SoulTalk by Larry Crabb

Reading Summary for the book, Soul Talk: The Language God Longs For Us to Speak, by Larry Crabb ...
This is what SoulTalk is about, according to readers on Good Reads:

I really enjoyed this book. The discussions and reflections suggested about how to really talk to people in a way that helps them to develop a passionate and more intimate relationship first with God before anyone else is inspirational. This is a book I would highly recommend everyone read it is a wealth of knowledge.

Big idea: anything, even good things like wanting to make life work out, that get before our appetite to commune with the Trinity is what causes us to struggle in life.

How to shut your mouth and open your heart. I don’t think that I could learn any how-to steps here. This book shows us why giving heartfelt advice is ineffective. It’s a confirmation to me that all of those safe answers that I grew up with are Band-Aids. The purpose in listening is to encourage courage in others in their quest to seek God with ALL their heart, strength and mind.

Some things I’ve heard Larry say, that relate to the whole idea of Soul Talk:

“Nothing is as boring, as the answer to a question, that no one is asking”
-Peter Kreeft

“O soul, created for greatness, and summoned to it.”
-Saint John of The Cross

“We can’t all do great things, but be can do things greatly.”
-Mother Theresa

Teaching By Answering Questions (Teaching Like Jesus, pt. 9)

That same day some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came up to him and questioned him: “Teacher, Moses said, if a man dies, having no children, his brother is to marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first got married and died. Having no offspring, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second also, and the third, and so on to all seven. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had married her.”

Jesus answered them, “You are mistaken, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

And when the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
-Matthew 22:23-33

These are reflections and notes on chapter nine of Harrell Horne’s book, Teaching Techniques of Jesus: chapter 9, His Answers.

Jesus not only asked questions as a way of teaching, but he answered the questions that were constantly peppered at him.  Silence was the answer sometimes and there were only two questioners that he refused to answer.  Do you know who they were?

The big idea is that Jesus answered his questioners as well as their questions.  For Jesus, behind every question is a person.  This is the humaneness of taking the time, valuing the individuals, and seeing them as persons to be redeemed.

Did Jesus answer the questioner as well as the question? This is one of the most significant things about his answers. Illustrate from his answer to the Sadducees concerning the resurrection.  -Horne, p. 60

Jesus answer dealt with the issues that marked the Sadducee party:
1. “You are mistaken, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

  • Jesus answered their argument that ridiculed the OT law, to say there can’t be a resurrection, by telling them that they have no idea, no clue; they don’t get it.  Why? and What?  He teaches that we must both know the scriptures and the power of God.  And they do not, he says.  

2. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.” 

  • Jesus proves to them that there is a resurrection, but that Moses’ marriage laws only apply to our lives now and not then.  He enlightens them that they have conflated two separate issues, to disparage the resurrection.

3. “Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?”

  • Jesus references Bible material that Sadducees hold to be true, to teach that the resurrection is true.

4. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

  • He shows them that Moses was shown that those who were alive and died are living and not dead.
      Jesus had to correct them, be a little harsh, because they were disingenuous in their question.  He starts his answer with:
      • “You are mistaken” (CSB, ISV)
      • “You are in error” (NIV)
      • “You are wrong” (ESV, CEB, AMP)
      • “You’re off base” (MSG)
      • “You are deluded” (TPT)
      • “You are deceived” (NET)
      • “You are completely wrong” (CEV)
      • “You are very wide of the mark” (Phillips)
      Jesus had to define the questioners who asked a disingenuous question.  They came to Jesus, not to be taught, but to prove that they were right and he was wrong, through a question designed to illustrate the absurdity of Jesus’ position, as they understood it.
      This is an example of people asking questions, who oppose you.  They are not there to learn, but to cause trouble by making you look bad.  
      You don’t want to not take them seriously and say, “get out of here!”  But you must first say something that expresses the idea that they completely misunderstand the topic or are mixing everything up.  This is not character assassination but dealing with the premise of the question.
      Horne says that Jesus’ answers, throughout the gospels, had a wide variety.
      Some examples:
      • Informational, i. e., his answer gave information.
      • Profound (for a series of profound answers, see John 6). 
      • An answer in the form of a question. 
      • An answer in the form of a dilemma. 
      • An answer to the questioner as well as the question.
      • A real but not obvious answer. (See Luke 17: 37) 
      • An answer different from the one wanted. 
      • An answer in the form of a story. 
      • Silence as an answer. 
      • An indirect answer (see Matt. 18: 1-6).
      • A practical answer to an academic question (Luke 13:3, 24).


      Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3
      Part 4
      Part 5

      Part 6
      Part 7
      Part 8

      Artist credit, unknown, found here.

      Even In Our Darkness – Review of Jack Deere’s Memoir

      Jack Deere’s memoir is shocking and naked, unvarnished and raw.  It is the story of a boy and a man, whom God loves.  As I read, the Bible verse that came to my mind was John’s words in Revelation 12:11.

      They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.

      This book is Jack’s testimony, the story of what God did in Jack’s life.  What did God do?  He has been loving Jack, through his lifetime.

      The last paragraph summarizes the book;

      For years, I refused to speak publicly about my son’s death.  I did not want to be like a preacher in a John Updike novel who “forges God’s name on every sentence he speaks.”  In those years, I was also learning that when the worst day of your life comes, it is only the beginning of bad.  Suddenly it seemed that everybody had a better story than mine.  Then my story got worse.  God took away about everything I used to fuel my self-esteem until there was nothing left except his love.  And for the first time, I felt his love apart from anything I could offer him.  And then I no longer needed a better story.

      Jack had two massive losses in his life.  First his dad and then his son.

      In the midst of that, he became a Christian, got saved.  Then he became a leader and a teacher.

      He married a girl who loved God, despite having a horrible father.  They had three kids.  They lost one.

      Jack’s story is a story of friendship.  Jack is a friend of God and also has had many friends.

      Jack’s story is about sin, suffering, and redemption.  It is about faith.  It is about honesty and pain.

      He asks the question of what happens to your story, when there is a loss, like the death of his son.  And the answer is that a new story begins.

      In recovery circles, we meet people like ourselves, who are self-proclaimed ‘miracles’.  But many people don’t make it or continue to live in torment.

      Jack tells of many instances when he was wrong or missed it.  There is a lot in here about the foolishness of pride, fig leaves, grief, anger, control, self-esteem, honesty, and unconditional love.

      After the death of their son and ten years of addiction trauma, Jack got the idea to tell his story, write a memoir.  I am so glad he did.

