Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Evangelism Study Bible

From the back cover:  The Evangelism Study Bible provides all the tools you need to learn to share the gospel clearly and simply as God opens doors of opportunity.

The New King James Version takes the lyrical, poetic King James translation and updates some of the language.  It makes it easier for today's Christians to read and understand the classic translation while still retaining the feel of the original version.  I remember the first Bible I had in this translation.  It stayed a favorite of mine for many years until it became to worn for everyday use.

Among the many special features of this Bible are:

  • Introductions to each book that help the reader to focus on the evangelism aspect of that particular book.
  • Over 2,600 study notes help the reader to understand the passages.  At the same time they also help to point out the evangelism aspects of the passage.
  • Tips for how to build your evangelism skill set so you become more comfortable with sharing the gospel.
  • Detailed articles that explain the various parts of evangelism such as apologetics.
  • Additional how-to articles to assist with developing your evangelical skills.
  • Devotions to help your relationship with Christ to grow.
  • Other features that appear in other study Bibles such as maps and cross-references.
An example of an illustration from Galatians.
I found many of the articles to be either a great reminder or a good way to see how evangelism permeates the Bible.  Reading this study Bible helps to keep the reader focused on how important it is to practice evangelism every day.  Most Christians know the role of evangelism but sometimes need a reminder.  The Evangelism Study Bible provides that extra boost to keep us on track.

I strongly recommend getting this Bible.

The copy I received for review was supplied by Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition, a Vision of Hope

Author:  Timothy Joyce

First Publication:  March 1998

Publisher:  Orbis Books

Format:  Paper

Source:  loan

From Goodreads:  This fascinating book introduces the mysterious and extraordinary world of Celtic Christianity. Timothy Joyce, a Benedictine monk of Irish descent, evokes the distinctive spirituality that drew on pre-Christian beliefs and culture. He shows how this style of Christianity changed, was subordinated, and gave way to the larger Roman church, and yet how elements endured. Finally, he explores what Celtic spirituality has to offer today to the church as well as spiritual seekers.Celtic spirituality is holistic -- a joyful, mystically-inclined spirituality that affirms the goodness of creation, urges respect for women's gifts, and finds expression in poetry, myth, and song. Joyce recounts the heroic stories of such saints as Patrick, Bridget, Columcille, and Columba. But he goes beyond other treatments to explore how this tradition was gradually subsumed by a more rigid style of "Irish Catholicism, " and he reflects on the centuries of suffering that have left an indelible mark on the Irish consciousness and spirit. Yet ultimately Joyce shows how the recovery of this ancient tradition of Christianity might rejuvenate the church and contribute to spiritual renewal today.

When Pastor Josh brought up Celtic Christianity, I realized that I did not know much about it.  I had heard about it and knew of Saint Patrick but that was the extent of my familiarity.  He loaned me this book to help fill me in on the history of this part of Christian history.  It led to an interesting discussion.

Some of the interesting tidbits I learned were:

  • The Celts embraced Christianity peacefully.
  • Martyrdom is practically unknown in the Celtic church.
  • Emphasized community, relationships, and the equal gifts of all.
  • Believed that all are called to live the life of a monk, even the married.
  • The second most important saint was Bridget (showing the equality between the sexes).
  • Accepted the trinity without debate.
One of the main beliefs is that everything reflects the sacred and the secular.  While they did not worship trees, the Celts believed that God could be seen in the beauty of the tree and everything else in this secular world.

Favorite quote:  "Spirituality is the manner in which we humans face the transcendent in our lives, the particular way we approach the divine and ultimate reality beyond us."

Based on their views on equality(all people are equal), ecology(use but replenish what God has given us), and the way God is reflected in the secular world(how can we not think of God when we look at the oceans or mountains)  we can learn much from studying this branch of Christianity.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

52 Weeks with Jesus

Author:  James Merritt

First Publication:  December 2014

Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers

Source:  Net Galley

The sub-title tells you everything about this book:  "Fall in love with the One who changed everything".  That alone got me interested in reading it.  It brought back memories of the first time I read Philip Yancey's classic book called "The Jesus I Never Knew".  Even though we might be focused on Jesus everyday of our lives, it is always good to take a fresh, in depth look at various aspects of our savior.

