Monday, December 29, 2008

For These Tough Times

It's time for another book review. I haven't exactly had a lot of free time to do much reading lately. I put the blame squarely on K.C.

Fortunately, the most recent book I'm reviewing weighs in at under 100 pages. But don't let the low page count fool you, this is a substantial book. Enough buildup. I'm reviewing Max Lucado's "For These Tough Times."

Lucado opens the book with a question from King David:
When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do? (Psalm 11:3 NCV)

The rest of the book focuses on the truth in how David answered his own question. David's response isn't the type of answer that I would expect. Listen to David's declaration:
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord sits on his throne in Heaven (Psalm 11:4 NCV)

"For These Tough Times" isn't so much Max Lucado telling us his thoughts on what people do when the chips are down. It is a reminder of who God is and what He has promised for us.

Lucado writes through 8 chapters:
  • Where is God?

  • God's Great Love

  • Eyes on the Father

  • Good Triumphant

  • The Bitter Taste of Revenge

  • In the Silence, God Speaks

  • In the Storm, We Pray

  • From God's Perspective

  • He uses Scripture from Isaiah to Psalms, to Romans to the Gospels to illustrate how our faith in an almighty, all knowing, all loving God is how people have dealt with tough times through out history. And still do today.

    Lucado closes with a Prayer for Troubled Times. In it he asks God to continue doing the amazing things in our lives that he has always done:
    And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

    You changed Daniel from a captive to a king's counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

    Lucado's small book can be a big reminder of what the Lord has promised us and has done to and through us. I think Lucado has picked the right things to focus us on.

    Tell me what you think in the comments below.

    Per the recent FTC ruling, I am required to tell you that I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in return for publishing my review.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Reviewing Word of Promise Next Generation

    As some of you know, this has been quite a busy two week stretch for me. We welcomed my son, K.C., to the world and I've been playing catch-up ever since... :-)

    But, I had the perfect accompaniment for this time off from work. As part for the Thomas Nelson BRB program, I got the Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament (MP3 Set). I say it is the perfect accompaniment because it is an audio version of the International Children's Bible (ICB) done in a dramaticized way by several "stars" of teen and children's shows.

    "Children's Bible" you ask? Yup. Dramatic reading? Well, more than that really. Is it really good for grown ups? Hmmm, that's a judgment call.

    What I mean is, I was really glad to have a decent audio Bible during the times in the car and during those times when I'm holding my boy and can't turn the pages of a book.

    What I like about this audio Bible is that it incorporates professional actors, a professional score, and appropriate background voices and sound effects. Really well done. It is very easy to stay tuned in to what is going on, especially in the Gospels, with these nice touches.

    The problem, and it is a minor one mostly, is the fact that the actors are kids and teens. I mean, they are very good, but I have a little bit of a hard time buying a 14 year old Jesus. But for the most part, it can be easy to overlook if you focus on what is being said.

    The best part of the whole thing is how much my kids have taken to it. My oldest kids are fully in the Disney Channel generation and can tell most of the actors by hearing their voices. They are drawn into hearing the Scriptures because they can identify with the voices they hear. I like that. A lot.

    The MP3 version is very useful and easy to deal with. The whole New Testament fits on 3 CDs (24 hours of audio) and can easily be imported into iTunes and synched to an iPod or other MP3 player. Each chapter is a different MP3 file and the track info is included so you can see the title with book and chapter. This makes it very easy to get to a specific book and chapter. Specific verses not so much.

    All in all, if you have kids between 5 and 16, this could be a very good purchase if you want an audio Bible for them. For adults, young and old alike, you might try the "regular" Word of Promise New Testament audio Bible.

    Either way, these are good options for getting in God's Word daily/regularly. Do it.

    Per the recent FTC ruling, I am required to tell you that I received a free copy of this title from Thomas Nelson in return for publishing my review.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    Without Wax

    "Huh?" Yeah, that's what I said the first time I visited Pete Wilson's blog. You see, the title of Pete's blog is "Without Wax" and I was confuddled by it.

    Let me back up a moment, you see Pete is the pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. I "met" Pete through Twitter and as a result, I found his aforementioned blog. I read a post that he wrote on the topic of pride and then looked at the comments section. The most interesting thing about that was not the number of people that were commenting on Pete's pride post (say that 10 times fast!) but the fact that Pete was interacting with them. And I don't mean just the perfunctory "Hi there. Thanks for commenting" stuff. I mean real and thoughtful interaction. Pretty cool.

    So that brings me back to "Without Wax", right? For the more dense folks around (like ME!), Pete explains it right on top of the page:
    The word "sincere" comes from the Latin words sine cera which means "without wax". The phrase comes from a practice where people would hide the cracks in cheap pottery with wax in order to pass the pottery off as being worth more than it actually was. Quality products were often stamped with the words sine cera to show that it had not been doctored, that it was in fact authentic.

    Go read Pete's blog and you will see that he strives to be "without wax."

    You will also see that he is interested in propagating the blog as community. Like my twitter-friend John says on his blog:
    [B]logging is about relationships. You see, I’m more interested in using my blogs to build relationships with other people instead of making sure that my own voice can be heard in the blogospheric galaxy.

    And that is why I appreciate folks like Pete and John and am very interested in how social media and web 2.0 and can be, and are being, used in ministry and evangelism for the kingdom of God.

    BTW, check out the Blogroll over on the right side for links to Pete, John, and several others that are without wax on the world wide web.