Unfriend Yourself by Kyle Tennant @kh_tennant

Three days.

No Facebook.

No Twitter.

No social media.

Just time to detox, discern, and decide.

Take a three-day social media fast
with Unfriend Yourself and learn to examine your use of social media from
a Christian perspective. This book will guide you in evaluating your fast by asking
challenging questions such as:

What happens when I broadcast myself on
the Internet?Do I see a difference between my interactions on social media
and my interactions face-to-face?Do I rule my media, or do my media rule
me?

While reading Unfriend Yourselfyou will learn
to think critically, biblically, and practically about social media.
 Whether
you choose to leave the social media scene, engage in it less, or engage in it more
after your social media fast, your perspective on social media will never be the
same.

“Without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Kyle challenges
the Christian to a God-honoring approach to social media involvement. Well researched
and thought through,
 Unfriend Yourself avoids the emotional arguments and
instead presents a provocative ‘must read’ for any students, young adults, and generations
beyond who want to be responsible in approaching social media from a biblical worldview.” 
 – Dr. Bob MacRae, Professor of Youth Ministry at Moody Bible Institute

Summary

We live in a culture that needs simple, straight-forward instructions – especially as it pertains to social media. And that is the type of message that Tennant provides his readers in this short book. Weighing in under 100 pages (97 pages total), Tennant breaks down his journey that started on account of a class experiment seeking to answer the question as to whether churches should make use of social media at all. Kyle systematically outlines his discussion with the three D’s of DETOX, DISCERN, and DECIDE. Tennant’s driving factor is that social media enables users to be sucked into the mindless internet world (in a way that TV used to do), a world that exists primarily to numb us to the difficulties or responsibilities of our day to day lives. If you have interest in how believers are to think through and make use of social media – than this may be just the short book you need to get your wheels turning.

My thoughts

Though Kyle did not know I was going to sit down to gather my thoughts on his book, Kyle is a friend of mine who I was able to meet as we journeyed together out at Wheaton College Graduate School. Tennant’s personality is much like I described this book – simple, straight-forward. He is mature in that he understands the importance of reflecting on life and learning when enough is enough. That quality may even speak to the briefness of this book – why spend more time saying what needs said any other way than to be abrupt?

My thoughts on the book are that it is a wonderful starting point for a conversation that the Church, and every single individual of Christ’s beautiful bride, must have with him/herself. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Tennant’s UNFRIEND YOURSELF.

Guest Post: Investigating Christmas by Jeremy Steele (@Unpretending)

Christmas is a Pagan holiday.  Santa is a sign of the Anti-Christ. The manger scene was a total hoax, and angels are a product of an overly-paranormal-focused culture.  At least that is what the YouTube videos claim during the holidays, and those claims can be quite intriguing as you can see from the number of views they receive.  Though the statements may be inflammatory and not well-founded, asking these questions can serve to stretch us in new ways as Christians.

What if there were pagan roots to Christmas?  How would that alter our perception of the holiday? What about the wise men?  Was there anything in the sky to see?  If so, does it help us believe?  And, what does any of this matter when we wake up tomorrow morning?

That is the impetus behind my new ebook Investigating Christmas. For those who, like me, are interested in the history, archaeology and science behind things, why not turn those critical eyes on this most-famous holiday?  Why not see what the background tells us about who we are as Christians and what Christmas is really about?

This book is written to be able to finish in check out lines and process with friends in small groups, Sunday School classes, and over the occasional egg nog in the office.

It begins by diving into the Biblical text about angels and tries to untangle the christmas light-level mess that is most people’s understanding gathered from postcards and movies.  It seeks to find the good strands and leave all the passages that may blink out once they are on the tree in the box.

At that point it asks the question: Can Jesus and Santa be on the same team?  Here I explore the beautiful and powerful message in the life of Saint Nicholas. It is a life that truly challenges the practice of gift-giving at Christmas to be something more than a sleigh and reindeer.

