Top Shelf Book: Making Sense of God

Book: Keller, Timothy. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. Viking, 2016.

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Point: Every single individual lives a life based on a complex tangle of “experiences, faith, reasoning, and intuition.” Although the materialist or secularist can claim that belief in a God outside of space and time is unreasonable, that position is only tenable if the presupposition “God cannot exist” is there prior.

Path: In three main parts, Keller patiently and systematically guides the reader through the reasonability of faith in God, and not just any God, but the God of the Bible. Those parts are titled “Why does anyone need religion?”; “Religion is more than you think it is”; and “Christianity makes sense”. The middle part is by far the largest and most comprehensive, dealing with meaning, satisfaction, freedom, self, identity, hope, morals, and justice. His purpose is not to give a definitive argument for God, but demonstrate that arguments against a God are unfounded and fail repeatedly.

Sources: Keller does his normal deep digging and provides the reader with a lifetime of supplementary reading ranging from early church fathers to reformers, philosophers to militant atheists.

Agreement: After reading nearly every chapter I thought, “I just had this conversation last week!” This book both opened my eyes to a greater understanding of the problems and a greater appreciation to how Jesus solves them.

Personal App: The greatest compliment one of my unbelieving friends can pay me is “you understand and state my belief better than I could!” I feel as though this book helps me do this.

Favorite Quote: There is no way to pick a favorite, but one which points to a strength of the book is this one: “The point is rather that science alone cannot serve as a guide for human society.”

Stars: 5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Believes science has all the answers.
  • Is struggling to believe in the God of the Bible while surrounded by “real life”.
  • Wants to better understand their neighbor, coworker, or family member who thinks “faith” is a crutch.
  • Anyone trying to engage the modern and postmodern man.

Other books along this theme would be:

Anderson, James N. What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions. Crossway Books, 2014.

Craig, William Lane. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. New. David C. Cook, 2010.

Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.

Koukl, Gregory. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Zondervan, 2009.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ. 1st ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

The story of reality

Book: Koukl, Gregory. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between. Zondervan, 2017.

(for a full review, click the title above) Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 10.15.00 AM

 

Point: There is a Story of everything. It is a reasonable story and one for everyone, although many have chosen not to believe it. It is a story about God, man, Jesus, cross, and resurrection.

Path: Koukl takes the reader through the Big Story, taking time to address concerns, questions, critiques, and misrepresentations. It is a patient tour of the greatest Story of all time. He addresses each of the five key words he has delineated in order to summarize the story.

 

Favorite Quote: More to the point, what good would it do the disciples to steal Jesus’ remains, then lie about a resurrection? The basic rule with lying is this: Invent a story that benefits you, not one that gets you beaten, whipped, stoned, crucified upside down, or beheaded. My personal view is that any skeptic who is attracted to that explanation is simply not skeptical enough.

Stars:  4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is thoughtfully considering the Christian story
  • Is relatively new to their Christian faith
  • Is interested in sharing the gospel story in a more thoughtful way

Other books along this theme would be:

Keller, Timothy. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. Viking, 2016.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Encounters with Jesus

Book: Keller, Timothy. Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions. Reprint edition. Penguin Books, 2013.

For the full review, click on the title above

Path: Keller has given us a unique book which is both apologetical and devotional.

Keller takes a chapter to explain the interactions of various individuals with Jesus and how they can challenge us. Those individuals are: Nathanael the skeptic, the Insider – Nicodemus and the Outcast – the Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha the Grieving Sisters, the disciples and town at the wedding party,  Mary Magdalene, Satan and his temptations, Jesus at his Ascension, Jesus in the Garden, and Mary after the Angel’s revelation.

Keller explains the interactions in an interesting and enlightening way, and then applies them to skeptics, seekers, and mature believers.

 

Favorite Quote: “Jesus not only died the death we should have died in order to take the law’s curse for us, he also lived the great life of love and fidelity we should have lived in order to earn God’s blessing for us.“

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is skeptical about Jesus
  • Is seeking to know more about Jesus
  • Is seeking to love Jesus more

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Medalist Podium

With the Olympics starting soon we are seeing more people using their platform of abilities to point to Christ. I think that is good. I think it is appropriate for an athlete, or artist, or recognized person to speak about their Savior as they have that opportunity (and tact). We are told to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…but with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
But I can assure you that I won’t be standing on an award podium, or interviewed on television, any time soon for winning a race.
The world can look at those shining athletes and guess. But me? “Why did He pick you?” they will think.
– Not because of any secret talents yet to be revealed.
– Not because of something unique in me.
– Not because He needed something I have.
– Not because I was worth it.

His choice says very little about me, but it shouts volumes about Him.

I look forward to watching the Olympics and seeing individuals excel. I look forward to individuals being consistent with their faith in that arena. But my platform for speaking of my Savior is not a medalist podium. My platform is the utter absence of goodness in me overwhelmed by His incredible grace.

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The Art of Neighboring by Pathak and Runyon

Book: Pathak, Jay, and Dave Runyon. The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.

For a full review – click the link above

Point: Until we recognize that “neighbor” in the second greatest command in Scripture can actually mean “someone living next to us,” we will fail to see our responsibility to those God has placed in our lives to love.

Agreement: I appreciated the challenge. How easy is it for me to generalize “neighbor” to everyone, and miss the individual right next door. It was very convicting to see what was, and at the same time, exciting to see what could be.

Personal App: Am I loving my neighbor specifically? Do I know my neighbor?

Stars:  4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is interested in obeying the Great Commandment
  • Is looking for good ideas about how to love their neighbor

Other books along this theme would be:

  • Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Revell, 2006.
  • Dever, Mark. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. First Edition. Crossway, 2007.
  • Stiles, J. Mack. Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. Crossway, 2014.