The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy
In 13 Short Chapters, Became One Of My All-Time Favorite Books
With only 83 pages and 13 chapters this book is pregnant with
thought-provoking and soul-humbling truth that caused me often to just
cry out as a beggar to God in awe, in love, in gratefulness, and in
humble pleading for faith and grace.
what Leahy does in this book is walk the reader through Christ's last
hours on earth, His Passion. Dealing in 13 chapters with different
aspects and scenes from those hours, the divinity of Christ and His
humanness are both kept sharply in focus. The sin of mankind both for
which Christ was dying and the sins of those who directly took part in
His murder are not deminished, but neither is the fact that "It was the
will of the Lord to crush him" that it was the Lord who "has put him to
grief" (Isaiah 53:10).
I recommend that you read this book in a
quiet place with little destraction with your Bible by your side. Read
it one chapter at a time and then sit and re-read, and pray. Let the
Spirit take you back to the foot of the cross where you gaze up at your
only hope, the King of the universe hanging in misery, damnation, and
ultimately victory. Look at the cross he bore and realize that with
such a high price to secure our salvation, anything that we hope to add
or to repay will only be an insult to His gift, diminishing its value
and His glory. Let the Spirit take you to the foot of the cross where
you realize who we are, we are all beggars.
The House Show by Derek Webb
Christ-Centered Preaching And the Intimacy of A House Show
I was so excited when I got my "House Show" cd. As I say in my "She
Must and Shall Go Free" review of Webb's first cd, although I was
annoyed at first by the style, I have grown to be challenged by his
lyrics and his heart. He has challenged me to love the church, and by
loving the church, loving those who are in it. He has challenged my
weak view of my own sin and confronted me on one of my worst, hiding
those sins from others to make myself more "worthy" to God and more
attractive to others. This makes my sin small, and therefore makes my
Savior small in my mind.
Maybe I started to get comfortable with the heart-wrenching lyrics
of "She Must and Shall Go Free," and then comes "The House Show." The
cd is a live recording of one of Derek Webb's many house shows, nothing
more than intimate, livingroom concerts. Not only are many of the songs
that made the first cd great on this one, but there are a couple
Caedmon's Call songs, and one from his following cd, "I See Things
Upside Down." The best thing though is the talking between tracks.
Normally I despise talking on a cd saying, "I bought this cd for the
music, not your preaching." But that's the thing, Derek's music has
prepared my heart for his preaching during the last 6 month's that I've
owned his first album and listened to it at least two times a week.
Now, his heart is poured out as he explains his songs and preaches the
same message that make his lyrics so poignant: We must hear the gospel,
preaching it to ourselves and each other, every day; we must never
diminish our own sin; If we love Jesus, we will love the church (and
all those in the church); community is a necessary part of
Christianity. (We also get a personal glimpse into his life as he tells
the story of his grandma and the song "Dance."
If you do not yet own "She Must and Shall Go Free," go buy that and
let its message penetrate your soul. It may take a few listenings, but
listen and pray through the very needed message that Derek Webb brings
us there. Then buy "The House Show."
If you already own and love "She Must and Shall Go Free," then immediately buy this cd. It will be one of your favorite.
Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus by Carrol
Some Good Exegesis; Some Poor Assumptions
My ultimate opinion on this book is that it is neither extremely
helpful nor extremely harmful once the problems are acknowledged; then
you can eat the meat and spit out the bones. When the authors stick to
the text, they
do a great job of exposing the words of Jesus. However, I have seen
that the work is fraught with redactionistic assumptions (deciding
Jesus did or didn't say something based on "additions" or
"subtractions" from the story based on our interpretations of the
author's biases). An excellent example of this is found in their
exposition of Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:16-24 - The Parable of the
Wedding Feast. Ultimately, rather than recognizing that Jesus could
have told the same story differently on two occassions or that Luke
could have left details out, the authors decide that since Matthew was
written post-Jerusalem-destruction, the verses referring to the king
sending troops to destroy and burn the city could not have been in
Jesus' original words. So rather than actually dealing with the hard
words of Jesus recorded in Matthew, they opt to talk solely about Luke.
I'm afraid that this sort of thing happens over and over again. So
while I have found some helpful nuggets and some deep thinking to
challenge my soul, I fear that liberal-leaning of their scholarship
makes this text dangerous to use. Nevertheless, with this hermeneutic
identified, I do feel that the book can be a useful addition to one's
library when used with caution.
Share the Well by Caedmon's Call
So Different That Maybe It Will Make Us Pray
My first thought when I heard this album was, "What the heck?!" Had I
written a review on a first listening, it may have been one or maybe
two stars. The sound is nothing like Caedmon's normal sound. The
content is definitely a step away from the normal. But on my second and
third and fourth and now on probably my fifteenth, I think I see what
this album is all about.
