the blog

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Books of 2014


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Last year was the year of the audio book for me. My friend Brad and I have an argument about reading vs listening. I still feel like I am cheating when I say “I read” a book when I actually only listened it. This doesn’t diminish listening to books, as you will see I listened to a lot of them BUT they are definitely 2 different things.

Anyway, here are the books I took in in 2014…

I READ ::

Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Bureggemann
Creed by Winfield Bevins
Prayer; Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser
A Spirituality of Living by Henri Nouwen
( I read this twice this year and have read it in previous years. It’s so good!)
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
(This is also a repeat, I read this once in college. It’s profound!)
Discerning the Will of God; An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making by Timothy Gallagher

I read bit of A LOT of other books but these are the only ones I made it through. Honestly, they were all pretty amazing. The Brueggeman book and the Rolheiser book are ones that I will be recommending for years to come! Nouwen is already on that list. Timothy Gallagher has a whole series of books in his Ignatian Spirituality for everyday life series. They are really good, I like them a lot but they aren’t amazing. Worth ready, yes! But I won’t be buying copies for all my friends or anything. I ready half of his Discerning the Spirits book as well. Also good not great.

Now here is my list of audio books. Because the list is so long I’m going to start with my top 5.

Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile, the paperback is on my shelf. But then I saw it on Audible, DONE! And it was really good, so good in fact, I will still pick it up and actually read it sometime. Loved it. I learn to love Eugene Peterson more more… I have 2 books of his in my Audible queue right now!

Malcom Gladwell!
David and GoliathThe Tipping PointBlink
I’m not sure which of these I liked better. They were all extremely fascinating! I probably like David and Goliath the least but again, they were all good. Malcolm Gladwell is probably my favorite author to listen to. His books are packed with amazing stories and he is always drawing such incredible conclusions. Yea, he’s amazing! I plan on listening to more of this stuff this year as well!

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
Rohr is a bit crazy at times. He says some stuff that I’m like, “Really, that seems a bit weird.” But more often then not he is spot on and draws me into the deep end of life and faith! I’m currently re-listening to his book The Art of Letting go. I’m listening slowly and take through notes this time through! Falling Upward, also absolutely phenomenal!

Vagabonding By Rolf Potts
This was recommended by a couple people and it didn’t disappoint. I now want to go travel the world but other than that, the call to simplicity and openness. The call to be a traveler and not a tourist. These are all things that the follower of Jesus should listen to, take to heart and, by the grace of God attempt to live! It was a great book! I’ll definitely get a paper copy and read it at some point!

The Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen
I’m not exactly sure what captured me about this book and this story but I was captured. Super interesting story about the banana man and the start of the banana industry.

Here is the rest of my list — with a 1 – 5 star rating!

Present Perfect by Gregory Body (**** )
The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography by Alan Jacobs (**** .5)
Bad Religion by Ross Douthat (**** )
Too Busy Not to Pray (**** )
Evil and the Justice of God (****.5)
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry (****)
What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell (**** )
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig (***.5 )
The Holy Spirit and Power (Sermons) by John Wesley (***  )
The King Jesus Gospel (**** )
7 Men by Eric Metaxas (***.5  )
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (***  )
Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley (***  )
The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (***  )
Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola & George Barna (*    )
The Book Thief by Markus Zusah (***.5  )

There ya go! What’s on my 2015 list…
I’ll tell you soon!

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Epiphany — Let’s keep it going!


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Advent seemed to gain some traction this year! Guys like Louie Giglio and others spoke and wrote about Advent, even calling for people to “bring Advent back.” Which among some of my friends was a bit humors. Our thought is that Advent didn’t really go anywhere, you did. But regardless, it’s great that communities are embracing the rich resource that the church calendar offers us.

Let’s keep it going!

At the end my Advent book that was published 2 years ago I left the reader with this though on Epiphany as a springboard to continue their journey through the year with the church and her calendar.

Epiphany

epiphany_001

The Season of Epiphany begins after the Twelve Days of Christmas and continues until Lent, 40 days before Easter. What exactly is it, and how do we observe it? Well, we’ve all had an “aha” moment when the lights go on and everything makes sense. That’s an epiphany. It can happen slowly, like when the lights are gradually turned up in a room, or suddenly, when everything goes from black to full color and light in a moment.

I’ve had epiphanies take place both ways but it’s always God who turns on the light! He reveals Himself and makes it clear that life will never be the same. This experience is different for every individual, but it’s all a revelation of God’s self.

