Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

 Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

 

Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro is an excellent book for pastors who have experienced burnout. Using personal experience from his own burnout, Cordeiro shares many truths which can help a pastor mend and get back into ministry.

Cordeiro begins by sharing examples of people who experienced burnout in the Bible. Moses and Elijah are the guides which he uses to explain how burnout can happen. He continues by sharing the stories of Christians in history who have suffered depression. The list includes Mother Teresa, William Cowper, Charles Spurgeon, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Henri Nouwen (46-50).

After sharing the stories of people who have experienced depression, Cordeiro shares the causes of depression (50-55). These causes include long-term stress, great loss, unresolved problems, financial stress, and pressure to excel. Cordeiro also shares the warning signs of depression. These signs include: sense of hopelessness, frequent tears, difficulty concentrating, decision-making comes hard, irritability, insomnia, lowered activity levels, feeling alone, lack of marital attraction, eating disorders and aches and pains (60-64).

In the next chapter, Cordeiro makes this comparison (71):

“Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.”

People need solitude, but they practice isolation. Cordeiro says that solitude (with God) feeds the soul but isolation destroys it. The practice of solitude (which many others know as quiet time or devotions) is essential the health of a Christian.

I personally found this difference and Cordeiro’s explanation about solitude is worth reading the book. His insights into solitude and how a Christian can develop the practice of solitude can literally change how a Christian grows. Cordeiro bases his church discipleship process on the practice he calls personal devotions. He explains this in detail in his book The Divine Mentor.

The “most important five percent” (77) is another gem to be gleaned from this book. Principally, Cordeiro states that a Christian should focus on only the five percent that can only be done by that person. By using himself as an example, he shares the importance of focusing on what is important in life.

Cordeiro encourages the reader to interact with the book. There are worksheets to fill out, and he asks questions designed to make one think and respond. He shares personal lessons he learned which now prevent him from getting burned out (115-143). He spends time encouraging the reader to protect themselves from burnout. He shares practical ways to do this. He talks about getting a coach and an encourager in your life to help guide you in the direction you want or need to go. He strongly encourages the readers to find ways to protect themselves from negativity. He ends the book suggesting ways to live an “intentional life.” He shows how to use times of reflection and seasons of solitude which can be used to help the reader live this intentional life. The book ends with a list of organizations which one can call upon to help organize retreats for these times.

Overall, I found this book to be very helpful. His suggestions are hard to take for people who want to overachieve. You come to a point in your life and you think you can’t do it because you can’t do it all. Cordeiro shares the fact that you are not called to do it all. You are only called to do what God called you to do and do it well. Less is more in his thinking. For anyone who has been through burnout or who is on the verge of one, I would encourage them to pick up this book and read it. It is biblically based and thoroughly practical, and most importantly helpful.


 
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The Façade by Michael S. Heiser

The Façade by Michael S. Heiser

The Façade by Michael S. Heiser

The Façade is the first volume in a series of what I would call Christian science fiction. The novel centers around a theologian who holds the key to a mysterious cover-up by the United States government and military of a future extra-terrestrial invasion. A consortium known as “The Group” have been preparing for this future time when these extraterrestrials would come to visit and join humanity. All the while, groups of people have been lying to one another about the true intent of the mission. Aliens have lied to the military. Military personnel have lied to the scientists. The Group has been playing each of these parties for their own purposes.
The story is well-paced, and the characters develop throughout the book. One can begin to connect with each of the people in the novel. There are chapters with whole discussions about the intrigue that happens at Area 51 where this event takes place. Slowly but surely, the story unfolds to the reader about the mysteries that they are encountering.
The story reminded me of the television series “X-Files.” While watching that series, certain episodes developed an underlying mysterious plot to deceive the people into believing in aliens. This story uses that same approach. The difference between “X-Files” and this book was the theology used to explain what is going on. The Prologue of the book uses the following quote:
God has taken his stand in the divine council; among the gods he passes judgment … You are all gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.
—Psalm 82:1, 6, the Bible
The idea of a divine council, of “gods” whom God leads is a very interesting notion. Heiser uses an interesting interpretation of the account of Genesis 6 (through the protagonist Dr. Scott) to claim that the aliens are actually demons who broke rank with God. This is explained in the Prologue by the author. However, it is further developed in the context of the novel (specifically in chapters 28-29) as the backdrop to the intrigue which occurs. These “Watchers” are the reasons why aliens exist. The book ends in a cliffhanger in which the reader is encouraged to read the sequel The Portent.
I have read many science fiction books from Star Wars, Star Trek, America 2040 series, as well as other science fiction series. I am happy to see that someone has taken time to create a Christian science fiction series. I would recommend this book to those who are interested in this genre.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Kirkdale blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

Act and Being by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Act and Being by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Act and Being by Dietrich Bonhoeffer defines its purpose with the subtitle: Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic Theology. The purpose may be very complicated. However, Bonhoeffer shows us the purpose of the book with a summary outline of the book (31). Bonhoeffer addresses the interpretation of revelation in Scripture:

“(1) in terms of act, (2) in terms of being, (3) interpretation of act and of being meet and are drawn together, is only understood as the dialectic of faith and the congregation of Christ.”