      When we tell our honest stories, we become authentic people of whom God has worked in our lives.  This is powerful, because, like the Amazing Grace song, we learn that we are all sinners and have been sinned against, and are being redeemed.  No shame, but failures all.

      Jack’s book reminds me of C.S. Lewis, in his story, depicted in Shadowlands, when he gets really mad at God, because his wife is dying of cancer.  When I saw him, depicted in the film, being real with God, raw and unedited, it endeared me to him; and gave more power to everything he wrote.

      Jack’s book also reminds me of Ann Kiemel.  She seemed to have had a charmed life, but then had some major suffering in the second half.  I liked her before and after her revelations.

      Jack’s honesty also reminds me of Paul Young and his story.

      A great lesson for leaders and teachers, from Jack’s book, is self-disclosure.  Tell your story, of God and you.

      I was a member at Jack’s church for 4 years, when I was in my twenties.  And I had almost no idea  about his story.  I just knew that his dad might have committed suicide and that he might have been worried that he didn’t go to heaven.  But I heard an older minister encourage Jack that suicide is not the unforgivable sin and that his dad was in the Lord’s presence.  That endeared him to me, because my grandpa and later my dad, had mental illness.

      Here are links to Jack talking with Eric Metaxas:

      Some other reviews of Even in Our Darkness:

      Kim Gentes
      John Lathrop
      Matthew R. Bardowell
      Darryl Dash
      Nathana Clay

      Am I Called? (by Dave Harvey) Book Notes 1

      As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.  “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

      Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

      -Matthew 4:18-22
      Calling, as in being “called to the ministry”, has been a painful topic for me.  It used to bother me when guys would say, “when I was called”, or “God called me”.  That painful feeling was a clue, about me, my makeup, and my personal destiny.  I wanted to be called, I wanted to be special, and I wanted to serve God with my whole life.  So, “going into the ministry”, made perfect sense.  But I also had a belief that one must be called, have a special calling experience from God, in order to become called to the ministry; which would be full-time vocational ministry.  Right?
      I got even more confused as I adopted and integrated the belief that all Christians are called to the ministry.  You know, the priesthood of all believers.  I am very passionate about there not being a clergy-laity dichotomy.  I am very passionate about ‘every-member ministry’.  I believe in leadership in the church that is very different from leadership in the world and I believe in elders and ministers and ministries.  And I believe in offices, that are functional and relational, and not hierarchical/institutional positions.  I believe that the ‘org-chart’ of the church is ‘flat’.  Jesus is the head and we are all under him.
      That’s me, and this is Dave:  I picked up Dave Harvey’s book, Am I Called?, after I read J. I. Packer’s endorsement that reads, “This is the fullest, most realistic, down-to-earth, and genuinely spiritual exploration of God’s call to pastoral ministry that I know.”  Dave is 58 years old, and is a teaching pastor in Naples, Florida.  Dave came to Christ in his late teens and earned a DMin from Westminster Seminary.
      The forward is written by Matt Chandler, who reflects on his personal journey in ministry, and laments that he wishes that a book like Dave’s had been put in his hands, twenty years ago, so that he would have been saved from so much pain and loss, from his brokenness, sin, and blunders in ministry.  Matt gives us a preview, that the book is going to be more about character formation, roots, and foundations; in a word, Christ.
      I went from feeling like Dave was going to disqualify me, to being thrilled that this is really a book about knowing Christ and living the gospel, and that Dave and I have a ton in common.
      Matt writes that Dave asks these questions that unpack if you are called:
      • Are you godly?
      • How’s your home?
      • Can you preach?
      • Can you shepherd?
      • Do you love the lost?
      • Who agrees?
      Lastly, Matt says that after working through these, Dave talks about waiting on God.  Sounds good to me.
      In part one, chapter one, Dave clarifies that his book is written “for men who may someday be pastors”.  He’s not an egalitarian.
      Dave tells his story.  When he started out in his Christian life (age 19 and early twenties), he needed a lot of work, probably just like all of us.  “I was arrogant, self-indulgent, selfishly ambitious, impatient, and intrinsically rebellious.”
      But Dave had stirrings, specifically when a preacher presented a sermon in church.  His calling began to take shape.  He began to wonder about himself being in ministry someday.  Stirrings and desire, but what were the next steps?  Dave asked himself, “How do I know if God was calling me to be a pastor?” (p. 25)

      25 Books Details

      In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach.

      -Acts 1:1 (NLT)

      These are the details on the 25 books I would recommend to a young Christian.  Every word below is a quote from Goodreads or Amazon’s websites.  Links provided throughout.

      My advice about your reading life:  Pray first, then read the Bible, ask questions and pray some more.  Journal daily.  Read numerous translations if possible.  Take notes, think and pray some more.  Worship always.  Meet with people or phone a friend and share about what you are learning and what God is doing in your life…. Then read books, that aren’t the Bible.

      These are in no particular order, thumb-nail sketch biographies first:

      Watchman Nee

      Born into a Methodist family, Watchman Nee experienced a religious revival, and joined the Church of Heavenly Peace, Fuzhou in 1920 at age 17 and began writing in the same year. In 1921, he met the British missionary M. E. Barber, who was a great influence on him. Through Miss Barber, Nee was introduced to many of the Christian writings which were to have a profound influence on him and his teachings. Nee attended no theological schools or Bible institutes. His knowledge was acquired through studying the Bible and reading various Christian spiritual books. During his 30 years of ministry, beginning in 1922, Nee traveled throughout China planting churches among the rural communities and holding Christian conferences and trainings in Shanghai. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. (1)

      The Normal Christian Life

      Watchman Nee’s great Christian classic tracing the steps along the pathway of faith and presenting the eternal purpose of God in simple terms. Its central theme: “Christ our Life. (1)

      An inspiring look at Ephesians and the believer’s association with Christ, the world, and Satan. (2)

      Oswald Chambers

      Oswald Chambers was born to devout parents in Aberdeen, Scotland. At age 16, Oswald Chambers was baptized and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Chapel. Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality, and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses. Oswald married Gertrude in May 1910, and on May 24, 1913, Gertrude gave birth to their only child, Kathleen. In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I, Chambers was accepted as a YMCA chaplain. He was assigned to Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops, who later participated in the Battle of Gallipoli. Soon his wooden-framed “hut” was packed with hundreds of soldiers listening attentively to his messages. Confronted by a soldier who said, “I can’t stand religious people,” Chambers replied, “Neither can I.” Chambers was stricken with appendicitis on October 17, 1917 but resisted going to a hospital on the grounds that the beds would be needed by men wounded in the long-expected Third Battle of Gaza. On October 29th, a surgeon performed an emergency appendectomy, but Chambers died November 15, 1917 from a hemorrhage of the lungs. He was buried in Cairo with full military honors. Gertrude, for the remainder of her life published books and articles for him edited from the notes she had taken in shorthand from his sermons. Most successful of the thirty books was, “My Utmost for His Highest”, which has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages. (3)