Thus, Epiphany is the season in the church calendar when we watch and listen as God is quietly—or sometimes not so quietly—revealed before us once again. Sometimes, even when we try hard to do so, we just don’t see God in our everyday lives or in the events of our world. Epiphany gives us the time and resources to watch, wait, listen, look and be open to the revelation of God. Watching and waiting are practices we can intentionally carry over from our Advent journey because Epiphany is a season that reminds us God constantly wants to reveal Himself to us. He longs to turn on the lights, connect the dots and show us the way!

The Lectionary will guide us through three key Scriptures readings during Epiphany. We traditionally focus on the Magi, who literally had the bright light of a star turned on above them to reveal what God was doing in the world. We also consider the baptism of Jesus, which more fully reveals who Jesus is, the Son of God. The season concludes with pondering the story of the Transfiguration, the scene that gives us a glimpse at the pure radiance of Jesus, the light of the world, as He reveals Himself to some of the disciples. Epiphany is a season to really explore these aspects of Jesus’ story that reveal Him in new ways.

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So there you go! I hope this could be a great springboard to guide you through this next season of the church!
If you want more reading for flection during Epiphany check out these resources. And keep an eye out toward the end of 2015 for a new resource I’m putting together. I can’t wait to share it! More on that coming soon.

The Book of Common Prayer
(Of course! The reading and prayers are all here.)

A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God
(This is a great resource that follows the liturgical calendar. It includes explanations of the seasons, daily devotional liturgy with scriptures, prayers and reading for reflection. It’s a must have!)

Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year by Robert Webber
(Webber is the forerunner for all us “Evangelicals on the Canterbury trail.” This is a really good resource on the calendar and it’s significance. Less devotional and more informational but great nonetheless.)

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross
(I haven’t fully got into this resource but it seems great and what I have read in it I really liked. Check it out!)

 

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In The Name Of Jesus: Reflection of Christian Leadership


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IMG_0659I recently picked up Henri Nouwen’s book In The Name Of Jesus; Reflection of Christian Leadership. I’ve been reading and dialoging over another leadership book with some folks at church and this book came to my mind. It’s a very different angle on leadership and is structured largely around Jesus and his temptations in the desert that took place right before he stepped into his earthly ministry / leadership role. The thought is that if Jesus faced these temptations as he was getting ready to lead so will we.

Here are the temptations as Nouwen sees them and the corresponding discipline for said temptation…

* The temptation to be relevant // the discipline of contemplative prayer
* The temptation to be spectacular // the discipline of confession and forgiveness
* The temptation to be powerful // the discipline of theological reflection

I think these temptations in Christian leadership, really any kind of leadership, are spot on! I’m have see then, experienced other leaders who have given into them and have struggle with them myself.

Nouwen provides great thoughts and challenges as he reflects on Jesus’ life and his own life. He largely draws from his experience as a priest living with and serving alongside folks who are mentally handicapped in his community L’Arche .

For me, this book raises some extremely helpful questions and challenges some very common notions that are prominent for myself and for anyone in leadership but are questions and challenges that I think every Christian leader will be better for having engaged.

Here are just a few quotes and thoughts.
Really I wanted to record these quotes for myself, as reminders and recurring challenges to the ever present temptations I will face as a leader in the modern day church. Since I was typing up some of my favorites I thought I would share here as well.
ENJOY!

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“I asked myself, ‘What decisions have you been making lately and how are they a refection of the way you sense the future?’ Somehow I have to trust that God is at work in me and that the way I am being moved to new inner and outer places is part of a larger movement of which i am only a very small part.”
— Intro, p.9

(personally for me that is HUGE these days and I really want to live into this and believe it deep in my bones! But it’s hard, right?!?!)

“I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of human life.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.17

“The leader of the future will be the one who dares to claim his irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows him or her to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.22

“The question is not: how many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? How can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred. It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.24
(As like most of these quotes I could keep going. This is a really great little chance though!)

