Normally Mondays are for music, but I figured I’d talk about the Magic Kingdom since that also starts with M. It would be pretty easy to Jesus Juke enjoying a trip to the Magic Kingdom over the weekend in light of Easter. I mean, the resurrection vindicates Jesus as King, and well, you can put the pieces together from there.

But I’d rather just talk about enjoying day dates there with Ali. Instead of getting each other Christmas presents this year, we put a down payment on season passes to Disney. Now, for a reasonable monthly payment, we can go to Disney whenever we want. Initially, we thought we’d try to make it once a month so we get our money’s worth on the whole deal. At this point, we have easily already gotten our money’s worth and we’re just over three months into the passes.

Before this year, I had been to Disney twice. Once in 1989 (or maybe 1990) and then again in 1994. We went to Epcot the weekend we moved back to Florida, but that was almost 4 years ago. Ali grew up here, so she’s been more frequently than that and the Magic Kingdom is her favorite park. Saturday was our 5th time (maybe 6th) going this year, and it was quite the enjoyable day.

There is something relaxing about going when you are a season pass holder since there is no pressure to do everything. Also, after you’ve been a few times, you get a feel for how to sequence your adventure which maximizes the time you’re there. I think we rode a total of about 13 rides when it was all said and done and never waited in line more than 40 minutes. On top of that, the weather was pretty perfect and since we got there at open, we’d done pretty much everything we wanted to do by 2pm and so headed back home for a nap (for Ali) and some reading time (for me). All in all, it was a pretty perfect day.

The more we go though, the more we want to go, and the more I want to analyze it all. There are several dimensions that interest me, but just out of curiosity I thought I’d see what would be of a wider general interest. For me, Disney is not a vacation destination, it’s simply a feature of the city I live in. It’s a place Ali and I can go for a date day or an evening out. But for nearly everyone else, it is one of the primary vacation spots and people come from around the world to go there. I’d like to write and think more about this, and I think I’m going to need some outside perspective to do so. A week from today is TGC here in Orlando and if you’re there I’d love to chat. If not, drop a comment below or connect with me on Twitter. I’m hopefully going to write some kind of article on this for Christ and Pop Culture, but the nature of that is yet to be determined.

Last week, I explained how to program your mind to stop buying books you don’t need. As I’ve been working through that, and doing some reading I’ll tell you about later, I’ve decided to downside my library some. As part of that, I’m shifting toward using commentaries primarily in Logos, which means I’m selling many print ones.

Now, I’m all set to sell these on Amazon by shipping them off and having them by FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). However, there’s a pretty big chunk of commission that Amazon takes out. So, I thought I’d offer them up on here first. When I priced these for Amazon, I undercut the lowest option for the same condition. All of these are at least in Very Good condition, and most are in Like New condition. But, rather than posting the price, I’ll let you name your price, and we can negotiate. Check what is goes for on Amazon first, and then pitch me an offer! As far as payment, the easiest thing is for you to pay me through the Venmo app which is free for both of us. You pay me, I mail it.

All that out of the way, here’s the list:


  • The Book of Leviticus (Gordon Wenham)
  • The Book of Deuteronomy (Peter Craigie)
  • The Book of Judges (Barry Webb)
  • The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Charles Fensham)
  • The Book of Isaiah 1-39 (John Oswalt)
  • The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (O. Palmer Robertson)
  • The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Leslie Allen)
  • The Books of Haggai and Malachi (Pieter Vierhof)


  • Ezekiel (Iain Duguid)
  • Hosea, Amos, Micah (Gary Smith)
  • Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (David Baker)
  • Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (James Bruckner)
  • Haggai, Zechariah (Mark Boda)


  • All volumes


  • All the epistles

Focus on The Bible

  • All the Dale Ralph Davis volumes (Joshua-Kings)


  • Hebrews (Gareth Cockerill)

Teach The Text

  • Romans (Marvin Pate)
  • Luke (R. T. France)

If you’re local, you can probably get an even better deal since shipping isn’t included in that case. Let me know, and we’ll work out the logistics!

