, your attitudes, all ought to be different as a Christian. And it should be clearly visible to the people around you. Aliens stand out—aliens in residence do their best to respect the indigenous population but remain true to their heritage. Do the same.

In Nerdiness: 

A pair of nerd notes:

1. Most of the locations mentioned are in modern-day Turkey. That’s not exhaustive, but a good generalization.

2. The consensus of my sources is that Peter writes this, likely with the aid of Silas (Silvanus, 5:12). Overall, there’s no definite reason to remove the writing of this letter from Peter’s lifetime and ministry. Many of the grammatical/vocabulary arguments are blurred when one considers the work of Silas as an amanuensis.


And an unpaired note: probably, Peter writes this with Silas around the early 60s AD. It’s likely Peter was in Rome at the time, but not under any form of arrest or threat. That comes a bit later.

Book: The Happy Christian

Today’s book, The Happy Christian,  comes from pastor/author David Murray. He’s the author of Christians Get Depressed, Too, and Jesus on Every Page. I found value in both of these books, so I was glad to snag The Happy Christian for free for review from Booklook.

There are many Christian-themed books about happiness. Some of them are remarkably too shallow. Others are too egg-headed and theological. Generally speaking, the pattern of these books falls like this: if you’re unhappy, it’s your fault so get over it. While there may be truth (MAY BE) to that concept underneath, is patently unhelpful when in trials.

Murray’s The Happy Christian aims a bit higher than basing happiness in either ignorance or guilting the reader out of sadness. His work is based in an evaluation of what Christian Scripture says of why we Christians should be happy.

Of particular value to me was the chapter on work and play. The point raised is counter to typical culture: we should find happiness in the work we do, even if it’s simply learning to find pleasure in doing the work well. Relying on playtime to keep us happy is a recipe for failure.

All in all, I found this an easy book to read—Murray is well-educated but not out to show it off with vocabulary and obscurity here. I would have preferred footnotes to endnotes (as always) but apparently publishers are against me.

Murray’s understanding of salvation does come through as an underpinning of this book. If you are not in agreement that salvation is an accomplished, “It is finished,” work of God, then you will have some difficulties with what is presented in several chapters. I happen to agree, so it’s not a problem in my mind.

I did receive a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for the review.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sermon Recap April 12

Good morning! Here are the sermons from yesterday:

Morning Sermon: John 20:19-31 (audio)

Video:

Sermon: John 20:19-31

"Doubts"

1. Doubts are ______ (normal)

2. Doubts can come from _____________ (isolation)

3. Doubts are willing to be _____ (answered)

4. Doubts are one reason why God _____________ (preserved Scripture)

Evening Sermon: Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (audio)

Video:

 

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

E. Some videos are up on Vimeo, but budget constraints have ended my posting to Vimeo for the time being.

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra Page

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sermon Recap for April 5

This Sunday was Easter Sunday, the point on the calendar where we especially mark the Resurrection of Jesus. We did the traditional Sunrise Service as a community, and then had our normal Sunday morning activities at Almyra Baptist.

Here are the links:

Sunrise Service: Mark 16:1-8 (audio)

April 5, 2015 EAM Mark 16:1-8

Mark 16:1-8

1. Obstacles--when we are overwhelmed, we tend to fixate on obstacles that we know we can't handle...and that aren't the real problem

It's not the stone that is the problem. It is our own unbelief.

2. Astonishment and fear--do not spend too much time in either of these

Don't be so astonished that you can't get anything done. Don't be so fearful that you never get started!

3. Action!

Celebrate the Resurrection. Let it transform your life---stop fearing that dying to this world will be the end of your life. 

It is just the beginning.

Morning Service: John 20:1-20  (audio)

April 5, 2015  John 20:1-18

John 20:19-20--focus

It is not truly Jesus if there are no scars....

No Christianity without a cross--without suffering

Without the scars, the disciples do not know it is Jesus.

Without the death, there is no resurrection and therefore....what is the benefit in our faith?

Bulletin Outline:

1. Christ rose not to deliver us from trouble but to save us from the (Wrath of God)

2. Peace comes from knowing (Jesus is risen), not from outside things

3. Our lives should be filled with (rejoicing) even in uncertain times

4. Since Christ is risen indeed, let us go and (announce) the news to all!

 

As a bonus, I thought I’d link this video. Sarah Darling is one of my favorite voices in country music, and here’s her singing the first verse of The Old Rugged Cross

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

E. Some videos are up on Vimeo, but budget constraints have ended my posting to Vimeo for the time being.

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra Page

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Go celebrate the Resurrection!

I’m laying off the rest of the week in blogging to celebrate Easter and to be ready for the weekend. You may look at March’s archive and think I took March off, too, and I kind of did…

But this is for a purpose. I’ll be back with sermon recaps on Monday from this Sunday! Have a blessed time and remember that HE IS RISEN!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book: Too Many to Jail

This week’s book is Too Many to Jail by Mark Bradley. Bradley has written other works on Iran and the Christian faith, one of which is very much an academic study (isbn: 978-1441111678). I am not overly familiar with Bradley’s overall work, and so I will proceed on the assumption that he is competent with his work. If that assumption is shown false, that would invalidate my opinions in this review.

One thing we constantly hear in Western Christianity is how the church is “declining” and that Christians are disappearing from the world. Too Many to Jail provides the case for one nation, Iran, where this is apparently untrue. While much of the press coverage of Iran focuses on the Christians jailed in Iran for their belief, the title concept is that the Church is growing too rapidly in Iran for the oppressors to jail them all.

I found this an encouraging read because it reaffirms that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not stopped by wicked people who fight it. As we see Christianity lose its place of primacy in the United States, it is a valuable reminder that the Gospel will not be extinguished. If Christians can be faithful in Iran, then there is little to fear that Christianity will not survive anywhere else.

Additionally, I found this book an effective call to prayer for the Church in Iran. By providing stories of people taking on daily life in the face of earthly danger, I am challenged to pray for the people. I appreciated the connection to www.iran30.org for actual needs.

A side benefit, likely not intended by the author, is how a work like this strengthens one’s theology related to prayer. For security reasons, most of the personally identifiable information about the people who are the Church in Iran is obscured—name changes, etc. Still, while praying for them, one is aware that God comprehends who we are praying for, even if we do not know the right names.

I found this also a challenging read. There are two reasons—the first being the typical response to a book on persecution issues. I have it easy, why don’t I do more? And why are churches in easy places dying while churches in hard places are growing?

The other reason is this: in the current day, there are many concerns about the leadership of Iran. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the idea that the nation of Iran needs to just go away—through whatever force is necessary. Yet Bradley clearly reminds us here that the nation of Iran is, like any other nation, made up of people that God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son. This should dull the talons of the hawk a bit…

In all, I cannot find any real fault with Bradley’s work. It obviously truncates many stories and statistics, giving only a portion of the story because of the needed length. I also know that some would like a fuller treatment of the theology of the Church in Iran, while this work treats as Christian all those who the government and Revolutionary Guard would treat as Christian.

I have no reservations, and think this would be a great read for the Christian seeking to know more about the world in which we live. Including, and perhaps especially, those who advocate international involvement inside of Iran.

I did receive a copy of this book from Kregel.

Also: on sale for Kindle this week! Click below for the deal!

Sermon and Service Recap for November 8

Looks like I forgot to post this! Thank you!