Monthly Archives: November 2017

World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life

World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our common Life by Marvin Olasky

World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our common Life by Marvin Olasky

In today’s contentious political environment where reason, sound inquiry, and critical thinking seem to have been overwhelmed by name-calling, shouting, and protests, Marvin Olasky offers a breath of fresh air in World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life.

Olasky, the former editor of World Magazine, offers 58 of his columns from 1997-2016 for our consideration. His reasoning and arguments remind me of the home school debate league our son participated in, where debaters were required to understand both sides of the issue. He suggests how we as Christians might understand and discuss current political issues, usually offering information or facts that were new to me.

A Variety of Topics

Through these columns, Olasky suggests a thoughtful Christian worldview, loosely organized into several broad categories including Basics, Changes, Institutions, Causes, and Conclusions. He covers such topics as abortion, the constitution, education, transgenderism, immigration, and more, and suggests how we might approach these issues. Some of his essays are twenty years, yet I was surprised how current his thinking was.

While this is an interesting read, it is probably more useful as a reference book. The Table of Contents is somewhat helpful, although many of his chapter titles don’t make clear the topic. But it is refreshing to read thoughtful commentaries on political and worldview topics.

 

 

Forgiveness and Justice: A Christian Approach

Forgiveness and Justice: A Christian Approach by Dr. Bryan Maier

Forgiveness and Justice: A Christian Approach by Dr. Bryan Maier

In the Christian healing arena, forgiveness has become a staple. Whether you are doing Sozo, Thoephostic, Immanuel, or HeartSync, a standard question is, “Have you forgiven….?” It’s a great question and often releases healing into deep places that have remained stuck for years. The standard thinking is that the offended or abused person can forgive, regardless of the actions of the offender and even if the offender hasn’t repented. In fact, even if he’s dead. Many people find healing through this process. In this model, forgiveness is usually defined as releasing a legal obligation or transferring the debt to God. Once the debt is released, the offended person can move on, whether the offender asks for or receives the forgiveness or not.

A Different Approach

Dr. Bryan Maier offers a different take and an interesting perspective in Forgiveness and Justice: A Christian Approach . Maier says that forgiveness must be rooted in the forgiveness of God, and that since God requires repentance, so must we. He puts the onus on the offender to repent and outlines a lengthy process of verifying the validity of the repentance and this puts all the cards in the hands of the offended. She is not required to accept the apology, but the offender is required to bide his time and continue reaching out. And by extension, if the offender is dead and can’t repent, it seems to leave the offended in a rotten position of never being able to forgive. Maier doesn’t spend much time on this, but it does beg the question. He also suggests that forgiveness is essentially unrelated to healing.

I was intrigued with the parallel to God’s forgiveness. True, he does require repentance. And if we don’t repent, we aren’t forgiven. That makes sense. But as a person who had to forgive a dead offender, I found real problems with Maier’s model. How would I release him since I wasn’t even aware of the abuse until years after he was gone?

This is dense and thoughtful book. Maier makes and documents his points well. I would recommend it to those working in healing and ministry. You may not agree with him, but he will make you think.

 

 

 

 

The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible

The Beginner’s Gospel Story Book by Jared Kennedy (illustrator Trish Mahoney)

 

I’m so excited! Litfuse just sent me The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy (illustrator Trish Mahoney) to review. As a grandma of preschoolers, I’m always looking for books that don’t just tell bible stories as “fairy tales” unrelated to anything else, but rather books that connect the whole story of redemption from start to finish. This is one of the latter. There are several reasons I love it.

Focus on Promise

This book focuses on promise, tracing God’s perfect promises in 52 stories from the Old and New Testaments. In each story, one key truth is highlighted in boldface type. It isn’t always at the end of the story, but can be found anywhere. This makes a fun game for the kids – find the promise! Each story ends with a question to discuss with the child, often a question focusing on Jesus–even in the Old Testament. Salvation and the Holy Spirit are frequent. The book skips those parts of the stories that kids might have a hard time understanding. For example, it doesn’t tell that Moses killed an Egyptian. It just says that Moses went away.

Gorgeous and Educational

In addition, vividly colorful illustrations and fun elements can teach colors, counting, opposites, patterns and object recognition. These are not obvious, so the reader can look for them or not, depending on the child’s interests and level. Each story is six to eight pages, with simple language, short sentences, and lots of action words and onomatopoeia. The paper is thick and glossy. It’s gorgeous! The book is large, boasting more than 300 pages (which may make it a little heavy for a preschooler to hold by herself). The stories are very abbreviated – perhaps too abbreviated for the target age. But most preschoolers will enjoy this book. I sure do!

 

Creating a Spiritual Heritage

A Spiritual Heritage: Connecting Kids and Grandkids to God and Family by Glen & Ellen Schuknecht

As a mom and grandma, one of my primary goals in life is to make sure that my kids and grandkids are not simply following Jesus, but really following Jesus. That they have a faith that sticks in times good and not so good. This seems to be more of a challenge with each passing year. Not only does the culture create increasing obstacles, but even defining what following Jesus means in today’s environment seems to be a moving target. Even more challenging is how we as older adults speak well into the lives of our adult kids and grandkids.

Glen and Ellen Schuknecht offer a plethora of good information in their new book, A Spiritual Heritage: Connecting Kids and Grandkids to God and Family. They are involved in discipleship and family ministries at Veritas Academy in Manchaca, Texas and have made a deliberate commitment to daily build a spiritual legacy in their family. This is done more by dozens of small actions and rituals rather than by one grand thing.

Glen says, “These little things are what allow your precious kids and grandkids to fall asleep safe in God’s arms and wake up knowing they are part of something big and special.” He encourages us “through careful prayer and intentional conversation,” to “build a legacy of faith that will sustain your kids, your grandkids, and all your future generations throughout their lives.” That’s a goal I can subscribe to.

But the Schuknecht’s don’t just spout platitudes and sanctimonious words. They offer practical tips and examples in every chapter. And while their family seems to be one of those Norman Rockwell paintings, they offer examples of other less idyllic families they’ve worked with using their conversational coaching RITE formula: Relate, Inspire, Teach, Equip. Finally, each chapter includes one or more “Quick Tips” sections that summarize their points.

While much of this book is common sense and while some who have been Christians a long time might say, “I knew that…,” I found enough good ideas to consider this book a good investment. For those who are new to the faith or who grew up without strong family bonds, it’s a must-have.

Thanks to Kregel Publications for inviting me to review this book.