“Through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own and God’s heart. Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place, and often surrounded by sounds of violence and war. Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keeps suggesting the opposite.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.29

“I have found over and over again how hard it is to be truly faithful to Jesus when I am alone. I need my brothers and sisters to pray with me, to speak with me about the spiritual task at hand, and to challenge me to stay pure in mind, heart, and body.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.41

“Somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.43

“Medicine, psychiatry, and social work all offer us models in which “service”takes place in a one-way direction. Someone serves, someone else is being served, and be sure not to mix up the roles! But how can anyone lay down his life for those which whom he is not even allowed to enter into a deep personal relationship? Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to other as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of Life.
We are not healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Therefore, true ministry must be mutual.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.43-44

“The leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership, in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who need the people as much as they need him or her.”
From this it is clear that a whole new type of leadership is asked for in the Church of tomorrow, a leadership which is not modeled on the power games of the world, but on the servant-leader, Jesus, who came to give his life for the salvation of many.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.44-45

“When ministers and priests live their ministry mostly in their heads and relate to the Gospel as a set of valuable ideas to be announced, the body quickly takes revenge by screaming loudly for affection and intimacy. Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, that is to live in the body—not only in the their own bodies but also in the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.48

“Ministers and priests are also called to be full members of their communities, are accountable to them and need their affection and support, and are called to minister with their whole being, including their wounded selves.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.49

(He goes on here to talk about ministers and priests needing a truly safe place to share with people who do not need them. This is where some of the tension comes in, right. Most ministers and priests use this tension to disconnect themselves and have a good “professional distance” from their parish. I think that can’t be the best and only option. Thoughts?)

“I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.57
(And he isn’t simply spiritualizing and talking about being led by Jesus. That’s part of it be even the leader needs to let their community lead them from time to time.)

“The temptation to consider power an apt instrument fro proclamation of the Gospel is the greatest of all.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.58

(I think of the recent implosion of a certain mega church illustrated this perfectly.)

“…we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.
What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.59

“Here we touch the most important quality of Christian leadership in the future. It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is make manifest. I, obviously, am not speaking about a psychologically weak leadership in which the Christian leader is simply the passive victim of the manipulations of his milieu. No, I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love. It is true spiritual leadership Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.63-64

“Wealth and riches prevent us from truly discerning the way of Jesus. Paul writes to Timothy: ‘People who long to be rich are a pretty to trail; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and harmful ambitions which plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Tim. 6:9).

“If there is any hope for the Church in the future, it will be hope for a poor Church in which its leaders are willing to be led.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.64

“The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained—through prayer, study, and careful analysis—to manifest the diving event of God’s saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.68

(I would completely agree with this but might also point out I don’t think this necessarily means a seminary degree or Phd. It might, but it might not.)

“I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility. It is the image of the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader. May that image fill your hearts with hope, courage, and confidence as you anticipate the next century.”

(I typed up all these quotes. There may be some typos, I did it fast! Go pick up the book to get the official goods!)

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Solitude is where community begins…


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I had the opportunity to join some folks I work with on a retreat over the last couple work days. Our family ministry team at Christ Church snuck away and spend some time together at a really cool log-cabin retreat / wedding venue just North East of Plano. The location was actually in McKinney, which is the town I live in. It was about 15 away from my house.

We had a great time of praying alone and together, talking about things ministry related and even more importantly, things related to our personal formation as people who follow Jesus. I am very thankful I work with folks who find this type of engagement important and “productive” in the most meaningful of ways.

Nouwen Quote

This is a quote I pulled from a little book we read during our personal prayer / retreat time and then talked about when we came back together. The book the quote is from is entitled A Spirituality of Living  by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I’ve read this book a couple time before and I’m sure I’ve shared a quote or 2 from it’s pages right here on this blog. Maybe even that quote I put in that picture… it’s resonates so deeply I could post it once a month for many months to come and it would do my soul, my inner life good! (the picture is one I took on location at the retreat.)

I even took a little spiritual temperament test (we all took it and chatted about it). Contemplative wasn’t my top temperament but just behind it. Hmmm… I’m not sure that test would have looked remotely similar a few years ago! That’s exciting to me. I think, with God’s help, my spiritual directors help, some good & godly relationships and the significant growth that only the Spirit of God can bring about I am learning to heard my monkeys and order my desires rightly around Jesus and the life he desires to live in and through me. I have lightyears to go, I am still totally and completely a novice (in the proper monastic sense) but I’m on the path and for this A.D.H.D. kid (recently diagnosed! 😉  that is a really big deal.

Screen Shot 2012-09-11 at 10.18.04 PMA few more from Nouwen… 

Solitude is being with God and God alone. Is there space for that in our lives?

In and through the Spirit we become participants in the communion of love that Jesus shares with his Father. That is the mystery of our redemption and the promise of the spiritual life.

The way I would like to define communion here is that Jesus spent the night listening to the Father calling him the Beloved. (Luke 3:22 & 9:35)…
It is with this knowledge of being Beloved that Jesus could walk freely into a world in which he was not treated as the Beloved.

