Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review - The Founder's Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It

This is a long title for what turned out to be a rather short book. Halfway through this otherwise excellent treatise on the contemporary value of these founding documents we find none other than the full text of the documents themselves. This was a major disappointment as I found the author's positions and arguments compelling and worth reading. His credentials at first rendered the book too academic sounding. But the stories provided a more genuine argument. I wanted the book to go on. But suddenly it was over. It felt incomplete and quite frankly I felt robbed. If I wanted to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist papers, I can do so for free on-line. I'm not sure whether this was the author's idea or the publisher's. Either way, it reduced my otherwise high ranking of this book as a result. Had the author or publisher provided a reference section of the author's other supporting work, I would have gone there just to get the rest of the story. I'm sure Mr. Arnn has much more to say. As it is, the Suggested Further Reading section provides many other authors, but not Mr. Arnn. I am also curious how Thomas Nelson gained the copyright to our founding documents, as the copyright page clearly states, "No portion of this book may be reproduced...except for brief quotations...without the prior written permission of the publisher."

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review - I am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus

More and more books are coming out on this subject. Sweet's focus is mostly off the church and on Jesus. But like other authors, he writes from a scholarly, hypothetical point of view. There is very little story here. Personally, I am looking for someone who has been there and can write about the experience. While I understand that it's not all about the experience, it is about Jesus, readers like me want the story of the journey. Sweet's journey so far is probably on a good track, but possibly far above the heads of the average reader looking to follow this path. The book is full of metaphor, Latin, and Greek. These are tough to follow. But Jesus is simple to follow. As a thinker, I enjoyed Sweet's endeavor. But as a fellow follower, the lack of story left me on a path that feels deserted.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review - The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief

Larry Alex Taunton wrote a true story of his experiences endured while adopting Sasha, a young girl from the Ukraine. It is a story of the battle between Christians and atheists. It is a story of the power of grace and unbelief. It is a story of the power of God in the face of what seems humanly impossible - a human system designed to eliminate God (any god), the common decency of humanity, and hope of any sort through the utter corruption of the system, the mind, and the pursuit of no god.

Mr. Taunton's explanations of that system and his experiences within it are exhausting. I should know because I endured it as well before the wall came down. His descriptions are accurate. I was a young Christian then and swore at the end I would never go back. Mr. Taunton never says that, but he leaves the reader feeling that way. Such a feeling is counter to the point of the book however. What if Sasha never got out? Would she still have hope? Could God still save her?

I heard of two men who met on the street in former Czechoslovakia. One was an American, the other a Czech. Through conversation they learned they were both Christians. The Czech was shocked and disbelieving. He said to the American, "How can you be a Christian? You have everything."

In the former Eastern countries behind the Iron Curtain they indeed had very little. According to Mr. Taunton, not much has changed. But can the grace of God still penetrate the Iron Curtain now turned paper? Absolutely. This same American man is a good friend of mine. He knows countless Christians from behind the former wall. He knows their stories. All are filled with grace despite the hopelessness of the situations.

I highly recommend reading this book. The story is real. But not like our God is real. Do you want to adopt from the Ukraine? Read this book so you know what you will face. The grace of God is the unknown part that you will also face. It will take you through for His glory. Don't hesitate.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Taking Half a Break

I'm taking a break from this blog for a while so I can concentrate on finishing my historical novel. You may observe its progress on my other blog at Falkenstein.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"with" is with it

Not only is Skye Jethani's "with" and excellent technical analysis of contemporary Christian life, it is also one of the few books daring to pinpoint the single issue which creates a problem in every Christian life. Sin. He effectively deals with the problem in each chapter. Where he leaves us wanting is the conclusion. What does the real Christian life look like without sin? He throws in a few ideas. But I sense like many of us, he is still searching. I hope the answer will show up in a sequel. The adjective approach to the various lives of Christians is an excellent one and should be taught to new and old believers alike.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Fact, It's All Dung

It's hard to draw near to God, talk to Him, and hear Him, when there is so much stuff in the way. God wants us to know Him, know His will, and do it. This starts with salvation, continues with a life of humility and repentance, and thrives in worship.

