Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review - Word of Promise Next Generation NT

The Thomas Nelson publishers recently released a new audio bible aimed at the wired generation - an MP3-CD audio bible called the "Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament Dramatized Audio Bible".

Unlike other bible readings, this one stars a Hollywood cast of talented young stars, such as Cody Linley (from Hannah Montana and Dancing with the Stars) as Jesus, Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) as Peter, Annasophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Mary Magdalene, and it's narrated by Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings). It's a dramatized reading, complete with a well done original score and ambient sounds. The audio bible includes helpful and passionate book introductions by Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna Lucado. There's also a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes interviews with the actors. The set comes on 3 MP3-CD's playable in all computers and on many CD and DVD players (that support the MP3 format). There's a 40 day listening program covering the 23 hours of audio.

The version used in this new testament is the International Children's Bible. The ICB was one of the first bible translations written specifically for kids (1985), at a third-grade level. I thought the dramatized reading was very well done. But more important, what do the kids think? Mine thought it was excellent - they found it engaging, really liked the fact it had a sound track and sound effects, and thought it was cool that some of their favorite actors and actresses were involved. They like listening to audiobooks in the minivan, so this should be a great addition for some of our longer trips. When in comes to intake of scripture, variety is good, and the Word of Promise Next Gen audio bible is definitely a fresh way to hear from the Word.
I was glad to get a review copy of this CD set as it's not something I would normally think of buying. You can watch the trailer below or see the Word of Promise Next Generation trailer on YouTube; it's available on Amazon and at other retailers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time for Spiritual Disciplines

Prayer. Fasting. Solitude. Worship. Stewardship. What exactly are the spiritual disciplines and how do they help us grow into disciples of Jesus? How do the spiritual disciplines lead us on the path to Godliness? That's a question I plan to explore quite a bit over the next two months.

But while it is still March, there is a free resource that provides a ton of insight into these questions, and prepares us for an exciting journey into a deeper walk with God. That book is "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life," by Donald S. Whitney, and it is available through the end of March 2009 as a free audiobook download from (My thanks to Justin Taylor for pointing this out. ChristianAudio has a free audiobook available for download every month, so check back again later.)

In April and May, from Easter to Pentecost, I'm going to be studying and experimenting with Spiritual Disciplines. That's something recommended to me by Rockbridge Seminary, and I'm excited about it! I'll look at some excellent resources for this including Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, John Ortberg's "The Life You've Always Wanted", the "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us" by an old friend from Boston, Adele Calhoun, "Sacred Pathways" by Gary Thomas, and "The Spirit of the Disciplines" by Dallas Willard.

If you're interested in exploring the spiritual disciplines in pursuit of godliness, I invite you to join me on this journey!

Friday, March 20, 2009

It Starts in the Kitchen

Granger is way outside the box with their current series on Sex. Check out this video with Kem and Mark Meyer...

Foreplay Redefined from Granger Community on Vimeo.

Thanks to Tim Stevens for pointing this one out!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Celtic Christianity

The Celtics had a little bit of a different approach than the Romans with respect to Christianity and sharing our faith, as I learned in my current course at Rockbridge Seminary Online. For St. Patrick's day I thought I would share a bit from an interesting article we read this week about the Celtic approach.

Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, spent eight years in slavery under Celtic lords, learning the culture and language of the Irish people. He learned to pray without ceasing and became devout. Directed in a dream, Patrick set out toward the coast, found a ship waiting and sailed in freedom to Rome, where he obtained a theological education. At age forty-eight, while serving as a parish priest in England, he had another dream in which faces of those he remembered in Ireland called to him to bring the gospel. The Vatican validated his "Macedonian call," ordained him a bishop and sent him to reach some of the 150 unreached Celtic tribes in Ireland. By the time of his death, St. Patrick had reached fifteen to twenty of these tribes and set the pattern for the work of Columba, Brigid, Columbanus, Aiden and many others in reaching pagan tribes all over Europe.
So what was the approach used for reaching the Celtic tribes? Might there be some application for better connecting to a postmodern generation today? Their approach may be summarized as follows:

1. Nature. The Celtic movement stressed humanity's kinship with nature, rather than a Roman view of dominion over nature.

2. Human nature. Celtic Christians believed that sin had blurred and twisted the image of God seen in human beings, but not destroyed it or left them as completely depraved.

