Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bound Together

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If you asked me three weeks ago what the word solidarity meant, I would not have been able to define it. I understood the concept but never really thought much about it. After reading Chris Brauns book, "Bound Together", I now have a much better understanding of how we are intertwined or "roped together". Brauns calls this connection we have to others the "Principle of the Rope" and through careful examination shows the dangers of radical individualism and benefits of Christian solidarity.

After clearly defining the "Principle of the Rope"', Brauns describes the two most extreme examples of the concept. First, the most negative example is that of our connection to Adam through original sin. For those who have a hard time understanding the fall of man, Brauns does a wonderful job of explaining the reality of our connection to Adam. Second, Brauns gives the most positive example of solidarity, which is union with Christ. Here the author clearly shows that Christians have hope that our union with Christ is stronger to save us than our connection to Adam is to condemn us.

Next in his book, Brauns gives several applications of the Principle of the Rope. Using examples from the Pauline epistles, he clearly proves that joy in the Christian life is experienced in direct correlation to the community of faith known as the local church. The Principle of the Rope can also help readers to understand and appreciate the marriage relationship better. Understanding this principle also explains why the death or sin of a family member is such a deep hurt, but reminds the reader that there is hope in Christ.

Brauns concludes by explaining that only New Testament churches can offer the true solidarity that people are searching for. People know they need  healthy relationships but don't know how to cultivate them because they are so blinded by radical individualism - the idea that "it's all about me".

I love how Brauns writes from the perspective of a pastor - he allows Scripture to make the point, then he clearly explains the deep theological implications, and then reexplains in layman's terns and analogies so any reader can fully grasp the concept and learn a deeper insight by putting the three together. Plus, he is gentle and caring toward those readers who may initially be opposed to the ideas presented.

I  found "Bound Together" to be a wonderful, eye-opening perspective on life, especially for generations like mine that have been raised in such a self-centered culture. To view our union with Christ and other Christians as a desired treasure should help us overcome disappointment in our relationships and be more intentional about building unity in our local church families.

*Special thanks to Cross Focused Reviews  for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Most Important Thing Happening

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Some rollercoaster ride that was! I've never read a book quite like "The Most Important Thing Happening" by Mark Steele. You know when you first get on a rollercoaster and you feel kind of queasy and scared, yet the thrill and excitement keeps you going!? That's exactly how I felt after reading the first chapter of this book.
Each chapter is so unique, it felt like I was just getting to know the characters and then we moved on to  a "new" story. Once the puzzle started to take shape in Chapter 6, I had several "aha" moments as I began to see how all the individual stories were actually related. The plot of this "several stories, one novel" book is so unusual, it would take another reading for me to really connect all the dots.
I was slightly disappointed at the end because like a rollercoaster, it seemed to come to an abrupt stop. Granted, all the missing pieces fell into place just perfectly. So I don't know if I was just sad that it was over, or I didn't really understand everything that happened or if the perfect ending just didn't really fit in with the rest of the book?!
Although there was nothing explicitly gospel-centered in this book, there were strong undertones about sin and it's deadly effects and how forgiveness can change a person.
If you're looking for a book outside your normal reading comfort zone and that will make you think about solidarity - this is it!
(P.S. My favorite story was Chapter 2)

*Thanks to the publisher, David C. Cook for sharing this book with me through Net Galley for my honest review.