Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review - The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel

I believe that Craig Groeschel in his book The Christian Atheist deals with an important issue facing the church, that there are those in the church that claim to be a Christian but don’t live like one. Our churches are full of people who live one way on Sunday, if they attend church at all, and another the rest of the week. And Groeschel shows us the fallacy of that belief and the way out, just not always successfully.

Groeschel, senior pastor of livechurch.tv, opens the book by quoting Titus 1:6, They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. This has to be one of the most convicting passages in all of Scripture. God has called us, no commanded us, to live a certain way and those of us who claim to know Him usually do a poor job of being obedient to the commands found in Scripture. Groeschel chooses to address certain areas of the Christian life that he believes Christians behave more like atheists than Christian. Each chapter begins with “When you believe in God but…” Some of the topics covered deal with not really knowing God, being ashamed of your past, a lack of prayer, not believing God is fair to worry, money and evangelism amongst others.

The chapters that stuck out most to me dealt with the church and happiness for different reasons. First his thoughts on the church. He titles that chapter “When You Believe in God but Not in His Church.” One false notion he is addressing are those who don’t go to church because they haven’t found a church that fits their liking. He states that if we don’t like the church then be the agent of change the church needs. He also speaks to the fact that in the body of Christ each part comes together in church and minister’s to the other needs, wants and for their encouragement. He writes that if we are not ministering and using our gifts in the church then something God wants done isn’t getting done. This chapter ministered to me more than any other. It caused me to examine my view of my role and participation in the church I serve in and for that I am grateful.

As for the chapter on happiness he is spot on in confronting the false notion that we pursue happiness at all costs. We desire the things that the world tells us will make us happy but in the end they leave us feeling hollow and/or wanting more. What is lacking in the chapter little mention of what true happiness is. He does say that it is found in Christ but never says how. The Beatitudes found in Matthew 5 is where we find the Biblical instructions on perfect and pure happiness but Groeschel never takes the reader there and that is unfortunate.

With that said I would recommend this book to anyone, no matter if they are living fully devoted lives to Christ or are living as though God doesn’t exist. You will be challenged, at times moved to tears and hopefully encouraged to run the race with greater zeal for Christ.

You can purchase it as Christianbook, Amazon or at the books site.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review - God's Wisdom in Proverbs by Dan Phillips

A proverb is a compressed statement of wisdom, artfully crafted to be striking, thought-provoking, memorable, and practical. - Dan Phillips definition of what a proverb is from his book God’s Wisdom in Proverbs.

Phillips has written a book that will be invaluable whenever I turn to Proverbs. He has taken the time to give us the meaning of the Proverbs in the original language it was written in (Hebrews). He shows us the style and structure and how we are to gain wisdom from reading Proverbs. He explains the passages in a way that most will understand. It is obvious that this book took years of study to prepare. This book isn’t a commentary as such. He does give exposition on several of the Proverbs but not all; that isn’t his point in writing the book.

In the first chapter Phillips further explains what a proverb is:

A proverb typically is truth dressed to travel. It is wisdom compressed, compacted, stripped down to its essentials, and ready to go. Proverbs are tailored in such a way as to snag and stay in the mind…. Proverbs do not try to say everything. But what they do say, they say artfully and memorably.
With this quote he makes a valuable but forgotten point, that proverbs aren’t just life wisdom to be learned but life wisdom that is to be put into practice. He devotes the majority of his book to how we can apply the proverbs in our lives and in many of the most important relationships we have in heaven and on earth.

The first relationship he guides us to is our relationship with God and how we are to relate to Him in trust and worship. He shows time after time that God wants to direct the paths of His children and how He desires to be worshiped by them.

Next, Phillips moves onto the most important earthly relationships we have, our spouses and our children. In regards to marriage Phillips discusses the marriage covenant and how each partner is to be with the other. Most know that Proverbs 31 deals with a Godly wife, which it does, yet the Proverbs say much more than that. Phillips also shows us that God, in the book of Proverbs, how a husband is to be a great Godly husband. I realized after reading that section that I hardly ever go Proverbs to understand how I am to be with Katrina. Now I will. He also shows the benefits and pitfalls that come with the way we train our children.

My only real complaint with the book is how often Phillips gives us his paraphrase of a certain text (the DJP paraphrase). Other than that I would recommend this book for any serious student of the Scriptures, particular one who is about dig into the rich depths of the book of Proverbs.

You can purchase it at Kress Biblical Resources or Amazon.