Book Reviews Archives

Church in the Making: Valuable for ministry leaders, not just church planters

I’ve been handling publicity for a new book about church planting that I think should be of interest not only to those seeking to and thinking about planting a church, but also to anyone hoping to start something new to advance Christian mission.

Church in the Making by Ben Arment doesn’t mince any words, and it has the tone of a soldier who has fought the good fight and won, but at a high personal cost, with the sense that the battles could have been easier with better intelligence, and mourning the soldier-friends who he has seen fall around him.

I’ve never tried to start a church, but I knew even before reading this book that it is extremely difficult, with a high rate of failure. Arment demonstrates a passion for saving future church planters from heartache and failure; but in the process he writes some things that will undoubtedly rub church planting traditionalists the wrong way.

For instance, Arment writes:

“We have placed a dangerous label on church planting that puts tremendous pressure on planters to persevere through any and all difficulties. We call it faithfulness. But in many cases it should really be called stupidity.”

If you have plans to plant a new church, open a new campus, or help someone who is, you need to get and read Church in the Making. It is well written and an easy read. It’s worth your time.

But it is also valuable to people like me who are involved in starting and advancing Christian organizations, missions, and causes. I’ve seen a lot of the same mistakes that Ben describes in ministry start-ups of all kinds; and I’ve made a number of the mistakes myself. I wish I would have had Church in the Making to read several years ago.

I’ve marked nine different principles in the book that I’ve seen ignored by too many ministry leaders (myself included).

1. Plant in Fertile Soil

Arment: “Every community has an established degree of spiritual receptivity. When you plant a church on fertile soil, it springs to life out of the community’s readiness. When you plant a church on infertile soil, it chokes and gasps to survive. In this case, you have to stop planting and start cultivating.” (page 3)

2. Experience Produces Humility

Arment: “You can always tell a new, inexperienced church planter because he’s the only one who thinks he knows what he’s doing. The veterans show a humility that can only come from experience. It takes a year or two to knock the self-reliance out of the new guys.” (page 10)

3. A Dream and Hard Work are Not Enough
Arment: “Church planters are notorious for thinking that a great dream plus hard work equals a thriving church. But church planters fail all the time with this formula and have not idea why.” (page 46)

4. Build a Network First

Arment: “I’m convinced that when God calls a planter to start a church, he calls him either to start a social network first (which can take years) or simply to leverage the one he’s been building around him.” (page 81)

5. You Can’t Do It Alone

Arment: “When God creates a church in the making, he doesn’t just call one person to start it. He calls a whole network of people who have been growing pregnant with vision.” (page 137)

6. Properly Channeled Frustration is Good

Arment: “God uses frustration to shape a vision. This is what he did to Nehemiah. And this is what he did to me. If God doesn’t build up a tremendous amount of frustration within us, we’ll never have the passion to pursue his calling.” (page 158)

7. Don’t Let Cash be King

Arment: “The only thing worse than not pursuing your God-given vision is compromising your God-given vision for the sake of cash flow. Don’t let money do this to you.” (page 162)

8. Put a Good Staff to Work

Arment: “Senior pastors are notorious for under-estimating the potential of their staff, mostly because they overestimate their own potential. Creating systems in your church is a far better way to leave a legacy than building up yourself.” (page 191)

9. Many Tomorrows Do Not Include You

Arment: “The fruit of the gospel comes from building a church that can exist without you and beyond you. (page 193)

Grab this book. If you are in ministry work, whether or not you are a church planter, it’s likely there’s something in it that will shake your ministry world.

[See these reviews of Church in the Making at ChurchMarketingSucks, In My Head, and from Neil Tullos.]

Of Philosophers and Slaves

In the In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition, there is a striking scene that I’d like to highlight. Most of the characters in the book inhabit one of the Moscow Sharaskas in the early 50s. A Sharaska was a special prison camp, unlike the work camps, the conditions of these camps were not so lethal. The conditions, while far far better than in the work camps, was liveable. These camps were primarily for those individuals who had skills, glass-blowing, engineering, electronics, mathematics, and so on that the regime decided to put them to forced work conditions in their speciality in order to further the regime. One of the major projects ongoing in the book was developing a working scrambler/descrambler system for their analog phones.

