Saturday, December 31, 2011

Can you Treasure Christ More Greatly?: A Book Review of “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared Wilson

           In 1730 to 1740 America experienced the First Great Awakening, a revival that not only impacted the British Colonies, but one that spread around the globe.  Around the time of the Civil War, America experienced the Second Great Awakening.  Now 150 years later America is in a spiral down the trail of post-modernism! This contrast is striking.  Has the Church fallen asleep? Has it failed in its mission assigned to us by our LORD in Matthew 28:19-20? Is the problem with the Church, or is the problem in the pew?

            These are some of the questions that motivated me to take a look at the newest book by Jared Wilson, “Gospel Wakefulness”.  My own relationship with Christ also motivated me to take a look at this, and I was curious, just what is Gospel Wakefulness? 

            Jared Wilson defines “Gospel Wakefulness” as: “…treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring His power more sweetly (Wilson 24).”  However, Mr. Wilson goes on to explain that Gospel Wakefulness is not something you do or can learn, but something that happens to you as you grow in your relationship with Christ (34).

            I like to share my disagreements up front.  There is no advantage in my mind to hold off until the end, until people are reeled in to the greatness of a book (and this is a great book).  However, it is written by man, and has flaws.  My primary disagreement with Jared Wilson is in his view of how Gospel Wakefulness occurs as an act of God as a lover.  Mr. Wilson makes the point that Gospel Wakefulness is being “swept off our feet by a romancing God (69).”  He then goes on the attacks of what he calls machismo and saying that this is how God draws us (70).  I’ve been saved now for almost 20 years, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have experienced Gospel Wakefulness as Jared Wilson defines it.  However, I was not drawn to God by a romantic love, but that of the love of a father.

            Hebrews 12: 5-6 says, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. (English Standard Bible)’”  This is how the LORD stirred my heart to Gospel Wakefulness, not as some lover trying to woo His bride.  I have been very blessed by the LORD since the point of my Wakefulness, for which I’m very thankful.

            Now let me share you some of the many praise worthy aspects of this book.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jared Wilson understands greatly that which he has written about.  To have such a clear definition of Gospel Wakefulness, I believe, only comes from experiencing it for one’s self.  Throughout the book Jared Wilson also takes the time to share several other people’s stories and their encounter with gospel wakefulness.  One of the stories that really struck me was the story of Eric, probably because it some ways it mirrors my own story.  Eric’s story is in Chapter 2 which is Nonnegotiable Brokenness. 

            Another chapter that really stood out to me, not necessarily for myself, but because of my relationship with my wife, was the chapter on Depression.  Jared helped put things in a way I could understand, and even see how better to minister to my wife who has dealt with depression since she was a child.  In this chapter Jared mentions his own failing in ministering to someone who was severely depressed, but then goes on to explain how now he sees things differently.  I’ve been like many of the Christians whom Jared mentioned who often times think that if a person’s relationship with Christ was better then they wouldn’t be depressed.  This is of course untrue.  Jared helped show me ways where I can stop being like Job’s friends, and instead be the support my wife needs.

            Finally Jared Wilson’s chapter on “The Gospel Wakened Church” really grabbed my attention, and had me shouting, Hallelujah! (All right maybe not quite, but it was a great chapter).  In this chapter Mr. Wilson mentions Tim Challies and an experience he had at a conference up in Canada.  He had been asked to speak, and decide to focus his topic on the centrality of the gospel (183).  Jared Wilson mentions how Mr. Challies felt that the reception was a little cold to this particular message.  And in fact Jared Wilson quotes an attendee who was disappointed that Mr. Challies didn’t cover something other than the centrality of the gospel (184).

            In this chapter I again saw some of myself, as he quoted C.S Lewis.  C.S. Lewis wrote several letters in which he mentions his experience of “Gospel Wakefulness”.  In one particular letter C.S Lewis mentions how he had been asked about a belief at some point earlier he would have said he believed it, but something happened in his life where he had now experienced his belief (186).  One very strong aspect of this chapter is it gives six resolutions for Gospel Wakened Churches.  You can find these resolutions on pages 197-200.  The other aspect that I think is central to this chapter is its stressing the importance of the Gospel not just once, but every day.

