Archive for December, 2008

Christmas in Memphis


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Five Books to Read in 2009


1. The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller. Newsweek called renowned minister Timothy Keller “a C. S. Lewis for the twenty-first century” in a feature on his first book, The Reason for God. In that book, he offered a rational explanation of why we should believe in God. Now, in The Prodigal God, he uses one of the best-known Christian parables to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation. Taking his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity, Keller uncovers the essential message of Jesus, locked inside his most familiar parable. Within that parable Jesus reveals God’s prodigal grace toward both the irreligious and the moralistic. This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.  Buy the book by clicking here.

2. Death By Love, by Mark Driscoll.Real people. Real sin. Transformed lives. A compilation of heartfelt letters written from a pastor to his people that explains Jesus’ work on the cross.

Death by Love is a unique book on the cross of Jesus Christ. While many books debate the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, what is often lost are the real-life implications of Jesus’ death on the cross for those who have sinned and have been sinned against. Written in the form of pastoral letters, Death by Love outlines the twelve primary effects of Jesus’ death on the cross and connects each to the life of a different individual. Driscoll, one of America’s most influential pastors, and Breshears, a respected theologian, help readers understand, appreciate, and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross in a way that will transform their lives. Both deeply theological and intensely practical, this book shows how everyone can find hope through the death of Jesus Christ. Buy the book by clicking here.

3. A Scandalous Freedom, by Steve Brown. Christians do not trust freedom. As author Steve Brown explains in this brave new book, they prefer the security of rules and self-imposed boundaries, which they tend to inflict on other Christians. Brown asserts that real freedom means the freedom to be wrong as well as right. Christianity often calls us to live beyond the boundaries, bolstered by the assurance that we cannot fall beyond God’s love. Freedom is dangerous, but the alternative is worse — boxing ourselves up where we cannot celebrate our unique gifts and express our joy in Christ. Each of the book’s eleven chapters explores a common pharisaic, freedom-stifling tendency, then opens the door to the fresh air of a remedial liberty. A reader’s delight, A Scandalous Freedom sometimes shocks with challenges to prevailing wisdom, but it follows up with compelling validations of our need to celebrate real, unstinted freedom in Christ. Buy the book by clicking here.

4. You Can Change, by Tim Chester. “Many books are written by experts. This book isn’t one of them,” admits Tim Chester. “It was written out of my own struggle to change. My long battle with particular issues set me searching the Bible as well as writings from the past. This book shares the amazing truths I discovered that now give me hope. For years I wondered if I’d ever overcome certain sins. And while I can’t claim to have conquered sin – for no one ever can do – here are discoveries that have led to change in my life and in the lives of others.” You may be: a new Christian, struggling to change the habits of your former way of life
an older Christian, feeling you’ve plateaued: you grew quickly when you first believed but now your Christian life is much of a muchness or a Christian who’s fallen into sin in a big way, wondering how you’ll ever get back on track. Other books describe how we should live, but this book outlines how we can change. It’s about hope: the hope we have in Jesus, hope for forgiveness, and hope for real and lasting change. God promises liberating grace and transforming power to his people. Buy the book by clicking here.

5. A Quest for More, by Paul David Tripp. Paul David Tripp expertly traverses the deepest recesses of the human heart and compassionately invites fellow Christian travelers to journey with him into God s bigger kingdom. The author promises readers that they will be encouraged, excited, and motivated by hope as they learn how to set aside their little kingdom attachments which can expertly masquerade within the church as Christian activism, legalism, emotionalism, formalism, creedalism, and externalism; in favor of God s expansive and soul-freeing eternal quest. Tripp demonstrates though sound biblical principles how humanity is made by God to transcend far beyond the mere physical realm and is likewise created to be glory junkies; those whose visionary lives are governed by God s grand purposes rather than existing only within their narrow self-interested confines. Writes the author, It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an above and more being. You were made to be transcendent. Tripp then shows Christians how to transcend through daily, moment-by-moment, practical methodology that transforms individuals into the image of Christ. It is within this purpose-driven framework, this Quest for More, that Paul Tripp compels believers to see beyond the worldly deception of personal achievement, success, materialism, in order to break free from this ungodly fulfillment that is too easily satisfied with a mediocre walk with Christ. Instead the author invites committed sojourners to a life characterized by an unyielding passion that pursues God simply for the pleasure of His glorious company and in the process, affect eternal change in a hurting, hopeless world. Buy the book by clicking here.

Honorable Mention: Culture Making by Andy Crouch.It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture. Andy Crouch unleashes a stirring manifesto calling Christians to be culture makers. For too long, Christians have had an insufficient view of culture and have waged misguided “culture wars.” But we must reclaim the cultural mandate to be the creative cultivators that God designed us to be. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in the good work of culture making. Crouch unpacks the complexities of how culture works and gives us tools for cultivating and creating culture. He navigates the dynamics of cultural change and probes the role and efficacy of our various cultural gestures and postures. Keen biblical exposition demonstrates that creating culture is central to the whole scriptural narrative, the ministry of Jesus and the call to the church. He guards against naive assumptions about “changing the world,” but points us to hopeful examples from church history and contemporary society of how culture is made and shaped. Ultimately, our culture making is done in partnership with God’s own making and transforming of culture.
A model of his premise, this landmark book is sure to be a rallying cry for a new generation of culturally creative Christians. Discover your calling and join the culture makers. Buy the book by clicking here.

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Man on Wire

In yesterday’s sermon, I spoke of a film called “Man on Wire”. It is the true story of a man from France who is a wire walker and in 1974, he and his friends rigged a wire on top of the World Trade Center and he walked between the Twin Towers. This film has been ranked #1 by many film critics, including one of the guys from the Filmspotting podcast that I listen to every week. So, check out the trailer below and put it in your Q.

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The Dangers of a 50/50 Gospel

Read this post from Jonathan Dodson, a church planter in Austin, TX, on the dangers of a 50/50 gospel.

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I’m Liking Some Paul David Tripp

I read a book a few years ago called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” and I don’t think I was mature enough to understand all that I was reading. Now that my goatee is turning gray, I think I am ready to read the author of that book, Paul David Tripp. I just ordered his latest called, “Quest for More–Living for Something Bigger Than You.”

Here is a brief video about the book:

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Facebook and the Gospel

2008 has been the year for Facebook for me. What a great tool to connect with friends, both old and new. Facebook has also added to the fact that I need community in my life. Some may argue that an online community is not a real community, however, I have had more conversations with folks via Facebook than I do throughout a normal work week. If you haven’t signed up for Facebook, do it now, by clicking here. Once you’ve signed up, type my name in the search field and I’ll accept your friend request. Read Justin Buzzard’s insightful article on the intersection of Facebook with the Gospel.

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I Need a Little “Band Aid”

I was 14 years old when this song came out. Some of my favorite artists are in this video (especially Banarama). Some of these guys in this video have actually served some jail time, I think. Good song, though.

And here is the remake of the same song 20 years later:

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