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Friday, September 4, 2015

"Rediscovering Jesus" by Capes, Reeves and Richards. A Review.

When we get used to someone, a spouse or children, for example, it’s easy for that relationship to become dull and routine. Just like driving to work day after day, week upon week, and you miss the beauty or uniqueness surrounding your route. The same kind of thing happens for Christians, especially those who rigorously read the Scriptures, day after day, week upon week. So that when it comes to Jesus, predictable assumptions begin to take over, and the surprise and scandal of Jesus becomes planed down and polished smooth.  To remedy this, three authors have pooled their talents and expertise together in a 272 page resource intended to freshly bring out some of the distinctiveness of Jesus. “Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ,” is collaboratively penned by David B. Capes, professor of New Testament in the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University; Rodney Reeves, dean of The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry and professor of biblical studies at Southwest Baptist University, both in Bolivar, Missouri; and E. Randolph Richards, dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

“Rediscovering Jesus” opens out into two sections, the first is biblical, and the second is religious and cultural. Each chapter answers three questions: (1) What picture of Jesus is portrayed in this venue? (2) How is this picture of Jesus different from others? (3) What would it mean if this was our only depiction of Jesus? Whether the authors are examining Matthew, John, Paul and other biblical sources, or they’re looking into the religious and cultural models of Mormonism, Islam, Americanism and others, they follow this three-fold query. Additionally, each chapter ends with discussion questions making this book ideal for group study.

The strength of “Rediscovering Jesus” is that readers will see old things afresh, and stumble onto ideas that may be novel to them. Another asset of this approach is that it helps the Christian to regain some of the original intent of biblical authors, as well as to hear more clearly the assumptions made by others about Jesus. It is an easy to read, non-technical volume that can be simply adapted to Upper School and college level classes, as well as Bible studies. It’s a book worth your time and your money.

My thanks to InterVarsity Press and IVP Academic for the free copy of “Rediscovering Jesus” used for this review.

You can find the book at this link.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Almighty promised" - 30 August 2015 AM

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith, and that whatever we ask you in his name you will answer us so that we may prove to be his disciples (John 15.7-8).

Strengthen all Christian pastors, ministers, priests, elders, Bishops and deacons, that they may be filled with the truth of your doctrine and clothed with holiness of life, so that they may faithfully serve you to the glory of your name and the benefit of your Church. We implore you to please convert all apostates and predators in the ministry, and where necessary, remove them.

For all the members of your Church throughout this world, including South Pointe Church; Trinity Church of the Nazarene; Waterloo Church of the Nazarene; Western Oaks Church; Woodson Park Church; and Christ Community Church: that those who in every place call on the Lord Jesus would be faithful witnesses no matter what, be united in your truth, grow together in your love, and reveal your glory and fame in the world.

For all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who bear the burden of Islamic oppression, grant them your consoling peace, strengthen them in fidelity, and grant them help. And for their oppressors we pray for you to break through to their hearts and minds, reviving them in lively faith in Christ Jesus; and if they will not be saved and stop their violence and victimizing, then we ask with the psalmist: “Do to them as you did to Midian, as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who were destroyed at En-dor, who became dung for the ground. O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O LORD; that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83. 9-10, 13, 16, 18).

Guide, equip, constrain and compel our president in that which is right; give wisdom and good judgment to all in authority; and direct this and every nation in the ways of fairness and amity; that the common good may prevail, that your church may lead a quiet life in all godliness and dignity, so that all people may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.1-4).

For our families, friends, and neighbors, we pray for you to help us, with them, to advance healthy civility together. Please turn toward everlasting life any and all who have never entrusted themselves to your Son Jesus Christ, and those who may have tumbled or tromped away….

Finally, we ask you to relieve, restore and revive all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit …; give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring to them the joy of your salvation.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Noonday Devil" by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B. A Review.

The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our TimesThe Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Dom Jean-Charles Nault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This intriguing read on the subject of acedia is written primarily from within monasticism, and for monastics. It includes an interesting historical trek through Benedict, Evagrius, John Cassian, Gregory the Great and Aquinas; and stops at the dead-end concocted by William of Ockham.

Acedia, that "Noonday Devil," of which I have written before, is a broad vice that shows itself in loss of heart and motivation, discouragement, despair, perpetual need for activity and change, and so forth. It affects people in the middle of the day and the middle of life. And the "chief remedy for acedia is found in the joy of the gift" (201), which is the joy of God himself.

"The Noonday Devil" is a very Roman Catholic book written by the Abbot of Saint-Wandrille. It will not likely resonate with many, or most Protestants, Reformed or Evangelicals, though it should! If read with a discerning eye even the staunchest non-Catholic reader will find that acedia is a vice that needs to be dealt with. It is a book worth reading.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton. A Very Short Review.

Cry, the Beloved CountryCry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Cry, the Beloved Country" is a sad story, a tale of brokenness, despair, fear, shame, and betrayal; but a tale holding surprising redemptions! The depth of the narrative as it chronicles a father's increasing loss of faith and heart-wrenching discoveries, along with genuine friendships and kindnesses coming out of unlooked for places and given with no sense of entitlement or repayment, touches the heart and warms the soul. It is a steady story that winds downward and then rises up in dawning hope. "Cry, the Beloved Country" is worth the read, and will rouse reflection for many days. Grab a copy, and read it as soon as you can!

