Category Archives: book

Christmas gifts something more than socks ( books ) from Breakpoint

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Looking for Christmas gifts for Christian parents, kids, or history buffs? I’ve got three solid ideas for you.

You ever rip open that package on Christmas morning and find…socks? Now, maybe somebody out there genuinely enjoys getting socks on Christmas. That person, like Saint Paul, has apparently learned the secret to being content in all circumstances.

But when you go shopping for all other members of the human race, think beyond the old standbys. This year, why not give the gift of engaging, exciting, and worldview-enriching reading?

I’ve got a few recommendations—a sort of BreakPoint shopping list for the readers in your life—one that emphasizes the importance of standing for the truth of our faith in a time when it is under attack.

First up, something for parents who feel lost trying to raise their children and teenagers in an age of smart phones, social media, and everywhere-all-the-time connectivity. My BreakPoint cohost, John Stonestreet, and Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason, have written a manual for befuddled parents, grandparents, teachers, and pastors who are trying to understand that bewildering and ever-changing thing we call “culture.”

Their book, “A Practical Guide to Culture,” charts the treacherous waters surrounding your home and church, into which you and your kids venture every day: It explains the powerful influence of things like pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, consumerism, addiction, entertainment, and racial tension.

More importantly, the book is exactly what it claims to be: practical. John and Brett provide specific strategies, discussion questions, and action steps.

Next, something for the kids, themselves—especially the 8-to-12-year-olds who are just beginning to make their parents’ Christian faith their own. It’s a time in life they need to learn not just what they believe, but why they believe it. How do they know the biblical accounts of Jesus, His life, miracles, death, and resurrection really happened? How do they talk about their faith to others? And most practically, how do they stay interested in a book long enough to learn more about the faith at all?

Well, longtime Los Angeles cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace, along with his wife, Susie Wallace, take a brilliant and truly original approach. Jim, a former atheist and now a Colson Senior Fellow, has written several other books for older teens and adults, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith. Like these, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids” applies the skills he learned as a criminal investigator to Christianity.

It turns out evaluating the claims of the Bible is remarkably similar to evaluating testimonies about a crime. For instance, kids will learn how to recognize and rule out a conspiracy theory, how to test the reliability of witnesses, and what constitutes compelling evidence in a courtroom. The Wallaces teach all of this with surprising depth and accessibility. This book will keep young readers riveted.

Last, but I’d like to say not least, there is my new book, “Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World.” This one is for history and theology buffs on your list. But I like to think anybody who cracks it open will be as captivated as I was by the character and faith of this gutsy German monk who sparked the Reformation. And on this 500th year since Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, there’s no better time to learn about the figure behind not only Protestant Christianity and its re-emphasis of the Gospel, but much of the world as we know it. And of course, Luther’s courage in standing on the Word of God no matter the consequences is precisely what we need in a culture increasingly hostile to our faith.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll tell you how to pick up copies of all of these great books, so those hard-to-shop-for loved ones can find more in their stockings this month than more stockings.

 

Season’s Readings: BreakPoint’s Christmas Shopping List

There’s sure to be a book for everyone on your list from the selections Eric highlighted. These titles, and many more, are all available at the Colson Center online bookstore. So why not give the gift that keeps on giving!

Resources

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World

  • John Stonestreet, Brett Kunkle | David C. Cook Publishing | June 2017
Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

  • Eric Metaxas | Viking Publisher | October 2017
Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective

  • J. Warner Wallace | David C. Cook Publishing | October 2016
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Great Jurist, Great Writer, Great Speaker, Great American

There have been a lot of positive reviews of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s recently released book of speeches. This will be another one. What’s not to like? The speeches were selected by his son, Christopher Scalia, and a former law clerk, Edward Whelan, from the many the justice delivered over the last 30 years or so of his life. They show not only an articulate and scholarly jurist with a well thought-out and consistent view of the law, but a full-service human being, full of insights and humor about the roller-coaster we call life, which he was very good at living.