      For nearly seventy-five years, countless millions of Christians the world over have trusted the spiritual companionship of Oswald Chambers’s daily devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest.” These brief scripture-based readings–by turns comforting and challenging–will draw you into God’s presence and form you as a disciple of the Risen Lord. You’ll treasure their insight, still fresh and vital. And you’ll discover what it means to offer God your very best for His greatest purpose–to truly offer Him your utmost for His highest. This edition includes Chambers’s text, updated by editor James Reimann, along with helpful subject and scripture indexes. (3)
      Henry and Richard Blackaby, and Claude V. King

      Henry Blackaby is founder and president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries International, an organization built to help people experience God. He and his wife Marilynn have five children and fourteen grandchildren and live in Rex, Georgia. (4)

      Dr. Richard Blackaby is the president of Blackaby Ministries International ( where he works with his father Henry. He is an author and a popular international speaker. Richard is married to Lisa and they have three amazing children: Mike, Daniel, and Carrie. Richard has a Ph.D. in history. He loves reading biographies and hockey. He works with leaders in the home, church, and business community, helping them develop their leadership to higher levels.(5)

      Claude King serves as Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. He and his wife Reta are natives and current residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. After attending school in New Orleans, Claude began work as an editor at the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee. After a writer cancellation, he coauthored his first book (“WiseCounsel: Skills for Lay Counseling” with John Drakeford) out of sheer necessity to meet a deadline. He met and began working with Henry Blackaby in 1986. That relationship led to their developing “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” which was first released in 1990. (6)

      Most Bible studies help people; this one changes them forever. (7)  Experiencing God is based on seven Scriptural realities that teach us how to develop a true relationship with the Creator. (8)

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, a founding member of the Confessing Church. His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end. His view of Christianity’s role in the secular world has become very influential. (9)

      The Cost of Discipleship 

      One of the most important theologians of the twentieth century illuminates the relationship between ourselves and the teachings of Jesus in this classic text on ethics, humanism, and civic duty.

      What can the call to discipleship, the adherence to the word of Jesus, mean today to the businessman, the soldier, the laborer, or the aristocrat? What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is his will for us today? Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers these timeless questions by providing a seminal reading of the dichotomy between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” “Cheap grace,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “is the grace we bestow on ourselves…grace without discipleship….Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the girl which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know….It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

      The Cost of Discipleship is a compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency from a man whose life and thought were exemplary articulations of a new type of leadership inspired by the Gospel, and imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty. (9)

      C.S. Lewis
      CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures. (10)

      The Screwtape Letters

      A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life from the vantage point of Screwtape, a senior tempter in the service of “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging and humorous account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written. (10)

      A.W. Tozer

      Aiden Wilson Tozer was an American evangelical pastor, speaker, writer, and editor. After coming to Christ at the age of seventeen, Tozer found his way into the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination where he served for over forty years. In 1950, he was appointed by the denomination’s General Council to be the editor of “The Alliance Witness” (now “Alliance Life”).

      Born into poverty in western Pennsylvania in 1897, Tozer died in May 1963 a self-educated man who had taught himself what he missed in high school and college due to his home situation. Though he wrote many books, two of them, “The Pursuit of God” and “The Knowledge of the Holy” are widely considered to be classics.

      A.W. Tozer and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, had seven children, six boys and one girl. (11)

      “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” This thirst for an intimate relationship with God, claims A.W. Tozer, is not for a select few, but should be the experience of every follower of Christ.

      Here is a masterly study of the inner life by a heart thirsting after God. Here is a book for every child of God, pastor, missionary, and Christian. It deals with the deep things of God and the riches of His grace.

      In The Pursuit of God, Tozer sheds light on the path to a closer walk with God. (11)

      The Knowledge of the Holy by popular evangelical author and Christian mystic A.W. Tozer illuminates God’s attributes—from wisdom, to grace, to mercy—and in doing so, attempts to restore the majesty and wonder of God in the hearts and minds of all Christians. A modern classic of Christian testimony and devotion, The Knowledge of the Holy shows us how we can rejuvenate our prayer life, meditate more reverently, understand God more deeply, and experience God’s presence in our daily lives.  (12)
      John Bunyan

      JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688) was a Puritan preacher and writer in England. Bunyan had very little schooling. He followed his father in the tinker’s trade, and served in the parliamentary army from 1644 to 1647. In 1655, Bunyan became a deacon and began preaching. He experienced marked success from the start and was the pastor of the Bedford church. (13)

      The Pilgrim’s Progress

      This famous story of man’s progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim’s trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial City.

      Along a road filled with monsters and spiritual terrors, Christian confronts such emblematic characters as Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But he is also joined by Hopeful and Faithful.
      An enormously influential 17th-century classic, universally known for its simplicity, vigor, and beauty of language, The Pilgrim’s Progress remains one of the most widely read books in the English language. (14)
      Jerry Bridges

      JERRY BRIDGES was an author and conference speaker. His most popular book, The Pursuit of Holiness, has sold over one million copies. Jerry was on the staff of The Navigators for over fifty years, and currently served in the Collegiate Mission where he was involved primarily in staff development, but also served as a speaker resource to the campus ministries. (15)

      “Be holy, for I am holy” commands God to His people. But holiness is something that is often missed in the Christian’s daily life. According to author Jerry Bridges, that’s because we’re not exactly sure what our part in holiness is. In The Pursuit of Holiness, he helps us see clearly just what we should rely on God to do–and what we should accept responsibility for ourselves. (15)
      W. Phillip Keller
      W. Phillip Keller (1920-1997) wrote more than thirty-five books on Christian subjects, including his most popular book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 The son of missionary parents in Kenya, Keller grow up in Africa before becoming a world citizen as a photographer, agronomist, and author. His books have over two million copies in print. (16)
      As a shepherd, Phillip Keller shares his insights into the life and character of sheep— and of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for them. This beloved classic will give new meaning to the ageless Shepherd Psalm, enriching your trust in and love for the Lord who watches closely over you. (16)

      Gene Edwards

      Gene Edwards is one of America’s most beloved Christian authors. He has published over 25 best-selling books, and his signature work, “The Divine Romance,” has been called a masterpiece of Christian literature. He has written biblical fiction covering nearly the entire Bible, with titles that include the following: “The Beginning,” “The Escape,” “The Birth,” “The Divine Romance,” “The Triumph,” “Revolution,” “The Silas Diary,” “The Titus Diary,” “The Timothy Diary,” “The Priscilla Diary,” “The Gaius Diary,” and “The Return.”

