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Happy Thanksgiving from Derek & Connie Iannelli-Smith

22/11/2012 Comments off

We wanted to take a moment to say ‘Thanks’ to you for being such an evidence of God’s grace in our life…

William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony made this proclamation in 1623:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

During this season of Thanksgiving, I thought the above words would serve as a reminder that we are to be a people with a thankful heart for the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. Someone once said that true Thanksgiving, is first “thanks”, then “giving”. How true that is! When we really realize all that God has done for us, especially in sending His Son, Jesus Christ to this earth over 2,000 years ago, our hearts are filled with thankfulness which moves us to a life of service for Him.

If we begin to believe that somehow it is “our” strength and ability that has produced our blessings we have become deceived by our own thoughts. Just before the God’s people were going into the Promised Land, Moses gave these final words to them:

10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,

Deuteronomy 8:10-11 (ESV)

Moses goes on to warn the people that often the times we are tempted to forget God the most are the times of prosperity.
Looking back on this past year, Connie and I have been blessed greatly through God’s vessel, you… however we must always recognize that without the hand of God and His precious anointing, all our labors will be in vain. During this season of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to express your appreciation to the Lord for His blessings upon our families and friends. Truly, He has been and continues to be a good God!
 
 
Thanksgiving Blessings,

Derek & Connie Iannelli-Smith

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Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Rosen

27/03/2012 Comments off

Thank you Thomas Nelson for the humbling opportunity to review this work.

What if your child took a birds eye view of your life and wrote it down, what would it look like?  Ruth Rosen takes this task to heart as we read the biography of Moishe Rosen, the illustrious leader of Jews for Jesus.  What makes this biography unique is that it from the eyes of a family member who continues in the ministry her father started.  Her meticulous research and thoughtful commentaries on the events she covers also bring touching insight that I thought complimented the work well.

Why is it titled, “Called to Controversy?”  Ruth states that she puts some data to some controversial items in the history of her fathers starting of the JJ ministry that is not elsewhere.  Honestly, I was unaware of those controversies, and was more interested in the perception of Ruth of her father and the JJ movement so I probably missed whatever ‘controversies’ were addressed.

I was struck by this book many times and in sharing some quotes, I think you will see why;

Don’t let yourself become a desk jockey.  People spend too much time sitting at their desks.  You can’t witness on your seat; you gotta use your feet.  This made perfect sense to Moishe, and he never forgot the admonition.  Later, when it was his turn to supervise field missionaries, it was one of his guiding principles.

A lot of my principles came as counter measures to bad experiences.

But after the move, even though she was happy to entertain guests, she loved having a home life that was distinct from her husband’s work (this was a convicting reminder for me to remember my wife wanting some piece and quite from time to time).

I saw in Moishe a person with a biblically tough-minded reality about him that I did not often see in other in the ministry.  From the start, one of Moishe’s gifts was his ability to encourage others to exercise their own gifts.  Part of that encouragement was his genuine appreciation for what others could do.  (I was struck that his daughter saw this character quality in him and it touched me deeply in light of my own struggles with my daughter seeing reality.)

Dad’s insistence on the apology made us feel important; the incident stands out as a reminder of how Dad respected us and cared for our feelings. (An instance in which Ruth was wrongly accused of something and Moishe respectfully and firmly executed mediating the offending party to make things right)

What I learned about volunteers was, first, you had to give more of yourself to them.  And second, they were highly motivated – often more motivated than professionals.

The caveat, I guess I should have a higher view of it (Christian counseling) might be best interpreted as Moishe’s recognition that some Christian counselors genuinely help their clients.  But he felt that the proliferation of counseling degrees rather than theological degrees from Bible scholars and seminaries was not healthy, and that the potential for damage in the field was very high.

Moishe taught by example, and that included how to give an honest and meaningful apology, a skill that, while often overlooked, truly is a measure of greatness.

I found this book very interesting, as it challenged me with wanting to invest more in relationships than evangelism for the sake of evangelism  It inspired me by giving me hope that family does and will see the truth regarding good character, integrity, and doing the right thing.  It enlightened me by giving me hope that maybe my own daughter some day will see past the lies she was told do some investigating on her own.  I also liked how Ruth made me think throughout the book as she related her father’s thought processes, and reasoning’s for doing things, and especially conviction when doing right things. 