 

Those who’ve read Scalia’s opinions, especially his occasionally acerbic dissents, know he was a clear, persuasive, and amusing writer. (I lift up 2004’s Scalia Dissents — Regnery — still available.) Can you feature it? Legal opinions that one can read for pleasure. What next?

( More )

Closed minds

 Thirty years ago, Allan Bloom wrote the book, The Closing of the American Mind. Charles Koch wrote an op-ed with the same title. There are some similarities between the two, but also one important difference.

Charles Koch looks back at the revolutionary technological advances we have made and now take for granted. He is concerned that government and the academy are stifling progress. When he attended MIT, he discovered that “scientific and technological progress requires the free and open exchange of ideas. The same holds true for moral and social progress.”

In America, we used to believe that progress comes from this free exchange of ideas and from challenging other people’s views and hypotheses. The spontaneous process of collaboration and challenge led to the technological advances we have today.

( Listen to the rest of the commentary, Download file | Play in new window | Size: 1.52M, or read the whole commentary. )

 

BreakPoint: Martin Luther Eric Metaxas Tells the Story of a Very Human Man Who Changed the World

To understand how the Reformation changed the world, you have to understand Martin Luther. Which is why the new biography by Eric Metaxas is a must read.

October 31st marks the 500thanniversary of the event regarded to have started the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Now, as my BreakPoint co-host Eric Metaxas writes in his outstanding new book, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Luther’s theses probably weren’t posted on the church door until two weeks later, and even then,  it may not have been that defiant act it’s often portrayed to be. Still, what did happen on that date was that Luther sent to the Archbishop of Mainz a letter expressing his concern about the selling of indulgences.

As Eric relates, Luther had no idea how that letter and the events that would follow in its wake would change the world.

Even today, most people, apart from some historians, fail to fully appreciate the impact of Luther’s ideas and actions. Protestantism is, as the title of Durham University’s Alec Ryrie’s book puts it, “The Faith that Made the Modern World,” and without Luther there’s no Protestant Reformation.

The problem is that history is too often told in dry and inaccessible ways, at least to non-academic readers. What’s been needed to appreciate Luther and his legacy more is a book that takes the history seriously by situating Luther in his historical and theological context while still being enjoyable, even fun, to read.

And that’s where Eric’s book succeeds.

In many ways, “Luther” is a kind of sequel to Eric’s “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.” Both books are about world-shaping historical Christian figures who, motivated by their conscience and conviction, took enormous risks against the most powerful institutions of their time.

And not coincidentally, both Luther and Bonhoeffer were from eastern Germany, as is Eric’s mother. I note this fact not in any way to detract from his accomplishment. On the contrary, Eric’s personal connection is one of the book’s strengths.

As is, of course, Eric’s trademark engaging style, full of clever turns of phrase and humor that makes the incredible story of Luther all the more accessible. Often, biographical subjects don’t feel human. They are, as was famously said of Robert E. Lee, “marble men.”

But not Eric’s Luther. He’s quite human, for better and for worse. Early on, you practically feel Luther’s anxiety and dread over his own sinfulness. Which helps to make sense of the terror he felt during that fateful thunderstorm that ultimately led him to become a monk, abandoning the legal career his father had mapped out for him.

All of this is important backdrop to understand why Luther’s study of Romans and the idea of justification by faith was more than an academic exercise for him. For Luther, it was more like getting water from a rock in the middle of a desert.

And yet throughout Eric’s book, we learn that Luther was far from being an angel, or for that matter, even pleasant a lot of the time. He was someone who, as a church historian once put it, never knew a moderate moment in his life. Eric writes of Luther’s “execrable fireworks” that were not only directed at his enemies, which included Protestants as well as Catholic prelates, but also at innocent parties, in particular Germany’s Jewish population.

As he did telling the story of Bonhoeffer, Eric depicts Luther’s humanity while simultaneously putting it in its proper historical context, one in which there was a perfect storm of church corruption, political instability, and technological change. Eric gives us a feel for both Luther the man and his world. Both are necessary to understand if we are to see how Luther changed the world.

