Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy [Book Review]

Eric Metaxas should have written the history books I read in school.

The biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, is dense with detail, but it reads like the story it was.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, SpyMetaxas has a commanding grasp of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology, and yet he doesn’t use Bonhoeffer’s story as a platform to push an agenda. He lets Bonhoeffer’s amazing life speak for itself.

Bonhoeffer’s theology was biblical—surprisingly, in spite of the many liberal German theologians of his day. But he learned his theology in a context that required one to live it—or deny it. I wonder if the “cheap grace” idea would have matured in his mind without the Nazis.

The discussion questions at the end of the book are worth pondering. They pinpoint many of the same areas of tension I felt while reading the book. Any system of theology gets tested best when it has to face the snags of a culture. I found myself frequently uncomfortable and convicted with how little my culture demands of me—in comparison to Bonhoeffer’s day. Although the winds in America are shifting against orthodox Christianity, and some of what Germany tolerated in Hitler seems to find a contemporary pattern in America.

I’ve heard Metaxas speak more than once, and anyone who has heard him knows the guy is sidesplitting funny. I expected his book to have the same sarcastic wit. There are moments the book offers nuggets of humor, to be sure, but they are rare. They were like finding Easter eggs.

I hadn’t known that Bonhoeffer died only a week after Easter. Somehow, such a life of sacrifice and faithfulness seems entirely appropriate to be associated with Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection. (I happened to finish the book on Easter weekend.)

The genius of this book is that it puts the story in history and holds up a model of a Christian who determined to live what he believed—and also, to die for it.

I read the Kindle edition, but I also have a copy of the large hardcover edition.

Question: Have you read the book? What did you think of it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Dominus Flevit Church—and a Triumphal Entry that Wasn’t

As I made my way down the Mount of Olives, I couldn’t help think about the day Jesus rode down the slope on the back of a donkey.

His words that day hardly seemed fitting for a “Triumphal Entry.”

The Dominus Flevit Church—and a Triumphal Entry that Wasn't

(Photo: Jerusalem from inside the Dominus Flevit Church, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When Jesus saw Jerusalem, He wept over it:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. —Luke 19:42

I pondered the words. Why did He say: “this day . . .”?

The prophet Daniel penned a meticulous prediction of the very day when the Messiah would appear in Jerusalem.

It was that very day.

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Bet Guvrin Maresha National Park—See the Story in History

With picks in hand, my wife and I entered a cave in the Bet Guvrin Maresha National Park. The archaeological dig had only recently begun, so our group was one of the first to volunteer. The low ceiling of the cave forced us to squat while digging.

Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park—See the Story in History

(Photo: Exploring the Caves in Bet Guvrin Maresha National Park. Photo by James Foo)

I could see the original tool markings still chiseled on the walls of the cave. Everybody was thrilled when my wife unearthed a fully intact jar handle.

I dug up some pottery shards, and examined them closely.

I saw fingerprints on them.

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The Present Principle [Book Review]

The Present PrincipleClaire Diaz-Ortiz’s book, The Present Principle, reads somewhat like Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Though an unfair comparison, what’s true of Einstein’s E=mc2 is true of Claire’s book: there’s a lot of potential represented in a small space.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz uses the word PRESENT in three ways:

  1. as a “gift” you give yourself
  2. as a dedicated time each morning
  3. as an acronym of how to “proactively organize” that time.

She lays out her thesis at the end of the book:

The Present Principle is about giving you a guiding framework for establishing a positive morning ritual that sets your day in the direction you want it to go. By waking in the mornings, and following seven simple steps to Pray, Read, Express, Schedule, Exercise, Nourish, and Track, you will be better able to make your day everything you want it to be (PDF edition, page 32).

Here’s a great takeaway from the book . . .

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Egypt’s Locust Invasion & Your Next Meal

The locust invasion in Egypt can’t help but remind us of the biblical plagues on that land. The boils, frogs, hail, and darkness of biblical days were natural and supernatural methods God used to get the attention of Pharaoh. They also get our attention.

Egypt's Locust Invasion & Your Next Meal

(Photo used by permission of GNU Free Documentation License, via Wikimedia Commons)

The flying critters in Egypt today do more than bring to mind a Bible story. They point to the provision of God upon our lives.

Watch this video of a recent locust invasion in Africa.

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