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A Spirituality of Listening: Living What We Hear
A Spirituality of Listening: Living What We Hear
by Keith R. Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.71
46 used & new from $7.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inclines the ear toward God, March 26, 2016
In a world which trumpets hyper-spiritualities and invitations to religious activity, Keith Anderson offers a helpful guidebook for simple, everyday connection with God marked by a posture of quiet receptivity. God has spoken. God speaks. In our ordinary lives, routine encounters, and weekly rhythms, God is guiding us, leading us, and directing us. For those with ears to hear, listen. This is a good book.

Generic Beautiful Lady's Silk Hand Fan with Green Sequins
Generic Beautiful Lady's Silk Hand Fan with Green Sequins
Offered by Lucky leuc
Price: $1.64
73 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Fine fan for play... but no sequins!, February 2, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I think the fan quality was just fine for the purchase price (<$5), but we were disappointed to see there were no sequins (just green stitching). My daughter used her own money to buy this and was sad to see it's not nearly as fancy as the picture represents.

Contigo Autoseal Fit Trainer, 20-Ounce, Dazzling Blue
Contigo Autoseal Fit Trainer, 20-Ounce, Dazzling Blue
Offered by Tigo Distributors
Price: $18.99
4 used & new from $15.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps Liquid ICE COLD., May 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since landing in my hand this has become my go-to water bottle.

Keeps water ice-cold for long stretches.

The carry-handle is handy.

The push-release action for water flow meets my preference for a drink that pours, not one that you have to obtain from a straw. And if your bottle slips from your hand during a tough workout, you don't lose your liquid.

One pro-tip: align the threading and crank the lid down tight. So long as you seal it correctly, you won't have the leakage problem other folks have experienced.

I recommend it.

Me and We: God's New Social Gospel
Me and We: God's New Social Gospel
by Leonard Sweet
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.58
53 used & new from $3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and Fresh Articulation of a Social Gospel, April 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the biblical story, one of the primary metaphors we are given for the Spirit of God is that of a wind blowing. Wind carries. It moves, pushes, and shifts. In Len Sweet's Me and We, the wind gusts are everywhere.

I think this book is a prophetic offering for the church, and one of Sweet's best works.

Me and We is a critique and a vision document. Sweet explores the failures of the social gospel, and the promise of new gospel articulation, empowered by the Spirit, and embodied by the church. The book consists of four major sections. First, there is a dissection of the old social gospel, followed by a sketch of a new social gospel involving both the individual and the collective. Second, there is an exploration of "Biblical We-ness," or "A Community if Interdependent Individuals." Third, Sweet examines the messy nature of relationships, and the diverse metaphors given in Scripture to enrich our imaginations. Some of these metaphors, such as light and darkness, are misunderstood or under-appreciated, and Sweet examines each afresh. Lastly, Sweet articulates a Christian vision of "conceiving" rather than "consuming," and describes the rich possibilities for church communities who understand themselves as stewards of a "House and Garden" economy, rooted in Christ.

As I said, I think this book is one of Len Sweet's best. I recommend it, both for how his words can edify, and for the challenges within.

Avery Two-Side Printable Clean Edge Rounded Corner Business Cards for Inkjet Printers, Ivory, Pack of 160 (88221)
Avery Two-Side Printable Clean Edge Rounded Corner Business Cards for Inkjet Printers, Ivory, Pack of 160 (88221)
Price: $14.25
20 used & new from $6.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Set Your Expectations, April 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Avery Two-Side Printable Clean Edge Business Cards possess nicely rounded corners, and relatively clean separation from the template sheet. If you need a quick, easy, do it yourself means of producing business cards, this is your product. Will work for a short turnaround, stop gap measure to put your information on paper and pass it along. This is a helpful product--the cards hold the ink well; no problems separating each card.

Don't expect too much. Professionally cut and printed business cards will be superior to anything you could do at home on your ink jet.

Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation
Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation
by Dallas Willard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.66
46 used & new from $9.42

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection of Essays on Willard's Kingdom Teaching, January 24, 2015
Early May 2013, I found out that Dallas Willard had died. My wife read an announcement of his death on social media as we rode together in a car. We both shed tears.

This surprised me. I had never mourned a public figure. I never met Dr. Willard, but heard him speak on three occasions: in 2006 at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, in 2009 at the Renovare Conference in San Antonio, and in 2011 at the Apprentice Conference in Wichita.

But I had read his books. One beautiful benefit of the written word is the opportunity to commune with other minds. Through his writings, Dr. Willard had deeply impacted my thinking.

At his death, in a very full sense I felt grief rooted in hope. Dr. Willard was in Christ. I am quite confident he still is.

Since Dr. Willard’s death, his fellow kingdom workers and scholarly colleagues have prepared his last manuscripts for publication. I have continued to seek the treasures, old and new, God so graciously brought forth in him.

It was only a matter of time before a work like Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation would be produced. The book is a collection of essays written by many who knew Dr. Willard best. It is structured on three pillars of Willard’s life and work: the personal and familial, the scholarly and academic, and the pastoral and ecclesiological.

Many of the contributors are familiar: Richard Foster, J. P. Moreland, Gary Black, Todd Hunter, James Catford, John Ortberg, and others. Contributions by family members Jane Willard, Becky Heatley, Larissa Heatley, and John Willard add authenticity and insight. Willard was a human being, possessing faults. But he was good, thanks to the sanctifying work of God. Gary Moon, director of the Martin Family Institute and Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation at Westmont College, served as editor for this collection.

The essays range from anecdotal to analytical, possessing something for every reader. For anyone seeking to grow in any field of endeavor, it is important to identify models for living, and to follow them. Dr. Willard taught valuable lessons as a friend and family member, as a scholar, and as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite passages in this book is from an essay by James Bryan Smith of Friends University. Dr. Smith cites numerous questions he asked Dallas through the years, one of which was, “So Dallas, which do you think is right, Arminianism or Calvinism?”

I have wondered this myself, both who is right, and what Dr. Willard might think.

Smith recalls Willard saying “Neither.” Willard then “went on to say that both were right, and both were wrong, and he did not fit into either camp.”

In each reflection, we are reminded that Dr. Willard understood that in order to thrive as a friend, family member, scholar, or disciple, Jesus is of utmost importance. We are disciples first. The question is, "Of whom?" Willard feared “Willard-ites.” Rightly so. His best students will learn to look beyond Willard to the one who summoned him forth as a witness.

Reformers are often memorialized, and their time is heralded as the coming of the kingdom. We build statues and tell stories of their past victories, often as an excuse to avoid the task before us. Eternal Living could be regarded as a monument, or a charge.

I choose the latter.

As a student of Dr. Willard, I hope to continue his legacy, not by celebrating Willard, but the God who gifted us with such a life. The church is in continued need of reformation. There remains among us a hunger for knowledge of God.

May God rise up for us more teachers like Dallas Willard, who will immerse us in the Trinitarian reality of God and the everlasting kingdom, disciple us in the good news of Jesus, and help us to know eternal life, both now and forever.

Note: Thank you to InterVarsity Press, who mailed me a copy of Eternal Living.

The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines
The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hopeful and Invitational, November 8, 2014
When I was a child and our family went on a trip, my siblings and I played I-Spy, conducted scavenger hunts, or enjoyed the License Plate Game or Hey Cow. We read books or told stories. We asked our parents questions along the way concerning what we saw, when we would arrive, and what we could expect.

Traveling with God is similar in that there are stories to be told, activities to be engaged, and guides to help us along the way. For Nathan Foster and his journey with God, his activities have been the disciplines, his stories have been a mix of biblical narrative and unfolding personal experience, and his closest guide has been his father, Richard Foster, best known for his book Celebration of Discipline, a contemporary classic of Christian spirituality first published in 1978.

Celebration has sold millions of copies, and first impacted my life a little over a decade ago.