      Gene grew up in the East Texas oil fields and entered college at the age of 15. He graduated from East Texas State University at 18 with a bachelor’s degree in English history and received his M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Gene is part of the house-church movement, and he travels extensively to aid Christians as they begin meeting in homes rather than in church buildings. He also conducts conferences on living the deeper Christian life.

      Gene and his wife, Helen, reside in Jacksonville, Florida, and have two grown children. (17)

      For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope. Christian leaders and directors of religious movements throughout the world have recommended this simple, powerful, and beautiful story to their members and staff. You will want to join the thousands who have been profoundly touched by this incomparable story. (17)
      Hannah Whithall Smith

      Hannah Whitall Smith, (1832-1911) was a speaker and author in the Holiness movement in the United States and the Higher Life movement in the United Kingdom. She was also active in the Women’s suffrage movement and the Temperance movement, helping found the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
      Hannah was no stranger to the difficulties of life. Although she had seven children in all, only three survived to adulthood. (18)

      The Christian’s secret of a happy life guides readers to reply not on the shifting sands of emotions but on the constant and unshakable faithfulness of God.
      This title really seems a bit trite for the magnitude of wisdom and mature Christian discipleship which it’s pages contain.
      Plan to be enlightened (seeing biblical principles and scripture in a new way-even though the book was authored in 1875). Plan to be challenged (all our modern self focused-self absorbed Christianity is refuted bit by bit). After all this we see through a clearer glass, a more simple Christian life which does indeed bring happiness- or what I would refer to as true biblical joy. In the 1800’s I imagine that the line was thinner between happiness and joy. Today’s Christians are learning to discern that joy is a heart condition relating to contentment regardless of perfect circumstances and one’s happiness usually is based upon a sense of comfort without trial. The later can never be sustained, but joy is eternal. I believe the author’s desire for the time was to help the reader discover truer ‘joyful’ happiness- really encompassing both states in the best sense; before recent generations’ quest for the quick fix, instant ease and satisfaction of desires became the current measure of one’s happiness.
      The author’s classic wisdom based on scripture and her ability to dissect personal motive from a Godly motivation makes this an especially refreshing and thought provoking read. Not guilt based but truth impartation does the convincing. (18)
      Hannah Hurnard
      Hanna Hurnard was a twentieth century Christian author, best known for her allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places.
      Hurnard was born in 1905 in Colchester, England to Quaker parents. She graduated from Ridgelands Bible College of Great Britain in 1926. In 1932 she became an independent missionary, moving to Haifa, Israel. Her work in Israel lasted 50 years, although she would later maintain a home in England as well.
      Hurnard’s early writings (especially Hinds’ Feet on High Places and the sequel Mountain of Spices) were embraced by the mainstream Christian community, but later on in her life she seems to have departed from orthodoxy. (19)

      With over 2 million copies sold, Hinds’ Feet on High Places remains Hannah Hurnard’s best known and most beloved book: a timeless allegory dramatizing the yearning of God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy, and victory. In this moving tale, follow Much-Afraid on her spiritual journey as she overcomes many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places. There she gains a new name and is transformed by her union with the loving Shepherd. (19)
      Richard Foster
      Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today’s Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an intrachurch movement committed to the renewal of the Church in all her multifaceted expressions, and the editor of The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. (20)
      Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth is hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality with millions of copies sold since its original publication in 1978.

      In Celebration of Discipline, Foster explores the “classic Disciplines,” or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith to show how each of these areas contribute to a balanced spiritual life. (20)

      Corrie Ten Boom
      Corrie ten Boom and her family were Christians who were active in social work in their home town of Haarlem, the Netherlands. During the Nazi occupation, they chose to act out their faith through peaceful resistance to the Nazis by active participation in the Dutch underground. They were hiding, feeding and transporting Jews and underground members hunted by the Gestapo out of the country. It is estimated they were able to save the lives of 800 Jews, in addition to protecting underground workers.

      On Feb. 28, 1944, they were betrayed and Corrie and several relatives were arrested. The four Jews and two underground workers in the house at the time of the arrest were not located by the Nazis and were extricated by the underground 47 hours after they fled to the tiny hiding place (located in Corrie’s room).

      The ten Boom family members were separated and transferred to concentration camps. Corrie was allowed to stay with her precious sister, Betsy. Corrie’s father (Casper), her sister (Betsy) and one grandchild (Kik) perished. Corrie was released in December of 1944.

      These acts of heroism and sacrifice became the foundation for Corrie ten Boom’s global writing and speaking career which began after she was released.

      Ten Boom has received numerous awards for her writing and speaking. Notably, she was honored by the State of Israel for her work in aid of the Jewish people by being invited to plant a tree in the famous Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, near Jerusalem. She was also knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in recognition of her work during the war, and a museum in the Dutch city of Haarlem is dedicated to her and her family. (21)

      At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue.

      Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.

      William Paul Young
      Wm. Paul Young is a Canadian author. Young was the oldest of four. He spend the majority of his first decade with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a tribal people. When he was six he was sent to a boarding school.

      The manuscript, that later became The Shack, was intended only for his six kids and for a handful of close friends. After multiple rejections by publishers, Young and his friends published the book under the name of their newly created publishing company. The Shack was one of the top-selling fiction books of 2008 and will be a major motion picture in Spring 2017.

      Young lives in Happy Valley, Oregon with his wife and has six children and several grandchildren. (22)

      The Shack

      Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

      Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

      In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book! (22)

      Rick Joyner
      Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The Oak Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be. Rick and his wife, Julie, have five children: Anna, Aaryn, Amber, Ben, and Sam. (23)
      This panoramic vision was given to the author over a period of one year. It includes an unfolding of the last battle between light and darkness.

      Steve Sjogren

      Steve is considered by many in the church world to be the father of servant evangelism – the notion that “the kindness of God brings us to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Steve is a multi-faceted pastor and a sought-after conference speaker. He is a leadership coach through his network and he leads several popular websites that include,, and (24)

      “The cold voice of the anesthesiologist recited the typical ‘count backward from 10’ cadence. Darkness closed around me before he got to 7. That’s when I found out what it’s like to die–and to come back from the dead.”

