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2013 Year In Review 2.0 — BOOKS


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)



Reading on purpose…


I’ve never been a huge reader in the student / youth ministry genre. I feel more challenged and my imagination is more stirred by theology, philosophy and general Christian living book. You know, NT Wright and all his buds. But times are a’ changin!

Now i’m a student ministries pastor, in charge of loving and leading a group of middle school student and volunteers and coming along side families in hopes of discipleship. I’ve been doing student ministry for over 10 years but this is one of my first planted, plugged in church Student Ministry gigs and i’m finding that reading student ministry specific material is really helpful!

#1. It helps my Imagination. To read what other people are doing, the good and the bad, is really helpful in thinking and praying about what we do to disciple our students at Christ Church. And just general ideation, reading is HUGE in the stirring of new ideas.

#2. Reading is the source of practical list making. Maybe your not like me and don’t have random to-do list and idea pages scattered around your office BUT i do! They are everywhere. Only 50% of them are helpful but you never know when a list of ideas or to-do’s are gonna catch your eye and remind you of something helpful. Now i just need to move toward the organization phase but i’m not there yet. Although Wunderlist is helping me! (that’s an app drop – go check out Wunderlist. A great FREE app for your phone or iPad, computer.)

#3. I find that as i read i pray! Students come to mind, parents and volunteers come to mind and even ideas and programs i’m trying to implement come to mind as i read and it’s a great prayer prompter. So i’m just trying to take my time and pray when things come to mind or even write then down (back to the list idea) so that when i’m done reading i can start praying.

#4th & and the primary benefit to me is that reading just helps to facilitate a general conversations with God as to where He is leading us as a ministry. And it generates a conversation between people and parents. Super helpful.

Yea, reading is helping me to do all this and more.

SO, what should i be reading?

Here are a few things i am reading (at least the book about middle school…)













2010 Reading List


I read a pretty good amount, not as much as i would like but a decent amount non the less. There are quite a few books i read portions of but here is my 2010 reading list (books i actually completed).
In the Order that i read them not in the order i liked them.

2010 Book List…

#1. iDentity : Who you are in ChristScreen shot 2011-01-21 at 12.18.50 AM

Eric Geiger

#2. Introduction to the Devout Life

Saint Francis de Sales

#3. The Waste Land and other Selected Writings

T.S. Eliot

A little poetry is always good for the soul. I don’t get about 90% but maybe that’s ok.

#4. The Sacred Meal

Nora Gallegar

I believed i blogged about this book. It was solid, not the best account or greatest insight i have ever read on the Eucharist but it was solid. I would recommend it!

#5.  Giving Church Another Chance Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 12.26.20 AM

Bishop Todd Hunter

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Todd back in May so i picked up his book and read it quick. And i really enjoyed it! It didn’t rip my face off with amazing and deep theological reflection but is spoken honestly, authentically, and practically about worship, about liturgy, and about the church. It was a really good read and when and if God does open the door for me to plant a church this is a book i will probably read again. Most of all i just love Todd’s heart not only for the church, tradition and liturgy (all passions i share with him) but also his passion for evangelism (which i also share). Reaching those who either have been disenfranchised by church or just don’t care and never have. Todd wants his church community to meet the needs of those who Jesus is after not just those of us who are already on the journey and to do that in the context of high church (i use that loosely) is really refreshing and inspiring! So… go read this book. His new book is on my 2011 reading list… i’ll share that later.

#6. Reflecting Glory :: Meditations for Living Christ’s Life in the World

NT Wright

NT Wright is a stud, we all know that but this book is more on the devotional side of things. So if your looking for a stellar devotional book, especially during the lenten season this year. Pick up this book!

#7. Born To Run borntorun

Christopher McDougall

Ummm… how to say this without overstating it. AMAZING! This is probably one of the best non-fiction books i have ever read. Simply inspiring! 

#8. Surprised By Hope

N.T. Wright

Tom again. This book was great. Not as great mind blowing as i thought it was going to be but great non the less. And if you haven’t read or thought much about eschatology and mission this book will probably blow your mind and probably even change you life. It really is a must read for all of us to grew up in the Left Behind (is my end time doctrine) era. MUST READ! And i’m reading the follow up book right now.

