Saturday, January 06, 2007

The God vs No God Debate Needs Your Help

A new blog has been born. You are invited to participate in any way you can think of to help insure that every aspect of the Christian apologetic (defense of the faith) is represented in this great debate. There doesn't appear to be another place on the web where atheists and Christians of every stripe have a chance to debate the existence of God.

Come visit today, bookmark the site and come back often. We expect to have leading authorities and just plain folks mixing it up on this site.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ - Book Review

I've been meaning to do a review of this outstanding compilation of articles. But our assistant pastor beat me to the punch and did a way better job than I could ever do. So let me just give you a couple of paragraph intro. Then if you're interested, you can read the rest of the review here.

In the eleven years I have been married I have read many Christian books on dating, marriage, relationships and sexual intimacy. Several of them have been mixtures of psychology and theology at best. Others were solidly ground in scriptural. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ falls into the latter category. In fact, it is unlike any book that I have ever read on the topic of sex.

If you're single, check it out. If you're engaged, check it out. If you're married, check it out. You'll not be able to count on all your fingers and toes the things that you will learn regarding the theology of sex. The bottom line: everything is for God's glory, including sex. Piper, Dever, Mahaney and the other authors do a superb job at explaining how this all pans out in scripture.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Top 100 Novels of All Time - Time Mag

I would certainly hate to be responsible for anyone getting off their Christian reading track, and getting immersed in secular stuff. However, in the interest of good literature generally, I'll point to a list of the all time best fiction offered up by Time Magazine.

I'm confident that they will have many who believe that this list is way off base. I was happy to see the inclusion of C.S. Lewis's Narnia favorite, and the Lord of the Rings. From the secular side I was very disappointed to not see one of Leon Uris's fantastic historical fictions make the cut. That has to be an oversite worth correcting.

What others do you see as missing? While your thinking about that, this would be a good time to note your favorite Chritian books of all time. Put them in the comments or e-mail them to me at Randy@Kirks4Jesus.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Activity or Lack of IT

I know it has been a while since the last post. The good news about this blog is that the info that is already posted is timeless. I hope is it useful as well. My personal blog is about all I can manage to keep current right now. I have a bunch of material I want to place here, but other priorities (wife, kids, church, work) seem to be getting in the way.

No promise of the timing of the next post, but I will be back.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Not a Classic, But Maybe a Good Read for You

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist is reviewed by Jollyblogger and he does a great job of it. Go here

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

End Times?

End Times?
Originally uploaded by Randy Kirk.
Kind of reminds me of the Left Behind series. Ok. It also reminds me of the original upon which Tim LaHaye based his books, the Bible.

This picture, however, gives me a much better idea of what it must have been like for the Egyptians. It doesn't look like much fun to be around those Locusts.

This was taken in the Middle East in 2004.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Good Read About Good Reads

Jollyblogger seems to be on everyone's list of favorite blogs. I don't know if he is that good, or just that the name stands out. However, I've been reading him for a while and find his content to be excellent. In fact, for anyone interested in the emergent church, he seems to be offering a great place to check out what's actually going on in that movement. For more Jollyblogger wisdom go here.

In any case, he has provided the following list. And, once again, I invite everyone who loves Christian writing to send me a list of one or ten with or without reviews.

I thought I would share some books that changed my point of view on a particular topic. These are not necessarily my all time favorite books (though several are), but each caused me to change my point of view in a particular area.

1. Gospel According to Jesus - John MacArthur - changed my view of the gospel and authentic saving faith.

2. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians - Helmut Thielicke - changed my view of the attitude of the theologian.

3. Made in America - Michael Scott Horton - changed my view of American evangelicalism and particularly its allergy to intellectualism.

4. By His Grace and For His Glory - Tom Nettles - changed my view of Calvinism

5. Desiring God - John Piper - changed my view of pleasure.

+1. Dominion - Randy Alcorn - changed my view of racism.

+2. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down - Marva J. Dawn - changed my view of the relationship between the church and culture.

+3. The Meaning of the Millennium - changed my view of the end times.

+4. Transforming Grace - Jerry Bridges - changed my view of sanctification, or Christian Growth

+5. Conversion in the New Testament - Richard Peace - changed my view of the process of conversion.

+6. Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan - changed me into a reader.

If you would like to know more details about how each book changed me, keep reading.

1. Gospel According to Jesus - John MacArthur - changed my view of the gospel and authentic saving faith.

Prior to reading this book, I had been taught that a person can have Jesus as savior, without making Him Lord. In this book I learned that we don't make Jesus anything. He is Lord, and if we don't submit to Him as Lord, we cannot have Him as savior.

2. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians - Helmut Thielicke - changed my view of the attitude of the theologian.

This is a book that is not on my all-time favorite list, but there is one part of it that hit me hard. Rick Holland, from Grace Community Church quoted someone who said that books don't change lives, paragraphs do. That is what happened in this book. In this book there is one section where Thielicke talks about the young theological student who wants to learn theology to win arguments and how noxious that is. You have to understand that I was a 26 year old seminary student when I read that, who was really caught up in the headiness of all this theological study. So, this set me back appropriately.

