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Book review of Mark Driscoll’s–Who Do You Think You Are?

20/01/2013 Comments off

Thank you to Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program for the preview opportunity to review this work.

     Forgetting who we are in Christ is a stable diet for many believers, thanks to the fall and depravity.  In a culture of “I need to feel good about myself” and the never vanishing ‘self-esteem movement’, finally a work that brings out an exegetical commentary on the book of Ephesians presenting a biblical worldview in contrast to the psychologized drivel that is so prevalent in our society.  In acclaimed Driscoll style, a contextual work that brings the Bible into everyday life with a humble and scholarly tone that is refreshing in a world looking to define itself by many competing idols with much needed sobriety and candidness.

     I agree with Driscoll, we all live in an identity crisis.  This crisis produces worshippers (we all are worshipping something whether Christian or not).  By worship, Driscoll defines “Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do, and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god.”  This ‘worship’ is the product of the idols we have; of which he further defines as identity idolatry which can be thought in terms of Items, Duties, Others, Longings, and Sufferings (idols).  In light of the worship definition, it is easy to see how we can ‘worship’ these things.  It is also clear that religious language like ‘worship’ and ‘idolatry’ may produce the temptation to blow off the convicting truths that we are ‘idol factories’ as they may reveal that we are not as ‘good’ as we think we are or that our self-esteem is not as healthy as it should be.  The book of Ephesians provides the lens of the creation-fall-resurrection-restoration narrative we all walk through that define our everyday lives.  

     I enjoyed many things about this book.  Each chapter starts with a pericope of text from a chapter of Ephesians.  This is not your traditional Christian book which slaps three sentences of scripture text to sprinkle a ‘holy wand’ on the chapter.  Mark actually grabs large chunks of text and meticulously works through it in the coming pages.  I also like the footnotes on each page that point you to the exact Biblical references to concepts and points made in each chapter.  A few highlights from the book that I appreciated are,

Practically, focusing on just the sin aspect of our identity leads to despairing, navel-gazing Christians obsessed with their sin.  Such Christians wrongly think that the best sermons are those that beat them up by reminding them how awful they are—without any mention of their new identity in Christ.  The Word of God is not a club for beating Christians until they emotionally bleed as repayment for their sin.  Jesus already took our blows and shed His blood in our place.  And on the cross He did not say, “It is not finished, so beat yourself up to add to your salvation.”  He said, “It is finished!”

“C.S. Lewis was fond of saying that we are often guilty of “chronological snobbery.”  We arrogantly see people  from the past as more naïve, primitive, and less sophisticated than ourselves.  The truth is that people have always been the same, and today, people are as pagan in their thinking as ever.

“To varying degrees, we’re all guilty of participating in our culture of rudeness.  Which of us hasn’t become jealous when others succeed?  Yet we hate it when we are on the receiving end of this rudeness.”

“The true test of your theology is not just what you say, but also how you pray.”

“Bitterness is often related to how much you love the offender”

“Faith is an internal conviction that leads to an external action.”

    This book was interesting to me and will benefit future believers in my life as well.  It challenge, inspire, and enlightened me in reminding (see first quote above) that my desire for good theological sermons or messages has been also contributing to my forgetfulness of the good news of the gospel. Mark’s section on Spiritual Gifts, especially the introspective questions were very helpful, and I think it may also be helpful to not only ask them of ourselves but to ask our ‘communities’ these questions about our Christian witness as well.  Of course, Driscoll makes you think and hold’s your attention, and I found this especially helpful with the personal testimony stories that started each chapter.  It made them more real and transferable.  This commentary on Ephesians was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner, however, I wish there was a way to also bring the cross-references directly into the chapter rather than having to flip back and forth.  I would like to also note that there are already a myriad of resources out there to bring this work from conviction to application to implication.  Check out:  the Ephesians Campaign 

    Mark Driscoll successfully convey Biblical truth and this book is saturated in scripture, cross references and historical affirmations that is equally impressive.  I would highly recommend this book to all types of readers and humans alike as it addresses all of life, not just Sunday morning.

