The Songs of Jesus (New York City: Viking, 2015)

Finding a good devotional is never easy. For me, the most consistent I have been with a devotional is Keller’s The Songs of Jesus. I find it insightful and personally challenging most days. The quick insights into the psalms and the personal prayers from Dr. Keller are both inspiring and convicting. His devotion from May 5th was helpful particularly since we are in the midst of another election cycle.

Psalm 59:1-7

59 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
    protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
    and save me from bloodthirsty men.

For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
    fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
    for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
    You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
    spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah

Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths
    with swords in their lips—
    for “Who,” they think,“will hear us?”

SPEWING

Today’s media make it easier than ever to “spew…words…sharp as swords” (verse 7). Unlike in writing letters, we dash emails and text messages off without weighing them. Unlike in face-to-face confrontation, we blurt things out without fear of seeing the hurt or anger in the other person’s face. Because of anonymity, we think no one can identify us. Words are thus more weaponized now than in David’s day. But every word – even an offhanded careless one (Matthew 12:36) – is an indicator of what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34) and will be judged by God. More often than ever we are saying, “I didn’t really mean what I said.” But you did. Watch and control words to know and shape your heart (James 3:1-12).

PRAYER

Lord, save me from the sins of my tongue and the flaw of character that fuel them. Make my words honest (by taking away my fear), few (by taking away my self-importance), wise (by taking away my thoughtlessness), and kind (by taking away my indifference and irritability). Amen.

Bunny’s First Spring (Zondervan, 2015)

Bunny’s first spring is a charming book. I love Sally’s style. I love how she both implicitly and explicitly connects things back to the gospel. The story of Bunny’s first Spring is a simple story of four seasons through the eyes of a bunny. It is also a complex story of the renewal of all things and our eagerness for the new heavens and new earth. One of the things I so appreciate about Sally is her ability to distill truth and give parents language to talk about deeply complex things. I have read this to both my daughters who are 5 and 2 both loved it. Please support my friend Sally and the beautiful gift God has given her.

Buy your copy here. http://www.zondervan.com/bunny-s-first-spring

 

*Zondervan sent me a free copy but did not ask for a review my thoughts are my own.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? (Crossway, 2015)

Just finished this short book. It was by far the best book I have read on the issue. Kevin does a masterful job of staying true to what the bible says about homosexuality. This book is a must read for any pastor or parent. The issue of homosexuality and the christian response will be one of the defining issues of our time. It is shocking to me that so many Christian leaders are trading in centuries of orthodoxy for momentary “relevance.” Kevin paints a picture of whats at stake not through fear tactics but through faithful exegesis of scripture. The first half of Kevin’s book deals with the biblical passages on homosexuality the second half deals with common objections to the Orthodox view of homosexuality.

DeYoung’s handling of the topic is fair, loving, and biblically faithful. In the second appendix he urges us christians to do three things that will keep us from getting into extreme positions either way.

“More work needs to be done to help Christians think through the issue of same-sex attraction in a way that is biblically faithful, pastorally sensitive, and culturally conversant.”

I could not agree more. Doing those three things will keep us anchored in biblical truth but in a way that allows us to love people.  Not everyone will see this as loving as our culture has a radically warped view of love and what it means to be loving. We must fight to stay faithful to scripture in a ever-changing landscape of theological mushiness.

Christ-Centered Coaching 7 Benifits for Ministry Leaders (Chalice Press , 2006)

Have not read this book but in looking through it briefly found this quote about coaching I though was great.

The best image for coaching is a vehicle. The word coach derives from an old British word meaning “horse-drawn carriage.” You can think of a coaching process as a journey, one in which you are caught up in the process as you move toward a specific, targeted destination. The coach’s goal is to help you find direction and enjoy the ride.

While you are being coached, you make the choices. You’ll decide where you want to go; the coach will help you get there. The coach can tell you in advance little of the journey but only what the coaching process will look like, the details about the journey will unfold as you engage in the experience.

Tom Bandy says, “Christian coaching in the post-modern world needs to step beyond the boundaries of control established by past Christendom. Openness to mastery and receptivity to the irrational and unexpected, and readiness to be seized, shaken and stirred by an ultimately unknowable God are not virtues that Christian churches normally excel.” The mastery of the unexpected is a fabulous journey that the Christ-Centered coach will help you experience.

Most often a bad coaching experience is not the problem of the coach but of the person being coached. A coach is not a genie or a therapist a coach will help you get to where you are already headed faster. If you are interested in a great coach two very close friends of mine do coaching. Check out their stuff and do yourself a favor get a vision, get a dream, get going THEN get a coach.

Jonathan Cliff Jim Wideman

 

More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity (David C Cook, 2013)

more or less

More or less.

More or less is a timely book that address the excessive lifestyles we all live. You may be reading this saying what me? Yes you. If you are reading this on a computer device that belongs to you, you are rich. We as a people as a culture have more than most people in the world has and we feel like we are wallowing in poverty because we have a massive comparison problem. We feel like we are poor because we see what all our friends have on Facebook. We see the vacations they take the TV’s they buy and the food they eat. We have a comparison problem because famous people and the companies that hire them tell us daily how our lives are incomplete without the gadget they are pushing.

In this book author Jeff Shinabarger does a compelling job of telling his very personal story and pulling you into it. Shinabarger offers many practical suggestions on how to live simply. We don’t see our excess because it’s all we know. When you go to another country you realize how much of everything we have in America. I was really challenged by many of the chapters in Jeff’s book. I am going to do some of the “enough experiments” in our family.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. I would recommend it to everyone.

That being said the one thing I would like to have seen added to the book was to with an understanding about where generosity comes from. Many times in this book Jeff says “you need to decide where your line is. You need to decide how much is enough.” What I would have loved was a short chapter that helps set up the idea that we can’t decide that line, it’s determined for us by Christ. Where does materialism start? Materialism starts at the moment you put your hope in someone, or something that isn’t Christ. Me centered altruism can never do what Christ centered generosity can do. We don’t give because we have too much, we don’t give because it feels good although both are true. We give because “God so loved the world that He gave” We give because we have been given. The line we have to draw is not what do I think is enough but “Is God enough.” Until we can say that God is enough we will try to fill our lives with either altruism or materialism. When God is enough we are free to enjoy this material world and we are free to give everything because we realize that because we have been given everything by God there is nothing God can not require from us.

Taking all of that into account I would recommend this book and do recommend it. I plan on referencing it to help me with the practical things I can do to take the focus off me and what I need on a more regular basis.