Merritt takes us back to the basics of Jesus.  His meditations are reflections not only on who Jesus is but also how he impacted the author's life and ministry.  Take the upcoming year and spend it getting back in touch with what is the most important relationship a person can have.  

I read the book in a short period of time but plan on re-reading it in depth during 2015.  It will be a book that I return to again in the future.

Highly recommended.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Praying Through the Names of God

Author:  Tony Evans

First Publication:  September 1, 2014

Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers

Source:  Net Galley

Tony Evans continues to prove why he is one of my favorite authors.  In this book he examines the many different names of God.  

Dr. Evans gives a look into each of the names.  My favorite part of the book, and what makes it different from other books, is he includes prayers.  It gives the reader a chance to see Dr. Evans prayers.  Also included are blank pages for you to journal at the end of each chapter.

If you are struggling with your prayer life, this is a great way to energize it.  Dr. Evans prayers will help you learn how to pray.  And by picking a different name each day it mixes things up and reminds you of the many different ways God presented Himself in the Bible.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Kingdom Under God

Author:  Tony Evans

First Publication:  July 2014

Publisher:  Moody Publishers

Source:  Net Galley

Tony Evans was one of the first authors I started following when I began to read Christian books.  Later I started watching him on television and listening to his podcast.  I did hear him in person once (so far) at a Christian rally.  He is an amazing speaker and author.  Evans always stays focused on God’s Word and I appreciate the chance to read his insights into the Gospel.  This is another classic work of his that I thought would be easier to comment on if I included some excerpts from the book.

1.        ”Everyone has an idea and a viewpoint, but I believe God has spoken and He has not stuttered.  There are two answers to every question:  God’s answer and everyone else’s.  And when they differ, everyone else is wrong.  Thus it befits us to bring our lives under God’s rule and passionately pursue His kingdom.”  I remember reading a comment like this in one of his earlier books and it has stayed with me through the years.  “God has spoken and He has not stuttered” is a good way of keeping at the front of our thoughts the truth of God’s Word.

2.       “While there is nothing necessarily wrong with thoughts and feelings, they shouldn’t be the deciding factors to what is true.  Truth transcends feelings.  For example, you may feel like you have a headache so you take an aspirin.  But the lab report might tell the truth that you have a brain tumor, and an aspirin won’t do any good.  Your head hurting felt real; it just didn’t reveal the truth.  When you miss the truth, you miss everything.  Likewise, when you miss the truth of God’s Word, you miss the kingdom.”  Many people try to put their feeling ahead of the truth.  We want to see the best in people so we won’t admit other’s shortcomings.  It is also very true concerning our own problems.  We try to justify our actions because they feel right.  Dr. Evans reminds us that our feelings are wrong unless they are aligned with God’s Word.

3.       “One of the reasons we often don’t live in light of this truth is because we confuse the terms “power” and “authority”.  For example, on the football field the players are bigger and stronger-more powerful-than the referees.  The referees are older, smaller, and more out of shape than the players.  The players can knock you down-power.  But the referees can put you out-authority.  Satan has power, but the only way he is free to use that power over the lives of individuals, families, churches, or even the broader society is the failure to operate from under the rightful headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Satan does not have the authority to use his power when men function under the covenantal covering of Jesus Christ.”  How easy it is to confuse power and authority.  The world tries to convince everyone that power is more important.  Dr. Evans goes back to his football days (as a chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys) for this example.  Even if you do not like football, I believe most people will understand this message.  Too often we get lured into believing that Satan’s power is the strongest force on Earth.  This explanation reminds us that God’s authority is the supreme power that trumps Satan’s power.

4.       “But the truth and power of God’s Word can be nullified in your experience if you refuse to let the Word speak to you as it is or you start mixing it up with your human viewpoints.  Now please notice I did not say the Bible can lose its power or authority.  That will never happen because God said His Word is “forever settles in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).  But the Bible’s power is blunted in our lives when we do not respond to God in humility and obedience.”  How many times do we see someone we believe to be a Christian go down the wrong path?  It is one of many reasons why we need to stay focused on God’s Word.

“One Kingdom Under God” is a great reminder that we need to keep God at the center of our thoughts and lives.  When our focus is on Him, He keeps us on the right path.