Now, Nathan Foster is leaving his own legacy of wisdom and Christian witness. The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines (BakerBooks, 2014) is an immersion in the disciplines, a revisiting of the teachings offered in Richard’s Celebration, and an honest recounting of Nathan’s personal experience seeking growth in the way of Jesus.

Nathan explores twelve disciplines: submission, fasting, study, solitude, meditation, confession, simplicity, service, prayer, guidance, worship, and celebration. For each discipline, he quotes his father. Then, he tells his story.

Nathan is forthright about his frustrations, however grand, and his progress, however slight. For those that assume the disciplines might be easier for some rather than others, they will discover this is not the case. They are a challenge for us all, regardless of autobiography. But they nevertheless have their reward, and are possible for us thanks to the grace given us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. This is what makes Nathan’s story enjoyable: we walk alongside him as he struggles, experience his disappointments, and celebrate his gains.

Among the stories Nathan tells, I particularly enjoyed the lessons he learned while on his bike, his discoveries while memorizing the Bible, his willingness to submit to his children, and his disorientation when suspending his use of technology. I also enjoyed his brief historical sketches of Christian saints (Laubach, Woolman, Buechner), a subtle form of contrast and encouragement. Nathan seemed to be suggesting that we all have a long way to go, but through persistence and trust in God’s grace, we can all advance in holiness.

If you enjoy memoir and have followed the spiritual formation movement, this book will be of interest to you. Nathan Foster is a good storyteller, and his struggle with the disciplines is reflective of what many experience today.

I found his story to be encouraging and insightful, hopeful and invitational.

For all seeking to grow as disciples of Jesus, the road will be marked with suffering but also with deep joy. Nathan Foster is walking that road, and calling us to join him along the way and discover the grace God has for us. May God honor his witness.

Note: I received this work in exchange for a review.

Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again
Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again
by Preston Yancey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.03
86 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Maturing Faith, November 8, 2014
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In the opening chapter of Preston Yancey’s memoir Tables in the Wilderness, we open with a story of silence of the sort the twenty-something, southern evangelical imagination struggles to comprehend. It is the kind that is construed by some as the absence of God. When he shares his experience with his peers, they assume it must be doubt, moral failure, or lacking zeal. But this silence is nothing of the sort. This absence is a Presence, a journey has been commenced, and the virtue to be gained is a trust born of intimacy, as Christians throughout time have well known.

Those three themes define Yancey’s memoir. There is the Presence of God, waiting and nearby, setting the table for us, inviting us to the feast that has been prepared.

There is the journey. Mr. Yancey tells of his time at Baylor University. There is friendship and failure, joy and hurt, intellectual growth and inspiring mentors. His story also includes romance, both immature and growing in maturity. There is also insecurity, and the discovery of new identity. Mr. Yancey embarks on a pilgrimage, beginning with the gifts he was given as part of the Baptist tradition, and traveling onward through the Episcopal Church to an Anglican communion.

There is also intimacy and trust, and whether through silence or in revelation, Mr. Yancey describes a trust born of intimacy, which comes about only through prayer.

This memoir interacts richly with a diversity of voices, such as Dante, Saint Catherine of Siena, Barth, Saint Francis, Simone Weil, Charles Taylor, and others. There is also the Bible, which even when it is not directly mentioned, is threaded throughout. One of the major facets of this memoir that I found so satisfying was in discovering how these great texts had taken up residence within Yancey’s life. The reading of excellent literature is of benefit for Yancey and for his reader, not only for the joy that comes from a well-selected quotation, but for the resounding effect well chosen words have upon those who choose to write. Mr. Yancey’s writing is engaging, and I have no doubt this is a result of his time spent with those who have written well.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition in Texas. Like Mr. Yancey, I have a degree from Baylor University. I spent many afternoons and evenings at Common Grounds, a local coffee shop that plays a part in Mr. Yancey’s narrative, reading Shelley, Keats, Shakespeare, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, W. B. Yeats, and other giants during my years of study. I had my own ventures and failures in ministry during my time at Baylor. There is much in Mr. Yancey’s memoir that resonates with my own experience.

