Friday, December 31, 2010

Unreached Peoples - Do You Know The Real Deal?

2010 Year in Review: An Interview with Rose & Grace

Dad: 2010 is almost over. We only have one hour and 45 minutes before 2011 arrives. Do you girls think you will be able to stay awake to ring in the new year?
Grace: Yes. 
Rose: Well, I'm not really sure.
Dad: Grace, do you know what it means to ring in the new year? 
Grace: It's almost the new year. That's what it means. Does it mean that daddy? Does it really? Daddy, is it? Is it daddy? Daddy!
Dad: Yes, you are right Grace. To ring in the new year means to celebrate the beginning of the new year at the stroke of midnight. Rose, what are some things that you liked that occurred during 2010?  
Rose: What does occurred mean?
Dad: I'm sorry. When something occurs, that just means that something has happened.
Rose: Oh. Well, friends came over for dinner, and I really liked that. And the whole morning we went bowling, and we had lunch at the bowling place. I really liked that too.
Dad: Now you understand that I'm asking about the entire year and not just about today, right?
Rose: Oh okay. I'll tell the whole world about it. This Christmas was fun because I got this new game called Cadoo and our family played it once, and I really liked it. You can draw and like, uh, play with some play-doh that came with it, but ours didn't have it so mom made it.
Dad: What else did you like about 2010?
Rose: I also liked on December 3rd we had a fun play that my music teacher directed. I think she got it from a book called The Plane Truth.
Dad: Now you know that you are only telling me about events that occurred in December, right?
Rose: Right, I know. But I'm still trying to think about other events like Easter and stuff like that. But I have my mind on like other years like 2008 or 7. Well, this Easter we watched other kids get baptized and one of the kids was my friend Maya.
Dad: That was special to see your friends get baptized, huh?
Rose: Yeah, that was kind of interesting. When Maya made her speech she added a song to go with it. The speech is how you became a Christian. 
Dad: We need to talk about that with you soon. It is important to be able to share your testimony with others.
Rose: I really do, but I don't know what to say in my speech so we might need to talk about it like you said.
Dad: No worries. We'll do this very soon.
Rose: Okay. 
Dad: Grace, what did you think about 2010? What did you like that occurred this year?
Grace: On Christmas, we got to open presents on Jesus' birthday.
Dad: That was cool. What else did you like about this year?
Grace: Going to school. I'm still going to school, but on January I'm going to school for a couple of days because I'm going to America. 
Dad: That will be nice, huh?
Grace: Yeah.
Dad: Do you girls know what I liked about 2010?
Grace: No.
Rose: What did you like? 
Grace: What did you like dad? What is it?
Dad: Well there were many things that God did in 2010 that I liked, but one thing that comes to mind is that Rose was officially adopted into our family.
Rose: Yay.
Dad: I think we'll stop this interview. Is that okay?
Rose and Grace: Yeah.
Dad: I love you girls.
Grace: I love you too.
Rose: Me too.
Dad: That's nice.

Playin' video games on the Mac

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Reduction of Melanin

Last night Grace and I read a children's science book about our bodies, and this morning I was explaining to Rose and Grace how my body is unable to do the things that it once could years ago. My girls have a hard time believing this about their daddy, but I am no longer able to sprint as fast or lift as much weight as I once could. In addition to that, I take a lot more to time recover from pickup soccer games and workouts in the gym.

All this talk about how God made our bodies led to a discussion of how some of my body hair is now white. Rose and Grace found it amusing to watch me pluck a couple of white hairs from my head as well as one from my soul patch. The graying of my hair does not bother me, however, I do find it a little amusing that this is occurring while I still get zits. Lookin' forward to that glorified body in Heaven!

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life." Proverbs 16:31

Reviewing Brian "Head" Welch's Washed By Blood: Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ

I was surprised to be gifted with Washed By Blood: Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ for Christmas by a family friend. Brian "Head" Welch is the former lead guitarist for Korn, an American heavy metal band that has won many awards, earned millions of dollars, and has had a huge following for more than a decade now. It is my understanding that the book is quite similar to Welch's first book and New York Times bestseller, Save Me From Myself. Apparently, the difference between the books is the version I have is written for teenagers so it does not contain the profanity and graphic details that Head's bestseller possesses. Washed By Blood also contains study questions at the end of each chapter, unlike Head's first book.

When I learned about Head's profession of faith a few years ago, I shared it with my brother who was once a fan of Korn. Although Washed By Blood is written for younger audiences, Head talks about his battles with anger, depression, drugs, suicide, and other serious topics. Part One (chapters 1-10) is called Life Without God, and Part Two is called God Finds Me (chapters 11-19). Part One and Two are quite different in that if you are not a Christian, portions of Part Two might seem a little odd to you. I totally respect Head's authenticity, humility, desire to be a good father, and hunger to grow in his relationship with Christ, but it should be noted that some of Welch's theology (prophetic dreams, prayer language, visions from Heaven) is very unorthodox. His association with controversial evangelists such as Todd Bentley and Kim Clement have undoubtedly influenced him. Despite this, I love hearing testimonies, and I am sure God will continue to use Head and his books to make an eternal impact on the lives of others.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Some Of My 2011 Commitments

As the year comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the challenges and joys of 2010. I have also been thinking about what I believe God wants me to work towards in the new year. A number of thoughts come to mind, but there are three specific goals I am setting out to accomplish in 2011. They are...

