Jesus + Nothing = Everything

515XKn41ZCLIf you are anything like me, you may cringe just a bit when you read that line in Revelation that condemns the church for losing their 1st love. I cringe because I have seen and be aware in my own life of the sin of people pleasing and idolatry. I have added requirements to my faith that were not supposed to be there and have placed people on par with Jesus at times as well. That is why it was so great to get Pastor Tullian’s new book on what the Gospel really is.

My biggest takeaway from this book has been to see where in my life I am harboring idols. They were the usual crowd like greed or lust, but the more subtle such as intellectualism. Sweeping these bad boys out was not fun but it is necessary. Jesus+Nothing=Everything is a great book that helps you examine the parts of your life that are not Gospel centered. More than that it helps you see how to get back to that center and keep your eyes focused on Christ.

A unique feature of the book is the ability to interact with the author online through Crossway’s book summary’s that Pastor Tullian recorded. If you are looking for a great read on what the Gospel in real life means, than get this book, read it and then go live it out.

Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After: Preparing for a Marriage That Goes the Distance

51M-nG4pygLWhat makes a great marriage? Is it time? Is it commitment? Is it selflessness? How do we make our marriages different than the other 51% than end in divorce? The answer is simple. We do something different!

“Love, Sex and Happily Ever After” is a new book by Craig Groeschel. In it, he speaks to those preparing for marriage and those currently married and how they can make sure that they start off and stay on the right page. The premise is that marriage is a journey, not a destination. We are never to get so comfortable in our relationship with our spouse that we grow cold and disengaged.

Groeschel offers good advice and practical steps. He holds no punches in parts of the book. The reader can expect a sense of urgency to come across as he reads the book. For example, in one part Groeschel urges the reader to put down the book and go end a relationship if he knows that he is not in one that is God honoring.

Groeschel is the founder pastor of Lifechurch.tv. The end all result is to have a marriage that brings God glory and helps the reader prepare for and keep a healthy,strong and Godly marriage.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Christian Encounter Series)

ImageIt’s a place filled with magic and lore. Strength is shown in weakness. Wisdom is given in unconventional and untimely ways. The land is magical and full of hobbits, wizards, warriors and orcs. Of Course I am talking about the magical realm that Tolkien created for all readers in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien was a master story teller. When one reads his work, it like drinking cold water on a really hot day. You feel refreshed but still thirst for more.

Tolkien’s biography by Mark Home introduces us to the man behind the magic. Here we see Tolkien as he lives day to day. We see there was more to him than the stuff of legends. He was a real man who lived a very real life.

Tolkien was obviously a man of faith and his work are influenced by those convictions and beliefs. No one can take for granted the Christian undertones in Lord of the Rings. Whatever one’s faith, Tolkien matches it in a shocking way.

I enjoyed getting a chance to read more about Tolkien. This book is part of the Christian Encounters series. If you are looking for a good place to start reading up on Tolkien, may I suggest this short work.

Sabbath:The Ancient Practices

ImageSabbath by Dan Allender is part of an eight title series termed “Ancient Practices”. The series hopes to reconnect the raw search for God through the re-examination of ancient faith practices, such as the Sabbath, Fasting, and regular, fixed time prayer.

The book seeks to answer a very important question, “What would you do for twenty four hours if your only concern was to pursue your deepest joy?” The answers to that question are limitless, but weighty. However, I think Allender may have missed the mark. The question should be what would we do with those 24 hours to pursue God’s deepest joy. Like many books, the focus is on humanity, rather than on God.

A look through the book will show a few shortcomings. One, is the lack of scripture used. There is not much used to support what is said. This leads the reader to be even more careful in absorbing what Allender says. Another is the influence of Moltmann. While much can be learned from Jurgen Moltmann, when a book seems to quote or draw from any one theologian extensively, one should again proceed with caution.

Overall, the book is a short read and handsomely marketed. I applaud the series for the fact of bringing back some much needed footholds in a faith that seems to be at odds with its roots. The book does include a built in study guide to help the reader go deeper in his understanding of it message.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS/REVIEWS:

Spirituality & Practice 

Southern View Chapel

Christ in the Chaos

ImageChaos…it defines life sometimes, especially when you are a parent and more often when one is a mom. Moms are called on to be super heros. They are to wipe noses, make lunches, change diapers, cook, clean, check homework, help with projects, volunteer at school and church, work in a ministry and still have time to have a life and a romantic life with a husband. Does it sound overwhelming? Probably? Well, that is because it is…

In a wonderful new book (by cruciform Press) by Kimm Crandall, Kim takes the readers through the highs and lows of motherhood (and parenting). The result – all is grace. Just when you are about to throw in the towel and you think you can’t go any farther, God in all his greatness places His loving hand on your back to steady you.

The author shows us some of her worst moments to highlight the glory and grace of God. This is a great book that will help any parent feel refreshed and comforted. If you think you are overwhelmed and under appreciated  pick up this book and spend a few minutes reading what the author has to say.

1000 Days

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What would you do with a 1000 days if you knew that was all you had left? Would you live for yourself and take care of that bucketlist? Would you buy as much insurance for your family as you could? Would you live with no boundaries, both morally and ethically? Hoe would your last 1000 days define you and what legacy would you leave behind?

In his new book, 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ, pastor and author Jonathan Falwell tackles these questions as he examines the life of Christ. Christ’s ministry was only a three year stint. However, during that time, what He said, did and revealed God to the world. It is those three years that have produced the Gospels. So what makes these years more important than any other? Simply put: Christ lived intentionally and purposefully.

Falwell does a great job of diving into these years and showing us the true depth and meaning. Moreover, he shows why these 3 years are so vitally important to Christianity today. Anyone looking to examine Christ’s life and ministry would do well to read this book. And anyone looking to grow more like Jesus Christ should do the same.

I look forward to reflecting on what I earned for many days to come.