God gives us a simple example to follow in Philippians 3:8-11. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

I suppose there are things that, like Paul, I could boast about. What things do you have? Shall we get into a contest to see who has the best credentials? I used to do that in the online forums. We'd get into Scriptural debates that started out cordial with a point of view. Then we would defend our positions with Scripture. If one side didn't give, then things got nasty. Someone would then belittle the other by listing their credentials and demanding those of the other. I never went that far. The best I can throw into the ring is a two-year Bible degree.

But I have something more. I know Jesus. He knows me. We spend a lot of time together. I learn at His feet through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Everything else is dung.

At the end of the argument, do you know Jesus? Do you know His will? If suspect you'll find out as I did that these online debates are not part of His will. In fact, God tells us to stay away from them entirely. Imagine two sides arguing a spiritual point and using God's Word as the weapon of choice. Is that right division?

I am learning to abandon all and keep it that way. Life is much simpler. The rest is dung. I don't know about you but I find dung offensive. But Jesus is sweet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Not Enough

Yesterday I listened to a sermon by Mark S. Case, "God's People are not Prepared". For those of you who regularly read this blog and wonder where I have been, these messages are for you. Case's sermon is along the same lines as my blog message - wake up, be ready. As he says, it is not enough just to be saved and then go on living the so-called Christian life as we know it.

Pastors spend their entire careers teaching and preaching (correctly) the Word of God. But they may spend only a fraction of that time talking about what really matters most. We are in the last days. There are very specific things that we should be doing now. These are the things that we should know. These are the things that should be taught. In light of the fact of this present dispensation, spending much time teaching about other things seems like time not well spent.

The time is short. Life is short. Jesus may come at any moment. If He tarries, that does not mean we should fill in the time with other material. No. There are far too many souls at stake. And first I wish to address the souls who already believe themselves to be saved Christians.

No longer will I address this matter in terms of what you should be doing. That word "should" is too weak. It is evasive. It makes what I say sound like a suggestion. It makes what God says for these last days to sound like an option. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I say next is God's command. You may call me a fool but....

You know with what strong words I persuaded you in former times on this blog. I was zealous for God and His Church. And then, for a period of about a year, I have fallen away. It was all according to God's plan for me, then He might show me, and I in turn you, His commands for these last days.

They are in fact no different than what I have told you all along. But first I went through this period of sin to learn something important. The truth.

God says that Jesus came to save us from our sins, to deliver us from sin. Did He do that for you? Think a moment on the absoluteness of death. God says that the blood of His Son washed away all sin for all men for all time. His death was sufficient and never to be repeated. God says that we, His saved from sin children, identify with that death in that we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live by the faith of the Son of God in us.

The death in us is death to sin. The life in us is the righteousness and holiness of God whereby He calls us adopted sons and daughters in Jesus. While this death and life were guaranteed by a one-time Calvary, it is not enough that we sit idle and believe that we remain in this proper life and death state with God. There is a responsibility we must carry out moment by moment in reality.

God says we are to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. We are to awake unto righteousness and sin not. Listen carefully now. This means that we are to live a life free from sin in Jesus because he saved us from our sins and delivered us from our sin. He gave us the power through Him to live. It didn't just happen at the moment of our salvation; it must be worked out constantly in life.

In other words, stop sinning. Why? Because you can. God commanded it, gave you the power to do it, and ultimately, He receives the glory from it. There is no glory in a Christian who sins.

Read through the latter epistles of Paul and you see this theme over and over to Timothy, the Thessalonians, the Hebrews. In the last days even Christians will fall away, teach false doctrine, and lead many astray. That's right. The evil in these last days will be more profound on the lips and actions of saved people than it is from the world. Christians can and will be wicked, evil, deceptive, deceived, and wretched.

I know. I went through it for a year just so God could convince me. But it is all there in black and white for you to read in His Word.

The only salvation is Jesus. It was good enough the moment He saved you. It is good enough for each moment of your life. But are you alive? Are you free? Are you holy and righteous? Are you?

This is not about whether you sin or not. Of course you do. But you can stop. And when you go through with it, the remedy is the same. The blood of Jesus. Confess, forsake, repent. Judgment will begin in the Church. I know the horrors of that judgment for a year of my time. That will be wood, hay, stubble, dead works.

Hear the words of life. God saved you from your sins now to be free now to glorify Him now. The instant you sin again after salvation all but your salvation is lost. God is merciful and gracious in His goodness to keep calling you to repent. But that is entirely up to you.