Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prayer Can Bring You Closer to God

John I Snyder’s book on prayer is needed, but I’m not sure it went far enough to attain its stated purpose. I firmly believe that God acts in His time not ours and think we should be a little more aggressive in reminding people that sometimes the answer, just like we tell our kids, is “you’re going to have to wait”.
That being said, I enjoyed “Your 100 Day Prayer: the Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God”. Snyder teaches us how to pray “with boldness, asking for the moon.” He shows us a new way to go to the creator of the universe with our prayers, and gives us the prayers to do so.
This book is not about the prayers that we might offer up on the morning of a test: dear God, let me get a good grade on the math quiz. No, this is about the prayers that go beyond the little things that we usually pray for. The author says that he’s showing us a model of prayer to be used ‘when facing a crisis or problem of greater than normal difficulty’.
He teaches us about the power of sustained prayer, a prayer that is repeated many times over a period of time when we’re facing major issues or decisions. Those times when we ought to be remembering to go to the Lord in prayer, because that’s when we need it.
For 100 days we are invited to focus on a single problem or issue. The book is laid out simply: a scripture verse, a devotional thought, a short prayer, and a place to record our own thoughts, insights, or answers.
There’s even a section on helping us get through the times when it seems that God is ignoring us, or just flat says no.
Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer; unfortunately most of us aren’t that disciplined. This book is an excellent way of getting into the habit of daily prayer. And you might just be surprised how much closer you feel to God as you intentionally spend time with Him each day!

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for writing an unbiased review.

Is Your Faith Built On A Firm Foundation?

Jesus told a parable about houses that were built on sand and on rock: the house on the firm foundation withstood the winds, rains and stormy weather, the other – not so much. In “Dug down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last”, Joshua Harris gives us the information we need to know in order to have that firm foundation when the storms hit.
My first exposure to Joshua Harris was several years ago when I got a copy of “Stop Dating the Church”. I liked the way he wrote, and so was excited to be able to review “Dug down Deep”. Harris writes in a style that is pleasing on the senses and easy to read, but still gets the point across.
As he did in ‘Dating’ he cuts to the chase and gets to his point quickly and without leaving any doubt about what he believes. In this day of being afraid that everything we say will offend someone, so we don’t say anything, it’s refreshing to read a book which puts forth, without apology, Biblical principles, and then have the author attempt to tell his readers why he believes so strongly in what God has told us.
I’m familiar with many of the sources that Harris quotes, and I have to admit that he has a firmer grasp on them that I do. With that being said, this book serves as a primer of Systematic Theology. A book on theology that is eminently more readable because the author isn’t afraid to share stories that involve his family; he also tells a few tales on himself that illustrate the concepts that he is describing.
Discussing the attributes of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, along with things like sanctification and justification are generally undertaken in thick books with tiny print and a ton of unfamiliar and unpronounceable words. Harris takes some of the mystery out of some of those words, and makes theology accessible to the Christian who wants to have a firmer foundation on which to base his ever-growing faith.
This may not be a book that seminary professors will assign for a major paper, but if you’re new to the Christian life, or a pastor who needs something to help explain concepts to the congregation, this just might be the book to help you with that firm foundation.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for writing a review. I was not required to write a favorable review.
41/2 of 5 stars

Friday, September 16, 2011


It’s been interesting to talk to people lately and discover what they’re looking for in a church. It’s even more interesting to see how some people’s ideas of what the church should be like closely parallel the advertizing campaigns of major retailers.
Seems like very few people are interested in the church that talks about what happened in the Garden of Eden, they don’t want to hear from the Prophet Isaiah about the Suffering Servant. Fulfilling the Great Commission isn’t high on most people’s to do list or their ‘bucket list’. They don’t want to humble themselves like Paul writes of Christ doing (Philippians 2). And they certainly don’t want to hear about Hell. (Most people, though, do like the idea of Heaven.) Spiritual disciplines, serving and giving aren’t high on the list either.
So what do some people want in their churches?
We can turn to major food and retail chains for the world’s picture of the ‘perfect’ church:
Burger King – Do it your way. (As long as you’re comfortable with it; pick what you like and leave the rest)
Baskin Robbins – 31 flavors. (Something for everyone, try something different every time you come through the doors. Mix and match depending on your mood)
Sears – the Softer Side. (let’s make sure you’re comfortable)
Wal-Mart - Always low prices...Always. (‘Roll Back” on tithing?)
Starbucks – Take comfort in rituals. (Find something you like, that relaxes you, and stick with it)
Staples – That Was Easy. (I work hard all week, Sunday should be kick back time)
Nike – Just Do it! ( get it over with already, so I can go home and watch the ball game)
Amazon - and you’re done! (Go on line and find the church you like and have it instantly downloaded to your computer or shipped to your house for your enjoyment at a convenient time.
Prudential Financial: Growing and Protecting Your Wealth (Prosperity Gospel, anyone?)

How about it, do you have a slogan that describes the church you’re looking for?
(I kinda like Ford’s: Built for the road ahead!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Book I Wish I had Written

I just read “Christmas Is not Your Birthday: Experience the Joy of Living and Giving like Jesus” by Mike Slaughter. It should be required reading, especially for those people who only go to church on Christmas.
Over the years I’ve decided that I don’t like Christmas very much, (I actually prefer Easter), but couldn’t explain exactly why. What could possibly be wrong with celebrating the birth of the Savior? But for some reason something about it feels wrong. Slaughter provides some insight into what’s wrong with Christmas in America: it often has little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with us.
Slaughter debunks the myth of the Santa Claus Jesus, and forces us to take a hard look at the box in which we’ve tried to put God. Then he shows us, through Scripture what we should really be seeing when we look at Jesus.
And it doesn’t stop there; we get to look at what it means to be a follower of Jesus, the real reason for the celebration of His birth.
Slaughter gives ideas on how to celebrate in a way that honors God by serving and loving others rather than merely satisfying our materialistic desires. We get to look at what Jesus came to do, and it wasn’t just to give us a reason for a party.
As Christians we have already been given the most incredible gift. In response we should be sharing that love, proclaiming the good news and living our lives in a way that pleases Jesus. slaughter tells us why and shows us how.
I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review.