To confront the philosophies of transcendentalism and idealism, Bonhoeffer calls for a “ecclesiological form of thinking – thinking as the church” (32). The book begins by addressing and confronting these two philosophies which influence culture (not just during his time, but in the opinion of reviewer, also today). Idealism (per Rene Descartes) essentially leads to materialism (40). Transcendentalism (per Immanuel Kant) essentially leads to atheism (44). Bonhoeffer contrasts these two approaches (which promote the self) against what the Bible calls sin (45). Descartes states “I think therefore I am” while Luther states “the heart turned in on itself.”

This contrast is developed throughout the book. In essence, Bonhoeffer speaks to his contemporaries and presents the flaws to their philosophical approach. In today’s terms, one might say that Bonhoeffer presents a way for the church to confront the thinking of the culture. In other words, how to think like a servant in a “selfie” culture. Bonhoeffer makes the important claim that a Christian can only confront and influence the present culture through “Christ existing as community” in the church. This concept was developed in his first book Sanctorum Communio (which I reviewed). Here, Bonhoeffer expands on his thesis and shows how the church should confront the culture.

Bonhoeffer addresses the question of freedom (84-90). The world teaches that I am free. Bonhoeffer counters that God is free (90). Divine election is never a contest between God’s will and man’s freedom. People speak about the difficult theology about election as if God’s will is a burden to man’s freedom. To this “selfie” theology, Bonhoeffer counters with a wonderful explanation about the freedom of God. Of course, he is speaking to people who believe that God is bound to certain expectations about who God is. However, in application, this discussion has much to say to people of the twenty-first century. One cannot put God in a box. God is free to do what He wants no matter what I think about myself or God.

Bonhoeffer spends a great deal of time expounding upon his thought that “Christ exists as community.” He states that Christ in the church is the “whole” person. Bonhoeffer makes the correlation that if Christ exists as community, then revelation happens in the community of faith (113). Unity and individuality both happen within the church community (121).

Christ in the church makes the person whole. Sin on the other hand, turns a person in on him/herself. Sin is the inversion of human will in on itself (144). Every self-seeking act is a sinful one. Only the Word of God can truly point us to sin’s nature and how to overcome it.

Following the definition of sin and his analysis of a “selfie” culture, Bonhoeffer shares about how life is like as a Christian – what he calls being “in Christ” (150):

“Seek yourself only in Christ and not in yourself, and you will find yourself in him eternally.”

Being in Christ has two tenses (1) past and (2) future. The past represents life without Christ, and a person uses the conscience which points to Christ (155-157). In the future tense, Bonhoeffer uses the child as a metaphor to explain the Christian life following conversion. Bonhoeffer compares the new creation of a Christian to being a child and that child moves from exile in the world to home in the church community. The child is born from out of the world and enters the wideness of heaven (161).

In the Editor’s Afterword, Hans-Richard Reuter shares insights into Act and Being and its cultural significance. He summarizes the book’s premise: The problem is the demise of religious humanity and a humiliation of Christianity in culture. The solution is revelation as a “form of thinking” was the way to see the solution to the problem (163). The method of argument in Act and Being is deconstructionism (179). Using this process, Bonhoeffer does an excellent job describing the need for the church to be the community intends them to be. He counters the philosophical trends with practical theological points in order to show that the church can influence the culture without being overcome by it. Any Christian who wants to overcome the present-day “selfie” culture should read this book.

The One Who Will Rule Over Israel

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The One Who Will Rule Over Israel

Micah 5:2-3

These verses identify five characteristics of Jesus Christ as “The One” Who will rule over Israel.

1. He will come (be born) from Bethlehem Ephrathah (the Bethlehem in the south) – He will be born as a man (5:2a).

2. Although He will be “born” in Bethlehem, Jesus’ origin is from eternity (He is God) (5:2b).

3. He will leave (abandon) for a certain amount of time. This is a prophecy of Jesus’ ascension (5:3a).

4. He will return when she (Israel) who is in labor gives birth. In other words, Israel will go through prophetic birth pains – which signal that the return of Jesus is near (5:3b).

5. At the time period when Jesus is going to return, the people of Israel (“the rest of His brothers”) will return to the land (5:3c).

These five characteristics describe how Jesus Christ will prove to be “The One” Whom Israel should look for. Although they missed Jesus during His first coming, they will definitely recognize Him during His Second Coming.

Yay, another infographic! Millennials and Mobile

A good article (and an infographic) from Adweek on the importance of mobile payments for Millennials.  Come on – you know you love a good infographic.

http://wecu2.org/2014/12/01/yay-another-infographic-millennials-and-mobile/