Showing posts from January, 2017

Book in Review: War and Peace

I began reading War and Peace as a challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could do it. Leo Tolstoy's classic novel is famous for many things and brevity is not one of them. But what began as a personal challenge transformed into something that was both rewarding and refreshing, far beyond what I had anticipated.

We live in the age of the instant and the immediate. If a story does not capture us within the opening pages, we toss it out. If a television show does not pay out sufficient enjoyment by the first episode, we change the channel. So our entertainment has catered to our appetites. Stories exchange necessary character development for fast paced action sequences. Detailed and nuanced dialogue is traded for the flamboyant and the crude. In our entertainment, just like our fast food, we sacrifice quality (depth, insight, meaning) for time.

And also like fast food, we miss out.

Because there is something special about a really long, well told story. There is something to be s…

Butchered Texts: Matthew 7:1-5

Whenever there is truth, you can rest assured that there will be counterfeits. Knockoffs and defilements. We see this no more clearly than with treatment of the perfect and unchanging words of God recorded for us in the Scriptures. It is common in every age for some of the most foundational and edifying verses of Scripture to be divorced from their contexts and infused with a new culturally appropriate meaning. Too often this goes unchecked with severe consequences.
This post (which may morph into a series) will look at a Biblical text I have seen "butchered" online, address the incorrect interpretation I have observed, and try to get to what the text really means. First some ground rules:
1) Context. No verse was intended to be read as an individual snippet devoid of a frame of reference. So we must ask ourselves first: "Where is this passage in the story of Scripture?" And more narrowly: "What is the immediate context?" Who is speaking, to whom is he spea…

Three Reasons Christians Should Read History

Many of you may know that I love history. I do not read as much as I would like, but when I get the chance I will gladly choose a Civil War biography over modern fiction. I am currently wading through Pulitzer Prize winning book Thomas Jefferson: Art of Power by John Meacham and I am fascinated by the challenges people just like you and me faced only a few hundred years ago.
But history is not an empty pursuit or a vain hobby. It is vitally important to give a frame of reference or a measuring stick for the times in which we live. Here are three reasons Christians in particular should read history:
1. History teaches the mortality of man. If there is one thing we can learn from history it is that people die. Good people die. Bad people die. Significant people die and insignificant people die. No matter the amount of good or evil done in this life everyone inevitably dies. This somewhat morbid reality is important because an understanding of the brevity of life is necessary to gaining a …

The Dangerous Case of the "Syncretistic Christian"

Syncretism is defined by google as the “amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.” Generally I think of the word “syncretism” in almost exclusively a religious sense; with one example being certain forms of Roman Catholicism in South America where it is common for people to blend their Catholic religion with the spirit worship tradition common in the area. Because of this amalgamation of two largely opposing creeds we end up seeing holidays such as the “Day of the Dead” or even more distinct forms of animism where people pray or make sacrifices to inanimate objects.
Syncretism however is not limited to the South American continent; in fact I am convinced that this tendency to mix worldviews and religions is far more pervasive than we would ever dare to think. Could it be that even you and me, likely professing Christians living in modern societies, are ever under the threat of compromising our precious faith “once delivered to the saints.” Could it be possib…

Book in Review: "A Brave New World"

Imagine a world where everything is perfect. A world where there is no anxiety and no fear. A society where everyone fits perfectly into their predestined jobs that they have been modified and conditioned to perform. Every person slots in comfortably into their genetically engineered communities. Gone is that oh so inconvenient “old age.” Risk, struggle, and pain are thankfully archaic elements of the forgotten past. Gone are the antiquated institutions of marriage and family. Absent is that oppressive crutch of religion. Sexuality is the primary inalienable right.

And for those moments that do not go as planned. Not to worry. Pop in a gram or two of the drug "soma", and the rapturous equilibrium will return.

This is a Brave New World.

Huxley’s tale follows the course of a curiously dissatisfied and empty Alpha who finds the “Savage” (John), someone who has grown up on a reservation isolated from this new “civilized world.” What follows is a brutal clash of worldview and cultu…

The Wrath of God

“Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?” -Psalm 90:11
I recently ran across an R. C. Sproul message on the wrath of God. I was so impacted by it that I thought I would put a link to the YouTube video on here for everyone to listen to.
Because as Moses asks in the magisterial Psalm 90, “who considers the power of your anger?” The question is rhetorical, but I will answer it anyways: no one does! We hate to consider the challenging attributes of God. We are mystified, even sufficiently so, at the strange and unreasonable concept of God’s holiness. And because we would prefer God to be a God of love who only accepts us, we often unconsciously strip him of His wrath, which might be the most dangerous thing we can do.
For what we prefer to believe about God can never and will never change the reality of the immutable nature of who He is. Nor does it change the reality that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness, both yours and mine. T…

Reading List for 2017

Goals are always good to have. If you achieve them, congratulations, you have achieved them. But if you fail to reach your intended target, even falling miserably short, you will still find yourself closer to the goal than you were when you began. It is a win-win. 

In 2017 one of my goals is to complete a reading list. The plan is to read a minimum of 24 books in 2017, which actually is not that extreme. 24 books comes out to about a book every two weeks, or about two books a month; and with a solid blend of long and shorter books this should be fairly attainable. My list is broken out into several sections: Spiritual Growth, Theology, History, Classics, C. S. Lewis, and a few others. Let it begin!

Spiritual Growth Watchman Prayer- Dutch Sheets. I got this book for Christmas from my parents, and it is about guarding your home/church/community from the attacks of the devil. Should be a timely read for 2017. When People are Big and God is Small- Ed Welch. I am really looking forward to thi…