For a weekly load of what’s going on in our house, we just started a blog for our family/ministry.  It will cover a broader range of things from life as a mommy, theological reflections, and where we’re at as a family.  And maybe more….

The new website covering our ministry to the Czech Republic:





So Long

Since September of 2011, I realized that I did not have the amount of time to invest in my own personal reading, as would fit 1 book per week.  Between a demanding full time list of classes, a full time job, being there for my neighbors, and seeking to be a good husband/father (in no particular order), the 52 book endeavor didn’t quite fit in with my priorities.  I did have the opportunity to read a ton of great books through school that have impacted me greatly, and even had a little personal reading on the side, but leaving this for awhile proved beneficial to strengthening my family, graduating, and making a big move to Denver, CO to pursue an MA in Apologetics and Ethics.  A lot more in life happened, but that’s not the point of this post.  
But anywho…..

We are in the process of joining the missions organization “Pioneers” and will have a new website up sometime next month.  I’ll post it here when it’s up (if anyone can still see this :-P) and on our facebook/twitter pages, so more information to come!  We’ll probably keep this site up for the sake of anyone looking at the few book reviews I left, but it won’t be updated.  

Soli Deo Gloria,

180 Movie

Of all the atrocities going on around the world, this is one issue we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to.  May Jesus Christ use this powerful 30 minute documentary to His glory.

My 52 Books #16 “Confessions” by Augustine of Hippo

The confessions of Augustine is one of the first auto-biographies written in the history of the Western world.  It runs the course of his infancy all the way to his conversion to Christ in his later life.  While it does flow chronologically for the most part, with important people and places along the way, it is different than simply telling a personal story, in that he spends a lot of time writing out words of worship and adoration with his musings over philosophical issues.  It was as if he were writing primarily to God, but then back to his audience every so often along the way, and vice versa.

While there is much debate as to why he wrote this work, it is very clear that his aim was to glory in the God who saved him, despite the lifestyle he sought after for so long.  He cried out, “Why so late in your coming, O my Joy?  You continued to be silent while I, arrogant, dejected, restless, and sick of it all, kept straying farther and farther from you, and more and more into the sandy oil of a deep, inner anguish.”  (Book II, Ch. 23)  He lived a licentious way of life, filled with drunkenness and concubines.  He poured his life into self pleasure and multiple philosophies (i.e. Manicheanism and Neo-Platonism), thinking there he would find true happiness.  But needless to say, the pleasures of the world cannot compare to the riches of the joys of the eternal Father, and it was for that he wrote out the story of his life.  He was no longer bound by shame, but the God who saved Him.  The work of the Confessions was that of worship.  It told of his life, but pointed to the God who gave it to him.

Throughout the book, he is continually transparent over his flaws and personal sins.  From his lust, his anguish, and all the way down to stealing pears for no apparent reason other than the joy of stealing (Book 2, Ch. 4).  It was his way of unashamedly exposing himself to let the light of the gospel shine all the more brightly in his life’s story.

Though, he had much doubt, due to his philosophical pursuits (the academics of the time, much like ours, thought it impossible to know anything for certain), he did not allow that to stop his desire of understanding Christianity.  He had a false understanding of what Christianity was, so he was initially turned off, mainly because he thought it was unintelligent to be a Christian, until he met Ambrose, who was a very powerful preacher of that time, and his presuppositions were broken.  While he was not immediately changed, God used encounters with people like that as stepping stones toward Himself, and it was major figures in his life like Ambrose, and primarily his unwavering mother influence, who showed him the love of Jesus.  Later he received a vision or experience where God told him through a little girls voice to take up the Bible and read.  He decided to open it up to the first place he could place his finger, and it fell on Romans 13:13,14.  Though a strange verse to bring about someone’s conversion, God sovereignly changed his heart by those few words, which attacked the core idol that kept his heart from Christ.

The writing style of Augustine was much richer than I had imagined.  He was very real about his life, and did not attempt to hide who he was to his readers.  Though, I did have issue with a few things.  Augustine has been known to be amazingly protestant and catholic at the exact same time (none of us is perfect :-P).  While he handles Scripture in a very solid way most of the time, he allegorizes a lot later on in the book.  While none of the allegories cross into heresy, it does make you wonder where he got it.  His platonic bent also peaks it’s head out into the open at times, but like I said, none of us has kink free armor.  It will be interesting to see what minor areas of theology or philosophy were just dead wrong in my own life.  We look back and can see the flaws in others, but it is harder to see them in our own lives.  May God continue to open our eyes to the present and future in light of the past!

My 52 Books #15 “The Mystery of the 666 Revealed” by Uriyah Baraka

Well, where to begin….I will explain myself, but this was my initial reaction.  Since this is meant for review I will try my best to condense it by addressing a few of the bigger issues (Wound up failing at brevity :-/).

