Book Briefs: Crouch, Hoover, Wilson, Sproul, and more

Five new books from 2017

book briefs

Book Briefs are short reviews on books I have been reading. Instead of giving a more in-depth review of certain books, I will combine several books and give a quick review of them.

*I received these books from the publisher in exchange for a review*

 

technology

(Photo Credit: Baker Books)

Andy Crouch. The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017. 225 pp. $9.00.

Andy Crouch serves as executive editor of Christianity Today. He is the author of three previous books: Culture Making, Playing God, and Strong and Weak. He and his family live in Pennsylvania.

The Necessary Grace of Repentance

The church in America is sick and we must not ignore that

Each morning, usually right as I wake up or a bit after, before I have to get ready for class and work, I will take a quick glance at social media just to see if there is anything happening in the world or being said to which I need to be aware of. This morning, I found a convicting word which bears those of us in majority communities to prayerfully search our hearts and ask ourselves the hard questions we may be trying to ignore, as well as the actions the Lord may be asking us to take that we are afraid to walk in.

racism

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

This morning on Twitter, Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C., wrote a somber reflection concerning the church in America and race relations. If we are being honest, we have a long way to go. In a series of tweets (which I have compiled together below), we see the heart and conviction of a pastor who desires for the church to deal with her sins and not to sweep them under the rug or dismiss them (or act like they have already been taken care of).

I Am Not My Shame and I Will Be Free

Our bodies were made with a purpose and we don't have to be ashamed of them

I can still hear their voices clearly, heckling me with, “No one will ever love you,” “You’ll never amount to anything,” and “You’re going to die alone.” Everyone knows junior high is brutal and this was no exception. I’m 29 years old and those words still haunt me. When you hear those words at such a formative time in your life, it’s hard not to have them stick, drill down deep inside you, and bury themselves there. It’s so deep that you don’t even realize, years later, how much your life has been dictated by those words.

body shame

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

The fact that you may never see those people again doesn’t take away how bad those words hurt. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found the words for what I was feeling: body shame. I didn’t like my body. In fact, I spent most of my young adult life wishing I had a different one. A body that was built like an athlete and one that was considered attractive. Instead, I was tall and skinny. Instead of having bulging biceps, people would say to me, “You need to put some meat on those bones” (as if I don’t eat on a regular basis, which I certainly do) or “We need to get you into the gym and bulk up.”

These words, though meant well or in jest, only brought shame and I often hid from people in the days that followed in order to recover. Over time, though still imperfectly, I learned some truths that have helped me walk towards a path of viewing my own body better.

Book Briefs: Anderson and Alsup

Two new books on women and on cultivating humility

book briefs

Book Briefs are short reviews on books I have been reading. Instead of giving a more in-depth review of certain books, I will combine several books and give a quick review of them.

*I received these books from the publisher in exchange for a review*

humility

(Photo Credit: Moody Publishers)

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016. 207 pp. $8.00.

Seminary Student, Do You Walk with God?

Are we replacing life in the Spirit with our methods and techniques?

“Enoch walked with God…” (Genesis 5:22, 24)

These words are a haunting set of words, mentioned twice in Genesis 5 as if to put emphasis on them. Enoch walked with God. These are dangerous words, in fact. Not because God is dangerous, certainly not. God is good and gives only good gifts. It is dangerous because people who truly walk with God are often those who we look down on. They don’t have the theological training we do. They don’t have the hermeneutical grid or historical research skills we do. They don’t understand culture or the arts like we do. And yet, these simple believers walk with God.

walking with God

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

When I started struggle with depression a year or so ago, one of the things the Lord placed on my heart was a burden for seminary/Bible college students. This burden came from a place of concern for their emotional and spiritual health. Why so? Because I have met far too many seminary students – and I would include myself in this list – who think those who will enter the kingdom of heaven are only those who get all A’s in their classes and perfect marks on all their assignments. They can affirm on paper how important their body is and how they should take care of it, but they operate from an entirely different theology of body. Their practical theology seems to imply that if they don’t do all these things and volunteer in all the various ways, either God will be disappointed with them or the work of “ministry” won’t get done. And so, they stay busy, disregarding boundaries and the real limits we finite creatures have for the sake of “preparing for ministry,” as if preparing to serve the Lord means disregarding your humanity and your reality as an embodied, finite being. But is this correct? Is this what it really takes to walk with God?

Book Briefs: White, Perkins, DeRusha, and Gordon

book briefs

Book Briefs are short reviews on books I have been reading. Instead of giving a more in-depth review of certain books, I will combine several books and give a quick review of them.

*I received these books from the publisher in exchange for a review*

 

book briefs

(Photo Credit: Baker Books)

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World. By James Emery White. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017. 224 pp. $10.00.

James Emery White is currently the senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, which he also founded, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He formerly served as president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including The Rise of the Nones and What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary.

In his newest book, Dr. White explains to the reader the cultural climate and religious attitude of Generation Z, which features a large (and growing) population of “nones,” people who have no interest in religion and, thus, have no religious affiliation whatsoever. As White writes, quoting Cathy Lynn Grossman, co-researcher for the American Religious Identification Survey in 2008, “[The nones] aren’t [merely] secularized. They’re not thinking about religion and rejecting it; they’re not thinking about it at all” (21). Additionally, White discusses the spiritual and social climate many of these Gen Z are being raised in, such as being marked by the recession, multiracial, hyper-connected to technology, and sexual fluidity.

In the second half of the book, White instructs us on what a new model might look like for engaging with Generation Z. In his view, the church must be counter-cultural and find her unique, prophetic voice amidst her cultural environment, while also rethinking strategically how to do evangelism and apologetics.

This book is a helpful reminder of some of the challenges the church is facing and will be facing more and more in the years ahead. While one might quibble over statistical data, it is nonetheless helpful to careful think through the issues discussed in this book.

Mourning With Those Who Mourn on Valentine’s Day

Not everyone finds joy in the holiday of love

Today is Valentine’s Day. For some, this day is a focused time of spending one’s day with their husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend (or fiancée), where life slows down for a bit as they enjoy dinner and a night of unhurried time together. For others, however, today is not that day. For others, this is a hard, emotional day. They stay off social media and ask the Lord to be especially near them this day. Some may be so full of grief or so bitter, the only thing they can offer as prayers are tears.

valentine's day

(Photo Caption: Unsplash)

So today, for those of you in relationships, spend some time today praying especially for two groups of people: the single and the grieving.

Social Media, Outrage Culture, and Our Emotional Health

Is social media making us increasingly bitter and unhappy?

It has been almost a month since my last article and a lot has happened since then. Most notably, and tragically, my grandmother passed away a week ago. My emotions have been up and down this past week, but the self-care time (and time away from writing) has given me time to think. After some rather heated encounters this past week on Facebook, I began to think about the role social media plays on our emotional health. I was reminded of this yet again when I read a tweet this morning by John Starke, pastor of Apostles Church Uptown in NYC: “There are three kinds of people in the world: People who like Twitter, people who like Facebook, and people who are happy.” The question which came immediately to mind was, “Is this true?”

In some sense, I think yes. Yes, it is.

emotional health

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

Social media, like any cultural artifact, does something to us. We are formed and shaped in a certain way, mostly unaware of it, but formation is occurring nonetheless. It seems to bring out the meanest, most angry, most bitter sides of us all, which in the long run, is exhausting. We can feel its effects deep down.