New Books of Note

March 31, 2015 — Leave a comment


Last year, I used Gerald Bray’s God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology for my 11th grade Bible class. Along the way, I offered several posts with excerpts:

Now, in addition to his systematic, Bray has written a history of Christian theology: God Has Spoken. Unlike the previous work, Bray does not limit himself to footnotes from Scripture. Instead, he interacts with major theologians throughout the history of the church.

Structurally, Bray orders his work with a Trinitarian focus:

  • Part 1: The Israelite Legacy
  • Part 2: The Person of The Father
  • Part 3: The Work of The Father
  • Part 4: The Person of The Son
  • Part 5: The Work of The Son
  • Part 6: The Person of The Holy Spirit
  • Part 7: The Work of The Holy Spirit
  • Part 8: One God in Three Persons

In presenting the material this way, Bray is able to move through the major discussions in theology in church history stemming from the Old Testament all the way to the modern Trinitarian renaissance. Because he seems focused on roots and development, there is a heavy focus on the early centuries of the New Testament church. As any student of historical theology will know, the early church councils dealt heavily with the nature of the Trinity and the person of Christ. As such, the first 4 parts of the book stay more or less in this neck of the woods.

This differs very significantly from a similar book like Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology which takes a doctrine per part of the book, then within each chapter traces the chronological development of one aspect of that doctrine. Because Bray’s ordering is simultaneously chronological and to some extent systematic, you will get a good feel for how Christian thought has developed and been clarified through the years as you read through it. On the other hand, Allison’s volume is more evenly ordered concerning the individual doctrines as well as the space spent on each time period within each doctrine.

In the end, it isn’t really right or wrong one way or the other, it’s just worth knowing what you’re getting into. Reading this book cover to cover would be quite a commitment since it is only about 300 pages shorter than N. T. Wright’s recent work on Paul which is split into two volumes. Selective reading in this volume is not as easy as it would be in a book like Allison’s which is also considerably shorter. Making your way through this volume then, will be quite a feat given the length of the book. Like any major undertaking, you’d be surprised at how quickly a few pages a day will add up. Or, if you’re looking for some focused summer reading, this just might be what you need to fill out your understanding of the roots of Christian theology.

Gerald Bray, God Has Spoken: A History of Christian TheologyWheaton: Crossway, October 2014. 1264 pp. Hardcover, $55.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!


Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Michael Reeves’ Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to The Christian Faith. It is still the first book I’d recommend to someone who wants to understand the Trinity better. Now, Reeves has a companion book of sorts, Rejoicing in Christ, which focuses on ways we can delight specifically in the person and work of Christ.

This book is a short, quick read. However, it not a book to just absorb, but is better meditated upon as it pushes you to see Christ more clearly. In the course of 5 chapters, Reeves guides readers through the doctrine of the person and work of Christ in a highly readable and engaging fashion. Much like his previous book, there are numerous sidebars that are part historical anecdote and part rabbit trails related to the main exposition. Also, the text is highly packed with images from artwork through the centuries. So, if you’re in the mood for a theology book about Jesus that even has pictures, this book is definitely for you! Christianity is ultimately all about Christ and this book will help you see that more clearly and hopefully will move your affections for him more deeply.

Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015, 137 pp. Paperback, $16.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


Given both the nature of my Th.M thesis and the fact that I write for Christ and Pop Culture, I tend to keep an eye out for Christian books that are about culture. Whether they are about how to interact well with it general or are about a specific aspect (like movies) in more detail, I try to stay up to date. I recently noticed a new release from Thomas Nelson by author Kevin Harvey called All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator in Superheroes, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels.

