just courage

just courage yesterday i finished listening to just courage: GOD’s great expedition for the restless CHRISTian by gary haugen. i’ve been listening to it on my daily runs for the past few days and it was so interesting that i found myself running a little longer each day just to hear more of the book. i have loved the international justice mission for years and thus was familiar with haugen already. i’ve heard him speak several times and thus i knew that he could tell a good and meaningful story but i didn’t know how he was as a writer. turns out he’s a pretty good author.

“just courage” is full of rationale and inspiration for those who wish to walk in the way of JESUS. if you want to understand the need for social justice in the world in regards to practical and real slavery in the world then read this book. haugen tells the stories of many who were stuck in the sex trade and indentured servitude. he also tell the stories of many who have been involved in helping this inidviduals reach freedom. finally haugen gives a ton of suggestions on how anyone can get involved in freeing those who are enslaved.

an added benefit to this audiobook for me was that it was one of CHRISTianaudio.com’s free books a few months ago. WOOHOO!

so beautiful by leonard sweet


i finished so beautiful: divine design for life and the church by leonard sweet yesterday. i have mixed feelings concerning sweet’s writing. he makes some incredible points but he does it by making tons of one line statements that vary from cheesy to brilliant. for example he states that when we de-story something we in essence destroy it. i would usually dismiss an author who writes in such a manner BUT sweet makes some incredible points.

sweet structures the book around the mri concept that he has discussed at other points. sweet says that the dna of the church is m.r.i. (missional, relational, incarnational). this again is one of those things that drives me crazy and attracts me at the same time. i can stand lots of cute little acronym’s and dr. sweet uses them all the time. for example the opposite of the mri church is the apc church (attractional, propositional, colonial). the book is full of these little things.

yet sweet’s writing has a great deal of depth to it. the acronyms that would typically drive me nuts hit the mark instead. i love what he says on the church being missional, relational and incarnational at its core. he hammers this home chapter upon chapter. this is why i enjoyed reading “so beautiful,” it is why i have enjoyed reading several of sweet’s previous works, and it is why i will read his future works also. in some ways i think saying “i don’t like his writing style” is part of the highest compliments i can give dr. sweet. this is because i read his works in spite of his style. i read his writing because his point are so good that it doesn’t matter that i don’t enjoy the way he makes them.

it’s a good read and i would recommend it.

they like JESUS but not the church

they like JESUS tuesday i finished dan kimball’s book “they like JESUS but not the church: insights from emerging generations." this is not a new book. it’s not old either but it’s not brand new (written in 2007). i bought it a couple of years ago and it has sat on a book case waiting for me to read it. i wish i had picked it up earlier because it was an excellent read.

no, it’s not a book of statistical research. it is based on his conversations with people who like JESUS but not the church that he met in public and became friends with. these conversations form the “data” that he analyses through out the book.

yes, you could dismiss “they like JESUS but not the church” because of the fact that it is not based on statistical information. you could say to yourself that since it isn’t statistically based it doesn’t fit your situation. i think you would be wrong to do so.

for me kimball’s book is more meaningful because the points of the book came out of kimball’s discussion with friends he had made. i think that was really the point of the book … CHRISTians, especially ministers, desperately need to get out of our buildings and subculture and make friends with non-JESUS followers. kimball lived this out in the manner that he wrote the book and in the manner that he ministers. he lived it out by having people who like JESUS but not the church over to his home for supper, going over to their home for supper, spending time with people where they are rather than expecting them to come to some religious building, and most importantly LISTENING to people who like JESUS but not the church.

it’s a good read.

current reading

for some reason my “now reading” plugin is no longer working with my wordpress install. therefore i’ll just post about what i am reading until i find a plugin that works for me (if you have a recommendation i’ll gladly take it). so here goes the recent and current ones:

  • surprised by hope” by n.t. wright – i love n.t. wright’s way of thinking about things. this work is a great way of refocusing CHRISTians on the resurrection or as wright puts it “life after, life after death. wright does a great job of explaining why the resurrection should direct who CHRISTians are in the present age. “surprised” was so good that i’ll probably read wright’s “the resurrection of the SON of GOD” even though it is a mammoth book.
  • the brief and frightening reign of phil” by george saunders – a quick and fun read. very kurt vonnegut-esque. an interesting parable of how fear can be used to manipulate people into doing things they would never normally agree to.
  • JESUS for president” by shane claiborne & chris haw- i finished this book 11 days short of a year but it didn’t take that long because of it being boring. it was quite good. the design and typography is unlike much i’ve seen (reminded me of “house of leaves“). absolutely amazing book on living in the kingdom versus living in the empire. “J4p” is claiborne’s most blatant and powerful argument yet for CHRISTian pacifism. i think my favorite part is claiborne’s discussion concerning “building the kingdom.” you’ll hear this phrase around many different ministries. it’s pretty egotistical to think that we can “build the kingdom” for GOD. we get to work “with” HIM as HE establishes HIS kingdom, we don’t build it for HIM.
  • currently reading – “omnivore’s dilemma” – i’m 3/4’s through and i think this will be one of those books that changes the way i live. “the jungle” started freaking me out concerning “industrialized meat” and this book has pushed me even further down this path. pam and i have already discussed moving towards grass fed beef and chicken and now thanks to michael pollan we are going to start making the jump. don’t worry mom and dad we aren’t becoming hippies and joining a commune – yet. 🙂
  • currently reading – “pagan CHRISTianity: exploring the roots of our church practices” by frank viola and george barna – i’m probably 1/3 through this book. not sure how i feel about it yet. i think viola and barna raise some reall good and important points but make some very dubious assumptions concerning those points. in particular i think they often confuse extra-biblical with unbiblical. i’m not far enough into the book yet to really make a good call on the book so we’ll see what happens as i get further into it.

i should finish the “omnivore’s dilemma” tomorrow or thursday and then will start reading shane hipps’ “flickering pixels: how technology shapes your faith.” i really enjoyed what hipps said at Q so i am pretty excited about reading this.

SIDE NOTE – i watched “taken” with the boys tonight and my word! it’s an awesome action flick. interesting story and tons of action.

SIDE SIDE NOTE – the nba playoffs are amazing this year.