            Even though I have concerns with Jared Wilson’s attack on “machismo” I would still have to rate this book 5 out of 5.  So strongly do I believe in the message of this book that I have already given it hearty recommendations to two of my brothers, and will be recommending it to my brother’s-in-law as well!  I also told a friend of mine, who also has a review coming out on this book that this is a book he needed to read because of what he would gain.  I know that Jared Wilson is working on another book, and I look forward to reading some of his other writings.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review 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.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And the Giveaway Winner is:

          Biblically Born Again and the Emery Family blog are pleased to announce the winner for the first ever giveaway.  One lucky person is now better prepared as she enters the world of monster hunting.  The winner for our giveaway is Karen Lyons.  Karen please send me an e-mail at with your mailing address so we can mail you the certificate to get a free copy of “Night of the Living Dead Christian”.  The certificate can be redeemed at any Christian Bookstore, or directly through Tyndale if necessary.

            We want to thank all who participated in our giveaway.  I also want to apologize about my delay in announcing the winner.  In the future when we have a giveaway I will be sure the announcement posts on the day promised.

            We thank you for following and reading Biblically Born Again and the Emery Family Blog.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giveaway Reminder! Win a Copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian

Have you had a chance to check out the newest book review “Night of the Living Dead Christian” at the Emery family blog or Biblically Born Again?  Thanks to Tyndale Publishers and Matt Mikalatos the Emery family blog and Biblically Born Again are giving away a free copy of Matt’s newest book.

            If you are interested in gaining some entries for this book the process is simple.  Become a follower of Biblically Born Again or the Emery family blog and earn 10 entries.  Tell your friends about the giveaway by posting a link or posting about the giveaway on your blog for 5 entries.  Are you into the newest social networking through Google Plus.  Give us a +1 and share us with you circles on Google Plus for 1 additional entry for each of those.  Do you tweet? Send out a tweet regarding the giveaway or book review for an additional entry.  Like the giveaway on Facebook and share it with your friends for two more entries.  As you see you can easily earn 20 entries to win a copy of this book.  All we ask for, for the purpose of confirmation, is comments sent to either of the blogs.

            Contest ends on December 22 so there is still time to get your entries.  Happy monster hunting to you all, and see you on the blogosphere.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Before You Go Monster Hunting; Look in the Mirror! A Review of “The Night of the Living Dead Christian"”

           Monsters are all around us.  Everywhere you look you may see them and not even know.  Some of them are your best friend from high school, your teacher or professor, the neighbor down the street, or maybe even that old lady you just helped across the street.  The truth of the matter is monsters have learned how to live among us, and we have become so desensitized that we don’t even realize…, the monster may be ourselves.

            In his newest book, “Night of the Living Dead Christian”, Matt Mikalatos takes us on a fictional journey as he comes into contact with a werewolf named Luther.  In this book we see Matt take on the challenge of helping his new found friend break free of the curse of the beast.  Through many strange turns and events we see this journey take shape as Matt is joined with a Mad Scientist, an Android, a half zombie, and a vampire names Lara.  The mission is to find out the cure for Luther’s lycanthrope transformation, if it is possible.

            Relevant Magazine offers this praise for the book, “Think Monty Python meets C.S. Lewis.”  While Relevant Magazine may well be right that Matt’s book is like C.S. Lewis, in my opinion Matt’s writing style is completely different than C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was more of a philosopher and had a more established reputation writing fiction and Christian literature than does Matt. With that said the praise offered by Relevant Magazine is well deserved in the sense that this book is a great spiritual allegory.

“Night of the Living Dead Christian” was a book I found myself immersed in.  I, too, have always had a fascination with monsters and to see them used as representations of spiritual behavior not only hooked me, but kept me latched to every page.  As I read through the chapters and was introduced to the various monsters I kept asking myself, “Which one am I?”