Going through the book, it seems to be best aimed at being an introduction to reading pop culture in Christian perspective. Chapter 1 is about superheroes as Christ figures. Chapter 2 is about movies with overtly Christian themes or depictions of God. Chapter 3 turns to princesses (often of the Disney variety). Chapter 4 covers how Christians tend to be depicted in Hollywood. Chapter 5 focuses almost exclusively on Lost, while chapter 6 gets into reality TV. Chapter 7 turns to pop music, and chapter 8 wraps things up with a collection of biblical artifacts within a broad range of pop culture. With an afterward and appendix that has a quiz about Noah and Moses to see how much you know about the actual biblical portrayal of them, the book would appear to be done, but after the notes there is an activity book of sorts to learn even more about the Bible in pop culture.

Taking all this together, I’d give Harvey high marks for creativity in presentation. A downside is that some of the main chapters are difficult to read because both the typeface and all the sidebars. In that sense, it is very much like wading into pop culture. You’re more or less entering into a visual medium and you have to pay close attention. For a book though, this is kind of distracting. In terms of the content itself, I didn’t think it was anything necessarily groundbreaking if you’re into pop cultural criticism from a Christian perspective. But, as I thought about it, that’s not where most people are and so much of what’s in here would be groundbreaking and paradigm shifting for them. In that light, I’d say this is a good book for someone who really hasn’t reflected at all on pop culture from a Christian point of view. It is also, because of the design, a more accessible book to people who don’t normally read books. Think of it as a more basic and lighthearted version of Mike Cosper’s Stories We Tell.

Kevin Harvey, All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator in Superheroes, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, March 2015. 240 pp. Paperback, $19.99.

Buy itAmazon

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy!


A while back you might remember my review of Exploring The Religion of Ancient Israel. The author, Aaron Chalmers, newest book. Interpreting The Prophets: Reading, Understanding and Preaching From the Worlds of The Prophets, was recently released by IVP Academic. In it, Chalmers offers an introduction to the prophets that focuses on situating them in their historical, theological, and rhetorical contexts. Rather than going book by book through the prophets, Chalmers offers a kind of background overview that the reader can then take and use to understand the individual books better.

The format of the book is similar to Chalmer’s other work, except that it doesn’t have the dual columns. It does however have numerous side bars that take you off the main trail a bit and a hearty amount of pictures. After clarifying in the first chapter the nature and definition of a prophet, each successive chapter deals with the relevant background contexts for understanding the prophets. Readers are moved from the historical backdrop, to the theological, and finally the rhetorical. Chapter 5 deals with the relationship of prophecy and apocalyptic material and the final chapter offers sage advice for preaching through the prophets. All in all, this is a handy little volume that I hope will pay off as my own 9th grade Bible class is about to embark on a study of the prophets.

Aaron Chalmers, Interpreting The Prophets: Reading, Understanding and Preaching From the Worlds of The Prophets. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015, 173 pp. Paperback, $20.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

Tomorrow, Death Cab For Cutie releases their 8th studio album, Kintsugi. Here’s the video for the first single, Black Sun. Though you might not guess this, they are one of my favorite bands and two of the best concerts I’ve been to live are seeing them in Fox Theater in Atlanta during their post Plans touring and then again in Dallas while they were touring for Narrow Stairs. I’m hoping they come to Orlando some time soon, but at the moment, it doesn’t look that way.

I watch quite a few YouTube and/or Vimeo videos. You might have picked up on this recently with the addition of Music Monday and Philosophy Friday which are primarily video based. Now, I’m going to start sharing my favorite three interesting/humorous videos from the week on Saturdays. This week, I’ve got a basketball fail compilation (mild profanity at one point), a dad joke duel to the death, and Portlandia’s take on the post office. Enjoy!

