Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mere Churchanity

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review
Book:  Mere Churchianity
Author:  Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk)

Have you left the church in search of Jesus?  Studies show that 1 in 4 young adults claim no formal religious affliation, & church leaders have long known that this generation is largely  missing on Sunday morning.  Hundreds of thousands of "church leavers" have had a mentor and pastor, however, in Michael Spencer, known to blog readers as the Internet Monk.
Spencer discovered the truth that church offiicals often miss, which is that many who leave the church do so in an attempt to find Jesus.
In this book, Spencer's writing continutes to point the disenchanted & dispossessed to a Jesus-shaped spirtuality.  And along the way, his teachs show how you can find others who will go with you on the journey.
First Line:  This book began with an athiest in a Diary Queen, 33 years ago.

The first words that come to mind when I think of this book is: THE TRUTH HURTS


The things Mr. Spencer says about the church, I have to say, I tend to agree with his views & his reasoning. 

One of my favorite things he said is:

"Following Jesus does not require you to pledge allegiance to a religious instituion"

He made some amazing points about how people view Christians - how churches view Jesus & how churches also pick & choose what they want to see of Jesus... & what they teach of Jesus.

"What would atheists see if Christianity were something Jesus himself wouldnt recognize?"

"Would Jesus invest in 80 acres of prime suburban real estate so he could build a "campus" as a way to chagne the world?

I was reading this, shaking my head so much at the beginning.... but then, it just got depressing.  Because again, THE TRUTH HURTS... & I also see everything he was saying about the church... & it became over whelming to keep reading it & reading it &  knowing what he was saying had bits of truth in it.

I kept waiting for an "answer" at the end - what to look for in a church - a good church... but never really got that answer.  And Mr. Spencer wasnt saying there arent good churches out there... but there was definitely more of what is wrong in churches... which again, I see his point.

The saddest part... I can see where Jesus would feel that way too...

In the end, it was a good reminder that we arent to follow a CHURCH - we are to follow JESUS... & we are to read about Jesus ourselves - we are to learn what Jesus lays on our hearts .... its not always about having a set of rules set by a church - or feeling like the churches judgement on us is the final judgement we will have.  (Amen!) ... the answer is easy really.. Look to Jesus... that's all...

"There is little need for large churches stuffed with satisfied audiences.  There is a great need for a movement of disciples going inot the over looked places of the world to see & serve the Kingdom of God."

My Rating:  3 skeins .... because I'm so torn on how it made me feel.  Pumped up... then very discouraged...

Very thought provoking though... I think everyone that belongs to a church - & every Pastor - should read this book... see if you find yourself in the things He says... or if you ARE standing & preaching & teaching for ONLY Jesus....
Last Line:  And finally, when we come home, we will find that Jesus has made us like himself, & yet, amazingly, we will have remained in every way ourselves.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saved Without a Doubt

Book:  Saved Without a Doubt
Author: John MacArthur

Am I really going to Heaven?  Am I really saved?
At some point, everyone has experienced thoughts like these.  Is there any way to overcome those nagging doubts?  Now you can put them to rest by answering a resounding "YES!"
Author John MacArthur carefully examines classical biblical texts affirming the forever quality of salvation, without ignoring the troubling passages that seem to indicate otherwise.  Eleven biblical tests show how those truths apply to you, helping you determine once & for all whether you've experienced salvation.  you can make your feelings with your faith & by taking an encouraging look at victory in the spirit & the unshakable promises of God, persevere!


First Line:  It's a heartache to me, as a pastor to realize that so many Christians lack assurance of their salvation.

That first line is why the book is called "Saved Without a Doubt"

Can I tell you - I have NO IDEA how I got this book.  It literally came in the mail one day to me - & I have no idea how it got to me - no return address, nothing in it, but the book.  But the title intrigued me, so I read it. 

I will say, its not an easy read... I got confused in areas, got totally lost in other places & even had to skip some sections after getting nothing but frustrated for not understanding.

But it did have areas that really spoke to me & that I really loved... lines like:

"Jesus serves as the anchor of our souls, who forever keeps us from drifting away from God"

"He that lacks assurance of God's love, converses too much with Satan...." (that's goood stuff there!)

There was a section on forgiveness - my favorite topic - & I loved these 3 things:

"What you can't forget - God cant remember!' .... how awesome is that line?

"You may never be able to forget the years of wandering, the many sins of which you have been guilty.  But that which gives peace is the knowledge that God will never recall them again.  He has blotted them from the book of remembrance & he has done it in righteousness, for the account is completely settled.  The debt is paid"

And I loved this - it was from a new believer who was saying why he believed he would be in Heaven:
"If anyone is ever to be kept out of Heaven for my sins - it would have to be Jesus - for He took them all upon Himself & made Himself responsible for them.  But HE IS IN HEAVEN! - never to be turned out - so now, I KNOW I AM SECURE" .... isn't that a cool way to think about it?

Because it was hard, it takes my rating down - but with some wonderful stuff like I mentioned, it raised it back up a little - averaging it out...

My rating:  3 skeins
Last Line:  He will see to that for sure.

Monday, January 3, 2011

He Sees you when you're sleeping

Book: He Sees You When You're Sleeping
Authors:  Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark

Meet Sterling Brooks.  His was not an exemplary life - he was too self-absorbed to ever really think about anyone else or make a commitment to the women he loved.  On the other hand, he had endearing qualities.  His actual misdeeds were few - his were sins of omission, not commission.

It is a few days before Christmas.  For 46 years, Sterling has lingered in the celestial waiting room outside the heavenly gates, awaiting summons by the Heavenly Council.  Will he be deemed fit for entrance into heaven?  At last the day comes & the council settles on a test for Sterling - he will be sent back to earth & given an opportunity to prove his worthiness by helping someone else.

Sterling Brooks finds himself in Manhattan, at the skating rink in Rockefeller Center.  Among the skaters is a heartbroken seven-year-old named Marissa, & as Sterling soon realizes, it is SHE has has been sent to help.  Marissa's sadness comes from her seperation from the father she adores & her sparkling grandmother.  Both have been forced into the Witness Protection Program because two mobsters, the Badgett Brothers, have put a price on their heads to prevent their testifying against them in an arson case.

Sterling, able to move back & forth in time & place, masterminds a plan to eliminate the threat from the Badgett brothers & reunite Marissa with her loved ones.

First Line:  "There's nothing worse than listening to the sounds of preparations for a great party, knowing that you're not invited"

I love Mary Higgins Clark - have so many of her mysteries.  So this was a book I had on my shelf for years but put it off because I always wanted to read it around Christmas time.  This year was the year.  It was an easy, quick read - not long at all - & a cute story.  It had predictable parts & a few surprises.  While it wasnt the best book I've read of Mrs. Clark, it was a good, light read for the Christmas season.  A cute little story to end my 2010 book reading...

My rating: 3 skeins
Last Line:  "Glory to the Newborn King....."