Books Read In March

There is a lot of information in the 168 pages of this book. A sweeping view of Anglican history, its development, the issues both in the past and today are all covered.

A great book for those who are interested in finding out about Anglicanism and   an excellent resource for those wanting to join an Anglican congregation. I plan to recommend it and probably use some of it for our New Members Class.

Recommended.

A great book – thorough and in-depth (800 pages). Witherington argues that we must not separate theology and ethics. He examines what he calls the individual witness in this volume, discussing Jesus, Paul, the author Hebrews, Peter and the Johannine Literature.

This book is not for the faint hearted or the impatient. While it is eminently readable, it will take some time.

Read my review HERE . Highly recommended!

A great book which highlights that need to have a theology and doctrine of church membership and discipline – and that this has to be linked to the Doctrine of God and specifically to God’s love.

This is a must read for pastors, although for some folk in the church they may struggle with it. This book blows out of the water the issue of ‘inclusive, affirming, non-confrontational love’ which is so prevalent in the church today.

Check out my review HERE

Both a fascinating and sad book. A ‘tell’ all behind the scenes of the Presidential Campaign. The authors recount stories and meetings which, if accurate, came from the staffers of the candidates. Of course, the book has no footnotes or references – but if a third of what is reported is accurate then this is a sad tale. They say there are somethings you should never reveal how they are made – maybe presidential campaigns should be added to that list! I know that no campaign for such a high office is pleasant – but having read this book, I find it sad that the democratic process of a country like the USA is so ‘primitive’.

Would not recommend this book.

McLaren’s new kind of Christianity is not Christianity. The problem with this book is that many will read it and love it, because they have locked into the notion that to even concieve of a God who demands that we change our entire life to conform to HIM is simply unreasonable. McLaren talks of a loving God; a God who accepts us as we are; who has mercy; who desires the best for us (yes, all true), all without any talk of judgment, wrath, repentance and consequences for sin.

Old, tired and inadequate liberalism dressed up for the 21st century! Sigh!

David Jackman’s little commentary series on Judges and Ruth is a great resource for preachers. Great comment on the text, and good exposition which allows the reader to think about applying the passage in biblical and practical ways. I used this recently for our adult education series on Ruth, and Jackman’s insights were very helpful.

.

.

This is a follow up to James Bryan Smith’s book ‘The Good and Beautiful God’ (which I have not read.) In fact, these books make up a curriculum which Smith developed at the encouragement of Dallas Willard. This particular book is a spiritual formation / disciplines book. This is a tough market to compete in when you have Richard Foster and Don Whitney’s books as established classics. But this is a book which can be used as a group (with discussion questions and activities to be done during the week) or individually. There is much wisdom in this book. I found his insights in the chapter about lying particularly helpful and I will be using some of that chapter in our church. Recommended.

The Delusion of Ministry…

One of the biggest delusions of any ministry, especially pastoral ministry, is to think you are indispensible. It is a subtle delusion. But it is deadly. One of the first signs of this delusion is overwork. Most pastors / ministers are workaholics. That alone is often unbiblical and sinful. We quickly think there are only two categories – workaholic, or lazy. We then think we HAVE to be there and HAVE to do that and HAVE to make this meeting or see that person. Wife, husband, families become neglected, and tension appears. Pride then seeps in – we are the ONLY ones who can sort this problem out, do this talk, minister to this person.

I have had GREAT respect for John Piper’s ministry, his integrity and his life. Today, I have even GREATER respect, because what he has done today may have broken some chains for many, many pastors around the US and even  the world.

John Piper has requested leave from his pastorate from May – December 2010. A portion of the reason for this says:

I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments…..

The difference between this leave and the sabbatical I took four years ago is that I wrote a book on that sabbatical (What Jesus Demands from the World). In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements. There is one stateside exception—the weekend devoted to the Desiring God National Conferencecombined with the inaugural convocation of Bethlehem College and Seminary in October. Noël thought I should keep three international commitments. Our reasoning is that if she could go along, and if we plan it right, these could be very special times of refreshment together…..

I asked the elders not to pay me for this leave. I don’t feel it is owed to me. I know I am causing more work for others, and I apologize to the staff for that. Not only that, others could use similar time away. Most working men and women do not have the freedom to step back like this. The elders did not agree with my request. Noël and I are profoundly grateful for this kind of affection. We will seek the Lord for how much of your financial support to give back to the church, to perhaps bear some of the load.

Oh that pastors would be as secure in their walk with God, in their ministries, in their church and eldership to do this. I believe EVERY SINGLE pastor, at some point in their ministry, NEEDS to make such a request as this.

While John Piper’s reasons for this are solely for him and his family, his example will and should have a far wider impact.

Read the whole statement here, Pastors, and search your heart, and pray carefully whether this is something you need to consider for your ministry. I know that I will. And if you think to yourself, “I cannot possibly do that” – that it is a sure sign that you MUST do this.

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll’s new book has been released. I have my copy, but I have not spent much time in it yet. I am real excited by it though.

Driscoll has 13 chapters and 13 doctrines; Trinity, Revelation, Creation, Image, Fall, Covenant, Incarnation, Cross, Resurrection, Church, Worship, Stewardship and kingdom.