3. Made in America - Michael Scott Horton - changed my view of American evangelicalism and particularly its allergy to intellectualism.

Horton opened my eyes to the shallowness of American Evangelicalism and to the harmful effects of anti-intellectualism on American Christianity.

4. By His Grace and For His Glory - Tom Nettles - changed my view of Calvinism

When I read this book I was a Southern Baptist. I had met a lot of "reformed" and "Calvinistic" types who I found to be pretty much a bunch of bores. I finally decided to start studying this topic in depth and began by reading some Arminian books. To be fair, I had to read something on the Calvinistic side, so I picked this one, since the subtitle is "The Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life." I had recently had a conversation with one of my pastors who said "I don't see how anyone can be a Southern Baptist and be a Calvinist." This book showed that historically, the Southern Baptists were deeply rooted in Calvinism. Therefore, it was modern Baptists who had abandoned their historic roots. Secondly, a major part of the book is an explanation of the five points of Calvinism. Once Nettles explained "Total Depravity," all the dominoes fell and I was a Calvinist by the time I finished reading the book.

5. Desiring God - John Piper - changed my view of pleasure.

Piper showed me that our happiness and God's glory are not at odds. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Our desire for happiness drives us to God to find fulfillment in Him.

+1. Dominion - Randy Alcorn

While I would never have considered myself racist, there is a lot I sure didn't know. This book challenged me to look at racial issues through the eyes of a black man, and the view is much different than I thought. I think I got a better understanding of the plight of the black man in America, through his own eyes.

+2. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down - Marva J. Dawn - changed my view of the relationship between the church and culture.

This is another example of where a paragraph changes your life. She made a comment to the effect that the church is to form the interpretive grid for the culture. The church explains God's view of what is happening in the culture of the world. Therefore, if the church is seeking to accomodate itself to the culture, it can't interpret the culture. It's like the old Play-Doh molds (my illustration, not hers). The clay (the world) is to be squeezed through the hard plastic mold (the church) so that the mold may give shape to the clay. If we try to make the mold accomodate the clay, it loses its ability to shape the clay. Hence, the peril of the church trying to accomodate itself to the world.

+3. The Meaning of the Millennium - changed my view of the end times.

Interestingly, though John MacArthur is a real hero of mine (see this entry), he played an indirect role in moving me away from a premillennial position toward my amil position. At one time I listened to a tape set of his on the end times, it was over 20 tapes. This was a thorough explanation of the premil, pretrib rapture view. When I was done with it I was completely confused. None of the proof texts proved the points he was making, the whole thing was full of non-sequiturs and I came away thinking that I could never prove this position to anyone who was not already predisposed to accept it. So, I began to investigate some of the other positions and this book was one of the first one I read. It covers all of the major eschatological positions. What I found was that the Historic Premil, the Postmil, and the Amil positions all share a common view on the unity of the church and Israel. The dispensational premil position, which gives us the whole pretribulation rapture and all of that, teaches that Israel and the church are two separate peoples with two separate destinies in the plan of God. I was persuaded by Scripture that this is false, Israel and the church, though there are some discontinuities, form one continuous people of God, with a common destiny in the plan of God. Therefore, the only completely untenable position is the dispensational-premillennial-pretribulational view. As I read through this book and did some more research I came to the amil view, although I have a great deal of respect for the postmil and historic premil positions. For those who are unfamiliar, the historic premil position is not historic in the sense that it is the historic position of the church. It is historic in that, of those who have believed in an earthly millennium throughout church history they have heald to this position which does not include a pre-trib rapture and does not make a sharp distinction between Israel and the church. If you are interested in some on-line reading on the subject, I suggest the Solo Christo Eschatology page.

+4. Transforming Grace - Jerry Bridges - changed my view of sanctification, or Christian Growth

I read Bridges book, The Pursuit of Holiness, back when it first came out in the 80's and it challenged me to pursue holiness. However, when I read this book back in the 90's it rounded out the picture on what it meant to pursue holiness. At the time I read this I was also beginning to be influenced by Jack Miller, World Harvest Mission and the Sonship movement, and began to see that sanctification is by grace as justification is. This book, along with the influence of Miller showed me just how legalistic I had become, and helped me to begin to understand the gospel and grace.

+5. Conversion in the New Testament - Richard Peace - changed my view of the process of conversion.

This book is a scholarly tome that compares the conversion of the apostle Paul with the conversion of the other twelve apostles. Paul had a sudden, dramatic, "datable conversion" (a phrase I have borrowed from Lauren Winner's book Girl Meets God), wheras there is no way you can pin down a conversion date for any of the other twelve. It is a study of the Gospel of Mark, focusing on the theme of conversion. His thesis is that the disciples were converted through a three year process of getting to know the gospel at the feet of Jesus. His point is that most of our ideas of evangelism are designed to promote a "Pauline" conversion experience, whereas those who come to Christ the way Paul did are probably in the minority. So, we need to have methods to reach the Paul's of the world, but we need to find ways to evangelize the vast majority of those who, like the other 12 (I guess I need to say 11, subtracting Judas), will learn the gopsel bit by bit over a lengthy period of time.

