Friday, April 25, 2008

Book Review # 11.1 - Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

When reviewing books and choosing books to read within a week, one should conider the author and not the number of pages. While most books in the two to two hundred and fifty range are typically quick reads, not so with Eugene Peterson. This is not because Peterson is hard to read. It's because it's dense. Each page has a paragraph or phrase that stops me in my tracks that requires some thought. Granted, Peterson often answers my quandries later, but in the momement I can't help but sit and think about what I have just read, and the possible implications of it. Instead of reading, I find that I am in a dialogue with Peterson, something that he encourages in this book.

Peteson is encouraging the mastication of scripture . . . I like that phrase. It moves beyond the big-gulp approach to scripture, and brings to mind a bovine like chewing of the word, long periods of just chewing until it has become more easily digested.

The quote under FOR REFLECTION is one of my favorites this year. As I continue to read this book I will update you on my findings and reflections. Needless to say, this is book worth reading, and I believe I have found a new friend in Peterson.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Review Update

I'm letting you know now that my book review will be posted next Friday, as I am trying to digest my current book, Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson. I can say this, after reading several chapters, its worth reading. More details to follow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eating Crow

Eating crow (archaically, eating boiled crow) is an English idiom meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proven wrong after taking a strong position.

Crow is a staple in my diet. I am constantly nibbling on it through out the day. I find myself taking strong stances on issues only to retreat. I can't help but have the scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail where they charge the rabbit, only to run and scream " Run away, Run away . . .right . .that bunny is dynamite!"

While I am still prone to take strong stances in the face of truth, I am more willing to retreat if need be. I used to take a stance and defend at all costs. Now I find myself a little more willing to say " Yep . . I blew it."

Crow doesn't taste too bad.

Lord, help me to be less prideful. Help me to be less concerned about self preservation, and more about reconciliation. Thank you for helping me to be different, and more loving. Thanks for being patient with me.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Does God Tolerate Us?


Main Entry: tol·er·ate
Pronunciation: \ˈtä-lə-ˌrāt\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): tol·er·at·ed; tol·er·at·ing
Etymology: Latin toleratus, past participle of tolerare to endure, put up with; akin to Old English tholian to bear, Latin tollere to lift up, latus carried (suppletive past participle of ferre), Greek tlēnai to bear
Date: 1524
1: to endure or resist the action of (as a drug or food) without serious side effects or discomfort : exhibit physiological tolerance for
2 a: to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction b: to put up with

I'm wrestling with the idea that God tolerates us. Tolerance is such a politically charged word. There is a call for the tolerance of all people, life styles, and expressions of self, yet I don't see tolerance as defined by Webster a part of God's character. I don't see God "putting up with" us. I do see God loving us in ways that demonstrates patience and forbearance.

Tolerance in my mind is putting up with someone with no hope that person is going to change, hopeless resignation if you will. Love seems to expect all things, and hopes for all things; transformation. Isn't this what God hopes for us? Who wants to be tolerated? I don't.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Review #10: Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer is an American classic preacher, known for his preaching and writing. Knowledge of the Holy and the Pursuit of God are among two of his best known.

I enjoy Tozer because he picks up where Ryle leaves off; a deep concern for the church and the influence of culture on its ability to be salt and light. Tozer was not required reading in seminary, but referenced many times, much like authors do today of his work. Tozer is one of the few classic pastors whom you are still able to get recordings of his preaching.

Knowledge of the Holy is short book, and can be read devotionally as each short chapter opens with a prayer and occasionally a quote, and ends with a verse or two from a hymn. He writes like he preaches; directly with memorable phrases sprinkled in.

The doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart.

Having recently discussed God's justice in Sunday school, I was particularly interested in his thoughts on this, and in typical Tozer form, he emphasizes that God does not act justly, but in being just God is being God.

Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation.

This quote emphasizes that God is never at cross purposes with himself, and that his character works in harmony with itself, unlike ours. This is a theme that follows the reader through out the book.

Tozer is also willing to leave the reader uncomfortable in his understanding of God's character.

The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer . . . we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.

You'll find the chapters filled with scriptural references, peppered in appropriately. Although this books is a series of reflections on God's character, and Tozer does refer to scriptural truths, it reads devotionally. I would suggest this book to be read in that spirit.

Tozer is a classic that serious Christ followers should at least nosh on from time to time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

American Pastor !