To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of our being and permeate our whole life. Who am I? I am the beloved. If we are not claiming that voice as the deepest truth of our being, then we cannot walk freely in this world.

Real freedom to live in this world comes from hearing clearly the truth about who we are, which is that we are the beloved. That’s what prayer is about. And that’s why is is so crucial and not just a nice thing to do once in a while. It is the essential attitude that creates in us the freedom to love other people not because they are going to love us back but because we are so loved and out of the abundance of that love we want to give.
This is where ministry starts…

Why is it so important that solitude come before community? If we do not know we are the beloved sons and daughters of God, we are going to expect someone in the community to make us feel that we are. We will expect someone to give us that perfect, unconditional love. They cannot.

Community is solitude greeting solitude: “I am the beloved; you are the beloved. Together we can build a home.”

The word discipleship and the word discipline  are the same word—that has always fascinated me. Once we have made the choice to say, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus,” the questions is, “What disciplines will help me remain faithful to that choice?” If we want to be disciples of Jesus, we have to live a disciplined life.

It takes real discipline to let God and not the world be the Lord of our mind.

A spiritual life without discipline is impossible.

Solitude, community, ministry—these disciplines help us to live a fruitful life. Remain in Jesus; he remains in you. You will bear many fruits, you will have great joy, and your joy will be complete.  (John 15)

(Just a few of the great quotes from the book! You should really check it out!)

 

Discuss

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Prayer : why would I read other peoples prayers…


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Prayer is a constant learning curve in my life. I most times feel pretty inept at praying and despite my many hours of practicing over the past 10 – 20 years, I still pretty much feel like a novice. This is why I am often reading or at least flipping through some book on prayer, how to pray, or creative prayer practices. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Ignatius inspired resources like these OR these OR this, uber helpful!

I picked up this very small book by Ronald Rolheiser on prayer a month or so ago. I finally starting reading it and wow! it’s really good! It’s pretty basic and accessible but really really good. It doesn’t dumb anything down or speak in juvenile language. I’m about halfway done and already think it will be the kind of book I get lots of copies of and hand out to people in my church some day. Rolheiser is a Catholic guy, a priest to be precise but so far in the book he is writing to a wide audience with very little Catholic specific verbiage. (His book Holy Longing is also really great and to say it’s worth the read would be an understatement!)

I wanted to share this little bit from his book. I often get the question, “why would you read other peoples prayers? Shouldn’t prayer just be from the heart? Simply you talking with God.” And of course that is part of prayer but I always try and speak to the experience of having a hard time praying and why there are times when having a prayer to read or a prayer book to guide you has really helped me to come to the father in ways that I often feel incapable of on my own. Rolheiser, in talking about Lauds (morning prayers) and Vespers (evenings prayers) says some real great things about these written prayers. I think they can have a wider reaching purpose then he suggests but they at least live into what Rolheiser is talking about, maybe more but not less. It’s very good! Here is a bit from this section, pick up the book to read the rest.

Prayer; Our Deepest Longing — I decided to picture it instead of type. Much faster!
ENJOY!

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Sabbath as Resistance


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I recently read Walter Brueggemann’s book Sabbath as Resistance; Saying No to the Culture of Now. It was a stellar little book! It was a book I needed to read. I have a theology of Sabbath, I have some kind of belief that it’s important but to be honest, I’m not a great Sabbath keeper. This book said things I believe in poignant and impactful ways that reminded me that to follow the God who frees is to be free indeed. The world doesn’t revolve around my efforts and abilities and God gives me a day to remember that and to let it be a guiding reality to my entire life and ministry. 

I’d thought I would flip through and share a few of my favorite quotes. I would include a dozen more but check these out and then go buy the book!

“The departure from that same system (the Egyptian system of control) in our time is not geographical. It is rather emotional, liturgical, and economic. It is not an idea but a practical act. Thus the Sabbath of the forth commandment is an act of trust in the subversive, exodus-causing God of the first commandment, an act of submission to the restful God of commandments one, two, and three. Sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives. It is for good reason that sabbath has long been for theologically serious Jews, the defining discipline. It is for good reason that Enlightenment-based autonomous Christians may find the Sabbath commandment the most urgent and the most difficult of all the commandments of Sinai.”

“Moses, in Deuteronomy, imagines that Sabbath is not only a festival day but also a new social reality that is carried back into days one through six. People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. So the task, according to Moses, is to “seven” our lives.”

