Review: 3:16. The Numbers of Hope

coverMax Lucado writes as only he can, with insight and brevity, packaged in powerful imagery. His latest book, 3:16, is packed with delivious observations and challenges, and he does it by focusing on 27 simple words.

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Max then proceeds to add personal stories and humor, supporting and explantory scripture, and writes an entire book on just those few words. An entire chapter on “the world,” another on “He gave,” still another on “one and only son,” and so one. I enjoyed the chapter on “gave;” salvation from Christ is truly a gift, and not one that we have to earn. The good deeds we do gains us no entry into heaven; Christ did it all on our behalf.

The chapter on “perish” is a description of hell that should not be glossed over. For some reason, we don’t like to talk about hell, and when we do, we minimize it to lessen its impact. When we says, “that was a hell of a steak,” somehow we’re complimenting food with a description of eternal torment. We don’t do it with lesser punishments; “my golf game has gone to prison” doesn’t invoke the same image. Hell is described in the bible as a real and eternal place, and Max Lucado finds scripture to support the image of hell full of people choosing not to spend time with God. I found it interesting that Max Lucado doesn’t describe it as full of people wishing they had chose God; the scripture that mentions the rich mand and Lazarus says the rich man wanted Lazarus to visit him in hell. Why didn’t the rich man want to visit heaven instead? Perhaps people in hell are so hardened by their refusal of Christ that they are eternally without God and alone with their selfish thoughts, lying tongues, thieving hearts.

Max Lucado’s 3:16 ends with a 40 day devotional that describes Jesus, both man and God, and what his daily life was like. Who were his friends, and what did they do? Have you ever pondered a man that was liked enough to be invited to a wedding? Jesus was likeable. A man who absorbed the weight of the worlds sins and left Him anguished and crying blood while He waited for God’s judgment to fall on him for sins He didn’t commit but willingly accepted? And after Jesus’ death, and after Peter had disowned Him, Jesus appears while the disciples were fishing, and fixes Peter breakfast. No hint of scorn, no hint of His friend’s betrayal, Jesus simply offers grace. Always.

This book is worth reading over and over and over. Follow the scripture references and read about the greatest gift ever offered to us, and how God so loved us so much that He would die for us so that we can join Him in an eternal, sinless, and reconciled life.

Review: Wonderlust

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=chasingthewin-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1596690763&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr I’m coveting. There, I said it. I want what Vicky Kuyper has.

Not the travels – I get to do that for business. Not the lifestyle, either. I want her eyes, the way she can look at the world and see how God is working in her, around her, through her.

Wonderlust is Vicky’s diary of her travels throughout the world. Machu Pichu, the Amazon, Thailand, Burma, China. Riding elephants, fishing for piranhas, seeing the aurora borealis. And every place she goes, she see God and shares her vision of Him with us. God teaching patience, perspective, comfort, wonder. Her ability to see God’s lessons and footsteps is amazing.

I’ve traveled a bit, and I’ve stopped to wonder what God was doing sometimes. In Wonderlust, though, Vicky sees what God is doing, and then she supports it with scripture, compares her current journey to the journey of God’s people, and then asks if you can see what she sees.

Yes, I want her eyes. I look at a mountain and I see … a mountain. My thoughts usually ramble along the lines of, “Wow, God made a beautiful mountain.” In Wonderlust, Vicky explores God’s strength, God’s steadfastness, our fickleness and fear.

I enjoyed this journey a lot – I’ve seen many places of the world through the eyes of a devout Christian wanderer. And aren’t we all on the same journey? What do you see on your travels?

Review: The Case for the Real Jesus

Medium ImageChristian apologetics books can be pretty dry, but Lee Stroble makes it warm and personable. Instead of lecturing the reader on such topics as “Did the church alter early gospels to suit a political purpose?” and “Was Jesus married to Mary Magdelene,” the author instead takes you on a journey to visit world renowned archaeologists and historians. These sources are not necessarily Christian; Strobel is looking for sources that believers and non-believers can respect.

Then Strobel narrates his visits with these experts, asking tough questions while describing the chair he’s sitting in and the hospitality of his experts and how refreshing the hot tea they serve.

One thing is clear from his research – most of the questions raised in major madia and fiction such as Dan Brown’s work are easily debunked. Historical inaccuracies and a misunderstanding of Jewish culture abound in the “alternative” gospels; in most cases, it is possible to trace these other books to gnostics, Syrians, and other groups trying to push an agenda.

That still goes on today, doesn’t it?

If you’d like to read an excerpt, Zondervan has made one available at The Case for the Real Jesus. Whet your appetite; I think you’ll find it’s an excellent addition to an apolgetic’s library.