      It was a beautiful winter’s day, showing no signs of what was to come. Steve Sjogren, pastor of one of America’s fastest growing churches, went into the hospital for routine gall bladder surgery and died–twice. What began as a tragic medical accident led to Steve’s encounter with death, an experience of unimaginable peace and some surprises, with comforting words from God, a meeting with an angel, and seeing those who had died before him.

      If you, or someone you know, are fearful of dying, curious about heaven, or simply desiring to live life to its fullest, this encouraging book could change how you view life and death. (25)

      Brother Lawrence
      Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman in Hériménil, near Lunéville in the region of Lorraine, located in modern day eastern France and as a young man went into the army due to his poverty. At the age of 18 he received what he felt was a revelation of the providence and power of God. He went on to fight in the Thirty Years’ War and later served as a valet, but within six years joined the Discalced Carmelite Priory in Paris.

      Nicholas entered the priory in Paris as a lay brother, not having the education necessary to become a cleric, and took the religious name, “Lawrence of the Resurrection.” He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for many of these years and as a repairer of sandals in his later years.

      Despite his lowly position in the life of the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them in conversations and in letters would later become the basis for the book The Practice of the Presence of God. (26)

      Brother Lawrence was a man of humble beginnings who discovered the greatest secret of living in the kingdom of God here on earth. It is the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” He often stated that it is God who paints Himself in the depths of our souls. We must merely open our hearts to receive Him and His loving presence.
      As a humble cook, Brother Lawrence learned an important lesson through each daily chore: The time he spent in communion with the Lord should be the same, whether he was bustling around in the kitchen—with several people asking questions at the same time—or on his knees in prayer. He learned to cultivate the deep presence of God so thoroughly in his own heart that he was able to joyfully exclaim, “I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart.”
      This unparalleled classic has given both blessing and instruction to those who can be content with nothing less than knowing God in all His majesty and feeling His loving presence throughout each simple day. (26)

      Charles H. Kraft
      Rev. Dr. Charles H. Kraft is an anthropologist and linguist whose work since the early 1980s has focused on inner healing and spiritual warfare. He is the Sun-Hee Kwak Professor of Anthropology and Intercultural Communication in the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, teaching primarily in the school’s spiritual dynamics concentration. He joined Fuller’s faculty in 1969. In the 1950s he served as a Brethren missionary in northern Nigeria. He has been a professor of African languages at Michigan State University and UCLA, and taught anthropology part-time at Biola University. He holds a BA from Wheaton College, a BD from Ashland Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the Hartford Seminary Foundation. (27)
      Explains what spiritual authority is and isn’t and describes the responsible and legitimate exercise of such authority in key areas. (27)  
      This book shows how to properly exercise the authority we have been given through the Holy Spirit. When we awaken to our spiritual authority, every aspect of our lives will be transformed and freed from the oppressive but limited power of Satan. It is simply a matter of recognizing and using the great gift of authority we have from God in Christ, and opening ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit. (from the back cover)
      Henry Cloud

      Dr. Cloud has written or co-written twenty-five books, including the two million-seller Boundaries. His most recent books are Boundaries for Leaders and Necessary Endings. He has earned three Gold Medallion awards, and was awarded the distinguished Retailers Choice award for God Will Make A Way.

      As president of Cloud-Townsend Resources, Dr. Cloud has produced and conducted hundreds of public seminars around the country. He speaks on relationships—marriage, parenting, dating, personal growth, and spirituality. His seminars are often broadcast live to over two thousand venues at a time. (28)

      John Townsend
      Dr. John Townsend is a psychologist, popular speaker, co-host of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! radio program, and a cofounder of the Cloud-Townsend Clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. He has written or co-written twenty-seven books, including the bestselling Boundaries, Safe People, and Hiding from Love. He and his wife, Barbi, live in southern California. They have two grown sons. (29)

      Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator — Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: – Can I set limits and still be a loving person? – What are legitimate boundaries? – What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? – How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? – Aren’t boundaries selfish? – Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves. (28)

      Frank Peretti
      Peretti is a natural storyteller who, as a youngster in Seattle, regularly gathered the neighborhood children for animated storytelling sessions. After graduating from high school, he began playing banjo with a local bluegrass group. He and his wife were married in 1972, and Peretti soon moved from touring with a pop band to launching a modest Christian music ministry. Peretti later spent time studying English, screen writing and film at UCLA and then assisted his father in pastoring a small Assembly of God church. In 1983, he gave up his pastoring position and began taking construction jobs to make ends meet. While working at a local ski factory, he began writing This Present Darkness, the book that would catapult him into the public eye. After numerous rejections from publishers and a slow start in sales, word-of-mouth enthusiasm finally lifted This Present Darkness onto a tidal wave of interest in spiritual warfare. The book appeared on Bookstore Journal’s bestseller list every month for more than eight years. Peretti’s two spiritual warfare novels, This Present Darkness (1998) and Piercing the Darkness (1989), captivated readers, together selling more than 3.5 million copies. The Oath was awarded the 1996 Gold Medallion Award for best fiction.

      For kids, Peretti wrote The Cooper Kids Adventure Series (Crossways and Tommy Nelson), which remains a best-selling series for children with sales exceeding 1 million copies. In August 2000, Peretti released the hilarious children’s audiocassette series titled Wild and Wacky Totally True Bible Stories, reprising his role as Mr. Henry, the offbeat substitute Sunday School teacher found in two Visual Bible for Kids videos.

      Peretti released his first-ever non-fiction book, The Wounded Spirit in 2000, which quickly became a best-seller. The book addresses the pain of “wounded spirits” and was writted as a result of painful childhood experiences.

      Frank Peretti and his wife, Barbara Jean, live in the Western U.S. In spite of sudden fame and notoriety, Frank still lives a simple, well-rounded life that includes carpentry, banjo making, sculpturing, bicycling and hiking. He is also an avid pilot. (30)

      Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.

      This Present Darkness is a gripping story that brings keen insight into spiritual warfare and the necessity of prayer. Since its original publication more than 2.7 million copies have been sold. The companion volume, Piercing the Darkness, continues the story of the battle between spiritual forces. (30)

      Charlie W. Shedd
      Dr. Charles W. Shedd was an American Presbyterian minister and a master communicator of homespun wisdom. Dr. Shedd served as a Presbyterian minister for over 50 years. He was the shepherd of small country churches and big city cathedrals. Along the way, he walked alongside janitors, farmers, physicians, senators, and presidential cabinet members. “Pastor Shedd” never met a stranger, or left anyone who did not feel richer for being in this presence.