#9. The Dwelling of the Light :: Praying with the Icons of Christ

Rowan Williams
I’m preparing myself for some new ink. This was a great little devotional book and also part of my preparation.

#10. Our Anglican Heritage

John W. Howe

#11. The identity of Anglicanism :: Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology

Paul Avis

The last two books on the list are some Anglican reading i’m doing these days. The church i go to is apart of the AMIA (The Anglican Mission in American) a really great group of people who i am really excited about linking arms with.


So, that’s my 2010 reading list.


What was you favorite book of 2010?


What’s on your list for 2011?
Do share! I will soon.


Grace and peace




A critique of facebook / identity / honesty /and the / self…


So i think we have some identity issues at play in our culture. We have our true self, our facebook self, our desired self, and actualized self. My pastor preached a message on the true self, i heard Peter Rollins give a little commentary on the facebook self when he preached at Mars Hill and i’ve been thinking about identity all my life, mainly cause mine is confusing, i even made a little video about it.

Yesterday i got to thinking about it again.

A few of my friends, some current friends and some old friends from college filled out a little survey on 15 influential authors. As i was writing my list i realized that this was a practice in honesty and identity, at least for me. I wanted to put cool authors and if i were honest i probably stretched the truth with a couple of the authors i wrote down. But it’s a facebook survey, i needed to put all the cool authors i have read and some that hopefully others haven’t read, you know created a perceived reality of myself or something. I couldn’t put down Max Lucado or something, or my gilty pleasure of Joel Olstean (which i have NEVER read in my life, just to clear that up.)

My main point is that we fill out survey’s like this, no no… I fill out a survey like this and it becomes a practice in honesty and identity. Am i honest? Or am i trying to construct a certain view of myself. And the real question probably is, WHY? Why do i even feel the need to do it.  Probably just cause it’s stupid and fun and it only took about 3 1/2 minutes. But it got me thinking about identity again… so i thought i would share.

Just in case you missed it on facebook, here is my list. An honest list, but kind of impressive, right?  😉

Not really…

PS :: you can do this on facebook but copy and paste your list in the comment section of this blog, i would love to read it… BUT REMEMBER, this is a practice in honesty and identity! maybe….

The Rules:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag some friends (however many you want) including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

(To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.)

In no particular order…

  1. Don Miller
  2. Brian McLaren
  3. Stanley Hauweras
  4. John Howard Yoder
  5. Jurgen Moltmann
  6. Dallas Willard
  7. NT Wright
  8. Muhammad Yunus
  9. Tim Keel
  10. William Cavanaugh
  11. Soren Keirkagaard
  12. Ernesto “Che” Gueverra
  13. Alexander Schemann
  14. Richard Foster
  15. John Wesley



Writing a good story — in all kinds of ways | my submission


Last year i read Don Miller’s  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years after purchasing it at a massive book store in Portland, it was my first trip to the city and i thought it fitting to buy a Donald Miller book while there!  I LOVED IT! I even labeled it one of my 2 must read books of 2009. I was fascinated by Donald Miller’s narrative approach to life! Being a huge fan of narrative theology this wasn’t anything extraordinarily new but the way he communicated story and inspired the reader to start living a good one was, maybe not novel but timely for our fast food, movie watching culture. And it was written and communicated in Donald Miller’s classic fashion! A great book for sure.

Well now Don is hosting a seminar on Living a Better Story and i would LOVE to go!
Here’s a link to find out more about it :: Living A Better Story
And a sweet little video of Don if you want to hear more.

So i am submitting this little blog post / essay (below) with hopes to win the prize, a free trip to Portland!

Here goes nothing…

Writing a better story — in all kinds of ways

I feel like i have always thought telling a good story was important and unconsciously i thought i was living a good story as well. But like all good scripts the first tension and the first turn toward resolution are only the beginning.

