Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Dying to Live Again"

I recently read a book by Tom Riley on the subject of baptism, called "Dying to Live Again." While the book didn't fully live up to what I was expecting, it was very helpful in allowing me to use Paul's letter to the Romans to understand a little better just what role baptism plays in a Christian's life. I would certainly encourage anyone to read the book. It's a fairly quick/easy read. My only critique of the book in regards to what I feel it to be lacking, is that I wish Tom had gone into more detail and listed out the various views of baptism that various Christian denominations hold and the major differences between them. I know that would be more commonly found in a theology or a doctrine textbook, but I'm the type of person that likes to look at what certain groups believe and how they come to believe (what Scriptures support their position, interpretations, etc). I think after reading Romans a little more closely and intensely, the idea of baptism is that it is the point at which a person fully becomes Christ's. It's a way for a person to die, with out physically dying. Looking at Paul's words surrounding this section of Romans, he references, as examples, the fact that in a marriage, the only way for the covenant to be broken, is for someone/something to die. Either that's the husband/wife dying, releasing the other from the covenant, or a person breaks the covenant and kills the relationship (adultery/unfaithfulness). Likewise Paul also uses the illustration of a slave and how after a slave dies, his/her master no longer has any say over him/her. In the same way, until we accept Christ, we are still subject to sin and are considered to be slaves to sin. Through the act of baptism, we identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, meaning that we die and then are 'raised to a newness of life' (a new life). After our 'death' we are no longer slaves to sin and sin can no longer keep us from pursuing an intimate relationship Jesus. That's not to say a person who has accepted and been baptized into Christ won't struggle with sin. However a Christian who has given his/her life over to Christ and has been united with Him in baptism, has the greatest advocate that anyone could ever have on his/her side, and if any of us who have this status find ourselves in a particular sin, Jesus will continue to wash us clean and forgive us if we turn to him and confess/repent. The entire book of 1 John really captures this concept as well as the life of a new Christian (any Christian for that matter), but I'll end with quoting three specific verses.

"8If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts."         - 1 John 1.8-10 (NLT)

Preparing for "Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After"

I recently had the chance to read and review Craig Groeschel's book, "Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After." Let me just start by saying that this book is absolutely phenomenal! Craig writes in a way that is easy to read and understand. Even though I myself am already married, there were still plenty of practical pieces of advice that I have taken from this book and have implemented within my own life and marriage. I HIGHLY recommend this book for ANY and EVERYONE in the age range from Junior High to Adult!! Whether you’re just starting to become interested in the opposite sex or have been sucked into one bad relationship after another, this book will definitely challenge you to reconsider your top priorities in your relationships and will challenge you to become a better person! I’m a campus minister at a secular university, and I’m going to purchase a hard copy for my wife to read and to have on hand when she meets with college aged girls and deals with counseling concerning love, sex, and relationships! I can’t really say enough about this book that will do it justice, but I can say that I’ve read plenty of other books on relationships and this one is arguably in my top two of all time! Do yourself a favor, get a copy and read it!

- Author's Website
- More Info
- Read Chapter One
- Author Bio

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Gospel of Yes

I received a book from the publishing company that I am doing a blogging for books program for last month in order to do a promotional video for it. The book was called "The Gospel of Yes." Even though at times this book did seem to remind me of the movie 'Yes Man,' I think the overall premise behind what Mike Glenn was getting as was an important one that we can all can be reminded of. In 'The Gospel of Yes' Mike grabs on to the idea that when we are created by God, we are given a special 'yes', a special destiny within our lives that can only be unlocked by turning to God and walking in faith. This 'destiny' isn't a pre-scripted, step-by-step manuscript that your life follows, but a hidden gateway to a new way of living that's hidden in Christ. While I think the idea that Mike is getting at with his book is one that is nearly identical with the fact that we get a new life through Christ, born from above/again, it is a very interesting book to read and see how Mike sees this new life in Christ unfold in the lives of the people around him and in his own, which has led him to understand the new life in Christ in a new light. Overall if I had to rate 'The Gospel of Yes,' I would probably give it 4 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for a book to mull over and to help you think more about the new life that Christ unlocks for those who give their entire lives over to Him, this book might be a good one or an interesting one for you to read. This book is set to be released tomorrow, June 5, 2012.