+6. Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan - changed me into a reader.

I read this book when I was in college and frankly, it was a breathtaking experience. It was a book I couldn't put down. I was enamored with the story, the allegory, the imagery, the whole thing. This created in me a love for great literature and ever since then I have been looking for a book that would move me the way this one did. To this day I don't think I have read anything that compares to Pilgrim's Progress, but that's ok - it showed me the value of a good book.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Charles Stanley Adds Two to the List

Thank you for writing In Touch Ministries.

There are two books that have most impacted Dr. Stanley's life. One of the books that Dr. Stanley mentioned is called "They Found the Secret" by V. Raymond Edmon. It contains biographical sketches of several Christians, but the one that Dr. Stanley most identifies with is Hudson Taylor. Dr. Stanley says: "I read about three paragraphs and I thought to myself, 'Here's a man who feels like I feel!' That short biographical sketch of Hudson Taylor's struggle and his life absolutely changed my life. It gave me hope for the Christian life as a pastor that I had never known insight into God that I had never had. It absolutely worked in my life in a miraculous fashion."

The second book that Dr. Stanley mentioned is "Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret" published by Moody Publishers in 1987.

We appreciate your interest and support of the ministry.

God bless you,

In Touch Correspondence Minist

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The BIG Readers in the Blogosphere are Playing TAG

For the next few days I will be chasing down posts of top Christian bloggers who are involved in a game of tag. The rules require answering 4 questions about books, then tagging 4 other bloggers. Hope you enjoy their comments. First up, Laer at Cheat Seeking Missles

Book Lover's Tag
Hedgehog is spending his first birthday playing tag. Congrats on the big day, Lowell.

First he tags Okie Boy. I like Okie Boy and all, he's a genuinely good guy, but his tag response seemed a little highbrow for some car nut from a place where they sing about elephants and corn fields.

So he tagged me; so be it. Tag duties follow.
Total number of books owned, ever:

Probably in the neighborhood of 800. One college summer, I left all my stuff in a house in Bloomington and spent three fabulous months in Maine, living in an old school house, working on a road crew, sailing the Elizabeth Islands (yes, that's Massachusetts not Maine, you geographical smarty pantses!), and when I returned for school in the fall, the house was gone. A parking lot gaped where my books, writings, pictures, keepsakes once were. So those were lost. Some were tossed. But many remain.

Last book I bought:

Two at the same time, actually. Blink: The Power to Think Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, and The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy by Byron York. The first because I thought The Tipping Point was brilliant, the second because I wanted to get more background on what I might expect from the Dems in 2006 and 2008, and because it has perhaps the longest subtitle in the history of publishing.

Last book I read:

Because my lovely wife absconded with Blink, it's The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. And Romans. Amazing book, and it's only 1/66 of The Book.

Five books that mean a lot to me: I have to say Okie Boy's list is remarkably good. Here's mine:

This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. I spent about six years reading nothing but Christian fiction because of this book. Some of the books were amazing, some amazingly bad, and they all were made possible by the bold vision Peretti set down in this book, birthing a genre.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevski. I read it in high school and it taught me I could read serious literature, that there were other countries that were amazing, and that human character is a subject of boundless potential and riveting interest. Also of note: The Brothers K by David James Duncan (Karamazov via baseball), and while we're on the subject, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella, possibly the best baseball book ever. (Okie Boy snuck two into one entry; I bested him with three!)

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Esquire said that in this book, Vonnegut not only asked the ultimate question of life, but answered it. I don't know about that, but I do know that Winston Niles Rumsford and his dog Kazak being flung between Earth and Titan by the chronosynclastic infidibulum showed me what the fiction of the imagination could be.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. When I became a Christian, my friend Peter, who was a wild child with me in high school but now pastors a church in Israel, suggested I read this book. Besides the Bible, it's the first Christian book I bought, and it is the daily devotional all others aspire to.

The Bible by God. I've been reading it every day for the last nine years and I feel I've just begun. I recently bought The New Inductive Study Bible, and its process of marking nearly every word with a symbol, then studying rigorously, is exciting and enlightening. I think when I'm done that Bible will weigh ten pounds more from all the ink!
I'm passing along the courtesy of the tag to Blogotional, Sue Bob's Diary, and for a twist, to someone who's been posting comments pretty regularly here, Moderate Left.

Please visit his site here if you wish to comment to him.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ted Dekker Recommends

Hi Randy,

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply back.
Here are 3 books that have influenced Ted.
Let me know if you have any additional questions.

The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard for its broad, layered philosophy
of Christian life.

hn Piper's Desiring God for a transforming vision of God.

Dive Deep

With Peace,