Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: The Gospel According to Jesus

The Gospel According to Jesus

Chris Seay

Thomas Nelson


Surprised, pleasantly, and challenged.  That’s how I’d describe my review of this book.  I’d read others from his circle of friends and been disappointed, to be honest.  I expected more of the same from Chris Seay.  I was wrong.  There is more focus on the things of God and more depth here than I’d seen elsewhere.  The author defines righteousness, the gospel, justification and even takes on the imago dei.  He’s not putting out some fluff here.  Surprised?  The emerging/emergent elements are coming of age.  And in the process rediscovering some truth that the mainline had sidelined.  My hope is that this continues to affect their lives.  It’s like watching the fervor of the boomers in the 60’s again.  Let’s see if the new generation can pull it off and not be defined as an “unrealized” (Tom Brokaw) generation.

Chris Seay opens his book with a quote from Gandhi who says basically that he likes Jesus but wonders about His followers.  Most of us have heard that quote and winced at it’s truth.  The author sets out to discover why that is so and what to do about it.  Yes, there’s some criticism of the church and how it has conducted itself particularly in the USA.  Seay attributes some of the problem to ignorance, willful or otherwise.  His closing chapter lists “The Ten Commandments of a Shalom Life” which point the way to a truly meaningful life.  He is careful to say that all must be brought to God through prayer.   

I found myself challenged by the content of this book.  His focus is much more toward engaging the world than forming a cozy club that hides from the world.  In doing so it can feel as if he is advocating for social justice alone, but please read him more carefully.  He does address more than that in this book.  Think about what he says.  Even if you don’t agree with all he has to say or what the interview responses at the end of each chapter say you will have to answer the why don’t I agree question.

I do recommend this book to you. 

This book was provided in exchange for this review by Thomas Nelson and BookSneeze.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer, Simmer, School

YikesThis month is nearer gone and I'm just now realizing that.  Seems like that is a recurring theme lately. 

Speaking of recurring themes---DADT just got put on the back burner in the Senate.  Not surprised.  I think it was expected and just in time for it to be an issue for the midterms.  That had to a coincident, of course.  So now, I guess they back up and try it again.  Except a bunch of them need to go campaign, so is there any time?  Did the GaGa rally help or hinder or just offer a side show? The Senators from that state certainly weren't moved by it.  Oh well, like so many things lately it'll just have to wait.  Wait for the Congress, but I wonder what the Executive Branch can do?

Summer is almost officially over.  Just a couple of more days now.  Where I live the pools are closed, the private ones, too, and the AC's have been pulled out of the windows.  Very few people here have central units.  Except for allergies and extended warm spells really don't need them.  So with us.  Nice to have those windows open for air and view again. 

Biggest news for me lately is that I'm a school girl again and liking it.  Online seminary courses are the way to go for me.  I do have to admit I thought they'd be less challenging than they really are.  Rude surprise for me!  OK.  Regroup and get after it.  Academic reads do require more focus.  So more is what they'll get henceforth.  Time to get serious with it.

So why am I here and not studying?  Um.  To limber up my fingers for some real typing?  Yeah.  Not procrastination.  Certainly not!  Just to prove it, I'm gong to end here and switch over to the study mode.  Actually, I discovered that letting things simmer a little helps, but simmer time is over.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: the Mocking Bird Parables


the Mocking Bird Parables

Transforming Lives through the Power of Story

Matt Litton

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.



The Mocking Bird Parables lives up to the endorsements on its back cover as few books have.  It is insightful and enchanting.  As the title hints, it is based on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird,  which just celebrated its fortieth anniversary.  So Litton’s book is timely and a good follow up to the novel.  Reading groups could easily use it for a great discussion guide.  It does have a short set of reflection questions at the end for that purpose.

Each of its ten chapters reflects on either a major character or scene from the novel.  The reader finds relevant issues like building relationships, role of women, ecology, finances, parenting and several other topics presented by the author.  His discussions are personable and pointed.  Gently most of the time, happily.  I liked his discussions of how his own perceptions have changed over time.  That’s a good reminder that some issues aren’t static or settled by the time you graduate from college, or whatever milestone affects your life at a given age.  It is a book that you should not devour, but one that should be savored slowly.  

I tried the devour style first.  Don’t do that.  It will feel like a paper for a literature class.  While the idea isn’t unheard of in that setting, a quality implementation of it is rare.  So slow down and enjoy this author’s book.  I guarantee that you will find yourself in agreement or dispute with him.  You will feel pain in some discussions as well.  You may even want to reread the now classic novel to check if all the author has seen is really there.  I think it is.  Decide for yourself.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: OutLive Your Life

OutLive Your Life

Max Lucado

Thomas Nelson



Max Lucado has produced another of his gentle reads that pack a punch.  This one challenges the reader on numerous levels while tracking through parts of the book of Acts.  So for those of you who yearn for the first century church, your time has arrived.  Beware though, for what you wish.  The first century church did not sit quietly in a pew once a week.  Lucado skillfully shows how 21st century life fits into first century church.

This author is probably the best at finding anecdotes to illustrate his points that I have read.  Like many of his other books this strikes a balance between the illustrations and the text.  Each chapter draws you in and then challenges.  If you don’t like challenges this may not the right book for you or your small group.  At the end of the book is a set of discussion questions geared to each chapter for those readers that what to think more about the topic.  In addition, this book offers some activity suggestions that allow opportunities to practice the aspect covered in the chapter.  David Drury prepared this section and is credited on its first page and in the acknowledgements.

My only objection to this book lies in its sameness to several of his books as far as presentation and organization.  Each chapter is a stand alone.  Each chapter has a nice illustration, a Biblical text and application.  Should we call this book part a series designed for groups?    Looks like it to me. 

One other thing I should mention is that the jacket states that “100% of the author’s royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith based compassion.”  There are or will be soon other products associated with this book. 

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson in return for this review.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carina Nebula and Hope

Thought I’d try out a new program.  It’s the direct result of my trying to lobotomize my computer yesterday.  No details here, much too embarrassing.  The picture depicts where I sent it to though.  And the state it was in when it arrived.  Pretty amazing that I can type this today actually.  Recovery discs are very, very good things.  If you don’t have one…  Nah, not going to go there.  The picture is the Carina Nebula from the NASA site.
It’s a shame we can’t fund them as well as we probably should or that some people think the whole idea is a giant waste.  For me, seeing this sort of picture reminds me that big events are a matter of perspective.  Not to diminish either the triumph or defeat, the joy or sorrow we know on this planet, but that there is more out there.  We need that sort of hope.  Or I do.  Romanticized?  Absolutely and why not?
Hope.  A noun or a verb?  Both or neither.  Whatever it is I know when it’s around and when it isn’t.  I’m just now getting to a place where it isn’t so scarce.  And I’m liking it.  Some might say it is a matter of perspective.  Others think it’s focus.  Others have decided it’s the neurotransmitters coming back into balance.  I think it just might be a giant dose of Cheezits.  Well, maybe not. 
What I have noticed is that the less I watch some of the TV political rantings, the better I sleep and feel.  Seems like we as a people have gone into the navel gazing, woe is me mode in double over time.  Yes, the economy isn’t as robust as we remember it and money is tight.  Is that the end of the world?  We refuse jobs that pay less than we want and keep drawing unemployment.  I understand the why’s of that, but not totally.  If things really were as bad as some would have us believe, how can that be happening.  Just some thoughts. 
Just tried the preview and this program is nice.  I suspect that if my blog were fancier this would even better appreciated.  Let’s see if it’ll post now.