Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Every Moment Holy, Volume 1
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I first heard about the Doug McKelvey’s fine book Every Moment Holy, Volume 1 when Andrew Peterson read a selection from it as he began his breakout session at the 2019 Sing! conference. Not long after, my wife gave me a copy of the liturgy “For the Loss of a Living Thing” after Molly, our fourteen-year-old Alaskan Malamute had died.
The book includes more than 100 liturgies for use in a number of different ways. Some are meant to be read by a “Leader” and the “People”, as in a traditional liturgical service or responsive reading, while others are intended for personal use, read either silently or aloud. Throughout the book you will also find more than 20 illustrations supplementing the liturgies from artist Ned Bustard.
This is not a traditional book intended to be read from beginning to end. Instead, I would recommend that you find a comfortable place to sit, grab your favorite beverage, and review the “Contents”, which are divided into eleven sections, such as “Liturgies of Labor & Vocation”, “Liturgies of Blessing & Celebration”, “Liturgies of Sorrow & Lament”, etc. Some of the liturgies will pertain to your current situation, while others will not. You may find that some of the liturgies that don’t fit your personal situation may be liturgies that you can share with others. For example, we shared three – “For a Moment of Frustration at a Child” and “For the Changing of Diapers I & II” – with our niece who has sixteen-month-old triplet boys. I’ve enjoyed reading the “Liturgies of the Hours” (“Daybreak, “Midday” and “Nightfall”), and my wife and I have started using “Liturgies for Table Blessings”. I look forward to continue exploring these liturgies for both routine and special situations.
I purchased the new softcover “Pocket Edition” of the book, which is a perfect size to carry with you.


Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
MORE BOOK REVIEWS ~
Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias
Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by Beth McCord       and Jeff McCord
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias. HarperCollins Publishing. 240 pages. 2009
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Ravi Zacharias went to be with the Lord on May 19 after a short illness. I was blessed to have seen this brilliant man speak a few times at conferences and enjoyed listening to his podcasts. I had read this 2009 autobiography when it was first published and recently decided to go back and read it again. The book begins and closes with the author returning to Chennai and Delhi, where he grew up in India. The theme of God always being in the shadows throughout his life flows throughout the book, as does his relationship with his father, and how God worked in both of their lives.
Ravi writes that being born in the South and raised in the North presented unique challenges. His name and coloring were southern, but his language and accent were northern, and his philosophical bent was southern.
His father rose to the position of deputy secretary in the State Department of India. As a result, he and his siblings shook hands with prime ministers and presidents.
Ravi writes of having an unhappy childhood. He was consistently on the receiving end of his father’s rather violent temper. His life seemed purposeless, without direction, and he could never live up to his father’s expectations. He writes that it was his mother’s heart that shaped his soul.
It was when his father moved the family from Chennai to Delhi that everything began to change for Ravi. He admits that he lacked the disciplines of study, and was irresponsible. Over time, he began to suffer from a sense of purposelessness and inferiority. Sports, tennis and particularly cricket, became his escape from the loneliness he otherwise faced, and became his primary motivation. Yet his father never once came to a game he played. His father told him that he was a complete failure, an embarrassment to the family, and that he would never make anything of his life. Ravi felt that his life was without any purpose and going nowhere.
He writes of attending a Youth for Christ rally in which he expressed his intention to follow Jesus. But his pattern of not studying continued at Delhi University and eventually something had reached finality in him. Nothing seemed to have come from the prayer he had prayed after the youth rally. This led him to attempt suicide. He saw this as a quiet exit that would save his family any further shame and spare him any further failure. He would survive the suicide attempt, spending five days recovering in the hospital. He writes that nobody in his family ever talked about the incident.
Ravi’s life was changed during his hospital stay when one of the directors of Youth for Christ, whose rally he had attended, visited and handed his mother a Bible. He wanted her to read John 14 to Ravi. Jesus’ words “Because I live, you also will live”, hit him like a ton of bricks, and he made a commitment to Christ.
In the months that followed, he became a voracious reader, gobbling up every morsel of learning he could. He entered a learning path that he hoped would lead to a master’s degree in hotel and catering, followed by a three-year internship at a top-tier hotel. Everything in his life was now packed with meaning, church, his studies, family, friendships and sports. He was also getting an opportunity to do a lot of preaching.
The family would move from India to Canada, where Ravi was headed to a partnership in a business with one of the nation’s top chefs.  After he preached one time, he met Margie Reynolds, who he would later marry. While in Canada, Ravi’s father was saved. He would tell Ravi how sorry he was for the hurt he had brought into his son’s life.
Ravi would attend Toronto Baptist Seminary, Ontario Bible College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, preach in Viet Nam, Cambodia and around the world, as well as teach in a seminary. He writes of how an opportunity Billy Graham gave him to preach had provided a platform that couldn’t have come any other way.
His heartfelt desire became to preach to the skeptic. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) was formed in 1984. He would go on to speak on almost every major campus. He writes about some of his books, his first The Real Face of Atheism and Can Man Live Without God, which is based on lectures he delivered at Harvard.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • God can shape us in any way he pleases. He raised Moses in a palace in order to use him in a desert; he raised Joseph in a desert in order to use him in a palace.
  • Someone has said that our sin scorches us most after we have received forgiveness, and not before. Once you realize how much you’ve been forgiven, you see how great that forgiveness really is.
  • You must keep in mind that God does have an appointment with you, that there is a cost to serving him.
  • If you have not learned to pay the smaller prices of following Christ in your daily life, you will not be prepared to pay the ultimate price in God’s calling.
  • Apologetics is not just giving answers to questions — it is questioning people’s answers, and even questioning their questions. When you question someone’s question, you compel him or her to open up about his or her own assumptions. Our assumptions must be examined.
  • I have always underestimated what God was trying to do in my calling. And when you underestimate that, you are at fault, because you do not prepare adequately.
  • Through all of the visitations of life — successes or failures — it is not how well you are known or not known. It is not how big your organization is or isn’t. It is not even how many sermons one has preached or books one has written or millions of dollars one has accumulated. It is how well do you know Jesus? That’s it. That is what shapes how you view everything else. Successes are hollow if you do not know the author of life and His purpose.

Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by Beth McCord and Jeff McCord. Morgan James Publishing. 265 pages. 2019
****

I’ve long been interested in personality tests/assessments (Strengthfinders, Pace-Palette, StandOut, Myers-Briggs, etc.). They always help me to find out more about myself and others, especially those I worked with. I was somewhat familiar with the Enneagram, which has been popular in our church (which the authors attended for a number of years). I had taken quick on-line versions of the assessment, but had no idea the complexity of the Enneagram, which this book helpfully explains. The authors tell us that although the Enneagram may seem simple, it is really rather complex. They tell us not to be discouraged if it takes you a long time to discover your true main Type. The authors offer a free assessment on their website to help readers, family and friends find their main Type. No Type is better or worse than another, but all Types are equal. The real impact of the Enneagram is explaining the underlying why of what we do.
The book also looks at how the Enneagram can be used to help you have a healthy marriage. The authors bring to life the concepts discussed by using examples from their life and marriage.
They tell us that the purpose of the Enneagram is to awaken self-awareness and to provide hope as we look at ourselves and each other. Used properly, it can cut through difficult circumstances to help us understand each other in a more honest and loving way.
The book is divided into two sections:

  • Part 1 is about faith, the author’s stories, the Enneagram, and stories about communication and conflict from some of their friends whose marriages have been impacted by the Gospel and through the Enneagram.
  • Part 2 is an “Enneagram Roadmap,” which is a helpful guide to each of the Types with two parts: how to better understand yourself and how to better understand the Type of your spouse. The Enneagram Roadmap lists each of the nine Types in two parts: The first part is called “Understanding Me” and the second part is called “Understanding Them.” Included are sections about core motivations, childhood patterns, wings, stress and growth paths, levels of alignment with the Gospel, communication and conflict style.