The “other gods” are agents and occasions of anxiety. But we, by discipline, by resolve, by baptism, by Eucharist, and by passion, resist such seductions. In so doing we stand alongside the creator in whose image we are made. By the end of six days God had done all that was necessary for creation… so have we!”

“… Sabbath is not simply a pause. It is an occasion for reimagining all of social life away from coercion and competition to compassionate solidarity.”

“Since Sabbath is the quintessential worship act of neighborliness wherein the workers rest “as you” (Deut. 5:14), we may see in this context a contrast with a practice of worship that offers no Sabbath rest but only reflects a social restlessness and feeds social restlessness by giving it religious legitimacy. Worship that does not lead to neighborly compassion and justice cannot be faithful worship of YHWH. The offer is a phony Sabbath.

We have so many requirements that are as old as Moses. But here is only one requirement. It is Sabbath, work stoppage, an ordinacnce everyone can honor—gay or straight, women or man, Black or White, “American” or Hispanic—anybody can keep it and be gathered to the meeting of all God’s people.
Sabbath deconstructs the notion of being “qualified” for membership.

“Sabbath is a school for our desires, an expose & critique of the false desires that focus on idolatry & greed that have immense power over us. When we do not pause for Sabbath, these false desires take power over us. But Sabbath is the chance for self-embrace or our true identity.”

Discuss

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Lent 2014 // Ash Wednesday


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Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness and resorted to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

This is the from our Ash Wednesday liturgy. I love the invitation to observe a holy Lent. I hope you will accept that invitation.

Over at www.LentWebGuide.com there will be more regular posts for the Lenten season. These posts are a companion to the Lent book I wrote but can really be read and enjoyed by anyway. So take advantage.

And if you are looking for a free resource for Lenten devotional reading check out…

Youversion (an app for your phone or table, also a website) has N.T. Wright’s Lent For Everyone available for free!
There is also a short eBook by Alexander Schmemann for free over on Amazon :: Great Lent: A School of Repentance Its Meaning for Orthodox Christians

Grace and peace as you observe a holy Lent!

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Connectors, stories & Malcolm Gladwell


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I’ve been taking in some Malcolm Gladwell these days. I am really enjoying his work! I’ve heard a lot about him but hadn’t actually read any of his stuff myself. So on a friends recommendation I picked up his book David and Goliath. LOVED IT! His mix of story telling, research and data, along side all the connections and points he makes is really great. It’s easy to read, you feel kind of encouraged or inspired once you read it and you feel a bit smarter.

David and Goliath was all about the idea that sometimes the weaknesses we have can actually be our strengths. I could write quite a bit about the connections he makes and the stories he tells. I think he might have stretched the David and Goliath story a bit but in the end I was ok with it because the points he was making were right on. And for a pastor and hack theologian, they were right on! The weak is the new strong! This is the message of Christ and it’s really the point he was trying to make. I highly recommend the book.

I’m now taking in The Tipping Point. I’m only a few chapters in and once again I’m enjoying his stories and the connection he is making to all these fascinating people and the way they stir culture. It’s really fascinating and I think there are some really good points for church leaders and church planters to think about. I’m taking notes!

One thing i realize is that i’m a connector! I might not be a high powered connector like he talks about in the book but I really do find joy in connecting with people, any and all kinds of people. I’ve often been to a party or hosted a party and found that there were 2 or 3 different worlds colliding and stepped back and smiled. I love it! All the traveling i’ve done and places i’ve lived and people i’ve connected with are some of my most favorite parts of life. For a long time i tried to record birthdays so I could send an email or some kind of social media message to all these people I have connected with. I’m also not a very disciplined person and often failed at this but I tried. I do think that the peak of social media makes connecting much easier and more people would probably claim this title now than ever before. But some of us are just wired this way. I’m wondering how one might hone the power of their connector and do good. Maybe Gladwell will have something to say about this. I’ll keep reading!

Peace
Erik

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2013 Year In Review 2.0 — BOOKS


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Looking back on 2013 and the books I took in is aways an interesting thing. It often reflects many of the things God has taught me and many of the ways I’ve grown. 2013 was the year of the Audio book for me. I’ve never really been into audio books but the more I listen the more I like, and i’ve listened to some pretty stellar audio books this year.

Here is my top 5 (READ)

#1. A Spirituality of Living by Henri Nouwen
I’ve read this book before but busted it out to go through it with some interns and other folks. I’m pretty sure I read through it twice in this processes and it really is great. It’s short and clear and encouraging. Pick it up!