203857: Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ
By Mark Driscoll / Thomas Nelson

We answer how we are countless times each day, but rarely do we think about who we are. Revealing that we define ourselves by things other than Jesus, Driscoll identifies who you are in Christ—saintly, blessed, saved, afflicted, heard, and more. Discover that you’re not what you do; rather, who you are determines what you do. 256 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

From Connie and I to you…

24/12/2012 Comments off

John 3:16 can give us the message of Christmas.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

While this verse is often overlooked as being a “Christmas verse” we can easily see the loving, giving heart of the Father in that he gave His only begotten Son.

God the Father set the example of giving, and it was carried on through the life of Christ while He lived here on this earth. Jesus said in,

John 14:9 ESV  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

This spirit of giving originated with the Father and radiated through the Son, and in turn Jesus commands us to do the same in,

John 13:34 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

This love is not based on feelings or emotions, otherwise Jesus would not have been able to “command” us to love. He is talking about the kind of love He had when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,

Luke 22:42 ESV  saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."

He is talking about each one of us doing our part in love regardless of what we “feel” like at any given moment.

This is the kind of love that will visit a new friend’s home and hold the hand of one who is discouraged. This is the kind of love that will cry with another who cries, and who rejoices with another who rejoices. This is the kind of love that will look “beyond faults” and see the need.

We encourage you at this wonderful time of year to appreciate our giving God once again, and to minister to the “one another’s” all around us.  We call it the ministry of investing in others without needing the credit.  This season should reveal Prophet, Priest and King to all of us.  And emanate from all of us.  Some from the Word, some from life you lead, the actions you take, the inconvenient moments we all have every day.  Thank you for sharing your lives with us.  So Connie and I want to extend you Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year!!! 

And He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:65-69 ESV)

Father Hunger: Why God calls men to love and lead their families by Doug Wilson

03/09/2012 Comments off

Thank you Thomas Nelson for the great privilege of being a reviewer in your Blog review program.  I have been changed by your investment!

In a society that has been severely degraded due to the absence of Father’s there is a growing movement in evangelical circles to call us back to the truth.  Doug Wilson’s newest work is one of those primaries every male should have on his discipleship shelf (well read before shelving of course).  After a recent failed attempt to reconcile with my estranged daughter, I have much needed comforting gospel-centered reminders when I am tempted to despair, this is a good encouragement.  Brie (my daughter) also was a part of the recent healing and of which I am grateful;

The best way to peer into the overall gist of the work, I would like to share some quotes which come from 3 different pivotal sections of the book;

A father is responsible to lead his children in a way that helps them think biblically about everything.

In contrast to this, consider Abraham Kuyper’s famous statement from his inaugural address at the Free University of Amsterdam.  “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry:  ‘Mine!”  If this is true, and it most certainly is, what are the ramification for education?

As was shown earlier, authority flows to those who take responsibility.  Taking responsibility is the foundation of all the true authority.  This means that reestablishing authority is accomplished by taking responsibility.  Often a simple reassertion of authority is an attempt to evade responsibility.  The point is reasserted so that some one else will do what needs doing.  This is not only impotent; it is counterproductive.

Further the titles of the chapters drive home some quite obvious points that are very bold and needed as well;

First Words, What Fathers Are For, A Culture of Absenteeism, Masculinity, False and True, Atheism Starts at Home, The Education Axle, Small Father, Big Brother, Escaping the Pointy-Haired Boss, Poverty and Crime at the Head of the Table, Church Fathers, Ha, Conflicted Feminism, The Fruitful Father, Some Father Mechanics, Our Father, It Starts with You.

We need more Doug Wilson’s, Mark Driscoll’s, Paul Washer’s, Matt Chandler’s, Edwin Cole, Patrick Morley’s.  We do live in a time when being a man is playing video games all the time, living with your parents, moral relativistic engagements of entitlement, and never responsible.  I remember having a ‘Courageous’ movie night at my house, I had to invite over 30 men to get 6 to show up.  Guys don’t need cowboy church or football themed worship services, what they need is to zip their pants up in the front.  We need bold voices in our culture speaking to our pride, self-righteousness, and avoiding responsibility hearts.  Until there is revival with men, the downward spiral continues.