The fourth topic tackled is those pesky pagan roots to the season.  From the dating of Jesus birthday to the Christmas Tree, the roots go deep, but turn out to be a wonderful part of the holiday.  These roots transform Christmas into something of a missionary adventure.

Finally, Investigating Christmas turns its gaze on the manger scene employing computer-driven astronomy and the archaeological record to discover exactly what the wise men saw and the surprise of the appearance of the room where Jesus was born.

Its four-topic structure is perfect for an advent study and its interesting topics are something that I hope make this Christmas even brighter for you as you investigate this holy season.

 

*This was a guest post from author Jeremy Steele and I was not reimbursed in any way.

Review: Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell with Patrick Kelly @Zondervan

Synopsis from Zondervan.com:

In simple, updated language, Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell provides a year of inspiring readings drawn from the earliest teachers and writers of the church—the Church Fathers. In every reflection you will be refreshed by deep wells of wisdom and spiritual insight.

‘In the age of Twitter and Facebook, where glib sayings abound, one yearns to read some deeper wisdom about life and faith on a regular basis. Well, here you have it, a compendium of wisdom, devotion, and biblical insight from some of the most thoughtful and faithful Christians from the early eras of the church’s history. And in Facebook sized posts. That’s a nice change of pace!’ -Mark Galli, editor, Christianity Today

Learn more or pick up a copy here or at Zondervan.com.

Official Description (from inside of front half of sleeve):

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the Church Fathers among everyday Christians. Drawn by the purity and passion of the text, new readers are finding the words of the earliest Christians to be a treasure trove of resolute, unapologetic insights into the Christian life. Yet many believers don’t know where to begin with these ancient writings.

In Awakening Faith, author James Stuart Bell presents a collection of warmhearted exhortations to a joyful, faithful Christian life written by some of the most significant teachers of the church’s first eight centuries. Avoiding dry theology in favor of spiritual insight and practical relevance, Bell’s compilation features gently updated language and an eye for modern application.

A Scripture reading accompanies each of the 366 entries in this collection, along with brief biographical sketches at the back of the book, making Awakening Faith a wonderful yearlong introduction both to the Church Fathers and to the kind of Christian life to which they continue to call God’s people.

My Feedback

To be honest, before going to seminary, the Church Fathers were not anywhere on my radar. I did not consider them when I would seek out the meaning of a passage and I certainly did not refer to them in my daily quiet time. As I surveyed the many facets to interpreting God’s Word, I was introduced what the Church Fathers had to share on particular passages. These greats poured their lives and souls into God’s Word and earnestly desired to be mastered by Scripture. Tertullian, Origen, Clement, Polycarp, Augustine, and Irenaeus, these are just a few names among others who helped shape the theology that we have today so many centuries ago. Their writings have been lost in the transitions of time but they have not been forgotten. Thanks to recent works like Awakening Faith and the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, present day students and scholars (whether young or old in their faith) have got access to the minds of Christians of old.

As far as the text at hand, Awakening Faith, there are 366 daily readings from a variety of the Church Fathers. I have only spent nearly a month’s time with this text so I am far from completing the entire yearly plan. That said, I was able to spend a few consistant days alongside some scattered sittings reading Bell’s work. It is a wonderful text! Alongside many present day devotionals that seek to give you a nugget of Biblical wisdom hidden deep within plenty of “real life application,” Awakening Faith is a breath of theological fresh air.

What I mean by that is, Church Fathers had a way of boldly proclaiming the truth of Scripture. Biblical wisdom marinated their writings and anyone who has spent plenty of time in God’s Word will, as one reads through the Church Fathers, easily pick up strong allusions to Scripture. They do no appear to topically search the Bible and isogetically insert a passage in order to support their proposals. Awakening Faith reminded me that the Church Fathers are great examples of writers who allow well-spent personal time in the Word to permeate their writings (Christian Bloggers, take note!).

