Monday, March 26, 2007

Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today by David Hesselgrave

In Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today, highly respected Missiologist and former missionary to Japan, David Hesselgrave takes a detailed look at some of the most difficult issues facing missions today. These issues include:

Sovereignty and Free Will
Are there Other Ways to Heaven?

Who is our Missionary Model: Jesus or Paul?

Do Missionaries get Called Individually or is there a Universal Divine Calling?

Due to my work with a mission’s organization, I am privy to see many of the issues addressed by Hesselgrave worked out on a daily basis so I can attest to the legitimacy of these issues.

What I really like about Hesselgrave’s approach is that he clearly and accurately (albeit briefly in some cases) presents both points of view and then runs them through a biblical analysis.

While many of these issues are very complex and one chapter from this book simply just cannot present every single detail, it does do a great job of giving an overview to some of the very real struggles facing missions today.

This book is very easy to read and Hesslegrave does a great job explaining what the issues are as well as the history that led up to their controversies.


If you are interested in, or find yourself wrestling with difficult contemporary issues in missions today, you will enjoy this book.

Hesselgrave more often than not takes a more conservative view as his conclusion so if you find yourself at odds with his view, you may find yourself squirming in your seat as you read.

You can buy the book by CLICKING HERE

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain by Jen Abbas

I live in the United States where the divorce rate hovers between 50 and 60 percent. Tragically the rate of divorce for those who claim the name of Jesus is the same as those whom do not.

Another way to look at it is like this; as summer rolls around and the wedding season gears up, you may be invited to several weddings. At each and every wedding you attend, as the couple begins to recite their vows of love and commitment for each other, pull out a small coin from your pocket and flip it into the air. Heads the couple will stay together and tails they won’t.

I'm not trying to be cynical, rather that is the sad reality of our culture. But what is even more devastating is the impact that divorce will have on their children. As we move from a generation where a divorce was a cause for public shame, to a generation where divorce is accepted and oftentimes encouraged, we are just now beginning to see some of the consequences the decision to divorce has.

“Adult children of divorce” (ACOD) is the term given to those whose parents have divorced (when they were children or adults) and are now adults preparing for, or are already in a committed marriage. Many of these ACODs are just now beginning to see the traumatic effects their parents divorce have had on them.

From the back cover:

Finally, a book for adult children of divorce, written by an adult child of divorce.

One of the hardest truths about divorce is that every split – no matter when it occurs – will have lifelong effects on the children caught in the crossfire. While most people acknowledge our pain during our parents’ parting, few of us realize that our most significant insecurities, questions, and doubts may not show up until years later, when we seek our own intimate relationships as adults.

In fact, millions of adult children of divorce feel lost, displaced, or unwanted years after the ink has dried on their parents’ divorce decree. Like them, you may fear abandonment, betrayal, or failure in your own marriage. Despite outward successes, you may doubt your emotional abilities. You may notice that your parents’ divorce affects you more each year, not less.

You are not alone!

Through research, interviews, and personal stories, Generation Ex will help you understand the effect of your parents’ divorce on your identity, faith, and relationships and will give you the tools you need to create a dramatically different legacy.

Includes: questions for reflections.

This book is not a “quick fix” or a “self-help” rather it is designed to help you unlock the doors of your painful past, with the help of someone who knows how you are feeling, and allows you to begin the healing process.

If you are an Adult Child of Divorce, are married to an ADOC, are contemplating a divorce, or have already divorced, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I’d also recommend this book as an addition to pre-marital counseling curriculum when either person is from a divorced home.

You can purchase the book through Family Life by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Tomb of Jesus?

Okay I realize the alleged discovery of the tomb of Jesus has been around for a few weeks and I haven't posted anything about it yet.

I came across a poll that said 97% of all people think that James Cameron's documentary is a fraud so I didn't think it was worth addressing. But after more thought I realized not everyone may see it the same way as I do and someone may come across a person from that remaining 3%.

