The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: December, 2018

Review: “A Morning and Evening Prayerbook”

This is a review of A Morning and Evening Prayerbook which is edited by Jeanie and David Gushee.

A prayer book? What in the world would an Evangelical ever want with a prayer book? Well, a lot actually. This reviewer is an Assemblies of God minister who wishes the Assemblies included more of a liturgical aspect in its services. A Morning and Evening Prayerbook, edited by Jeanie and David Gushee, is a great tool for the individual who wants to incorporate a component of liturgical prayer to his or her life in a way that is easy and simple to do.

To start with, I find A Morning and Evening Prayerbook to be more logistically useful than a book like The Book of Common Prayer. One of the big reasons is that every church holiday that the High Church celebrates, all the feasts, saints’ days, etc. is included in it. A…Prayerbook keeps the church calendar simple and focuses on the holy days around Easter (Ash Wednesday-Pentecost) and the Advent season. It also provides an index for the years 2019-2023 of when those dates fall. From there, A…Prayerbook functions like a daily devotional reader; there is no skipping from one index of readings to another section, back to an appendix of other prayer readings, and back and forth. This prayerbook starts on January 1 and the reader can move forward through the days, marking where he/she is pausing in the book in case the holiday readings are on a different day so he/she can go back to them. It is very usable in that regard.

Another thing I appreciate about A…Prayerbook is the breadth and variety of prayer sources and authors. Some of the prayers come from liturgical sources like the Catholic Book of Prayers and The Book of Common Prayer. But other writers whose words are included are individuals such as Karl Barth, George Fox, Kierkegaard, and others who one would not necessarily assume would be included in a “liturgical” prayer book. The images included throughout the book provide an additional layer to the effectiveness of contemplation to the book.

As a tool, A Morning and Evening Prayerbook is an easy way to incorporate prayer rhythm into daily devotions, using it as a starting point for conversational prayer. At worst, the user of this book is exposed to a broad amount of Church history, and at best uses that exposure as a way to join an eternal conversation in the Church. You will not be dissatisfied with this book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review of the book. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are my own.

#30SongChallenge – Day 11

SONG 11:  A Song From Your Favorite Band

Artist:  Brand New

Song:  “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”

Album:  Deja Entendu

“The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” is the first song I ever heard from the band which would become my favorite band. I was hanging out with my high school girlfriend in her parents’ living room watching Fuse TV (shout-outs to anyone who used to watch Fuse) when this video started playing. I stopped talking in the middle of the conversation and didn’t say another word for four minutes when the video ended.

Brand New is a band whose albums I feel have always been semi-biographical to my life. Deja Entendu felt likebeing young but starting to mature and be aware of my own internal struggles. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me is seeing that absolutely nothing is what it seems on the surface. Daisy was I am comfortable in who I am and don’t have to impress anyone. Science Fiction was looking back at how far I’ve come and looking ahead to where I am going. I feel like from here, if Brand New never puts out another album, their last album could stand as a farewell album and it has a timeless quality that I can appreciate. I cannot think of another band whose music I feel like I could identify with throughout all sorts of different stages in life.

#30SongChallenge – Day 10

SONG 10:  A Song That Makes Me Fall Asleep

Artist:  Houses

Song:  “A Quiet Darkness”

Album:  A Quiet Darkness

I discovered these guys like an oddly large number of others did, hearing it at the end of an episode of the television show Longmire. There’s something about this song that is just…well…unique. If I am alert and ready to take on the day, this song pumps me up. But if I am winding down to either fall asleep in my chair while reading, or relax and shut down in bed, if I put this song on and set it to start the album to loop back to the beginning after this song, if I am not out by the start of the first real track of the album, I will be shortly thereafter.

Listen and enjoy.

REVIEW: NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible

This is a review of the Ancient-Modern Bible published by Thomas Nelson.

The concept of the Ancient-Modern Bible is a unique one. Take the text of the New King James Version and print it on a page with really wide margins. Instead of printing study notes in the margins however, provide soundbites of commentary related to the passages from individuals who over the past two millenia have influenced Christian thought. In its essence, this is the basic idea of the Ancient-Modern Bible.

General editor Jeremy Buoma and the team that compiled all of the readings did an extensive and thorough job. Everyone from Origen to N.T. Wright and (almost) all of those in between are included as commentators in the margins of this Bible. Also, scattered throughout the pages of this Bible are one-page biographers of the “contributors” to the commentaries of the Bible. These short histories are a quick, useful way to get an introduction to many of the key thinkers of the Church. The back of the Bible includes a series of articles on different doctrinal themes that have been cornerstones of the church. After that is a section on some of the creeds, an Advent/Lent reading calendar, and a section of printed color pages on some of the significant pieces of Church art. This Bible does contain an extensive amount of information and material to give the reader a broad, though not deep range of Christian history.

As much as I enjoy the content of this Bible -I am using the Advent reading calendar this year- I feel like it tries to be way more than it needs to be. It is as if the editing team tried to stretch this Bible so thin with so much stuff that it ends up not being as impactful as it could be. I appreciate the passages from people of the Church in the margins. I feel the biographies are helpful. After that, however, I feel like a lot of the supplementary material throughout this Bible is unnecessary. Unless one really wants to look at the Church art, that part could have been left out. Also, as fascinating as the essays are, I am not sure whether they needed to be included either. Further, a lot is crammed into each page, but I wonder if part of that is accomplished by the fact that font can seem a little on the small side.

