Showing posts from January, 2011

There's An App For That - Week Four "Patience"

For the past several weeks I have been preaching a sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit .  When I planned this sermon series I didn't really think about the fact that there are NINE aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit, which translates into a NINE week sermon series.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't attempt such a feat, but honestly the material here is too good to breeze through.  And besides, sometimes it's better to just slowly marinate with Biblical texts to get the full flavor. (dig that metaphor, don't you?) So this week we are learning about Patience---the fourth aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit.  For those that have been following along, you'll recall that the Fruit of the Spirit is singular.  All of the aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit come together as a perfectly formed Christian life.  And the only way to have a perfectly formed Christian life is to be as close to Jesus as you possibly can.  I am not talking about being a better "Christian" h

The Newest Promo For "There's An App For That" Series

Start! The Bible For New Believers; Review

Start! The Bible For New Believers, General Editor: Greg Laurie ; Thomas Nelson (2010) Greg Laurie, the General Editor of the Start! Bible, is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA, "one of the largest churches in America."  Laurie's touch is seen throughout the Introduction of this Bible, which is marketed to be given to new or non-Christians.   Start! is filled with both "Know" and "Grow" notes throughout the text.  The "Know" notes highlight passages of Scripture throughout the Bible that are central to Christian teaching and doctrine.  The "Grow" notes illuminate certain verses or passages with lessons geared toward beginning believers.  Each book of the Bible is provided with a basic, informative introduction that is designed to give the reader a deeper understanding of the context and the purpose of the book, without a great deal of overly educated language.  The one criticism I have of this v

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk; Book Review

Cover via Amazon Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris ; Little Brown (2010 ) I first discovered the wit and wisdom of David Sedaris when I took an undergraduate English Lit course called "Articles & Essays."  Sedaris' book Naked was one of the assigned texts.  I laughed until I cried when I read it.  Then I gave it to my wife, who laughed until she cried when she read it.  We bought Barrel Fever and laughed and cried together---but at different times.  I laughed a lot less with Me Talk Pretty One Day , but I couldn't put it down.  When Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames were released, I faithfully purchased them.  It seems that anything that Sedaris writes, I am compelled to read.  And not in a weird, fanboy, gotta-read-it-cuz-he-wrote-it kind of way.  The reason why I love Sedaris' work is because it's amazing.  He has an uncanny gift for reflection on life, the universe and everything

There's An App For That - "Songs of Joy"

This week I am continuing my sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit , entitled, "There's An App For That ."  The basic idea behind the theme of the series is fairly simple:  The immediacy of our culture has resulted in all sorts of technology that "helps" us get what we want quicker, faster and more easily. For example, this week I got an app called Red Laser that allows you to scan the UPC codes of products in a store, and then find out where there might be a better price for said product.  There is also a way to use the app where you can scan food items and it will tell you all of the ingredients in the food that you should avoid if you are trying to lose weight.  It's also sort of ironic that the immediacy of our culture has spawned some interesting results in Christian practice and teaching.  Christians want more out of their "Christian" life and they want it now.  There is no desire for what Eugene Peterson calls "a long obedienc

The Next Christians - Gabe Lyons Newest; A Review

  The Next Christians: How A New Generation Is Restoring the Faith by Gabe Lyons; Doubleday (2010) Gabe Lyons, author of the groundbreaking book unChristian , has taken aim at the majority Christian culture once again and hit it right between the eyes.   In unChristian , Lyons used the data from extensive interviews, polls and surveys to illuminate the views of emerging generations regarding Christians and Christianity.  It wasn't pretty.  But it did land Lyons a bunch of speaking gigs at church and pastor conferences.  Everyone wanted to know why emerging generations in our culture thought Christians were pretty awful, but liked Jesus a whole lot.  And the reason why so many of the people at these church and pastor conferences wanted to know this was quite simply: self preservation.  At some point the clock is going to run out on the church as we know it, Lyons seemed to saying in unChristian , and when that happens---who knows what comes next?  House churches, for crying out lou

There's An App For That - Intro

I just downloaded the Mac "App" Store on to my computer.  Now there is an "App" Store for my iPhone , my iPad AND my MacBook Pro. Yes, I am aware that's a lot of Apple products.  That's how I roll. " Apps " (short for "application") have become an integral part of our culture in a relatively short amount of time.  They are (essentially) software applications that you download on to your phone, tablet, and now your computer that are designed to entertain you, inform you, guide you and generally make your life better.  Apps put information, games, movies, music and merchandise at your fingertips.  You can have what you want, faster than you ever imagined you could get it.  Come to think about it, maybe Apps aren't as much part of our culture as they are a response to the demands of our culture.  For example... My "Around Me" app on my iPhone and iPad tells me where the closest restaurants, stores, gas stations,

Crazy Love: Book Review

I'm not sure what has been going on lately, but all of the books that I seem to be "randomly" selecting to read all have had a similar theme: Christianity as we have known it in Western culture has missed the point of what it means to be Christian. Crazy Love:  Overwhelmed By A Relentless God by Francis Chan at first might seem an unlikely entry into the aforementioned thematic "coincidence."  After all, it purports from it's title to be about God's overwhelming and relentless love.  (Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA, and the author of a book on the Holy Spirit called The Forgotten God , which I reviewed in this blog many moons ago.) But that's kind of the point that Chan is trying to make.  LOTS of Christian-y people give lip service to the radical love that they have received from God and are in turn supposed to share with the world.  VERY FEW people actually live the new reality of the true Jesus-Followe

True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In (Review)

I'm not much for gimmicks when it comes to books on theological matters. It's not that I take myself too seriously---God knows I don't---it's just that when authors try to get cute and warm the hearts of the reader to deep theological schtuff by making it all seem warm and fuzzy I tend to throw up in my mouth just a little. That's why when a friend recommended that I read James Choung's book on Evangelism entitled True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In , I kind of balked.  You see, I read the synopsis and when I discovered that the lion's share of the book was a fictional account of how a young man questioned his faith, re-discovered it and re-learned how to share it more effectively,  I began to taste bile.  But a strange thing happened as I began to read True Story: I liked it.  And then I moved from merely liking it to really liking it.  Choung, a divisional director of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship , asserts that the "gospel&quo

True Grit: Truly Amazing

True Grit: Written & Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen; starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper, J.K. Simmons I recently posted a review of Kathleen Falsani's awesome book, " The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers ."  (If you missed it, you can find it here .)  The Coen brothers (Joel & Ethan) are the writer/director duo who have given the cinematic world soon-to-be-classic gems like Raising Arizona , O Brother Where Art Thou , Fargo , No Country For Old Men and some "you have to be a fan to love them" movies like Barton Fink , The Hudsucker Proxy , Intolerable Cruelty & Ladykillers.   Falsani, a religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times , points out that there is a thread of theology that seems to weave it's way through all of the Coen brothers works.  In her opinion, each of the Coen Brothers movies is a morality tale of sorts.  There are heroes aplenty in the Coen's films,