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Thoughts on the Christian life in a fallen world

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be The Message - Kerry and Chris Shook

Taking your faith beyond words to a life of action. This book is a call to action. In it, the authors challenge all Christians to put into practice and action all the things we say we believe.  It is one thing to say we love others, but how are we showing it?
There is a foreward by Rick Warren that is sure to attract attention just by his name being involved in this book.
The author is pastor of Woodlands Church in Houston, Texas since 1993 and has one of the largest fair trade/direct trade stores in the country and is recognized for it's work for the poor and powerless.  In other words, they practice what they preach.
In the chapter on pain titled "God's megaphone" from a C.S. Lewis quote, he says, "Our understanding of someone else's hurt is now more vivid and intense so much so that we get up and do something about it." That is faith in action.
In the chapter titled "The great disconnect" he talks about a troubling disconnect between the words you speak and the life you live not always being the same.
The book is divided into four parts, Transforming, Discovering, Understanding and Taking.
Chapter titles include, The great disconnect, From mess to message, more than nothing, more than nothing, and love the one in front of you.  At the end of every chapter are two call to action catagories, The divine whisperer, and love the one in front of you.  They point the reader toward how God can speak to you, and how you can put the principles into practice, wherever you are, and be used by God to help others.  Several life stories are mentioned of people that were used by God as examples, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Truet Cathy and Nick Vujicic.
The whole point of this book is helping others in a practical way, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to break free out of your comfort zone.  At one point he says "Church is not about good people, it's about broken people."
He also mentions having a "holy disturbance," which is something that bothers you so much that you have to take action on, a subject that God puts on your heart.  And that is how the fair trade store got started in his church.
As with a lot of book written by two authors, it may be hard to tell which one is actually writing the chapter, unless the reader is told.  Often both authors are so much on the same page that it is difficult to tell them apart, and that's not a bad thing.
This author and his church are making a difference in this world.  By their practical applications of Jesus' teachings in the Bible. They have made a profound discovery.  "You are the Gospel" and "Be the Message."
Published by Waterbrook Press.
I have been provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Killing Lions - John Eldredge & Sam Eldredge

A guide through the trials young men face.  And not just young men, just about every man faces at one time or another in his life.  On page 62 the author defines killing lions as "all about finding validation through genuine victories fought out of our true hearts, from which we emerge with a genuine strength and sense of self."  And on page 99, "You were born into a savage war. Evil is real, Satan is real." in trying to understand why there is evil in this world.  The younger author, Sam, has begun an online magazine at www.andsonsmagazine.com, and the elder is founder of ransomed heart ministries at www.randomedheart.com and author of the wildly famous Wild at Heart a few years back.  Other websites are www.killinglions.com and there is an accompaning journal to match the book.  The entire book is a conversation between father and son, elder to the younger, full of advice and spiritual guidance that started out as weekly phone calls.They refer to this book as "a confession and invitation and a manifesto for a generation."
One of the best pieces of advice is on page 105, where the elder Eldredge says "A man faces many forks in the road as he journeys through his life  - each choice determining what kind of life he is going to live."  This is true when the outcome is a blessed peaceful life or a life full of heartbreak and regret.
Divided into 10 chapters, each one going back and forth in conversation, separated by different typeface.  At times it is hard to tell who was writing, until something is mentioned that makes it obvious.  Titles of chapters include, College and then what?, Bouncing checks, The book of love, Decisions, Fighting for your life, and racing toward the unknown.  There is a daily prayer, a prayer for sexual healing, and a prayer for guidance.  The instructions on how to hear from God may make some uncomfortable, it seems we are limiting God to speak in one specific way, when in fact He can speack in many ways.
This is Sam Eldredge's first book, and he adds an honesty and openness that you don't usually find in "Christian books."  Most books in this genre tend to stay on the safe topics, but this one gets into all kinds of issues many men face.  Quotes from such diverse people as G.K. Chesterson, Dr. Suess, Victor Frankl, Augustine, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard round things out.  In all, this book is more than just fatherly advice.
The author is one that supports rituals of boys turning into men, campfires, outdoor activities, hunting, fishing, rock climbing and camping as important milestones.  I believe these things can be used, but aren't necessarily the only ones.
Of course, advice about women is offered, with statements such as "God created Eve as a mystery." and "Love is going to go a lot better if you will learn about the feminine heart."
I did enjoy this book.  It seems like very little was edited out, or considered off limits.  Honest conversations can be good to have between father and son, elder and younger, both can find something to learn from and pass on to the next generation.
Published by Nelson books, www.thomasnelson.com.