Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When the Levee Breaks

Led Zeppelin's lyrics from '71 are almost prophetic...

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay.

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Lord, mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.

Don’t it make you feel bad
When you’re tryin’ to find your way home,
You don’t know which way to go?
If you’re goin’ down south
They got no work to do,
If you don’t know about Chicago.

Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin’ ’bout me baby and my happy home.
Going, go’n’ to chicago,
Go’n’ to chicago,
Sorry but I can’t take you.
Going down...going down now...going down...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Book Review: Fool's Gold

Okay, so maybe I'm not the best person to do a review of a John MacArthur book. I find him to be close-minded, divisive, hurtful, legalistic, and at times dangerous, so you might say I'm a little biased. Also, I have a good friend who walked away from the church as an adult because her dad continually espoused MacArthur's teachings to her and drove her away - she never thought she could be "a good enough Christian." That being said, the topics in his latest book, Fool's Gold, intrigued me just enough to take it for a quick read to find out what he has to say about some of the various topics in Christendom - particularly in Christian publishing - my profession.

In this book, MacArthur edits and contributes a series of essays on topics ranging from books to music to politics. Some of the more intriguing chapters:

A Sense of Purpose: Evaluating the Claims of The Purpose Driven Life
Roaming Wild: Investigating the Message of Wild at Heart
When the Truth Becomes a Tabloid: A Closer Look at the Revolve New Testament
Solid Rock? What the Bible says about Contemporary Worship Music
Just As I Am: A Closer Look at Invitations and Alter Calls
Let Your Light So Shine: Examining the American-Christian Approach to Politics
Choking on Choices: Combating Consumerism with a Biblical Mind-set

I find it difficult to review this title because he comes down so hard on what I believe are some quality books (see my post about Rick Warren from August 7) but he also has some good things to say about consumerism and Christian political involvement. Perhaps the best comment I can make comes courtesy of a co-worker; MacArthur has some good things to say but it is the spirit in which he says them that is the problem. It seems to me he is all too willing to take shots at other Christians, pointing out their faults and weaknesses, but rarely extends grace to those who might have a different take on something than he does. It is sadly ironic that MacArthur's ministry is called Grace to You when he seems so unwilling to extend grace to anyone.

There are a lot of problems with contemporary, North-American Christianity that need to be addressed, but let's do it in a spirit of healing, not divisiveness. While this book is worth a quick read, please don't do it until you have read the books MacArthur is critiquing so you can arrive at your own conclusions. YY

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Book Review: Enjoying God

I read Enjoying God by S.J. Hill yesterday and after a bit of a slow start, I ended up enjoying the book. Pursuing intimacy with God rather than learning more about God is where I'm at right now in my spiritual journey. Yes, I know God is holy and I know He is loving but have I experienced this firsthand in an intimate relationship with the Father? This was my motivation for picking up this book. Enjoying God is a good first introduction to this topic, sort of an A.W. Tozer-light or a John Piper-light. S.J. Hill comes from the same perspective but with much more of a cursory overview. Chapter seven, Persevering In Our Quest for Intimacy, is perhaps the most interesting chapter in that Hill gives some practical suggestions for pursuing an intimate relationship. He gives some good advice in answering his own question, "How do you practice the presence of God when you first get up in the morning feeling like a zombie? How do you go from school, a busy work environment, the mall, or the gym to waiting on God?" If you are just encountering a desire for a more intimate relationship with God in your own life, than I would recommend this book as a good place to get your feet wet before moving on to some of the heavyweights. YYY

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Book Review: Rick Warren and the Purpose That Drives Him

Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him is a short book by Richard Abanes, a former staff member at Saddleback Church so this is perhaps a less than totally objective look at Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Life (PDL), but it does provide a very concise reponse to Warren's many critics. Perhaps what makes this book worth the price of admission is the interview with Rick Warren - an exclusive interview you won't find anywhere else. It's great to hear some of Warren's stories about the early days of Saddleback and his desire to reach the people of Orange County when he really didn't have a clue how to do it!

I was totally unaware of all of the people who have taken shots at Warren since PDL was published, and I'm certain nobody would be taking shots if it hadn't become the best selling non-fiction book of all time! Most of Warren's critics (John McArthur included) strike me as folks who would find everyone in error except for themselves. Is PDL a perfect work of doctrinal precision? Of course not, but how many books are? Besides, Warren is not targeting Biblical scholars, but ordinary folks who need to know that God loves them. I'm so &$#*@ sick of Christians taking pot shots at each other, especially at a guy who is just trying to share the Good News the best way he knows how and is obviously having a huge impact in the world. Am I doctinally perfect? Are you? In Phillipians it says to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" so unless your name is Jesus, just shut up.

A decent, quick read. YYY