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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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The Nazarene: Forty Devotions on the Lyrical Life of Jesus by Michael Card. IVP. 168 pages. 2020

It is hard to measure the impact of Michael Card in my life through his music, writing and teaching since first being introduced to his music via his 1984 Known by the Scars album when I was still a relatively new believer. A special highlight for me was our church being blessed to host him for two of his Biblical Imagination conferences/concerts several years ago, and my wife and I travelling to Ohio for another.
This new book is divided into four parts, with one part for each of the four Gospels, with ten devotions included in each part. Each devotion begins with a scripture passage(s) that the devotion aligns with, as well as the lyrics from one of Card’s songs from his Biblical Imagination series albums. Each devotion concludes with a key lyric from the song that Card comments on.
As you approach the book, you can choose to simply read the song lyrics, or as I did, listen to the song. You can also choose to read one devotional each day, or read several at a time, as they are relatively short. Listening to the songs and following along with the lyrics gave me a new appreciation for the skill in which Card brings scripture into his song lyrics. This is something that I have for too long taken for granted.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Card describes the book as being the result of a lifetime of fragmented attempts to listen to the lyrical life of the Nazarene. He tells us that the goal of the book is that in the end we put it away and open our Bible.
The book concludes with a helpful “Musical Overview of the Bible”, with scripture references, Card’s songs, and the album the song was included on.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book of song lyrics and devotional writings about Jesus. I would also commend to you his four Biblical Imagination books and corresponding albums (one for each Gospel).

  • New Paul Tripp Lenten Devotional. Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed reading a number of devotional books from Paul Tripp. His newest is Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotional, which my wife Tammy and I look forward to reading together.
  • The Characters of Easter. I enjoyed Daniel Darling’s 2019 book The Characters of Christmas, which I went through a second time this Christmas season with a group of friends. His new book is The Characters of Easter: The Villains, Heroes, Cowards, and Crooks Who Witnessed History’s Biggest Miracle, which will be published February 2.
  • Life and Books and Everything: John Piper Talks Books. On this episode of the Life and Books and Everything podcast, Kevin DeYoung and John Piper talk about the books that made Piper who he is. They explore the topics of purpose, retirement, leadership, ministry, writing, and dive into his forthcoming magnum opus on Providence.
  • Eric Metaxas Autobiography. Eric Metaxas, known for his biographies of William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther and others, has written an autobiography of his early years Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life, to be published February 2.
  • What Effect Has the Providence of God Had on Your Own Life & Ministry? In this video, John Piper sits down with Dr. John Currie to discuss his foundational work Providence.
  • Sports Spectrum Podcast with Andy Andrews. Andy Andrews joins Jason Romano to talk about his latest book Just Jones, what God has shown him during 2020, the Bible verse that has resonated with him recently, and what he’s most encouraged by as we begin 2021.
  • Be Slow to Talk and Slow to Tweet. Jeff Robinson reviews Daniel Darling’s latest book A Way with Words: Using Our Online Conversations for Good. He writes “It’s always a good time for a new book on our communications struggles and how Christ empowers us to overcome them.”

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 Appendix 1: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Here are a few takeaways from this appendix:

  • It is a mistake of the worst sort to set the teachings of Paul and the apostles over against the words of our Lord and imagine that they contradict one another or speak to different dispensations.
  • For Paul, perseverance in the faith is essential evidence that faith is real.
  • The Christ Peter preached was not merely a Savior with open arms, but also a Lord who demanded obedience.
  • The writer of Hebrews, like John, James, Peter, Jude, and Paul, confirmed the necessity of righteous works to validate genuine faith.
  • One thing is clear: the gospel according to Jesus is the gospel according to His apostles.

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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