      He authored over 40 books, wrote nationally syndicated columns, and was a favorite guest of numerous television and radio personalities. (31)

      Here is a warm, witty, and wise book for every young man who has ever wondered what to do and say in difficult situations with the opposite sex. Dr. Shedd offers helpful hints on how to turn a complaint into a compliment and much more. (31)

      “Heard of this book from a friend as one of the best relationship/marriage books he’d read and recommends it for all men to read. I would agree. Straight from a father to his fixing to get married son, absolutely love his letters about how to treat your wife. Very simple, yet profound in how it can change your marriage just by treating her right, and simply loving her in simple consistent ways! Highly recommend and a great price too :)” (34)

      Karen Shedd, away at college, had recently become engaged. Looking forward to a long and happy union, she wrote to her father for advice. (32)

      “This book is different than Letters to Philip, so don’t expect it to be its companion manual on “How to Treat a Man”. It’s more about how to be a truly great wife, how to love your role as a wife, and how to nurture a marriage that grows more rich and fulfilling every year. The advice has a feminine focus, but husbands would do well to read it too. It’s a little dated by the old-fashioned roles of the bread winner and the home maker, but the core advice is so timeless that it transcends this social context. We can have non-traditional roles in the world but still celebrate and relish the wondrous intrinsic differences between men and women. The book is honest and straightforward about all facets of marriage, including sex. He is not shy about the importance of deep intimacy and mutual sexual fulfillment, or a wife’s resplendent role as her husband’s lover. I think the best summation of the advice is to talk, talk, talk, and listen, listen, listen. The moment you sweep something under the rug is the moment you start drifting apart, which is a slow and painful death for a marriage.

      P.S. I’m a 50 year old lady engaged to the man of my dreams. This advice was most welcome.” (33)

      H. Jackson Brown Jr.
      Date of Birth: 1940

      H. Jackson Brown, Jr. is an American author best-known for his book Life’s Little Instruction Book which was a New York Times bestseller. Before becoming famous as a writer, Brown acted as a creative director of an advertising agency in Nashville, Tennessee. It was simple words of wisdom gathered from other people and his own experiences that made him a best-selling author.

      Brown first published A Father’s Book of Wisdom, which was quickly followed by P.S. I Love You, a collection of sayings and observations from his father and mother. Both were very popular and led to Life’s Little Instruction Book, which was originally written as a going-away present for his college-bound son, Adam. This book contained 511 reminders about “how to live a happy and rewarding life” and became a phenomenal best-seller worldwide. It has logged more than two years on the New York Times best-seller list, including more than a year at the number one spot. Life’s Little Instruction Book was the first book to ever occupy the number one spot on the New York Times best-seller list in both paperback and hardback formats simultaneously. Live and Learn and Pass It On followed and also became a New York Times best-seller.

      Brown’s books have been translated into 35 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. They have spawned calendars, posters, apparel items, daily journals, greeting cards, audiocassettes, screensavers and even fortune cookies. Brown is also said to receive thousands of letters from readers all over the world. Their content ranges from the simple, “I enjoyed your book and I read a page or two every night before I go to bed” to the humbling “your book convinced our family to adopt a special needs child.”

      Remarking on his books, Jackson has said, “Most of us know what we need to do to make our lives more fulfilled and useful, but sometimes we forget. My little books are gentle reminders of those simple things which, if done well and in a spirit of love, can significantly change our lives.” (35)

      H. Jackson Brown, Jr. originally wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book™ as a gift for his son who was leaving home to begin his freshman year in college. Brown says, “I read years ago that it was not the responsibility of parents to pave the road for their children but to provide a road map, and I wanted to provide him with what I had learned about living a happy and rewarding life.” Life’s Little Instruction Book™ is a guidebook that gently points the way to happiness and fulfillment. The observations are direct, simple, and as practical as an umbrella.

      “But it’s not just for young people,” says Brown. “Most of us already know how to live a successful and purposeful life. We know we should be more understanding and thoughtful, more responsible, courageous and appreciative. It’s just that we sometimes need reminding.” Life’s Little Instruction Book™ is that reminder, as well as the perfect gift for a relative or a friend who needs encouragement at any time of the year. (35)

      3, My Utmost Goodreads page
      4. Henry Blackaby’s Amazon page
      5. Richard Blackaby’s Amazon page
      6. Claude King’s Amazon page
      7. Experiencing God Goodreads page
      8. Experiencing God Amazon page
      9. Cost of Discipleship Goodreads page
      10. Screwtape Letters Goodreads page
      11. Pursuit of God Goodreads page
      12. Knowledge of The Holy Goodreads page
      13. John Bunyan’s Amazon page
      14. Pilgrim’s Progress Goodreads page
      15. Pursuit of Holiness Goodreads page
      16. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 Goodreads page
      17. A Tale of Three Kings Goodreads page
      18. The Christian’s Secret Goodreads page
      19. Hinds Feet Goodreads page
      20. Celebration of Discipline Goodreads page
      21. The Hiding Place Goodreads page
      22. The Shack Goodreads page
      23. The Final Quest Goodreads page
      24. “about Steve”
      25. The Day I Died Goodreads page
      26. The Practice of The Presence of God Goodreads page
      27. I Give You Authority Goodreads page
      28. Boundaries Goodreads page
      29. John Townsend’s Goodreads page
      30. This Present Darkness Goodreads page
      31. Letters to Phillip Goodreads page
      32. Letters To Karen Goodreads page
      33. Letters To Karen Amazon page
      34. Letters To Phillip Amazon Page
      35. Life’s Little Instruction Book Goodreads page

      25 Books For A Young Christian Man

      My heart is moved by a noble theme as I recite my verses to the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

      -Psalm 45:1

      “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
      ― Robert Louis Stevenson

      This is a list of 25 favorite books I am recommending to someone.  With the caveat, to read the Bible and pray foremost.