1. Recommit Myself To A Fasting Plan - For a number of years, I refrained from eating for at least 24 hours once a month. Unfortunately much of the time I spent fasting was not spent in the best of ways. I felt led to fast so I could grow in my relationship with the Lord, but during many of my fasts, I did not truly focus on the Lord. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I have been neglecting that is going to be brought back in my life, but this time I plan to have the proper perspective in mind. Read Matthew 6:16-18.

2. Focus On The Book of Romans - Martin Luther called the Book of Romans the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel. I plan on taking a class on this profound book in the near future, but before I do so, I am going to read a couple of books that will bring me a greater understanding of what Paul wrote. I will also work on memorizing more portions of this book. Although I have memorized many verses over the years (and forgotten many verses over the years), I need to be more diligent in memorizing larger portions of Scripture. No excuses.

3. Taking My Girls On At Least One Daddy Date A Month - Occasionally I take one or both of my girls out on daddy dates. We usually go out to eat at a fun restaurant. We might go to a restaurant that has a playground or one that prepares the food in front of you. We have a good time enjoying the meals and talking about life. However, our dates have been sporadic and could be better if they were planned out. So that is what I am going to do. My girls are already looking forward to January's date: White Castle. Oh yeah - it's what you crave.

So what commitments do you plan on making in the New Year? Below are some links that can help you think about New Year's Resolutions and how to go about them.

Celebrating Rose's 4th Gotcha Day at Pizza Hill

Make Plans Not Resolutions: Reflections On Proverbs 16 by Jeremy Carr

Ready For The New Year?  by T.M. Moore

Resolutions  by Tim Challies

Why Most People Don't Keep Their New Year's Resolutions  by Matt Perman

Reviewing Elizabeth George's God's Wisdom for Little Girls: Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31

We purchased God's Wisdom for Little Girls for Grace as a Christmas gift and to my delight, she has become a fan of it. Although Rose has not shown interest in the book, I plan on reading it to her soon. Much can be taught from the book, and children need these reminders. God's Wisdom for Little Girls is written for young girls and focuses on the qualities and traits found in Proverbs 31:10-31. After some opening rhymes, every other page says in a large and bold font, "God's Little Girl Is...". The qualities and traits highlighted are priceless, kind, eager, helpful, cheerful, busy, hearty, diligent, caring, prepared, creative, prayerful, artistic, confident, gracious, careful, thoughtful, God's child, and cherished. I'm not a big fan of busy, but I understand what the author was intending. Below each quality or trait is a cute little rhyme that focuses on the actions that make up the daily life of a little girl. Below the rhyme is a verse or two from Proverbs 31. The paintings by artist Judy Luenebrink are delightful. On the next-to-last page, you can place the picture of your child. The last page has a mini-glossary and matches words to verses in Proverbs 31. I do wish that the girls in the story came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but it is still a nice book nonetheless. I definitely see myself reading and discussing this book with my girls from time to time.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why Christmas?

A Gotcha Day Interview with Rose and Grace (Part II)

DAD: So Rose, how do you feel about your Gotcha Day?
ROSE: I feel good about my Gotcha Day.
DAD: Please tell the world what we did today.
ROSE: For lunch, we went to Lotteria.
DAD: Okay, time-out. There are lots of people who don't know what Lotteria is.
ROSE: Lotteria is in the E-Mart complex, and E-Mart is in Tianjin, China. It is close to Ao-Cheng, an apartment complex. Your turn.
DAD: You still haven't told people what Lotteria is. :-) You've only told people where Lotteria is. :-)
ROSE: Lotteria is a restaurant which has a small playground in it. And our family kind of likes it - especially Grace, my little sister.
DAD: I like it a lot. Mom, Do you like Lotteria? What do think about Lotteria?
MOM: Yes, I like it too. It's not my favorite in the whole world, but I like it.
DAD: Grace, can you tell us more about what kind of restaurant Lotteria is? 
GRACE: It's a nice restaurant.
DAD: Anything else? What kind of food do they serve?
GRACE: Burgers and, um, cheese sticks.
DAD: Rose, what did we do after eating lunch at Lotteria?
ROSE: We went to a fun game place. There are lots of games there.
DAD: Grace, what kind of games did you play?
GRACE: A drum game. Um, a motorcycle game. 
DAD: Rose, can you remember any other games we played?
ROSE: I tried to get a little stuffed animal, but it was really hard so I didn't get it. And we played a little basketball game. It was really fun.
DAD: Grace, where did we go after playing games at the arcade?
GRACE: We went to Pizza Hut and got a dessert. It was good.
DAD: Pizza Hut? Are you sure? 
DAD: It was actually Pizza Hill.
GRACE: Oh, Hill.
DAD: What did you get there Rose?
ROSE: I got a Cookie Blast. It was really ice cream.
DAD: It's called a milkshake Rose.
DAD: Grace, what did you get?
GRACE: I got different kinds of ice cream in my special bowl.
DAD: Grace, isn't ice cream too cold to eat in the winter?
GRACE: Well, I like to eat ice cream.
DAD: Do you remember what daddy and mommy had? 
GRACE: Coffee.
DAD: Yup. So Rose, how do you rate your Gotcha Day?
ROSE: What does that mean daddy?
DAD: Would you give your Gotcha Day an A, B, C, D, or F?
ROSE: I would give it an A.
DAD: Really? You really enjoyed your Gotcha Day?
ROSE: Most of it I did.
DAD: What did you not like?
ROSE: I didn't like when the motorcycle was broken in my game.
DAD: Yeah, that stunk. Grace, did you enjoy Rose's Gotcha Day?
GRACE: Yes.  Especially when I got to eat, um, cheese sticks.
DAD: Yeah, cheese sticks rock. Grace, aren't you glad that God brought Rose into our family?
DAD: Isn't it super cool to have a big sis?
GRACE: Yes. I can play with her.
DAD: Yeah, God is good.
ROSE: God is good! 
GRACE: Yeah!
MOM: All the time.

