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Thoughts on the Christian life in a fallen world

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Reframe - Brian Harden

From the God we've made, to God with us.  Published by Navpress. This book has a bright red cover that makes it hard to miss. I could see it sticking out among other books at a bookstore because of this. The author wrote this book because "I realized most of the the things I knew about God, somebody had told me." He "accepted the challenge to become intimately connected to God, and it changed him forever."
In chapter one, right of the bat, he states, "It's all about you." That kind of thew me off, being Reformed and all, I thought my life should be all about God. You know the whole dying to self thing.
But I did fond some good quotes, like the one on page 149, "He has given Himself completely. What more could He do to prove His love? He has devoted Himself to relationship with us. How can we give any less? Why should God expect any less?" Now that is giving up our life to lose it, giving our all to God, and being totally dedicated.
The uthor is the vision and voice behind the Daily Audio Bible, which boasts 74 million downloads and more than 150,000 daily listeners.
In the prologue, the author says he writes from the via media. a Latin phrase that means middle of the road. He also states he didn't write anything just to be controversial, and there for me is the problem. I do believe his intentions are right, but sitting where he is on the fence, seems to be based on emotion and not willing to offend anyone.
One of the biggest issues I have is on the same prolouge where he offers his own version of the "sinner's prayer." Especially the line, "I give you permission to touch all the broken places in me." Obviously God, being sovereign, does not need permission to be invited into our lives. It seems to be a lot of romantic, emotional feelings are expressed. I found it all a bit too light and fluffy for my tastes.  Kind of like marshmallows, when I was expecting meat and potatoes. Also distressing was a quote from Robert Schuller to introduce one chapter.
The book is in 3 parts, Rethink, Reframe, and Restart.
Among everything else, another good quoteon page 51, concerning the way we need to reframe how we see God, "God has basically been framed as the very wealthy uncle who also happens to be the family drunk. We need to keep Him happy so that we can get what we want and need."
Overall, I am sorry to say, I can't really recommend this book.
I have been provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Ragamuffin Gospel = Brennan Manning 25th Anniversary Edition

On the inside cover the author states who this book is for. "This book is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God."
Despite the fact their is a recommendation from Eugene Patterson (author of the Message) inside, I would recommend this book. This most recent release is the hard cover 25th anniversary edition. I had read this book years ago, and re-reading it helped me to remember how honest and real it was. The author definitely puts his own story between the pages, claiming to be a ragamuffin himself. I have an older paperback edition, and was glad to see it published as a hard cover for, I believe, the first time. To me, a few pages on Martin Luther and the Reformation is always a good sign. The entire book is about God's grace. The undeserved, unmerited favor of God, that is only through faith, not by works.
In an honest admission of failure, on page 16 the author states, "Often I have been asked, "Brennan, how is it possible that you became an alcoholic after you got saved?" It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus." We need more upfront statements like these in this world, where we all think that everyone else has it all together. They don't.
Chapter 2 begins with a description of creation that makes a good case for intelligent design.
Although he never uses the words total depravity, he describes the depravity that we are all capable of, but God loves us anyway. In the chapter titles Paste jewelry and sawdust hot dogs, the author states "The way we treat each other is the truest test of our faith" How we show our love to our fellow humans on this earth.
And on page 189, "The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything."
The whole idea that we can't earn God's grace or His favor, is all through this book. The author has a gentle way of writing, that invites the reader to have a conversation, a dialog, and is quite easy to read. I will enjoy having it on my shelf as a hard cover.
I have been provided a complimentary copy of this book  in exchange for a review.