Many of the fans of Caedmon's Call are much like me. We prize
theology and view a literal interpretation of the Bible as the best way
for us to know who God is and how we should live in response to that
knowledge. We love to hear of God's sovereignty, power, holiness,
justice, love, and grace. We can explain how that knowledge should lead
a Christian a Christian to love others, to share the gospel, to be
gracious, to pursue godliness and the things of God over worldly
pleasures and aspirations...the problem is that I think that we get so
comfortable in our theology and in our conceptualizations that we
forget the billions of people that we do not reach. The songwriters for
Caedmon's Call have always been concerned with this struggle that they
have identified within themselves; we see it in their former cds; we
see it in Derek Webb's solo works (all of which I HIGHLY recommend).
But I think that even when we are challenged in those things, we can
grow comfortable in the abstractness of it.
That's where this disc comes in. With its narrative inserts, its
world style, and very different sort of lyrics and sounds, Caedmon's
Call confronts us with a world that we are often guilty of not thinking
much about, not doing much about, and certainly not praying much about.
My prayer is that this disc will not disappoint you because it is
different, but its difference will snap us-the hearers out of our
comfort zones-and knock us to our knees in prayer for these countries
and maybe some of us out of our suburbs and onto planes or boats or
whatever to share our Savior with the billions who do not know Him.
Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice by Bradshaw
Helpful, But I Fear Credibility
By incorporating a wide array of extrabiblical evidence from shortly
after the dispersion of Christianity to the nations, Bradshaw
definitely provides a service to the reader on the various forms of
"worship." He does a very good job at demonstrating how architecture
can reveal purpose, belief, and practice. Also, by drawing from a wide
variety of sources from a multitude of persuasions he does show effort
at presenting as unbiased a presentation as possible. Bradshaw breaks
the book up into three basic sections:
(1) Development of how Christians were initiated into the Church
(quite a bit of work goes into analyzing forms of baptism on this
(2) The Eucharist or Lord's Supper.
(3) The daily and ceremonial disciplines/celebrations that united the Body.
The book is very accessible. The scholar may wish for some more
detail and probably more thorough documentation. However for the lay
reader who is interested in the subject, the format makes it a very
Unfortunately, at this point my compliments cease. I am not writing
this review from a standpoint of one very knowledgeable of the
archaeological evidence or one intimate in understanding of the primary
sources, so I can not speak to his responsible use of those. I do,
however, speak from the advantage of one who accepts the Bible (in its
autographic form) as the final authority on matters of both history and
faith, as both infallible and inerrant, and from this perspective, I am
very disappointed in the book. Don't get me wrong. I trust the Bible
because of both internal and external evidence to its credibility. But
Bradshaw consistently questions Biblical record when they are not
consistent with his extrabiblical findings, even if those extrabiblical
findings rely on many assumptions and guesses. For example, a number of
times he casts doubt on the reliability of Matthew 28:18-20 (The Great
Commission) as being added to the text later when there is absolutely
no textual evidence of this. According to the Metzger's Textual
Commentary, there is no question among the textual critics that the
rendering that we have for these verses is autographic. Yet, Bradshaw
in true redaction form, flippantly, as if it were common knowledge that
these were added, blows them off as not being acceptable as a true
saying of Jesus. From this example and others with which I am familiar,
I fear for the accuracy and trustworthiness of Bradshaw's conclusions.
Therefore, I cannot recommend this book.
Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by CJ Mahaney
That simple phrase is what all of us men need to hear: "Before you
touch her body, touch her heart and mind." Cursorily using Song of
Solomon as an illustration of true biblical covenant love, C.J. Mahaney
has written one of the most useful books that I have ever read.
This book is written for men. Men need to step up and lead in
romancing the marriage. Therefore Mahaney asks that men don't read this
book with their wives. Great intimacy, including sex is something that
every marriage should be full of. If that is missing, it is primarily
the husband's issue that he needs to fix. Then in chapter 2 he moves on
to give the biblical God-given purpose for marriage from Ephesians 5:
"A profound mystery, revealed to all to see."
My favorite chapters then follow (3-6) in which Mahaney lets the
readers draw from his life experiences, his successes and his failures,
to help us with romancing our wives, touching their hearts and minds so
that then touching their bodies is so much more intimate, frequent, and
amazing. These chapters have been so useful to me. I'm not going to
ruin it for you by giving you any of the advice here. But let me tell
you that just taking advantage of the advice that he gives and the
motivation that comes knowing that greater intimacy better glorifies
God has already had a very noticeable impact in the two weeks since I
finished my first reading of the book...so much so that my wife has
told me whatever I read has changed me for the better.
Finally he ends in chapter 7 with a mild exposition of Song of
Solomon 8:5-7, "Strong as Death, The Enduring Power of Covenant Love."
Marital love goes beyond just sex, but sex is truly only as amazing as
God designed it to be in the context of marriage. Marital love is
forever, it isn't dependent on sexual ability; it isn't dependent on
perfection; it isn't dependent on emotions. Marital love comes for God
and is a reflection of God's love for the church.
