Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rob Bell's Love Wins

There are a plethora of good reviews on this book available. I highly recommend Ben Witherington’s reviews here. He’s da bomb when it comes to things like this. However, some of you wanted to know my thoughts on this book and so here they are (part 1 of 2).

I enjoyed reading and thinking about Love Wins by Rob Bell. There’s been so much controversy (I’m sure more is to come too!) swirling around this book that I felt a little naughty just carrying it around. I enjoyed it for several reasons. First, it left the impression on me that God has done something really big in our world through Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead. This was one of the big positives going for this book. Do we truly understand the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Individual salvation through Christ is just the beginning of what God has done through Christ for us. There is so much more! Anyways, Rob sees and presents the big picture of what God has done through Christ and it’s great to be reminded of that every once in awhile. Christus Victor!

Second reason I enjoyed reading this book is that it’s good every so often to read a book you may disagree with. I don’t do this nearly as much as I should. If you’ve ever found yourself in a debate, you know that such a challenging time can help solidify and develop your beliefs more fully. You have to really think about what you believe and lay it on the line. If you’re challenged on it, you have to think of why you were challenged on it and why such a challenge is even a challenge in the first place and how to combat such challenges. Jail ministry has really helped develop my faith and solidify what I believe for just such reasons. Those we visit in jail aren’t afraid to ask tough questions that might normally seem off limits in a Sunday School class. That has forced me to be ready in season and out of season to explain what I believe using more than just my personal experiences.

This book has caused me to think about and examine what I really believe about heaven, hell, and the afterlife. Reading it is helping me fully develop and build a foundation for my thoughts about end things (eschatology is the big theological word for this). Another good thing about reading a book like this (a friend just reminded me of this in a recent discussion) is that you find yourself searching and studying the scriptures. So, find a book you know you won’t agree every once in awhile and read it. It will bring growth to your life.

Next week I'll discuss some problems in this book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Well, I've been slothful in my blogging the last couple of weeks. Sorry to the 5 of you who read this weekly. Here's what I've been up to:

- Writing a devotional that starts on Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecost. It's called the Great 50 Days. Don't hope to find it in any bookstores, it's just for our church. It has been a great learning process and a lot of fun. The most time consuming part of it has been the page layout and organization. Too bad I can't just type the thing and send it off to an editor and have them organize it.

- There's some other discipleship things I'm putting together for something our church will be doing down the road. Exciting stuff!

- I just bought Rob Bell's new book Love Wins. Reading it now. I've had several ask me about it and I feel I cannot honestly say much without reading it. So, I ordered it and have begun reading and hope to post on it in the next couple of weeks or so.

- Preaching. Several opportunities have come up recently giving me a chance to preach. As an associate pastor I do not get to do this too often, so I'm really enjoying it.

Well, just an excuse, or update on my slothful blogging habits. Be back next week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I've blogged on what that is before in the link below if you're interested.

Ash Wednesday

I have several things I'm doing differently this year for Lent including a focused reading and re-reading (maybe even memorizing?) of Mark 11-15. Want to join me in reading this? I'm going to save the resurrection chapter (16) for Easter Sunday. After so much time and focus on Jesus' death, I figure I'll be pretty excited and anxious to get to the resurrection that it will seem extra special when I do get to read the good news of Jesus being raised from the dead.

I've also accidentally (or was it?) come across a great little prayer book to help me start times of daily prayer for Lent. The book is Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Rueben Job. In the back of the book I found prayers for morning, midday, and evening. They are very simple to follow which is good because having daily prayer times will be something new to me and my daily agenda. Why am I doing this? I want to try and practice daily prayer times like Jesus and His disciples did (see Acts 3). I'm loosely following their practice of prayer at 9am, 3pm, and 6pm. I feel I'm going to learn a lot about prayer and myself as a I take this journey of daily prayer.

So, I'm curious as to what some of your practices are for the Lenten season? Care to share?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Easy Salvation

Well, sorry to not post last week. I was in TN with family. We go there every year and rent a cabin in the smokies. Great time! I learned some awesome new board games (Carcassonne). As usual I scored several new books at some of the discount bookstores down there. It was fun. I'm talking better deals than what you find on Amazon. Well, back to Willard's book on how the spiritual disciplines work.

Chapter 3 of The Spirit of the Disciplines deals with salvation as a life and not just a point in time. Can you remember when you first received Jesus into your life? As one coming from the Wesleyan tradition I relate well to the idea of salvation as a journey.
“Salvation is a journey.”
This is what one of my Profs from IWU would say in almost every class and then ask the class to repeat out loud with him. Thanks for reinforcing that great truth Chris Bounds! More than just the journey, this chapter deals with how faith affects our bodies. What does it mean that we can experience eternal life right now? If you read Acts you will notice that there was a power moving in the Christians in the New Testament that turned them into new creations, helped them rise above sin, and have victory over evil. Are you experiencing that? If not, maybe it’s time you start exploring the spiritual disciplines.

This chapter is a precursor to the next 3 chapters that deal with the theological basis for the spiritual disciplines.