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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. 224 pages. Crossway. 2017

Look around, and many of the people you see will be looking down at their smartphone. It is amazing how smartphones have transformed our culture. This well-researched book by Tony Reinke is both an important one and a timely one.
More than a billion iPhones have been sold since Apple introduced it in 2007. Smartphones are now omnipresent. Amazingly, people check their smartphones about every four minutes they are awake.
The author looks at the positives (all the things they can do for us), and negatives (distractions, easier access to sexual sin, for example) of smartphones. The book is neither pro-smartphone, nor anti-smart phone. He encourages us to consider what impact the smartphone has had on our spiritual lives. He states that we might not know what our smartphones are doing to us, but we are being changed. He looks at the question of what is the best use of our smartphones in the flourishing of our life. The book is more diagnostic and worldview than it is application. The author states that the book will succeed only if we enjoy Christ more.
The author tells us that to look at our smartphone history is like piercing into our souls. Our smartphone habits expose our hearts.
He looks at a history of technology and offers a theology of technology. He shares that those addicted to smartphones are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and have a harder time concentrating at work and sleeping. He looks at the spiritual dimensions and consequences of our digital addiction and distractions. For example, when texting while driving, we are twenty-seven times more likely to have an accident. He addresses topics such as online anger, approval addiction (likes, shares, followers) and the impact smartphones have had on our reading of books, including the Bible. Other topics he looks at are identity and idolatry (do we worship our smartphones, our online presence?), isolation, slander, and the fear of missing out or being left out.
Throughout the book he asks helpful questions such as whether our texts and tweets are pushing people toward Heaven or Hell. He writes that the words we consume transform us, and that we will all be held accountable for our words. He encourages us not to kill time on our smartphones but instead to redeem the time. The question should not be what we can do with our smartphone, but what should we do.
Near the end of the book he offers some practical applications on how to be smartphone “smart”.

Freedom Movement: 500 Years of Reformation by Michael Reeves. 10Publishing. 40 pages. 2017

A few years ago I wasn’t aware of the ministry of Michael Reeves. After seeing him speak at a theology conference I regularly attend the past two years, now anytime I see his name associated with something it gets my attention. This short book is no exception. It was written to help us celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.
The book is creatively put together, with side bar articles (Luther at home, Bunyan and Pilgrim’s Progress, the deaths of martyrs), art work, quotes, song lyrics, differing style fonts and colors.
In its short 40 pages (Reeves has written elsewhere extensively on the Reformation), you get an overview of the Reformation that started when Martin Luther, a monk, was struggling to understand what the apostle Paul meant in Romans 1:17. This would lead to Luther being born again, as he understood the “Great Exchange”, where on the cross Jesus, who wasn’t guilty, took and faced God’s punishment for our guilt, so that we could be forgiven. Luther came across something that people had not heard about, that sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive. This would lead to the Reformation, which Reeves writes, would transform millions of lives and change the world. Included in the Reformation was the translation of the Bible into the languages of the people by Luther and Tyndale. In addition, Luther encouraged believers to not retreat to monasteries, but to go out into the world to love and serve others.
This book takes just a few minutes to read and is certainly time well spent. Buy extra copies and share the message of the Reformation with others.

  • Eric Metaxas’ Upcoming Book on Luther. I never tire reading about Martin Luther. I’m looking forward to Eric Metaxas’ new book Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, to be released October 3.
  • The Vanishing American Adult. According to Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, we’re currently experiencing a coming of age crisis without parallel in American history. On numerous fronts, our culture appears to be promoting what he refers to as “perpetual adolescence,” and, as a result, many of us no longer know what it means to be an adult.
    In this edition of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton talks with Ben about the various implications of this new trend which he outlines in his book, The Vanishing American Adult.
  • New Book on the Reformation from Michael Reeves. Freedom Movement: 500 Years of Reformation is a short new book by Michael Reeves. Read this description “Michael Reeves serves the church in this 500th-anniversary year by writing an evangelistic resource that tells the story of that discovery, draws out its effectiveness and beauty, and speaks of its consequences for the history of the world.” Find out how to purchase or download a PDF from Desiring God.

BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London.

This week we look at Chapter 19 from Volume 2, “The Golden Rule”:   

  • We stand face to face with our Lord’s final dictum with regard to this whole matter of judging others and of our relationship to them. It is well described as the `golden rule’. What an extraordinary and remarkable statement it is. It is nothing, of course, but an epitome of the commandments which our Lord has summed up elsewhere in the words, `Love thy neighboras thyself’. He is really saying that, if you are in trouble at all as to how you should deal with others, and behave with respect to them, this is how you should act.
  • ‏‏Sometimes we foolishly tend to think that our international and other problems are economic, social or political; but in reality they all come down to this, our relationships with people.
  • ‏‏Half our troubles are due to the fact that we do not understand the meaning of God’s law, its true character and intent. We tend to think that it is just a number of rules and regulations which we are supposed to keep; we constantly forget the spirit.
  • ‏‏Perhaps we can go further and say that our danger is to think of the law as being something negative, something prohibitive.
  • ‏‏We so constantly forget the spirit of the law and of life as God meant us to live it.
  • ‏‏People hear this golden rule and they praise it as marvelousand wonderful, and as a perfect summary of a great and involved subject. But the tragedy is that, having praised it, they do not implement it.
  • ‏‏Our Lord did not preach the Sermon on the Mount in order that you and I might comment upon it, but in order that we might carry it out.
  • ‏‏Man is sinful and perverted. He is a creature that is so bound and governed by evil that he cannot keep to the golden rule. The gospel always starts with that.
  • ‏‏Man does not implement the golden rule, which is a summary of the law and the prophets, because his whole attitude towards the law is wrong. He does not like the law; in fact he hates it.
  • ‏‏Our Lord expresses it by saying that we should `love our neighboras ourselves’. But that is the one thing we do not do, and do not want to do, because we love self so much in a wrong way. We do not do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us, because the whole time we are thinking only about ourselves, and we never transfer our thought to the other person.
  • ‏‏We dislike God because God is Someone who interferes with this self-centerednessand independence. Man likes to think of himself as completely autonomous, but here is Someone who challenges that, and man by nature dislikes Him.
  • ‏‏The failure of man to live by, and to keep, the golden rule is due to the fact that he is self-centered. That, in turn, leads to self-satisfaction, self-protection, self-concern.
  • ‏‏The failure to implement the golden rule is due solely to the Fall and to sin.
  • ‏‏You will never see yourself or your neighboraright until you have first of all seen both in the sight of God.
  • ‏‏If you have not seen yourself as a worthless creature I should be very doubtful whether youare a Christian at all.
  • ‏‏God does not give us what we deserve; God gives us His good things in spite of our being what we are.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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