Monday, July 16, 2018

hope vs cynicism thoughts on "Mere Hope"

Hope is often what keeps us going. Hope in a brighter future, hope in the hereafter, hope in something. And for Christians hope is a powerful reminder that what we go through in this life, will someday be forgotten as we pass onto eternity with God. Unfortunately our hope is often tempered by our cynical attitudes, and the cynicism of the world around us.
            In his book Mere Hope: Life in an Age of Cynicism (B&H Books, 2018), Jason G. Duesing addresses these 2 issues. He draws from the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and even mention Harry Potter to make his points, or from my perspective, try to make his points. 
            This is a short book, and I wish I could say that after reading it I felt inspired, or that I was better off for having read it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I finished the book without having a good a good idea of what the author was trying to say. For me something was missing, I never saw the spark.
            Although the basic concept—Christians have hope in a world full of darkness and despair—is worth pursuing, it seems that the author’s aim was off and he missed his target.
            I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

thoughts on "When God's Ways Make No Sense"

Funny thing here, is that I don’t remember requesting a review copy of this book. I remember seeing it on the list, and thinking that I wasn’t interested. After all anybody who has been around for a while already knows that God's ways rarely make sense, at least to we mere mortals. So I was surprised when it showed up on my doorstep.
                Just another example of “When God's Ways Make No Sense” This book by Dr Larry Crabb (Baker Books, 2018) though, does make sense. Crabb uses three Biblical figures: Jonah, Sual of Tarsus (better known today as the Apostle Paul) and Habakkuk to show how there are three basic default positions when God and we don’t agree on what makes sense in our crazy mixed up world.
                We can ‘resist and run’, like Jonah did. We can ‘distort and deny’ as Saul the Pharisee did, or we can tremble before God and learn to trust Him as did the prophet Habakkuk. Three distinct choices, three distinct outcomes.  Of course there’s more involved, but that is the starting place. Jonah thought he knew better than God: the people of Nineveh were horrible people, they deserved to be destroyed but God was offering them a chance for salvation.  Saul was going to make things better, but in the end it’s Habakkuk who teaches that there is nothing better than that which God has in mind for us.
                It’s just that God's will doesn’t always make sense. And our reactions are to get angry, to blame, to ignore, or with fear, awe and trembling, learn to trust.
                When God's ways make no sense, strange things happen. And we’re the better for it.
                I received a copy of this book as a member of the Baker Books bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

thoughts on "Preaching by the Book"

Regardless of what you might have heard, there’s a lot more to preaching than waking up on Sunday morning, flipping open your Bible, and then talking non-stop about whatever passage you might have landed on for the next 15-75 minutes. Although I’ve been preaching for the last 10+ years, I know that there’s always room for improvement, so I was excited when I first heard about Preaching by the Book: Developing and Delivering Text-Driven Sermons by R. Scott Pace (B&H Academic, 2018)
            The Table of Contents, including sections on the foundation, framework and finishing touches sounded like just what I was looking for, so I was anxious to dive into the text. Although there are a lot of good points, I found this book to more theoretical than practical. I would have preferred a few more examples, and even though it’s published by an  Academic publishing house, I think the style is too academic for what should be a primary audience: those pastors, deacons, and members of a pulpit committee who may not have had the seminary experience, and are struggling to find a resource that will help them prepare and preach a sermon based on scripture, rather than their own opinions and a world which is increasingly antagonistic to the Gospel.
            As a member of the B&H/Lifeway blogging program, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review.