Hunkering down on a mean burger

Mommy and Rose

Grace enjoyin' some ice cream at Pizza Hill

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Top Books of 2010 According to...

Barnes & Noble

The Daily Beast

Ligonier Ministries

National Public Radio

The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

I have read most of these books that are on our bookshelf. I am a big Piper fan.

A Gotcha Day Interview with Rose (Part 1)

DAD: Today is your Gotcha Day Rose. Why don't you tell the world what Gotcha Day is.
ROSE: Gotcha Day is all about when you got me from the orphanage.
DAD: What do you think about Gotcha Day?
ROSE: I think Gotcha Day is a great day because God put me in this family.
DAD: I think it's super great. What would you like to do on your Gotcha Day?
ROSE: Anything would be fine with me.
DAD: Would you like a bunch of worms?
DAD: But you said anything would be fine with you (We look at each other and smile.).
ROSE: Well, I wouldn't eat gross things or do gross things on my Gotcha Day or on any other day.
DAD: There are many cultures that do not describe eating worms as a gross thing. In fact there are people right now eating worms and enjoying it.
ROSE: Well, I wouldn't want to eat worms and enjoy it. I would want to go to a restaurant or mom cook for us...yummy food for us. 
DAD: What is mom cooking for you today?
ROSE: For breakfast, mom is cooking pancakes for us.
DAD: Yum. Where would you like to go for lunch or dinner?
ROSE: Probably Brazilian Barbeque.
DAD: Really? But mom does not like that food very much. What about the new Pizza Hut around the corner?
ROSE: No thanks.
DAD: Really? So where do you want to go? 
ROSE: I would want to go to a place our whole family likes.
DAD: But we all like Pizza Hut, and we have never been to the new one in our neighborhood. So where do you want to go? 
ROSE: Maybe the new place the Geswein family showed me...near Papa John' the building Papa John's the building where Coldstone Creamery is. 
DAD: But that place is far. The traffic will be bad. It will take a long time to get there. There are a lot of yummy options closer. What restaurant are you talking about? ROSE: It's a Hong Kong restaurant. And the dish I got there was really yummy so I want to go there again.
DAD: Hong Kong restaurant (with a puzzled face)? Really? Is this a Dim Sum restaurant? You really want to go there for your Gotcha Day (with a puzzled face)? 
ROSE: Really.
DAD: But it's far away and will take a long time to get there. Aren't there a bunch of closer restaurants that are just as yummy if not yummier?  
ROSE: Okay, we can choose a different restaurant. 
DAD: Let's talk more about this after breakfast.

It's Not About Santa

Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most by Matt B. Redmond

Disturbing Christmas  by C.J. Mahaney

Schulz Wanted Bible in Charlie Brown Christmas by Mark Moring

Six Ways Satan Is Stealing Christmas  by John MacArthur

Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering  by Donald S. Whitney

Why is X Used when it Replaces Christ in Christmas? by R.C. Sproul

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Feces Infographic

This morning a friend e-mailed me this nifty fact sheet. I never knew how amazing caterpillars, rabbits, and elephants are. I had three cups of coffee today, but none of which was civet coffee. However, I bought a bag of civet coffee beans on a trip to Vietnam a few years ago. Good stuff.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reviewing Kathryn O'Brien's I'd Be Your Princess

 In Kathryn O'Brien's I'd Be Your Princess, a little girl imagines to be a princess and her father plays along and praises her for her Godly Character. With the exception of the first page, Bible verses are found on every page. There are eight verses from the New Testament and six are from the Old Testament. The colorful illustrations are outstanding. I like how the dad has dark hair, but the girl has blond hair. The people found in the drawings come from all walks of life - different professions, attire, ethnic backgrounds, etc. Unfortunately, Jesus is never mentioned in this 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award Winner, and only one verse is from the Gospels. I find that quite disappointing so I emphasize to Rose and Grace (ages 8 and 5) that in order to be humble, loving, generous, and all the things the Bible states we should be, Jesus needs to be our Lord and Savior.

Coffee and Cavities

Earlier today I was excited to learn that the coffee grinder I ordered 2 days ago arrived at our home safe and sound. Unfortunately late this afternoon the dentist told me I had four cavities and a cracked filling. Instead of getting upset, I choose to enjoy a hot cup of joe with my new teeth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Messages 2010

Abraham Lincoln Offers Thanksgiving to God by Randy Alcorn

What are your thoughts on celebrating God during the Thanksgiving holiday? by John MacArthur

Why Thanksgiving Matters by Albert Mohler

Thanksgiving  by R.C. Sproul

Floating Water Vapor

During my trip to Malaysia earlier this month, I was captivated by the blue skies and the amazing array of clouds. Blue skies are not common in Tianjin, and clouds like these simply can't be seen in these neck of the woods.

Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?           Job 37:16

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saving His Brother's Life

Ryan Arnold saved his brother Chad's life by donating part of his liver - but died doing it


                                                                                                                                                            By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16

Bathroom Signs

Several days ago I had the opportunity to visit another international school, and I was very impressed with their facility. I especially liked their creative signs outside of their bathrooms. This school not only does a wonderful job of integrating art, English, health, math, science, and social studies into dynamic lessons in the classrooms, but they are even reaching the students during the passing periods. Signs like these need to be posted at every bathroom in the world!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reviewing Kenneth O Gangel's Called To Teach

Dr. Gangel was one of the most significant Christian educators in the last century. A leader in Christian education for over forty years, he wrote or edited nearly sixty books. He strongly believed that studying God and His Word are the foundations of Christian education. Dr. Gangel stated, "If there is no integration of faith and learning, there is no Christian education." This was a man that was driven by the gospel and truly lived out his philosophy of education.

In Dr. Gangel's 186-page book, Called To Teach, he provides a compilation of 18 keynote addresses that he delivered from 1978 to 1995 at ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) conventions. Although the book covers some of the practical aspects of teaching, Called To Teach focuses more on the what and why of Christian teaching. The book provides a great deal of Scripture and highlights important events in the history of ACSI. I did not always agree with Dr. Gangel's interpretation of the Bible and felt he could have quoted more theologically sound people, but I still believe Called To Teach can help teachers teach Biblically. It is of the utmost importance that teachers teach Biblically integrated units, but many teachers simply do not understand how to do this. There are many teachers who believe adding a Bible verse to a lesson is Biblical integration. Dr. Gangel shows us that this is not Biblical integration.

Another issue related to improving instruction is that educators often forget that all teachers, not just Bible teachers, are to share the message of Jesus with others. However, Biblical teaching must permeate everything. God has called teachers to be different. Dr. Gangel reminds us that teachers are to be His teachers in His school system in His world in preparation for the coming of His Son.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."                Philippians 3:14 (English Standard Version).

Reviewing Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth

Nancy Pearcey, former scholar for worldview studies at Philadelphia Biblical University's Center for University Studies, wrote Total Truth in 2004. The 512-page Study Guide edition was published the next year and won a Christianity Today Award of Merit and the ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award in the Christian and Society category. Total Truth is one of seven additional books you must choose from to read in order to complete the ACSI Christian Philosophy of Education requirements. It is a book that helps the reader understand how to develop a Biblical worldview and is a follow-up book dealing with the worldview themes in How Now Shall We Live?. Pearcey shows us that there are many, including Christian educators, who are dividing matters into sacred and secular. This is even happening at Christian universities across the United States. Many Christians fail to see that all truth is God's truth. Christianity is not just religious truth, but total truth. I have met in small groups on a couple different occasions to discuss the contents of this book, and more meetings are planned for the future. Total Truth is not light reading and much can be taken from it. I found the last two sections to be more enjoyable than the first two sections primarily because I found the first two sections to contain a lot of information that I have already read. Despite that, I benefited greatly from reading Total Truth and would recommend it to others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Racist Candy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Earlier this month some chocolate covered peanuts and raisins at the Kota Kinabalu airport in Malaysia caught my eye. Unfortunately, they're called NIPS which can be a derogatory term for someone of Japanese descent (a shortened version of Nipponese, from the Japanese name for Japan, Nippon). In an attempt to learn more about candy produced from Jack'n'Jill, I discovered that Jack'n'Jill is not the only company using this four-letter word. Nestle makes some hard candy called NIPS. There are Nik-L-Nips syrup-filled wax bottles, and let's not forget about Kraft's Cheese Nips. What up with this? Why everyone be attacking Japanese people? In all seriousness, I feel confident that these companies are using the late Middle English form of the word and not the mid 20th-century version. It's time to nip off to bed now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Books or TV?

Deliberately Uninformed, Relentlessly So (A Rant) by American entrepreneur, author, and public speaker, Seth Godin - "Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year. Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mr. President, Please Read My Book!

Book Hurled at President Obama

ABC News' Ann Compton reporting.

A Modern-Day Job

Joni Eareckson Tada on Something Greater than Healing: Now facing breast cancer and chronic pain, the author, speaker, and advocate talks about the blessings of suffering.

Interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Books I Read in July

Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom (Shelly Cashman Series) - Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom is a huge book that contains an abundance of information. I did not read every word, but I did skim over every page in this 578 pager. Much of the information is very easy to understand so that is why I glanced over portions of the book. A lot of people who are scared of technology will not be scared of the information found in this sixth edition. There are a ton of colorful pictures and helpful lists found throughout the book.

There are only eight chapters in this volume, and each chapter ends with a list of key terms and a checkpoint. The key terms are in alphabetical order with each term having the page number where it is found next to it. This is extremely helpful when looking up the definitions of the words. The checkpoints have exercises to check your knowledge level of the chapter. The checkpoints are very simple and comprise of three sections. The first section is labeling, the second section is matching and the third section is short answer. There are also special features at the end of each chapter. Some of the topics in the special features include learning theories and educational research, the changing face of education and a buyer's guide to purchasing computers and mobile devices.

