COULD WE BE GETTING JESUS WRONG? (REVIEW)

Getting-Jesus-Wrong-smCould we be getting Jesus wrong? Author Matt Johnson thinks so, he’s done it. He offers a compelling read simply entitled Getting Jesus Wrong: Giving Up Spiritual Vitamins and Checklist Christianity. Matt offers several ways that Christians in America misunderstand Jesus. The first several chapters cover different ways that we have reimagined Jesus to be something more of a life coach, a visionary, a keeper of the checklist, etc. Through it all Matt is very transparent with his own struggles of how at different times he had different false images of Jesus in his mind. I appreciate this introspective look very much and Matt comes off as very approachable so when he turns his attention to the remedy the reader is willing to hear and weigh what Matt has to say.

This second part of the book from a pastoral perspective is golden because Matt simply comes back to the gospel. He reorients the reader to the simple facts of law, grace, and redemption through Jesus offering a better way forward in following Jesus than some of the false impressions he had tried earlier.

Over all I thought it was a great read. I enthusiastically recommend it as a brief look into the modern church and how if we are not careful we can lead folks astray. I really appreciate Matt and his heart in writing. You can find it on Amazon for a reasonable price, here.

An similar book written from a different pastoral perspective is Made in Our Image  by Steve Lawson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic copy of this book free from LitFuseGroup.com as part of their Blog Tour Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

Awakening The Evangelical Mind (Book Review)

AwakeningAwakening the Evangelical Mind is a much needed look into the neo-evangelical lights of last century and their lasting influence today. I was well aware of the conservative resurgence in my own denomination and the split among Presbyterians among liberal and conservative lines, but I was largely ignorant of the cross-denominational movement among evangelicals to raise an academic standard. (A movement that included such notebles as Billy Graham, Harold Ockenga, Carl F. H. Henry, Gleason Archer, etc.)

This book maintains a great balance between the traditional historical division of the man and the times. Author Owen Strachan writes in both a historical and biographical style. He summarizes the life of Harold Ockenga in places and transcribes a brief history of the times among evangelicals in other places. He also spends a bit of time with Carl F. H. Henry.I was impressed to know that at one point several bright scholars and Christian statesmen were interested in developing a Christian research university. (One laments that this evangelical work never came to fruition).

This is a much needed volume and helps bring context to the current movements in evangelicalism. As Strachan notes many of today’s prolific theological writers and pastors have been influenced either directly or indirectly by Ockenga and the neo-evangelicals of Harvard.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

Intentional Living by John Maxwell (A REVIEW)

Intentional LivingI’ve not always been a John Maxwell fan, but his more recent books are really good. This book, Intentional Living, is by far one of his best. Maxwell is older than I am and typically is read better in my parents generation. With this book though, his focus has changed and he comes across as more approachable. He shares stories and details of his life creating a brilliant synthesis of autobiography and life principles.

Maxwell also offers a seven day online video encouragement course (for Free) that pairs quite nicely with this book. He shares a brief (usually 5 min or less) message and then issues a challenge (that usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete). It’s a great course that complements and extends the value of the book. To be sure though it also leads into a 30 day course that costs to participate. Nothing wrong with the cost of the 30 day course, my guess is that you are more likely to complete it if you paid something for it.

Over all I thought that, Intentional Living, was a great read and well worth the time it takes to read it. If you had to pick one John Maxwell book to read, I’d say pick this one. In the mean time check out some of my other reviews of John Maxwell’s books.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

Why Church People Are Sometimes Messy

Proverbs 14:4 ESV Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

In many ways that’s my life verse. I should probably get Proverbs 14:4 engraved on my desk, but if I did you would never see it because I keep my work on my desk. Think about the meaning of the verse for a moment. In the case of an ox and a manger, you have to pick between productive and clean. You can have a clean manger or you can have an ox which is what a manger is for and who helps bring in the crops. You may have a clean manger AND an ox for short periods of times, but not all the time and not without someone shoveling the manure.

