When the Boots Come Out

I have a friend, a young man, in his first pastorate. He found himself on the wrong end of a gun this week. No, not a literal gun; just one of those smoking guns the Enemy loves to whip out inside the church, on occasion, in order to do harm and mischief. I find it one of the reasons I miss my father-in-law’s prayers so much. He would always, always, always ask that God “keep us from evil, harm, and danger.”

I find it hard to believe that a mature (read “in age and years”, not necessarily in development) Christian, who has been in the church for many years and traveled about a good amount, has never heard of the doctrine of “election.” while it may be that it has been preached or taught, perhaps it was never using those clear terms. That might be understandable. However, I find little sympathy when someone who should know his Scriptures well, doesn’t know about Ephesians chapter 1, or Romans chapter 9, or john chapter 6. To me, that’s inexcusable and to be repented of…not the agreement upon a doctrinal position, but having read the Word so selectively or blindly or naively that you have never read those passages and thought, without guile or predispositions, “hmmmm, I wonder why this is teaching about God and how He works in our lives?” sometimes I fear our sentimentally- and experientially-based churches and Christian teaching is dooming the Body of Christ in this land.

Give me elders and deacons who immerse themselves in the Bible and not The Daily Bread!!!

Ah well, now that that’s off my chest, I’ll get back to song that was in my head:

These boots are made for walkin’
And that’s just what they’ll do;
One of these days these boots
Are gonna walk all over you.

Okay, I’m going to the prayer closet. I think the Lord’s got some walkin’ to do on me.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

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Dug Down Deep – a book review

Dug Down Deep.jpgAbout the Book –

What will you build your life on?

With startling transparency, Joshua Harris shares how we can rediscover the relevance and power of Christian truth. This is book shows a young man who rose quickly to success in the Christian evangelical world before he realized his spirituality lacked a foundation—it rested more on tradition and morality than on an informed knowledge of God.

For the indifferent or spiritually numb, Harris’s humorous and engaging reflections on Christian beliefs show that orthodoxy isn’t just for scholars—it is for anyone who longs to know the living Jesus Christ. As Harris writes, “I’ve come to learn that theology matters. It matters not because we want to impress people, but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. Theology matters because if we get it wrong then our whole life will be wrong.”

Whether you are just exploring Christianity or you are a veteran believer finding yourself overly familiar and cold-hearted, Dug Down Deep will help you rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture. As Harris challenges you to root your faith and feelings about God in the person, work, and words of Jesus, he answers questions such as:

What is God like and how does he speak to me?What difference does it make that Jesus was both human and divine?How does Jesus’s death on the cross pay for my sins?Who is the Holy Spirit and how does he work in my life?

With grace and wisdom, Harris will inspire you to revel in the truth that has captured his own mind and heart. He will ask you to dig deep into a faith so solid you can build your life on it. He will point you to something to believe in again.

About the Author – joshua harris.gif

Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of local churches. A passionate speaker with a gift for making theological truth easy to understand, Joshua is perhaps best known for his runaway bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he wrote at the age of twenty-one. His later books include Boy Meets Girl, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), and Stop Dating the Church. The founder of the NEXT conferences for young adults, Joshua is committed to seeing the gospel transferred to a new generation of Christians. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.

My Review –

It seems like I’m always just a bit too late with getting my ideas out into the real world. If I were going to write a book about theology, a book about the basic essentials of the Christian faith, a book that would be readable my anybody in my congregation – this would be that book. Josh Harris has taken the core beliefs of the faith and put them into a very readable form. I don’t believe he’s “dumbed down” these doctrines. Rather, he’s put them into the language of most of the people of my congregation.

