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The Screwtape Letters

21 Oct

C. S. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian apologists of our age.  An Oxford Don and confirmed atheist, he came to Christ through a slow and thoughtful conversion process.  His works have changed the way that believers approach the defense of their faith, but they’ve also played a profound role in the spiritual development of Christians worldwide.  Perhaps one of his best known is a volume known as “The Screwtape Letters”.

Dedicated to his good friend, J. R. R. Tolkien, this work of fiction follows the misplaced efforts of a young apprentice demon (Screwtape) as he attempts to beguile and mislead a new believer.  Exploring issues ranging from relationships to church to philosophy, the book provides a deep and insightful look into the dangers which await those who have chosen to walk the path of Christ as well as the victory available to us through the Holy Spirit.

This week, we’re featuring the dramatized version of this classic work.  “The Screwtape Letters” by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre features the amazing voice talent of Andy Serkis (Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy directed by Peter Jackson) as Screwtape along with a full cast of quirky characters.  At a running time of four hours, it’s a drama you’ll want to listen to again and again!

“The Screwtape Letters” is available in a 5 disk set for $28.58 and constitutes an investment well worth making!

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Extreme Devotion

30 Sep

Following Christ demands sacrifice… and not just the sacrifice of our sinful desires.  For many Christians today, following Jesus means the loss of their property, families, freedom, and even their lives.  Walking such a path is a challenge and one that those of us in the “west” too often fail to understand.  With freedoms unrestricted, we encounter little resistance to the practice of our beliefs and are often paralyzed when we do.  Can we do better?

If that’s a challenge you long to take up, then “Extreme Devotion” is the book for you!  In 366 daily readings, you’ll hear the stories of those who have put Biblical principles in action, risking their all for the sake of Christ.  You’ll listen as brothers and sisters around the world relate the tales of their fears and failures, trials and triumphs.  You’ll walk with them as they encounter those hostile to their faith and demonstrate the love of Jesus in even the most difficult of circumstances.  And, more importantly, you’ll be encouraged to develop the same type of faith that has helped each of them to survive the challenges that confront them on a daily basis.

Each day’s devotion consists of a Scripture reading, a story, and a challenge that will help you to deepen your own relationships both with God and with others.  You’ll be encouraged to make commitments and take the steps of faith that will strengthen your testimony.  And you’ll be inspired to apply those principles as you make a difference in the lives of those around you – reflecting the light of Christ in an ever darkening world.

It’s a journey worth taking and it’s one you’ll be glad you didn’t miss!

Extreme Devotion” is produced by The Voice of the Martyrs and is available for $13.05 in softcover.

Kingdom of the Cults

16 Sep

Cult.  It’s a word we don’t like to use today.  It conjures images of secret ceremonies and strange behaviors of unquestioning deference to authority and deviant acts.  To suggest that someone is a member of a “cult” is tantamount to calling them a “freak” or a “weirdo”… and it certainly doesn’t help our ability to effectively share the Gospel!

So why feature a book on cults?  The answer is simple: while we may not enjoy using the word, it’s still important for Christians to understand the differences which exist between traditional Christianity and those religions which pose as “Christian” while denying the fundamental teachings of the faith.  The truth is, not all cults lean towards the occult.  Indeed, many “cult” members are quite normal both in their beliefs and practices.  What makes them a danger is the way in which they twist the requirements for Salvation from the simple faith taught in the Bible into legalistic systems.  Sadly, it’s not always easy to discern where or how such twists have taken place and that’s why, this week, we’re featuring the revised edition of Walter Martin’s classic “Kingdom of the Cults, The”.

Using Scripture as the measuring rod, Martin and Zacharias take readers through the tenants of each variation to see how they measure up to the Gospel presented by Jesus and His apostles.  You’ll enjoy the clear way in which both authors highlight the differences between the faiths and open up insights into potential evangelism opportunities. You’ll be introduced to the unique cultures of each cult and gain useful insights into the way members of these unique organizations think and act.  Read cover-to-cover or used simply as a reference, this in-depth guide will provide you with information on the history and teachings of the most prominent cults of our day.

Kingdom of the Cults, The” was produced by Bethany House Publishers and is available for $22.24 from www.Amazon.com.

Encountering the World of Islam

29 Jul

What does it mean to be a follower of Islam? The question is a simple one, but the answers are not. According to the Pew Research Center, there are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today – that’s nearly ¼ of the world’s entire population! Spread out across six continents, these faithful seek each day to become more wholly submitted to the will of Allah, but what this looks like can vary tremendously from one sect to another. That’s why Keith E. Swartley’s textbook, “Encountering the World of Islam” was one of my first stops as I began seeking a deeper understanding of a faith so different from my own.

Designed to provide Christians with an introduction to the development and expression of Muslim belief, “Encountering the World of Islam” takes an in depth look at the origins, theology, and culture which surround this historic faith. In eleven carefully planned lessons, readers will learn what it means to be a Muslim, what the faith looks like in daily life, and how they can most effectively communicate their own faith with their Islamic friends. Supplemental readings introduced students to the world of Muslim missions (and some of the difficult questions which surround the topic) while practical activities help readers to better understand the culture which surrounds one of our world’s biggest religions. Join in the online community and you’ll receive an even more enlightening introduction!

