June 13th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Summer is the absolute best time to catch-up or get ahead on your reading.

There’s simply no way around it, the greatest tool for your personal development and growth is reading. Plus, it’s one of the few aspects of life you can actually control. As a pastor, writer, and leader, I have to read in order to fund my imagination, shape my vision, and develop as a person.

The same is true for you. If you want to take the next step in life, you have to read…and you have to read a lot. Reading will advance and educate you beyond your present capabilities, but books also help us mark life. I can point to particular books that I happened upon at just the right time. Those books changed my life. If you don’t have your summer reading list set, you need to get on it.

Here’s What I’m Reading:

Spiritual Formation-ish / Churchy:

Business-ish / Start-Upy:

Fiction-ish:

There you have it. I know it looks like a lot, but here’s my process for reading through difficult books. I hope you pick-out one or two books and give them a go.

Happy Reading.

Posted in books, reading
December 20th, 2012 | 8 Comments »

“I did everything wrong.”

These were the words that leapt to my mind Monday afternoon as I was preparing for the launch of my first e-book, “Scandalous: Lessons in Redemption From Unlikely Women.” The thought wasn’t simply nerves or anxiety. It was the truth.

With everything I’d learned about launching an e-book, given all the videos I’d watched, articles I’d read, and blog posts from authors I’d devoured, I knew I had done it all wrong.

But I also knew this: I did everything wrong, but I did it!

Last December I had a choice to make regarding my blog. My site was – quite frankly – floundering. Readership was low. I hardly posted. The blog had very little focus and the few times I did post only landed me in trouble. I didn’t know whether it was worth continuing.

But I enjoyed writing and engaging with people, even if no one ever told me I was good at it or very effective. The choice, then, was whether to shut the whole thing down or actually try and do something worthwhile and meaningful. I talked to my wife, Rochelle, and we agreed we’d give it one year. I decided to put some money into my blog, get a self-hosted site, adhere to a strict posting schedule, leverage Internet tools to build a platform, to wake early and stay up late working, and – for lack of a better phrase – work my butt off.

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Posted in books, Scandalous, writing
December 18th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

Scandalous

“Scandalous: Lessons in Redemption From Unlikely Women”  is my first e-book. I couldn’t be more excited. And I want to give it to you for FREE. (**Details at the end of this post.**)

Why You Need to Get ‘Scandalous’

Have you ever walked into a movie halfway through? If you pay close attention, you can piece together the plot. Most movies are formulaic enough that puzzling together narratives isn’t all that difficult.

But what about stories that are more complex? Much more complex.

That’s the issue with the birth of Jesus. And though we celebrate it every Advent, few of us grasp its depth.  That’s where Scandalous comes in.

In Scandalous we’ll examine Matthew One and the genealogy of Jesus. The list of names presented there tells us more than we know about Jesus — who Jesus is, why Jesus is coming, and what it says about us. In particular, Scandalous examines five people in the line of Jesus – five women.

Sadly, women are often overlooked in society and the church.  Scandalous shows us why we need to change it. In Scandalous, you will discover powerful, beautiful truths about both God and yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in books, church
October 30th, 2012 | 25 Comments »

Homosexuality,” my friend Jeff says, “is the new ‘shibboleth.'”

Another friend, a college and seminary professor, tells me “Everywhere I go, this (homosexuality) is what everyone (church leaders) wants to talk about.”

A college student follows, as she mentions to me, “The most frequent conversation on campus is about homosexuality.”

It’s no exaggeration to say how Christians have and will approach homosexuality is immensely important to the future of the church. The issues are myriad. Biblical interpretation, grace, reconciliation, and love are all on display. For some, it’s a question of purity to their view of the scriptures. For others, it’s a question of purity to their view of the scriptures.

See the problem?

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Posted in books, church
October 9th, 2012 | 6 Comments »

Yes, Virginia, there is a God.

 

With reluctance, I signed on to read and review, Rhoda Janzen’s newest release, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems. My wife, Rochelle, had read Janzen’s previous release, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home, and loved it. I just knew I would hate it. But since I resolved a few months ago to deliberately read more women authors, I felt God pecking on my shoulder when I was asked to read and review this one.

I hate to admit, even as an egalitarian with a gifted, strong-willed, and brilliant wife, and as the father of two incredibly gifted daughters, I’ve frequently found women authors to be overly-flowery, sentimental, and well, slow to get to the point. I own this as mental debris of the “complementarianism” with which I was raised. Yet experience and, dare I say, a swallowing of my pride, forced me to realize that women are just better writers than men.

Rhoda Janzen could serve as exhibit A.

I won’t beat around the bush, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, is one of the most well-written books I have read. With sharp wit, a fearless pen, and a heart blossoming into openness to God, Janzen tells the winsome story of her return to faith. Raised as a Mennonite (an Anabaptist faith), Janzen rejects religion, church, and God and becomes a scholar. This, as many of us have experienced first-hand, is all-too-often a recipe for walking away from faith – or at least developing a faith that our fundamentalists friends find suspect and questionable. Yet Janzen finds herself returning to God after the devastation of a divorce and years away from any church. Her return coincides with life-altering health news while falling in love again.

Janzen’s story is beautiful and believable because it sails with the wind. Her return to church does not come swiftly, directly, or without difficulty. In a world that questions Christianity with a harsh and microscopic scrutiny reserved for no other faith or non-faith, Janzen returns to faith in the absence of having all of her questions answered. She doesn’t hunt around until she finds a community of faith that already thinks what she thinks and interprets the scriptures they way she does. She finds peace in a long fight for surrender.

At the same time, Janzen doesn’t prescribe these departures from academic scrutiny of God, of the Bible, and of the church as faith destinations for all people handed down for all eternity. Her faith discoveries were instructive for her during a particular season of life. As you read you will get the sense that Rhoda is not through asking her questions nor pursuing her faith.

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Posted in books, leadership
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