Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review for "The Jesus You Can't Ignore" by John MacArthur

I review books for BookSneeze by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and this is the first book I honestly had to force myself to finish. In The Jesus You Can’t Ignore, author John MacArthur asserts that the image of a mild, meek, gentle, docile teacher is a faulty portrayal of Jesus. He wants us to see that Jesus was courageous, confrontational, powerful, and proclaimed the truth in forceful as well as gentle ways. I actually agree with MacArthur’s point and believe it is a picture of Jesus that we need to remember in our modern times, but I so disliked the way this book was written that I cannot recommend it.
The book begins with an overly long introduction which sets forth the author’s main purpose (in my opinion) – a diatribe against everything heretical, tolerant, and watered-down about the modern evangelical movement. The remaining chapters of the book walk through many of Jesus’ teachings and do contain some nuggets worth hanging onto. However, the book is littered with the author’s agenda and personal ire against a segment of Christianity today. The main point of the book is beleaguered and could have been made in a much more succinct way. This book may be a good reference if you are teaching on a particular sermon of Jesus, but otherwise is a chore to work through.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review of "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado



Max Lucado is a master storyteller and inspirational writer! He has certainly lived up to both again in his latest book, Outlive Your Life. (I received a complimentary book as part of BookSneeze by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and am not required to give a favorable review.) The book is a call to compassion for the many broken, needy, poor, disadvantaged, lost, hopeless people in our world. The launchpad for this call to compassion are the stories of the early church from the book of Acts. As we’ve come to expect from Max, the stories of these men and women are brought to life in imaginative color. Some books on the topic of poverty and compassion leave the reader feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Not so with this book. The great need is not glossed over, in fact it is revealed, but in a fashion that leaves the reader inspired and challenged. Ordinary people once took unimaginable hope to their world! Their examples spur us on and stir our passion! What could God do if Christians today followed the example of Jesus and the early church and took on the evils of our world with compassion and hope? The book is not just a great read and a great story – it is a call to action that could result in readers who choose invest their lives and have an impact on the world now and into eternity!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sacred Pathways Class Week 7: Caregivers

Sorry I missed posting last time! Well, we learned about the importance of showing God's love to others last Sunday. As always, Jesus is our supreme example, and we looked into the scriptures and saw that caring for others is not an option for a Christ-follower. Thank you to Dave Becker for sharing his passion for caring for people. What a great illustration in real life!

So have you taken the challenge this week? It was this: to pray every day "Lord, send me today someone whom I can serve." I would love to hear how God has answered that prayer! Post big and small ways you have been able to show care this week - it will encourage everyone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sacred Pathways Class Week 5: Enthusiasts!

I want to thank Bruce Bayles for sharing from his life in our class last Sunday. I hope you saw some of the enthusiast passion in him as he shared. We need enthusiasts in the body of Christ. They are our encouragers, our cheerleaders, the ones whose faith and positive attitude persist even in dry times, and they remind us that God is full of mystery and supernatural power.

Well, we are almost at the half-way point of class... already, can you believe it?!? The question I'd like us all to ponder this week is: how has your personal worship life changed since the beginning of class? It's great to sit under some good teaching and learn about new paths of worship... but the important thing is to let what has been revealed penetrate your living and loving God. So, share what practices or ideas you've tried in the last few weeks, and how it has affected your connection with God. Looking forward to hearing!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review for "Mystically Wired" by Ken Wilson

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A refreshing change from the usual fare on prayer for the evangelical Christian! Ken Wilson, in his book "Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer" has introduced his readers to some old practices of prayer explained in a contemporary way. Wilson makes his case for practices of prayer that are refreshing, renewing, even relaxing instead of requiring more effort and a sense of duty. The book uses an enjoyable mix of personal stories, a scientific understanding of how our brains work, Church history, and biblical theology to explain these practices and why they work. Wilson writes with a candor that is sometimes humorous, sometimes blunt, and most often right on target. No need to be afraid of the title - this is not a book on mysticism in the New Age sense - this book is Christian and has a solid biblical and theological foundation. As Wilson wrote, he "likes [his] religious books straight up and not served on the rocks of some other religion."