As far as the devotional itself, the Bell and Kelly allow the Church Fathers to pretty much speak for themselves. Portions of writings were selected and headlined by a passage or verse of Scripture. All of the devotionals are separated into “categories” (i.e., Prayer and Devotion, Holiness or The Bible) and the selection from the particular Church Father coincides with that category.

I actually APPRECIATE that Bell and Kelly kept their own dialogue on the Church Fathers out of the picture; they didn’t attempt to explain what the Church Fathers meant in each entry. Like I said, they just let the Church Father speak for themselves. I’d recommend this for any believer at any part of their faith journey. It’s an encouraging and enlightening way to change up your daily devotional time.

Learn more or pick up a copy here or at Zondervan.com.

Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ by @SueEdwardsDTS @KregelBooks

Description:

We live in a culture attracted to the supernatural. Psychics are interviewed on nightly news shows. Movie stars are describing themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” Popular TV shows and movies feature a supernatural theme. How do we live well when we are surrounded by these dark forces? Join Sue Edwards on this inductive study of the Bible’s spiritual warfare manual. As she digs into Ephesians, Sue will show you profound and mysterious truths that will help you sit with Christ, walk a worthy life, and take a stand against any force that threatens your relationship with your savior. The video lessons are on YouTube and can be accessed through the website www.discovertogetherseries.com or by using the QR codes found in the study guide. Free leader’s guide also available on website, www.discovertogetherseries.com. (Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ by Sue Edwards. Kregel Publications, 2012).

Contents

Lesson 1: Learn to Sit

Lesson 2: Sit and Pray

Lesson 3: Sit Down to Work

Lesson 4: Sit Down Together

Lesson 5: Sit Down to Walk

Lesson 6: Tripping Over Your Tongue? Talk Your Walk!

Lesson 7: Walking “Under the Influence”

Lesson 8: Walk Worthy in Relationships

Lesson 9: Sit Down to Stand

Works cited/About the Author

Learn more at Amazon.com or ChristianBook.com.

A few thoughts on the devotional from Sue Edwards:

While I spent time with this text that would only qualify as a cursory glance at the material, my wife dug through the devotional and I even had to work my way around her bible study notes to write this post. I’ll first say that Edwards does not take much time setting the stage for the one stepping into the devotions. By that I mean that she does not give you weighty “academic” material to trudge through before you get to the first lesson. Though not weighty, Edwards does (very importantly and very briefly) establish the historical context of the book of Ephesians for her readers. It is fitting that she keeps it short because this is not the 42nd volume of the Word Biblical Commentary, this is supplemental material for anyone who seeks to understand one’s identity and purpose compliments to the book of Ephesians.

The book itself appears relatively short though it stands a little taller and wider than most paperback texts. It looks to be 8 x 11 inches, most likely so you can make use of the many opportunities within to record your thoughts. Which leads me to the different lessons found within its binding …

Each lesson is lengthy and is meant for a week’s time of study, first by your lonesome and then collectively with others. While some include prayer logs, every lesson includes cross references for “digging deeper” as well as quotes from respected authors/pastors (i.e., Barclay, Snodgrass, etc.). The lessons each begin with a short commentary on a passage meant to teach you before you move throughout a number of reflective questions that either concern interpretation or application of the passage at hand.

My wife loved the commentary but made the fatal mistake of attempting to go at it alone and in doing so found it somewhat strenuous. She loved the time she spent with the devotional, especially the (QR) videos that accompany the lessons. She and I both would encourage you to pick up a copy of this study if you are looking for a guide to lead you and a few others (ladies) through Ephesians. I should add that there are guidebooks through other books of Scripture also (Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, 1 Peter, & Revelation).

Learn more at Amazon.com or ChristianBook.com.

September Giveaway Winners

 

Click a title to learn more about it!

September Winners:

Just Church by Jim Martin – Jennifer M.

How Can I Know? by Robert Jeffress – Chip H.

