November 29, 2013

Temptation - Book Review

Temptation: Applying Radical Amputation to Life's Sinful Patterns by Jay Adams is a short book, only about 32 pages in length, and is part of a series of books providing Resources for Biblical Living.

Facing ongoing sin in one's life can be a troubling and frustrating part of Christian Living. I would doubt that there is a Christian out there that would honestly say that they haven't had struggles, or battles, with sin. In this book, Jay Adams begins by inviting the reader to consider sins in their own life that they may be struggling with, then he describes the two main tendencies offered in Christian circles on how to face sin.  These two options are: "(1) inaction on your part in lieu of contemplation and prayer; or (2) obedience to biblical commands that leads to growth."

Both of these methods, though often set as opposing methods, are actually missing the correct approach.  In other words, there are aspects of both that are true, but they must be taken together. I agree with this basic premise, true Biblical change is an absolute dependence on God, that we are working whole heartedly to accomplish. What many misunderstand in this is that since my sanctification (spiritual growth) is entirely dependant on God, then I can work with confidence!  Consider this passage of scripture:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13, ESV)
Can you see these two concepts working side by side?  It is not, "... God is doing his part and I am doing my part." Instead it is, "God is doing all of it so that I can do it!"

My issue, like most, is that instead of truly working, with the confidence that God is working, I want to gradually eliminate sin from my life when he calls me to stop sinning today.  This is where this little book is especially helpful. The main focus is on the concept of "radical amputation" which is pictured in Christ's teaching in Matthew 18 about the cutting off of hands and the poking out of eyes. What Jesus actually says is,
And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:8-9, ESV)
Cutting off is so abrupt. It is so final. So much I want to hang on to the availability to sin in my attempt to stop sinning. I want to be gradual in the process. I don't want it to cost me very much.  That is not Jesus' approach. On this gradual walking away from sin, Jay Adams said something that was quite helpful in putting it into perspective:
"The proposal to 'wean' oneself from sin is as offensive as if one were to cut off a dog's tail, one thin slice at a time."
He goes on to say, in response to a Let God... mentality:
To many, the unbiblical (though seemingly spiritual) manner of putting off sin is to follow a quietistic course of action. In the final analysis -- without going into methods of various sorts -- what quietism is saying, 'God has promised to eliminate sin in my life, and only he can do so. I will therefore leave the matter in his hands. In his time, he will do so.' But this is nothing more than a pious cop-out. God has already told you the time -- it is now. The sin is to cease at once.
If you are struggling with sin in your life, then I want to recommend that you get this book. It is direct and to the point, which is what those who are in sin are needing and wanting to hear.

(This book was provided by NetGalley.com for reviewing purposes.)

November 26, 2013

Free Advent Ebook

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/good-news-of-great-joy-daily-readings-for-advent
Desiring God is offering their Advent Ebook for free again this year.  The title of the book is Good News of Great Joy.  According to the Desiring God website:
A year ago, the team here at Desiring God did a deep dive into our thirty-plus-year reservoir of sermons and articles, and selected brief devotional readings for each day of Advent. Now we’ve slightly revised the ebook to have it optimized for 2013. Our hope is that God would use these readings to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus this Advent.
It goes on to say:
Many contacted last year to ask for permission to print these devotionals not only for private use, but to share with friends and family — even their whole local congregation. We love that impulse to spread the joy, and gladly encourage you do so. Also, to serve as many as we can, we’ve worked with Amazon to make available a quality paperback version at low cost, in case that’s your preferred format.

You can go to Amazon right now for the discounted ebook version:
Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

Or you can go to the desiring God website for the Kindle Version, the ePub version or the pdf.
Good News of Great Joy

I have also made a pdf of their pdf to make it easier to print as a booklet.
Booklet Form

Since permission has been given to print this, I think that I am going to print some of these up for my church and try to get everyone to read it together.

November 25, 2013

I am a Church Member - Book Review

I wanted to listen to I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference by Thomas Rainer, because I was looking for a book that might be of assistance to those people that are new to our Church, but also new to church in-general.  I thought about picking up the Kindle Version, but when I saw this book on Christian Audio, I decided to go ahead and pick it up.  Listening to audiobooks on my ride to work and while I am working out, has been very beneficial.

Basically this book breaks down a few basic elements of Biblical Church membership. The author speaks as a Pastor (and the member of a church). He shares different stories with each chapter, and then builds a Biblical basis for the point of understanding Biblical Church Membership. I appreciate that the points, though they include the stories and personal experiences, are not built on these accounts. The principles are built on scripture, the other elements are just there to assist in illustrating different aspects of these principles.

At the end of each chapter, he restates the principle in the form of a commitment that a person could state as a promise to others in the church.  There is a huge benefit here, because it draws people in for the application of the Biblical truth they just read/listened to.  It is also a fairly short book. the audio chapters are only about 15 minutes long, and there are only about 6 chapters. I am considering looking for a package deal of these in paperback for the church. I will at least get one for myself to draw from as new people continue to come to Edgewood.

If you are looking for a great way to help new members understand what they are "getting themselves in to" then this is a good book that could be used to accomplish that task.

November 24, 2013

Desktop Background for this Winter

I try to update my desktop background on my Chromebook every so often.  One of my favorite things is to try to find a piece of art that matches the current "feel" of my life.  For this winter, I think I found a great piece.  I just google "famous winter paintings" and found this one by some Serbian artist names Sava Å umanović.  I love the fact that it is a winter painting with a snowy landscape, yet if still feels warm.

