Saturday, May 17, 2008

Some Quick Book Reviews with Abi

I've been meaning to wrap up the Pentecost with Abi series somehow and I think the focus came to me this morning. Let's back up and review what I've been reading lately.

Finishing up with Scot McKnight's book, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, left me grateful that he made this a separate book. His editor's sense was right on when she said this material should be its own book. This means that we have an opportunity to have folks read through The Jesus Creed in order to get it ... and then another opportunity for them to walk through its application. Well done, indeed.

I am three quarters of the way through Scot's Praying with the Church, and really appreciate the bridge that he has built for us "low church" folks to reconnect with the rest of the Body of Christ. If we are to recognize that the church is about appreciating cultural diversity and seeing how God is at work in all cultures, we have to at least start by embracing the devotional and formational richness represented in the ancient practices of prayer in the Church. If you're interested in this whole arena, I can't think of a better place to start than with Scot's easy to read and understand book.

And let me just say that I'm really gaining a tremendous appreciation for the way Scot writes. He writes in a natural way that belies the tremendous scholar that he is. This makes his books so much more approachable for the masses. Thanks, Scot!

I'm just a few chapters into Scot's The Real Mary, but I do have to back up and share the interesting context I have for this particular read.

I just finished Anne Rice's first novel in her Christ the Lord series: Out of Egypt. (You may recall that I read the second novel, The Road to Cana, first.) And even though Anne has Jesus telling the story in first person, it is impossible to miss that a great deal of these stories are about Mary. And how could they not be about Mary? Without Mary, there would not be this Jesus! (I tell my children this every once in a while about themselves, usually when they're not very happy with me: without their mother, there would be no THEM!)

There is no more formative influence in the life of a child than their mother. Fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and teachers are all very important, yes. But godly mothers have the chance to become the anchor in the souls of their children -- until they are old enough to realize that the God that anchor's their mother's soul is the true anchor for their lives ... as the old hymn says: " anchor in the time of storm."

Back to Scot's book ... I am seeing that God chose Mary of Nazareth -- not just as a "borrowed womb" for Jesus, but as that anchoring influence for his one and only Son. Do we think this was done haphazardly?


Please read both of Anne's novels about Jesus' early years and his familial and cultural environment. Then go back and read the Gospels again. Gain some appreciation for the immense research that has gone into these books and, like me, look forward to the next book in the series!

And while you're at it, pick up Scot's The Real Mary and be ready to be challenged to believe in the power and love and mercy of our God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength -- and so answer the call of Christ to spread this very subversive Good News!

My anchor holds -- it's gripping the Solid Rock: Jesus!

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