Harris also does a very good job of incorporating these key doctrinal concepts into real life, something for which I am very thankful. When I first began my “trek” into discovering the doctrines of grace, I’m sure I made my theology seem very academic. I’m hoping that over the years, I’ve softened the seminary approach and developed a much more pastoral approach to helping people see that we “do” theology every day of our lives. This is what Josh Harris has done in this book. He takes you along with him as he reminisces about this same process of discovery. Having served as a pastor for several years now, he too has learned that pastoral aspect of making sure what you preach moves into the realm of real living. I especially enjoyed the chapters, “Ripping, Burning and Eating” (a chapter all about the doctrine of Scripture) and “God With A Bellybutton” (solid, plain teaching on the reality of the incarnation).

Out of this entire book, I think the final chapter, “Humble Orthodoxy,” defines what Harris is doing here. He could have written (or been aided by another author) a book that lays out the doctrines of grace from a Calvinistic point of view, thumbed his nose at everyone and said, “There, this is the truth. Take it or leave it.” But that’s not Harris (at least, as I know him through all I’ve read of him and from him). I think Jesus would be pleased with this effort – Josh has captured the truth, presented it well, done it all the while conveying a sense of love that he wants you to experience as you follow Christ, and he’s done it humbly. Well done, Pastor Harris. Well done.

This book may be purchased online at:

Waterbrook Multnomah

or, their parent company,

Random House

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.

Touched By a Vampire – a book review

touchedbyvampire.gifAbout This Book

Touched By a Vampire – Examing Twilight Through a Biblical Lens

People around the world are asking the same question, enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephenie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy–it’s teaching girls about love, sex, and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire is the first book to investigate the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful, and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers, and pop culture enthusiasts. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.

About the Authorjones_beth_felker.jpg

Beth Felker Jones is assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. She is the author of The Marks of His Wounds: Gender Politics and Bodily Resurrection, as well as numerous articles and reviews. Beth is a mother and a pastor’s wife.

My Review

I have a teenaged daughter, who just about a year ago, was causing me, as her father, quite a bit of consternation because her best friend was reading the Twilight books, talking about the Twilight books, dreaming about the Twilight books, influencing Elizabeth to read the Twilight books and Elizabeth just couldn’t understand why I forbade her to read them (I had already read a considerable number of reviews of the books, both in a positive light and a negative light – funny, now that I think back upon it, most of the honest & fair critiques that ended up saying “Don’t read this book” were written by the Christians I love & respect).

With Beth Felker Jones’ new book, I’ve told my daughter (who long ago “cooled her heels” about wanting to read the books), “If you want to read Twilight or even see the movies, you have to read this book first.” And she did… and she hasn’t. She did read Touched By a Vampire and, at the present time, she no longer has an interest in reading Twilight.

I think Ms. Jones has done many Christian parents a great service in providing this book. It will help provide a guide for developing and using biblical discernment in how we examine a phenomenon such as Twilight. Teenagers getting caught up in a frenzy over a fad that will pass all too quickly (not quickly enough in this blogger’s opinion, but that’s another post) is nothing new. Christian teens getting caught up in a worldly fad such as Twilight is sadly, nothing new either. Christian parents of those teens, wondering what to do, wringing their hands in anxiety- and fear-driven befuddlement is woefully nothing new, yet again. Touched will arm parents with Scripture, not to beat their kids over the head with, but in order to engage their hearts and minds, causing them to think of their own fantasies in the light of Christ & His cross.

There is a discussion guide provided with the book. The questions are thought-provoking. I think they will give teens and their parents something to think long and hard about. Without having read Twilight yet having read this book, my teen-aged daughter and I had an excellent, lengthy talk about relationships, fads and fashion trends, trying to think Christianly and father-daughter stuff. It was great. There is a leader’s guide .pdf available for download here. There is also a movie watching guide provided here as well.

I can highly commend this book to parents and teens alike. Open up your Bible and see wisdom work.

The book may be purchased from WaterBrook Multnomah or from RandomHouse. You may read an excerpt (chapter one) here.

This book was provided by WaterBrookMultnomah free of charge for my reading and reviewing.