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

What Should the Church Look Like?

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What should the church look like? Who should make up the church? These are very important questions that most of us don’t stop to ask. Many would answer that Christians should make up the church. Some would say that the broken, needy, and hurting should be in the church. These are good answers, but Scot McKnight wants to help us answer this question. In his recent book A Fellowship Of Differents, his answer to the question, “What then is the church supposed to be?” is a mixed salad. The church should be made up of a different people. What most of us see and are accustomed to, however, is a group of people who are all relatively similar. While the church that I grew up in had different kinds of people, the overwhelming majority of them seemed to be like me. Continue reading

A Brief Reflection on Kingdom Conspiracy

What is the Kingdom of God?

9781441221476As Scot McKnight explains, there are basically two schools of thought. One says that doing “kingdom work” is all about doing good works and bringing social justice. The other says the kingdom is all about the redemptive work about God. In his new book Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight describes a third way for understanding the Kingdom of God. That way is through the church. Essentially he writes that the Kingdom and the Church are one in the same. When you talk about the kingdom of God on earth you are talking about the church. There are many out there who would cringe at this thought. I used to be one of them. Just the word kingdom seems so much more grand than the church. As McKnight points out though, kingdom seems so much better because we look to the end of the world to define the kingdom and we look to the here and now to define the church. In this light the church looks bad and the kingdom looks great. In reality, Jesus is already king and his people are the church. Continue reading

Do you need to be Re-Evangelized?

What does it mean to be an evangelical?

I’m guessing that you’ve answered this question by identifying a certain set of political views. If you did, Lance Ford would argue that you’re defining the term incorrectly. Instead of defining Evangelical by politics, Ford writes, “An authentic Evangelical should be a ‘good news’ person. And not just any old good news. This is about the good news of the Kingdom of heaven—the good news that Jesus brought, lived, and taught.” This is the basis of Lance Ford’s new book Revangelical. At the message at the heart of his book is that Evangelicals need to be re-evangelized.

Like many of us, Ford grew up in the politically conservative evangelical world. The problem that he discovered, however, is that this definition of Evangelical doesn’t always line up with the good news of Jesus Christ. He writes, “Many of our positions on issues such as immigration, the poor, and justifications for war have been formed more from a desire for economic stability, self-preservation, and national interest than from the perspective and edicts of God’s Kingdom and the teaching of Jesus.“ Instead of basing what we believe on the Gospel, life, and message of Jesus, we choose to believe based on political parties and radio or television personalities.

Now, evangelicals need to become Revangelicals. Ford is calling us to reorient our lives to Jesus. By the very definition of word, an evangelical (which comes from the Greek word for Gospel) should be someone who lives by the Gospel and as Ford writes, “take the words of Jesus seriously.” We need to re-evangelize ourselves and recommit to making Jesus central to our lives.

While the culture I grew up in wasn’t nearly as over-the-top conservative as Ford’s upbringing in Texas, I was raised in a politically conservative environment. I understand where he is coming from and agree with his premise that large number of people in the American Church has valued conservative politics over the words of Jesus. This is because many have allowed their politics to inform their view of Jesus instead of Jesus informing their view of politics.

To that end, this book doesn’t hold back and calls out a culture that has put the words of Jesus in second place at best. I think a lot of people need to read this book and really take the challenge to heart. Honestly, all of us need to ask the question of whether or not we value the words of Jesus first and foremost. Because, to be fair, there are politically liberal Christians who have done the same things as conservatives. The point of this book, however, is not to defame a specific political party and raise up another as being better, it is to help us recognize that as Christians we are to follow Jesus first.

Ultimately this book calls into question our discipleship. Are you a follower of Jesus first, or have you let certain political and social views reign supreme in your life? Whether you are conservative, liberal, or moderate, if you are a Christian, we all need to be careful to follow Christ first, and Revangelical is a good reminder to choose Jesus.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TyndaleHouse Publishers through netgalley.com. 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.”

Justice for Orphans

As the uncle of two adopted children and friend of many who have and have been adopted, I can say that adoption has changed my life for the better. I’ve seen the way that adoption has changed lives, and I’m grateful that families have the ability to adopt children who otherwise have no family. Because of what I have seen, it wasn’t hard for me to believe that adoption is one of the best ways to keep children from growing up in orphanages. It wasn’t until I read Orphan Justice that I realized that adoption wasn’t the only way to enact social justice on the behalf of Orphans. Continue reading

A Disciple’s Task

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Recently I’ve written about a Disciple’s schedule, work, and home. It seems appropriate to add this book review to the discussion of what a disciple looks like. Make, Mature, Multiply is a new book from Gospel Centered Discipleship. If you’re not familiar with GCD you should definitely spend some time on their sight and check out some of the books they have published, this is a great resource for anyone who wants to stay focused on the Gospel and focus on making disciples.

When Jesus left he gave his disciples a task. He told them to go and make disciples. At the heart of this book is that call and what it means to live it out. From the title of the book, you know the three focuses of the book. We are to make, mature, and multiply disciples. Continue reading

Coming to see Ourselves as Sent

71uf76aVwrLOriginally published on Englewood Review of Books.

A Review of Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians

Kim Hammond and Darren

Paperback: IVP Books, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

While there are many different ways to do church, there are two postures are that are competing for dominancy in the Church today. In their new book Sentness, Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw identify these two postures as, “a church of consumers, demanding goods and services, and a church of missionaries, sent and sending into the world” (11). It’s not hard to guess from the title of the book the posture that they believe the church should adopt. continue reading

The Importance of Incarnation

One of the most important parts of the story of Christ is the incarnation. God takes on flesh and moves into the neighborhood. Jesus invests himself in the story of the world in order to restore the world to the way it was. Hugh Halter writes in his new book Flesh, “The incarnation is a story of passion. God longed for everything to be back the way it was, and therefore He sent His Son Jesus to remedy the cycle of sin so that everything could be made new!” For most Christians, however, the importance of the incarnation ends with the ascension of Jesus. He was here in flesh, died, rose again, and then left. End of incarnation. Halter, however, writes Flesh to help us understand the lasting importance of Jesus’ incarnation into the world. The fact that Jesus came into the world and lived a human life has lasting significance not only terms of salvation, but also means a great deal for us still living a human life in this world. Not only does Jesus come to remedy the cycle of sin, but he comes to show us what it means to be human. Halter writes that Jesus did not only come to die, but he came to live. Many of us view, “Jesus through His death on the cross instead of His life in the neighborhood.” Continue reading

People of Peace

I’ve been writing a lot about speaking about Jesus and being an ambassador for Christ. This is something that can be extremely intimidating. What I’ve been learning recently is that it doesn’t have to be.

When most of us think of evangelism we probably think about walking up to strangers and saying, “Hey, do you know about Jesus?” or “Do you know what would happen to you if you die tonight?” While this is challenging to people and can produce results in the right environment, I know from experience that more often then not this doesn’t result in very much. Sharing the gospel is more effective when done in relationships and done over time. Again this sounds intimidating. It involves going out and developing a relationship with someone new. While we think that this may be difficult, you probably actually already know someone and have a relationship with someone that would be willing to listen. continue reading