In the sharaska, the hours were long each day … and the work has very closely supervised by non-prison workers because the prisoners could not be trusted. Yet, apparently the guards and watchers could not be compelled to work the long hours every day and Sunday evening at 6pm until early in the morning Monday the prisoners were locked in and left to their own devices.

For the prisoners a day off meant that the heavy iron doors were locked from the outside, after which no one came in to summon a prisoner or haul him out. For those few short hours not a sound, not a word, not an image could filter through from the outside world to trouble a man’s mind. That was what their day of rest meant — the whole world outside, the universe with all its stars, the planet with its continents, capital cities with their blazing lights, the whole state with some at their banquets and others working voluntary extra shifts, sank into oblivion, turned into an ocean of darkness barely discernible through the barred windows by the dead yellow half-light from the lights on the prison grounds.
Those who sailed on in the ark were weightless and had only weightless thoughts. They were neither hungry nor full. They knew no happiness and so felt no anxiety about losing it. Their heads were not busy with trivial professional concerns, intrigues, the struggle for promotion; their shoulders were not burdened with worries about places to live, fuel, bread, and clothing for their children. Love, which has brought man delight and torment from the beginning of time, could neither thrill nor distress them. Their sentences were so long that not one of them as yet gave any thought to the years after his release. Men of remarkable intelligence, education, and experience of life, they had nonetheless been too devoted to their families to leave much of themselves for their friends, but here they belonged only to their friends.
During those Sunday evening hours, matter and body could be forgotten. The spirit of masculine friendship and philosophy hovvered beneath the canvas vault of the ceiling.
Perhaps this was the bliss all the philosophers of antiquity had striven in vain to identify.

It seems that the prison experience of Solzhenitsyn (not accidentally) reinforces that learned from early Christian experience that ascetic suffering has its own particular rewards.

One final thought to add, from another section. “You have but one life to live” spurred some of the characters (not in the prisons) to seek pleasures, riches, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

We are people who behave naturally,” Dotnara used to say. “We don’t pretend; we wear no disguise. Whatever we want we go all out for!” As they saw it, “We are given only one life” — and so must take from life all that it has to offer.

This is countered …

The great truth for Innokenty used to be that we are given only one life.
Now, with the new feeling that had ripened in him, he became aware of another law; that we are given only one conscience too.

Book Review: Double Cross by James David Jordan

Taylor Pasbury has had a tough life. Her mother ran out on her when she was just nine years old. Her father was murdered when she was seventeen while trying to protect her from a brutal rape. She had a successful career as a Secret Service agent before being dismissed for extracurricular activities. To top it off, her last client, Simon Mason, a noted televangelist, was murdered.

But things are about to get even more complicated. First, Mason’s assistant turns up dead in an apparent suicide as allegations of embezzlement swirl around her. Then her mother suddenly decides to reappear in her life. As she begins to sort through the clues someone starts shooting at her. And a simple case of suicide quickly becomes a complicated case of murder.

This is the premise behind James David Jordan’s new thriller Double Cross, the sequel to his best-selling suspense novel Forsaken. Once again Mr. Jordan, a corporate attorney by day, shows his ability to weave an intriguing story of suspense.

Jordan has already shown an ability to tell a good story without preaching at the same time. There are themes within each of his books that will give the reader plenty to think about. Taylor is a flawed woman who is struggling to figure out not only what she wants out of life but also what God wants and expects from her. The reappearance of her mother also is a source of tension for Taylor because she was abandoned at an early age but also because her role is integral to the overall story and causes her to think long and hard about who she can trust.

Once again, Mr. Jordan has spun a terrific yarn. In Taylor Pasbury, he has an intriguing heroine: a woman with a very tough exterior who at the same time is extremely vunerable and lonely. She’s also deeply flawed which makes her incredibly fascinating.