Carolyn Mahaney, C.J.'s wife wrote the an appendix, "A Word to
Wives" which I haven't read but have been told by my wife is very good.
I too have noticed a difference in her since she has read that chapter
and the book from which it comes "Feminine Appeal."
I strongly recommend you read this book. I am in the middle of
reading it a second time and plan on reading it and putting to action
its suggestions until the day I die.
Audio English Standard Version (ESV) by Max McLean
My favorite English version of the Bible, the ESV, is avaible as the Listener's Bible
to learn more about it. But I would recommend doing what I did and
buying it from Amazon. At the time I purchase it and wrote this review,
they are each listed for the same price $49.95, but you get Free
Shipping from Amazon. Anyway, on to my review:
Max McLean's voice takes a little while to get used to. I'll be honest,
at first it kind of annoyed me. But to have my favorite Bible version
in audio makes up for any personal issues I may have with the reader's
voice. In fact, after getting used to some of his mannerisms, I
appreciate the way that he reads. He reads slowly, which I have read
some others complain about. But the way that he reads allows the
listener to contemplate and think about what is being heard. In my
opinion, the reader is very effective.
In case you might be wondering how you will use this product, let
me tell you how I use them. I have put the mp3-format audio files on my
iPod and use them for half of my read-through-the-Bible program. I
never want to have my only regular exposure to the Bible in audio form
and not in written form. So I am always reading/listening from
different portions of the Bible at the same time. The way I have it set
up, I will read through the Bible at least once in a year and listen
through the Bible at least once in a year. I listen while I walk or jog
in the morning. If that doesn't give me enough time it is very easy to
listen in the car as well. I love listening aloud with my wife because
it gives us the opportunity to be exposed to the same scripture at the
These are just suggestions which I hope are helpful. Do it however
you like. I do strongly recommend, nevertheless, that you make an audio
Bible of whatever your version-of-choice is (I commend the ESV to you
for many reason, contact me if you'd like guidance in this) a regular
part of your Bible reading time. Inform your conscience with the Word.
Why listen to the radio and inform your worldview from a worldly view.
Let's fight hard to have God's perspective shown to us in His Word our
perspective. The only way that I know to do that is to be prayfully and
humbly exposed to massive amounts of Scripture. This is one tool to
help you in that regard. I hope this helps.
Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem
NOTE: This review has been reposted with additional information at http://hantla.com/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=624
I had never really thought about it, but I guess--even though it is
contrary to my longing and belief that God can be and is glorified
through all of the Christian's life--that I had always just assumed
that business wasn't good in and of itself. In fact like Grudem asserts
of those who are like I was, we believe, "that from a moral perspective
[profit, competition, money, and business are] 'neutral' at best." I
guess that when I was pursuing a degree in engineering, I thought that
I could glorify God through it by sharing the gospel at the work place,
earning enough money to free my wife up to be a stay-at-home mom, and
being able to give more money to the church. But Grudem's view is so
much balanced and biblical than these views, exposing my blindness that
would have kept me from obeying 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you
eat or drink, or whatever you do (including business), do all for the
glory of God." (On a side not to 1 Cor 10:31, read "How to Drink Orange
Juice to the Glory of God," chapter 5 of John Piper's book, Pierced by
The topics in which Grudem covers in this book, with a chapter devoted to each one are:
How God is glorified by...
4. Commercial Transactions
7. Inequality of Possessions
9. Borrowing and Lending
and he then includes two chapters on
10. Attitudes of Heart
11. Effects on World Poverty.
Grudem is not blind to the abuses of business, the ways in which we
idolize money and success and become gracious losing sight of the fact
that we are operating with God's stuff not ours. He regularly comments
throughout the book on concerns to balance the view, but the real
wealth of attitude-changing information comes from
not-often-talked-about fact that business can in-and-of-itself be
glorifying to God. We don't have to feel "vaguely guilty" about
business but can use it to both glorify God while we're doing it and
advance the Kingdom through it.
My only complaint is the size of the book, and for that I wish I
could give it four-and-a-half stars. The book is really small (83 pages
of text) and oftentimes when it seems like he is just beginning to
develop a thought or when a proposition could use a little more
defense, he needs to move on to the next topic of discussion. However,
he can be excused because he has let the reader know that he is working
on a larger edition saying in the preface, "The Bible says much about
these topics, and a thorough treatment deserves a much larger book than
this, one that I am still in the process of writing."
In summary, if you are in business or are a student studying or
considering studying business, read this book. It should have a
profound and God-glorifying effect (if read as it is written and not
taken as a license to idolize business or success and withhold God's
grace from people) on your life, studies, and career.
500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species
A review of two books, Marine Fishes
by Scott Michael and Marine Invertebrates
by Ronald Shimek: