Review – Kairos Preaching: Speaking the Gospel to the Situation

Kairos Preaching: Speaking Gospel to the Situation
Co-authors: David Schnasa Jacobsen and Robert Allen Kelly
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, 2009
ISBN: 9780800662509

I wish to thank my friends at Augsburg Fortress for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The heart of this book are chapters three to seven which speak about preaching gospel at funerals, weddings, stewardship, in the face of injustice, and in times of public crisis. The authors have structured these core chapters to deal with both theory and practice.  After reading each of these chapters, I have found these chapters useful in practical ways.  The authors’ identification of both context and situation help to make the good news pro nobis, or “for us.”  If the gospel is not pro nobis, the preacher’s words will be empty and vain.  In much of our preaching today, we have enough emptiness and vain rhetoric to fill an endless sieve.

Each core chapter is divided into two main parts: 1) discerning the context and situation; and 2) gospel commonplaces. The first part is theoretical and it helps the reader identify ways to relate the good news with real world by giving some examples where one can discern the contexts and situations where this can happen. The second part is more practical because it helps the preacher identify places where one can apply the gospel in real life situations. I like this division but I do favour the second sections on ‘gospel commonplaces’ because when I want quick means to inspiration for preaching, I can just skim over the sections in these chapters again to refresh my memory of some of the useful advice provided in ‘gospel commonplaces’.

I will bring out some of the tidbits from the locus of ‘gospel commonplaces’ that I have found invaluable:

Implication – Since a funeral sermon should articulate the gospel in the light of human lives, it should say much more than merely a personal eulogy…. But we need to be very, very careful that we do not imply by our words or manner that it was or is that person’s character or actions that is the basis for one’s relationship with the ultimate ground of being… The point of a funeral sermon is to remind us all that the meaning of who we are, the life we have lived, and what the destiny of our lives has been and will be is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth…

What is the point of giving another eulogy at a funeral when someone else is already doing just that?  The family member or friend will be giving a well-thought out eulogy and so the preacher does not need to repeat another eulogy.  The sermon at a funeral is suppose to speak the gospel into the situation of those who are still living. The living need to hear the gospel and relate that to that spiritual lives.

Implication – a funeral sermon should focus on God’s action for us, rather than our action for God.  The latter runs the risk of works righteousness and fails to announce the gospel…. Here we need to be especially careful.  Even when the deceased actually was a powerful witness to the unconditional grace of God in Christ, because of the beliefs of our society, it is incredibly easy for people to hear that the deceased is with God because the deceased was such a good witness.

The evangelical gospel should be free from any attempt to glorify the works of any human; rather, it should glorify the work of God in Christ Jesus.   Paul says: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” (2 Cor. 3:5).

Implication – The wedding sermon is not so much a proclamation of the gospel as it is a connection of God’s creation through the structures of ordinary social life to this particular couple….  Marriage is about creation and God’s preserving of creation through human structures…. When we perform weddings, we do not act as ministers of the gospel but as agents of God’s creating and preserving love…we act, under the authority of the state, as agents of God’s left hand.  The wedding is not an evangelistic opportunity in the sense that we are there to call people to a vision of God’s deep concern for and involvement in ordinariness.

Personally, this was one important learning point for me.  I had previously thought of the wedding sermon as a possible opportunity to minister the evangelistic gospel to wedding invitees.  After more personal reflection, I have come to view the wedding sermon as less of an opportunity for proclamation of gospel.  However, I still believe that there is an opportunity for invitees to hear the gospel, which can be heard anywhere and everywhere the Word is preached.

Implication – The argument over “sacred” and “secular” in planning wedding services is unnecessary and counterproductive…. Dividing between some aspects of life that are “sacred” and some that are “secular” is a false distinction…. Just because a piece of music was originally written to be performed in a church building does not make it somehow more “sacred” than a piece of music written to be performed in a tavern.

I couldn’t agree with this more. In fact, some songs typically sang in tavern have been converted to hymns to be sung in churches, and, the vice versa also occurs.  This makes me wonder why our Christian rock and pop songs are seen as “unchristian” or “secular” and not sung more often in our traditional churches.  Some songs may not be as God-centered but may be appropriate as wedding songs; however, some careful consideration should be made to whether they should be played on a typical Sunday worship service.

Implication – “Traditional” marriage is not the only possible form of being for the world and for each other….  Is it possible for a same-sex marriage to be a marriage in the sense that we have been using the word?  No one, we think, could dispute that we have a gay or lesbian couple could symbolize God’s faithful commitment to creation…. Since faithful same-sex relationships seem on a biological basis to exclude children apart from extraordinary intervention, one might question whether a same-sex relationship can symbolize openness to the future in the same way that a heterosexual marriage does.  In our opinion, the ability to have children apart from medical or other intervention is not the core of the question.

I applaud the authors for addressing this question of same-sex marriage because it is a ticking time-bomb in the Lutheran church today.  It is already an explosive issue in the ELCA and will become one in the ELCIC in a year’s time. I respectfully disagree with the authors’ position here.  Apart from the inability to bear children due to a medical condition, a couple’s natural physiological design to bear-children is the precisely the core of the question.  A same-sex union violates the definition of marriage.    It is an obvious and direct witness to God’s design and will.  In my opinion, to reinterpret the design and will of God, the designer-creator, moves theology onto shaky ground because we have forfeited a God-centered view of theology for a human-centered theology.

Implication – In any stewardship sermon the total educational process is more important than immediate fundraising needs….  The truth is that too often our churches face these situations, not because the members do not have enough money for their own needs, but because they confuse consumer desire with actual need and divert money that could be used for mission.  The root of our financial crisis is in a deeper crisis of unbelief in the church—too many of us simply do not believe the gospel to be true.  We worship a stingy god in the midst of a stingy society, and so we are stingy with our giving….  As long as we live in a society that has been shaped by the ethos of consumer capitalism, stewardship will be one of our most serious issues, especially among those who have plenty of money to spend and whose institutions are growing.

I think this issue can be discussed even further because it is related to the communication of the importance of God’s mission and how Christ’s church is called into mission.  Financially struggling congregations seem to be struggling because they do not believe in the congregation or church’s ability to further God’s mission in the world.  There is a myriad of complicated factors regarding this issue. One, it may be that the issue hasn’t been communicated to the people well enough—that is, more preaching on mission and evangelism is needed.  Two, many congregations do not practice mission and evangelism.  They may know about it, and even speak about it, even in their annual theme statements; however, it hasn’t been indelibly marked into the people’s DNA as mission and evangelistically-minded believers.  This is why the people do not practice mission and evangelism as a lifestyle.  When this changes, the financial giving toward mission and evangelism will change.

Implication – Preaching in the face of injustice, like any other preaching, involves both justice and grace—in other words, prophetic preaching is still preaching the gospel…. One of the great temptations of prophetic preaching is to turn it into moralism…. Prophetic preaching should never sound like “it’s all up to us” nor that thanks to grace “it just doesn’t matter.”  Both fall short of preaching gospel in the face of injustice.

I totally agree.  I have heard sermons addressing injustices but have come out feeling condemned by law and have not heard any of the good news that Christ can bring hope and healing.  All law and no gospel also exists in sermons that address issues of injustice.   This causes listeners to feel more condemned than be filled with hope for a better future.

After reading this book, I have gained invaluable insights from the authors.  This book will be placed in a prominent part of my homiletics bookshelf.  I will definitely pull it out when I am looking for inspiration and advice on preaching sermons for special occasions.  This book is for you if you wish to gain nuggets of wisdom and become a better preacher.

The co-authors of this book are professors at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in Ontario, Canada.  David Schnasa Jacobsen, Professor of Homiletics, is an ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church; and Robert Allen Kelly, Professor of Church History and Ecclesiology, is an ordained clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  As clergy persons with preaching experience, they have applied their wisdom into a proper context for students of pastoral theology.  Thank you Professors David Jacobsen and Robert Kelly.

Christless Christianity by Michael Horton. Has the church been taken captive?

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
Author: Michael Horton
Publisher: Baker Books (272 pages)
ISBN-10: 0801013186
ISBN-13: 978-0801013188

I wish to thank the fine people at Baker Books for sending me this review copy.

Has mainstream evangelicalism gone Pelagian and taken captive to consumerism, pragmatism, self-sufficiency, individualism, positive thinking, personal prosperity, and nationalism?  Dr. Michael Horton thinks so.  The author of Christless Christianity is Professor Dr. Michael Horton, Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary, California.   Dr. Horton has good and accurate insights on the situation of popular mainstream evangelicalism.  I agree with much of the opinions he has expressed.  Mainstream evangelicalism is going in the wrong direction.  We need to be Christ-centered, not human-centered.  Otherwise, evangelical churches will see the same fate as most mainline churches.

I have read and reviewed another  book of Dr. Horton’s, Introducing Covenant Theology, and gave him two thumbs up for that one.  In Christless Christianity, Michael Horton takes an extremely critical approach and leads the reader through his critique of the less-than-desirable theologies in some of our mainstream evangelical Christian leaders.  This is only the second book of Dr. Horton’s that I’ve read and I hope he has taken a more positive approach in his other books.   I think the tone and the approach he takes is less-than desirable because it takes on a very condemnatory tone.   I know that Dr. Horton is concerned about the state of today’s evangelical church.  I am too.  However, after you hear a person rant on and on about the same subject, it gets tiring after a while. This is how I feel about this book.   This book is basically a rant against what’s going on in today’s misled evangelical Christianity and it feels far from being a book on theology.

I fully agree with Horton’s view of law and gospel, on the theology of the cross, and on the monogeristic position that we are helpless and cannot save ourselves.  I have absolutely no disagreement with Horton on these theologies.  However, I think he is picking on the wrong target.  I am also glad he is speaking up against the false promises in today’s feel-good therapeutic and prosperity gospel theologies.  Furthermore, I have never been a fan of Robert Schuller and prosperity gospel preacher Joel Osteen because I think their theology is wrong-headed.  To be fair and just, I am coming to their defense because I think Dr. Horton has gone too far and is even unfair at times in his critique of them.  He labels today’s mainstream evangelicals as “revivalists”.  This is the wrong term to use.  In chapter three’s “Smooth Talking and Christless Christianity”, the author basically spent most of the entire chapter critiquing Osteen’s teachings.   Horton feels that Osteen is really a “positive thinking” Robert Schuller-type who shameless advocates a theology of glory, and is selling a gospel that teaches people how to be a success in life.

Another beef with this book is that it misleads the reader into thinking that most of our modern-day evangelicals are spouting a message that humans are sinless and do not need Christ to save us from our sins. That is simply not true.  Many, if not most, evangelicals do preach on the seriousness of our sins, some times a little too much.  Many accurately divide law and gospel.  Moreover, other than our traditional-orthodox evangelical protestants, some of the mainstream evangelical churches are likely the last remaining bastions where law and gospel is still proclaimed and rightly taught rather than the wrong-headed antinomian approach.

Revivalist preachers like Charles Finney, whom Dr. Horton harshly criticized, was painted as a Pelagian, or at best, a semi-Pelagian who was fixated on human self-will. Horton says of Finney:

“Where American Transcendentalism and Romanticism (the nineteenth century’s equivalent of the New Age movement) attracted Boston’s intellectuals, Charles Finney and his revivalistic legacy  represents “an alternative Romanticism,” a popular version of self-reliance and inner experience, “taking up where Transcendentalism left off.”… And revivalism in its own way was popularizing this distinctly American religion on the frontier… Efficiency was the rule for success in religion as in business, and ever since evangelicals have judged new movements by whether they “work” in terms of subjective experience and moral transformation.” (p. 52).

Finney’s sermons were anointed by God’s Holy Spirit and his messages have brought a deep conviction of sin and were used by God to lead many souls to salvation or recommit their lives to Christ.  On the contrary, it was not popular but it brought a conviction to many souls, as did the sermons of John Wesley.  Finney’s and Wesley’s sermons have encouraged many to live their lives to the glory of God.  People with an Augustinian-bent can believe that the human will can play a part in the sanctification process but not in justification.  Sanctification is the only place where synergism is active in the Christian’s life.  However, what many of our pro-Augustinian Calvinists (and Lutherans included) misinterpret about “revivalist” evangelical preachers is that when they put the emphasis on how the human will plays a big part in the sanctification process of the Christian, they also assume that evangelicals are saying that it also has a part in justification.  There are many mainstream evangelicals who do not see the power of human will playing a part in one’s salvation.

At times, in one’s zeal for evangelism, a revivalist’s plea to the sinner to accept Christ comes across as decision-theology.  I have to admit that some evangelicals who are theologically untrained do give the wrong impression that it is in the power of one’s will that enables one to choose salvation.   However, we should not allow our theology to blind us to the point where we deny that the human will does exist and can have a part in the life of a Christian.

I believe that one can choose to reject God’s sanctification process due to our curved-inward nature that is hopelessly inclined toward sin, selfishness and self-idolatry.  However, our human will to say “Yes” to God’s salvation is made possible only through God’s gift.  Before I was theologically trained myself, I did not realize this important piece of theology, so, I can sympathize with some of my friends who ignorantly teach this to parishioners in evangelical churches.  Some of it may just be an issue of semantics but some of it is definitely due to a wrong understanding in theology.