 

Obviously, Eric’s a personal friend and a BreakPoint colleague. But I promise it’s nowhere in my contract to promote his latest book! This recommendation is driven only by the simple facts that Luther is too important a historical figure and Eric tells the story too well not to recommend this book.

Be an encourager, don’t just protest the bad 

( Below is the Breakpoint radio commentary for today. )

When it comes to culture, do you consider yourself a foot soldier or a gardener? Okay, that’s a bit cryptic. But let me explain.
When was the last time you participated in a boycott? Or shared a Facebook post alerting your friends to a dangerous cultural trend?
Good stuff. Now, let me ask you this: When was the last time you went to an art museum? Or bought tickets to the theater? Or listened to a great piece of music? Or wrote a poem and shared it with friends?
I ask, because, I believe even more important for Christians than being on the front lines of the culture war is participating in the culture—and better yet, helping to create and nurture it. If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we’re doing something wrong.
That’s what my friend Makoto Fujimura says in his new book, “Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life.” You may have heard me interview Fujimura before. He’s a brilliant artist and writer who has thought long and hard about the relationship between faith and the arts. “Culture,” he argues, “is not a territory to be won or lost but a resource we are called to steward with care. Culture is a garden to be cultivated.”
In other words, Fujimura wants us to shift our thinking away from the “culture wars” model, in which we think of culture as a battleground. Of course we need to have convictions about culture, and to stand by them. But Fujimura wants to offer a better way for us to influence culture for good. His image of a garden is just one of many he draws from nature, to show how we can carefully and patiently help to cultivate that cultural environment and make good things grow in it.
So, how do we do this? Fujimura suggests that both Christians and the arts community start by learning to look at each other as potential allies, even friends, instead of as sworn enemies. He asks us to consider investing in cultural works, as we’re able to afford it. (As an example, he mentions customers who have purchased his own paintings by giving him a little money every month until they were fully paid for.) He suggests that leaders in the church, the arts community, and the business community form partnerships to help support each other and nurture the culture around them. He cites the example of singer Mahalia Jackson, who encouraged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to “tell ’em about the dream,” spurring him to make his most famous speech. Such encouragement can flow in both directions.
This isn’t always easy work, but it’s extremely valuable and worthwhile. It requires thoughtful engagement instead of blanket condemnation, and it may call for us to broaden our understanding and deal with ideas that seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But from such efforts come moments that he calls “generative,” or “life-giving.” Christians who enjoy and support art and culture, who make it a priority in their lives, and who reach out to those in the arts instead of reflexively pushing them away, can help bring the culture toward a renewed appreciation of goodness, truth, and beauty. And that is good for everyone.
Fujimura acknowledges that Christians in the arts, or even just Christians who love the arts, can feel caught between two worlds. But he argues that this is not a bad thing. The person in this position may in fact be playing “a role of cultural leadership in a new mode, serving functions including empathy, memory, warning, guidance, mediation, and reconciliation.”
One of the best things about “Culture Care” is Fujimura’s optimism about our future—especially if you’re feeling a bit weary and battle-scarred from the culture wars. He firmly believes that, as tough as this cultural moment is, we can turn it into a “genesis moment” by learning to nurture and care for our culture and those who create it. If you want to be part of that effort, I can’t think of a better way to start than by picking up this excellent book.

The power of a story 

Listen to a commentary here.

Bible based faith, and Shack

Listen to sermon by Dr. Michael Youssef….

The Shack Uncovered

What really happened to the class of 65.. 

Listen to a commentary by Dr. Dobson, right here.

 Readers Are Leaders

Listen to, or read the Breakpoint radio commentary for today. 

Far from Rome, Near to God: 

Read what some former priests have to say about their former church. Along with their new faith. Now I don’t have issue with those who belong to the Catholic Church. My issue is with the leadership of that church. I use to be in the Catholic Church. I am very thankful for the stand  the Roman Church has taken on the right to life. 

   The key is not what church you belong to, but have you embraced Jesus Christ as your Lord, and Savior. ( John 1:12 ) 

  ( Read what some former priests say here. )