Month: June 2017

Review: Keeping the Faith

41lcop7zotl-_sx303_bo1204203200_

Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse
by Marie M. Fortune

This slim volume offers exactly what the subtitle claims: guidance for Christian women facing abuse. After a brief introduction, Fortune guides through an easy question-and-answer format, taking the reader through questions like, “Why is this happening?” “What do I do now?” and “When do I accept him back?” She then has a section of reading, both biblical and extra-biblical. Following that she has a brief section addressing clergy and friends of abused women. The entire book is about 100 pages long; I read it in about an hour.

Let me sum up my review in one sentence: If you are abused, or you know someone who is abused, do not use this book. (more…)

Advertisements

Theology Geek!

We were getting sandwiches to go. On the way out the door, some guy blurts out, “Hey, man, I love your shirt!”

We were on the way out of the grocery store. The checker checked out my shirt. “I love that shirt!”

The checker a lane over looked up and shouted across several people in-between, “That is an awesome shirt!”

What shirt was it? Why, this one:

83928ec22d8d623e015cc1153bcf31f5

Sorry I can’t make it bigger… this design isn’t available anymore!

You may have no idea what that shirt is. It’s part of the cast of the Disney show Phineas and Ferb dressing up as Doctor Who characters. I love both shows, and my Bride bought me the shirt as a gift for… some random holiday. I don’t remember which one. But this is one of the few T-shirts that makes the rounds on the few days I get to wear such apparel.

I don’t remember it getting much attention from others when I wore it in my previous locality, but apparently here there’s enough of a crossover between sci-fi fans and Disney fans that it gets some compliments.

And it got me thinking.

I know that people have worn shirts to get attention for, well, forever. But apparel is not a thing I put a lot of thought into typically. Why? Look. It’s clothes. Woo.

But if this shirt is getting attention… I wonder if I can wear similar shirts to, say, coffee shops, and use them as conversation starters? What if I wore this one:

529003_1

Shirt still available at https://www.teepublic.com/ — I didn’t get the last one!

And I got a similar compliment? Could I respond with a, “Yeah, I love that movie. What’s your favorite quote?” Listen intently. “What do you think of this one? Is it right?” And now we can start talking about the brokenness of the world… and the solution to it.

Yep. Princess Bride can provide an opportunity to talk about Jesus.

What about this one?

609303_1

“It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

Yeah, I loved Firefly, too. Who was your favorite character?” And man. So many jump-off points there, but especially with Book. “What do you think? There any place for religion in the future?” (And if you don’t get it, that’s ok. Just dial up Firefly on your Netflix. You can thank me later.)

Look, there’s all sorts of ways to jump into a spiritual discussion leading to Jesus. And as a pastor, I usually can just go into it – people expect it. But to combine my nerdery with Christ? How awesome is that?

I know. I’m late to the game. But how cool is it that I might have an excuse to wear a T-shirt while pursuing ministry? That’s not normal! Usually I wear “professional clothing.” And while I’m not usually in a shirt and tie… it’s rare that I wear a T-shirt, unless it happens to have the church’s name on it.

But now… I get to try something different!

30111_0-1

I don’t care who you are; that’s cool right there.

Review: The Barbarian Way

51uiyr2bh6wl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within
by Erwin Raphael McManus

Christianity has become civilized. It’s words on a page and saying the right things on Sunday morning. But what if that’s not what Jesus intended? What if those who follow Christ are not meant to be tamed, but to be barbarians, smashing down whatever was in the way of their Lord? What if instead of forming committees, Christians passionately followed their King, living in communion with him and each other, doing what they have been unleashed to do? The Barbarian Way says it will connect you with that living, barbaric faith.

McManus accurately diagnoses a problem. Time and time again he hammers away on a problem: So many churches promise that you are safe in the hands of God, that God will keep you from danger. Jesus never promises that. In fact, he does promise that Christians will face persecution. Because of their connection with Jesus, they will face danger, and often in ways they feel unprepared to face.

But then… sigh. (more…)

And the hills declare…

It was a Rich Mullins kind of morning.

I drove the backroads of Kentucky. Across hollers and along ridges. Below little farms and brooks peaked out through branches. Above green, green hills shone in the rising sun. Beams of light broke through thick green foliage and silver mists.

The beauty of God’s creation broke me and I had to sing.

It’s been a long time since I was struck so. But look. Look at the beauty of creation. Do you see how the landscape is shaped just so? Do you gasp as the hawk flies overhead? Does the splendor of a beam of light stun you? Do you see? Do you see?