The author also took the approach of trying to teach what unorthodox Christianity is like rather than what orthodox Christianity is supposed to be like.  Have you heard the analogy of how to recognize a genuine dollar bill from a counterfeit?  When one wants to teach someone how to recognize a counterfeit $100 dollar bill from a genuine one, the teacher should have the student should learn what characteristics makes a genuine $100 dollar bill, not what makes a fake one.  The student is not able to learn effectively from studying a counterfeit one. If you enjoy what seems like endless ranting about what is wrong with today’s evangelical church, you will enjoy this book; but if you want to learn about what is authentic evangelical theology, I would suggest you find another book.

Horton labels preachers like Osteen as semi-Pelagian New Age teachers.  Some of today’s teachers may be self-deceived but they are not as dark as Professor Michael Horton would seem to portray.    I wish more theologians as theologically astute as Dr. Horton could write books that help us to properly understand evangelical theology rather than continuously rant about what is not genuinely evangelical.  It would just be more edifying to the entire body of Christ.

There are very few books that I have reviewed and had to stop before reaching the end.  This is only the second one ever because I could not endure the negative tone.  It is not easy to read.  However, I did manage to review this one but not the other.  Please do not misunderstand my intentions for this review and commentary, for which I give the book a thumbs down.  Christless Christianity is available from Amazon for $13.59 in hardcover.

I have read and reviewed his book Introducing Covenant Theology and gave him two thumbs up for that one.I have read and reviewed his book Introducing Covenant Theology and gave him two thumbs up for that one.

Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Mark by Robert H. Stein

MARK
Series: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Author: Robert H. Stein
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.
ISBN: 0-8010-2682-2
ISBN13: 978-0-8010-2682-9

I would like to thank the fine people at Baker Publishing for sending me a review copy of Mark from the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.   The author, Professor Dr. Robert H. Stein, is Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.  He previously taught at Bethel Seminary and is a reknown scholar on the synoptic gospels.  He has authored other books including: An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings, Difficult Passages in the New Testament, Luke (New American Commentary), A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible, Studying the Synoptic Gospels: Origin and Interpretation and The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction. He was one of the N.T. consultants for the ESV Study Bible.

John Mark is traditionally known as the writer of the Gospel of Mark but Robert H. Stein is open to accrediting its authorship to another Mark.  Stein looks at the internal evidence, as well as, external evidence.  According to internal evidence, Stein says that “it fits well the tradition of the early church that it was written by John Mark.”  Stein also refers to external evidence: (Papias in Eusebius, Eusebius, the Anti-Marcionite Prologue, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Jerome).  However, he also raised arguments against Markan authorship in looking at an alleged geographical error (Mk. 12:25-13:4) and the author’s ignorance of Jewish laws and customs (Mk. 7:3-4).  However, for me personally, it doesn’t matter if it was the John Mark of Acts 12:12 or another Mark.  I still regard the Gospel of Mark as holy scripture: inspired by the Spirit of God and authoritative for the church of Christ.

Stein believes the second gospel was directed to an audience of Greek-speaking Christians, likely living in Rome, who were familiar with the gospel traditions and very knowledgeable about the Jewish religion.  The date of the writing of the Gospel of Mark is still debated.  It was likely written around (AD) 70 CE but Stein is open to the possibility of some time shortly after 62 CE.  Internal evidence pointing to allusions of the Jewish War in Mark 13 “abomination of desolation” also makes sense.  I think some time around 68/69 CE after Nero’s death was likely.

Stein also believes that Mark was the first canonical Gospel written, and along with Q, served as a source for both the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  He is of the opinion that:

…a cautious use of redaction criticism in Mark is both possible and profitable….Traditional redaction criticism is nevertheless not as holistic a discipline as it first seems, for it is primarily concerned not with the evangelist’s theology as a whole but rather with his unique theological contribution (p. 18).

Stein sees Mark as an historical narrative but not a narrative in the fictional sense because of the historicity of its accounts.    The historical events surrounding Jesus’ life controlled what Mark could write or not write.  Stein seems to feel more comfortable describing the Gospel of Mark as an historical biography.  As a result, he wrote this commentary for the purpose of explaining what Mark was trying to teach through his sayings and the events in the gospel. He did not write this commentary to show exactly what Jesus said or explain the life  of Jesus.  So perhaps a biography rather than a narrative would be more accurate but both terms accurately describe this gospel.

Steins view of Mark’s Christology is formed out of his miracles, words, actions and titles—typical things; but what intrigued me was his view of Jesus’ “messianic secret.”  I had never paid much attention to Mark’s Jesus who was reluctant to reveal his secret messianic identity, which was kept secret until the trial and crucifixion in Mark 14:61-64; 15:2-39.  He gives his reasons for this—for averting an immediate confrontation with Rome because Pilate would not tolerate a popular charismatic teacher who drew the attention of the masses.  This shows that Jesus was not killed as a political revolutionary.  Stein says he was killed because of the hostility of the religious leaders.  Second, Jesus’ messianic secrecy serves as a “literary device to highlight the greatness and glory of Jesus” (p. 25). Since Jesus is too great to be kept a secret, this inability to keep his messianic mission a secret, in itself, becomes the literary device.  This point is an interesting spin worth noting.

The commentary provides both Greek spellings and a transliteration of the original Greek.  Stein pays attention to the Greek.  Concerning Mark 9:31, he states:

The use of the iterative imperfect…indicates that the subject of Jesus’s future passion, death, and resurrection had been a constant theme of his teaching since 8:31…Thus the variation in the passion predictions could have a historical basis in Jesus’s having taught this “theme with variations.” The use of the futuristic present tense “will be delivered” … indicates the certainty of this future event” (p.439).

This is something that most readers and pastors do not pay attention to so I appreciate this attention.

Stein questions the authenticity of passages.  Regarding the disputed verse of Mark 10:45, he draws attention to its interpretation and authenticity.  He states:

The question of whether 10:45 is due to the theological reflection of the early church or came from Jesus himself tends ultimately to be answered according to one’s preconceptions concerning the historical Jesus.  If one assumes the historical Jesus was radically different from the Jesus of the Gospels, then one is predisposed, almost compelled, to deny the authenticity of this verse….It is much more likely that Jesus saw his mission along the lines of the suffering servant of Isaiah… (p. 487).

Given the approach of the BECNT series, Stein is allowed to challenge the status quo but he does not allow himself to get caught up in challenging the status quo for the sake of staking new ground in one’s research.   In liberal biblical theology, new discoveries for the sake of new research seems to be the ultimate goal, but it risks putting authenticity on the line which can actually lead to inauthentic scholarship.  Stein’s approach to theology is conservative but he takes into account the latest critical scholarship.  This gives me reason to remain confident in the new evangelical scholarship.