The first chapter of my story consisted of growing up in a fatherless home, living in low-income housing while my mother worked 2 and 3 jobs at a times, having my birth name changed because the Muslim / Albanian name my absent father gave me was just going to be to hard for people to pronounce, among other reasons. I thought my tension filled young life was adequately resolved when i was introduced to Jesus in 8th grade. I became a Christian, received a “call” to vocational ministry and not long after started traveling the country preaching bible, telling the story of God in a way that hopefully challenged people to authentically follow Jesus. I believed I was living a good story.

But that was only chapter 1.

In the middle of a living my nice little story I met a girl (positive turn), i was ordained (positive turn), i moved to San Diego (positive and sunny turn).
But then… I got married (tension : trust me, tension), i got excommunicated (NEGATIVE turn), I moved to Nashville (humid turn) and i unexpectedly had a kid (uncategorizable turn).

Now i find myself at a place in life that is beautiful and hard all at the same time and i just want to make sure i am living a good story. I want to be living a good story for my beautiful wife Andrea and for my amazing son Jack. I also want to be living a good story because i want to follow Jesus, who i believe is stirring authentic and riveting stories in all of us who are open to it.

I think this conference would be an amazing time to think, dream, and take in the elements of a good story so i can, by the grace of God, live them out in my life and with my family.

My wife, who i would bring with me, is a writer who needs some stirring to get out of the magazine world and write her first book, to live the story that is bubbling in her soul! We are also praying about planting an Anglican Church, tension / turn / who knows what that is. And among all the reasons that i feel like i would benefit from the reminder to live a daring story the most important one is my son. I don’t have a clue how to be a dad but i know i want to learn to live a great story so that i can teach jack to live a great story. I want our family to live the kind of story that people want to read!

So as much as i think this conference could inspire my wife and i to risk for the sake of our vocational stories i would hope this conference to challenge and equip us to live a story as a family that will be worth writing down someday.

Here’s to Portland
(i hope we get to go!)

Grace and peace



The Sacred Meal :: Nora Gallagher


This is a book i am been needing to review for awhile now. I finished reading it a month ago for so… so here ya go!

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
a mealOn the back of this book are quotes by a couple well respected people; Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner. McLaren’s words I agree with, Nora Gallagher opens up The Table to wide audience in her book The Sacred Meal.

She is a great writer and as you read this book you will sense this and feel as if your sitting along site her, having a conversation about a often misunderstood but incredibly important aspect of the Christian life. She communicated the truth and mystery of the Eucharist in a very accessible and creative way. Which makes this book well worth the read.

Lauren Winner makes the statement, “I know of no contemporary writer whose insights about the Eucharist match hers.” I know Winner is smart and well read which is why this statement blows me away. That is a huge claim and one I would not even come close to making. As good of a book as this is I have read many that are better when it comes to Eucharistic theology.

Gallagher opens up the conversation of the Eucharist to all, which is great, but sometime she goes a little to far and leans a little too much into her trade as a novelist. I don’t need to agree with everything she says but I thing she stretches her metaphors a bit far at times and fails to simply tell us how to live a Eucharistic life, even though i think this is her aim.

This book is worth the read but go in open minded, ready to agree and disagree, but most importantly be ready to engage in a horribly important topic for today’s church, The Eucharist.


If you want to buy this book get it here!
(buying it here sends eMinistries a little cash, So buy it!)

I got this book for free from Thomas Nelson to review on this blog.



Poetry // T.S. Eliot


It’s the first week of Lent so I will stick with the theme of confession…

Poetry, at least the little of it I have read, baffles me. I read but I don’t often really get the point. Maybe that’s the point some times but that makes it really hard for me to get into.

We had a book of Poetry by famous poet T.S. Eliot laying around. I decided I needed to broaden my reading scope so I picked it up. It’s a collection with his famous poem The Waste Land and a bunch of his other work (buy on Amazon). Now I enjoyed bits and pieces, but like I said, for the most part I didn’t get it.

It reminds me a bit of the parables of Jesus.

