Saturday, February 17, 2007

Book Reports

So I've considered also using this blog for writing book reports because I eat books for breakfast. Seriously. I just finished eating "A Hunger for God" and it's only 11am. (I just made a funny, ha)

So this past week I read "Through Painted Deserts" by Donald Miller, "3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare" by Clinton E. Arnold, "The Shaping of Things to Come" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, "The New Friars" by Scott A. Bessenecker, and "A Hunger for God" by John Piper.

I promise that's more than I typically read, but it made me feel productive to write them all out.

Miller's book was about his journey in a VW van from Houston, TX to Cascade Mountains in Oregon. He has a traveling companion, the hippie from Oregon who actually owns the van and keeps suggesting that Miller is on a spiritual pilgrimage. This is the third Miller book I've read (haven't read "To Own a Dragon" yet) and it wasn't as good as the others possibly because it reflects his youth and earlier stages of the spiritual journey. However, I love all things dealing with road trips and hippies and I believe life is a journey and the metaphor here cannot be ignored.

Arnolds book is an overview of evangelical understanding (or lack thereof) of spiritual warfare. The Three questions are "What is Spiritual Warfare?" "Can a Christian be Demon-Possessed?" and "Are We Called to Engage Territorial Spirits?" If you have never taken seriously the claim that we are not in a war of flesh and blood then you need to look into the matter. I've been reading several books on the issue (because I'm in a spiritual warfare class) and several are written or edited by one of my professors, Scott Moreau, the Chair of the ICS dept. at Wheaton. He has a quote on the back cover of this book, here's what he says about reading it. "This work integrates readability, through biblicism, and awareness of contemporary trends....I place it at the top of the 'must read' list for anyone grappling with these issues."

Frost and Hirsch's book is about the needed 'evolution' of the church. Unfortunately too many of our churches haven't changed in the last 50-100 years (or more). Why is this bad? Well culture has evolved (for better or worse) and our churches are still 'preaching' to those in their 60 and above (or even a generation that had passed on). All the while many are deciding that church just isn't relevant any more and looking elsewhere for spirituality. We now live in a post-christian pluralistic culture and churches needed to re-invent themselves aware of culture and without altering the gospel message. So it's a pretty good book that addresses these hot issues. If you are passionate about these things like I am then maybe you will enjoy the book. My dad enjoyed it more than I did. I'm unfortunately about fed up with it all whereas he wants to the current church model to be redeemed. I think he has the right approach. Anyway, read the book tell me what you think. We started a blog for this one even. I don't remember what it's called but I'll look it up and link it to my site.

Bessenecker's book was my favorite in this stack because it addressed an order of Christians who have left their life of luxury to follow Jesus, be in Jesus midst, be Jesus, and help Jesus. What? Have you ever been in the presence of a homeless person and rather than seeing that person seen Jesus? This book describes ministry not from a position of power but of serving along side the world's poor. This goes along with my interest in New Monasticism but here is a global version of it that brought me to tears at times with the stories of ordinary men and women telling the stories of extraordinary people who live in some of the most inhospitable corners of this world. READ IT, it may just change your life and then I'll have a teammate!!!

Piper writes in a way that's biblical and easy to follow. How about that? The topic is fasting. The first half is about internal issues the second is about external/outward. So there is a whole chapter devoted to Isaiah 58. I love Isaiah. I'm reading this one for a research paper due Thursday on how fasting should be used in spiritual warfare and so far I don't think there is a connection. But if you are in the habit of fasting or would like to understand it's intended purpose along with the history of fasting this has been a very enlightening book.

So that's all. More books to read now for the research paper(s). Enjoy and share what you've been reading with me.

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