As noted in the video, pragmatism is the quintessential American philosophy. It is also quite the punching bag for Christian thought. In particular, Richard Rorty takes the brunt of the blows, and I wouldn’t disagree that he deserves some of them. On the other hand, James K. A. Smith is optimistic that we can benefit from Rorty’s thought and wrote Who’s Afraid of Relativism?: Community, Contingency, and Creaturehood to try to make that case. I’m still deciding what I think about his argument and need to mull it over a bit more. My gut instinct is that there is some truth to the case Smith makes, but he is more optimistic about the value of American pragmatism than I think I can be.


Just so you know, I have self-consciously adapted this from a Lifehacker article. With that out of the way, let’s be honest. If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent way more money on books than you could ever justify. This is a safe place. You can admit it. You’ve made poor financial choices involving book purchases. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Now, if you’re ready to change, follow these steps.

Step 1: Make A List of All Your Books and De-Clutter

Take stock of all your books. If you’re advanced, just look at your spreadsheet. Add a column and in that column, categorize each book into one of the following:

  • Need
  • Sometimes Need
  • Want
  • Crap

Now, using the sort feature, alphabetize that column. All the books that just rose to the top are crap by your own assessment and you should act accordingly. No, don’t sell them so you can just buy more books. Sell them, and use the money for something else. I know. It hurts at first, but you can get through this.

As for the other three categories, focus on the “sometimes need” and “want” categories. Ask yourself these three questions:

  • When was the last time I read this?
  • When will I read or reference this again?
  • Did I legitimately enjoy reading it and plan to do again in the future?

Depending on how you answer these questions, a new category will emerge: “Don’t Really Need.” Act accordingly, and then move on to step 2.

Step 2: See How Much Money You Spent on Books

Look at all the books you just realized you don’t really need and should get rid of. How much money could you have saved had you never bought those books in the first place? I know you probably got some free as review copies. For those, think back to how long you spent reading and reviewing the book. Let’s say it’s you spent 5 hours reading and preparing the review. Had you been working a real job during that time, how much would you have made? I won’t tell you how that works out for me, but let’s just say every book I review is a loss compared to if I had actually just bought the book in the first place.

A second part of this step is to go to Amazon and pull up a list of your digital orders. Take a good look at all the Kindle purchases. Filter those books through the above grid, and note that any “cheap” eBook you bought that you don’t really plan to read any time soon was a waste of money. At $3 a pop, that can actually add up over time. What’s worse, you can’t re-sell those books. You’re just stuck with them.

This leads to the need for step 3:

Step 3: Develop a Personal Should I Buy This Test

This may look different for every person, but it’s something you should put into place sooner rather than later. The “Should I Buy This Test” is essentially several questions to ask yourself in between realizing you want a book you just discovered and actually doing anything to acquire it. Personalize the questions to your own historical book buying (or review copy requesting) habits. If you’re stuck, here’s some example questions:

  • Have I been planning to get this book?
  • Will it end up in the crap list one day?
  • Do I actually have space for it (i.e. are my current shelves running over?)
  • Did I budget for this? (also, do you have a book budget?)
  • Why do I want/need it?

Ask they explain on Lifehacker:

Custom build your test to hit all of your weaknesses. If you make a lot of impulse buys, include questions that address that. If you experience a lot of buyer’s remorse, include a lot of questions that make you think about the use of item after you buy it.

For me, the last question about is where most things can be eliminated. I’ll maybe explain more in a separate post how I make buying decisions, but let’s just say it’s something that has evolved over the years and has taken a more restrictive turn in the last 6 months or so.

Having the categories in mind from step 1, the profit and loss margins from step 2, and now the “Should I Buy This” test from step 3, you are hopefully almost re-programmed. The last step though is perhaps the most important.

Step 4: Learn To Delay Gratification and Destroy the Impulse to Buy

As far as nuts and bolts on this last step, Lifehacker gets it, and in explaining it’s ok to wait for gratification, goes on to offer this advice for doing so:

Look at whatever you’re thinking of buying, go through your personal “should I buy this?” test, and then walk away for a little while. Planning your purchases ahead is ideal, so the longer you can hold off, the better. Set yourself a reminder to check on the item a week or month down the line. When you come back to it, you may find that you don’t even want it, just the gratification that would come with it. If you’re shopping online, you can do the same thing. Walk away from your desk or put your phone in your pocket and do something else for a little while.

