In Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Jerry Bridges gently focuses our attention on widespread sins in the church. Not only are theyIn Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Jerry Bridges gently focuses our attention on widespread sins in the church. Not only are they common, but they also go unchecked. [return][return]1) Bridges confession[return][return]Before expanding on these sins, though, he makes a confession to his readers: He s not perfect, he has committed many of these sins over the years and he doesn t pretend to be any better or holier than the rest of us.[return][return]He makes this confession right at the start, helping readers to understand his humble attitude while writing this book, which ultimately helps us to accept what he has to say about these sins. [return][return]2) Seasoned Christians still have room to grow[return][return]Next, Bridges walks us through those familiar Bible verses about sin, salvation and grace. He knows he s talking to people who ve heard these things a million times, but he reframes them to help us see ourselves that is, lifelong Christians who think we ve got this faith thing all worked out in the centre of God s plan of salvation. [return][return]Even now, as seasoned believers, with years of Sunday services under our belts, countless worship songs sung, who knows how many prayers said, devotions read and volunteer hours logged, we're still sinners in need of God s grace who have lots of room left to grow.[return][return]3) Down to the nitty-gritty: Sins Christians tolerate[return][return]Bridges covers everything from anger, judgmentalism, anxiety and impatience to worldliness, pride, selfishness and lack of self-control. [return][return]Sometimes we Christians purposely ignore these 'respectable' sins. Sometimes we just don't take them seriously. Gossip and materialism are a couple examples of this.[return][return]Other times these sins are winked at or they re the subject of jokes. I can think of a few, but I m curious which sins you (reading this review) would file under this category?[return][return]4) Bridges hits the mark[return][return]I ve grown up in the church and consider myself to have been a believer most of my life, (You know, the asked Jesus into my heart at age 6 story), and I ve seen each and every one of these sins in myself and in most mature Christians around me.[return][return]Some of them, like materialism and selfishness, are shied away from in sermons, Bible studies, devotionals and especially in conversation with one another. We re so hardwired from birth to practically idolize individualism, privacy and a citizen s rights to do whatever he wants with his money that we hardly distinguish them from the true sins of materialism and selfishness that God s Word tries to guide us away from.[return][return]Other sins, like anger, are sometimes wrongly interpreted. I ve been angered by serious sin in the church (e.g. putting personal comfort over helping a neighbor in need), and for that I have been accused of the sin of anger. We Christians don t know the difference between good anger (e.g. at cruel injustice) and sinful anger. [return][return]5) Bridges also missed a few biggies[return][return]Bridges really does justice to most sins that we Christians often let slide. He invites the reader, after reviewing each issue, to consider instances in our own lives where we have committed those sins and how we can return to a belief and a lifestyle more reflective of God s desire for us, His Bride. [return][return]There are a few sins, though, I wish he had mentioned.[return][return]- Love your neighbor: We don t do it[return]The second commandment, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, seems like a biggie in Scripture. And yet, growing up I ve witnessed countless times when Christians have refused to help a fellow Christian in need. [return][return]Not helping one s neighbor is often made to seem acceptable with the false teaching that people must suffer in silence, without asking for help, in order to prove that they re trusting God. Scripture, on the other hand, is full of commands and examples of Christians tangibly helping one another and that this is linked to proof of our salvation. (See John Piper s sermon on this.)[return][return]- Church: The old boys club[return]I ve gotta be honest. Sometimes the church resembles an old boys club more than a family of mature, caring believers who actually live by integrity. I ve seen mature Christians cover up fellow Christians sins and paving the way for that sin to continue. They also attacked anyone who brought those sins into the light. [return][return]Take the sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church leaders, for example. Consider the lengths to which mature Christians have gone to cover up those sins, regardless of the fact that known pedophiles were free to continue abusing children because of the community s collective will to keep it all quiet.[return][return]- Accountability: Who's it for anyway?[return]Often the church patriarchs and matriarchs consider themselves above accountability. Their age and status in the community gives them a kind of immunity from it. [return][return]Jesus and Paul s clear instructions to deal with sin and conflict in the church (Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:15-17, 1 Cor. 5: 11-13) are only applied to hot button sins (e.g. divorce, premarital sex, challenging authority, etc.). These sins are loudly preached against and the people who committ them are publicly disciplined, cast out, or otherwise raked over the coals. [return][return]What about extreme sins, like when missionaries and elders and pastors rape children? No, we re told, we must pray for those leaders and do nothing more. If we break the code of silence, we re accused of the sin of judgmentalism, vengeance, anger and so forth. [return][return]You know in some ways, the Church is seriously screwed up. That s why these are some of the very deep and dangerous sins I wish Bridges had covered in his otherwise stellar work.[return][return]6) 4.5 out of 5[return][return]Overall, the book was a huge encouragement to me, in that Bridges gentle treatment of these common sins paints a bright, uplifting picture of what the Church can become if we simply want to. All we need is to humble ourselves I mean totally forget our privilege, status and years of service and decide that our lives will not be a breeding ground for these sins anymore. [return][return]No sin is respectable.[return][return]Speaking of respect, it isn t easy taking on the attitudes of overly comfortable Christians. I respect Jerry Bridges for the courage to share this unpopular yet urgently needed message with us.[return][return]--- Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."...more
I found "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" insightful, gripping, and inspiring. I've shared a similar emotional struggle while examining my Christian beliI found "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" insightful, gripping, and inspiring. I've shared a similar emotional struggle while examining my Christian beliefs, so I was on the edge of my seat with each question the author set out to answer.
