Archive for March, 2013

World’s Apart

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Book Reviews

The Connecting Church 2.0

A Review

Randy Frazee

 9780310494355

Community” has been a buzzword in churches for quite some time. What hasn’t really been agreed upon is exactly what “community” means. Many of us probably have a more nostalgic perception when it comes to community. Maybe we sort of develop a mental image of June Cleaver leaning over the white picket fence taking a break from hanging the family clothes on the line on a breezy summer day to chat and catch up with the neighbor.

In effect, “community” has become complicated. We, in our fallen, human nature, have attempted to develop endless strategies to achieve a goal by incorporating the wrong plans. We have strived for this by running full tilt in the exact wrong direction. We have been “trying” and “plotting” and “scheming.” And, it all comes up radically short. We become frustrated and disillusioned. Why? Because, as Frazee demonstrates for us, it was never meant to be some sort of a Mount Kilimanjaro to be conquered. Community is much more about the community than it is about us.

Frazee contends that for the most part, community, in the modern sense of the word has undergone an identity crisis. It has morphed into a place where people’s insecurity and sin can go and hide and receive enablement without being challenged. It is a safe place to go and receive fuel for your codependency. There is no fear of legitimate rebuke. That is starkly contrasted with the biblical sense of community where Paul took it as his personal responsibility to admonish the apostle Peter when he was clearly behaving improperly (Gal. 2:11-14). Community is to instead be a place where we need one another; where we depend upon one another; where we genuinely care and love one another. It should be a place were we each feel comfortable in our own skin.

Today’s independent, consumerist mentality has all but destroyed community according to Frazee. We have a sense that we don’t really need each other. And when that happens, we fail to communicate to each other. And when that occurs, we built up impenetrable walls, which separate us and isolate us from our neighbors.

While not everyone will necessarily agree with Frazee about how possible it is to develop community in our day by reversing the trajectory of a decades long mass exodus to the suburbs from the urban areas, but one thing is certain, he makes you really think and re-think your motivations and attitudes. And, that to me is worthwhile. Even if it really isn’t possible to latch on to every point that he makes in how to develop authentic community, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we cannot attempt many of the helpful insights that he offers to help us develop better fellowship amongst one another and help us grow closer to Christ together.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Cross-Focused Media for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review as well as Zondervan Publishing.

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Little Black Book:
Suffering and Evil
A Review
Scott Petty

Ever question why bad things happen to such good people as you and me? Yeah, me too. But, some interesting thoughts began to plague my mind. When I look at myself in the mirror and my attitudes and responses and reactions in my normal day to day activities, I’m not really that good of a person. I understand that I am saved and that really should make a really big difference in my life. And that fact really brings on the conviction and the guilt that something may be drastically wrong. There is. And, unfortunately, for the most part, it is something that I and the rest of us are going to have to struggle with for the rest of our earthly lives. Living in a fallen world really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I was reminded of my real place in life not so long ago. A friend posted on Facebook a really humbling quote by R.C.Sproul, Jr. It stated, “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once. And He volunteered.”

No one has really understood human suffering more than Job. Which is where Petty’s book narrows in on. And, I would venture that this perspective is where the rubber meets the road. When compared to the immense suffering that this man had from every angle humanly possible, it makes my adventures in life seem paltry at best. Another beautiful thing that this reminder gives to us is the fact of the sovereignty of God. That no matter what we are going through, that somehow God is still in control. And, as absolutely crazy as it sounds, He has a purpose for it and He has actually designed it. Of course, Job did not have the privilege of peering through the curtain as we do to see exactly what was going on behind the scenes as we never do when our lives seem to be fallen apart before our very eyes. But, the same God who allowed Job to suffer so intensely for His glory is the same God who divinely understands why we need to suffer just as Job did. That, in and of itself, if we can always remember it, can bring us intense comfort and teach us valuable lessons and to always glorify God through our suffering.

As we wrestle in this fallen world stretching to see a God who is not physically visible, one thing we must learn, as Petty reminds us in his book: Trust. It’s all about trust. Faith is indeed the ingredient that turns everything upside-down. Without faith we fall down the dismal abyss without a parachute. But, with faith, our sails are lifted by an incredible tail wind which gives the ability to weather any storm. Not that we will gladly enjoy the storm, but that we will be much more like Christ as an outcome of those storms. This book serves as a good travel companion for us when we are in the thick of a trial, or, as we prepare to enter that dark season of adversity. We need to make sure that we never naively believe that bumps in the road are not ever part of the journey, let alone, a good part, an essential part.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Cross-Focused Media for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review as well as Matthias Media.