Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
"Women don't understand men's spiritual needs but they want to and desperately need to know what they can do (and should not do) to keep their men engaged at church. In the follow-up to his bestselling Why Men Hate Going to Church, author David Murrow speaks directly to women to help them understand the real reasons men resist Christianity. He offers a way of talking about faith that intrigues men instead of repels them and then challenges them to bring more risk and adventure to their own walk with the Lord."
Murrow writes with humour and facts. He provides numerous studies on the reasons men do not like going to church, why they aren't the leader in the home spiritually etc. As I was reading I did think he was writing about my husband! It gave me great insight into what men think, and made me really think and question why we do church the way we do and how things have changed over the years and the effect that is having not only on the men, but women and children too.
Murrow provides advice, suggestions, and encouragement for women whose husbands don't want to go along to church. It would be a great resource for any pastor or leader in a church. I must add this is about the typical male, not the type of male who enjoys studying and talking about their feelings. It's the type of male who doesn't like to hug other males, his prayers are "God bless my kids," and who doesn't want to sing "Jesus, lover of my soul."
Topics covered are things such as how we teach Sunday School, ways to encourage a man to be a leader, music in church, prayer in church, programmes, and outreach in church and doctrine.
I would recommend this book or his other one for anyone who is in church ministry and for women who want to support the men in their lives.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Seventeen-year-old Zenovia Sinclair has spent her life caring for her schizophrenic mother and trying to get by in her tough neighbourhood. When the Brethren of the Sacrifice Church come knocking on their door offering them acceptance, they jump at the chance.
As Zenovia and her mother find stability with the Brethren, she finds herself caught up with thoughts of Tristan, a fervent young member who acts like he wants her, Jason, Tristan's older brother who is more into her than he pretends, and Emil who is associated with the Brethren but is not allowed to be a part of it.
But Zenovia soon finds out that life in the Brethren is not what it is made out to be. She finds herself at odds with them, and loses out not just on being a part of the community but her relationships with Tristan, Jason and Emil. Can Zenovia put the pieces of her life back together and find her way back to God? And will she ever be able to mend her relationships? It's a rough road, but Zenovia discovers that with God's guidance she can find her way to forgiveness and back to love.
In the Midst of it All is a powerful book about the forgiveness and grace of God. Right from the start you are hooked on Zenovia's story. It is a realistic portrayal of how man can corrupt God's Word and the church, and how people can follow such men. As well, the book addresses the difficulties faced by people who have left or been made to leave such a group. But the most important thing the book shows is that with faith, you don't have to let your past dictate your future.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Much controversy has surrounded the book, in that many people look upon it as a criticism of the church and fear that this book will contribute to a mass exodus from the church. This is not the aim of the authors, rather the book is an opportunity for readers to understand the history of church practices and to ensure that we are hearing the Word of God.
Topics such as this in Christianity can often turn into a "fire and brimstone" sort of preaching. We are made to feel poorly if we find that we have been led down the wrong path. But that is not the case when it comes to Pagan Christianity? The book challenges you to think about the ways in which you practice your faith. It asks you to decide if the way in which you worship is hindering your encounters with God. It doesn't judge you for what you do or what you will do.
The church has gone through three major historical periods of change - the era of Constantine, the Protestant Reformation and the Revivalist period of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During these times the surrounding culture had a remarkable influence on church practice. The book looks at the effect these periods had on:
*the church building
*the order of worship
*dressing for church
*tithing and clergy salaries
*baptism and the Lord's Supper
*education of the clergy
It is truly amazing to discover how much things have changed from the way the first century churches practiced their faith. Does this mean that we are now participating in a pagan faith? Certainly not. But as readers we are challenged to ask ourselves if such things are appropriate and to consider if we should continue in this way.
Pagan Christianity? has many outstanding features. It is thoroughly researched with a wealth of footnotes for further study. Each chapter ends with real questions posed to the authors following the first release of the book. In doing this, they take on the critics of the book and further defend their assertions. And never does it judge the reader.
Begin this book with an open mind and you will truly be challenged in your thinking. As the authors say on page 250, "If you are a disciple of the Revolutionary from Nazareth...the radical Messiah who lays His axe to the root...you must eventually ask a specific question. It is the same question that was asked of our Lord's disciples while He walked this earth. That question is: 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?' (Matthew 15:2)"
I highly recommend that all Christians read this book. Not to start a revolution or to tell them that they are wrong in what they are doing, but so that each Christian can make an educated decision when it comes to the practice of their faith and so that they can be confident that they stand in truth. Whatever your decision at the end of this book, you will definitely be enlightened on the history of the church.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Shayne Moore was your typical full-time suburban mom, living in an insular world of soccer practices, bake sales, and carpools. Until one day she attended a talk by Bono of U2 and learned about the devastation of poverty and HIV/AIDS around the world. With her eyes opened she knew she couldn't stay silent about this global epidemic and she became involved in the local fight. Before she knew it she was travelling the world with the organization ONE, meeting rock stars and world leaders, and doing her part to change the world.
Global Soccer Mom is the story of Shayne's journey but moreso is a call to action for women and men of all walks of life to find a cause they are passionate about, and to go out and make a difference in the world. Her story shows that no person is too small to make a difference and no matter how busy your life, there is always room for getting involved in a worthy cause.
As Shayne chronicles her journey from full time soccer mom to world-travelling global advocate, every reader will become inspired by her motives and determination and look within their own lives to see what changes they can make. As a mother of a 2 year old and a 4 year old I myself was very inspired by this book. I often find myself wanting to get out and get involved in this type of work, but I often feel that I don't have the means or time to do so. Shayne Moore has proven me wrong.
It doesn't matter what your place in life is, you don't need to be rich and powerful to make a difference in this world. God has called all of us to do what we can and to care for others. Global Soccer Mom will help you get on the road to living a life of advocacy and charity.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
As President of World Vision US, Richard Stearns has seen first hand the unimaginable poverty and sickness that faces millions of people around the world. And as a Christian he has found himself looking into the eyes of these people and asking the question "What does God expect of us?"
In the book The Hole in Our Gospel Stearns sets out to answer this question. Through personal anecdotes and Scripture, he attempts to show other Christians that we are lacking in an important part of Jesus' teaching - helping the poor. If people worldwide could do what they are truly capable of, then a lot of the suffering around the world could be ended.
This is a very inspiring book for both Christians and non-Christians. In addition to his own personal story, Stearns shares the stories of people involved in all aspects of World Vision, donors and recipients alike, who have made a difference in our world. At times it may seem like the problems are too large for one person, but if everyone comes together and does what they can, then a big change could take place.
One thing that I appreciated about the book is that it's not just a way to get the reader to donate to World Vision. It's not a fundraising appeal. It's about looking at our world and the suffering that exists and seeing what role we can play in ending that. As well, while the message can seem harsh and judgmental at times, it's not. We can do better than we are doing right now and we owe it to others to do better.
This is a book that should be read by everyone. The stories will move you to think about what you can do in your own life. Though it is heavy on Scripture and the teachings of Jesus, I think non-Christians will still enjoy the book and find inspiration in it. Christians will be motivated to look at their lives and ask themselves the question "what does God expect of me?" I'm sure that many of us will be surprised at the answer when we realize what we are called to do and the difference that we can really make in this world.