I believe this book should be required reading for Christians for a number of reasons... western Christians and Muslims don't understand one another very well. Qureshi draws western Christians' attention to our reputation in the Muslim community and translates the latter's culture, behaviors, and assumptions to help believers better understand and relate to our Muslim neighbors.
Secondly, his story highlights the embarrassing consequences of encounters between unbelievers who are surprisingly well-informed and Christians who are depressingly uneducated about our own faith and, therefore, unable to answer questions and critiques. The author's experiences should be a lesson to us about the far-reaching impact of our decision on whether or not to educate ourselves about our beliefs.
Thirdly, Qureshi's journey is an example to Christians of what it means to love God with all our mind. I've heard people say that working through foundational questions of faith is a waste of time..."no point in reinventing the wheel." But then I think about Qureshi and other authors like him, and it makes sense. If faith is supposed to be personal, then it has to make sense on a personal level... "All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...more
Before I get into my response to this audio book, I thought it might help you to know the angle I'm coming from: Firstly, I'm not a trained theologianBefore I get into my response to this audio book, I thought it might help you to know the angle I'm coming from: Firstly, I'm not a trained theologian or minister or an expert in ecclesiology (theology of the Church). But I guess you could call me a hobbyist, and my interest in these things is sincere, so by all means, speak up and share your ideas about this stuff, whatever they might be. :-)[return][return]Secondly, as a pastor's kid I've heard of revivals, scandals, trends and dangers within Christendom for more than 20 years. So I have to admit, there is a small, exasperated voice in my head saying, "What new twist is someone putting on my faith this time?" But that isn't the only thing bouncing around in my head when I meet a new book about the Church. The other voice, which is much more compelling (and friendlier!), reminds me to stay curious, humble, and open to whatever God might want to teach me. And it reminds me that I've had my own doubts about Church and western Christianity over the years, and just maybe this author will help shed some light on what I've already felt in my gut about the problems I've witnessed.[return][return]That being said, the waters were a little rough for me in the first few chapters of The Next Christians, where Gabe Lyons summarizes the state of American (this could apply to Canadian Christians too, so I'll just say "NA", short for North American) Christianity. He describes the many sub-groups of Christians by the way they relate with secular society, but these descriptions seem over-simplified. While he mentions their strengths, he ends up casting each group in a rather negative light in an effort to contrast them with what he calls the "next Christians." So that's the main hiccup I ran into as I digested this book.[return][return]Moving right along, I was fascinated by his idea that over the last few decades (or the last century, even) NA Christians have put the gospel message out of balance, focusing on salvation but minimizing the other half of the story: the restorative piece of God's work. God's end goal is not just for us to be saved, but He also restores our souls, minds, hearts, and relationships in the process, and He will bring restoration to the world at the end of time as well.[return][return]Bringing restoration back into focus alongside the message of salvation, Lyons says, helps regular Christians (like me!) finally understand our natural impulse to create things that are beautiful and to fix things that are broken, like our neighborhoods, homes, workplaces, hobbies, (Facebook pages?), and anything we can get our hands on to beautify. This point really hit home for me, especially because I still carry a little bit of the shame of being thought of as 'liberal' (in the sense that people want to spit after saying it) because of my relentless drive to preserve that which is beautiful (like nature) and speak up for people who are down on their luck or oppressed. So in my case, it's refreshing to be reminded that God created us to enjoy and want to do these things, because by doing so we're reflecting His nature; we were made in His image, after all![return][return]The rest of the book delves into the many different attitudes and activities these "next Christians" engage in. His stories inspire me and they've got me brainstorming about changes I might make to my own life. Gabe also narrated the audio version of his book, which added a personal touch.[return][return]Now obviously, I can't summarize all the angles or the depth of the author's points in the confines of my short review, so you'll just have to pick up a copy for yourself to see exactly what Lyons is trying to say. ;-)[return][return]Many thanks to christianaudio (http://christianaudio.com) for providing a free audio download of this book for review....more