Father Hunger will challenge, inspire, and enlighten every man to dust off their pride and confess and repent in the areas that need work.  This is not a soppy, wear a bib book, this book is going to take you to the places you do not want to go and it is about time.  Mr. Wilson does make you think, holds your attention, and it is presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  Mr. Wilson also saturates his work with scripture (and much appreciated – indicative of a man who spends time with the Word), successfully conveys Biblical truth.   I would highly recommend this work to Men in all walks of life.

554765: Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love & Lead Their Families Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love & Lead Their Families
By Douglas Wilson / Thomas Nelson

Absentee fatherhood seems to be the norm in today’s culture and it impacts everyone – families, children, wives, and husbands. Pastor and parenting expert Douglas Wilson reveals the true cost of invisible dads to families and society, encouraging them to be the fathers God calls them to be. Includes self-evaluation tools for dads to critique their fathering methods and a study guide for men’s Bible studies and small groups.

The Truth About the Lordship of Christ by John MacArthur

14/06/2012 Comments off

Thank you Thomas Nelson for early preview of this work, this opportunity continues to be a blessing to me.

In The Truth About the Lordship of Christ, MacArthur is not dealing with minor problems or disputes peripheral to the faith, but with the crucial issue of all—namely, What does it mean to be a Christian? His answers in this condense work addresses what I consider to be the core issue of present-day Christianity.

Why is today’s church so pathetic? Why are we able to tout many conversions and grow church members but have less and less impact on our culture? How is it that Christians are indistinguishable from the world? Is it because we are calling the unregenerate/lost, Christians? Or is it that many are settling for a “form of godliness but denying its power”

(2 Timothy 3:1-5 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F55003001-55003005(ESV))? This pivotal work in MacArthur’s Truth series is successful in turning true followers/disciples from the feeble gospel and deceitful propaganda of this age to a true gospel-centered focus. This work reveals a man whose conscience is clearly taken captive by the Word of God. It reveals that he knows how to read the Bible for what it actually says, and is fearless in proclaiming that Word to desperate and handicapped generation.

As with all of MacArthur’s works, this book was very interesting, concise, and thorough.  As always, MacArthur also challenges, inspires, and enlightens in a very charitable way.  MacArthur teaches us through scripture to discern and think;

204168: The Truth About the Lordship of Christ The Truth About the Lordship of Christ
By John MacArthur / Thomas Nelson

Worship: The Ultimate Priority–John MacArthur Revised Audiobook

08/03/2012 Comments off

Of course, this review was not possible without the generous investment in me by the christianaudio Reviewers Program.  Thank you.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture,
and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you hear His voice,

If your desire is to listen to His voice; He knows us, and we get to follow Him. He gives us eternal life, and we shall never perish; as no one can snatch us out of His hand.  John MacArthur reminds us in the newly revised edition of classic work that Worship is the ultimate priority.

I remember my first Shepherds Conference and the sessions on Worship.  I was again struck with this audiobook of the great disciple of Christ that continues to be an evidence of God’s grace through John’s investment in the Body of Christ.  The two new chapters and the revisions in the foundational work are truly saturated as always, in scripture.  The Bible is the final authority of this work.  John guides us into understanding God’s perspective on the spectrum of our current ‘worship services’ to a Pink-like attributes of God systematic theology.

The audiobook was very interesting to me as it challenged me, inspired me, and enlightened me on how selfish I am in my interactions with God.  John has continued for fifteen years of my walk to exhort me to meditate and focus my life on the Living Word of God.  John keeps me focused on God and Scripture and the narrator’s voice was an excellent compliment to this work.  The book was obviously presented in John’s classic style of cohesiveness and appealing manner while not compromising solid Biblical Truth.  I would recommend this book for general audiences of all kinds, as most of it is Scripture – timeless and multi-generational.

402158: Worship: The Ultimate Priority Worship: The Ultimate Priority
By John MacArthur / Moody Publishers* How can we best glorify God? By making worship a priority! Taking you beyond church walls into the recesses of your heart, MacArthur explores the attributes of God, the right and wrong ways to worship him, and ideas on how to honor him in our daily lives. This revised edition includes two new chapters.
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