The Gospel as Center

gospel-as-centerWhat is the center of your life? Is it family, your job, your sports team, money, possessions? There are so many things that vie for our allegiance. And more than that, not only our allegiance, but our ownership. I once heard someone say, “Whatever we own, owns us”. That is true in so many aspects.

A book I received quite a while back has been slowly helping me re-center on what is the core of my whole life. This book is titled, “The Gospel as Center”. It is a collaboration of essays by a great set of minds and thinkers in the evangelical (and overall reformed) world. This book builds a theological foundation on what is essentially the core of all aspects of theology, the Gospel. One thing I enjoyed most about this book was seeing the way the different writers tackled each subject. I love when great minds come together and tackle a project with a mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

This book may be a little technical and academic in some areas. Therefore, its readership may not reach a big audience, but it probably deserve to be read and read slowly by all of us that are constantly battling relativism in ministry and mainstream life.

Readership will most likely be those involved in full time ministry or para-ministry leadership.

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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

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.

Anya’s Ghost

Ever read a really weird book? The kind where you get done and go, “hmmm…that was just…strange”. I recently read a book just like this called “Anya’s Ghost”. Written by Vera Brosgol, the book is mainly intended for a younger age than mine. It is a junior literary guild book.

Brosgol was born in Russia and received a Classical Animation diploma. This book shows her talent. Anya’s Ghost is written in comic book style, which means it is animated and broken into block segments (much like a comic book).

The story follows a young girl, Anya, through a typical day. She is an outsider but wants most of all to fit in. She isn’t quite smart enough, quite athletic enough, quite popular enough and doesn’t quite have the money to fit in with the rest of the teenagers she wants to hang out with.

The adventure begins when she accidentally falls into a well and stumbles onto some bones. The bones belong to another young girl who can’t leave unless someone carries her bones out. Anya does and that is where the trouble begins. The ghost helps Anya get what she wants but at a very high price.

This is a fairly quick read and the comic book style is interesting and refreshing. If you are looking for a light read in between some heavier books, check this one out.

Some other voices on Anya’s Ghost:

Amazon – Positive Review here

Amazon – Not so Positive Review here

Read About Comics Review here

Shaped by the Cross

shapedWe have often heard life imitates art or maybe it is art imitates life. Either way, art plays a big role in how we view the world and also in how we explain the world to others. I recently received a very interesting book in the mail that uses one piece of art to contemplate the mysteries of God.

“Shaped by the Cross” by Ken Gire was perhaps one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. Mr. Gire uses the Pieta by Michelangelo to meditate on the real cost of discipleship. Each chapter, in this relatively short book, explores a certain aspect of the sculpture in relation to the what is happening in the sculpture.

When you are done reading this book (it took me half a day because it was so interesting) you will have a new and special respect for art and the interaction it has with life. Moreover, you will have thought deeper on the suffering and glory of Jesus Christ.

Additional Reviews/Thoughts by Others:

Amazon – click here

The Good Book Stall – click here