I’ve now been married for 9 months. Considering how long I intend to be married, I suppose this isn’t a long time. Nonetheless, since we are still renting, I have had the future prospects of mortgages on my mind since tying the knot. (A man’s gotta provide a roof for his family!) So the opportunity to read and review Mind Your Own Mortgage by Robert J. Bernabe was an easy one to accept.

While this is another book taking advantage of the cultural subject matter at hand–reflecting upon the housing boom and resulting crash of the past ten years, the book was both incredibly informative and invaluable for a newbie like myself who is new to the housing market, and I don’t doubt it’s usefulness for those looking for some practical advice for something they may have many years of experience from.

Bernabe spends most of the book peddling his MYOM formula, which is a good formula by the way. But most of all I appreciate the time he spent in encouraging the reader to be a responsible spender, repeatedly reminding the reader that when you have a mortgage, any other unessential purchase you make is costing you much more in the end due to the option of using excess cash to pay down your mortgage, and thus paying less interest through amortization. I look at this as the best possible viewpoint I can have as a future new homeowner.

Bernabe also stresses the importance of shopping based on cost, instead of interest rate and payment. I’m actually excited to apply the knowledge he provides and the system he’s developed aided by the extras made available on MindYourOwnMortgage.com. But having completed the read and wanting to apply what I’ve learned, I’m in an unfortunate position now to see how these American rules might be similar to the Canadian rules of mortgages I find myself in. Most of the ideas will be very similar, but of course, it was the Canadian market that did not crash as hard. So I am anticipating differences in the process.

Now I am left to search for a Canadian equal to Bernabe’s excellent homeowner’s guide. Any suggestions?

The Bible is a unique collection of books… obviously. Language as a whole is incredibly complex, commenced with the tower of Babel itself. So when it comes to translating a language that is 2000 years old (for the New Testament), it’s a great challenge to try and translate, not only words, but idioms, intonations, and known impressions. Perhaps that’s why Islam refuses to hold a translation of the Qur’an as valid, and why there are so many English variations of the original Biblical Scripture.

The Voice is another translation to add to the long list of English translations. Coming from circles including people like Brian McLaren, The Voice was bound to stir up some question or controversy over its validity as a theological source. Such an attempt echoes the controversy surrounding Eugene Peterson’s translation of The Message. So many felt it was not a valid translation of the original language, refusing to even call it a “translation.” “It’s a paraphrase!” I’ve heard proclaimed. Yet any scholar using the original language documents must translate the words into English.

I must say I’m impressed by The Voice. I think it’s a unique and original angle to take on Biblical translation, and in the overview given at the beginning of the book for why the Ecclesia Bible Society chose the methods they did, I could not see any questionable motives for what they have come up with. Turning to creative writers, rather than only theologians to come up with this new version raises some red flags, but it shows in the translation itself that they have tried to attain to the original language very closely. This is one way in which The Voice and The Message differ. While Peterson’s translation has its place among the many versions, it is a “loose” translation where whole sentences and paragraphs are translated as a whole idea. The Voice makes it very clear where they have added words by using italicization, giving it almost an Amplified Bible feel. Commentary is given within the scripture itself, but is clearly divided into text boxes to show the division.

The question then becomes for me, Is this a translation I would use to preach a sermon from, or read aloud in front of a congregation? The answer for me is no.

Anything outside of a small word variation when reading aloud would likely be quickly scoffed at, tossed aside as invalid and not true to its Scriptural origins. Too many would likely be offended and the purpose of using the scripture publicly would be lost. I do, however, think this is a great addition to anyone’s devotional life.

Perhaps this is why Thomas Nelson has clearly labeled this version as “Personal Devotional.” I would recommend The Voice for such purposes.

I think I began reading Where is God? with the wrong expectations. I am a sucker for anyone who attempts to tackle the hard questions that people ask, that Christians and the Bible don’t always have all the answers for. So to read a book tackling the question of where is God?, I’m all in, excited to see how another author may take a look at such a question, when it comes to suffering and hard times so many of us endure going through life.

However, I expected a methodical, theological and exegetical explanation of Scripture on suffering. Instead, I felt like I had paid the very cheap price of $22.99 to meet with a therapist to have him pat me on the back and “there, there, it will be ok,” rather than giving me any real concrete answers to the question of where is God? (Note: I received this book for free.) Now, I’ve never read any other Townsend books, so perhaps I’m simply not accustomed to his writing style, as I assume his other books are very similar in voice. But the book didn’t do much for me.

A few other things I really didn’t like about the book…

  • The book’s timing seems opportunistic. With the economic downturn we’ve experienced over the past 2 years, there are many people who have attempted to take advantage of the self-help genre, as so many people are looking for answers to the tough situations they find themselves in because of the economy. And I feel like Townsend saw an opportunity to take advantage of that. Does that make it wrong to right this book at this time? Perhaps not. But I’d have more respect for the book and the author if I knew it was stemmed from, for example, someone who has gone through a hard time, and wrote a book of hope to share with others.
  • Townsend at times implies in the chapter “The God who suffers with me” that God is in fact experiencing and enduring the same pain and suffering people endure going through abuse and hard times. However, this is not Scripturally true. And I don’t see the value in lying and telling someone God is suffering with them while they suffer… just to make them feel better. (p. 80-81)
  • Townsend’s overall interpretation of Scripture seems somewhat misled. For example, on p. 90 Townsend refers to the story of Joseph in Genesis stating, “There is no way Joseph could have foreseen God working behind the scenes at the time of his suffering.” But making such a claim that there is NO way Joseph could have had faith in God and believed God was working behind the scenes, even if Joseph had not yet seen any positive results from suffering… we simply cannot make such a suggestion based on Scripture, and in fact I believe the story implies quite the opposite–Joseph trusted in God’s sovereign plan for his life, and thus pressed on.
  • Another example on p. 95, Townsend states “The Bible affirms that God uses hard times to make us better, even going so far as to teach us to be happy about our circumstances,” then quoting Romans 5:3-5. When I first read this, my first reaction was to say, NO, in fact, the Bible teaches us to rejoice/have joy even while enduring suffering. But then a few sentences later, Townsend states, “…the verse doesn’t say that we must feel happy when we hurt.” So in fact, I agreed with him, but the way he decided to setup this idea was confusing, contradicting himself within a matter of sentences. As a result, I lost trust in the author as a reliable source on the subject.

A few things I liked about the book…

  • The Appendix Townsend includes in the back lists all of the books I thought this book would compare to on the subject of suffering and endurance. So I recommend reviewing the list for further and deeper reading.
  • Although I don’t like this book as an overall source on the subject, I would be free to give the book out to someone who was going through a hard time or some kind of suffering in their life to bring them some guidance along with my own words of encouragement.

Overall the book was just OK. Nothing to write home about. And very shallow, surface-level, fluffy content. But perhaps that’s what Townsend was going for.

RELEVANT MAGAZINE :: Review: The DaVinci Code:

Check out this article over at one of my favourite sites, RELEVANT magazine. This article is a discussion of the new movie starring Tom Hanks, the DaVinci Code.

I love reading the comments people make about this movie. There has been so much controversy and opposition from various church leaders, calling it heresy and so on. I am yet to see the movie myself. I have two friends who have seen it and they said it was a great movie. I think I'm a bit more critical with movies than they are, but they REALLY liked the movie. So it can't be that bad.

I was recently reading another article on RELEVANT that was discussing this controversy and the author made a good point that I agree with: The reason why these church Continue reading “”