Several well respected scholars and websites have already covered this topic extensively so I'm not going to reinvent what's been done. The following are the places I think do an excellent job while maintaining readability:

Associates for Biblical Research (By far the most thorough analysis, written by a friend of mine)

CARM (Always one of my favorite sites)

Stand To Reason (A review of the documentary from STR)

Bible Places Blog (This site has lots of links but you may need to do a little digging)

I also address the issue of the tomb of Jesus HERE, HERE, and HERE

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin

A few weeks ago I finished a fascinating book by Malachi Martin titled “Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans.” Now I don’t know how many thousands of books I’ve read over my lifetime, quite a few I’m sure, but I can’t seem to recall one as heavy and dark as this one was.

Martin, a (now deceased) former Catholic Priest, writes of five firsthand accounts of demon possession and subsequent exorcism. Martin thoroughly researched each case, interviewing those involved and studying the recordings and transcripts of the exorcism, to present an accurate portrayal of what demonic possession is like. As you can imagine, all of the possessed were involved in sinful lifestyles and Martin doesn’t pull any punches in his recap (Read that: Mature Audiences Only).

Having studied demonology in seminary as well as encountering demonic possession first hand on the mission field (CLICK HERE for that post) I must admit I was quite intrigued at what Martin had to say. Especially because this book is considered a classic in its field, and students of demonology (which I caution anyone against becoming) are bound to read it sooner or later.

Martin’s experiences fit superbly within his Catholic worldview. Items such as sprinkling the possessed with holy water and holding up a crucifix are presented as powerful weapons against demons. Martin teaches us which prayers are to be used to “provoke” the demon and then explains how exorcisms rarely last less than one and often times up to five days.

However when I think back to my experiences, or the experiences of others I know, or even compare it with the biblical accounts of exorcism, I feel like I’m missing something. In the Bible we see Jesus conducting multiple exorcisms. (See Luke 8:26-39, Luke 9:37-43, Matthew 15:21-28, etc.). Time and again he instructs the demons to depart and they do. Never do we see him using “holy objects” or taking several days, or using only special prayers. While not always instantaneous, my experiences and the experiences of those I respect, are that exorcisms usually last less than a few hours and sometimes just a few minutes. None of us used any holy objects or recited magical prayers. We simply gave the situation to the Lord and followed his examples.

So what’s my point? Well I guess what intrigued me most about this book is how do I reconcile my experiences with the demonic being one way with Martin’s experiences being different, while at the same time both experiences actually happened?

Does the enemy play into our worldview? Meaning if we expect them to respond a certain way, will they try to twist it to their advantage, even during exorcism?

Or does God allow the demons to linger on longer as a way to get the Priest’s attention and to show that only He can expel the demons and not the Priest?

I’m not sure how it works.

There are some really good aspects to this book. Martin’s emphasis on making sure you are right with God before even thinking about conducting an exorcism is great. (Even if you aren’t planning an exorcism this is important.) I also really appreciated how Martin traced back over the possessed person’s life and showed how personal choices, deemed insignificant by the person, would eventually snowball into demonic possession and by the time the possessed realized what was going on, it was too late. But there is a price to be paid by reading this book. It definitely wouldn’t win the feel good book of the year award.

Bottom Line:

If you are a student of demonology, have a solid understanding of correct theology and are not easily offended by graphic depictions and language, I recommend reading this book which you can purchase by CLICKING HERE.

However, if even one of those areas does not describe you, than this is definitely not the book for you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Here Come Labels!

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later.... I just wasn't expecting it to be today. I logged on this afternoon planning to write up a book review of a book I just finished to find that the nice folks at blogger were being kind enough to give me the opportunity to upgrade to the new blogger, or my account would be deleted.

You can probably tell by the new look that with the upgrade came some changes. I had been avoiding the upgrade because the new system uses CSS instead of HTML which basically means I couldn't use my old template. Not a huge deal but I don't know the first thing about editing CSS code so I predict some "growing pains" are coming around the corner.

One great new feature that I'm real excited about is my site now has labels! Each post entry has been given a label. If you scroll down the right hand side to the "Table of Contents" you can pick a category and every post I've written under that label will appear. How great is that!

Now if I could just figure out how to resize boxes......