The story opens on Kit, a 27 year-old professional headed to his girlfriend's place on a pleasant Sunday outing. (Now, I didn't think anything could dThe story opens on Kit, a 27 year-old professional headed to his girlfriend's place on a pleasant Sunday outing. (Now, I didn't think anything could dampen my enthusiasm for visiting London one day, but Kit's misadventure through England's most notoriously convoluted transit system came uncomfortably close.) Happily, though, the Tube is soon exchanged for ley travel--much bigger and more adventurous, certainly more dangerous, and arguably easier to navigate! Throw in a hot commodity, a nefarious creep with his mob of iniquitous brutes, a handful of innocent mistakes, and the reader is swept into a lighthearted odyssey in pursuit of the skin map before it falls into the grasp of said creep.[return][return]This novel is a pleasure to read, partly due to Lawhead's imaginative storytelling, and partly to his choice of interesting cultural settings. Here in Canada, our entertainment is usually presented through an American lens; so reading The Skin Map from the lead characters' British perspective was a refreshing change. Discovering colourful British slang was also part of the fun. In chapter one, for example, I spiced up my vocabulary with "skint" (having no money), "up sticks" (to relocate), "sprogs" (children) and "old-timey" (old-fashioned).[return][return]The characters are entertaining, quirky and enjoyable to watch along their journey. If I have one complaint, it would be minimal character development. The leads, namely our amateur ley travelers, don't exhibit any compelling inward struggle given the mind-bending nature of the experience--especially without a map to point the way home. Kit only begins to rise from the page in three dimensions near the story's end. The villain, meanwhile, is also not a dynamic force, as he doesn't appear to have a motive besides pure, self-serving evil.[return][return]I rate the book as 3 out of 5 stars for two reasons: 1) minimal character development, and 2) the story doesn't give me the feeling of an epic, when compared to some of Stephen Lawhead's other books. Still, I recommend "The Skin Map" to Lawhead fans and anyone else who'd enjoy an easy-to-read adventure through space and time. I look forward to the next Bright Empires novel.[return][return]A complimentary copy of "The Skin Map" was provided to me by Booksneeze as part of the blogger review program....more
Stephen Lawhead gives a convincing argument for placing Robin Hood in Welsh country, as opposed to the much more familiar Sherwood Forest. I've been dStephen Lawhead gives a convincing argument for placing Robin Hood in Welsh country, as opposed to the much more familiar Sherwood Forest. I've been drawn to Welsh history ever since I watched Sir Derek Jacobi play a medieval monk in the Cadfael mystery series, so Robin Hood's relocation to that time and place was a lot of fun for me.[return][return]In this story, Robin Hood actually goes by the name Bran. He's the reckless and self-serving son of an angry Welsh King, whose lands are about to be invaded by murderous, yet extremely religious Norman conquerors. With his father soon dead, Bran, Iwan (Little John), and many of their people flee to the forest for safety. As more Welsh kingdoms fall to the Normans, Bran struggles to find his destiny, especially as his own plans don't always coincide with the well-being of his people.[return][return]Did I find the story suspenseful? Let me answer that with another question: Was I blissfully exhausted after realizing I'd stayed up till 4am to finish the novel last night? The answer is a resounding "yes!" After really getting to know each of the major characters I was happily drawn into the drama.[return][return]The plot moved along a little slowly for part of the novel, but what was sacrificed was made up in character development. I was happy with it. And besides, there was plenty of action throughout to keep the overall story riveting. I also truly love Lawhead's descriptions in this story, especially of the landscape, the lifestyle, and the action scenes. At some points his writing seemed exquisite to me. Love love love! [return][return]I loved "Hood" and I highly recommend it. Definitely worth 5 out of 5 stars. And I can't wait to read book two in the series: "Scarlet."...more