They are often a bit cryptic, they make you think, they engage your imagination. And this is much of their point. They don’t want to make a clear cut statement, they want to lead you to imagine the beauty and challenge that is between the lines, that is in the middle of the letters and words… a parable leads you into a prophetic imagination of how God created you to live, breath, and interact with the world. Maybe poetry, at it best has a similar purpose. To engage your imagination and stir you to think things you wouldn’t have thought otherwise. And lead you in a way that doesn’t give you the answer but rather helps you to find it yourself.

Or maybe they are just cryptic ramblings… poems that is, not parables.

With all that said, I bought another book of poems. I was talking with my friend Brandon Heath at the coffee shop a while back and he recommend a book of poetry by author Billy Collins entitle, Sailing Alone Around the Room. Last night I saw it Barnes and Noble and picked it up. I’ll let you know how it goes.


A poem fitting for LENT (maybe)
By T.S. Eliot

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues the circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
I perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearer to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to Dust.



Gardening Eden :: Book Review


I recently received this book in the mail to review, there was a mix up with my address so I received it a bit late (I’ll use that excuse but really it’s just been a busy few weeks).

But I am really looking forward to reading Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate.

I once made a “urban garden” for my wife, it was a birthday present. It was really fun and as we cultivated our little box of gardening goodness I really began to realize how beneficial it is to do something with your hands and realized how one totally thinks about food, groceries, and the earth differently when you have a stake in it, other than just consumption.

As I have flipped through the book, reading bits and peices it seems like Abbate hits on some really key and relevant topics for the aspiring gardener who has a desire to follow Christ in biblical ways and is thinking about God’s call on our lives to care for his creation.

Here is a quote I came across, “We need to discover what our faith has to say about the issues of environmental stewardship. As God followers, we’re convinced that our faith is relevant to the issues of the day, but we remain unclear about God’s perspective on the environment.”

So true and it seems like Abbate is on his way to helping us think about these important issues.
And hopefully helping us realize our call to be green / to care for His creation! 

Abbate also has a section that is simply about becoming a better gardener and then give tons of great resources at the end of the book.

Like I said, I haven’t been able to read more than 20 or 30 so pages but I am excited about diving into this one!

Go online and pick up your copy :: Amazong :: Gardening Eden

And if your the first person to comment on this blog post i’ll send you a free copy! 
Just give me your address.  

Peace & green!



My Christmas reading list…


I am working on three books right now. The goal is to get them done by the end of the month. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

I usually keep my current reading list up to date, you can check it out on “the shelf”. That the page on this blog where i talk about what i’m reading and stuff like that. Check it out. 
(the link is up top)

So these are the three books i am working through right now. All three are really good and all three are worthy of some blog time. I will do that soon! 

Grace and peace





Plugged back in & The holy Longing…


Well i am plugged back in after my day of unplugged-ness. It was a good day and honestly, it’s harder for me to fast from my electronic gadgets than it is for me to fast from food. I think that says a lot! I was a pretty good electronic free day. I felt like i got a lot done and i felt like i was able to focus on some spiritual things a bit more. So that was good.

Confession :: It was date night, my wife and i try and do that once a week and we did end up watching a movie. I didn’t as much as touch the remote so i technically didn’t turn on anything electronic but i did enjoy the movie. Maybe cheating, maybe not.


I just started reading this book The Holy Longing, the search for Christian Spirituality. I just started reading it today actually but so far so good! And it really ties into our desires and our “plugged-in” life.

Here are a couple really good quotes.
(probably more to come)

He talks about Mother Teresa as a very erotic women. I thought that was humorous. In context he makes a really good point.

“A saint is someone who can, precisely, channel powerful eros in a creative, life-giving way. Soren Kierkegaard once defined a saint as someone who can will on thing.”

“Most of us are quite like Mother Teresa in that we want to will God and the poor. We do will them. The problem is we will everything else as well. Thus, we want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out. Small wonder life is often a trying enterprise and we are often tired and pathologically overextended.”

i think that pegs me perfectly and many, many people i know. We want to will one thing but more often we will many things.

So far, so good. i probably keep you updates as i read.