            Amongst the chapters Matt weaved in interludes, which served as a brief distraction from the story.  Each of the interludes was on a spiritual topic from the perspective of the werewolf.  Some of these issues addressed were Fathers, Transformation, and Love.  Although each raised some questions for me on the purpose of the author, especially transformation, these were all a good break from the story line, and allowed the reader to look at some important topics and how they are viewed by the world. 

            I give this book 5 monsters out of 5.  In this world of post-Twilight I think this book serves as a great way of reaching friends who might not be so keen on Christian fiction, and especially Christian allegory.  I have already recommended this book to some of my close friends, and I certainly recommend it for you.  Matt Mikalatos is a name I now know, and I look forward to any additional books he may write.

To see more of what Matt has to offer check out his website at

See the author’s video about this book at

Check out Tyndale Publishers at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Questions and Answers with Matt Mikalatos Re: “Night of the Living Dead Christian”

I would like to thank Tyndale Publishers and Matt Mikalatos for providing me with a unique opportunity.  This week I had the privilege of having an e-mail Q&A with Matt regarding his newest book “Night of the Living Dead Christian”.  Below you will see the transcript of this conversation.  I hope you enjoy.

Me:     I can understand your interest and use of monsters in this book due to your exposure to Monster Mania.  What was the motivating factor that lead you to write?

Matt:   I started writing seriously when I was in high school, and my motivation has always been to entertain and to reveal truth. The use of monsters in my current book was a natural, since I spent a lot of time as a kid reading and watching science fiction with my Dad. I thought it was an apt metaphor for the human struggle, how we’re all desiring to become “more human”... to become who God created us to be. It’s really an extension of the Biblical metaphors about how we must be alive in Christ and dead to sin, but that we wrestle with the old man within us.

Me:     In this fiction book there still seems to be a picture of who you are, as well as your family.  Do you think that this serves as a hook for the reader, or a turn off?

Matt:   Ha ha ha. Well, clearly I hope it’s a hook. I don’t think any author is consciously trying to turn off their readers. A lot of people have told me they enjoyed having a “real life” narrator, and it’s an illusion that a lot of classical novels employ.

Me:     Our more fundamental brothers and sisters in Christ may not be so keen on your use of monsters.  One lady I know attributed your use of monsters in your story as dabbling in the Occult.  How would you respond to such claims?

Matt:   In 1950 some Christians accused C.S. Lewis of “dabbling in the Occult” (or worse) for his book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Their argument basically said, “There is a witch in this book, therefore it is an Occult book.” It’s a specious argument. There are witches and sorcerers and demons in scripture, too. My book is about overcoming evil in our personal lives, and there’s not a way to write a story like that without acknowledging and portraying the evil which must be overcome. The fact that the book has a couple of vampires and werewolves and zombies in it doesn’t make the book Occult any more than having an angel in a book would make it Christian. The fact is, my book is about what it means to be a follower of Jesus and what the Gospel is, and how to know and follow Jesus.

Me:     Reading this book I often found myself asking, “Which monster represents me?” Do you think that people can relate with multiple monsters depending on the day?

Matt:   Absolutely. Since the monsters represent, to some degree, specific sin struggles it’s pretty easy for me to relate to a certain monster depending on the day, the hour, or the minute. I tried to imply that in the book when you see a certain character who has a “trophy box” of his former monstrous characteristics. One of the themes in the book is how the monster will avoid mirrors, because he doesn’t want to see himself. My hope is that this book will be a mirror for all of us that causes us to ask ourselves, “Am I a monster?”

Me:     In the Werewolf’s view of transformation you hit a nerve about how Christians will ignore the raped woman on the sidewalks while holding our anti-abortion signs.  Many Churches and believers are who run battered women shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, and minister to those who are less fortunate.  What would you say motivated this narrative in this chapter?