Ruth held my attention and the story held my attention as I was always looking to read more of her perspective of her father and his ministry.  I was also struck by the appendices in that Ruth shared a gospel presentation by her father and it really (for me) tied the whole book together in that, the purpose of his life (and ours) is to share the good news of Christ, and if she saw that through his life, so much that she continues with JJ today, wow… It was interesting to also find out that Moishe was part of the Council of Biblical Inerrancy with many other heavy hitters (“Moishe felt strongly that no group should outlive its usefulness.  He was immensely pleased that the ICBI chose to disband in 1988, satisfied that they had completed their task by clearly defining and bringing public attention to the issue of inerrancy.” 

I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in a biography, evangelism, character, integrity, and leaving a legacy.  May it inspire you as it did me.

554918: Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus
By Ruth Rosen / Thomas Nelson

* Why did Moishe Rosen, a Jewish man raised in an Orthodox home, become the founder of Jews for Jesus? Showing how her father challenged the status quo for Jews and Christians alike, Rosen offers a comprehensive look at Moishe’s life, revealing the personality traits, principles, struggles, and successes that made him a controversial figure. 320 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem

25/03/2012 Comments off

Thank you to christianaudio.com’s audio reviewer program for the opportunity to review this audio.  A humble blessing as usual!

One of the things that has always caused consternation with me about ‘church’ was the separation between ‘leadership’ and ‘laity’, or the professionalization of the ministry.  I will never forget driving to a ministry commitment with a newly invited friend, and about half way to our location, he started weeping.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “no one has every let me get into the game, thank you.”  Somehow it had been communicated to my friend that unless he was a pastor, went to seminary, and a part of ‘leadership’ he could never ‘get into the game’ of doing real ministry.  Given that 99% of the population is not in ‘full-time’ ministry as felt by my friend and many others, a treatise reminding us that business can be done for the glory of God is a refreshing change.  On top of that, renown author Wayne Grudem is one that can cause us to take a moment and pause on this topic acknowledging that scripture makes no divide between sacred and secular.

Does the Bible teach on the moral goodness of business?  Can I have a business, work for someone else, or do business with vendors for the glory of God?  Is business, employment, making a profit, competition, and meetings, something that can be done for the glory of God?  Wayne Grudem captures this misnomer regarding business and points us back to scripture.  An apt legitimizer of our secular days which can be redeemed looking toward restoration.

This book when it was originally released (2003) so moved me that I also invested in the Logos version so that I could readily share it with and invest in others.  Having this in audio form was a refreshing reminder to take application onward to implications.  The narrator was interesting, coherent, and enthusiastic about the material and author.  It was evident in inflection, timing, and meditative pauses to get you thinking.  Due to my current employment and being part of a team, it has been a good mission field to take study, prayer, and ‘church’ to real life and join Christ in what He is already doing in the day-to-day. 

  
This work was interesting to me, it inspired, and enlightened me in many ways.  As usual, Wayne Grudem makes you think, holds your attention, while presenting in a cohesive and yet appealing manner.  Refreshing also in that Grudem successfully conveys Biblical truth into the everyday.  I would highly recommend this work to others, with all world-views.

Real Marriage The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together–Mark & Grace Driscoll, Audiobook review

02/01/2012 2 comments

Thank you to christianaudio.com Reviewer Program for pre-release review of this work.

Depending on what circles your in, Mark Driscoll is sure to create a reaction – despite controversy however, many evangelicals acknowledge respectfully, and affirm Mark’s ministry and call.  With Mark you can be assured of a shock factor, and in our culture today of 140 characters or less, smartphones and anti-intellectualism, people don’t stop long enough to meditate on life and Mark & Grace remind us again, this time in the biblical context of a covenant marriage

What I appreciate about Mark’s ministry is that he/they comes out swinging, and in the ‘Preface’ he does it with “How Not to Read This book” -  addressing the sin we bring to marriage books/materials sometimes. It reminded me of the many times I read something in a marriage book and highlighted it so when I passed it onto Connie she would ‘get’ the gentle nudge of the ‘holy spirit highlighter’ and make a change. With the controversy over this book and series, he also addresses an area I don’t see quoted – “If your reading this book to feed your sexual perversion, then don’t read it” which probably would have knocked out 75% of the reviews I have read. 

This book was timely, interesting, and was very convicting in especially the first six chapters.  Connie and I had some great discussions generated by this material, and after my second listen, I will be passing it along to marriages that I think could benefit as well.  It did challenge, inspire, and enlighten me in ways that I was NOT loving my wife, which is a good reminder as I find the tendency sometimes to have an ‘I already know that…pride’ when coming to discipleship materials.  The Driscoll’s also made me think about the continued importance of having Connie with me in marriage discipleship sessions and giving her more shared teaching moments to assist men to love their wives. 