- Author's Website
- More Info

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review."

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

I've recently been reading a lot, and so I need to catch you all up on the books that I've finished so that you guys might become interested in reading them for yourselves! =)

A very close friend of mine bought me this book recently and told me to read it. It's called "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?" by Andy Andrews. At first, I couldn't help but think to myself, "OK, why is Seth sending me this book? Is he trying to recruit me to some vigilante task force?" Then I read the book, and let me tell you, if there is any book that I think you should read this year before the month of November, this should be it! Andy talks about how throughout history there have been many, many different movements that have led to the deaths of many, many people, but the one question that always came to mind is the question of how this was possible? In nearly every case, the number of those who would eventually be killed, was vastly superior to that of the people who were killing them. Why couldn't these poor people simply rise up and overthrow this other group? How were these people able to succeed in killing 11 million people? The answer is simple, contents Andrews. They were lied to. The main reasoning behind writing the book, Andrews explains, is to in essence 'light a fire' underneath the rears of people in America when it comes to actually knowing what these people we are electing into political office to lead us are promising us. There are so many cases where a candidate will promise one thing, only to do the exact opposite once they received the necessary votes to win. The pleasant surprise for me from this book, was that in spite of its primary focus on politics and voting, there are many illustrations that have stuck in my head as a preacher/teacher. I highly recommend that you take some time out of your day to read this book, as soon as you can! It's very quick read (I read it in about 30-45 min), but it's packed full of interesting thoughts and convicting truths. If you have any other specific questions about the book that you would like to know about before you read it, feel free to ask me! =)

Early Summer Update

Hello all! I just wanted to pop in and write a few updates for you all I've been busy over the past three weeks and still had time for a wonderful vacation. Emily and I spent a week down in North Carolina with my side of the family, and it was a blast! =) Two Sunday's ago, I was asked to preach out at a supporting church, First Christian Church of Montoursville. It was a lot of fun and it went really well. It was also a little humorous that I was preaching because being that I'm a younger fella, and that I speak and minister on a regular basis to other younger people, I said some things that I thought were understood only be later told by my wife that there some people who looked at each other and asked, "What did he mean by that movie was a smash?" Haha. But all in all, it was a blast to be able to serve a local supporting church. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to preach at my in-law's church, although the pressure to do well for that one will be a little higher. ; ) haha

As of this very moment, I am halfway done with my sermons for both weeks of camp. I had made a schedule with which I was planning to be done today, but I got a little off of my plan because my wife had some extra time off of work and we were able to spend some time together and actually go out on some day-dates (something we really hadn't been able to do for a while). Needless to say, to me it was a good reason to get off of my plan. =) But this week, it's back to the grindstone, and I have 5 more sermons to complete, the process of which has been slow, but very enjoyable. For a while I was trying to be a preacher/teacher that I wasn't, and so I was becoming unmotivated and stuck on the first sermon I was doing. I finally just started to write them the way that's most natural to me, and I produced nearly 2 sermon manuscripts a day! It's really cool to realize how God is using me and revealing stuff to me as I type and think and piece together different revelations with how today's Jr. High and High School students would be thinking about them.

I only have about 2 more weeks until it's off to the first camp, and then from there it's off to Iowa for another camp, preaching at a church, off to Florida for the NACC, and then back here to move to our new apartment. On top of all that, I'm starting a new master's class today, so I'm going to be keeping up with my reading and research for this class as well! Needless to say again, I'm going to be pretty busy, haha. However for most of you who have known me for a long time already know that I would have it no other way. =)

I hope all of you are doing well, and that your summer is already starting off to a be a great one! Hopefully Emily and I will be able to update you guys on here as we go throughout our weeks this summer, and share with you all what God's doing with us, through us, and in us! Until next time! =)