Friday, November 21, 2014

The Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys by Robert C. Dykstra, Allan Hugh Cole Jr., and Donald Capps

The Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys
by Robert C. Dykstra, Allan Hugh Cole Jr., and Donald Capps
ISBN 978-0-664-23340-2
WJK Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys is a short book put out by Westminster John Knox about the relationships of adolescent boys. The book is very therapeutic in its approach, with some references as well to how to relate and pass on the Christian faith to teen boys in the church.

This book is well researched and well documented. It is both accessible and intelligent, and will have much to offer to pastors, youth pastors, teachers, and parents of teens as well. Central to this book is that healthy identity formation for adolescents, including adolescent boys, takes place in the context of relationships. This is an important insight. Many youth leaders in churches are strongly geared toward relational ministry with teens, but have a harder time equipping teens to relate well to one another.

Also, a lot of attention has been paid to the dynamics of adolescent girls relationships with one another, including their structure, as well as the benefits and pitfalls of those relationships. Less attention has been paid to how boys relationships are structured, and how the social structures of adolescent boys can either be life-giving or destructive. (Most often boys have experience with both kinds of relationships).

I would recommend that youth leaders and pastors at least skim this book if they have any interest in either healthy spiritual formation or identity formation for adolescent boys.

Book Review of Violence In Scripture by Jerome F. D. Creach

Violence In Scripture
Interpretation Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church
ISBN 978-0-664-23145-3
by Jerome F.D. Creach
WJK Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Violence In Scripture is part of the resources provided by Westminster John Knox Press and the Interpretation Series. To begin with, Interpretation put out a series of Bible commentaries directed at preachers and bible teachers. These commentaries are very practical and well respected. After finishing the Bible commentaries, the Interpretation folks began to take on the study of themes in Scripture, of which this work is a part.

Violence In Scripture takes on the issue of how the Bible deals with violent behavior, as the title indicates. It attacks this issue sequentially, moving through the narrative of Scripture from the Patriarchs, through the Pentateuch, in Hebrew history and through the Prophets, moving forward into the New Testament. The Psalms are also employed in this study.

The work in this commentary/study is smart, thoughtful, and even handed. Jerome F. D. Creach definitely has a perspective, but his perspective does not cloud him from being fair-minded and taking on the difficult issues regarding violence and discussing them with intelligence and integrity. I love how it is outlined, and the thoroughness of this fine work.

I will add this book to my library, and use it right along with my other books on war, peace, and violence in discerning God's will on such issues.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review of The NIV Once-A-Day Bible for Leaders

The NIV Once A Day Bible For Leaders
ISBN 978-0-310-44243-1
Zondervan (HarperCollins)
Reviewed by Clint Walker

In my life, I have found that Bibles that help you read through the Bible in a year are a very helpful tool to promote discipline in one's Bible reading and in one's spiritual journey. The NIV Once A Day Bible for Leaders is one such resource.

The most popular Bible in this genre is from another publisher, and is knows as the One Year Bible. It will be helpful, then, to compare this Bible to that one in order to communicate the uniqueness of this product.

One clear difference is the choice by the editors to have either the Psalms or Proverbs as a part of the readings for the day. This is a good decision. In the One Year Bible, both are included in each reading, and to be honest it forces the readings from the Wisdom literature to be unnecessarily abbreviated.

Another difference is the brief devotional thought for each day based upon the theme of the Once-A-Day Bible. In this case, there is a brief daily devotional thought about leadership. So, for the person that wants to read through their Bible, and grow as a Christian leader, this is a perfect Bible/devotional to do both at the same time.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, check it out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Review of Organic Mentoring by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann

Organic Mentoring: A Mentor's Guide to Relationships with the Next Generation Women
Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann
ISBN 978-0-8254-4333-6
Kregel Ministry
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Mentoring might be the most impact-filled way of forming disciples of Christ and building the church, but in our quest for efficiency and numbers in attendance in church programs it has often been neglected. Thankfully Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann have put together a wise book that calls the church, and especially church womeen, to engage in the act of mentoring both to make disciples and to help them grow into maturity in the Christian faith.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part makes the case for a new day for mentoring, as well as a new way for mentoring women. Seeking to be sensitive to the needs and culture that mentors need to be missional within, they make the case for a new way to reach and mentor a new generation.