Double Cross is another fine novel from Mr. Jordan. As I said when I reviewed Forsaken, I could enjoy reading about Taylor Pasbury for quite some time. Here’s hoping that there she’s got more adventures ahead of her.

447545: Double Cross Double Cross
By James David Jordan / B & H Publishing Group

Book Review: Dred Scott’s Revenge by Judge Andrew Napolitano

America has had a difficult history when it comes to racial issues and often the government has done more harm than good according to an excellent new book by Judge Andrew Napolitano entitled Dred Scott’s Revenge. Click here to read my review of the book.

552655: Dred Scott"s Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America Dred Scott’s Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America
By Andrew Napolitano / Thomas Nelson

Lessons from the Recent Past

The Unlearned Lessons Of the Twentieth Century: An Essay On Late Modernity by Chantal Delsol, a french contemporary philosopher seems like a very interesting book. Ms Delsol self describes herself as a neo-liberal. This book came up in a search of book in the “Library of Modern Thinkers” series which summarizes the currents of thought of (mostly conservative and libertarian) important political, economic and philosophical figures. This book is very much different in that it is a (striking it seems) essay by one of these figures and not another author or expert summarizing and putting their works in perspective. Over the next few weeks (months?) I’m going to examine, hopefully chapter by chapter, the topics and ideas presented in this book.

In the introduction (chapter 1) Ms Delsol poses following, “Imagine and heir who has just been informed that his inheritance consists of a trunk full of serpents.” This is how she presents our present inheritance from the turbulent 20th century. The 20th century began with hope and a looking for great promise of the future and is ending with shame over totalitarian excesses. Ours is an age which is rejecting hope.

She also suggests why this age might be termed “late modernity” in particular to call to mind particular parallels with late antiquity. Like (Western) Rome of late antiquity, our society shows similar signs of aging in its arts. Late antiquity had “an affirmation of art without meaning, literature which was simultaneously pretentious and trivial, and a dwindling population.” Hmm. Sound familiar?

There is yet, one idea which had sprung forth in late antiquity which still remains, perhaps wounded and ailing today, that offers promise. The idea of the dignity of individual man remains. This idea had come under assault in the 20th century, notably in the totalitarian regimes but in other venues as well. Ms Delsol offers in what follows a clarion cry for the necessity of preserving this core principal.

Bad Monkeys … Started

Tuesday night I attended the choral concert at my daughter’s middle school. Stylistically speaking choral arrangements of 20-30 year old popular songs and show-tunes are not my cup of tea. Before the concert I began, at long last, reading Matt Ruff’s Bad Monkeys and am now about a 1/3 of the way into the book. “Bad Monkeys” we discover is the short-hand phrase for the place on the org chart of the secret “evil fighting” society of which Thiour main character was(is?) a member.

  • The Department for Optimal Utilization of Resources and Personnel — Cost-Benefits
  • The Department of Ubiquitous Intermittent Surveillance  — Panopticon
  • The Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons — Bad Monkeys. Bad Monkey’s are the “assassins” who remove from circulation people who are, well, irredeemable. A common weapon used is an NC gun, NC stands for “Natural Causes,” this gun works at short range and has two settings, MI and CI which stand for myocardial and cerebral Infarction respectively.
  • The Department of Organizational Counterintelligence — Catering

Our narrator is a young girl who is being interviewed by a doctor in a criminal psychiatric ward. She is recounting how she became a Bad Monkey and some of her exploits. Anyhow, judging from the cover the rest of the story is going to have its share of twists, turns and weirdness.

Of Reason (or Warrant) and Faith

This weekend I began reading a book by Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, which is a philosophical defense of the Christian faith. This book poses an extended argument supporting the notion that Christian belief is intellectually acceptable and justified in the modern era. Mr Plantinga distinguishes between de facto and de jure objections to Christian belief. De facto objections are those which dispute particular Christian truth claims whereas de jure objections are those which speak more to the intellectual defensibility, that such belief is not reasonable or justified … or following two earlier books by Mr Plantinga warranted.