You can also avoid online impulse purchases by making it harder to do. Block shopping web sites during time periods you know you’re at your weakest, or remove all of your saved credit card or Paypal information. You can also practice the “HALT” method when you’re shopping online or in a store. Try not to buy things when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired because you’re at your weakest state mentally. Last, but not least, the “stranger test” can help you weed out bad purchases too.

While at the end of the day you may realize that books don’t really make you happy, it’s more important to get your book lust itself under control. This may involve taking a reading sabbatical, which is, lest there be confusion, not a sabbatical to read but a sabbatical from reading. The horror! But at the end of the day, some of us need it.

Learning to delay gratification is important, and even though it might feel like you need this book because hey, it’s about theology, you probably don’t need it as much as you want it. And though wanting things is fine, being unable to delay gratification is not. A little self-discipline is actually much better in the long run. We should be good stewards of our time and money, and often, buying books makes us neither.


Way back when, you might remember a brief blog series called What Are We Up To In Ministry:

  1. My Ministry Internship
  2. High School Boys Bible Study: Ephesians
  3. Church at The YMCA
  4. SHIFT One Day: Apologetics Seminar
  5. Baptisms in the Swimming Pool
  6. Leading a Small Group
  7. ?????

That was the Table of Contents, which as you can see, didn’t come to full fruition. A couple of things happened.

First, the ministry internship explained in the first post more or less stalled out and died over the summer. There were a variety of factors involved, and it is probably safe to just leave it at that. The Bible study lasted for the duration of the semester and was profitable, and the One Day seminar proved to be the first of many trips to teach at SHIFT.

Second, I decided to not announce or frequently post about what we were doing in ministry. Initially, as you might be able to tell, the impulse to start talking about our activities was an extension of trying to raise support and putting everything out there that I would be doing. Once I wasn’t trying to raise support, I didn’t feel the need to post about everything. More than that though, I thought it would be better to not mention many things because I believe it is better to do much of the work of the ministry in relative obscurity. This isn’t to say that everyone telling you about their latest ministry initiative is wrong to do so. I just decided that I would rather work quietly for the most part.

Ironically, many of the activities listed in the internship are things I have been doing more frequently at our church, perhaps more so than during the actual formal internship. I haven’t felt the need to discuss that and don’t plan to go into much detail here, but much of it is the result of running without a title for a while. I am more comfortable now with my role at church and there may be some expansions to it on the horizon.

Along with that, I’ve become a much more frequent visitor to SHIFT, so much so that I’m joining staff as a teacher and curriculum developer. I’d love to tell you more about it, but rather than go into detail here, I’d like to add you to our ministry newsletter. You can receive it either in print or e-mail. Right now, I’m looking to raise support for the summer since I won’t be teaching for two months at school, but would like to devote the time to some classes and curriculum development for SHIFT and our local church. You can donate to that cause here if you’d like.

In the fall, I’d like to expand my current role more and so I’ll be looking for people to not only support what we are doing by regularly praying for us, but by also joining to support us financially on a month-to-month basis. To get an idea what that would look like and what we’ll be doing, you’ll need to be on our newsletter list. Though I may post occasional updates here, I won’t go into as much detail or share as much outside of the newsletter. So even if you’re not able to support us financially but just want to know what God is up to in our neck of the woods in central Florida, email me at nate @ and I can add you to the list!


The last actual class I took as part of my Th.M was an independent study on how to review books. The fruit of that class was these four reviews:

The professor for that study (which was done after I had moved to Florida) was Dr. Glenn Kreider. Because of that, it feels kind of weird to now review his book God With Us.