Then, the women lay out the specific fields of ministry and ways of reaching women in order to mentor them. Included are topics such as how to use technology to your advantage as a mentor, and ways of connecting to people who are not necessarily awash in church culture. This really is a rather thoughtful book. Something I hand to a mature Christian women who wants to make an impact on younger generations.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Verizon Size Queen

So, I finally decide to do it. I walk into the Verizon store. Why, you ask? To try and get my phone working properly. I talked to the door lady. She seems to think the only way to properly update my phone is to work through Itunes. Then I get to the "expert" who was supposed to help me.  I explain that my updated apps are not working. That my Facetime is not working. I also added that I was having trouble updating the operating system.

She asked me what Iphone I had. I said I had a 4. She said with eyes rolling...."you only have a 4 and you only have 8G" she said with contempt.

She then repeated, "a 4," followed by the words, "that is a 5 year old phone."

She exhaled with a deep sigh. I asked, "So you are saying my phone is a dinosaur?"

"Press your phone," she replied. Then I complied, "Not even a 4s," she said contemptuously, "you only have a 4. A 4. With only 8G. We now have and IOS 8. You have an IOS 6."

She then shook her head.

I left half insulted, and half laughing. I called Jennifer. "I'm sorry honey," I said, "Apparently I am not man enough."

"Why is that," Jennifer said.

"I stopped by the Verizon store, Apparently the young lady there does not think I am man enough,"

Jen laughed.

"She says a 4 is so small and inadequate. How can you be satisfied with only 8G? My operating system is only a 6. She doesn't know how we could EVER be satisfied."

I guess I will have to upgrade. I told Jennifer, "I never thought it mattered whether my phone was a 4 or a 6. It was just how well I used it. I guess I was wrong."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review of The Maxwell Leadership Bible

The Maxwell Leadership Bible
by God/and John Maxwell
ISBN 978-1-40167978-1
Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Clint Walker

For decades now, John C. Maxwell has been revered both as a ministry leader and as an expert on business leadership throughout the world. He is known for his sequential, step-by-step "laws" that help people grow and develop as leaders wherever they work and live.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible brings together Maxwell's expertise as a minister and a business leader by developing a "study" bible of sorts that goes through Scripture and uses Scripture to communicate the leadership principles he espouses.

The Bible has sidebars and illustrations of Biblical leadership principles on nearly every page. Every book introduction highlights the leadership issues for that particular part of Scripture. There are a few articles in the front of the Bible that introduce principles of Biblical leadership. In the back of the Bible, the leadership laws that Maxwell has developed. There is also a index of leadership issues addressed in Scripture and in this study bible, As well as summaries of several of Maxwell's other books, and how they apply to what you would find and read in Scripture and in The Maxwell Leadership Bible.

This particular resource could have several uses:

  • A devotional guide for a group of leaders
  • A guide for someone who wanted to do an in-depth study of Biblical leadership
For fans of Maxwell and students of Christian leadership, this is a must have book!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apprentice Institute Quick Hits: Talk 1--James Bryan Smith



Quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar
"God before us explains himself as love. Love radiates from God and instills the Light of love in our hearts."

Galatians 4:19

Formation for mission includes:

1. Recieving the light
2. Letting the light be formed in you
3. Bringing the Light to a darkened world

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review of Fleeing Herod by James Cowan

Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family

Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family
by James Cowan
ISBN 978-1-61261-304-8
Paraclete Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

What a unique book! Fleeing Herod tells the story of a pilgrimage of sorts by James Cowan as he makes his way through Egypt in the footprints of the Holy Family. In the process, Cowan discusses the intersection and conflicts between history and scholarship, between the politics of Jesus' day and the politics of today, of his own religious traditions and those of Coptic Christians in Egypt. In the process, he allows us to see the story of the Holy Family's flight to Egypt in new light, allows us to hear from some lesser heard voices in the Middle East, and open the doors for some new spiritual insights.

Fleeing Herod reads like an adventure story, a search for hidden treasure for the soul that will keep most readers turning from page to page. Of course, as with any spiritual autobiography from Eat, Pray, Love to Augustine's Confessions, there are going to be parts of the book that hit home with the reader, and others where one just has to chalk up Cowan's perspectives to who he is. Word to the wise though, Cowan does more reporting than editorializing, even though there are points where his perspective comes shining through)  However, whoever reads this book will learn a lot, grow a lot, and be challenged to think about their lives, the world, and Scripture anew.