Showing posts from April, 2010

Lucado Gift Book - A Review (of Sorts)

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be by Max Lucado
You know that you are a superstar Christian author when you can church out sound bite-sized devotions that get published into uplifting, inspirational gift books.  Such is the case with best-selling Christian author, pastor, teacher and speaker, Max Lucado.  You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be seems at first blush to be the kind of book that only the Joel Osteen-listening crowd would love.  There was a sticker on the cover, in fact, that indicated it would be a "great gift for a grad!"  But I have to say, I was mildly surprised by the depth of this pithy little book.  I was expecting another Christian self-help book full of Hallmark card aphorisms about growing where you are planted, striving to be more in Christ (especially if more means more of the American dream).  Lucado actually addresses some serious stuff here---self-image, faithfulness, dedication, obedience to God and much more.  I plan on keeping this li…

God Space - Book Review

God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally by Doug Pollock

First, I need to do some disclosure.  God Space is the foundational book for Group Publishing's newest venture, Lifetree Cafe.  My church is about to launch one of the Lifetree Cafe franchises, and we're pretty darned excited about it.  That doesn't mean that I intend on writing a fluff review on God Space, which was basically commissioned by Group to help change the conversation on Evangelism.

Some of you might be saying... "Don't you always write fluff pieces?" To you I say, "Begone!"  and so forth.

Here's the thing.  Christians are notoriously terrible at Evangelism nowadays.  We are known for our pushiness our dogmatism and our inability to see that anybody but us is right about anything.  And those are our good traits.  Doug Pollock is an evangelism trainer for Athletes in Action, which sort of makes him one of the worst offenders of Christian terrorism---errrr---I me…

Leaving Church - A Review

Leaving Church:  A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

Four years ago, Barbara Brown Taylor wrote Leaving Church.  A friend of mine told me, "Dude, you need to read this book."  I didn't.  I had a stack of books on my bookshelf that I was working my way through and didn't feel like I could add one more to it.

I wish I had. 

Leaving Church is the story of Taylor's journey through the pastorate--a journey that eventually led to her to hang up her clerical collar and robes for academic ones.  She now teaches Religion at Piedmont College in Georgia and is an adjunct professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. 

I am convinced that every pastor needs to read this book.  If you are a pastor, you will find yourself in it somewhere. 

Taylor began her ministry as a pastor in a large urban church in Atlanta.  The pace of the ministry was killing her, she knew that much, but did not know what to do about it.  When she was given the opportunity to become the lead pastor at…

A Righteous Book Review

Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement by Lauren Sandler

First, let me just get this out of the way.  I decided to use the above photo of author Lauren Sandler instead of the cover of her book for two reasons:  1) It's just so dang smarmy and 2) It's just do dang smarmy. 

If--and this is a big if--I ever get published I really don't want to have a publicity photo where I look like I am coming on to the reader.  Just saying.

The good news is, however, that (Sandler's photo notwithstanding) the book Righteous is an awesome read.  True, it's four years old.  True, it's covering some ground that has been tread and re-tread by many an author since.  But I have to say that when I read this book four years ago, I had no idea how prophetic it was.

Righteous is the culmination of a journey that Sandler took after the 2004 elections, when George W. Bush was elected for a second term, in large part by what the media dubbed, "The Religious Right"…

The Pretender

Today when I was in the checkout line at Publix, the cashier asked me, "How are you today?"

I paused before I answered.  I thought about telling her the truth:

"My day pretty much stinks, to be honest.  I've had a horrible week dealing with some pretty rotten stuff.  I'm stressed, tired, weary, beat, worn-out, picked on, picked apart and wishing desperately that I could take a long, permanent vacation to somewhere, anywhere but here."  What I said instead was:  "Good."

I wonder what would have happened if I had actually told her the truth...  I bet she would have been frightened. I doubt that she really wanted to know how I was doing.  And I didn't really want to share.

It was easier just to put on a front and be a guy who is doing "good."

I wonder if she believed me.  

I've been thinking a lot this week about how so many people find it easier to just to put on a mask and be someone they are not rather than be authentic and re…
The Me I Want To Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You
John Ortberg (Zondervan 2010)

I met John Ortberg in the gym at the Town & Country Convention Center in San Diego.  He was speaking later at the National Pastor's Convention.  I wasn't.  But we were both pumping iron and we are both Presbyterian.  That gave me enough juice to just go ahead and awkwardly approach him while he wiped his best-selling author brow and ask (already knowing) "Are you John Ortberg?"  To John's credit, he was unbelievably gracious and actually spent most of the conversation wanting to find out about my ministry and the church I was serving.  I saw in that little moment why he was such an effective leader and teacher.  He was genuine and engaging, and actually cared about what I had to say even though he didn't know me from Adam.

So, when I saw that John had written a new book, I went ahead and bought it.  I'm glad I did.  The same genuine and engaging spirit that I saw…

The Map: A Manly Man's Guide to Manly Faith

The Map: The Way of All Great Men by David Murrow

I have to admit, I read David Murrow's new book The Map: The Way of All Great Men with some measure of skepticism.  Murrow, the author of Why Men Hate Going To Church has fanned the flames lit by misogynistic Christian leaders like Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle--perhaps even inspiring them to new levels of chauvinism and selective Biblical interpretation.  Murrow (and Driscoll's) basic premise about Christianity is that it has been feminized and stripped of it's appeal by the average "dude."  In The Map Murrow fleshes this notion out a bit more and suggests that there is a Biblical guide for men--a code, if you will--in Matthew's Gospel that gives them a path to greatness (hence the "way of all great men" subtitle).  Murrow asserts that Jesus went through three journeys in his life:  A Journey of Submission, A Journey of Strength and a Journey of Sacrifice.  If, he posits, a man follow…

Feeling Risen

Sunday's Comin'

This Sunday I made sure to include our annual Easter Call to Worship for our liturgical service.  The leader will say, "Christ is risen," and the congregation will respond with, "He is risen indeed."  We do that a few times for emphasis.  Sometimes people will really get into it.

Once, I started off on Easter Sunday by getting the congregation worked up a bit by saying "Christ is Risen!" over and over again.  By the time I realized it was time to quit, some of the folks in the crowd were very nearly shouting "HE IS RISEN INDEED" like we were at summer camp assembly or something. 

It was scary.  Cool, but scary.

I wonder, if we said "Christ is risen!" enough times... would we actually believe it?

At the moment I am writing this, I sort of feel like running out into the street and shouting it a few times myself until I feel a little more sure.  It's been a long, slow slog through this season of Lent, man.  

Resurrection, Inc.

Go to this guy's church on Easter and you could win A NEW CAR!  This Easter  Bay Area Fellowship of Corpus Christi TX is giving away over a million dollars in cash and prizes to people who attend worship at one of their 8 worship services.  You can read a bit more about the story HERE.  Most or all of the merchandise (anything from skateboards to flat screen TV's) has been donated, including the cars.  Pastor Bil Cornelius (dude, spell your name like all the other Bill's in the dang world), claims that it's all a big illustration that teaches us about Resurrection and the most important giveaway of all... Eternal Life by believing in Jesus.
Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California is holding their Easter services at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  If you go on their website you will see that the "tickets" for one of the services are all gone, but there is still time to get in on the one that is only 85% full.  Their services can be watched live on the Inte…

Ridiculous Jesus Pic of The Day

I don't know.  
Jesus looks sort of natural with a rifle in his hands, don't you think?