I have learned to appreciate practices of prayer that were foreign to my evangelical upbringing, things such as breath prayers, contemplative prayers, praying the Office, the Jesus prayer, and Christian meditation. I enjoyed reading this book which described these types of "old" prayers in a refreshing new way. I was intrigued by the scientific explanations of how our brains really are "wired" to pray in certain ways by our Creator! I believe this book will be helpful to many Christians who may struggle with a prayer life that seems dutiful, stuck on lists, and is generally not very "connecting" to God. While I sometimes wished there were more practical "how-tos", the book successfully introduces several methods of prayer with enough detail for the reader to begin, and then certainly delve deeper with other resources if desired. Thank you, Ken, for the courage to write this book and share your experience with connecting to God in prayer!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sacred Pathways Week 3: Traditionalists

I hope you found the traditionalist pathway to be surprisingly fascinating as I did! We had a lot more material we could have covered (sorry I had to rush at the end of class). But, I hope your appetite has been whetted. If this is a pathway you think might enrich your own worship life, then explore further! Try out an idea or two. You might start with establishing a couple fixed prayer times. Or getting a prayer book. Here is a link for the Book of Common Prayer: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/formatted_1979.htm
Or here is a link to a site that gives you some liturgical calendars, prayers for the offices, and other information: http://www.commonprayer.org/ There are many other books of prayer so if one doesn't suit you don't give up, search more! The internet can be used to explore and get some great ideas. (For us evangelicals, we will want to omit any prayers to Mary, but many of the prayers will be appropriate. Choose the ones that are meaningful to you.)

Here is a link to a site I have enjoyed, which lists the daily scripture readings from the liturgy. It has proven to be a rich sourcefor me of digging into God's word along with the church calendar.
http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/inspiration.htm


What ideas or resources do you have to share? What was your reaction to the traditionalist pathway? I love to read your comments!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sacred Pathways Class Week 3: Sensates

We discovered this week that we can use sensory stimulation (of the 5 senses) to help us worship God! This may be unfamiliar territory for some, so let's share ideas and resources. What ideas do you have for bringing the senses into worship? Maybe you have tried something that was meaningful to you. How did you sense God's presence? Maybe you have been thinking of it this week and have some ideas you would like to try. Looking forward to hearing your comments!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Class Week Two: Naturalists

This week we learned how nature can draw us into prayer with God, reveal His existence, teach us scriptural truths, help us learn to rest. We enjoyed a wonderful presentation from Cristy, someone who definitely understands how to commune with God in such a personal way through His creation!

This week's question: How has our class discussion inspired you to heighten your perception of God through nature this week? Share something practical you have experienced, and how it helped you connect with God.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sacred Pathways Class: Week One

I was excited to get the class underway with the first lesson! We talked about the limits of the "daily quiet time" prescription as a means to nourish everyone spiritually. Did you get a glimpse of possible new horizons in your worship life? Share what you are hoping to get out of this class. I'm also curious, if you're willing to be that transparent, what part of your current devotional routine have you decided to take a break from?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Review of "Jesus Manifesto" by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola


In their book, Jesus Manifesto, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola assert that many Christians try to follow Christ without really grasping who He is. Jesus Christ should be the foundation and guiding focus of the Church, however, the church today has made its agenda about many things related to Christ, veering off-course from being centered on Christ. This book is a homeward call and even a revelation for Christians. It illuminates the life and person of the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that reclaims the wonder, awe, beauty, transcendence, and glory we have forgotten. Sweet and Viola take the reader on a scriptural journey to present the richness and magnificence of Jesus Christ. It is an invitation to a love affair with our Lord in a deeper, more intelligent, more mysterious and profound way.
This book is thoughtful and intelligent, reminiscent of the devotional classics. The authors have taken scripture as their foundation, and then expounded on it in a personal and insightful way. I have been a Christ-follower my whole life. This book has helped me open my eyes in wonder at the Jesus who has been my Savior, and has rekindled my love for Him and my hunger to know Him. It has convinced me of the astounding truth that Christ is sufficient - more than sufficient, He is everything! I agree that we have forgotten this truth as a Christian Church, and believe we expend energy and resources on ministry that may be about Christ or for Christ but have lost their center in Christ. This book has been a call to reclaim Christ as my north star, my source of power, the One who lives His life in me. I highly recommend this as reading for anyone seeking to understand who Jesus is, and especially for those of us who claim Him as our Lord!
I review books for BookSneeze and am not required to post a positive review.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review for "66 Love Letters" by Dr. Larry Crabb



