Tag Archives: forgiveness

Book Review: With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles & Mistakes On My Way Back to KoRn, by Brian “Head” Welch with Carol Traver

With My Eyes Wide OpenBrian “Head” Welch was a founding member of the highly successful metal band KoRn back in 1993, but in 2005 he became a Christian, left the band, kicked his alcohol and drug addictions, and committed to being a better father to his young daughter. After swearing multiple times over the years never to return, With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles & Mistakes On My Way Back to KoRn is the raw, tear-jerking story of a new Christian making poor decisions, going through the ups and downs of learning what it means to really follow God, experiencing tremendous pain with a depressed and self-abusive daughter, and eventually following the Spirit to family restoration and redemption, including the Spirit’s leading in restoration of his musical family. Welch now uses his influence and opportunities as a touring metal musician to bring others to Christ for God’s glory.

It may be difficult for some to accept Welch’s position, but a thorough reading of the book of Acts in the Bible shows us that the Spirit doesn’t work the same way for everyone and certainly doesn’t lead everyone down the same paths to God’s glory. We’re all in different places in life with different skills and talents, and God pulls and prods us along where he wants us to serve him. After many seeming coincidences, much prayer, and the spiritual discernment of several trusted people, Welch gave in to God’s call to return to KoRn…and it’s been wonderful.

If I had not been reading the book in public, I would have let the tears run at least four times. There’s so much pain, so many horrible decisions, and yet, God is good and draws Welch and his daughter in even closer. I would again caution (especially young) readers that the Spirit doesn’t necessarily follow any of our observable patterns, so take Welch’s final letter at the end with a grain of salt—don’t be discouraged if your life doesn’t turn out with same kinds of amazing blessings, as God doesn’t make any of those promises about this life. However, I think this would be a great read for metal heads—or anyone!

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review: Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw

Jesus for PresidentIn 2014, my good friend Zach bought us both a copy of Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. He had heard good things about the book and wanted my opinion as we went through it since we had been studying political theology for about a year in church. Unfortunately, we didn’t get past our first meeting with our combined busy schedules, but I’m glad to have finally come back and finished reading it myself.

I want to first point out that no one should be approaching this text from either a “liberal” or “conservative” political stance. This, unfortunately, has been the stance from which many have reviewed the text. We should first see how Jesus calls us to live, and then work out pragmatic application in our own context, regardless as to whether it may be perceived as “liberal” or “conservative.” In Jesus for President, Claiborne and Haw approach a number of controversial subjects from the initial perspective of being a citizen in the kingdom of God first. Many cannot separate their national and political affiliation from their Christian affiliation—framing it this way may seem harsh, but it’s what Jesus called us out on; we’re all in, or we’re not—and this will be the foundation of much disagreement and debate. So, I would encourage the reader to stick with them and make as much an attempt at thinking from a kingdom perspective first as able. This does not mean he or she will always agree or disagree with the authors—I certainly didn’t agree on all theological or practical points—though I do think one may be better able to appreciate their arguments, and perhaps learn and grow into being a better disciple of Christ.

It’s widely understood by my friends and family that I am a pacifist and am far more in favor of living in community than is my individualistic, privatized, American culture. I believe this is what Jesus asks of us. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that I agree with the authors on much of what is presented; however, I do not always come to the same conclusions as to how we go about demonstrating these things. Nevertheless, I do and will recommend this as a beautiful and interesting introduction to how we engage with one another and the world.

Book Review: Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, by Brant Hansen

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life BetterBefore reading Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, I didn’t know anything about Brant Hansen other than what was written on the back cover of the book. Now, I not only know more about my brother in Christ, but I know more about myself, too. Unoffendable is exactly what I needed to push me into a change I’ve been mulling over for years but had so often reasoned my way out. Brant hit me in the gut right from the start, responding to his title in much the same way I did (“Yeah, right.”), and then convincing me by the sixth page of the absurdity of my being offended and “righteous anger,” as it is so often called. The next two hundred pages were yummy gravy…and mashed potatoes…and more gravy…and more potatoes. The point: it’s good—really good.

Brant shares his experience and that of others in a way that is disarming and inviting. He offends himself so you don’t have to, preemptively attacking his own arguments along the way and then addressing them to further demonstrate how we shouldn’t hold on to anger and offense when they pop up. It felt like I was hanging out with him on his porch while he shared how he has been able to let things go and live much more easily (though still growing) the life of love and forgiveness asked of us by our Lord.

Though he says he’s not a pacifist, what Brant has to say only reinforces and (I imagine) will help me better live out that position (because of Christ). I can only imagine that, if taken seriously and to its logical conclusion (which Brant likes!), he will eventually come to that table, too. (Brant: Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.)

If you’ve ever found yourself justifying anger or offense (everyone), I recommend you read this book. Seriously, I think I’m going to start buying and handing out copies!

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Breaking Free: How to be Completely Free from any Addiction, by Kevin W. Shorter

Breaking FreeThough we differ on some of what I believe to be fairly important theological perspectives concerning forgiveness and our relationship to the Father, particularly how he reads and the direction in which he takes his reader through sections in 1 John, Kevin Shorter and I agree on the heart of the matter and that is being that which we God has created us to be. In so doing, we need to give up some things, understanding that they do not belong to our true selves and ought not define us, and look to God through Jesus for our identity and lens through which we must continually acknowledge ourselves to be.

Much of what I’ve read on addiction recovery from a Christian perspective has fallen gravely short on the practical end and often ends up with a “pray your way out of it” attitude. Though it is certainly a part of our relationship with God and a path away from addiction, it is a woefully grave conclusion. It dismisses so much and is bound to lead one to failure. Though I would include sections for those who intentionally put themselves in addictive behavior without the help of lies to oneself about their past or self-identity (perhaps “any addiction” is a bit reaching in the title), Kevin has not shied away from the spiritual or practical. He aptly deals with some of the difficulties some face in overcoming addiction on a practical level, perhaps the most important of which is that it cannot be done alone. He also rightly warns the reader against using “getting better” as a sole purpose for overcoming a particular addiction by maintaining a Christian perspective:

“The topics of this chapter are tools to help you focus more on Jesus rather than your pain or addiction. If your focus is merely getting better, your behavior may change quicker, but you will be trading one addiction for another. Not dealing with the root issue can only delay your ultimate healing. Jesus wants you healed, whole, and free” (Kindle Locations 1286-1288).

A decently short and easy read (application is another issue!), Breaking Free contains some of the best addiction recovery advice from a Christian perspective that I have found thus far; however, given some of our theological differences, I would probably work through the book with someone rather than recommend it out right with no disclaimers. Either way, it’s the first book I’ve found that I would even put on a recommendation list.

 

Aside: From an editor’s perspective, the book could benefit from a proper combing and subsequent republishing. It’s strewn with typographical errors, misspellings, misuse of grammar, repeated and misplaced words, and a couple sections I simply could not decipher what was meant (perhaps a combination of a typo and a bit of missing text?). It’s fairly easy to look past these and understand what is meant, so I recommend not seeing them as a distraction to the book’s message; however, I would continue to recommend a revision of the manuscript.

 

*The author contacted me via my blog and asked me to read and review this book. I was not asked to write a positive review, nor was I offered or provided any compensation.

**This book is available for free on September 9–10, 2014, on Amazon.com.