Whats On The Shelf- “The Cross and the Prodigal”

For you newbies, welcome to the site. And every once in a while I do a post
called “What’s on the Shelf,” which is just sharing something I’ve been
reading. So here we go…

The Cross and the Prodigal” by Kenneth Bailey

God has been blessing me with some great resources lately. I received this
book as a gift and it is incredible. Kenneth Bailey is a Presbyterian
author and lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. In other
words, he learns about what New Testament scholarship is and has been done
in the middle eastern cultures. He follows the Arabic and Syriac
translations and commentaries on the Bible which are basically untapped in
our western culture. He also studies the culture of the part of the world
where the events in the Bible occurred. For the majority of this book, he
deals with the story of the Prodigal Son, placing it back in the cultural
frame where it occurred. It was amazingly eye-opening to me.

My understanding of this picture of a father, humiliating himself, running
through the town to reach his son is so greatly increased once I understood
in that culture, the town would have rallied against the son, mocking him
all the way to his former house. But the father took the embarrassment

There are so many insights like this in the book. I am anxiously looking
forward to reading more from him as soon as I can get them ordered. And
finish the 522 page book that came in the mail yesterday. Which, so far, is

I’d love to hear about what you’re reading right now and how it’s impacting


What’s On The Shelf

Well, it’s the last day of August and the new record goes on official pre-sale tomorrow. So I’m sure I’ll have to do another business blog tomorrow announcing that. But before that, let’s take a quick look at what I’m reading right now. I’m in the middle of both of them but I’m quite excited about them so I wanted to share.

The Bondage of the Will – Martin Luther

You may have noticed that I’ve been on a Luther kick lately. I love the way he thinks and how passionate he is about the faith. This book has been blowing me out of the water. It was written as a response to a paper by Erasmus, and discusses the free will of man. It’s not your typical modern “free will vs. predestination” argument that has sidelined many a college ministry. It is an indepth look at the sovereignty of God and how that plays out in the life of man. My particular version of it was translated by J.I.Packer and O.R.Johnston. They also wrote a amazing preface to the book. It is wiping me out. I highly recommend it.

North! Or Be Eaten – Andrew Peterson

This is the second installment of the Wingfeather Saga. The first was On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. It is a fantasy adventure series. Think Narnia, but really funny. And if you read it, don’t miss the footnotes. They are awesome. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for a long time and I’m really enjoying it. Three children, Janner, Tink and Leeli are the lost Jewels of Anniera. They have been driven from their home by the Fangs of Dang. They are journeying north into the cold where the Fangs don’t enjoy the weather so much. Great characters, amazing story. Highly recommended.

What are you reading?


A Morning With Ted Dekker

So today it was my job to interview my friend Ted Dekker. In case you are not familiar with him, he is an incredible author, novelist, creative spirit. We actually kind of stayed on track today, which is unusual for us. The main topic of the day was his new book, Green, which hits shelves on Sept 1, but hit my shelf today. Green is the finale of the Circle Series, which includes Black, Red, and White. But it is also the beginning. It’s book four but it’s also book zero. You’ll have to read it to find out, and so will I. Ted said you could read it before Black, or after White. Most of us will be reading it after White, but for some of you this might be a really interesting launching point for you if you haven’t read any of them. I’ll be really interested to see what the experience is like for someone who reads it first.

We also talked about what it’s like to write in different genres. About half Ted’s books are thrillers, like his last book Boneman’s Daughters, and half are fantasy, like Green. It seems like it would be really difficult to switch like that. But Ted compared it to the way we switch musical styles a lot on our records. He said it might even be boring if you didn’t, and I would tend to agree. We also talked about explaining the redemption story through fiction rather than non-fiction. He said some really neat stuff that I’ll post a link to whenever they put the interview online.

And I got a sneak peek into what’s coming next, Immanuel’s Veins. It is about good and evil both trying to woo the heart of each of us, to win the hearts of all of us. For the Circle fans, it takes a deeper look at something we will find in Green, the Shaitiki entering our world. And here they resemble a certain old story about vampires…

Well, I can’t wait to read Green. In fact, I think I’ll go do that now. And you can find it on Sept 1. Till then, sorry, you’re out of luck.


AgnewsDei Book Club

This will be new for the new people, but it will also be new for those of you who have been around awhile. For a few years, we’ve had “What’s On The Shelf?” where I let you know what I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I don’t usually put books on there that weren’t any good. But I thought we might try something different. I’m going to tell you what I’m about to read. Then if you want to, we can read it together. Maybe once a week, I’ll put up something for us to talk about in reference to the book. I’ll try to read slow like you guys. I know, I know, I don’t have anything better to do, but you have to work, etc. And it’s true. But I’ll try to set a reasonable pace. I don’t know if it will work, but we can try. We’ll start with a book I’m very excited about reading. It’s called “The Hole in the Gospel” by Richard Stearns. He started World Vision, which we have partnered with for a few years now. Anyway, I know this isn’t for everyone. But for those of you that would like to, we can try it out. Thanks.


What’s On The Shelf

The Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs

For everyone that’s new to our community, every once in a while, I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been reading. Today I’m going to tell you about a book I finished recently called, “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs writes in the form of a memoir. He chooses unique experiences, lives them out, and writes about them. His first book was about reading through the encyclopedia. But this book is about exactly what the title says. He chose to live by the BIble, word for word, for a year. Now this is more complicated than it sounds. To start with, Jacobs is Jewish, but even he confesses that is really just by heritage alone. It is not a belief he holds on to. Additionally, he does not merely follow the parts that are popular or what we have decided is culturally relevant. He attempts to follow every verse, every command of the Bible. And in doing so, he shows us how much of it we skip. We actually obey a very small part of the Bible. I enjoyed this book a ton. Jacobs made me laugh out loud multiple times. That can be embarrassing on a plane. But it was so enlightening to see the Word of God, which we believe to be alive and active, actually applied directly to a life. It was a book that both entertained and challenged. Now this isn’t CS Lewis or Josh McDowell. It doesn’t end with him becoming a Christian. It is the record of a year when a non-believer tried to walk out the Bible. It details his successes and struggles, his insights and confusion. I really liked it.