The Eternal Current: A Review

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A few years ago I attended a service called The Practice for the first time. A friend of mine recommended the service to me, so I decided to go and check it out. The first few times I went, it was because of who was speaking that night, someone like Shauna Niequist, Sarah Bessey, or Ruth Haley Barton. After a couple of times, I found myself wanting to attend because I was drawn to the service instead of just the speaker. Now, I look forward to attending every couple of months as a kind of a personal retreat after busy seasons of ministry.

The Practice is a service and a community that embraces the idea that “A Sunday service is not the main event but rather a training ground to help all of us become people who can live the way Jesus would if he were in our place.” Because of that we should engage in practices together that prepare us to walk in this world as followers of Jesus. Every service is centered around liturgy and practice and sends you with a charge to live out what you’ve just learned. It’s this idea of a practice based faith that Aaron Niequist writes about in his book The Eternal Current. Continue reading

Saturate the World: A Review of Jeff Vanderstelt’s new book Saturate

How do we make disciples?

This question should be at the center of everything that a church does. How do we live out the great commission that Jesus gave us? The strategy for many is to get people into the church building so that they can be taught. We want them in discipleship classes, Sunday schools, Sunday services, and sometimes Sunday night services. Before I go on, I should admit that there’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. I am a full time pastor, and I teach some of these kinds of classes. The problem is that by themselves, they fall short. The heart of discipleship is teaching people to be like Jesus and doing this in a classroom alone means that we don’t have the chance to show people how to live. People hear us speaking, but don’t get to see us live it. That’s why life on life discipleship is important, and to do really be able to do that we have to be like Jesus all the time. Our lives need to be saturated with Jesus and his gospel. Continue reading

Books, Blogs, & Bargains

Books:

0eee1-awakening-cliff-warden-paperback-cover-artIt’s summer and that means you’re probably looking for a couple of good fiction books to read. If that’s the case, then I recommend picking up The Awakening and the recently released sequel The ReunionI should probably tell you that my uncle wrote these books, but I’m not just recommending them because it’s my uncle.

2Q==The Awakening is a sci-fi thriller about an young man name Art who finds himself at the center of a bioengineering controversy. As he begins to look into his past; he discovers much more than he ever bargained for. I’m excited to read The Reunion when the Kindle version is released on July 1st. The best part is that The Awakening is super cheap right now and you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited or through the Prime Lending Library.

Blogs:

Moving from Liking Mission to Living Mission – Missional Living is something that we talk about a lot, but how do move from talking missionally to living missionally?

The Lost Art of Free Time – We love to get stuff done, but this article shows that free time and rest are very important.

Bargains:

Books, Blogs, & Bargains

Books:

This week I want to share with you a couple of books that I’m looking forward to reading and I think are definitely worth checking out.

2Q==The first book is Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgment by Hugh Halter. I’ve read a couple of Hugh Halter’s books and believe that there is a lot of wisdom in what he has to say. Looking at the description of this book, I believe that this is a well timed book that we need to take to heart. The world is a crazy place, and I believe we need a little more love and a little less judgment from the church. Continue reading

Books, Blogs, & Bargains

I want to be more intentional about sharing with you what I’ve been reading, both in print and online. That being said, here are some books, blogs and bargains.

Books:

17234575Recently I watched The Giver. This lead me to reread The Giver and subsequently to discover that there are in fact three more books that follow The Giver. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading these books. I know that they considered kids books, but there’s a lot packed into these fairly short books. They offer up some interesting commentary on society when you compare the stories to the in which world we live. They’re quick reads, but I bet that you won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Book Recommendations

I love books and I love to tell people about books. Here are some ebooks that are currently on sale (I don’t know for how long) and are very much worth your time & money. I don’t know when the book sales end, but you should definitely check them out.

Introverts-in-the-churchIntroverts in the Church

Around the time that I graduated from college, I realized that I was an introvert. Now this doesn’t mean that I am a recluse or extraordinarily awkward around people. Instead, it has more to do with how I process thoughts and get my rest and it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I really began to understand what this meant. Continue reading

A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis

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There are many biographies of C.S. Lewis out there and more have been released recently. I can’t speak for all of them, but this one is certainly one worth reading. A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis is not your ordinary biography. Devin Brown has set out to paint a picture of C.S. Lewis’s spiritual life. He admits that he is not setting out to write a lengthy and definitive biography of C.S. Lewis. Instead Brown writes that his goal is, “to focus closely on the story of Lewis’s spiritual journey and his search for the object of the mysterious longing he called Joy.” Continue reading

God’s Favorite Place on Earth

cover27746-largeOften times when we approach the story of scripture, we don’t realize the depth of the story that we are entering. When Jesus was here on earth, there was so much more going on that what is recorded in scripture. John even says so at the end of his gospel. It’s that depth that Frank Viola is exploring in God’s Favorite Place on Earth. The story element of his book is written in first person narrative from the perspective of Lazarus. Through the voice of Lazarus, Viola writes how Bethany was Jesus’ favorite place to stay when he lived on earth. He was welcomed by the people, developed deep friendships, performed a great miracle, and even ascended to heaven in the town of Bethany. After writing the story half, the other half of each chapter is a reflection on the text and application to our lives today. Continue reading

Exploring Narnia

Originally published on Englewood Review of Books.

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Review of The Lion’s World: A Journey Into the Heart of Narnia by Rowan Williams

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Recently, while discussing the role of fictional stories in spiritual formation with my students, I found myself returning to the works of C.S. Lewis as an example. While I did not discuss The Chronicles of Narnia, I can undeniably say that the fictional works of Lewis have shaped me spiritually. From a young age, I have read and reread the Narnian stories. They have become a part of my spiritual formation and of many others as well. Lewis has had this effect on Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, as well. He also confesses to repeatedly reading and studying the Lewis’ works and writes of Lewis, “He is someone that you do not quickly come to the end of – as a complex personality and as a writer and thinker” (xi). In The Lion’s World, Williams explores this complexity of Lewis in conjunction with the depth of the Land of Narnia that Lewis created. He doesn’t set out to “decode images or to uncover a system;” instead he aims “to show how certain central themes hang together – a concern to do justice to the difference of God, the disturbing and exhilarating otherness of what we encounter in the life of faith” (6). Continue reading

Knowing when not to Quit

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Don’t let the title of the book fool you, Jon Acuff doesn’t want you to quit your day job. Well, actually he does, just not right now. Writing from his own experience of repeatedly quitting, Acuff’s book Quitter is an encouragement not to quit yet. We all have dreams of the jobs that we’d like to have and it seems like that pesky day job just gets in our way, so we think about quitting. As a writer and public speaker, Acuff gets it. He has toughed out (or at least tried to tough out) his fair share of jobs that he did not like. The problem is quitting often brings more problems than it solves. Quitting causes us to answer to all the bills and costs that were covered by that job that we didn’t like. While quitting your current job to pursue your dream job may sound wonderful, it often makes it harder to pursue your dream. Instead, Jon Acuff shares his experience of finally learning to tough it out in a job that wasn’t his dream in order to get to his dream. He offers advice on how to work your dream around your day job and how to look for ways for your current job to prepare you for your dream. Rather than dreading your job and wishing you could quit, you are instead laying the foundation for your dream job so that you can be ready for it when it becomes possible. Continue reading