Stein also covers the important issues like historicity by mentioning various viewpoints.  Regarding the widow’s great gift in 12:41-44, Stein states:

The historicity of the account is often denied on the basis that Jesus could not have known how much the widow contributed to the treasury or that the widow had contributed all that she had (Haenchen 1966: 432-33).  In addition, some claim that the present account was originally a parable that has been transformed into a historical account (Dibelius 1934: 261; Nineham 1963: 334-35).  Yet Jesus might have known of the amount of the widow’s gift by overhearing the attending priest, who would have examined the widow’s offering and directed it to the appropriate receptacle.  All that transpired would have been spoken out loud (Gundry 1993: 731-34; J. Edwards 2002: 380-81).  The widow’s appearance may also have betrayed her situation (Evans 2001: 284) (p. 577).

The BECNT series doesn’t allow the reader to get lost in the forest of details (as some commentaries, e.g., WBC, ICC, may have a tendency to).  I like that because I can get the big picture and pick up on the pertinent issues of a text rather than wade through a sea of details.  Personally, I prefer a commentary that deals with the big picture of a pericope without getting bogged down with too many details.  Much of the details are useless to the heart and thrust of a sermon anyway.  What is the point of spending valuable time reading from commentaries and not be able to use the information one has learned?  Stein’s research is thorough and he references other scholars. He pays attention to existing scholarship, yet, he is able to keep the commentary in a succinct format that brings out the important points.

Robert H. Stein has written a fine commentary on the Gospel of Mark.  Stein leads the reader through the important points in detail while keeping the eye on the big picture.  I like this approach.  This is good for pastors who want to get the important and relevant information faster.  I am impressed with this commentary, and I am confident that as this series expands, BECNT will become established as one of the top premier commentary series in evangelical scholarship.  Another fine piece of work for Baker Academic!

Review: BibleWorks8

I wish to thank the fine people at BibleWorks for sending me this review copy of BibleWorks8.

BibleWorks8 is a software for exegesis and research.  It comes in very good use when doing research. I have found myself using this more often to pull up my favorite bible translations when I do exegesis.  I think this has now become my standard bible software.

BibleWorks8 comes with all the popular bible translations, including the NJB, NET Bible, JPS Tanahk, various Greek New Testaments, Hebrew bibles and Septuagint versions.  It also has bible translations for over 30 languages.  BibleWorks searches one version at a time but it can display as many translations as one wants.   If you want to search another translation, you have to switch to another translation.  I don’t find this too inconvenient but I suspect that a multiple translation search would slow down the search considerable.  I would prefer speed.  Furthermore, the older computers wouldn’t be able to handle a multiple search anyway.

There are all the popular translations you can think of—even the less popular translations like God’s Word, Complete Jewish Bible, Douay-Rheims, ERV, Peshitta-Ethridge, Geneva Bible, JPS (1917, 1985), Hone NT Apoc., James NT Apoc., Josephus Works, Septuagint LXX (Brenton, Magiera Peshitta, James Murdoch, Norton Peshitta, Targum Onkelos, Bishop’s NT, Rodkinson Mishnah, Tyndale’s NT, Webster’s Bible, Young’s Literal Trans.  What I noticed missing were: NCV, CEV, Message; however, I didn’t miss them anyway.  I’m not complaining about it because with this many translations, one can’t complain.

Just to see how capable the search was, I tried a search, and it displayed about 40 translations at once including Chinese and Korean translations without a problem.  I was impressed.  However, I wouldn’t try doing search and display on a phrase with that many translations.  No more going online to search different translations one at a time.  Now I can search and display as many translations as I want all at once.  This saves me a bundle of time.

The tricky thing to keep in mind is that when you display your list of translations, it will show you either the active versions only or all versions.  I prefer to show all versions because you can check and uncheck the versions you want to view or not to view.

Once you have selected which translations to view, you can also order them according to your preference from first to last.  I like this because sometimes, I don’t even bother to look at the less preferred translations, which will be displayed at the end of my versions displayed.

Another nice feature in BibleWorks8 is that it will allow you to search for a word, or even a phrase, from a list of verses searched and displayed.  What I mean is that after you have searched for a list of verses with the words you want, by clicking on an entirely different word in that list, it will pull up a new search on the word you just clicked on.  It does a continuous search on new words quite easily without having to enter a new word in the search.  After the search is completed, the window shows the number of occurrences located for that word or phrase in each of the translations.  That’s very useful information because if you want to locate the highest number of occurrences, you can select the translation that contains the greatest number of occurrences.  Once you have selected the text or phrase you want, you can click on the copy button or just highlight the piece of text, then paste onto an editor or wordprocessor.

If you are a pastor who does research and exegesis, this bible software will be very useful. I have found myself using this more and more each day and week and do not think I could be as efficient without BibleWorks8. It is a real time-saver.

I have been trying to learn this software as I do my exegesis each week. I am not so familiar with other bible software so I hope to be able to learn more about other features in BibleWorks8 as I go along.  I will blog about its other features  in a future post.

Review of Holy Bible: Mosaic (NLT) by Tyndale

Laura Bartlett from  Tyndale asked me to participate in the 10-week Holy Bible: Mosaic Blog Tour participated by 50 blogs. Be sure to enter the New Epistles Contest here to win a free copy of this brand new bible.  I will be sending out to the winner an authorized certificate for a free copy redeemable at any Christian bookstore.
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Holy Bible: Mosaic
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers and Creedo Communications.
ISBN: 9781414322032 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781414322056 (Leather-like in antique brown with cross)

Holy Bible: Mosaic is based on the 2007 edition of the New Living Translation (NLT).  The NLT is amongst one of my favourite gender-inclusive translations.  It is very easy to read and understand, and yet, accurate.  The New Living Translation has already become a standard translation for today.  I predict the NLT will become one of the top modern translations of the 21st century—becoming what the NIV was for the 20th century.

The artwork in Mosaic is another big part of this bible.   I have found the artwork very stimulating to my visual senses.  It is very colorful and exudes with beauty making this one of my favourite aspects of the Mosaic.  The artwork includes both ancient and contemporary, ranging from Asian, African, European, North and South American.  The layout in this front section makes it easy on the eyes.  There is a lot of empty space, ancient crosses, and color to highlight the varying font types. This is very well done, for which I hail my felicitations and adulation.  It’s a beautiful layout that is aesthetically pleasing to one’s sense of sight.

When I first examined the bible from a top-down perspective, one of the first things that stood out for me was its diversity in art, contributors, and meditative readings.  If there’s one word that describes this bible is: “diversity.”  The lectionary’s readings are also diverse.  Regarding this lectionary, the readings are related to a theme.  For Pentecost, Week 23, the readings focus on a theme, which happens to be on diversity: Ruth 1:1-22; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:27-2:11; Matthew 12:46-50.  It includes a one-year lectionary of readings (52 weeks) of which I am curious to know if it was originally developed for the Mosaic.