And God saw what he had made, and it was good. (more…)

Review: Unfashionable

51ws1xvfdal-_sx311_bo1204203200_

Unfashionable
by Tullian Tchivdjian

What is the church’s relationship to the world supposed to be? Are we supposed to stand apart from the world and refuse to let it in? Are we supposed to be in the world, making it better? Are we supposed to learn from the world or run from it? In this book, Tulian tackles what the church should be. He claims that the church makes the best changes in the world by being different – by being, well, unfashionable. We can only make a difference by being different. And the only way to be different is to be what we are: Sinners saved by grace, children of God chosen by his pleasure and mercy. And to be strengthened to do that, we must be in the Word.

Tullian has “fallen from grace” in many circles because of what appear to be true allegations concerning his conduct and refusal to repent. I won’t defend the author of this work – assuming the allegations are true, Tullian must repent, and should he repent, I pray he is shown true grace.

That said, even with those allegations, Tullian wrote several books that spoke Law and Gospel so well that I still pick up his books when I find them available. (His excellent Jesus+Nothing=Everything still receives my highest recommendation!) (more…)

The Changing Face of Peopling

tumblr_ml6bqrfcyc1qfssceo1_500

I loath being with people.

Please understand, I love my congregation. And I revel in leading worship. I savor sharing Jesus. And when I’m in small groups, I’d like to think I shine.

But people? So not my thing. Put me in a large group, and I wilt. Throw me into a party, and I waste away. I’m not made for large groups. I don’t people well.

All this means is that I’m an introvert. (more…)

Review: Every Man’s Battle

41xyrplscpl-_sx332_bo1204203200_

Every Man’s Battle
by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, with Mike Yorkey

Every man battles with lust. That includes every Christian man. Every Man’s Battle claims to identify the source of our problems and offer practical solutions to men about how to prevent lust in the future. It deals candidly with the problem, tackling issues varying from porn use to watching joggers to masturbation. It offers three “levels” of defense: protecting eyes, mind, and heart. The authors claim that by using this method, any man who is not a sex maniac can conquer lust and never be bothered with it again.

OK. Good stuff first:

The book does offer a lot of good practical advice on how a man can keep himself from temptation. The chapters on dealing with the eyes in particular seem very useful. If I were counseling a man struggling with lust, either in or outside of a marriage, I might use some of the methods here to share some practical advice.

But then, there’s the bad stuff. (more…)

To Celebrate Pentecost

 

pentecost20

Do you know what it is to have to lie to your son… because you’re afraid to let him see who you really are?

We went to Jerusalem for Passover. You should have seen it. Sarah kept telling me to calm down. But I couldn’t help it. It was the first time going since she gave birth to Levi. Our son. He was only a few months old. I know, I know, we didn’t have to take him yet. She kept telling me he was too little. “Benjamin, calm down!” But I didn’t listen. This was my son, and I got to show him Passover! I insisted on carrying him most of the way. My arms would carry my son to Jerusalem! We got to Jerusalem and visited my uncle’s home, where we’d be staying. Uncle David.

I took little Levi out to pick out the lamb. The one we’d sacrifice and remember the first Passover. So we’d remember the lamb that was sacrificed so that our ancestors could live. The lamb that died instead of them. And little Levi… you should have seen his smiles. He loved all those lambs. The priests frowned that I brought a son so young, but I was so excited. I held Levi and took his little hand and placed it on the lamb’s head.

And Passover night – the first Passover, you know, those of us from the country celebrated a few days before everyone in the city just so there was room for everyone! – we ate the meal, just like my father did, and his father. And now I got to teach my son. Sarah told me he wouldn’t understand, but I didn’t care. And just like always, we opened the door to see if Elijah was there. We opened the door to find out if this year, if maybe this year, the one God promised was here, if the Christ was here to free us from slavery again. And that Passover night… it was golden.

But the next day. The next day… there was some sort of uproar in the city. I left Levi with Sarah and went with David to find out what was going on. My arms felt empty without him. I found myself outside the Roman governor’s palace. He presented a man – a man already badly beaten – and shouted. I couldn’t hear over the roar of the crowd. But a man next to me – a priest – he told me what was going on. This beaten man was Jesus from Nazareth. I’d heard of him, of course – who hadn’t? They said he did miracles, like Elijah did long ago. But then my neighbor said: “He says he’s equal with God.” (more…)