      1. The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee
      2. Sit, Walk, Stand; Watchman Nee
      3. My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers
      4. Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby
      5. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      6. The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
      7. The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
      8. The Knowledge of The Holy, A.W. Tozer
      9. The Pilgrim’s Progress, Paul Bunyan
      10. The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges
      11. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller
      12. A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards
      13. The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whithall Smith
      14. Hinds Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard
      15. Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster
      16. The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
      17. The Shack, William Paul Young
      18. The Final Quest, Rick Joyner
      19. The Day I Died, Steve Sjogren
      20. The Practice of The Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
      21. I Give You Authority, Charles H. Kraft
      22. Boundaries, Henry Cloud & John Townsend
      23. This Present Darkness, Frank Peretti
      24. Letters To Phillip On How to Treat a Woman, Charlie W. Shedd
      25. Life’s Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown Jr.

      The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 5

      Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues,greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

      “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters. Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. You are not to be called instructors either, because you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

      -Matthew 23:1-12

      Quotes and notes from chapter 2, part 1 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.

      Royal Consciousness: Countering the Counterculture


      • I believe that Moses did not engage in anything like what we identify as social action.  He was not engaged in a struggle to transform a regime, rather, his concern was with the consciousness that undergirded and made such a regime possible.
      • (my words) Moses was also not interested with social betterment through the repentance of the regime but rather with totally dismantling it so that a better reality could appear.
      • The prophetic purpose is much more radical than social change.
      • The notion of God’s freedom probably is more than any religious movement can sustain for very long.
      • Karl Barth (noted that) the dispute between revelation and reason concerns not only other false religions but the very religion of “Christian revelation”.
      • The notion of human justice and compassion is rarely a foremost factor in ordering a community.
        • It’s usually among the last questions.
      • It could be that the possibilities emergent in the ministry of Moses are too radical for any historical community either in terms of theological supposition or of societal implementation.
      • By way of analogy, it is clear that the militancy and radicalness of the earliest churches was soon compromised.
      • The freedom of God and the politics of justice are not so easily embraced among us, given our social setting and derivative religious interestedness.
        • Our best religion is never disinterested.
        • Mosaic, prophetic religion is also never disinterested.
      • By the time of Solomon in approximately 962 B.C.E. (after forty years of shrewd and ambiguous leadership from David) there was a radical shift in Israel’s life and faith.
      • The entire program of Solomon now appears to have been a self-serving achievement with its whole purpose the self-securing of the king and dynasty.
        • A program of state-sponsored syncretism, which of course means the steady abandonment of the radicalness of the Mosaic vision.
      • George Mendenhall has rightly characterized the Solomonic achievement as the “paganization of Israel,” that is a return to the religious and political presupposition of the pre-Mosaic imperial situation.
        • Which is to say that the Solomonic effort was not only abandonment of the revolution but a knowing embrace of the pre-prophetic reality.
        • It’s worth noting that our own perceptions move.  The very developments that Mendenhall describes as “paganization” are those that in another context Gerhard von Rad, and others, including myself, have termed “Enlightenment”.  It’s worth noting recalling this in order to see that more than one reading of the data is possible.
      • The shift in presuppositions brought about by Solomon can hardly be overestimated.
        • It is likely that David, genius that he was, managed to have it both ways, and, as Stefan Heym has observed, there is a greatness in David that Solomon could only imitate and even then to poor effect.
      • Solomon had a social vision that was contradictory to that of Moses.
        • The possibility of and alternative consciousness or an alternative community was quite removed from Israel’s thinking in Solomon’s time.
        •  It seems likely that criticism could no longer be practiced because the transcendent agent necessary for criticism was gone.
        • And we may hypothesize that promises that could energize are all confiscated for royal use.
        • (because of the national prosperity) There is no tension between a criticized present and an energizing future.  There is only an unenergizing present.
        • The Mosaic vision of reality nearly disappeared.
      • (my notes) Solomon’s achievements set up a prophetic critique that will counterpoint:
      • (my notes) Three examples to explore:
        • Affluence
        • Oppressive Social Policy
        • Static Religion

      Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15, illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company

      The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 4

      The Lord is my strength and my song
      And He is become my salvation
      He is my God

      And I shall prepare Him my heart,
      And I shall prepare Him my heart,
      And I shall prepare Him my heart.

      The Lord, He shall reign
      Forever and ever, amen.
      The Lord, He shall reign
      Forever and ever, amen.

      -Exodus XV (Frank Gallio)
      Quotes and notes from chapter 1, part 4 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.

      Prophetic Energizing

      • It is the task of the prophet to bring to expression the new realities against the more visible ones of the old order.
      • Energizing is closely linked to hope.  We are energized not by that which we already possess but by that which is promised and about to be given.
      • (my notes) The liberal fallacy is to rail and polemicize, without having faith, really believing that something is about to be given.  Egypt says everything has been given and the trap is believing in reforming or rearranging Egypt.
      • (my notes) The prophet speaks against this managing and instead energizes toward a genuine new future that is not a derivative.
      • Three energizing dimensions to this narrative that open up the prophetic imagination:
      1. Embrace the inscrutable darkness.  Pharaoh’s heart is hard, but it is Yahweh who hardens it, to bring the empire to an end.  The darkness is mystery and God’s odd way to present the possibility of historical freedom.  The energizing is to dare to believe that God is at work in the dark.
      2. The freedom of God, who sees, cares, acts, and is unreasonable.  God decides and declares.  God is for the people, not the powers, the empire, the system or those empowered by it. Knowing who the living, free God is, is energizing.
      3. The name of God becomes our doxology.  The living and free God becomes our song in life and this is energizing.  Prophecy and the prophetic are linked to doxology, which is the expression of thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God, who is free and delivers people through his mercy.  Prophetic is not ideology because it is God who is foremost embraced and worshipped.  Prophecy separated from doxological worship becomes lifeless ideology.
        • The energy of Moses doxology includes: The speaking of a new name that redefines all social perception.  A review of an unlikely history of inversion in which imperial reality is nullified.  An asking for the enactment of freedom in dance, freedom in free bodies that Pharaoh could no longer dominate.  A culmination in enthronement, the assertion of the one reality that Egypt could not permit : “The Lord will reign forever and ever” (Exod. 15:18).
      • Such doxologies are always polemical; the unstated counter-theme, only whispered, is always “and not Pharaoh”.
      • It is only a poem, and we might say rightly that singing a song does not change reality.  However, we must not say that with too much conviction.
      • Doxology is the ultimate challenge to the language of managed reality, and it alone is the universe of discourse in which energy is possible.
      • How can the language of doxology be practiced in the empire?
      • Only where there is doxology is there any emergence of compassion, for doxology cuts through the ideology that pretends to be a given.  Only where there is doxology can there be justice, for such songs transfigure fear into energy.
      Notes about the alternative community of Moses:
      1. The alternative life is lived in this very particular historical and historicizing community.
      2. The community criticizes and energizes by its special memories that embrace discontinuity and genuine breaks from imperial reality.
      3. This community is gathered around the memories, knows it is defined by and is at the disposal of God who as yet is unco-opted and uncontained by the empire.