The contributions that give this bible its distinctive flavour are all located in the front of the bible.  Scripture itself is located in the second half of the bible.   Some of the contributions are original and are written by Christians throughout the world from different cultural and theological makeup.  I have found that some of them can also be challenging because of these differences in culture and theology.  Diversity can bring a new and refreshing perspective.  Here is one such contribution from the diversity theme that reflects a view of my own human nature:

In 1 Corinthians, Paul suggests that it is human nature to gravitate toward people who are like us.  Sometimes we maintain this habit by preferring to be with others who mirror us culturally, racially, economically, etc.  In this way, I have found, I can reduce the likelihood of conflict and find others more willing to validate my opinions.  I protect and reinforce my own identity through an easier, more comfortable option.  But God is calling me to so much more.  Jesus destroyed the barriers that keep me from engaging others (Chinn, p. 299).

What also makes the Mosaic interesting is that there are also historical readings and poetic reflections from theologians and luminaries from the historic ancient, medieval and post-reformation church.  They vary in theological traditions, including well-known figures like Albertus Magnus, Thomas à Kempis, John Calvin, Teresa of Ávila, Julian of Norwich.  Authors of readings from the ancient church include: John Cassian, Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose of Milan, Basil the Great. Even the Didache and St. Augustine’s Invocation are a few of the ancient meditations scattered throughout the 52 weeks of readings.  There are also some of our more contemporary theologians: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, John Wesley, Alexander MacLaren, Witness Lee, Watchman Nee, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Hodge, Horatius Bonar, and more.

The Mosaic contributors include some of today’s most contemporaries whom I have never heard of, e.g., David Sanford and Rex Koivisto of Multnomah University; Pastor Bill Senyard of New Life Church.  This makes the contributions very diverse—ranging from people who are unknown, and even, completely unknown, including editors and contributors for Creedo Communications who developed this bible for Tyndale.

Regarding the text of holy scripture itself, there is a center-column reference feature.  Personally, I find this to be a useful feature because I research related passages of texts.  The font of scripture is just large enough to be read comfortably in good light, but personally, I do wish the font size were a tad bit larger.  I like the font size that’s in the NLT’s basic hardcover edition.  However, this is only a minor concern for me.

Well, Tyndale, I say “Fine work” on this bible.  The Holy Bible: Mosaic is amongst one of the most unique bibles I have seen of late.  There are combined elements of simplicity, beauty, and diversity.  This is why this has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing bibles my hands and heart have embraced in the past several years.

Other Holy Bible: Mosaic material is also available from Amazon:

  • Devotions for Advent: 9781414335780
  • Devotions for Lent: 9781414335810 (Available January 2010)

Calvin (Abingdon Pillars of Theology)

Calvin
Abingdon Pillars of Theology

Author: George W. Stroup
Publisher: Abingdon Press (August 2009)
ISBN: 9780687659135

Here’s another book written in honor of Calvin’s 500th anniversary.  The focus of this book is the theology of John Calvin.  Author, George Stroup, covers how Calvin views the knowledge of God, scripture, God’s good and sovereign will, justification and sanctification, freedom and law, election, Christ as mediator and the offices of Christ, the sacraments and the marks of the church.  It covers Calvin’s main points of theology in just seventy pages.  It’s not an in-depth discussion but it does briefly introduce the main issues of his theology.

Personally, my favourite chapters were four and six on: “God’s Good Will” and “The Efficacious Spirit.”   Stroup says that many of Calvin’s readers inaccurately understand his view of God as “an arbitrary tyrant who rules the world sternly, coldly, and capriciously—a God of sovereign will but not a God of sovereign love.”  Stroup expresses it well stating:

“Christian faith, he writes, begins with God’s good will, rests in it, and ends in it, but some readers have interpreted him as affirming not God’s good will but God’s sovereign will, neglecting the critical point that God’s sovereignty is an expression of God’s goodness and love.  When read in this manner—that God’s sovereign will is harsh and capricious—Calvin’s interpretation of God’s providence becomes fatalism and God’s election becomes divine determinism.” (p. 29).

It is good he addresses this aspect of Calvin’s thought on God’s sovereign will because the common academic thought on God’s sovereignty tends to be cold and objective.  This is why Calvinism is sometimes viewed as being austere, and even, arrogant. Understanding Calvin’s theology on the sovereignty of God can almost be seen as a “perfect theology”.  However, this “perfect theology” has an inherent weakness.  Calvinist theology is built upon logically ordered theological propositions; and when one comes to an understanding of this so-called perfectly ordered theology, it can cause one to take pride in one’s theology.  This is a common temptation in theologians.

I also like Stroup’s understanding of the relationship between justification and sanctification.  He states:

“If Calvin’s description of sanctification is separated from what he says about Christ’s justifying grace, sanctification might seem to be a duty, an obligation, something that must be done in order to receive God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  The two—justification and sanctification—are distinct, but they also must not be separated, neither conceptually nor in daily Christian life.  Separated from justification, sanctification may become a form of legalism or “works righteousness,” and justification, separated from sanctification, may risk becoming a form of “cheap grace.”” (p. 48).

Christians of all denominations and churches have their own emphasis on either justification or sanctification.  They bring on their own stereotypes when they overemphasize either justification or sanctification.  Some Lutherans may emphasize justification and get labelled as taking advantage of God’s “cheap grace.”  Some e evangelicals who may tend to emphasize sanctification may be accused of displays of legalism.  I have seen both.

Stroup boldly addresses the Calvin’s three uses of the law, which are similar to that of Luther’s.  One, the law exposes human sinfulness; two, restrains evil in civil order; and three, shows forgiven sinners how they should live before God and with one another.  Some Lutherans neglect the third use of the law, and some boldly emphasize the lack of emphasis in the third use of the law.  We can learn from Calvin’s unashamed teaching of the third use of the law.  If we, in our Christian freedom, are free from the law and also free for the law, as Stroup describes, then there should be no fear of the third use of the law because it is a good guide on how forgiven sinners ought to live.  Personally, I’m not afraid to admit that, from time to time, I need to be reminded how I should live my life. Many people, especially those who are fully cognizant of their tendency to break the law, know they need a law to guide them.

