Book Review: A Christian Survival Guide

A Christian Survival GuideThere’s an old saying that goes something like this: People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan. The goal of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth by Ed Cyzewski is to help Christian believers make a plan.

Cyzewski points out in the introduction that former Christians that have left the faith are often most aware of the serious issues Christianity presents. The last book I reviewed by Mike Hamel asks serious questions that the author doesn’t have good answers for; while he hasn’t left the faith he is no longer as certain as he used to be about the tenets of the Christian faith. A Christian Survival Guide wants readers to anticipates issues that will arise and be prepared ahead of time. From the introduction: This book aims to help the saints persevere, and so we’ll focus on answering that last question—what will help you survive as a follower of Jesus? Surviving as a Christian depends on having the right beliefs, putting them into practice in community with other Christians, and most importantly, meeting with God regularly. If we fail to address basic survival matters such as understanding God’s story from Scripture, defeating sin, or living in step with the Holy Spirit, we run the risk of missing out on the abundant life Jesus promised us, if not losing our intimacy with Jesus and leaving the faith altogether. Continue reading

Aaron’s Golden Calf

golden calf“Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 

Begin by reading Exodus 32:1-6. The Hebrews demanded that Aaron make gods for them to worship and remarkably Aaron did so. Up until this point of the Exodus narrative Aaron had been as the spoken voice of God to the people of Israel. God would instruct Moses, Moses would share the commands with Aaron, and Aaron would in turn relay all that God had said to the people. They had all witnessed the plagues in Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea, and trembled in fear as smoke and fire descended onto Mount Sinai. They had not yet received the written tablets but the words of the Ten Commandments had been spoken by God in Exodus 20. Before and after the commandments were listed all the congregation of Israel said together “All that you say we will do.” So why after all that would they risk provoking the anger of God by making an idol to worship? Continue reading

Why Pray In Jesus’ Name?

prayer In the company I keep (Baptist churches in the Southeastern United States) it is a common feature of every pray to end with the words “in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.” Whether you invoke the name of Jesus at the beginning or the end of prayer, it’s probably something you do or have heard done even if you are not fully aware of the reasons behind it. We should address our prayers to the heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, but it is important to understand why and not just keep repeating words because we’re supposed to. Continue reading

Book Review: We Will Be Landing Shortly

Hamel, Landing ShortlyThe full title is We Will Be Landing Shortly: Now What? The front cover plainly identifies it as “the spiritual musings of Mike Hamel.” The author is working through some things and is very transparent about that. His thought process is done on paper and at times he offers more questions than answers.

Mike Hamel has been through a lot, and the effects of tragedy have shaken his faith. He hasn’t lost it but after a lifetime of religious faith and pastoral vocation it doesn’t come as easy as it used to. After surviving three bouts with cancer, cancer treatments, a major car accident and seven surgeries, he was prepared to deal with his own mortality. Then suddenly and without warning his wife of 37 years died of a heart attack… on Thanksgiving Day. One section of the book is a collection of journal entries beginning that day and continuing over the next 12 months. Hamel is a writer’s writer and works through his thought process on paper. I sometimes do the same thing but then he publishes his for the world to read! Continue reading

And Then Jesus Said…

Yesterday I suggested (in this post) that the people reading Newsweek magazine were not the same people reading Al Mohler, Daniel Wallace, etc. I drew the conclusion that some people would make a decision without giving Christianity a fair shake. Jesus himself may not have replied in so many words, but here is a very timely Coffee with Jesus comic strip that just cannot wait until the next Happy Monday post:

coffee with Jesus, newsweekClick the image to view full size.

Coffee with Jesus copyright/produced by Radio Free Babylon.

 

The Bible According to Newsweek

Screenshot 2015-01-06 at 10.07.18 AMBy now you have heard about Newsweek magazine and their take on the Bible. Kurt Eichenwald, normally a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, levies a scathing criticism not only of the scriptures but also the evangelical Christians that believe in them. The entire piece is an attack on the faithful, or as Eichenwald seems to see them, anyone stupid enough to still believe. There have been many well-worded responses from the Christian perspective and I will not endeavor to write another here. Southern Baptists may have read Al Mohler’s response, cited many times in this Baptist Press article. I recommend this post by Daniel Wallace, linked to last week on Twitter by Bible Gateway. Wallace offers a very systematic, well thought out and scholarly response to not just the content but to Eichenwald’s methodology.

But here is my take – no matter how many thoughtful responses are written are by Christians, the damage is done.

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Epiphany

wise men, magi, epiphanyIf you’ve ever heard someone say they’ve had an epiphany, what they mean is that they have discovered something unexpected. It happens suddenly, not over a period of time, and the revelation must of be something of great worth. The January 6th Epiphany on the Christian calendar commemorates the day the wise men discovered Jesus. Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding. 

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11

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