In the end, the Ancient-Modern Bible is okay. I got the most out of the fact that it is in a readable translation with a broad range of writers incorporated in the margin commentaries. The rest of the stuff, you can take it or leave it.

I received my copy of this Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

#30SongChallenge – Day 9

SONG 9:  A Song You Can Dance To

Artist:  Haste the Day

Song:  “Long Way Down”

Album:  When Everything Falls 

I have the grace of a hippopotamus wearing crutches. The notion of me dancing is a highly entertaining thought. But there’s something about Haste the Day’s cover of the song “Long Way Down” by the Goo Goo Dolls that just brings it out of me.

The song is heavy, the tempo is consistent, and the volume is loud. Those are the three ingredients an uncoordinated individual really needs to get dancing.

#30SongChallenge – Day 8

Song 8:  A Song You Know All the Words To

Artist:  dc Talk

Song:  “Jesus Freak”

Album:  Jesus Freak

When I was middle-school age, I was pulled into the pastor’s office at church for a closed-door meeting with him and one of the elders. The pastor yelled down at me and told me that I was “sowing dissension in the youth!” I was told that I was backslidden and had a rebellious spirit! My offense: I dubbed a copy of dcTalk’s double platinum, Grammy-award winning album Jesus Freak on a cassette tape and gave it to one of the member’s of my church’s youth group.

There are plenty of songs I know word-for-word. I pick this one because it is the first one that I remember knowing that I knew all the words to. I also pick it because of the album’s “special” place in my life.

#30SongChallenge – Day 7

Song 7:  Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event

Artist: Jerry C.

Song:  “Canon Rock”

Album:  n/a

When Sarah and I got married, one of the first things we had to work on coming to a compromise over was, “What song are we walking down the aisle to?” and “What song are we walking back up the aisle together to?” (Tough choices, right?)

Sarah wanted to walk down the aisle to Pachbel’s “Canon in D.” Ultimately the wedding is her show, so that wasn’t too hard to agree on together. But the walk back up the aisle was another. Whatever we were going to do, I wanted to do something epic. After watching an episode of Scrubs (scene embedded below), I really wanted the groomsmen to do an air band with me doing “lead vocals.”

Sarah nixed that idea. So then I had her listen to Jerry C.’s arrangement of “Canon in D” called “Canon Rock.” While Sarah still did not approve of an air band -even an instrumental one- she did approve of the song choice as our song to walk back up the aisle after the wedding ceremony.

When the time came for us to walk back up the aisle after the ceremony’s conclusion, everything to that point had gone smoothly. As we turned and started to walk down the steps, however, the train of Sarah’s wedding dress took out a small decoration to the side of the platform, thereby cementing the ceremony and “Canon Rock” together as an inseparable pair.

Review: “I Declare War” by Levi Lusko

This is a review of the book I Declare War by Levi Lusko.

Alright, so what’s I Declare War about? Put simply, this book is a four-part battle plan against idolatry in its many forms. This is a topic many pastors and authors have addressed, but it seems like each one who does has something new or a new way to say the same thing so that it does not seem trite and a retreading of the same ground. I Declare War is no exception on this. While the topic of dealing with idolatry is as old as idolatry itself, Lusko’s book is a practical one which the reader will find worth picking up.

The premise of the book is simple: through addressing our thoughts, words, actions, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit for help, anyone is able to overcome all the stuff that is holding him or her back, idolatry. But what makes this book poignant and worth the read is everything Lusko brings to the page to accomplish his thesis. He provides a strong foundation of Scripture, personal anecdotes and practical application tips, as well as 21st Century pre-millenial snark to keep the book moving and put a new light on what can feel like “the same old stuff.”

One neat thing about the book is a playing card motif that is present throughout the book. In the book, once in a while a picture of an ace of spades (the ace of spades is explained at the end) appears on a full page by itself with a quote from either the previous page or one that is relevant to the chapter’s subject. Those alone are a valuable piece on their own. I found Lusko’s “Analyze, Extrapolate, Prioritize, and Navigate” matrix to be perhaps the most helpful thing.

In the end, read I Declare War or don’t. If you do, there is guaranteed to be content of worth for you found in its pages.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

#30SongChallenge – Day 6

SONG 6: A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere

Artist:  All Time Low

Song:  Running From Lions

Album:  Put Up or Shut Up

I have been to the Warped Tour more times than I have fingers and a thumb on one hand. I have seen many bands thanks to this summer festival (R.I.P.). Every time I here the song “Running From Lions” by All Time Low though, it takes me back to Noblesville, IN at Verizon Wireless Music Center or whatever the place is called these days.

The year that I saw All Time Low was after they had just released their first full-length album after their E.P., Put Up or Shut UpPut Up or Shut Up is a total pop-punk onslaught. After hearing a whole bunch of bands which could not be classified as anything close to punk, All Time Low was a welcome bit of relief. They also played on a stage with a roof over the area in front which was a pleasant break from the July sun. And to top it all off, All Time Low’s set was quite enjoyable.

The reason I pick this song is because Alex changed the lyrics to the bridge for the live version they way they performed it when I saw them on the Warped Tour. Instead of singing, “Running from lions never felt like such a mistake,” he sang, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly; my body’s too booty-licious for you babe!” The fact that all these years later that line is still memorable is a testament to how that song hit me in that moment.

Sadly, I guess the actual E.P. version does not exist on YouTube, so I leave you with the unplugged version. Cheers!