Re-released in updated form by IVP Books in 2012, “Encountering the World of Islam” is available for $27.12 in paperback and makes an excellent introduction for everyone from the casual observer to the mission-minded believer!

How to Talk about Jesus without Freaking Out

22 Jul

A Hollywood producer, Karen Covell was used to speaking her mind on just about everything… except, that is, her faith.  For some reason, opening her mouth to explain why she trusted in Christ left her feeling weak-kneed.  Why was it that she had such difficulty expressing the one thing that mattered most?

Evangelism can be challengeing – especially for those of us who weren’t gifted with Billy Graham’s charisma.  Put us on the spot and we freeze.  We know we should say something, but what? Even if we do know what, how can we be sure we’ve said all of the “important” stuff?  And what do we do if the conversation turns hostile?  The answers to these questions may be simpler than we think.

In How to Talk About Jesus (Without Freaking Out), Karen, her husband Jim (a composer) and friend Victorya (an agent) draw upon their own experiences to teach readers a simple, relational way to talk about Christ without feeling awkward.  Like most things in Hollywood, the technique is based upon the concept of story-telling: the story of the person in front of you, your personal story, and the story of God and His love for humanity.  It’s about learning to give a testimony – in a way that clearly and honestly demonstrates the work of Christ in you.

Packed full of helpful hints and tips on everything from addressing personal fears to answering deep theological questions, How to Talk About Jesus (Without Freaking Out) provides readers with a variety of effective techniques that will be comfortable for any personality type.  It’s a great introduction to evangelism for everyone whether they’re new to the faith or an old hand!

Re-released by Thrilling LIfe Publishers in 2013, How to Talk About Jesus (Without Freaking Out) is available for $16.14 in paperback.

Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints

15 Jul

What makes Mormonism different from traditional Christianity?  Do the differences matter?  And if so, how can a traditional Christian believer most effectively explain those differences to their LDS friends? An enlightening journey through basic Mormon theology, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s volume, Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints, is an honest and well-researched volume designed to help answer these questions!

McKeever and Johnson take their readers on an informative and enlightening journey through LDS history as seen through Mormon eyes.  Utilizing accepted Scripture and the teachings of the LDS church’s apostles and prophets they add scope to the Christian’s understanding of what their Mormon friends mean when they talk about concepts like “grace”, “salvation”, and “eternal life”.  Carefully comparing and contrasting LDS and traditional Christian views on subjects as varied as the nature of God and humanity, scripture, salvation, temple ordinances, and revelation, they provide believers with a basis for dialogue.  Then, through a series of “Witnessing Tips” placed after each chapter, McKeever and Johnson help their readers better understand how to apply the information they’ve learned in real-life situations: sharing the differences while demonstrating both love and respect.

A great primer for those interested in better understanding the LDS faith and effectively sharing their own, Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints is available in paperback for $19.80 or on Kindle for $12.10.

Witnessing to Jews: Practical ways to relate the love of Jesus

8 Jul

Sharing your Christian faith can be difficult – especially when the people with whom you are sharing come from a different cultural background.  Things said and done out of love or concern can take on new meaning; appearing too weak or informal to have any impact or being too blunt or aggressive to warrant being heard.  Only when we take the time to understand the cultures of those with whom we share will we experience the type of Christ-reflecting relationships that have the power to transform lives.  And this is where Moishe and Ceil Rosen’s Witnessing to Jews: Practical Ways to Relate the Love of Jesus can help.

Messianic Jews Moishe and his wife begin their volume with a list of myths that frequently prevent Christians from attempting to share their faith.  From confronting fear and insecurity on the part of believers to addressing the level of knowledge possessed by Jews, themselves, the Rosen’s help Christians to understand the practical side of what it means to be Jewish and how they can make a difference in the lives of their Jewish friends.

While many of their tips are practical for any form of evangelism (like the “Witness on the Way” or WOW technique which advocates practical, action-based evangelism), much of the information contained in this volume is culture-specific.  Throughout the volume, you’ll be introduced to the stories of Jews who have embraced Jesus as their Messiah.  Drawing from their experiences, you’ll learn how to avoid accidentally giving (or taking) offense during a dialogue.  You’ll receive an introduction to arguing your faith from the Old Testament (books broadly accepted by the Jewish community) as well as detailed instructions for answering common Jewish objections to Jesus.  Then, see the lessons in action through sample conversations.  If you’re anything like me, by the end, you’ll feel well-prepared to put your best foot forward when it comes to boldly sharing your faith with God’s chosen people!

Published in 1998 by Purple Pomegranate Productions, Witnessing to Jews: Practical Ways to Relate the Love of Jesus is an excellent guide for everyone looking to more effectively share their faith cross-culturally with their Jewish friends!  Witnessing to Jews: Practical Ways to Relate the Love of Jesus is available in paperback for $13.43 through amazon.com.

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