There are differences as well. For example, I was mostly ignored by girls, and in retrospect, I consider this a mercy from God, whose judgments are true and righteous altogether.

As I read, I identified with Mr. Yancey’s disillusionment with southern evangelical piety. His memoir includes several critiques, all of which I believe are generous even when they have bite. I also identified with his spiritual pilgrimage. His search for a more robust expression of Christian truth is noble, yet more expansive than what I have encountered. Mr. Yancey is not seeking to think great thoughts, nor to develop a seamless systematic theology, but rather to possess intimacy with God. Truth is best when embodied.

The intimacy Mr. Yancey seeks rejects saccharine substitutes. His memoir begins with silence, the silence of God when everyone demands God must be speaking, moving, and leading. St. John of the Cross instructs us that in times of silence, God may withdraw, so that in the desolation our souls might be refined and taught not to love God for God’s speaking, but instead to love God for God’s own internal being, in all his glory, and for nothing more. This is the difference in knowing and loving the Father not for his gifts, but because through Christ he has called us sons and daughters.

This book, possessing many of the characteristics that might be expected from a twenty-something’s spiritual memoir, is what I consider a beginning. I anticipate more from Mr. Yancey in the years to come as his narrative unfolds. I trust there will be surprises, but one constant: God’s table of grace.

Note: I received a copy of this work in exchange for a review.

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
by Charles Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.33
109 used & new from $6.76

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sobering Account of American Class Division, and Why It Matters, September 13, 2014
Several years ago I took a trip from Lawrence, Kansas to Dallas, Texas by bus. It was a grueling ride. But it was enlightening. I encountered a side of America very different from my everyday experience.

Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 is a book about class differences. Just as my bus ride was an immersion in another dimension of American life, Coming Apart is an excursion through two different Americas. Murray argues that the rift separating upper and lower classes is more pronounced and markedly different than ever before. Whereas America once may have been divided primarily among racial or economic lines, today there is a vast difference in cultural experience, outlook, values, and behavior. While Murray's presentation relies heavily on data, his message is communicated clearly through narrative illustrations rooted in the histories of two communities: Belmont and Fishtown. In Belmont, a strong majority is college educated. Fishtown, by contrast, is populated by highly skilled blue collar workers like plumbers and machinists, and low-skilled laborers, like security guards, delivery truck drivers, and people who work on the dock.

In Part II of this book, Murray moves beyond a robust definition of the new upper and lower classes and offers an analysis of specific virtues: Marriage, Industriousness, Honesty, and Religiosity. Murray selects these virtues for a historical reason. In 1825, a German academic named Francis Grund observed that America's form of government and a public adherence to common morals was the strength of the American experiment, and that the two were both interrelated and indivisible. In Grund's opinion, "no government could be established on the same principle as that of the United States, with a different code of morals." Murray believes "Grund's observation about the United States at the end of its first century would not have surprised the founders." Murray argues that marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity are best referred to as "the founding virtues." These virtues permeated early American society, and thus constituted a firm social fabric.

Reading Murray's definition of these virtues and his application to Belmont and Fishtown is a strong example of social science that illumines, and the conclusions are of great concern. Through careful analysis of zip codes fitting the profiles of Belmont and Fishtown, Murray demonstrates how marriage, first, is in decline. A higher percentage of people in both Belmont and Fishtown have never married, but more disturbing is the gap between those in the upper and lower classes. Whereas in the 1960s, between 4% and 5% of those in Fishtown and approximately 8% in those in Belmont remained single (a difference of 4%), in 2010, 8% of those in Fishtown and nearly 24% of those in Belmost have never married, yielding a gap of 16%. Murray also analyzes relative happiness in marriage, birth rate, divorce rate, and family stability. The news isn't good. Applying similar analysis to the other Founding Virtues, Murray demonstrates that the growing divide in American culture and society should not only be a concern for those sympathetic to the political left, but should be of great concern for social conservatives.