      The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 3

      After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor; and they cried out; and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. 24 And God heard their groaning; and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; 25 and God saw the Israelites; and God knew.
      -Exodus 2:23-25
      Quotes and notes from chapter 1, part 3 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.

      Prophetic Criticism

      • The alternative consciousness wrought by Moses is characterized by criticizing and energizing.
      • (my notes) The Exodus story illustrates the radical criticism and delegitimizing of the Egyptian empire.
      • (my notes) The story begins with the Egyptians is full flower and power, “wheeling and dealing”, subject to none.
      • (my notes) That power is corrupt in that it is unjust, cruel, and oppressive.  The system and its minions are resented.  By the end of the story, these people are defeated, by God.
      • …the religious claims of Egyptian gods are nullified by this Lord of Freedom.
      • …the politics of oppression is overcome by the practice of justice and compassion.
      • Criticism is not carping and denouncing.  It is asserting that false claims to authority and power cannot keep their promises, which they could not in the face of the free God.  It is only a matter of time before they are dead on the seashore.
      • …the narrative of liberation begins with the grieving complaint of Israel (Exod. 2:23-25).
      • …real criticism begins with the capacity to grieve because that is the most visceral announcement that things are not right.
      • Only in the empire are we pressed and urged and invited to pretend things are all right… And as long as the empire can keep the pretense alive that things are all right, there will be no real grieving and no serious criticism.
      • …the history of Israel begins on the day when its people no longer address the Egyptian gods who will not listen and cannot answer.
      • The life of freedom and justice comes when they risk the freedom of the free God against the regime.
      • The grieving of Israel- perhaps self-pity and surely complaint but never resignation- is the beginning of criticism.
      • Bringing hurt to public expression is perhaps the first step in the dismantling criticism that permits a new reality, theological and social, to emerge.
      • That cry which begins history is acknowledged by Yahweh as history gathers power (Exod. 3:9-10).
      • In the narrative, criticism moves and builds. The grieving cry learns to turn away from the false listeners and run toward the one who can help.
      • And if the task of prophecy is to empower people to engage in history, then it means evoking cried that expect answers, learning to address them where they will be taken seriously, and ceasing to look to the numbed and dull empire that never intended to answer in the first place.
      • Curiously, the criticism of cry is intensified as the narrative develops… the empire cries out (Exod. 11:6 & 12:30).
      • The cry of Israel becomes and empowering cry; the cry of Egypt is one of dismantling helplessness.
      • History has begun, and the initiative has been taken by the new God for the new community.
      • The empire is left to grieve over its days of not caring and its gods of order and its politics of injustice, which are all now ended,  Criticism has reached its goal.


      The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 2

      He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

      -Luke 24:25-27
      What a commission it is to express a future that none think imaginable!
      -Walter Brueggemann

      “We should avoid like the plague any talk that suggests that we have enlisted God on our side, and now have him in our pockets.”

      -J.I. Packer

      My dad had a Triumph when I was in high school.  Loved that car.
      Triumphalism is bad theology.(1)  & (2)

      Quotes and notes from chapter 1, part 2 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.
      Breaking with Triumphalism and Oppression
      • The radical break of Moses and Israel from imperial reality is a two-dimensional break from both the religion of static and triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation.
      • Moses dismantled the religion of static triumphalism by exposing the gods and showing that in fact they had no power and were not gods.
      • The mythic claims of the empire are ended by the disclosure of the alternative religion of the freedom of God.
      • Moses discoses tha Yahweh, the sovereign one who act in lordly freedom, is extrapolated from no social reality and is captive to no social perception but acts from his own person toward his own purposes.
      • Moses dismantles the politics of oppression and exploitation by countering it with a politics of justice and compassion.
      • The reality emerging out of the Exodus is not just a new religion or a new religious idea or a vision of freedom but the emergence of a new social community in history.
      • …a new social community to match the vision of God’s freedom.
      • The gods of Egypt are immovable lords of order.
      • …no revolution, to breaks for freedom.
      • There were only the necessary political and economic arrangements to provide order, “naturally,” the order of Pharaoh.
      • …inevitably it served the interests of the people in charge, presiding over the order and benefiting from the order… kings did prosper and bricks did get made.
      • It is a marvel of prophetic faith that both imperial religion and imperial politics could be broken.
      • Moses… his work came precisely at the engagement of the religion of God’s freedom with the politics of human justice.
      • …we will not have a politics of justice and compassion unless we have a religion of God’s freedom.
      • if we gather around a static god of order who only guards the interests of the “haves,” oppression cannot be far behind.
      • Conversely, if a God is disclosed who is free to come and go, free from and even against the regime, free to hear and even answer slave cries, free from all proper godness as defined by the empire, then it will bear decisively upon all sociology because the freedom of God will surface in the brickyards and manifest itself as justice and compassion.
      • The liberal tendency has been to care about the politics of justice and compassion but to be largely uninterested in the freedom of God.
      • As a result, social radicalism has been like a cut flower without nourishment, without any sanctions deeper than human courage and good intentions.
      • Conversely, it has been the tendency in other quarters to care intensely about God, but uncritically, so that the God of well-being and good order is not understood to be precisely the source of social oppression.
      • Moses, paradigm for prophet, carried the alternative in both directions: a religion of God’s freedom as alternative to the static imperial religion of order and triumph and a politics of justice and compassion alternative to the imperial politics of oppression.
      • The point that the prophetic imagination must ponder is that there is no freedom of God without the politics of justice and compassion, and there is no politics of justice and compassion without the freedom of God.
      • (my notes) The “Moses program” is not just about escaping empire, although being freed is very important to those enslaved.
      • (my notes) Rather, his work is nothing less than an assault on the consciousness of the empire, aimed at nothing less than dismantling the empire’s social practices and mythic pretensions.
      • The prophetic tradition knows that it bears a genuine alternative to a theology of God’s enslavement and a sociology of human enslavement.
      • That genuine alternative, entrusted to us who bear that calling, is rooted not in social theory or in righteous indignation or in altruism but in the genuine alternative that Yahweh is.
      • Prophecy begins in discerning how genuinely alternative his is.
      2. against theological triumphalism, Isaac S. Villegas

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