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Our Father, High and Lofty One" - 23 August 2015 AM

Our Father, high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity; whose name is holy; you dwell in the high and holy place with those who have a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of contrite ones (Isaiah 57.15). We come and pray, not in our own strength, but in the Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

For the downtrodden, the devastated, the worn out, the distraught of this world, and for these we pray…..look upon them with warm compassion, impart your peace, health and deliverance.

And we also ask you to fortify the work of Project 66, the Hope Center, Anna’s House and Christian foster care organizations here in Oklahoma financially, with dedicated people, and with success.

For those who do not believe and for those who have tripped or tromped away, we pray….may your Spirit apply to them the redemption purchased by Christ, working faith in them and uniting them to Christ in their effectual calling.

For the peace of our troubled world and all her people (specifically Mexico, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Syria, North and South Korea, and Venezuela), we plead with you that malevolence and brutality might be restrained and that peace and justice might prevail. We especially ask you to neutralize the angry, inhuman violence of ISIL - strike all your enemies on the cheek; break the teeth of the wicked (Psalm 3.7); Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none (Psalm 10.15).

For all those who govern the U.S.A., the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma-Lincoln-Canadian and Cleveland counties; as well as Oklahoma City and its environs: we ask that they would govern with wisdom from above in these troubled times, with healthy compassion for those in need, with godly justice for all, born and unborn.

For your holy worldwide Church, as well as for May Ave Church of the Nazarene; New Life Community Church; Oakcliff Church; 1st Nazarene of OKC; Penn Ave Church; and Providence Church of the Nazarene: deliver them from the snares, deceptions and assaults of the evil one; build up their resources that they make lack nothing needful; and fill them with sustaining courage as they fulfill your mission.

For this congregation, please strengthen, hearten and enrich our elders and deacons in all of the good work you have called them to. May their loving, caring service toughen our faithful resolve, and bolster vital godliness. And help us to be a sacred and safe sanctuary for those coming out of the winds and wastelands, that with us they may come to serve and worship you.

Finally, Lord, we call upon you to enrich all those who will be gathering at the Goodnews Festival this afternoon. May your Gospel be clear, Christ be exalted, and many come to faith.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty" - 16 August 2015 A.M.

We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because you have taken your great power and reigned (Revelation 11.17).

We ask you to over-rule the atrocious savagery running rampant in many nations, as well as to countermand the legitimizing of slavery and oppression, along with the harassment of your Church. May all nations come to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus, and peace and prosperity prevail in all places.

Give your aid and strength to all those in the U.S. Armed Forces; to our peace officers; firefighters, and first responders; may they serve dutifully, bravely and honorably; and may their leaders be people of integrity and nobility, leaders who will protect them from injustice, and promote their safety and wellbeing.

Yahweh Rapha, LORD our healer, we ask you to give the doctors, PAs and nurses in this area your wisdom, skill and welfare as they help others. Thank you for the ones who have helped several of our people here; and guide those medical professionals who are presently treating our people now.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech you to behold, visit and relieve …. Look upon them with the eyes of your mercy; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; preserve them from the temptations of the enemy; and give them patience under their affliction. In your good time, restore them to health, and enable them to lead the residue of their life in godliness, and to your glory.

Almighty and everlasting God, the source of all life and joy, who, by the glad sound of the Gospel, has called us to have part in your Kingdom and glory; for the people of this congregation we ask, shine powerfully into our hearts by your Word and Spirit, and draw us with the constraining, compelling cords of faith, hope and love; and help us to give all diligence to make our call and election sure through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 1.10).

Thank you for bringing Hunter Quinn, Shane Hatfield, Justin Westmoreland, Mark Berry and Dan Young our way, over this past three weeks. We earnestly ask you to provide all of the financial help that they need, as well as qualified co-workers, open doors, and robust results for all of their labors. And please, Lord, raise up more laborers to go into the harvest – even from our own numbers!

Almighty God, we pray for your Church worldwide, including Crown Heights Nazarene Church; 1st Church of the Nazarene-Edmond; Jerrigan Memorial Church of the Nazarene; Korean Nazarene Church; and Lakeview Park Nazarene Church; Grant then the grace fearlessly to live in peace with all men, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12.14). May your Word run swiftly and be glorified, and your people be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men (2 Thessalonians 3.1-2).

Finally, show your kindness and deploy your saving love to those who have never turned to Christ, and those who have slipped and slidden away …. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. A Short Review

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book was readable....and long....and ended too late. The play back and forth between early Kvothe (the main character) and the older, more seasoned Kvothe was good. But for some reason the length of the story, and the story line, brought me to ask several times, "When will the author get to the point?" The point never appeared to be reached in this volume, and when I came to the end of the book I felt disappointed. This book was written so you would buy the next one (and I assume the one after that) to finally get to the point.

I gave it 3 stars, even with my disappointment, because the author is a good writer, and obviously knows how to tell stories that keep attention. This one didn't rouse my excitement, and wasn't a page-turner. It started out slow, and sluggishly built up momentum until it trotted and galloped in places.

Maybe it's me. I gave it to my 15 and 18 year old sons, and they both enjoyed it. And yet, neither of them talked in any depth about the content. That's usually an indication to me of whether a book has durability or not. If you like fantasy, with magic, areas of the "unknown", personal conflicts, faeries, etc. you may want to give the book a try. You just might enjoy it.

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