With Billy Grahm's health fading, and the resignation of three teaching pastors at Willow Creek I think its time we join the band wagon of culture and search for who might be America's next pastor. My panel would be Rev. Melissa Scott, Rev. Tony Evans, and the Rev. Andrew Purves .

Contestants would give 3 minute "sermonettes" on a passage of scripture or element of theology chosen at random ( I got this idea from Dr. Larson). The panel would then give their critique and either pass them on to the next round or "turn them over to Satan".

Once the contestants are narrowed down to 12 ( like the symbolism) they would then have to give thematic sermons, such as: Revival, Healing, Evangelistic, Missional, ect. The winner would be determined by calling in, and the grand prize would be determined to be America's Next Pastor; teaching at Willow Creek for the next three years.

How do we get this started?

( I pray you understand that this is just a cheeky way of poking fun at our culture as Americans. I did not chose the pannel of pastors to make fun of them or to endorse them. I randomly chose three pastors whom I thought had different approaches to faith. If you want to know whom I would find the most commonality with, it would be Andrew Purves. I am also not criticizing Willow Creek or its ministries as they have done great work for the Kingdom. It just so happens they're in Chicago and are probably searching for pastors, and are commonly known within the US.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

World of the Satisfy'n Place

This is a bar in Cincincati, where I grew up. Its also the title to an album by a guy I went to High School with, Dave Wolfenberger. We didn't go to the same school, but we were in Young Life together. I love the fact that a place with this name exists.

Check out Dave's stuff.

Sample Bury Me at Ivesdale and Paul

If you're from Cincy, you'll love his stuff because he refrences alot of land marks.

If you're not, you'll like him because his lyrics and music are catchy and well thought out.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Book Review # 9: Jesus Mean and Wild by Mark Galli

I have to admit, when Joline is gone, I watch things that I normally don't get the chance to . .say . . Planet of the Apes. . thus the late entry.

Galli's book has been a refreshing read in light of my previous posts. Refreshing because it was a book about Jesus, and because it challenged my thoughts and confirmed by inclinations about the person of Jesus. I use the word person because we are always talking about the humanity and Deity of Jesus, but what of the person of Jesus?

This is where Galli takes us, to the person of Jesus, who is fully God and fully human. In both his humanity and deity Jesus demonstrates being untamable and fully loving in the most frustrating of ways. Galli pushes at our idolatry, re-creating Jesus in our own image . .well not our image. . the image we desire. In the same way Bonhoeffer challenged our desire for cheap grace, Galli challenges our desire for a nice God, not a loving God, for a loving God is willing to discipline, yeah even shame if necessary.

It was Galli's chapter titled 'Harsh Tutors of Love' that challenged me the most in its discussion of Jesus using shame and fear as ways to lovingly confront our sin. While I liked this chapter, I am still wrestling with it, but isn't that what a good book does, challenge us?

This book does not set out to make Jesus more masculine, but it does set out to ask the question "How does Jesus Love us?", and we find out that Jesus doesn't quite love us in the same way Mr. Rogers does. Sure, he might like us just the way we are, but he isn't concerned about us staying the same. He demands that we be different. He place the responsibility on the reader to love as Christ loved, but takes the responsibility of the response away from us ( knowing we can create enemies if we love like Jesus).

There are so many books I wish our whole congregation could read, and this would be one of them. Galli doesn't spend a lot of time mixing words. He gets to the point and moves on. His chapters are well thought out, and concise. His writing is conversational. I found it easy to read, but not remedial.

It would be a good book for a small group to use as a resource, but only after the group has been together for a while.

If you are bored with your faith and think you know the Jesus of the Bible, this would be a good book to get your interest in the person of Jesus refueled.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


OK, so my 39th birthday is next month . .May 22nd, in case you were asking. . .and I'm realizing that 40 is just around the corner. 30 wasn't bad. I felt like I was moving towards something. . .significant. Now I'm feeling like I am being hurled forward towards something . . . less significant.

I'm not a big celebrator of birthdays. The last couple of years has been rewarded with a pat on the back, and a nice card from my wife and kids. I'm not expecting anything different this year, and don't desire it either, yet I am feeling the need to move back towards something significant.

Albeit, age is not the factor, only a sign post, or indicator of elapsed time, and turning 40 seems less of a big deal, but I don't want it to pass by like any other year either.

So, pray with and for me that 39 will be a year of renewal, revelation, and significance for me and Team Atkins.