In the first part of this book (and I have not finished but am only about 200 pages or so in), Mr Plantinga begins to examine what arguments have been made supporting the claim that such belief is not justified. Ultimately he finds only two, after having discarded as inadequate quite a few. I thought this passage, supporting the notion that one is being responsible with respect to ones deontological epistemic duty, that is one has done one’s due diligence to support ones foundational beliefs. He writes (pp 100-101):

Consider such a believer: she displays no noticeable dysfunction. She is aware of the objections people have made to Christianity and has relfected on Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche (not to mention Flew, Mackie and Nielsen) and other critics of Christian or theistic belief; she knows the world contains many who do not believe as she does. She doesn’t believe on the basis of propositional evidence; she therefore believes in the basic way. Can she be justified (in this broadly deontological sense) in believing in God in this way.

The answer seems to be pretty easy. She reads Nietzsche, but remains unmoved by his complaint that Christianity fosters a weak, whining, whimpering, and generally disgusting kind of person; more the Christians she knows or knows of — Mother Theresa, for example — don’t fit that mold. She finds Freud’s contemptuous attitude toward Christianity and theistic belief backed by little more than implausible fantasies about the origin of belief in God (patricide in the primal horde? Can he be serious?) and she finds little more of substance in Marx. She thinks as carefully as she can about these objections and others but finds them wholly uncompelling.

On the other side, although she is aware of theistic arguments and thinks some of them not without value, she doesn’t believe on the basis of them. Rather, she has a rich inner spiritual life, the sort described in the early pages of Jonathan Edwards Religious Affections; it seems to her that she is somtimes made aware; catches a glimpse, of something of the overwhelming beauty and loveliness of the Lord; she is often aware, as it strongly seems to her, of the work of the Holy Spirit in her heart, comforting, encouraging, teaching, leading her to accept the “great things of the gospel” (as Edwards calls them), helping her to see that the mangificent scheme of salvation devised by the Lord himself is not only for others but for her as well. After long, hard, conscientious reflection, this all seems to her enormously more convincing than the complaints of the critics. Is she then going contrary to duty in believing as she does? Is she being irresponsible? Clearly not. […] She could be mistaken […] nevertheless, she isn’t flouting any discernable duty. She is fullfilling her epistemic responsibilities; she is doing her level best; she is justified.

Another cute logical demonstration Mr Plantinga elaborates is related to arguments concerning evidence. Classical foundational or evidential arguments separate statements as basic or contingent. A contingent statement is one which is dependent on other tatements or evidence which should in turn rest on those until founds the whole array on basic truths and evidence.The statement that evidence is required is not a basic statement but is complex and contingent on other statements. Alas, it seems there is no chain of logic and propositional evidential argument that leads to any evidential support for the evidential method. This is stated baldly here and if needed I’ll attempt to unpack and express Mr Plantinga’s argument on this matter in more detail. If you really want the goods, of course, buy or borrow the book.

I should mention that ultimately the complaints of lack of warrant given by Freud and Marx are found to be the only sustainable objections. In part III, which I have not completed, Mr Plantinga mounts argument for Christian warrant against these complaints.

According to Freud, theistic belief is produced by cognitive faculties that are functioning properly, but the process that produces them — wishful thinking — does not have the production of true belief as its purpose; it is aimed instead at something like enabling us to carry on in the grim and threatening world in which we find ourselves.

Therefore it fails one of the conditions for warrant, namely reliability. Marx’s view is similar.

He thinks first that theistic and religious belief is produced by cognitive faculties that are not functioning properly. Those faculties are, to the extent that they produce such belief, dysfunctional; the dysfunction is due to a sort of perversion in social structure, a sort of social malfunction. Religious belief therefore doesn’t meet the first condition of warrant; it is therefore without warrant and an intellectually health person will reject it. Further, Marx also thinks that a person whose cognitive faculties are functioning properly and who knows what was known by the middle of the nineteenth century will see that materialism is very probably true, in which case Christian and theistic belief is very likely false.