I also find Stroup’s discussion on church discipline enlightening. Most Lutherans and many of today’s evangelicals do not know anything of the reasons for church discipline.  There is much ignorance when it comes to a fuller understanding of what the church is.  I admire the respect and honor that most Catholics give to the Church.  Calvin’s respect and honor for the church is high, but his view of the nature of the church differs significantly from that of the Roman Catholic institutionally-centered understanding.  Calvin’s view of the church is much more fluid and leans toward one that is invisible than visible.  I like Stroup’s description of what the church is when juxtaposed with what it isn’t:

“The church is not an end in itself, but an instrument, a means, for the glorification of God….The church is not an end in itself, but an instrument, a means, for the glorification of God…The church is not itself a sacrament.  It does not dispense, confer, or mediate grace…The church does not confer forgiveness and is not the object of faith.  It is Christ alone who forgives sins and Christ alone in whom Christians should trust….It is more appropriate, therefore, not to say “I believe in the church,” but to say “in the church I believe.” (p.56).”

This is the basis upon which Christians are called to be in the church.  This gives followers of Christ reasons why we should be the church.  God has chosen to use the church for the nurturing of our faith in Christ.  This function of the church gives us enough reason why we should not turn away from the church, but it should motivate us to be attracted to live in community, as a church, so that all of God’s children may develop faith and live in Christian community. This is true communion of saints.  Stroup says: “Therefore, when Calvin writes, ‘it is always disastrous to leave the church,’ he does so not because life in the church is a good luck charm or an insurance policy against personal tragedy, but because the church is where Christians are in the process of being united to Christ, where faith is being born and nurtured.” (p. 57).  This blows away the false concept that one can have a “private Christian faith” or a “private spirituality”.  When there is no Christian community, there is no accountability and authority to bring discipline, one’s faith will easily become corrupted, wither and die.

George W. Stroup has written a good overview of the important points in Calvin’s theology that are most popularly discussed.  It’s a good book that is brief and yet very informative.  I recommend this to any students and willing learners of Calvin’s theology. This can be purchased from Amazon.

UnChristian: Change the Perception

UnChristian: Change the Perception (DVD)
Publisher: Baker Books
ISBN: 9780801003172

Based on Barna Group’s research on 16 to 29 year-olds, here’s how people outside the established church perceive Christians:

91%  anti-homosexual
87%  judgmental
85%  hypocritical
78%  old fashioned
75%  too involved with politics
72%  out of touch with reality
70%  insensitive to others

The presentation of their data is rather stinging to traditional conservative evangelicals, including myself.  Based on my own perception of myself, I would never say these things about myself or about some of Christians I personally know or have befriended.  Self-perception of oneself can be powerfully self-deceptive.  Have we deceived ourselves into thinking that we are loving, compassionate, kind and open-minded? Perhaps.  Whether we agree with our own perception or not, this is how the world outside our Christian bubble  perceives us.  Many of the older generations might not see Christians this way, but the younger ones do, so there has been a shift of perception of Christianity.

[added] What seems to be absent in this DVD was any attempt to address the concerns of Christians who hold to a traditional view of heterosexual marriage.  We have to try to soften, and even reverse, the pejorative terms used against those of us who hold to a traditional view of marriage; terms like: homophobic, intolerant, discriminatory, or hate-filled.  We are none of these things; we are loving Christian people who love all people.  There are some Christians who are ignorant and unwise, and who will say the most stupid things that further negative stereotypes rather than change the negative perception to positive ones.

Some people on the outside feel that Christianity is no longer like Jesus intended.  They may like Jesus as a figure/person but they don’t necessarily view Christians in nearly as good of a light as they would in Jesus.  Well, that’s a little more comforting, but I wouldn’t allow that to let us get too comfortable.  There’s lot of work we Christians need to change our image.  The church might return to the pre-Constantine era soon than we think.  If we do not diagnose the problems occurring within our Christian bubble, we will soon find ourselves on the outside of society within one or two generations.  If that took place, we will hurt even more.  So let’s do something today before it’s too late.

The UnChristian curriculum includes a DVD and a small study guide.  The creators of this want to inform the church “what a new generation really thinks about Christianity…and why it matters.”  They want to change the way Christ-followers perceive themselves.  We tend to see ourselves in a positive light, but those outside of the church have a different perception.  That is the thrust of this DVD presentation.

There is also a book co-authored by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.   This DVD with study guide is part of a series of four categories of DVDs: Culture, Future, Church, and Gospel.  They each take the basic format of four group meetings:  18-minute video talk on the topic, 2) a Fermi Short which is a 5000 word essay to be read ahead of time; 3) a video expression that models the theme, and 4) suggestions for a Culture Shaping Project. Other study guides in this curriculum include:

  • Influence Culture
  • Create the Future
  • Find the Good
  • Unchristian: Change the Perception

The model it takes is based on the Society Room model, which is now simply called Q, which encourages people to participate in group meetings of learning and discussion.  The leader facilitates the group discussion and plays the DVD rather than just talks. In the small booklet provided with the DVD, there are questions for the leader to ask the small group in his/her facilitation of each of the four meetings, which might include a dinner.  This format kind of reminds me a little of the way Alpha group is done.  The leader is encouraged to create conversation, cause people to do some critical thinking, influence and to take action.

By having a group of concerned Christ-followers from your church or fellowship watch this DVD “unchristian: change the perception”, we might be able to take a few first steps to learn about ourselves and see our own problem (or put in positive spin, to see our current situation as a problem).

I would recommend Q for all concerned Christians and church groups. It will definitely make us more self-aware.  Believe me, as Christ-followers, we need to be more self-aware.  Otherwise, we may lose an entire generation of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings. They are already entire generations missing in many of our churches. We need to turn this tide around before it’s too late.

I wish to thank the good people at Baker Books for sending me a copy to review.

Introducing Covenant Theology

Introducing Covenant Theology
Author: Michael Horton
Publisher: Baker Books, 2009.
ISBN: 9780801071959

I wish to thank the good people at Baker Books for sending me a copy to review.

Michael Horton’s book Introducing Covenant Theology was previously published under the title God of Promise in 2006. Even though it is a republished book, covenant theology is here to stay and has been around for a long time since the days of Reformation and may also be known as federal theology. Anyway, I like this new title better than the old one because it is more recognizable and well-known term in the world of Reformed theology. Horton’s book provides a very good indepth understanding into the background and underpinnings of covenant theology. It not only provides a good introduction but it goes in depth.

Horton presents the traditional view of Covenant Theology. He explains the difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace; and this provides a proper basis for law and gospel. But he also shows the continuity between the two. I have learned much from Horton’s theology of law and gospel, and faith and works, and have been thoroughly impressed by his presentation. Horton presents the theology from the ground up, and when one follows his case chapter by chapter, one will see connection between the old Mosaic covenant of works and Abraham’s new covenant of grace. Horton describes the difference between Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants:

The Abrahamic covenant rather than the Mosaic covenant establishes the terms of this arrangement. It is in this context that we better understand such passages as Jeremiah 31:32: “It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt” (NIV), and Galatians 3:17-18: “My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise” (NRSV) (p. 106).

