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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The Lost Art of Reading

8518218Obviously I like reading. No wait, love is a better word. Give me a library over a sports game any day of the week. Half Price Bookstores are fatal to my bank account. And my kids usually shout, “We are not going to a bookstore today!” whenever we go out somewhere together.

Reading takes up a lot of my spare time. It is vitally important to me. I will read most anything at anytime anywhere. We recently packed stuff up for a move and I had quite a few big boxes of books, like 10 or 12!

Unfortunately, reading has fallen on hard times. Internet, TV, game systems, etc. have taken away reading’s stronghold in most everyone’s life. That is why I love books like “The Lost Art of Reading by David Ulin.

Ulin shares with the reader why reading is essential. Imagination, cognition and relationship skills are all wrapped up in reading and reading well. One main assertion of this book is that we need to disengage from electronic media and return to the lost art of reading. In fact, Ulin describes reading as a revolutionary act against our culture and its demands.

This is a small book both physically and length wise. It comes in at 150 pages. Ulin is a book critic for the Los Angeles Times. Take some time to read this important work of why reading is so important. You’ll learn that reading is its own reward.

Other thoughts:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R291AEX0Y15PKN/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RC63ELPB81IV/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1570616701

“The Heavens: Intimate Moments with Your Majestic God”

9781404189997I can still remember my first telescope. It was one of those cheap Wal-mart type ones that you can buy for like $30. Basically, it was a glorified binocular. I’m not sure how much of space I saw but that dinky little telescope changed my life. From the moment I stared into the lens and saw the moon, I was hooked on stargazing.

Space always has something new to reveal. So often we limit space to our little corner of the milky way, but with each new day some new planet or star or celestial object is being uncovered. It reminds me of two things. 1. How infinitely small I am. 2. How infinitely great and glorious God is.

In “The Heavens”, Kevin Hartnett shares a similar mindset. Each day and devotion reveals to the reader something remarkable about outer space. How does this get you closer to God? It reminds you that God is the creator and has everything under control. Beautiful photography along with a great book layout make this a daily devotional you wont want to miss out on.

In our all too busy and hectic lives, it is nice to find something that can give you a moment’s rest and meditation. Buy this book and begin praising our majestic God.

Other resources:

http://www.ccmmagazine.com/article/the-heavens-intimate-moments-with-your-majestic-god/

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3NRNTVFA8FPO3/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1404189998

“The Fight”

UBB-TheFightbyLukeWordleyBoxing intrigues me. To me, fighting has always been something I’ve shied away from. I’m definitely not one of those guys who tries to prove himself by being tough or getting into fights. I am a trained blackbelt but even that has never made me crave fighting. In fact, it taught me just the opposite; the very harshness, danger and consequences of using our bodies as weapons.

With that being said though, boxing is a sport of focus. You must learn your opponent and anticipate his next move and yours at the same time. Split second decision making is not only required, it is imperative. In Luke Wordley’s newest book, “The Fight”, the reader sees the positive impact boxing can have on a life.

Sam Pennington is an angry kid who has lost everything. A dead father, a drunk mother and the harshness of moving into public housing has led Sam to his breaking point. It is at this breaking point that he comes to a crossroads. After a particularly brutal fight, Sam is introduced to Jerry Ambrose, a boxing trainer. Jerry takes Sam under his wing and Sam begins to discover a hidden talent and passion for boxing.

The story is redemptive in nature and deals with the core of what happens to our lives when our emotions rule us. It is also a coming of age story for Sam. This is a longer book at 380 pages but the story keeps your attention and drives home some important messages.

All of us has demons and skeletons that resurface from time to time and we all must learn how to deal with them or we will be ruled by them. We all have a “fight” we must engage in. How will yours turn out?

Other “Fight” thoughts:

http://christianbookshopsblog.org.uk/2012/02/25/a-novel-to-fight-over-introducing-luke-wordley-and-the-fight/

https://jimkane.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/my-review-of-luke-wordleys-the-fight/

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.