Furthermore, the book contains three appendices - A guide to professional educational organizations, a guide to state and federal government educational websites and references. This is not exciting reading, but it is a reference that is quite extensive. If you are interested in educational technology, I recommend this book.

Guiding Faculty to Excellence: Instructional Supervision in the Christian School by Gordon Brown - Last month I took a supervision course taught by Dr. Brown at Columbia International University. His excellent book, Guiding Faculty to Excellence, is 215 pages and is organized into three sections. The first section provides a framework for supervision. The second section focuses on supervision for teacher growth, and the last section covers supervision techniques. The third and final section covers half of the book. Each of the 18 chapters begins with a Bible verse and end with a prayer. Verses are scattered throughout the book. 16 classroom observation forms in PDF format are provided on a CD-ROM that will allow you differentiate your supervision. Most of these forms I have never seen before, and they are great tools to collect data to improve instruction and enhance student learning. I will be entering my first year as a principal, and I am so thankful that I read this book prior to the school year. Dr. Brown and his book have provided me a foundation to build from and an easy-to-understand approach to instructional supervision that I hope will help the teachers and students at the school I work at.

Instructional Supervision: Applying Tools and Concepts by Sally J. Zepeda - I also read this book for the supervision class I took at CIU. This 366 page book is divided into 15 chapters covering formal and informal instructional supervision, motivation, peer coaching, mentoring, professional development and more. I found the early chapters instrumental in helping me understand how the clinical supervision cycle works. One of the last chapters is focused on confronting marginal teaching, and this is a topic I needed to read about for there is a great chance I will be applying the information at a school one day. Several of my classmates have been principals for a few years, and they too learned a great deal from the book. My only knock against the book is the motivation theories were clearly unbiblical, and there was a crummy reflective tool called Zen that was introduced.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Books I Read in June

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan – Last year when I learned that Pastor Chan was writing a book about the Holy Spirit, it did not get me very excited. I had absolutely no interest in reading or listening to the book. That is pretty sad, however, earlier in the month I received a free audio version of this book from The audio version of Forgotten God was a little less than four hours - almost the same length of Chan's popular first release, Crazy Love. I am so glad that I received Forgotten God. Had I not, I do not think I would have ever given it a chance. I enjoyed Forgotten God a great deal more than I thought I would. I enjoyed Crazy Love, but I found Forgotten God to be even better. It made me really think. Because I have placed my faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in me. I have known that for many years, but I often fail to remember how amazing it is that I have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I so often fail to tap into the Spirit's power. I am thankful that Pastor Chan has reminded me of the power of the Holy Spirit and what a relationship with the Holy Spirit can be like. Unlike An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo, Forgotten God is a small book that can be understood and enjoyed by many. Each chapter ends with a short biography of someone who is driven by the Holy Spirit. These accounts are encouraging and help us see the glory of God. I definitely give Forgotten God my endorsement.

An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo – I purchased this book last summer for a New Testament Introduction course I took at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Another book that was required for that class was The New Testament: Its Background and Message by Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black. Both books are excellent books designed for seminarians, but Carson and Moo’s book is much more scholarly. Carson and Moo’s book is divided into 26 chapters and includes some special chapters such as Thinking about the Study of the New Testament, Paul: Apostle and Theologian and The New Testament Canon. Some New Testament books are combined into one chapter. This includes the Pastoral Epistles and 1, 2 and 3 John. The contents, author (s), origin, date, destination, purpose, text, adoption into the Canon, recent studies, theme, and contribution of the New Testament books are examined. A Scripture Index, Name Index, and Subject Index are found in the back of the book. This is a great resource to help you accurately understand the New Testament message within its historical setting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Books I Read in May

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children by John A. Younts - I purchased this 150-page book several months ago, but I read most of it over the course of a couple of days earlier this month. I should have read the book sooner. Everyday Talk is divided into 14 chapters and provides Biblical principles for conversing with your children in the normal routine of life, every day. Younts believes that everyday talk is the most powerful personal influence in your child's life - more powerful than Sunday School, friends, and parental discipline. Younts makes this conclusion using Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and backs up his argument using Scripture throughout the book. Some of the themes of Younts' book include...

1. How much is your appreciation of the gospel a part of your day-to-day conversation with
those around you?
2. What kind of listener are you?
3. Do you use pleasant words in your everyday talk with others?
4. Are you ordinary or holy in the way you react when others hurt you?
5. Do you have your own list of big sins that really set you off when you see them in others?

Although this book is geared for parents, the practical applications can be used by anyone who desires to communicate with others in a God-honoring manner. I particularly like the chapter on music. The application questions at the end of each chapter could greatly aid a book study.

Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William P. Farley - This was another book I purchased several months ago that I thought Megan and I would benefit from and enjoy. Initially, I misunderstood a couple of Farley's statements in his introduction. They sounded as if the spiritual depth and sincerity of parents, particularly that of fathers, determined whether children became vibrant Christians or people who lacked faith. I got the impression that if you just followed Pastor Farley's parenting methods, all would be good with your kids. However, this is not what Pastor Farley is saying at all. He clearly states that it is God who opens our eyes. Farley is merely stating that parents who keep the gospel message of Jesus Christ at the center of their lives have the answer to all parenting situations. We must proclaim this message to our children at all times.