Matt:   The werewolf character has been badly hurt by a Christian in his own life, so it makes sense that his picture of Christians will often skew toward the most negative aspects of Christianity he has observed, and his observation is a fair one: some Christians, in their zeal to oppose the evils of abortion, create a secondary evil by harming women who are in difficult situations. Undoubtedly, the counter examples you gave are true, but when someone has been hurt by a Christian they won’t point out the most godly person in a church and say “That’s what Christians are like,” they’ll use the lowest possible example. I think, as a Christian, I like to point out the best examples of Christian living and say, “That’s what it means to be a Christian.” But if a Christian behaves in an evil way I’ll say, “Oh, that person isn’t a Christian” instead of dealing with the more difficult truth that sometimes Christians do truly horrible things... that sometimes I can do truly horrible things. In many ways that’s the key theme of the book: if we’re truly following Jesus, why aren’t we more like him?

Again, it was a real privilege to have Matt answer these questions.  

"Night of the Living Dead Christian: A Werewolf's View on Transformation" is available through you local Christian bookstore.  Look for my book review to post on Thursday.  Also don’t forget our first ever blog giveaway which will be linked to the book review for your chance to win a free copy of the book.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible Giveaway!

As many of you know I have the privilege of posting book reviews on books I receive from Tyndale Publishers.  Due to this relationship they also ask for me to participate and share news for them.  Currently Tyndale Publishers is hosting a Giveaway at the New Living Translation facebook page.  I'm pleased to pass on this link to you.

Please follow this link, and enter in for your chance to win.  They are daily giving away a Life Application Study Bible, have a weekly giveaway for the Apple Ipad2.  I wish you all the LORD's blessings. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Your Chance to Win “Night of the Living Dead Christian” by Matt Mikalatos

“Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, whose inner beast has driven him dangerously close to losing everything that matters.  Desperate to conquer his dark side, Luther joins forces with Matt to find someone who can help.  Yet their time is running out.  A powerful and mysterious man is on their trail, determined to kill the wolf at all costs…”

Here on December 15 Biblically Born Again and the Emery Family Blog will be conducting our first giveaway.  The prize is a copy of the newest book that I have had the privilege to review for Tyndale Publishers “Night of the Living Dead Christian”.  I want to thank Tyndale and Matt Mikalatos for providing me with this opportunity to not only read this book for my own enjoyment, but also providing a certificate for me to give away a copy of this book to one blessed winner.

            If you would like to enter in for a chance to win this book then here is how you can get your entries.

            1 entry for “Liking” the review on Facebook
            1 entry for sharing the blog
            1 entry for sharing on Twitter
            1 entry for +1 on Google +
            1 entry for sharing on Google +
            5 entries for sharing about this giveaway on your blog
            10 entries for following Biblically Born Again or the Emery Family blog
                        (If you are already a follower just post a comment letting us know for this giveaway)

For confirmation of your entries all that I ask is that you comment on the book review for each of the steps that you have taken.  If you do share about the giveaway on your blog I would like you in the comment to share the link.  As you can see there is a chance for anybody to get 20 entries for this giveaway.  Due to shipping costs this first drawing will be limited to winners in the United States. 

            The drawing for the free copy will be held on December 18, first thing in the morning.  The winner will be posted on both Biblically Born Again and the Emery Family Blog, and their blog will be linked to both blogs as well.  Thank you for being a reader to the Emery Family Blog and Biblically Born Again.

In Christ,
Paul Emery

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Review of “Why Men Hate Going to Church”

It is Sunday morning Jane has the children dressed and ready to go.  She also is ready to head out for morning worship, but where is John? He decided to take the day and go fishing, why? This is the premise of the most recent book that I have read, “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow.  I will admit that when I first got this book I was hoping to find something that I could actually tear apart, and write a strong critique of a book that I didn’t really feel was worth reading.  Oh boy was I ever wrong!  Although I may not agree with all that the author writes about, this book was certainly worth reading.