The underlying foundations of this work are borderline dualistic/gnostic in nature (a false duality between the material being evil and the spiritual being good.  Very Platonic in nature) and faulty in interpretation.  Mr. Baraka’s initial arguments from the text are built upon an allegorical interpretation, where the author smashes his presuppositions or personal ideas into the text.  It’s a prime example of proof-texting and eisegesis.  That meaning the author will pluck out a verse from it’s immediate/intermediate context and make a case based on a few words that only make sense in his interpretation outside of the wholeness of the original context.  One of the worst features of the book, in my opinion, is the fact that he does not back his work up with citations, but simply assumes that his readers will follow his every word as fact without question.  Rob Bell did something very similar in his recent book “Love Wins”.

The primary problem with this book is Braka’s use of allegory in interpretation.  While the Bible does contain much allegory and figurative language, it always interprets itself within the book, other areas of Scripture, or in exceptional cases can be found in an immediate historical context (i.e. Revelation 3:14-22).  Similarly, to really understand the book of Hebrews you need to understand Leviticus, along with the rest of the Pentateuch.  But here we find interpretations of many specific words that are not found in the historical-grammatical fashion of it’s time.  He interprets the leopard in Revelation 13:2 to be an “adulteration of the Word to the degree that it takes on an infernal quality of Gehenna.”  and somehow man and the devil are two and the same? (pg 8,11)  Again, zero citation.  You really have to stretch the Scriptures hard, and inject some additives into what doesn’t connect, in order for the majority of this book to make any sense.  This is the peak of dishonesty and many of the claims found in here turn on itself, as the basis and teaching of this book is anti-Christ.

Probably the most annoying factor is that he does not represent the opposing view well at all.  He tends to think that Christians worship a man.  And that in so doing we are worshiping the creation rather than the divine.  His basis of argument here is built off another passage out of context, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Cor 15:50)  If you look at the context of this picked out verse (v.12-58) you will see that Paul is talking about the need for a physically resurrected body that is in the same manner as Jesus Himself (though we are not to become divine we do partake *or enjoy* His divine nature).  The reason Paul was rejected at Mars Hill in Acts 17 was due to his proclamation of a physical resurrection.  The philosophy of that time (much like Baraka’s) was platonic in nature, which thought the physical resurrection to be foolish.  Only the spiritual was considered worthy of contemplation to both first century philosophers and seemingly here with Baraka.

Jesus, Iesous, Yeshua, Isa, Gott, Boze, or however you pronounce His name (He is not the God of the Jews only- Romans 3:29.  And the “praise zeus” hypothesis holds no weight in the greek), is the eternal God, Who created all of creation (Col 1:15-20), yet took on corruptible flesh (John 1), did not sin (Heb 4:15).  He was then crucified for our sin in our place and was raised after death as physically incorruptible.  After this he touched and ate (Luke 24:39,42,43), so He never lost His human nature after He ascended.  And afterward they worshiped Him (luke 24:52).  So we do not worship a created being, but the eternal-transcendant Son, who took on created flesh and now lives with an infinite resurrected body.  Again, the lack of citation from Mr. Baraka is extremely disheartening, and his work should be thoroughly questioned by his followers.  He claims that the Trinity itself is a concept birthed at the council of Nicea under Constantine.  This is another reason why he should be questioned (The term Trinity was birthed by Tertullian in the second century, and the concept is eternal (Gen 1:26, John 17:5, 2 Cor 13:29….Side note: God could not be eternally loving without His creation in such a unitarian view).

Trying to make this as short as possible (A book could be written on his historical and Biblical inaccuracies.), I wanted to address the issue of “vicarious imputation of righteousness”.  This is the crux of the gospel, and I do hope that those who read this would consider the difference between religious duty and the amazing enjoyment of the grace that binds us to the Father through the gift of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Baraka said, “Yet the doctrine of the beast teaches us, we are saved by a grace that is not of works (obedience), but of grace (unmerited favor).” (pg. 26)  The Scriptures speak of the good news that Jesus saves us from our sin.  There is a major confusion (or intentional deception) in his mind that this unmerited favor implies that there is no need for holiness following salvation.  Someone said it rightly, “Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.”

Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross (1 Cor 15:1-4).  He was tortured, and nailed to that tree for our infinite crimes against the infinitely holy God of creation.  This was to express His righteousness while simultaneously holding back justice, and granting His love and mercy as a gift to be received and not earned (Romans 3:21-23).  The law is not obsolete, as Baraka assumes Christians believe, but it is a schoolmaster/guardian to lead us to Christ that we might be justified (ie. made right) by faith.  Hebrews speaks of the law making nothing perfect, but it was always by faith that one is justified (Heb 7:19, Rom 4).  But like he rightly states in James 2, faith without works is dead.  This grace is not meant to say, “you’re saved, now go off on your own and do what you want.”  This grace is meant to save and then work in and through those who are in Christ.  He does not leave those He transforms alone like orphans, He is a good Father.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And Philippians 2:9,10 “…Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

I would strongly caution anyone reading this to fact check everything.  My heart goes out to those who get so close to the kingdom, yet are halted by the false teachings of work righteous religion.  Jesus is the only one who divides the line between religion and relationship, and He will manifest Himself to you if you will repent of your sin and trust in Jesus with who you are.