November 22, 2013

Whodle?



There is going to be a Doctor Who Google Doodle!  You can see it now on Google New Zealand, though I am sure it will go live on the main Google page some time today.

November 21, 2013

Coalition for Community Involvement

On November 21st, at 7pm, in the Georgetown Ridge Farm High School Cafeteria, there will be the first meeting of the GRF Coalition for Community Involvement.  This event is open to anyone in the Georgetown Ridge Farm Community.

Tonight I will be sharing the vision of the Coalition, with a key aspect on emphasizing Open Doors.  Even though this is not geared toward Churches or Christian Organizations, it is an amazing opportunity for Pastors and other Church Members to get involved in kids lives.

If you know anyone in the Georgetown Ridge Farm Community, or just someone who cares about this community (they don't have to have children in the school or even live in this community) then please pass this along.  This includes Pastors, Church leaders, Church members, Business owners, Law Enforcement, City Leaders, Public officials, Family members, Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and any other Concerned citizens.

Please Pray that this meeting goes well and loads of people will show up.

November 16, 2013

The Trilemma...

Originally a radio broadcast, eventually a book... Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

(I've probably posted this quote before, but I am an old blogger now, and I am starting to repeat myself.)

November 7, 2013

Offworld by Robin Parrish -- Book Review

Offworld (Dangerous Times Collection Book #1) by Robin Parrish was an interesting story with an interesting catch (on the plot). Set slightly in the future, the premise of this book involves a crew returning from the first manned mission to Mars, only to find the planet uninhabited by man or animal.

I found this book to continue at a good pace.  I was never bored with the story-line, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down on several occasions.  There was good character development, causing me to get attached to more than one of the main characters. The suspense in the book built at a good pace.  Even when the premise was explained, about three quarters of the way through the book, there was an appropriate level of intrigue remaining to keep me turning the pages until the end.

I also appreciated the cleanliness of this book. So often, anymore, science fiction authors are tending to believe that nobody will read their books unless they are raw and filled with profanity and inappropriate situations. No doubt the future will be full of questionable morals on many peoples parts, but good literature doesn't have to have it every single time.

I noticed this book was listed among the Christian books on Amazon and on another book site.  I could see the author being a Christian, for the previously mentioned reasons, but to say this was a "Christian book" might be a bit of a stretch.  It presents God in a vague, easily acceptable by the masses, sort of way. The specifics of the person of Jesus, essential to any authentic presentation of true Christianity, were not presented in any way. That is fine for this book, but dropping thoughts of God into a book doesn't make it a "Christian" book.

This book is currently still free, so if you are looking for a decent fictional book to dig your claws into, then this one is absolutely worth the cost. Supposedly it is the first book in a series, but it doesn't leave you hanging or feeling the need to read the next book in the series. It was good enough that I would consider getting the other books, though.

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden -- Book Review

The Christianaudio.com free book of the month for October was A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. I didn't really know anything about the life of Jonathan Edwards before this book. I knew the name, I knew that he had a major impact in the evangelical world, and I knew that there were several of his works that were on my list of "to read" at some point in the future, but frankly, I was fairly ignorant as to why his name was "known."

From what I understand, this book was meant to be an abbreviated version of a larger book by George M. Marsden. I haven't attempted to verify that, but I think this book mentions that in the introduction or the appendix.  I am sure that a longer work would be of great value, but if you are seeking to find the reasons why Jonathan Edwards has become an influential name in the realm of Christianity, then I would highly suggest this book.  It gives all of the basic information as to his history, the setting of his ministry, contemporary figures, works accomplished, family life, and personal impact.  I didn't feel that anything was left out concerning important aspects of his life.

This book will whet your appetite for learning more about Jonathan Edwards and for reading the books that he has authored. The voice talent for the reading of this book did an excellent job, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to find out about this amazing man.

November 4, 2013

A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll -- Book Review

One of the lessons that I have learned about listening to non-fiction audio books is that I will always be distracted, no matter how good the book. It could be the most fascinating book that I have ever listened to, or it could be the most boring monotonous book in existence, but I will be distracted. At some point while listening, I will catch myself thinking about something other than what this audio book is saying to me. With some books this happens more often than with others.

But I have found that one of the most telling attributes of an audio book is the form of my distraction, not just how often I am distracted. With some audio books I find myself contemplating supper or a test that I need to grade, but with other audio books, I find that my mind has latched onto a thought or concept that is being discussed in the book and my brain must travel down that path, even though the voice talent has continued reading.

With Christian Audio's version of A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future by Mark Driscoll my mind was constantly trailing off down a thought or concept presented by the author. For example, the chapter dealing with "tribalism" was quite enlightening.  Especially when Pastor Driscoll discussed these tribes through the illustration of national borders and local boundaries. Even though we evangelical Christians might sort ourselves out into different "tribes" there is an importance is understanding and operating with the reality that there are others in our same "country."

What I found even more fascinating were his explanations regarding the differences between Christendom and Christianity. This was an important distinction that it had never occurred to me to make, but once the differences had been clarified, I wasn't quite sure how I had missed it. I believe that distinguishing Christendom and Christianity will prove to be an invaluable tool as we attempt to navigate the modern religious and political scene, not only here in America, but across the globe.

This book was an absolutely worth-while read, and I would recommend it to anyone.  I will most likely have to purchase a hard copy of this book so I can take my time and contemplate each chapter a bit  more in-depth.