As, in the future, I return to this book I will attempt to summarize Mr Plantinga’s defense against the “F&M” objections to Christian warrant and as well, if elaborations of arguments or discussion of matters from the early sections are desired, let me know and I’ll attempt to provide them.

A Book Reviewed: Preserving Democracy

Henry Neufeld, long time blog neighbor, owns a small publishing firm. Quite surprisingly (to me), he offered to send me a pre-publication copy of a book which he is releasing shortly, more specifically on April 15. I readily agreed and here is a short review of the book he sent me. This book, Preserving Democracy by Elgin Hushbeck, Jr. will be released next month. Mr Neufeld locates this as “a conservative” book, and I’m not entirely sure I agree with that assesment. First, bear with me for a quick overview of the book (my impression at any rate from a somewhat cursory/quick read) after which I’ll explain what I mean by that that claim.

Mr Hushbeck’s book is an eminently readable exposition detailing point by point what might be described as political or cultural catchpoints with each chapter addressing a different catchpoint. These catchpoints are issues which, if matters go unchecked might be seen as most likely stumbling blocks for our American political experiment. Taxes, Law, Central planning, Voting, Language and other issues are covered succinctly and simply. The language is plain spoken and non-technical with liberal illustrative examples from current events and past history. Graphs and charts are frequently used and contain no evidence of the sorts of trickery used to mislead via manipulation of axis, the data is honestly presented (and the source data cited).

Another item which I must praise highly is that Mr Hushbeck doesn’t fall into the all to common “Thomas Paine” fallacy. John Adams, according to his biographer, praised Mr Paine for being very good at “tearing down” and assisting the American efforts at Revolution but noted that Mr Paine was not well suited for “building up.” It is terribly easy to criticize. But criticism is incomplete without an offer of a solution. Mr Hushbeck in each of his chapters in which a catchpoint for our society is identified and located also then briefly sketches a way to avoid or steer clear of the problem.

My only criticism of the book is that some of his historical allusions to highlight a modern problem gloss over historical details perhaps stretching some points in order to make a point. Allow me to give one example, in the first chapter in a long historical overview of the (Western) Roman progression from Kingdom to Republic to Empire … Mr Husbheck notes that:

It was only with the fall of the Roman Empire 500 years later and the subsequent rise of Christianity that a new set of values would dominate the culture and slavery would be questioned

and to this a footnote expands

Slavery did disappear in Europe following the rise of Christianity, only to reappear following the Renaissance as the Church’s hold on the culture weakened and Europeans explorers started sailing down the coast of Africa encountering and then becoming part of the slave trade.

I’d take issue with that reading of the history of slavery and the Christian influence … setting aside the very Western reading of Christianity in general as an member of the Easter Orthodox tradition myself as well, e.g., Rome finally fell in 1453. It might be argued that the timing of slavery disappearing from the West in a large part coincided less with the spread of Christianity than with the economics of Western Europe. Western Europe slid back into late Bronze age subsistence economic and social conditions. Organized and widespread slavery needed a higher level of culture and standards of living in order to exist. When economic and social conditions improved … slavery returned. This aside is a brief sidelight to the main point of a brief summary of Roman political history. My only point is that Mr Hushbeck in painting the historical situation with a broad brush, well to be frank, paints with a broad brush and in doing so occasionally makes claims which when examined in detail are questionable.