While I don’t want to engage in hagiography, I really enjoyed this book and do not have any major criticism of it. The book is a clear and engaging biblical theology of how God condescends to relate to his people throughout the Bible.  It has a conversational feel to it which I think reflects its genesis as material in a Baptist Sunday School class (aptly titled “Theology for the Rest of Us).

As a sidenote, one of the things I appreciated about my profs at Dallas was that many of them taught Sunday School. I think it helped refine and sharpen their communication since there are obscurities you can get away with in front of a group of seminary students that won’t fly with normal people (as I’ve been learning since graduation). This book reflects that sharpening. In other words, it is not quite the same biblical theology you’d find in a series like New Studies in Biblical Theology. Substantially, it’s in the same neighborhood, but this is biblical theology for normal people.

The book itself begins with theological foundations related to humility and condescension. The incarnation is a focal point, as well as the general condescesion that is involved where God reveals himself to us. Kreider ties both of these focal point together in the peron and work of Jesus Christ. He ultimately concludes:

In short, the behavior of the incarnate Son is consitent with the behavior of the God who is revealed prior to the incarnation. We see continuity between the two testaments in the character and practice of God. If the incarnation of the Son of God is a demonstration of humility and condescension, and if he did only what he saw his Father do, then reading the Old Testament should provide numerous examples of God’s condescension. (46)

Tracing those examples is the focus of chapters 3-5. Chapter interacts with the relevant stories from creation to Abraham. Chapter 4 starts with Isaac and carries through to the conquet in Joshua. Chapter 5 picks up with the monarchy, continues through the Psalms, and on to the Prophets.

Starting in chapter 6, the focus moves to the New Testament. Specifically, Kreider unpacks the birth narratives, geneaologies, and Jesus’ early life pre-public ministry. Then, in chapter 7, he focuses on Jesus’ teaching on greatness. Here we see how greatness is through humility and condescension, rather than seeking one’s own interests first. This theme resonates throughout the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus’ miracles, parables, and teachings on the kingdom.

Though the apostles didn’t seem to get it while Jesus was around, everything seemed to click post-Resurrection. We know this because we can see the themes of Jesus’ teaching on humility and condescension reverberate through the apostles teaching as Kreider points the way through chapter 8. In chapter 9, we move to the end of the biblical story in Revelation. Here, Kreider’s eschatological distinctives emerge, but it is not a major focal point. Rather, we see how the new creation is the ultimate condescension as God permanently makes his dwelling place with us on earth.

On the whole, I thought this was an excellent book. The material is well developed and Kreider draws from a deep well of theological reflection, particularly within the Reformed tradition (Bavinck shows up often). Further, many of the chapters open with poignant stories that bring the upcoming material into relevant focus. Coupled with Kreider’s clear style, this makes the book accesible to a broad audience. Additionally, the study questions in the end would aid in making this book a good candidate for small group discussion, or in my case, classrrom material for a senior Bible class. All in all, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of the book, and I’m not just saying that because the author practices well the attributes he explains in this book.

Glenn Kreider, God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People throughout the BiblePhillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, November 2014. 240 pp. Paperback, $14.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to P&R Publishing for the review copy!

A while back, you might remember the article I wrote for Christ and Pop Culture about Tim Lambesis from As I Lay Dying. After that, Tom from Victory Records got in touch with me about writing about some releases. One of those was Darkness Divided and their first album Written in Blood (stream it here). As you might be able to tell from either the lyrics, imagery, or both, these guys are a Christian metalcore band. Also, if you’re curious, “metalcore” is the correct sub-genre to describe this music. Even more specifically, I’d almost call this “inspirational metalcore” because of the melodic passages and lyrical content. Usually this is a branch of metal specific to bands on Facedown Records, so I was surprised to run into in a release from Victory. They haven’t gotten much exposure from what I can tell, but maybe they just need another album under their belt. At the end of the day, like most metalcore, I’ve found the album a good gym companion, or on a day like this, writing music.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...