The author distinguishes between the early suzerain treaty of Sinai, which is conditional and had its origins in the ancient Near East versus the unconditional royal grant, which are indicative with Noahic and Abrahamic covenants. This is a very important concept and Horton is careful to lay this groundwork. He seems to want to flesh out and unpack this covenant concept before he moves on.

Horton also distinguishes between the two covenants: 1) the covenant of law established at Sinai with Moses and has to do with Israel as a nation and its preservation of land; whereas, 2) the promise covenant of grace established with Abraham deals with personal election (salvation). This is also an important for Horton. He presents the different views of M.G. Kline, O. Palmer Robertson and Geerhardus Vos, amongst others.

Much of today’s New Covenant Theology would like to stake that the old covenant laws of Moses’ days are somehow outdated and are no longer in effect. But at the same time, they still claim some or much of the laws are still in effect in the new covenant, which seems rather inconsistent. If the old covenant was done away with, why are they repeating the old laws in the new? It is inconsistent, illogical, and does not make much sense. Horton, a proponent of traditional Covenant Theology, does not agree that the new covenant has been done away with, or abrogated. The old covenant, in and of itself, has not changed. The old covenant now only condemns those who are outside of Christ. Therefore, the new covenant is seen as a continuation of the old, and in effect, it fulfills the old. Furthermore, it is only new in the sense that those under the new covenant are no longer condemned by the old covenant laws.

Covenant theology is not exclusive to Reformed theology, or even with Calvinist theology. All three of these terms emphasizes different views and perspectives; however, they may hold many things in common too. Covenant theology is a theology within Reformed theology that emphasizes the concept of covenants; however, covenant theology is also home to some Lutherans. It was first developed in its elementary stages by Luther and Melanchthon but further developed, and matured, under the guidance of Reformed theologians. Therefore, as a Lutheran who is lacking in this understanding, I feel privileged to learn from Horton who masterfully lays out the development of covenant theology tracing its inception of suzerain treaties in the ancient near east to its later development in ancient Israel.

Horton’s book will be a very good academic text book for seminary students to understand traditional foundations of covenant theology. He presents the covenant concept systematically. I have to note that it may be tough slogging through the difficult concepts in this book, but a careful reader and student will be able to learn the theological underpinnings of this theology by reading and digesting through it slowly. Readers may even find that some parts of it to be complex and difficult to understand. It may take a while yet for me to completely digest everything, and I am sure many readers will also. I recommend this book for any student of theology who wishes to deepen their understanding of covenant theology and establish their basis for Reformed theology. Having read this book, I am happy to say that I now understand the difficult concepts in covenant theology better than I used to, so I thank Michael Horton for writing this book.

This book may be purchased from Amazon or CBD.

Wesley Study Bible by Abingdon

The Wesley Study Bible: NRSV
Publisher: Abingdon Press, 2009
ISBN-10: 0687645034
ISBN-13: 978-0687645039

I wish to thank the good people at Abingdon Press for sending me this review copy.

The first thing I noticed about the Wesley Study Bible was the abundance of study notes.  The study notes seem to be geared toward the average reader of the bible, which makes it very accessible to the average person.  One is not required to have a theological education to make sense of the study notes.  I would also like to point out that occasionally some of the study notes also contain what John Wesley believed and practiced. So it is not just the Wesleyan core terms (which I will say more on) that make the study bible Wesleyan.  However, personally I would like to see even more of Wesley’s commentary.  Why not?  It’s a Wesley Study Bible.

The other thing I noticed were the boxes containing explanations of Wesleyan core terms, and there are more than 200 of these terms. A small handful of these terms include: Christian Conferencing, Circuit Rider, Conviction of Sin, Convincing Grace, Evil Tempers, Free Will, Grace and Works, Holiness of Heart, Itineracy, Means of Grace, Offices of Christ, Sanctifying Grace, Social Holiness, etc.  I think this is one of the most useful features of this bible because they open up some of the terminology related to the Wesleyan tradition.   I would consider this an educational feature of the study bible and it is most fitting.  One such Wesleyan Core Term, “Prevenient Grace”, states:

Wesley followed the idea of prevenient grace (pre-venire, to come before)—that God’s action, not ours, is the beginning of the process of salvation, followed by the necessity of our response.  Wesley believed that God’s universal offer of salvation was analogous to natural conscience whereby everybody knows the difference between good and evil.  However, Wesley said that such a discerning ability was not natural but the result of God’s enlightenment in every person’s mind.  Thus, we are enabled by God to respond freely in one of two ways—respond positively and accept this distinction between good and evil, realizing that we must repent of our sinful ways, or respond negatively, reject such knowledge, and continue in our sinful ways.

I am glad to see this because many people who may call themselves Wesleyans or Methodists may not even understand the meaning of such terminologies.  I sure didn’t but I’m not Wesleyan or Methodist either; however, it gave me a good reason to learn.  Some study bibles based on specific theological traditions do not have much content about what the founding personalities believed and practiced.  As a Wesleyan-Methodist study bible, I am glad to see notes on what John Wesley believed.

There are also nearly 200 Life Application Topics.  These are useful for the practical side of living out of one’s Christian faith.  It runs along similar lines as the Life Application Bible.  Here’s an example from one such topic on pride:

Pride is arrogance and conceit and manifests itself when we delude ourselves into thinking we operate under our own power.  We assume and live as if the world revolves around us instead of our will and way revolving around God.  Pride was the downfall of the first man or woman in the Gen account.  Pride always comes before a fall!  On the other hand, humility looks to God admitting we don’t have all the answers or solutions, but we submit to God’s will and way knowing God knows best.  This is wisdom, and the wise always find joy and lasting fulfillment with God and others.

This Life Application Topic feature further reinforces this bible as a practical study bible. The average persons or readers of the bible who desires to live out one’s faith in society will find this feature helpful in applying scriptural principles to daily living.  There are also nineteen colorful maps in the back of the bible.

The Wesley Study Bible is based on the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the bible.  It is one of the best, if not the best, formal equivalent translations available today.  I rely on this translation because it is very accurate and reliable.  It will certainly not be outdated for a long time.   It is also the first translation of choice in many United Methodist churches.

The general editors are Joel B. Green, Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Will H. Willimon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church who is also an outstanding preacher.  As I turned the pages near the front of the bible to see the editorial board and contributors, I noticed that the people on the editorial board and contributors were from a mix of mainline United Methodists and evangelicals of the Wesleyan and Nazarene traditions.  I believe this makes the Wesley Study Bible one of the most diverse within the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition.  I do not think other study bibles based on specific theological traditions have been able to pull together contributors from a broad spectrum of theological worldviews, but this one manages to do so, which is admirable indeed.