It’s kind of the same with small kids. They make messes. You can have a clean house or you can have kids. You may have both a clean house and kids but only for short periods of time and not without someone picking up the toys, cleaning the vomit, changing the diapers, etc… But the beautiful thing about kids is that if you train them, they grow up and eventually pick up after themselves, use the restroom by themselves and feed themselves (with a little pressure from Mom and Dad).

Church isn’t really all that different. You see with church we reach out to people who don’t know Jesus. And when someone comes to church and doesn’t know Jesus, they act like people who don’t know Jesus. And when someone commits their life to Christ, they act just like someone who just committed their life to Christ. While Jesus washes away our sin when we put our trust in him… we still may have a tangled mess of ungodly decisions that we have made in the past that have consequence in our present lives. And let’s be honest there may just be a lot of stuff we just don’t know yet. We’re kind of like new born baby’s in that regard (John 3:3, 1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:12).

We make messes. However, every day we are growing more and more in the likeness of Christ (Ephesians 4:22-32). Our goal is to be presented as mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28). But that takes time and patience from godly teachers and leaders.

Leave room for the immature to become mature at your church. It will involve a little messiness but you will help people grow! You know the barn is a place for oxen and oxen do make messes. The church is a place where both the immature and the mature gather to worship Jesus and the immature do make messes. I’d rather have a messy church that works to raise infants in Christ to maturity in Christ than a clean church without new believers. Because there are those who are weaker in the faith among us perhaps we should challenge them to grow rather than judging them for their weakness (Romans 15:1-6).

Philippians 4:1-5 (Devotional Thought)

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (Philippians 4:1-5 ESV)

The Apostle Paul reminds the church at Philippi that the loves them. He wants to be with them. That’s part of why he wrote this letter. He couldn’t be there, but he could still encourage them by writing. He wants them (and us) to take what he has written seriously. This is God’s word to the church. He challenges believers in light of everything he has written to “stand firm.”

I grew up in Montana. The Rocky Mountains range was just an hours drive from our house and so often we would go explore various parts of the mountains. I remember one time we set out to cross a broad river. It didn’t look intimidating because it wasn’t very deep, but the water was ice cold (it was fed from melting glaciers) and at the time the current was very strong. When I entered the river I panicked because I didn’t expect so much pressure from the current but after a while I was able to get my footing and cross the river.

When Paul says to “stand firm” it’s like resisting that current that I came across in the river. It requires diligence and attention. You can’t just read the scriptures and hope that’s enough. We now have to be intentional about trusting God through the middle of our lives. Their will always be a strong current of popular opinion, feelings, or other ideas about how we should do things. We will feel pressure to give in and go another route and that’s why Paul encourages us to stand firm in the “Lord.” We need his strength to withstand everything we are facing.

Paul makes an immediate practical application. He talks about two women there in the church “Euodia” and Syntyche” who have apparently had a serious disagreement. It would be easy to let the disagreement separate them. Indeed all over the world people get upset with one another for various things and friendships die everyday. The difference for these two women is that they both love Jesus. They’ve both partnered together for the sake of the gospel. So when conflict arises and it seems like they can’t work it out between themselves, Paul calls in reinforcements to help them work through their difficulties. Sometimes it takes a third party to help things work out.

In our culture we don’t like to seek people out and make amends. We somehow think that if enough time passes or if we start smiling like nothing was every wrong then the broken relationship will mend itself… seldom does that ever work.

One of the best conversations I’ve ever had was approaching someone who was mad at me. I was so nervous about talking things out because I already knew how they felt. Yet, when we sat down to talk and I expressed a desire for Jesus to be lifted up more than a desire to be right, we had a great conversation. I ended up confessing my sin to them and they confessed sin to me. We forgave each other and became better friends in Jesus because of it.
Do you have a strained relationship with another believer that you need to straight?

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