Archive for April, 2011

Book Review: Unleashed

This is a review for Booksneeze.

Erwin Raphael McManus is a new author for me.  (One of the reasons I like being a reviewer for Booksneeze is that I can try authors that I might not otherwise come across).  The wikipedia article on him says he is an “influential American pastor”, whatever that really means.

I like the book.  It is a call to a radical discipleship.  The thesis of the book is that modern western Christianity is too safe;  that it has become an institution instead of a movement.  He calls his vision of radical discipleship “the barbarian way”, and uses the metaphor throughout the book.  A sampling:

 A description of “civilized Christianity”:

…Jesus died adn rose from the dead so that you can live a life of endless comfort, security and indulgence.  But really this is a bit too developed.  Usually it’s mroe like this:  if you’ll simply confess that you’re a sinner and believe in Jesus, you’ll be saved from the torment of eternal hellfire, then go to heaven when you die.  Either case results in our domestication.  One holds out for life to begin in eternity, and the other makes a mockery out of life” (p.32).

A description of what he calls the “barbarian way”:

“God’s ultimate end for our transformation is to unleash the untamed faith within.  When His Spirit is poured into our lives, we are inspired to an extraordinary level of living.  Barbarians never exist simply to survive.  Barbarians never just get through the day.  Barbarians wake to live and live life fully awake.  To be filled with the Spirit of God is to be filled with dreams and vision sthat are too compelling to ignore.  Live or die, succeed or fail, barbarians must pursue and attempt such dreams and visions.  The barbarian spirit dreams great dreams and finds courage to live them” (p.100)

If your experience of the Christian faith is more like the first paragraph than the second one, you should pick this book up and give it a read.  It might enliven your faith and make you think about it in a different way.

Book Review: Max on Life

This is a review for Booksneeze. 

I loved this book.  Lucado has taken questions he has recieved over the years, from his readers and parishoners, and put them into a question and answer form in this book.  He says that some of the answers have appeared in his other books, but I have read them all, and nothing seemed all that familiar.  I don’t like books that are rehashes of earlier books, so that would be a drawback for me, but it wasn’t particularly noticeable. 

From the introduction: We’ve created a question mark to highlight our questions.  It’s stooped and bent, perhaps because questions can leave us in the same shape, burdened and weary.  We have deep, heavy questions. 

We crave answers.  straighten  this mark, and let it stand.  Replace the cowering curl with a confident exclamation point.

Easier said than done.

Maybe so, but he has done it admirably well in this book.  Questions, especially unanswered ones about evil and heartache, can be very hard to deal with for Christians.   Many of us use the pat “It must be God’s will” or something similar in answer to people’s heartaches.  There is none of that here.  Max Lucado tackles the hard questions, and answers them with tenderness and grace.

Maggie’s Grave

 13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him  those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you  by a word from the Lord,  that  we who are alive, who are left until  the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For  the Lord himself will descend  from heaven  with a cry of command, with the voice of  an archangel, and  with the sound of the trumpet of God. And  the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be  caught up together with them  in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess 4 ESV)

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