Visions from the Vincents

December 30, 2008

Joshua’s top ten books of 2008 (not necessarily in order).

Filed under: Books — Joshua @ 3:02 pm
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1. The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever—The most fruitful evangelist I have ever met personally wrote this book. This easy to moderate, short read is chock full of practical advice on how to evangelize faithfully (apprx 100 pages).

2. Prayer and the Knowledge of God by Graeme Goldsworthy—This work looks deeply at a full-orbed biblical picture of prayer. It is a moderate to difficult read, but is extremely helpful for the person seeking a deeper understanding of prayer (apprx 200 pages).

3. What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile—Thabiti preaches with power as a six-foot tall African-American man with the voice of a Lion. More importantly for this book, he writes with simplicity and clarity—much of this, I think, comes from the fact that all of his preparation for ministry came from the church. The book itself is brief and easy to read (apprx 100 pages).

4. Reasons why we believe: 50 lines of evidence that confirm the Christian Faith by Nathan Busenitz—This work can be used in a number of ways. The book is approximately 200 pages in length–an easy to moderate read–and offers 50 arguments for the existence of God. Ultimately, we know that belief requires a work of the Spirit, but truth is the seed that needs to be sown to reap its benefits. Busenitz does an excellent job of making difficult thoughts easy and short—most chapters are 3-4 pages. This is helpful for apologetics and evangelism (apprx 200 pages).

6. Reason for God by Timothy Kellar—Kellar is one of my favorite thinkers—mainly due to his brilliant mind and humble heart (I long for both!). This book addresses 7 of the most common arguments today against belief in God and 7 reasons for belief. I would say that this is a medium to hard read, and fun (apprx 240 pages).

7. When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch—the deacons read through this together. This book addresses the natural tendency we all have to seek to please man (or woman) above our desire to be faithful to God. Welch does an excellent job of grappling with heart issues in this work. It is an easy to moderate read and (apprx 200 pages).

8. Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll—Mark represents a respectable movement towards seeking to bring strong doctrine in relevant, fresh ways. This book takes a look at Jesus from a historical and biblical perspective and his full of excellent doctrine as well as fun turns of phrase. I hear this book quoted a lot. The younger crowd will love it. This too is an easy to moderate read (apprx 200 pages).

9. Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright—this book is a mammoth, 800 pages and a difficult read. I am not even done with it yet. But, Wright’s work on extra-biblical and biblical resources to understand what the resurrection meant in the context of the Ancient Near East is profound. Anyone willing to work at this book will be blessed.

10. Holding Hands Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Philips—the Philips communicate helpful thoughts on dating from a biblical perspective. Every person who is not married should read this book. Even though highlights dating, I even found helpful insights for married people. It is an easy read (apprx 200 pages).

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March 14, 2008

What is Spitzer really on Trial for?

Filed under: Society — Joshua @ 1:01 am
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New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, stepped down from the state’s top office Wednesday amidst allegations of involvement in an international prostitution ring. Spitzer said, “I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me…I will try once again outside of politics to serve the common good.” My heart really goes out to Spitzer’s wife and girls. This is a tragic situation. I am curious as to why though. What is the “expectation” that Spitzer failed to “live up to?” Is sexual sin really such a big thing in the twenty-first century? Because the Bible says it is, Christians and the church should, but what about society at large? Television shows, movies, and the Internet are loaded with sexual content both implicit and explicit both written and visual. Much of the information we have today not only condones but encourages sexual freedom. Men and women are encouraged to enter into sexual relationships prior to marriage to make sure they click with their mate, and then to divorce mates that fail to fulfill their sexual desire. Our schools are teaching students not about abstinence but about being careful. We have a former president of eight years who committed adultery while in office and lied under oath yet was allowed to remain in his position. Add to this, a recent study that has shown 1 in 4 teenage girls have some type of STD. So, what is the “expectation” that Spitzer failed to meet? I am not convinced it is sexual sin. I am not so convinced that people are as concerned with the fact that Spitzer committed adultery, or that he had sex with a prostitute–in fact the federal law that could potentially lead to his arrest is not for paying for sex but transporting a prostitute across state lines for the purposes of paying for sex. The crime that has gripped the attention of the media and so many Americans is that a man who once prosecuted so many individuals–as a former state attorney general whose reputation as a scourge of white-collar crime (including those involved in prostitution rings) propelled him to the governor’s office in 2006–has been caught committing the very crimes he was obliged to prevent. Instead, it seems more likely to me that Spitzer is on trial in the court of public opinion for hypocrisy. Much could be said about this. I have two quick thoughts.

A Feeble Confession

For beginners, what about the weak confession. Spitzer’s major concern is not that he sinned against God or his wife. He feels little concern for the moral deprivation of his actions or the ethical banality. Instead, he is sorry that he didn’t meet everyone’s expectations. What if everyone expected him to have sex with a prostitute? Would his actions be acceptable? Unfortunately, I–from my very limited perspective–sense little remorse from Spitzer over his sin. Such a feeble confession reflects not only poor leadership but poor humanity. Another question to consider is how one can lead without a firm standard of “good?” How do you judge what is good and what is not? This is why it is so significant for Christians to have a Biblical worldview. To be fair to Spitzer, he lives amongst a people who daily make decisions without any solid rubric through which to evaluate right and wrong. They are dealing with a sliding scale. Christians will fair no better than Spitzer if they do not equip themselves with a strong understanding of God’s desires. In a fallen world, men and women are constantly tempted, and they need God’s word to combat a world that can spin the truth round and round so much that it leaves you dizzy. The Word of God is the anchor our worldview needs.

The World Hates Hypocrisy

The world hates hypocrisy. Men and women possess a natural knee jerk reaction to someone who claims to believe one thing, but does another. I think the church has suffered a great deal from this. Poor shepherding and loose membership have led to mammoth hypocrisy in the church. This side of heaven we will all fall short of the goal to some degree though. The difference between the church and the world is that the church covenants together to help one another flee sin, because they realize their calling is to image their great God through their union with Christ. From one perspective, hypocrisy is the very point of Christianity. Christians realize that God has communicated his will for us through his Word, but our desires work against us. This is why the Christian glories in Jesus Christ. He was no hypocrite. His death on our behalf gave us credit for his perfect, hypocrisy free life. He poured out his spirit upon his people to help them be transformed more and more into the image which they have been created to display.

Spitzer has Hope

The expectations for Spitzer’s life are far greater than he can imagine. But, the opportunity for redemption is far greater than he could ever know. God provides the opportunity for all to have their sins cast from them as far as the east is from the west. He must simply put on Christ by repenting of his SINS and believing in Christ. This requires a sincere confession of depravation. Unfortunately, many go on sinning and living a life of hidden sin in the recesses of their minds. Spitzer simply got caught. Don’t be deceived into thinking that Spitzer is some unique monster. All of humanity suffers the same destructive internal force–it is sin. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy whether you act on it or you fantasize about it. All have the same need before God–forgiveness. Spitzer should serve as a bullhorn for all of us calling us to heed our lives, and recognize the immorality of our hearts, and look to God for help. Only with God do we have hope, but the hope offered in Him is limitless.

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