Monthly Archives: February, 2013

Free E-Book Alert – Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ by Warren Wiersbe

Another free e-book from Warren Wiersbe!  Here’s the product description:

In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’s startling claim to be the Light of the World.

Many Christians find themselves mired in past regrets or future fears, but the name of God itself reminds readers that God wants them to live in the present. The more readers understand and apply God’s I AM statements from the Old and New Testaments, the more they will realize God’s peace and joy. Then they will be free to live, serve, and know God more richly in the present tense—which is just where He wants them to be.

Download the book here.

Book Review: Desiring God by John Piper

Title:  Desiring God:  Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
Author:  John Piper
Publisher:  Multnomah Books
Publishing Year: 2011
Pages: 368
My Rating:  5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

Multnomah Books recently released a 25 year anniversary edition of John Piper’s classic work Desiring God.  It has been slightly revised and updated.  This book is one that ought to be read by every Christian seeking to move past a mere ritual religious commitment and on to deep, meaningful relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The basic premise of the book is that we ought to find our delight in God.  In other words, the Christian faith is not merely a chore of burdensome duties that must be laboriously carried through in this life in order to hope for a better life one day in heaven.  No, Piper says that we are to enjoy God now.  Enjoy God, not endure God.  Playing off the Westminster, Piper declares “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

From the preface, “This is a serious book about being happy in God. It’s about happiness because that is what our Creator commands: “Delight yourself in the LORD” (Psalm 37:4). And it is serious because, as Jeremy Taylor said, “God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.”

Using intense Biblical exegesis,  sharp illustrations and even poetry, Pastor John takes us through his personal journey into what he refers to as Christian Hedonism.  The idea is that the pursuit of joy is not a sin in and of itself.  We were meant to seek joy and fulfillment.  The problem is, as C.S. Lewis said it, “We are far too easily pleased.”  Our satisfaction is only found in Christ.  But, is this mere selfishness, using God to fulfill our wants and desires?  No.  The illustration of a loving couple is used to answer this objection.  If a husband came home, handed flowers to his wife and said, “There!  It’s our anniversary so I guess I have to give this to you.”  Is that true love?  Is that wife pleased with the actions of her husband?  However, if that same husband came home and declared, “Honey, I love you.  No one else has ever made me happier that you have.  You are the delight of my eyes.  All of my wants and desires are fulfilled in you.”  What woman wouldn’t love to hear those words!  (Quotations in this paragraph are paraphrased and summarized – not exact quotations).

This book makes the very small list of books that have changed my life and changed my entire perspective of the Christian walk.  I cannot urge you enough to read this book!

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

You can purchase the book here.

Free E-Book Alert – Be the Church: Discipleship and Mission Made Simple

I saw this interesting free e-book and it looked worthy to pass along to all of you.  

Sometimes the simplest things can get lost in tradition or become over complicated due to confusion or lack of practice. Sometimes we are just too smart for our own good. The reality of who we are as Christians, the Church and as disciples, while having historical and eternal importance, has become somewhat muddled in our modern understanding and dialogue.

As the conversation around being “missional” has come front and center within certain church circles in recent years, it seems that many of us struggle to grasp and/or explain the basics to others. This short book of simple pictures and conversations is meant to offer a starting point–a way to get, or keep, the dialogue going around some of the key issues surrounding who we are as the Church and what our mission really is.

Download the book here

From the Mail Box – Galatians for You by Tim Keller

20130226_164636

 

The fine folks at the Good Book Company sent me this good book to review here on the blog.  I can’t wait to read it.  Here’s the amazon product description:

Galatians For You is a new curriculum tool you can use to learn or teach from the book of Galatians. Both student and teacher can use it to walk through Galatians, learning how the gospel message changes the whole of our lives.

Combining a close attention to the detail of the text with Tim Keller’s trademark gift for clear explanation and compelling insights, this is a uniquely flexible curriculum resource. It can be utilized by anyone who has a teaching ministry, to help small-group leaders understand and apply the text in their study groups, and to give preachers helpful ways of connecting timeless Bible truths to today’s world. It can be used as a daily devotional, complete with reflection questions. Or it can be read for personal study and edification.

Galatians For You has an accompanying small-group study guide, Galatians: Gospel Matters: Seven Studies for Groups or Individuals, which can be bought separately.

This is the latest curriculum resource from New York pastor and bestselling author Tim Keller, and the first in the new God’s Word For You series.

You can purchase the book for yourself here.

R.I.P – C. Everett Koop

Earlier today former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went to be with the Lord earlier today.  Dr. Koop was well known as an evangelical and did much to raise the profile of his office.

According to politico,

“Koop wielded the previously low-profile post of surgeon general as a bully pulpit for seven years during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations…  Although raised as a Baptist, he was drawn to a Presbyterian church near the hospital, where he developed an abiding faith. He began praying at the bedside of his young patients – ignoring the snickers of some of his colleagues.  ‘It used to be said in World War II that there were no atheists in foxholes,’ he wrote in 1973. ‘I have found there are very few atheists among the parents of dying children.  This is a time when religious faith can see a family through trying circumstances.'”

Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor
Dr. Koop wrote an autobiography in 1993.

Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Revised Edition)

In 1983 he co-authored this book with Francis Schaeffer.

 

Why Pastors Should Read Over Their Heads

Recently Kevin DeYoung blogged about several reasons why he beleives pastors ought to read “over their heads.”

  • Reading scholarly stuff keeps you learning and learning keeps you fresh. Most Christian books are fairly derivative. This isn’t necessarily bad. It just means that if you read nothing but the new releases on your Christian bookstore, you may not be challenged with new insights and new ideas on old topics and old truths.