Lastly, in his conclusion, Murray explains what difference the current social divide makes, arguing that American community is collapsing in places like Fishtown, evidenced, for example, by significant decreases in level of participation in public life (voting, decreased interest in children's public education, political involvement and knowledge of government, friendships with neighbors). He also argues that a decrease in the founding virtues correlates with an overall decrease in reported happiness, and concludes that the American project, as a whole, is in jeopardy.

As a pastor and a cultural observer, I found that Murray's analysis matched my own anecdotal experiences of interacting with the public. Religious institutions, in some pockets, have served as excellent places for those with different vocations, socio-economic backgrounds, and political affiliations to share in common worship and work together towards common objectives, for the common good. But in the communities I have served, I have seen increased polarization and fragmentation, at the same time. This means many things for public life, and poses a challenge for churches and other religious groups to transcend this divide, offering a common vocabulary for virtue and morality, the strengthening of marriage and the family, and cooperation across natural affinities arising from education and class.

I recommend this book. It is compelling social science, and the conclusions are deeply challenging. Thoughtful people should read what is here, and carefully consider both what Murray's argument means for public life, and also for daily personal and familial disciplines that might reverse, or at least stem, these disturbing trends.

Note: I received a copy of Coming Apart in exchange for a review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2014 12:59 AM PDT

The Atheist's Fatal Flaw: Exposing Conflicting Beliefs
The Atheist's Fatal Flaw: Exposing Conflicting Beliefs
by Norman L. Geisler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
55 used & new from $1.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Guide to Christian Apologetics, September 9, 2014
There is more than one way to refute an argument.

One way is to argue directly against the assertion, showing it to be wrongheaded.

But another way is to uncover the weak points and expose fallacies. One such approach is to expose internal inconsistencies, thus rendering the argument self-refuting.

Norman Geisler and Daniel McCoy use this strategy in establishing the truth of Christianity in their book The Atheist's Fatal Flaw (BakerBooks, 2014). Geisler and McCoy do their very best to outline arguments against theism as they are presented by atheists such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, and Christopher Hitchens, quoting from primary sources. Then, through the application of logic, Geisler and McCoy expose problems and impart confidence to those seeking to defend the credibility of Christian claims concerning reality. While this book is technically written, Geisler and McCoy are clear and accessible for those seeking to engage in conversation with skeptics on faith, doubt, and the space between. My familiarity with the classical arguments for theism and for Christian belief, along with my reading of the intellectuals Geisler and McCoy set out to refute, helped my comprehension and enjoyment of this book. But I'd recommend this book to those just getting started with apologetics, as well. The subject matter is broad, and the presentation fresh.

Regarding the progression within this work, Geisler and McCoy address the problem of moral evil, human autonomy and freedom, submission to the divine will and corresponding favor, death, guilt, divine punishment or pardon, and eternal destinies. They then raise specific inconsistencies, and offer an appeal for open inquiry concerning Christian truth claims as Christians present them at their best, rather than as weakened or distorted versions of Christian theology. In each chapter, Geisler and McCoy demonstrate that the atheist's primary objection is not the issue raised, but rather the notion of God in and of itself. Atheists have no problem with morality, nor with naming certain actions as definitively evil. Rather, they have objections to a God would might set conditions to allow evils to occur, or who is a final arbiter concerning morality. They have no objections to restraint of human autonomy and the limiting of freedom, so long as a divine person has not decreed it so. The primary objection, as noted by Geisler and McCoy in each chapter, is to God.

Christians should be skilled in presenting the reasons for what they believe. This requires familiarity with basic arguments against theism, and ready answers that clear away rubble and roadblocks that obscure the pathway to belief. I will keep this volume at the ready on my shelves, and review it from time to time. This is a helpful book, and will have great value to any Christian apologist.

Note: I received this book in exchange for a review.

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