As always, Mark holds your attention and the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner, with real language and speaking about the elephants in the room, something I appreciate about Mark’s ministry and call.  I am also strongly convinced that the Driscoll’s successfully conveyed Biblical truth, however references to the 5 Love Languages and Arteburn’s work were not helpful when there is better biblical material out there to drive home the same points without giving us tasks, check boxes, or psychobabble.  I would recommend this book to others and will, in all forms to serve the audiences that Connie and regularly interact in.

Another fantastic review of this work can be found here, and some further marriage resources can be found at;

  1. Biblical Counselor Newsletter (Marriage & Parenting)
  2. CCEF Resources
  3. Peacemaker Ministries
203833: Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together
By Mark & Grace Driscoll / Thomas Nelson

God has a lot to say on the topic of sex and marriage. He planned both and gave them to us to be enjoyed. In Real Marriage, Mark and Grace Driscoll share biblical truths on issues you may be facing. They discuss how to be your spouse’s best friend, porn addiction, sexual assault, becoming an unselfish lover, and many sex questions you might be embarrassed to ask anyone. Hardcover.

Awesome John Piper quote–Biblical Counseling discernment moment

19/11/2011 Comments off

As I look across the Christian landscape, I think it is fair to say concerning sin, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly” (Jeremiah 6:14 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F24006014(ESV); Jeremiah 8:11 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F24008011(ESV). I take this to refer to leaders who should be helping the church know and feel the seriousness of indwelling sin (Rom. 7:20), and how to fight it and kill it (Romans 8:13 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F45008013(ESV). Instead the depth and complexity and ugliness and danger of sin in professing Christians is either minimized—since we are already justified—or psychologized as a symptom of woundedness rather than corruption.
 
This is a tragically light healing. I call it a tragedy because by making life easier for ourselves in minimizing the nature and seriousness of our sin, we become greater victims of it. We are in fact not healing ourselves. Those who say that they already feel bad enough without being told about the corruptions of indwelling sin misread the path to peace. When our people have not been taught well about the real nature of sin and how it works and how to put it to death, most of the miseries people report are not owing to the disease but its symptoms. They feel a general malaise and don’t know why, their marriages are at the breaking point, they feel weak in their spiritual witness and devotion, their workplace is embattled, their church is tense with unrest, their fuse is short with the children, etc. They report these miseries as if they were the disease. And they want the symptoms removed.
 
We proceed to heal the wound of the people lightly. We look first and mainly for circumstantial causes for the misery—present or past. If we’re good at it, we can find partial causes and give some relief. But the healing is light. We have not done the kind of soul surgery that is possible only when the soul doctor knows the kind of things Owen talks about in these books, and when the patient is willing to let the doctor’s scalpel go deep.

Foreword to Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen

This reminded me of the classic CCEF Journal of Biblical Counseling Article; Counseling and the Problem of the Past by John Bettler, The Journal of Biblical Counseling • Volume XII • Number 2 • Winter 1994;

IV. Propositions

  1. We believe that a counselee’s personal past has a significant influence upon his development of his manner of life.
    We do not believe that the counselee is a helpless victim whose manner of life is determined by his past.
  2. We believe that a person creatively interacts with and interprets past events and incorporates his interpretation into his manner of life.
    We do not believe that a counselee so constructs his past that it has no necessary existence in history. Just as God acts and explains or interprets His actions, so the person interprets the actual events in his life.
    3. We believe that the Christian should seek to interpret his past as coming from God and for God’s glory; the unbeliever will distort the event with an explanation that does not honor God’s truth. He will resist the truth and endeavor to believe the lie.
    4. We believe that a counselee is not always aware of the assumptions, values, and habits which shape his manner of life.
    We do not believe there exists within the person an “unconscious,” i.e., an unexplored and largely unexplorable entity which drives his behavior.
    5. We believe that exploration of a person’s past may help to reveal to himself his manner of life.
    We do not believe that such exploration is always necessary to produce biblical change.
    6. We believe that change occurs in the present. It involves repentance for the distorted values and habits of a false manner of life, and the putting on of godly values and behavior patterns in the present.
    We do not believe that change occurs in the past through the reliving of past experiences or through emotional release of stored-up emotions (a process commonly called catharsis).
    7. We believe that God is sovereign over all the events of a person’s life and works providentially through those events to make Christians more like Christ.

My wife are currently involved in biblical discipleship with a couple and it was a great reminder of these things when we were reviewing the audio messages of Dave Harvey’s great book, “When Sinners Say I Do.”  Thanks Babe for 14 years of grace and mercy with this sinner.

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