Aside from that (minor) criticism this book makes for a very readable overview a number of issues facing America today. However, in conclusion I’d like to return to the claim that this book is not conservative. The issues chosen are in fact issues which conservatives would identify as the most serious issues facing our nation today. However by and large the methods used to address these issues and way in which these issues are framed are not “conservative” per se, but more aligned with classical liberalism. Mises and Hayek, the Founders, Locke, Smith and so on (for example) are quoted as much if not more often by Libertarian writers as conservative and these sources are used liberally in this book. I don’t see a Libertarian or Conservative disagreeing with much that is said in this book. What exactly a liberal/progressive would disagree with … that might be a task more suited for a different reviewer. 🙂

Two Texts, A Book, and an all too brief review

Recently I’ve drifted through Jaroslav Pelikan’s odd little book, Interpreting the Bible and the Constitution (mostly reading this material while on airplanes in the last week). I say odd, because while Mr Pelikan makes a lot of interesting connections between the hermeneutical traditions behind the extraction of meaning by the Church from the Bible and the legal community from the Constitution it is hard to see what to do with the connections thus made.

One such striking observation made by Mr Pelikan are in some of the parallels between their traditions. One such interesting parallel is that today academic theology and academic legal thinking no longer actively orders its study to serve the practice of its attendant organs (as it once did). Specifically, academic legal writing and thought is not directed at aiding and influencing the practice of practical law and theology is not aimed at producing insights for pastoral application.

Another thought which struck me concerned the divisions in the modern church on the other hand … and the Civil War and other political organs of power which prevent similar divisions from occurring in the Union. Modern evangelicals and protestants deride and dismiss the hierarchical structure of the Eastern and Roman churches and particularly point to efforts to keep ecclesiastic and theological unity within those churches. However, those same people applaud the civil war and stand firmly against separatist movements within the nation.

Mr Pelikan does occasionally amuse himself (and the reader) by tweaking the reader’s expectations. Allusions to liturgical trappings … are found to allude not to Church at times but to the rite and rituals (and dress) of the law courts.

Karamazov and the Squinch

For the “throwaway book” I read on my recent business trip, for entertainment value I selected Walter Jon Williams Implied Spaces. This book is a relatively straightforward science fiction far future book in the modern vein. The name of the book, “implied spaces” is in away all about squinches. The residents of this far future world live in and construct for their entertainment pocket universes designed to order. However, in designing your perfect fjords and vistas … between them what appears is not to design … and those pockets end up being, like squinches or being “spaces who’s construction is implied” and not designed by intent. At the beginning, we find our somewhat implausible hero entertaining himself by personally exploring “implied spaces” finding mostly deserts and spiders.  (Note: spoilers ahead), but I’d like to comment on some of implied spaces in Mr Williams story arc itself. Read the rest of this entry

Waves and Swans: Black Marks (on Swans)

Mr Taleb in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable makes an essentially clean distinction between “Mediocristan” and “Extremistan” (I’ll attempt to summarize those in a bit). This distinction however is strained. He cites, for example, the extreme income disparities in Extremistan occupations, for example the high wages pulled in by celebrities. Now, there are fundamental differences in some high wage situations. It may be argued, perhaps successfully, that hundreds, if not thousands, could step into the shoes of say any given news broadcast anchor and pick up with not a big hitch. However, consider another big category of very visible salary discrepancies … sports. It might be interesting to say that Tom Warner(for example who is playing on MNF right now), any given baseball pitcher, or to pick on my favorite sport cycling do not deserve their wage. The problem is … people pay and are interested in that sport and their place is not replaceable. Their status and position is very much meritocratic. The reason that I, a once and future (ahem) amateur cyclist, am not a “highly compensated” star of the international peloton is not a factor of luck. Not luck but the meritocratic factors talent, abililty, and training tell more. Or consider for a moment your fate on a professional football field. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Forsaken