The way I view the Bible has been changed forever!

In the book 66 Love Letters, Dr. Larry Crabb takes the 66 books of the Bible and looks at them as love letters from God, asking the question, “God, what are you telling me in THIS letter?” Each short chapter is an expression of what he believes God is saying through that particular book. It is intriguing to see the idea unfold that the whole Bible is one big love letter, that each letter builds on the others in a progression that is not by accident, and that one must understand the whole letter from beginning to end to have an accurate picture of what God is saying to us. He writes in the style of a conversation between him and God that is honest and intimate.

As a Christian, I have always believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. Reading this book has helped me see threads between the various books that I never saw before. It has given me insight into books I found difficult to understand. Sometimes in Bible study we get caught up in studying the meaning of a single verse or passage. Seeing the broader themes of the Bible through Dr. Crabb's writing has been wonderful. 66 Love Letters has inspired a deeper love for God and stretched my thinking. Dr. Crabb challenges the idea of a casual spiritual life, repeatedly calling for a completely transforming love relationship with our God. It took me a while to get through this book because there was so much to reflect and think deeply about. I now plan to go through it again, much more slowly, with Bible in hand to learn more!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Review for " The Selfless Gene" by Charles Foster


The Selfless Gene: Living With God and Darwin is an apt description for what Charles Foster sets out to accomplish with this book. He takes a middle-of-the-road approach, admitting his anger with both extreme camps of the debate: the extreme Darwinists and the Creationists. Foster proceeds to dismantle both positions, along the way offering a scientific and theological discussion that leaves room for both evolution and religion to breathe.
As a Christian, I have always wrestled with how to reconcile the apparent contradictions between what the Bible says and what science continues to discover. This book was a fascinating look at how one does not need to discard belief in God and the Bible, or respect for science! While I am not sure I agree with all his conclusions, especially the theological implications, he has stretched my thinking and given me a great deal to ponder. If you have already made up your mind where you fall in the evolution debate, this book will make you angry. I highly recommend it for any open-minded person who wants to learn more.
The book is not an easy read as it contains a great deal of scientific language and references. However, it is accessible. Some of the scientific chapters seemed long, but on the whole it kept my interest and by the end I found I could not put it down.
Four out of five stars.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review for "This Is Your Brain In Love" by Dr. Earl Henslin





"This Is Your Brain In Love" by Dr. Earl Henslin does an excellent job of blending science with relationship counseling. Far from dry and sterile, this book is very readable yet packed with informative content. Dr. Henslin discusses the science behind our love relationships as humans. In a fascinating display of the latest scientific research on the brain, Henslin reveals how understanding brain imbalance can aid a couple in improving their marriage relationship. He identifies 5 types of inbalances and the personality/behavioral patterns that result. Included are assessments the reader can take, and suggestions for how to deal with each imbalance in specific. The book is written from the perspective of Christian faith.

I loved this book! It took me only 2 days to get through it because I was fascinated and it was enjoyable to read. Henslin describes the imbalances clearly and the assessments are right on the money. It was easy to tell where I and my husband each fall! Beyond just describing the imbalances, Dr. Henslin also gives great practical advice on how to deal with each condition, whether in yourself or in your mate. The advice includes behavior, medication and supplements, and diet. I appreciate how it has already helped me understand my marriage relationship better, and given me some tools to help improve it. The final chapter gives some wonderful advice about how to enjoy lasting love - scripture and psychology in perfect harmony! 5 out of 5 stars.