Gospel-Powered Parenting was not what I expected. I thought I was purchasing a how-to book that would give me lots of practical advice, but what I received was much better - a 230-page book with not only lots of practical advice but a theology book on parenting. Like the Book of Ephesians, the first half of Gospel-Powered Parenting is more doctrinal and the second half is more practical. We must first have a clear understanding of who God is, who we are and what our roles are as parents before we can be effective fathers and mothers. This is what the book provides, not worldly counseling, but the gospel of grace and truth.

Gospel-Powered Parenting is written from a conservative perspective grounded on the Word of God so if you are not a Christian or you possess some liberal views, you will probably not like this book. If you believe spanking children is child abuse, that submission is a curse word, that babies are little angels who do not sin, and that we are all going to Heaven, this book might flat out bother you. Be that as it may, I would still highly recommend that you read Farley's book. Pastor Farley is a humble man who admits that he is far from perfect. I really appreciated his openness and his focus on fatherhood. Although I do not agree with everything I read in Gospel-Powered Parenting, I feel it is the best book I have ever read on building the right kind of families. I highly recommend it.

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper - A Sweet and Bitter Providence is Pastor Piper's newest release and is a short book that examines the Book of Ruth. Like the Book of Ruth, Piper's book consists of only four chapters - Sweet and Bitter Providence, Under the Wings of God, Strategic Righteousness and May My Redeemer Be Renowned. I chose to read this book because I wanted to read an examination of a specific book of the Bible, but not a volume as heavy as the recent commentary of Ephesians I finished. I do not want to give the impression that this book does not discuss deep matters. It does, but you do not need to be an academic to understand Dr. Piper's interpretation of what the Book of Ruth communicates. Pastor Piper introduces A Sweet and Bitter Providence with seven reasons why you might want to read the book. He concludes the book by turning the reasons into seven appeals.

1. The Word of God/Study the Scriptures
2. A Love Story/Pursue Sexual Purity.
3. (Pursue Mature) Manhood and Womanhood.
4. Ethnocentrism/Embrace Ethnic Diversity.
5. (Trust) the Sovereignty of God.
6. Risk-Taking Love/Take the Risks of Love.
7. (Live and Sing to) the Glory of Christ.

If these reasons and appeals matter to you in the least bit, you might want to read the book.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Books I Read in April

Stuff Christian Like by Jonathan Acuff - I received this free book earlier this month in an audio format from Christianaudio's website. Jonathan Acuff does an excellent job reading his collection of more than 120 ideas from his Stuff Christians Like site. I was not very familiar with his blogs prior to listening to this audiobook, but I am a fan of his now. A good mix of satire and seriousness about American Christian culture is told in 4.5 hours. It's the type of book where I would really enjoy sharing favorite portions with a group of friends. I can't say that about too many books. I think people need to laugh more, and this book is a great start.

Ephesians: The NIV Application Commentary by Klyne Snodgrass - I purchased this book a few years ago for a hermeneutics course I took at Colorado Christian University. Although a couple of the consulting editors of the NIV Application Commentary Series have some different understandings of Scripture than I do, I had absolutely no problems with Professor Snodgrass' exegesis. The book starts off with an introduction to the NIV Application Commentary Series, a general editor's preface, an author's preface, a general introduction to the Book of Ephesians and an annotated bibliography before providing 330 pages of rich text and commentary on what is one of the most influential documents ever written. A Scripture index and a subject index are provided in the back of the book. Every passage of Ephesians has the original meaning examined, the original context and the contemporary context bridged and the significance of the passage discussed in a way that engages life today. Snodgrass's book is 14 years old, but the contemporary significance is not outdated by any means. Meaning that is found in literal versions such as the ESV or NASB that is lost in the NIV is properly addressed. This book was a great help in writing a paper focused on Ephesians 2:1-10 and will continue to assist me in my studies of Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Books I Read in March

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose - This is not the typical book I read, but because I took an online class through Liberty last year, I found Kevin Roose's story extremely intriguing. Kevin Roose transferred from the very liberal Brown University to the very conservative Liberty University three years ago and wrote about his one-semester experience at Liberty. What is unique about this story is that Kevin is not a Christian, but he presented himself as a Christian in an attempt to truly learn what it is like to be a student in a conservative Christian environment.

You can see from my reviews that most of the books I read are Christian and cover deep topics, many from a reformed perspective. The Unlikely Disciple was a nice little break from the weightier material that I usually digest. It was also good for me to read from an author who has a totally different outlook on life.

I first noticed that The Unlikely Disciple is endorsed by a couple of guys that I strongly disagree with on a number of important theological matters, but despite that, I found this book to be interesting for the most part. I do want to emphasize that I find Kevin Roose's decision to lie about his identity to be morally wrong, but I am glad he was able to learn that the overwhelming majority of the people at Liberty are not the crazy fundamentalists he thought they would be. It should also be noted that Kevin and his friends are crude at times, much like the typical male who attends a secular college in America (which was me).

It is obvious that Kevin, who started writing the book when he was 19 years old, is a talented writer with a great deal of support. This book will make some ultraconservatives upset, but I am sadder than anything. Yes, I smiled and laughed at times and felt great to see Kevin grow in many ways, but Kevin failed to see that life is more than just trying to be good and having fun. I'm sure there are some reading this review and rolling their eyes, but I cannot help but feel sad. I hope one day Kevin writes a book where he tells us how his time at Liberty was a time when a seed was planted that God grew.

