Tag Archives: Christian

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Mark’s #6 – When God Comes Calling by Ted Fletcher (2010)

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Ted Fletcher had climbed the corporate ladder and had achieved the American Dream. Yet God began to burden Ted’s heart for something far greater than these worldly benchmarks.  God gave Ted God’s passion for the nations. Though later in life, with older kids, Ted and Peggy Fletcher sought out ways to go to the mission field to bring the gospel of grace to all the peoples of the earth.  However, as they applied to several mission agencies at the time, they were turned back and told they were not suited to join these organization due to age, or family, or formal training.  The Fletcher’s discouragement turned to joy when a friend suggested that they start their own mission organization – Pioneers (which I am now a missionary with).

This book is the story of that calling and the early days of seeking to fulfill this godly vision.  While it is great to read the stories of missionaries from bygone eras, it is also tremendously encouraging to read about modern day Pioneers and their faithful God.   If you wan to be encouraged and challenged, read this book.

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Mark’s #38 – Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper (2002)

For the past year or so, I have been reading through this book with the Men’s leadership team at The Harbor.   Each time we meet, we read one of the thirty chapters written by the preeminent pastor of our time, John Piper.   These chapters comprise Piper’s passionate plea to pastors and church leaders addressing a wide variety of pastoral issues and concerns.   The readings have led to great discussions amongst the leadership team and helpful reminders to keep us focused in the right direction as we shepherd the flock God has entrusted us with.  In chapter is typical of pastor Piper’s theology; God-centered and Christ exalting.

Personally, the most impactful of these chapters were;

4. Brothers, Live and Preach Justification by Faith

8. Brothers, Let us Pray

9. Brothers, Beware of Sacred Substitutes

14. Brothers, Show Your People Why God Inspired Hard Texts

16. Brothers, We Must Feel the Truth of Hell

22. Brothers, Tell Them Copper Will Do

25. Brothers, Give Them God’s Passion for Missions

If you are a pastor or lay leader in the church, this should be on your ‘must read’ list.

 

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Mark’s #35 – Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (2003)

As this is not the first time I’ve read Don’t Waste Your Life, I wondered if reading this book again would be beneficial in any way.  As it turns out, I underestimated the book and its impact on my life and soul.

Before Crazy Love, before Radical, this book was written to inspire a generation of Christ-followers to radical and joyful risk for the glory of Christ.   As the title suggests, this is Piper’s passionate plea to make our lives count for eternity.

As I finished the book today, and the second-to-last chapter about world missions, I realized how deeply Piper’s teachings and thoughts have penetrated and shaped my own thinking and teaching.  I am grateful for any reminder to live for what matters for all of eternity, as this world and its stuff pulls like gravity to distraction and a wasted life.

If you haven’t done so, make Don’t Waste Your Life a priority on your reading list.

Here’s Lecrae’s rap by the same title to spur you on:

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Mark’s #26 – Ephesians: NIV Application Commentary by Snodgrass (1996)

As I am wrapping up my sermon series through the book of Ephesians, I have also wrapped up my reading of two commentaries that have helped teach and prepare me along the way.

Let me begin this review with the NIV Application Commentary by Klyne Snodgrass. Like others in the series, this commentary focuses on the exegesis and modern application using the NIV text.  I have bought several of these commentaries particularly because they aim to help pastors think through the issues of the text and possible applications from the text.  As with each commentary, regardless of the series, the value of any one particular book in the series depends to a large degree on the expertise, theological convictions, and literary abilities of its author.  In this case Snodgrass’ commentary was ok, but not great.  There were occasional nuggets and insights that helped my understanding and spurred on my preaching preparation.  However, there were other times when Snodgrass interpretations or foci seemed biased and slanted.

For example, in his commentary on chapter one, Snodgrass downplayed any understanding of the text that may lead one to see Paul’s statements dealing with God’s election as being specific to individuals.  Rather Snodgrass tried (unsuccessfully in my opinion), to make the case for a corporate view of election only…  but does not the corporate church comprise individuals?  Was it a mass of faceless humanity that God elected, or did he really know and chose individuals?  I believe the weight of Paul’s argument here and elsewhere (Romans 9 for example) leads to conclude the later.

Additionally, I felt that Snodgrass’ exegesis and application of Ephesians 5:21ff lacked conviction and clarity.  Rather than admitting to distinct and timeless household roles between husbands and wives, the author seemed to try to work hard to caution the reader about cultural context and misunderstanding in our application today. While we should take cultural context into consideration, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water in the process.

These two examples are only a sample of where I felt the commentary was more frustrating or distracting than it was helpful.  Therefore I would not recommend this commentary.

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Mark’s #14 – Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – especially this one, because the cover is awful. Outer aesthetics aside, the point and purpose of the book is timely and much needed.

The knowledge of, love for, and glory of Christ should be the all-consuming passion of all Christians.  In fact, this is exactly what Paul prays for Christians in his letter to the Ephesians, “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe… (Eph. 17-19).

This book does a good job of reminding Christians what it really means to be ‘Christian’ – To behold the glory and majesty of Christ.

 

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