Denouce Christ or your daughter dies. That is the choice faced by televangelist Simon Mason in the brand new thriller Forsaken by James David Jordan. When terrorists kidnap his daughter, Mason turns to Taylor Pasbury, a beautiful ex-Secret Service agent for help. But Taylor is a troubled young woman and her relationship with Simon becomes a “quirky love story wrapped in an action thriller” according to the author.
“I wanted to write books that were great stories first and had a spiritual message second because I wanted to try to reach people who ordinarily wouldn’t pick up that kind of novel,” said Mr. Jordan in a recent interview.
It’s safe to say that Mr. Jordan accomplished his mission with Forsaken. I started the book and could not put it down. And I’m not prone to read much Christian fiction.
My problem with most Christian novels is the temptation to make the characters too perfect which is an issue Mr. Jordan has as well.
“I am totally opposed to writing Christian fiction that revolves around religious superheroes.,” said Mr. Jordan. “They (Simon and Taylor) make mistakes just like the rest of us.”
The fact that the two main characters are flawed is precisely what makes the book so compelling. Simon has made his share of mistakes and some of those, if they became known, would destroy his life and ministry.
Taylor, on the other hand, is a woman of nominal faith and has been wounded by a mother who abandoned her and a father who was brutally murdered. She also has a lousy track record when it comes to relationships. She hides behind her tough veneer but deep down is someone who cares deeply for others. It’s clear as her relationship develops with Simon she finds something attractive about him. But she is also intrigued by his faith and the struggles he works through as he wrestles with his decision whether to renounce his faith or save his daughter. It’s a struggle grounded in Matthew 10:37-38 and a question that any Christian would find difficult to answer.
Forsaken strikes the balance between a compelling plot and a fascinating character in Taylor Pasbury. Mr. Jordan already has a second novel completed that will be published next year and will pick up on the loose ends left at the end of this book including details of her backstory.
Hats off to Mr. Jordan for constructing a terrific story that is also rich with Christian themes that will cause the reader to think about the practical workings of faith in real-life situations. Having met Taylor Pasbury through Forsaken, I can’t wait to read the next chapter in her story. She’s a character I could get used to reading about for a long time. I suspect Mr. Jordan wouldn’t mind writing about her for years to come. If you haven’t read a good thriller in a while, go pick up Forsaken. You’ll be glad you did.

Book Review: The Kind of Man Every Man Should Be

Where have all the real men gone? Where are the men who will take a stand for something? Or will be responsible for their own actions? Protect their family? Be the hero?
If you’re like me, you know that such men are hard to find. That’s in large part because most men today are a shadow of the men that God designed them to be. Men have been emasculated for years by radical feminism. Our country is paying the price for real men not being around to step up and lead. Families are suffering because real men aren’t there to lead them. Churches are becoming weaker because real men haven’t stepped up to take charge.
Thankfully, there is hope for men. Author and talk show host Kevin McCullough not only has identified the problem but provides practical solutions in his new book The Kind of Man Every Man Should Be: Taking a Stand for True Masculinity.

As noted in the introduction to this series, I’m blogging on two short works on Poverty, the first is Ched Myers The Biblical View of Sabbath Economics and the second is the 14th oration by St. Gregory of Nazianzus entitled “On Love for the Poor” (note I misquoted the title in the prior essay as well as Mr Myers first name). In this short essay, I’m going to attempt to precis the basic thrust of the two works. The current plan is follow this short summary with some critical assessments of the two works. The introduction was here, and the overview essay here.

Reading Mr Myers pamphlet is a little disconcerting. For that which he argues, that concern for the poor, charity, and turnings one heart and aspirations to God instead of the material transient world are all well known and established virtues in Christian living. This where he concludes, where he is driving and this conclusion is not wrong. But it must be admitted, that it is very rare to use the validity of a conclusion to justify an argument … and alas Mr Myers reasons and arguments are very very bad. Mr Myers, as noted in the introduction, follows a unusual hermeneutic for extracting meaning from Scripture. That is he views Scripture via a lens of economics … with a caveat on that description that one must note that his views of economics themselves are also somewhat unusual. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Lessons From The Road

Ever wondered what it would be like to tour with a rock band? Wonder what challenges a Christian band has to face out on the road?

Nigel James, founder of Ignite, a UK based youth discipleship minstry, has traveled extensively for Third Day for the past eight years. He brings unique insights into the hearts and minds of the band members in a new book entitled Lessons From The Road.

Read the rest of this entry

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