Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Prodigal God DVD

Followers of CPYU will know that we are big fans of Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. His latest books, The Reason for God and The Prodigal God have been reviewed and discussed in our speaking and writing. Both books won Bookshelf Book Awards for 2008.

We are exciting to let you know that Zondervan has recently released a DVD small group/discussion resource around the themes found in Keller's The Prodigal God. It is outstanding. The film quality is very professional and the message is illustrated powerfully. There are also discussion guides to assist the small group experience. From the back cover:

"In six captivating DVD video sessions, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller opens your eyes to the powerful message of Jesus' best-known—and least understood—parable. The Prodigal God is a revelation of the very heart of the gospel: God's radical love for sinners of every kind. Taking you and your small group or church beyond the traditional focus on the wayward younger son, Dr. Keller helps you glean insights from each of the characters in Jesus' parable: the irreligious younger son, the moralistic elder son, and the Father who lavishes his love on both. The Prodigal God will challenge the devout and the skeptic alike to see Christianity in a whole new way."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not So Funny

Reviewed by Walt Mueller

Chris Farley was one funny guy. But that humor masked an individual who was much more complex than someone who always was able to generate a laugh. When he died from an overdose at the age of 33, people wrote him off as another celebrity train wreck. It was like John Belushi all over again. Concerned that his brother would never be truly known as anything other than the overweight star of Saturday Night Live and several movies, Tom Farley decided to tell Chris’ story in The Chris Farley Story: A Biography in Three Acts (Viking, 2008).

Why would a ministry concerned with matters of faith and culture recommend a Hollywood bio? In this case it’s because The Chris Farley Story forces us to examine many of the emerging and oftentimes sad realities of living life in a celebrity-obsessed culture—whether one is a celebrity or celebrity watcher. Tom Farley wants readers to know that Chris was not only a comedic genius, but that he was a very real person who grew up struggling with the realities of living in a family crippled by addiction. Farley was earnest, sincere and a genuinely caring person who dealt with his own insecurities by trying to make other people laugh.

This hilarious and heartbreaking portrait not only tells Chris’ story, but includes more than a hundred exclusive interviews and observations from people who knew Chris the best, including David Spade, Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin, Chris’ priest and his brothers. Readers should not approach this book as entertainment. Rather, it’s a case study in humanity, the ills of depravity and the desire for ultimate redemption. If you have a heart, this is a book that will make you grieve what we’ve become, grieve the brokenness that runs deep and wide in our culture, and see the need for ultimate redemption through Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Will College Students Learn?

Millions of students started a new college year last week. Here’s a good question: What will students learn?

A few years ago I reviewed an interesting and important book by former Dean of Harvard College, Harry Lewis. In Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, Lewis looks at the state of higher education in America through the story of Harvard College. For better or worse, Harvard is looked to as one of the premier colleges in America and around the world. As Harvard goes, so will much of higher learning around the globe. According to Lewis, colleges in America (Harvard included), “have forgotten that the fundamental job of undergraduate education is to turn” teenagers into adults, “to help them grow up, to learn who they are, to search for a larger purpose for their lives, and to leave college as better human beings.”

Central to Lewis’ concern is that colleges have gotten away from giving students a well-rounded education. To prove his point, Lewis has launched a website (What Will They Learn?) that helps “college shoppers” better understand what is and isn’t being taught at colleges and universities across the country. The website is easy to use. It simply tells you how much a school costs and whether or not there are required courses in the following areas: English composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and science. Why does this matter? From the website:

According to a recent study, only 31 percent of college graduates can read and understand a complex book. In another recent survey, only 24 percent of employers thought graduates of four-year colleges were "excellently prepared" for entry-level positions. College seniors perennially fail tests of their civic and historical knowledge. And rates of leisure reading have taken a nosedive. What you see on What Will They Learn? illuminates why these statistics are so dismal: Students seldom learn what they are not expected to learn. This is because our colleges and universities have largely abandoned a coherent, content-rich general education curriculum… We examine general education because these requirements encompass the courses the vast majority of students must take, regardless of major. Ideally, these courses—commonly known as the core curriculum—ensure that students encounter broad, foundational knowledge in both the arts and sciences, knowledge that provides the intellectual backbone for lifelong learning and informed citizenship.

The website gives schools a letter grade based on the required courses taken by students. It is fascinating browse. You will be surprised by how poorly most schools are graded. Now, I’m sure the website will be met with criticism, especially from highly selective colleges that receive an “F.” But it is a good conversation starter, to be sure: Just was exactly are students (parents) paying so much money for?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Study Guide for The Space Between!

If they aren’t there already, your children will someday be teenagers. Sadly, parenting teens has become one of the most dreaded and misunderstood phases in the exciting journey of raising children. Much of this fear and dread is rooted in our own memories of what it was like to be a teenager once ourselves. It wasn’t easy then. The parenting fear factor gets amped up a few notches when you consider that the pressures, challenges, problems, choices, and expectations facing teenagers in today’s world are more complex than for previous generations.

The Space Between: A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Development, by CPYU President Walt Mueller, sets out to help parents understand what kids in today’s culture face as they pass through the God-ordained process of growth and change. Believing that our fears can be alleviated through developing a deeper understanding of normal adolescent development, The Space Between offers a practical and hope-filled overview of adolescence that is built on principles from God’s Word along with years of experience in both studying youth culture and raising children. An admitted “fellow-struggler” along with all other parents, Walt walks readers through his research and own experience to offer a vulnerable window into the developmental world of today’s teens.

The Space Between
Study Guide is a great resource to use with:
  • Parents’ Sunday School
  • Small groups
  • Retreats
  • Neighborhood Study
  • Christian School Parents’
  • Youth Group Parents’
  • Individual reading and
  • College and Seminary
    Youth Ministry Classes