Beth McCord is an Enneagram coach and husband Jeff is a pastor and mediator. Some sections of the book are written in a combined voice, while other sections are specifically from either Beth or Jeff. The book is written in a casual, almost conversational tone, with humor sprinkled throughout.
They write that the Gospel brought healing to them individually and to their marriage before they ever heard of the Enneagram. Later, the Enneagram became a tool for their growth and sanctification in Christ. They tell us that the Enneagram is an insightful tool, but the Gospel is the transformation. The Enneagram simply illuminates our heart’s intent. The Enneagram can show us what’s wrong; only Christ can fix it.
I learned that there are many, many more aspects to the Enneagram than just our Type. For example:
The authors tell us that your Enneagram Type has many important factors, but there are four “Core Motivations” that are the driving force behind your thoughts, feelings, and actions: Core Fear, Core Desire, Core Weakness, and Core Longing. Adding to the many layers of difference are the Levels of Alignment, which gauge how closely we’re living in alignment with the Gospel. In addition to these underlying Core Motivations and Levels of Alignment are Wings, which are the Types on either side of your main Type, and Triads, which are groupings of three Types that digest events or information from a particular Center of Intelligence: Head, Heart, or Gut Instinct. And to help you find your way, there are lines and arrows that show you the path along the way.
Everyone is a combination of one main Type and the two Types adjacent to it. You can group the nine personality Types in many ways. The most common one is by Triads, or groupings of three. For each person, one triad is more dominant than the other two, and that is where your main Type resides.
The authors discuss our “Childhood Message”, the message we were either told directly or we sensed and interpreted from life circumstances through the lens of our personality Type. They tell us that this message was, and still is, painful to us.
This book is helpful for those wanting to find out more about the Enneagram and how it can be used to help with your marriage. For those who want to go deeper with their particular Type, Beth has recently published individual full-length books on each Type.
Below are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Assumicide” perfectly sums up what we do in our relationships with each other. It’s when we (incorrectly) believe we know another person’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Committing assumicide is so easy to do because we truly believe everyone sees the world from our perspective.
  • The Enneagram will reflect to us the current condition of our hearts and help us know when our hearts are drifting away from the Gospel.
  • The Enneagram can shed light on why we saw our upbringing from a particular perspective. Each Type will react to the same circumstances in different ways.
  • Each of the Enneagram Types has their own communication style. Each Type communicates in a style that reflects their Core Motivations.
  • When we perceive that our Core Fear is coming true, we’ll communicate in a way that reflects our heart to protect ourselves.
  • It’s essential for each of us to recognize, learn, and accept that other people do not see the world the same way we do.
  • Just as each Type has its own unique communication style, each of us has our own unique “conflict style” that correlates with our Enneagram Type.

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

The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? by John MacArthur
We are reading through John MacArthur’s classic book The Gospel According to Jesus. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Follow me”?  MacArthur tackled that seemingly simple question and provided the evangelical world with the biblical answer.  For many, the reality of Jesus’ demands has proved thoroughly searching, profoundly disturbing, and uncomfortably invasive; and yet, heeding His words is eternally rewarding. The 20th anniversary edition of the book has revised and expanded the original version to handle contemporary challenges.  The debate over what some have called “lordship salvation” hasn’t ended—every generation must face the demands Christ’s lordship. Will you read along with us?
This week we look at Chapter 14: The First and the Last. Below are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • No one who comes to Christ is either preferred or slighted because of past experience. The same eternal life is offered to all.
  • Saving faith is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is.
  • Some people serve Christ their whole lives. Others squander their lives, then turn to the Lord on their deathbeds. Either way, eternal life is the same.
  • If He sought us early and we served Him our whole lives, that was His choice. If He sought us late and we served but a brief time, that too was His choice.
  • The Lord calls into His kingdom those who know their need, not the satisfied and self-sufficient.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 40 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

  1. I love listening to Ravi! I was so sad when he passed away, but am grateful I can still listen to him and read his books. Great post!

    • Hi Angela. We were blessed to see Ravi speak in person a few times. He had an amazing intellect. I’m going back to read some of his books that I had already read.
      Thanks for reading our blog!
      Blessings,
      Bill

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