Loving Mercy by Simon Ponsonby – Red G.

Finally Free by Heath Lambert (Copy 1) – Becky H.

Finally Free by Heath Lambert (Copy 2) – Jessica B.

God in My Everything by Ken Shigematsu (Copy 1) – John F.

God in My Everything by Ken Shigematsu (Copy 2) – Cassie G.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER OCTOBER’S GIVEAWAY!

Watson’s Way by Joel Lund (@PrepareForRain)

Official Description

Who wouldn’t want to learn from a charming and gentle teacher? This indispensable book for teens also resonates with parents, grandparents, and any adult who influences young people. While this book is based on grieving, like Tear Soup, especially the loss of a beloved pet, it is much more about living and growing. Kids spend a lot of time wondering about how to be a good friend, how to communicate effectively, what their purpose is, and what it means to be successful in life. Truth is, even a lot of adults wonder about these things. What if you could learn all this from man’s best friend? Well, you can. If you want to become a better person, why not travel WATSON’S WAY.

An award-winning inspirational book in the tradition of Marley & Me, Joel Lund shares lessons his family earned from their beloved dog, Watson, on issues that matter to teens, like How to get along with others, What patience looks like in practical terms, How to stand up for what you believe in, When to try new things…even if you’re nervous, Why laughter is good for building better relationships, Why being shy is OK, Why bathing is an important spiritual exercise, How to show care for others, and more. This heart-warming book is stuffed with great pictures of the handsome, tuxedo-colored black & white Watson, along with great quotations, and humor. Each chapter includes questions to consider and a place to journal. If you liked Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens, you’ll love Watson’s Way. It will become a welcome guide for traveling through life with style, grace and fun.

Learn more at Amazon.com or Aloha Publishing.

About the Author

Joel Lund has always loved dogs, even though a neighbor dog bit him when he was five years old. Joel is also part of a dog family, with his wife and daughter. He’s an award-winning author of The Ultimate Survival Guide for Youth Ministers and writes a young adult fantasy series, as J. L. Lund. Joel has been a speaker, trainer, or teacher to more than 100,000 people. Most recently, he had a very successful career in the financial services industry as a leader with a national financial planning firm. Now, he is a full-time writer, blogger, speaker, business coach, and consultant.

My Thoughts (Summary/Evaluation)

You’re right – this is a title a little easier to read than Reading the Christian Classics, but if I have said it once than I have said it a million times; YOU HAVE GOT TO GIVE EVERY BOOK A CHANCE. You have got to let yourself pick up some stuff and read it just because you can and because its fun! Do not ever think that you have graduated from a specific genre or style of writing. Pick up novels, dictionaries, and easy-to-read books that are down-to-earth, like Watson’s Way.

Like I said, Joel Lund kept Watson’s Way easy to read. It is a book that is aimed at families, especially those families who have children (and dogs!). This book makes healthy life habits teachable. Habits are important because they turn into actions! If you’d ask me, Watson’s Way focuses on teaching you about the mundane parts of life and it does so by using someone that you wouldn’t expect – you’re own dog (well, Joel’s dog).

The book is brief, 112 brief pages. Each “chapter” or section provides a short observation that Joel makes of just doing life alongside his pooch. The observation is linked to a biblical truth that is highlighted by an entire page devoted to a specific passage. That passage is usually expounded upon by more first-person story telling before providing you and your family (dog included) a few questions for application.

I wouldn’t say that this is a book to shape your entire meaning of life and soul purpose of existing from but it is a fun way to provide yourself and your family with meaningful points of reflecting on life and how it is that you carry yourself day to day, moment to moment. Joel has written another book that seriously looks at the life and ministry of a youth pastor, The Ultimate Survival Guide for Youth Ministersand I strongly encourage you to check out both books if you are knee deep in youth ministry or are looking for strong, teachable talking points for your family (dog included!).

Learn more at Amazon.com or Aloha Publishing.

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