A few links to help along the way.
If you’re looking for an easily accessible entry point toward Biblical apologetics and teaching:

My 52 Books #14 “How Long O Lord?” by D.A. Carson

It’s been a few weeks, but I am back at it.  I have loved reading a book a week, but with school starting and attempting to adjust to being a parent with 2 kids, I thought I’d hang this up for a little while to get settled.  It was good though, since it gave me more time to dig into this subject.

I was honestly unprepared for this book.  About to go to sleep, I thought I would read a few chapters before conking out and it was like a brick thrown at my head.  He begins by describing the internal torture of a parent who’s child was accidentally crushed by a garbage truck backing up, then asking the question, “where was God?”

He prefaces the book by expressing that this is not intended for those who are currently going through such struggles, but describes his work as a “preventative medicine”, so that when (not if) suffering happens, we will have an idea as to what is going on and Who we can turn to as our sovereign refuge.

A number of questions are addressed, such as “If God is good, how could He allow suffering and evil?”  and “If he is good, is he incompetent to prevent it? or is he just unwilling?”  These are very good questions that people will tend to ask when tragedy strikes.  But sadly, many will ask these questions and assume one or the other and come to a conclusion without seeking the truth.  This is why such a book was written.

When we grasp that the root of evil is found within and not from without, we begin to attain an awareness of why things are the way they are.  Most people can look at the world and see that there is a problem, but WHY there is a problem is usually misinterpreted. Some might say, “If God is good, why doesn’t He just eliminate the evil in the world?”  That question comes with the presupposition that the evil is “out there”, and assumes that God runs off of our standard of goodness.  If He were to truly take out evil, you and I would be swept away with the current, since we have done evil.

Though we have a root of how evil entered the world (Genesis 3) and while Carson brings to light many of the reasons why it may happen in the lives of believers and non-believers alike, the question of why God allows it to persist is not for us to declare.  We simply do not know, but we can rest in His promises that He will do away with it one day (Revelation 21:1-7), and in His great mercy He has stepped in to save us from our evil by the death of His Son Jesus.  His physical resurrection being the stamp on death itself, putting death to death.

Through repentance and faith in Jesus for a right relationship to God, we are given assurance of a future hope, though the world is decaying around us.  By faith we are united with Him in a very tangible way.  “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5) The resurrection of Jesus was to be the first of many more to come.  And a physical eternal heaven with God is the greatest reality to look forward to for those who are in Him!  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Though suffering and evil persist, we know that God is good, and that He will make all things new.  An amazing reality to look forward to!

“When we suffer, there will sometimes be mystery.  Will there also be faith?”

My 52 Books #13 “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul

If you were to choose one word to describe the eternal God of all creation, what would that be?  The Scriptures are full of words and phrases that express the attributes of God (Loving, Just, merciful, wrathful, all knowing, all powerful etc…), but there is one that describes the core of His being:  Holy.  This captures the essence of who He is, and it is the one attribute that all other attributes flow out of.

“Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree.  Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession.  The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy.  Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy.  He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath wrath; or justice, justice, justice.  It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.”

If the Bible gives such an emphasis on this aspect of who God is, then I want to seek that out with everything I have (which is no safe endeavor).  And in the process of seeing His holiness, expounded upon by Dr. Sproul, I find myself feeling incredibly unworthy and insignificant in the midst of His greatness.  His holiness is so awesome, that anything unholy in His presence is immediately consumed.  Like a dry leaf to a flame, His holiness is a consuming fire.

This is one of the few books that I seek to read or listen to at least once a year, since it continually has that kind of impact on me.  Seeing the greatness of His majesty as He shouts through His creation and word just drives me to my knees in awe.  The psalmist had the right frame of mind when he said, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).

His holiness will demand an eternal justice one day for the crimes of every man and woman.  And even the most trite of sins are far more exceedingly sinful that we know.  Yet in spite of our rebellion, He poured out His divine wrath on the Person of Jesus, who took our punishment on Himself.  He loved us that much.  And for those who are born again, His holiness is a greatness that can be approached with confidence and awe, as opposed to absolute terror.  That which is holy is scary, since it is foreign to us.  But because of His great mercy and grace, those who are in Him are now considered holy, because He has made us holy.
Amazing Grace… sweet the sound 🙂

This is one of those books that will most likely pass the timeless test of many generations to come.