Faith of Our Fathers: God in Ancient China by Chan Kei Thong - I was gifted with this 330-page book a few years ago. I made it a goal to finish it this school year and wish I had done it sooner. If you have an interest in Chinese culture and religion, I think you will find this book to be an intriguing read. Mr. Thong sets to prove that the earliest form of worship in China was of a monotheistic God (Shang Di), a Supreme Being that parallels our one true God. Faith of our Fathers is divided into nine chapters ranging from the Chinese language and sacrifices performed at the Temple of Heaven to the Mandate of Heaven and dragons. Faith of Our Fathers is thought-provoking and will provide you a fresh perspective. It is a beautiful book that is endorsed by some big names like David Aikman, Os Guinness, and Marvin Olasky. I too recommend it.

The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn - This is the third Alcorn book I have completed and one that takes no time to read. Recently a colleague of mine gave away a dozen or so of The Treasure Principle, and I became interested in reading these 100 pages about giving. I do own Alcorn's Money, Possessions, and Eternity's, a much larger layman's theology of stewardship, but I have had difficulty getting motivated to complete the 500 pages of mouse print. The Treasure Principle is divided into six chapters and contains six treasure principle keys...

Principle #1: God owns everything. I'm his money manager - We are merely taking care of the possessions God has leant us.

Principle #2: My heart always goes where I put God's money - Put the money you earn into eternal things like missions.

Principle #3: Heaven, not Earth is my home - Our true homeland is a home that God is preparing for us.

Principle #4: I should live not for the dot, but for the line - The dot is our present life on Earth, but there is a line that extends from that dot that does not stop. This is eternity in Heaven and that is what we should set our minds on.

Principle #5: Giving is the antidote to materialism - Giving reminds us that we are to not to be living for the world or ourselves. We were created to give God all the glory.

Principle #6: God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving - God blesses us so we can bless others.

Fans of prosperity gospel preachers like T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen will not like this book. On the other hand, if you crave Scripture passages and illustrations told with life-changing joy, The Treasure Principle is for you. Reading this book will make you evaluate the financial decisions you are making.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-20

Finally Alive by John Piper - I did not plan on reading this book until Tim Challies, my favorite Christian blogger, listed it as one of his top nine books of 09 and said it was possibly his favorite book by Pastor Piper. The book is a 200 pager that is divided into fifteen chapters. The chapters are organized into five sections: I. What is the new birth? II. Why must we be born again? III. How does the new birth come about? IV. What are the effects of the new birth? V. How can we help others be born again? Although Finally Alive is not one of my favorite Piper books, it is a great book covering a topic that we all need to understand. There are many people calling themselves Christians who have not experienced a spiritual transformation. For many years I was one of these unregenerated cultural Christians who simply wanted a ticket into Heaven. True Christians are born again and do not exalt the world and the things of the world above the gospel of Christ. Our problems and the problems of this world are a heart problem. Jesus is the only way to fix this problem and the solution is to be born again. If you want to make sure you understand what it means to be awakened to new birth, I highly recommend this simple to read but deep book.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Monday, March 1, 2010

Books I Read in February

Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll - Although I have often enjoyed learning from Mark Driscoll via the web (more so in the past), this is the first book of his I have owned. I received it free through It took me close to ten hours to complete which is quite a bit longer than previous audiobooks I have listened to. Pastor Mark asked his predominately young, male, Mars Hill congregation in Seattle to submit to him their burning questions, and after nearly 900 questions were compiled, Driscoll addressed the top nine questions. These questions at times include material that should only be discussed by mature adults and are handled very candidly. Questions cover a hodgepodge of topics including birth control, humor, predestination, grace, sexual sin, faith and works, dating, the emerging church and the regulative principle. I find Driscoll's style to be rather entertaining at times, but at other times I find him to be a little too direct. This shouldn't surprise those who are even a little familiar with Driscoll. Religion Saves is a book that has portions that will definitely offend some conservative Christians. This is a book that you don't have to read chapter by chapter so skipping around won't create confusion. Reading only the chapters you feel you would most benefit from might be a good option for some.

Pastor Dad by Mark Driscoll - This 48-page book can be purchased for eight bucks, but I suggest downloading it for free at I really don't think the paperback is worth purchasing, but I do think distributing it online would provide many men the scriptural insights for fatherhood we need to hear. Pastor Dad is the edited transcript of an eighty-one-minute sermon originally preached by Pastor Mark back in 2001. It consists of seven very short chapters - Worshiping the God of our Fathers, The Fruitful Vine, Cultivating Kids, The Masculine Duty to Provide, Instruction Followed by Correction, Protecting From Sin and Folly, and Countering Culture. Despite the short length of the book, it contains many verses, especially from the Book of Proverbs. It should be noted that the book is written from a middle-class western perspective and those from the Eastside might not always be able to relate to the examples given.

Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon - This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Professor Gordon's book covers a topic that I have not come across, and I found it fascinating and straightforward. It is clearly evident to me why all 13 Amazon reviewers of Why Johnny Can't Preach gave it five stars. Professor Gordon explains the causes of the disappointing preaching that is found in many churches across America. What I really liked about the book is that it is not simply a book for seminarians and pastors, but it is a book for all Christians. Gordon tells us how we can be more effective communicators. I would like to improve my reading, writing and speaking skills, and Gordon provides simple and clear answers to what we do and do not need to do. If you desire to direct others toward Christ in your speech, I recommend Gordon's analysis on the state of preaching in America and how the electronic media culture affects it.