3. God's presence. Celtic Christians emphasize the immanence (immediate presence) of God more than his transcendence. They long for a God who knows them and loves them and actually wants to be involved in their daily lives.

4. God's power. Dynamic and active, maybe even a little chaotic, rather than static or full of order and stability.

5. Organization. Where Roman Christians looked to preserve their institutions and traditions, Celtic Christians emphasized advancing as a movement through community. They really weren't into the whole organizational hierarchy thing.

6. Culture. While Roman Christians assumed Roman culture was superior to all other cultures, Celtic Christians didn't look to replace their culture, but adapted to it, introducing the good news in a way that made sense for them (while not watering down the message).

7. Religion. When Roman Christians saw other religions they reviled them as demonic or irrelevant, while Celtic Christians saw other religions as evidence of spiritual interest, that God was already at work in their hearts preparing them for the gospel. Pagan practices and symbols, like the standing stones, sacred groves and springs, were incorporated into Christian faith wherever possible. In the same way Christ as messiah was the fulfillment of the Jewish faith, the Celts saw Jesus as the fulfillment of pagan religion, not the destroyer of it.

8. Communications. Unlike the Roman Christians "left-brained" rational, propositional, doctrinal exposition of faith, Celtic Christians took far more of a "right-brained" imaginative approach. Romans taught content of the faith, the Celts helped people directly experience the faith.  They sought to evoke truth, not explain it.

9. Mission. The Roman approach was to preach, see commitments, appoint a deacon, and start a church when people believed. Celtic Christians instead invited people into their monastic communities to belong before they believed. There they saw people devoted to prayer, love, and hospitality, accepting others as friends in a way that was not conditional upon their believing.

Many now, like then, might see these emphases as pretty radical. Others might see it as a Christianity that isn't lame, that they might even consider looking into? 

Quote and information from article adapted from Rick Richardson’s Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2000), pp. 56-60. See also George Hunter’s “The Celtic Way for Evangelizing Today,” The Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, 1997-1998, pp. 15-30.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Goodbye to Uncle John

On Tuesday I received the sad news that my Uncle John had passed away. He was a very special man indeed, who gave his life in service to the poor, displaying a humble love for God through service and kindness. I was able to speak with him at the hospital just last week. He didn't want to talk about his condition, but rather asked how my kids were doing. He knew his time was coming to an end. He had fought the good fight, he had run the good race. We looked forward to his hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant" very soon. "See you back home on the other side!" were his last words to me.

Below is his obituary, though it doesn't fully get to the heart of the man, it does tell a story. I'll miss him, but  grieve for those he leaves behind, not for him. The two things I'll remember most about him are his wonderful and infectious sense of humor, and his love for the poorest children of Peru.

Rev. Brother John Felix McGowan C.F.C. passed away on March 3, 2009.
Brother McGowan was born on August 10, 1925 in New York, the son of
Felix and Maura O'Sullivan McGowan. He is a graduate of Holy Family
Elementary, Iona Preparatory, Iona College where he graduated with a BA
in English, Laval in Quebec where he received his MA in French and
University of Detroit where he received his MA in Administration.
Brother McGowan entered the congregation on February 2, 1943 and took
his final vows on September 8, 1951. His ministry took him to many
positions including Province leader, Provincial Western American
Province from 1972-1981,as well as Power Memorial Academy, All Hollows
High School, Iona Grammar, Br. Rice High School in Birmingham, MI,
Palmer High School in Salinas, CA, St. Patrick's High School in Vallejo,

CA, Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu, HI, Colegio Nuestra Sra.
Pilar High School in Arequipa, Casa Santa Rosa De Lima Community and
Casa Hermano Edmundo in Lima, Peru. Brother McGowan was predeceased by
his parents and three brothers: Patrick V., Lawrence P. and Felix J.
McGowan. He is survived by his sisters Mary Baxter and Elizabeth Hegarty. A wake
will be held at St. Joseph Care Center, 30 Montgomery Circle, New Rochelle, NY
on Thursday from 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be
held at Holy Family Church, Mayflower Ave., New Rochelle, NY on Friday
at 9:30 AM. Internment to follow at Christian Brothers Cemetery in West
Park, NY. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to St.
Joseph Care Center. Graham Funeral Home. 1036 Boston Post Road Rye