  • Reading scholarly stuff keeps you humble. Granted, there is garbage in the academic world as much as there is garbage anywhere. But if you read an excellent scholarly work, like Richard Muller on Post-Reformation Reformed Theology or Scott Manetsch’s new book on Calvin’s Company of Pastors, you’ll realize that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought. This can make you jealous or make you despair. Or it can make you humble and thankful. Even those of us who think we are well read, could be outpaced by an earnest grad student in most areas within a couple weeks.

  • Reading scholarly stuff keeps you hungry. When I read bad academic work I want to laugh, then cry, then ask for my money back. But when I read excellent work, I get excited to fill in the gaps of my knowledge and make connections I’ve never made before. Good pastors are voraciously curious—about people, about history, about the Bible, and about knowledge. Stay thirsty, my friends.

  • Reading scholarly stuff keeps you balanced. Again, I’m thinking of the fine academic work, not esoteric gibberish. When you read excellent scholarship you realize two important things: One, some of the sound bites and catch phrases that pass for good thinking and exegetical insights do not deserve to be taken seriously. And two, some of the confident assertions we make deserve to be more nuanced.

  • Reading scholarly stuff keeps you edified. We live in a place and in a time with an incredible wealth of Christian resources. We have many fine scholars teaching in our schools and seminaries. Most of them genuinely want to serve the church and further the cause of Christ. They have done us a tremendous favor by learning foreign languages, digging around in the desert, or hunkering down in archives, or committing years of their lives to a single person, place, or idea. Let’s take advantage of the best of their labors.

Read the entire post here.

Free E-Book Alert – Courageous: A Novel

They say the book is usually better than the movie.  Well, here’s your chance to find out.  Perhaps you’ve already seen Courageous the movie, now download the e-book for free.

From the creators of Fireproof comes an inspiring new story about everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.

They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift farther and farther away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God . . . and to their children?

Download the book here.

The Christian and Reading: An Interview with Shaun Tabbat

Listen to the streaming audio here or download the mp3 here.

shaunIt has been said that readers are leaders.  I think we all know that reading is important and is certainly something we ought to do, but it is one of those things that is just so easy to neglect.  In our fast-paced lives reading hundreds of pages in an in-depth book just doesn’t seems as practical as the ease of reading 140 characters in a tweet or Facebook update.  Yet, Christians were once known as “people of the Book.”  The Bible is the very life-blood of the Christian faith.   The essence of our salvation is found in the fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  God has chosen to reveal Himself through words, phrases, and sentences.    So, how should the Christian view reading?

In this KevCast, my guest is Shaun Tabatt of Cross Focused Media.  Shaun has a deep love for reading and works in the Christian publishing industry.  He recently launched his own podcast, Author Talks in which he interviews Christian authors about their craft.  Shaun also blogs at Bible Geek Gone Wild.

Helpful Book Reviews 02-23-13

Crossing the Tracks: Hope for the Hopeless and Help for the Poor in Rural Mississippi and Your Community by Dolphus Weary – “How many Christians do you know who don’t look like you?” Dolphus pointedly asks. He challenges churches to reach out to other congregations of different racial composition, and provides two pages of ideas for how racially different and divided churches can partner together in kingdom work. According to Dolphus, when Christians who don’t look like each other come together in the ways he proposes, three powerful things happen (165-166):  1. They actually address a real need in their community.  2. They show the world what racial reconciliation looks like by coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ and living out the unity Christ desires.  3. Because of that unity they offer a compelling witness to the world that Jesus is Lord of a united people, answering Jesus’ prayer in John 17. – David Murray

The Pastor and His Reading: Why You Are the Key to Building a Church That Loves Books

At the last Desiring God Pastor’s Conference, Tony Reinke spoke on the topic of pastors and reading and also touched upon the larger topic of literacy from a Christian perspective.  Reinke defines literacy as “the act of reading books through a Christ-centered worldview, with the aim of discovering truth, goodness and beauty, leading to life change, pleasure and worship.”

I’ve posted a short into of his message below in order to whet your appetite for the full length message that can be found here.

INTRODUCTION

A few years back a young man came to me, asking me for help with his reading. I said, “Sure, let me collect my thoughts, and we’ll meet at a coffee shop to talk.” We did. But that meeting started me down a path, and the questions kept coming to me, questions about reading that I needed to personally answer. That meeting led to me think about writing my thoughts out in a few pages, and that led to more and more thoughts that eventually led me to believe that a whole book could be written about a Christian approach to literacy.

My thoughts about reading the Bible spilled over into my thoughts on reading Christian books and theology, and that led me into thinking about what a Christian reader should be thinking when they open classic literature, or books off the bestseller list, or really any book shelved at Barnes & Noble.

The fruit of many months of asking questions — and trying to find answers — eventually resulted in my book Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books. It was in the process of writing that book that I came to discover how much I had personally assumed about books and literacy. But what really frightened me was what I most assumed in my life — and most overlooked in my life — and that was a proper theology of reading in the first place.

So this message this afternoon is part of what I discovered over those many months of rethinking literacy.

I want to divide this message into two parts. In the first half I want us to develop together a theology of reading. We only have time to look at some of the big pillar foundations under reading — but those few pillars are the critical ones. And in the second half of this message I want to look at the pastoral implications of what this theology of reading calls for. First half — theology. Second half — practical suggestions for pastors.

Hopefully this leaves some time for questions and answers at the end of our hour together.

These notes will be made available online later.

Here we go.

A THEOLOGY OF READING

I’ll begin with a definition. What do I mean by literacy?

Literacy is the act of reading books through a Christ-centered worldview, with the aim of discovering truth, goodness and beauty, leading to life change, pleasure and worship.

As you will see in a moment, I do not make a hard and fast distinction between literacy related to Bible reading and literacy related to all other books.