How Sermons Work by David Murray - This e-book was written for four kinds of people - seminary students, pastors, elders, and non-preachers. Most of us do not fall into the first three categories, but if you worship at a local church, you can still benefit from this quick read. This book will only help us better understand the Word of God. How Sermons Work is just 64 pages long and is divided into ten chapters entitled preparation, selection, interrogation, variation, introduction, organization (I and II), application (I and II), and presentation. Reading this book helped me better understand all of the work a pastor does (or should do) to prepare his sermon and what I should do if I am led to preach one Sunday morning.

The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper - After receiving The Roots of Endurance from a colleague of mine one year ago, I decided that one day I would read The Legacy of Sovereign Joy. Both of these books are part of a five book series from John Piper called The Swans are Not Silent. I have completed nearly a dozen Piper books, and each time I have come away having benefited tremendously. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy examines God's triumphant grace in the lives of three giants of the Christian faith - Aurelius Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. God used these men powerfully to teach his church what grace really means. Reading about these men reminded me that they certainly had their flaws and that I am to only exalt our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, these men had a white-hot passion for the sovereign joy of God, but it is God who put that in them. If you are interested in learning more about how God opened the eyes of totally depraved men helping them to overcome their struggles to become God-glorifying men of the Word, I highly encourage you to read The Legacy of Sovereign Joy.

The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright by John Piper - I received The Future of Justification from a colleague a couple of years ago, and I finally got motivated and made a goal to finish the book this school year. This is by far the most academic of the Piper books I have read, and I had to take my time reading it. I read certain portions of the book more than once in order to gain a fuller understanding of what was being stated. Although the book was not one of the more enjoyable Piper books I have read, I realize I need to read more books like this. It covers a topic that I teach and a topic that all of us need to better understand. It is not surprising to see such a range in the reviews of this book, but I do feel that Piper is Christlike in how he responds to Wright and the `New Perspective on Paul.' Keep in mind that Pastor Piper read an 11,000-word response from Wright himself as part of the detailed critical feedback he received to improve the first draft of this book. The 240-page book is organized into eleven chapters and contains six self-standing appendices that were not written in response to the work of N.T. Wright. If you read The Future of Justification like many leading scholars have done, you will be taking a serious look at the biblical doctrines of justification and imputation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Books I Read in January

This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper - I decided to read This Momentary Marriage because I wanted to learn how to be a better husband. Pastor Piper, my favorite author, has been married for more than forty years and knows the challenges and joys of this sacred institution. What separates This Momentary Marriage from most books on marriage is that this is not an instructional manual that gives you ten tips on how to build a stronger marriage. This Momentary Marriage is a theological look at what marriage is all about - the covenant-keeping love of Christ. During the first half of the book, I did feel that Piper repeated himself a few times, but I probably felt that way because I have had my nose in so many of his books lately. This Momentary Marriage hits on a number of topics such as leadership, submission, hospitality, romance, children, anger, divorce, remarriage and to my surprise, singleness. Piper covers singleness in chapters 9-10, and it really needs to be read by not just singles, but those who are married. We tend to exalt marriage in unChristlike ways and fail to see the even greater blessings that will come to all Christians when we pass from this world. Of course, as always, Piper has scattered Scripture throughout the book. Each chapter starts off with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison. This Momentary Marriage concludes with a few words of thanks, a Scripture index, person index, subject index and a note on Desiring God resources. If you are married, engaged, hope to be married or called to remain single, I highly recommend this book. It is definitely the best reading I have done on this topic.

Oswald Chambers: The Man and the Message Behind My Utmost For His Highest by D.W. Lambert - Three weeks ago I decided to pick up this book after reading Justin Buzzard's blog on the Gospel Coalition site. The article was about Oswald Chambers and the crisis of faith we sometimes face during our twenties, and it made me want to learn more about this man of many talents. Lambert's biography is part of the Men of Faith Series produced by Bethany House Publishers in Minneapolis. This particular book is actually a revision of a concise biography called An Unbribed Soul. Oswald Chambers was published almost forty years ago, and the 120 pages will take you no time to read. You will be given a glimpse into the man and the message behind My Utmost For His Highest. My only knock against the book is the book cover. The artwork reminds me a lot of the Great Live Series by Chuck Swindoll. The books look more like books for elementary students when that is not the case at all. Despite the cover, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a simple introduction to one of the most beloved Christian teachers of our time.

How Is Jesus Different from Other Religious Leaders? by Ralph O. Muncaster - How Is Jesus Different from Other Religious Leaders? is a 48-page booklet that I have in my classroom for my sixth graders to read. This little book is easy to read and gives you an overview of the major religious leaders of the world. The founders and leaders of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science and Scientology are all examined. The book also contains 48 prophecies made about Jesus and explains how history confirms Jesus' deity. Since this is a Christian book, it ends with an explanation about how to have a personal relationship with God and what God promises to Christians. Although the information in Muncaster's book is easy enough for a middle schooler to understand, the book contains a great deal of information that most adults do not possess.