#2. New Monasticism by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove
I’m really drawn to monastic spirituality. A slow, centered, focused way of following Jesus and living as your true self. That will be reflected by what i’ve read. This is more of the pop version of monasticism but it’s pretty good. I’m not naturally a slow and calm person, I think that is what is so compelling about this way of life to me. JW Hartgrove gives a great modern day communal interpretation of this way of life.

#3. Who Told You That You Were Naked by John Jacob Raub
Raub is a Trappist monk in Kentucky. This book (which I will admit I haven’t finish yet) is pretty challenging to some of my assumption but it pretty amazing. A call not to fear or judge and to ultimately living freely in light of a loving God. I need to finish it. I’m almost there.

#4. Our Favorite Sins by Todd Hunter
Todd is my bishop so I might be slightly parietal but he’s awesome! And this book is pretty good. It’s might not blow your mind but how he connects everyday life and temptation to the prayerful and disciplined way of life is really great. I needed to read this book. It was very good!

#5. Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries
I am REALLY not a systems guy when it come to ministry. But this book is a great little ditty that helps make sense of systems and their importance. Really glad I read it.

Honorable mentions :: Advent and Christmas Wisdom from St. Francis of Assisi by John Kruse, Meditation and Contemplation An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, This Is My Beloved Son: The Transfiguration of Christ by Andreopoulos, Andreas

Here is my top 5 (LISTENED)

#1. The Art of Letting Go by Richard Rohr
This blows everything else out of the water that i’ve read or listened to. It was really amazing. I don’t think it’s an actual book but it is WELL worth your time to listen to. No doubt I will listen to it again.

#2. Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson
Fascinating. SUPER long to listen to but it was worth it.

#3. The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight
Scot frames the gospel conversation in a way that I believe to be super helpful and holistic. I really enjoyed it. One of those book where you feel like someone way smarter than you is put some of things you thought into words in a way you probably never could have.

#4. Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road by Brian McLaren
I told some folks I liked this book and it made them nervous. I think need this book, I did. I didn’t agree with it all but I know that i need to learn how to talk and respect people of other faiths. Not to diminish our differences but to hold them up and still love and respect one another. Jesus would have had a glass of wine with Mohammed and the Buddha, they probably would have had a great conversation. I’d like to think that they would have become Christians but that’s probably not the point. 😉

#5. Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes
Another great but REALLY long book. I guess some scholarship has come out saying this book is pretty flawed in some what it says but it was a really entertaining listen, great story. I would like to think Bonhoeffer was more of a pacifist and I guess that is was the new scholarship says but regardless it was a good listen.

Honorable mentions :: Insurrection by Peter Rolins, 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, Quitter by John Acuff, Love Wins by Rob Bell (for the second time)

Discuss

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2013 Year in Review…


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I love thinking back on the past year before I dig in and start planning the next year. Often what i’ve read, listened to and watched reflect how i’ve lived — struggled, strived and waundered over the past year.

So i’m gonna share what i’ve been into over the past year but you should to. Leave a comment or write and blog and reflect on your 2013. (Share your link or list in the comments.)

Listened to…

#1. Olafur Arnalds — For Now I Am Winter

#2. The Brilliance — Essentially all their stuff. They’ve got something for every season!

#3. The Lighthouse and the Whaler — This Is An Adventure

#4. Citizens — Self Titled Album & Already / Not Yet

#5. Gungor — I Am Mountain

Honorable Mentions :: Hillsong United, Capital Cities, Urban Rescue, Imagine Dragons, Givers, Youth Lagoon, Gregory Alan Isakov, Future Of Forestry, Leagues, Jonathan David Helser & Melissa Helser, Bellarive, Josh Wilson.


Watched On TV…

#1. Breaking Bad

#2. Parks & Rec (Yes, i was slow on the draw with this but now i love it!)

#3. Parenthood

#4. Nashville

#5. Revolution

Honorable Mentions :: The Walking Dead, White Collar, Supernatural, Grimm, Dracula (maybe a few more but i’m embarrassed by how much TV i watch 😉
Watched on the Big Screen…

#1. The Way Way Back

#2. Gravity

#3. The Hobbit

#4. The Spectacular Now

#5. World War Z

Honorable Mentions :: Rush, Blackfish, Hunger Games, Elysium, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, Star Strek, OZ The Great And Powerful, After Earth (and a ton i want to see.) I feel like there are more but i can’t think of them…

Books to come…

 

Discuss