I recommend the Wesley Study Bible to all interested bible readers who want to study the written word of God and receive input from a Wesleyan-Methodist viewpoint.  The very helpful features will deepen one’s theological understanding, and help one apply biblical principles into their lives.  I’m sure you will enjoy the Wesley Study Bible and find it a valuable resource.

It can be purchase online from Cokesbury, Amazon or ChristianBook.com.

Fearless by Max Lucado

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
Author: Max Lucado
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 8, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0849946581
ISBN-13: 978-0849946585

Max Lucado’s latest book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear, is a book that will help you put your fears into perspective.  After having mine revealed through his book like an open heart surgeon, he pointed me back to Christ as the cure for my fears.  Lucado has pointed out so many of my fears, even the ones I was not fully conscious of, and he paints a picture of my fears that is so vivid and real. I wasn’t expecting that before I started reading the book.

Furthermore, he doesn’t just go skin deep but he really delves deep into our heart and after finishing the chapter, I end up feeling: “Wow, he’s right.  I do have fears and he knows how I might feel.” After realizing my own fears and their reality in my life, I am forced to place my faith in the one who is able to alleviate those fears.  Here’s a quote from my favorite chapter, My Child is in Danger: Fear of Not Protecting My Kids:

“So do the parents of the teenage daughter who collapsed in a volleyball workout.  No one knew about her heart condition or knows how she’ll fare.  When we prayed at her bedside, her mom’s tears left circles on the sheets.  At least they know where their child is.  The mother who called our church for prayers doesn’t.  Her daughter, a high school senior, ran away with a boyfriend.  He’s into drugs.  She’s into him.  Both are into trouble.  The mother begs for help.  Fear distilleries concoct a high-octane brew for parents—a primal, gut-wrenching, pulse-stilling dose.  Whether Mom and Dad keep vigil outside a neonatal unit, make weekly visits to a juvenile prison, or hear the crunch of a bike and the cry of a child in the driveway, their reaction is the same: “I have to do something.” No parent can sit still while his or her child suffers.   Jairus couldn’t.” (p.57).

I found the discussion guide at the end of the book very helpful.  The questions are great for personal and even group reflection.  With this format of this book, I can see a group reading this book together.  These questions will cause readers to dive into their own fears. It’s obvious that the author, Lucado, had already reflected upon these questions and scriptural references himself as he was writing this book.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in inspirational books. Whether one may be be fearful or fearless, you will find Fearless an excellent read that will awaken your desire to fear less, or even, to be fearless.

This book is available from Amazon and CBD.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
Author: Max Lucado
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 8, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0849921392
ISBN-13: 978-0849921391

Max Lucado’s latest book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear, is a book that will help us relate our fears to our everyday lives.  After revealing them like an open heart surgeon, he points us back to Christ as our cure for our fears.  Lucado has pointed out so many of my fears, even the ones I was not fully conscious of.  He paints a picture of my fears that is so vivid and real.

I really like his writing style because he doesn’t just go skin deep but he really delves deep into our heart and after finishing the chapter, I end up feeling: “Wow, that’s right.  I do have fears and he knows how we might feel.” After realizing my own fears and their reality in my life, I am forced to place my faith in the one who is able to alleviate those fears.

“So do the parents of the teenage daughter who collapsed in a volleyball workout.  No one knew about her heart condition or knows how she’ll fare.  When we prayed at her bedside, her mom’s tears left circles on the sheets.  At least they know where their child is.  The mother who called our church for prayers doesn’t.  Her daughter, a high school senior, ran away with a boyfriend.  He’s into drugs.  She’s into him.  Both are into trouble.  The mother begs for help.  Fear distilleries concoct a high-octane brew for parents—a primal, gut-wrenching, pulse-stilling dose.  Whether Mom and Dad keep vigil outside a neonatal unit, make weekly visits to a juvenile prison, or hear the crunch of a bike and the cry of a child in the driveway, their reaction is the same: “I have to do something.” No parent can sit still while his or her child suffers.   Jairus couldn’t.” (p.57).

I also found the discussion guide at the end of the book very helpful.  The questions are great for personal and even group reflection.  With this format of this book, I can see a group reading this book together.  These questions will cause readers to dive into their own fears. It’s obvious that the author, Lucado, had already reflected upon these questions and scriptural references himself as he was writing this book.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in inspirational books. Whether one may be be fearful or fearless, you will find Fearless an excellent read that will awaken your desire to fear less, or even, to be fearless.

Max Lucado, a New York Times Best-Selling author, is one of the most prolific writers of inspirational Christian books today. He has written 25 inspirational books, 29 childrens’ books, 3 fictions, plus 24 gift books and contributed to 3 devotional bibles.8, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0849921392
ISBN-13: 978-0849921391

Max Lucado’s latest book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear, is a book that will help us relate our fears to our everyday lives.  After revealing them like an open heart surgeon, he points us back to Christ as our cure for our fears.  Lucado has pointed out so many of my fears, even the ones I was not fully conscious of.  He paints a picture of my fears that is so vivid and real.

I really like his writing style because he doesn’t just go skin deep but he really delves deep into our heart and after finishing the chapter, I end up feeling: “Wow, that’s right.  I do have fears and he knows how we might feel.” After realizing my own fears and their reality in my life, I am forced to place my faith in the one who is able to alleviate those fears.

“So do the parents of the teenage daughter who collapsed in a volleyball workout.  No one knew about her heart condition or knows how she’ll fare.  When we prayed at her bedside, her mom’s tears left circles on the sheets.  At least they know where their child is.  The mother who called our church for prayers doesn’t.  Her daughter, a high school senior, ran away with a boyfriend.  He’s into drugs.  She’s into him.  Both are into trouble.  The mother begs for help.  Fear distilleries concoct a high-octane brew for parents—a primal, gut-wrenching, pulse-stilling dose.  Whether Mom and Dad keep vigil outside a neonatal unit, make weekly visits to a juvenile prison, or hear the crunch of a bike and the cry of a child in the driveway, their reaction is the same: “I have to do something.” No parent can sit still while his or her child suffers.   Jairus couldn’t.” (p.57).

I also found the discussion guide at the end of the book very helpful.  The questions are great for personal and even group reflection.  With this format of this book, I can see a group reading this book together.  These questions will cause readers to dive into their own fears. It’s obvious that the author, Lucado, had already reflected upon these questions and scriptural references himself as he was writing this book.

Max Lucado is one of the most prolific writers of inspirational Christian books today. He has written 25 inspirational books, 29 childrens’ books, 3 fictions, plus 24 gift books and contributed to 3 devotional bibles.