Good, basic, intro books on Doctrine are always needed and I hope that this is one of those. With Driscoll’s writing style, this book may be a wonderful resource for getting people into the truth of God’s word and theology.

Who says….

…. that you should make money on a house after three years? Where is the law written that you buy a house and the house HAS to make you money? I was reading a USAToday article in the hospital cafeteria which highlighted a number of people whose homes where now ‘underwater’ – worth less than the mortgage. For almost all those who were featured there was a common denominator – they bought their house EXPECTING to turn it around in 3, 4 years and make a PROFIT. And now, because of the economy and market, they cannot sell.

I think one of the bubbles that recessions and economic downturns burst is the one that says buying a house should make you a quick buck.

Bricks and mortar is an investment. My grandfather bought a house in London in the 1950’s for $16,000. In 1988, when he died, it was sold for $400,000. A wonderful ‘inheritance’ for the family and a great investment. But notice, he lived in it for 30 years. He raised a family in it.

The greed of global economy which says you SHOULD be able to buy and sell a house over a short period of time to make money is so arrogant. What about buying a house to live in it 30 years and making it an investment for your children. I know that work patterns have changed. Job security is a thing of the pass and so people are moving more frequently, and not just locally, but within State, out of State and cross country. But the way those interviewed for the article were being reported, they sounded almost bitter that their right to make money off the house had not happened.

I do know there are many people who have lost homes through no fault of theirs; that many have struggled in this current climate – I am not trying to minimize the problems that exist. But for many people out there, how about being radical. Quit day-dreaming about how much you might make on a house in the shortest possible time period and instead settle down for the long term – 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The likelihood is that the equity will return over the long-term (USAToday says in 2015-2020).

A Very Stressful Few Days

Well, having uploaded the last post, I went to bed. However, I was awakened at 3:00am on Wednesday morning to tell me that they were air lifting Caleb to MUSC. He was having seizures and they were admitting him to the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit. MUSC is about 64 miles away.

I have spent all day Wednesday and today down at the ICU. Kitty was discharged from Hospital in Georgetown today and a friend drove her down to Charleston.

Caleb is still having seizures and some other problems. There are signs of improvement but the main issue now is to find out why the seizures are happening and how to stop them. Our lives will be different for a little while, which may be tough for our two other children, but we know that many are praying for us – which is so wonderful!!

A New Member Of the Family

It’s been a stressful day.  Kitty (my wife) had to have an emergency C-Section this afternoon at 15:00. The baby was is some distress and it turns out would not have survived a normal delivery or another day in the womb. There was a huge knot in the umbilical cord which was cutting off both the nutrients and air and each contraction was effectively killing him.

However, praise be to God, at 15:34 Caleb was born at 5ibs 12.4 oz. Although he has had some breathing difficulties and some problems with his heart beat he has settled down by tonight (11:00pm). Mom and baby are recovering after an exhausted day! Welcome to the family, Caleb. We love you!

Lying….

According to a study conducted by Robert Feldman, in a ten-minute   conversation we tell an average of 3.3 lies-once every three  minutes or so. The most shocking study I have ever seen concluded  that we are lied to every five minutes, or an average of two hundred  times a day. Author Ralph Keyes, who has written an excellent book  on lying, concludes that “some form of deception occurs in nearly  two-thirds of all conversations.”

• Many wealthy parents take their kids “diagnosis shopping.” That  is, they go to multiple doctors until they find one who will say  their child has a slight learning disability because “an official diagnosis   of disability will allow their kids more time on the SATs.”  A better score may get them into a better college.
• Personnel officers estimate that nearly 25 percent of the information   they see on resumes is not just “padding” but “gross  misinformation.”
• As many as two million Americans have illegal offshore bank accounts   they use to evade taxes.
• Thousands of Americans are knowingly “pirating” cable TV.
“Americans are now stealing $6 billion a year worth of paid  television.”
• A 2002 undercover sting operation in New Jersey found 350 examples   of fraudulent practices at auto repair centers, “mainly for  the performance of unnecessary repairs. Some estimates of the  cost nationwide of auto-repair fraud run as high as $40 billion a  year.” By the way, they only examined six auto repair centers.

• Many wealthy parents take their kids “diagnosis shopping.” That  is, they go to multiple doctors until they find one who will say  their child has a slight learning disability because “an official diagnosis   of disability will allow their kids more time on the SATs.”  A better score may get them into a better college.• Personnel officers estimate that nearly 25 percent of the information   they see on resumes is not just “padding” but “gross  misinformation.”• As many as two million Americans have illegal offshore bank accounts   they use to evade taxes.• Thousands of Americans are knowingly “pirating” cable TV.”Americans are now stealing $6 billion a year worth of paid  television.”• A 2002 undercover sting operation in New Jersey found 350 examples   of fraudulent practices at auto repair centers, “mainly for  the performance of unnecessary repairs. Some estimates of the  cost nationwide of auto-repair fraud run as high as $40 billion a  year.” By the way, they only examined six auto repair centers.

The above is taken from The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ (The Apprentice Series) (James Bryan Smith)