            On this particular book there is a variety of reviews.   Some people rate it an average book because the author was able to string two sentences together, mind you if that was all a book had I would give it a 1.  Others rise up and praise this book as the newest and best thing to hit men.  I’m probably somewhere in the middle.  So let me tell you why.

            Having been raised in the Church I have noticed that a lot of what David Murrow talks about is true.  There are so many ministries in many local bodies of Christ, but who runs those ministries? Quite frankly, it is the women.  Now I want it known that I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but I do have to ask, “Where are the men?”  This is probably a better understanding of this book then some have given it credit.

            As I said, when I first saw this book listed as a book I could review I immediately looked at a group of reviews, and the formulated my opinion of the book off of that.   Now here I am a week later, and I was at Church watching some of the behaviors of the men in the congregation.  Some have said this book doesn’t present the gospel, which is true, but again that was not the purpose of this book.  The purpose of this book was to find out why Christian men aren’t being the fishers of men that God called them to be. 

            David takes the time to address what he calls a vicious circle that has been impacting the Church since the pre-Victorian era.  By and large Churches will start with a decent percentage of men as well as women, and then slowly the men begin to drift away.  What happens is a Church begins meeting, and then building a building, but then the work left to do is leading a ministry like Children’s Church, or Sunday school, or Bible Study.  As these ministries begin to get established in the Church the women begin to rise up and volunteer to lead this ministry or to lead that ministry.  As more and more women rise to the leadership positions the priorities change as women are more emotional based (again not a bad thing) then men are, and so more and more women are attracted to get their spiritual high, and men are left wondering what has happened.  This is part of the cycle that Mr. Murrow speaks about in this book.

            Now David is not beating up any of these ministries.  His focus is instead on how men and women interact differently, and therefore these ministries which have their purpose lose their priority and men are shut off, and begin to leave the ministry work to the women, only exacerbating the situation that had lead to them being shut off.  In fact David spends the last eleven chapters speaking about how Churches can reengage their men.

            From a personal stand point, this book has made me begin to watch and observe.  Right now our Church is the middle of a building campaign, and so there is a lot for the men to be involved with and participants in at this time.  In fact just last week the men were asked to help get some of the wall trimming placed around the gym/sanctuary floor.  This was a great opportunity for some of us to rise up and help our body of believers.  However, will the men stay engaged?

            Over the past year at least the men’s ministry of our Church has taken off in a way which I couldn’t believe.  As I said earlier, I was raised in Church since the age of 8 and this is the first Men’s ministry that I’ve seen so strong in the Church.  In fact I often brag about how our Men’s Ministry is closer knit, than I’ve witnessed through my wife, than the Women’s Ministry of the Church.  This book has made me ask, “Will it last?”  In this book I think David Murrow does a great job showing how men relate shoulder to shoulder.  I think this book is a tool that every Pastor, Elder Board, Servant Leader, and layman would benefit from.  I think this book is a book that every wife will benefit from as she sees how dragging her husband to church will not make him the spiritual leader that she needs.

            Now that I have offered praise of this book, there is a least one thought that did still bugs me about it; I think some of the comments that David makes are just plain wrong.  I am a man who enjoys dressing up for Church on Sunday morning.  Very seldom will I attend church in anything less than slacks, a nice dress shirt, and a tie.  I find it frustrating that David Murrow seems to imply that the only men truly satisfied with Church are the more feminine.  I was an athlete in high school, and in fact I’m still very competitive, almost to a fault.  I think this concept that a man cannot be both an athlete and an academic is disrespectful and untrue. 

            Every person who professes faith in Jesus Christ should engage in regular time of worship both corporately as well as personally.  I think every believer should have regular times where they dig into the WORD of God, and learn and grow from the author and finisher of our faith Jesus Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit.  I also believe that just because the Church has been feminized is no excuse for a man to not attend.  He is called to be the spiritual leader of his family, not the Church, and even if there are problems, a man still needs to be regularly engaged in the Scriptures.  All this being said I still give this book 4 out of 5.  I believe every believer, male and female, can benefit from this book.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Booksneeze as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”