Monthly Archives: May 2013

AN NFL QUARTERBACK, A PASTOR, AND MY WIFE

 

 

I know, it sounds like the beginning of that bar joke.  Not quite.

This past Friday I found out that The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Pastor Matt Carter quotes seven times from Doreen’s book, Good Christians, Good Husbands.  I know Doreen’s book had a big impact on Matt.  He has said so publicly on various occasions, but it is encouraging to see Doreen’s hard work still bearing fruit today.

CHURCHILL MEETS JOHN WAYNE

Donald Kagan of Yale is truly an iconic historian of the ancient world.  Paul Kennedy, also of Yale, calls Kagan a combination of Churchill and John Wayne.

Kagan has a great sense of humor and a love for keeping a “core curriculum” to ensure students truly get a good education of Western culture.

The interview is long, but I found it fascinating and you might as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mmB1G3BCrk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa0TUiESDFE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATkbnDp52vA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRHs36hLOz0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QslwbOn7Jg

 

WHAT DO PASTORS READ?

From John Fea’s terrific blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home (http://www.philipvickersfithian.com)

 

 

Here is the synopsis of a recent Barna Group survey of Protestant pastors:

  • There are approximately 315,000 Protestant churches in America.  (As compared to 13,000 McDonalds and 4000 Walmarts).
  • Pastors buy 3.8 books per month per person
  • 92% of pastors by at least one book per month
  • Pastors buy 8-13 million books per year.
  • Pastors buy more books than the general population.
  • Younger pastors buy more books than older pastors.
  • Pastors buy books on topics that interest them or that are recommended to them.
  • Half of pastors are reading biographies.
  • One-third of pastors are reading business books.
  •  Pastors buy most of their books at Christian bookstores and online.
  • Half of pastors read books on an e-reader of an iPad.
  • 90% of pastors recommend books to their congregations from the pulpit.

FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2012

 

Since this blog just launched last month, I wanted to offer my ten favorite reads (or rereads in one case) of 2012:

The Pilgrim’s Progess by John Bunyan.  The older I get, the more I am rereading.  Since Spurgeon read it 100 times, I ought to try at least ten!

If you are intimidated by older language, try this edition as your “gateway drug” to Bunyan:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080246520X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_3?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0800786092&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1SYPQTZ8EX07HTGBE5JR

Booked by Karen Swallow Prior.  This is the kind of book which is sad to finish.  Wonderful writing coupled with insightful truths about the human predicament. I will either be interviewing the author later this year or doing a larger review here.  Stay tuned.

http://www.amazon.com/Booked-Literature-Karen-Swallow-Prior/dp/0692014543/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

On Conan Doyle by Michael Dirda.  One of our youngest son’s friends is Muslim and so has never experienced Christmas.  He wanted to do the whole exchanging of gifts, etc.  This is the book he got me.  A terrific book with fascinating background on how Conan Doyle developed his characters.

http://www.amazon.com/On-Conan-Doyle-Storytelling-Writers/dp/0691151350/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Struggling with Scripture by Brueggemann, Placher, and Blount.  A short book which helped me clarify once again why the more liberal position on Scripture is problematic.

http://www.amazon.com/Struggling-Scripture-Walter-Brueggemann/dp/0664224857/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

RetroChristianity by Svigel.  I did a review of this terrific book over at Jesus Creed.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/19/saturday-book-review-2/

http://www.amazon.com/RetroChristianity-Reclaiming-Forgotten-Michael-Svigel/dp/1433528487/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Believing Again by Lundin.  I am very interested in 19th century America and Lundin is a master of that period.

http://www.amazon.com/Believing-Again-Doubt-Faith-Secular/dp/0802830773/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand by Phares.  An entertaining look at the toughness of nineteenth century ministers who preached the gospel on the wild frontier. Ministers who think they have it rough today might want to give this book a read. Non ministers will equally enjoy this lively and interesting book.

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Pocket-Gun-Hand-Frontier/dp/0803257252/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Green Leaves for Later Years by Griffin.  Poignant, insightful, and well-written reflections on the process of aging. Aging, as Chuck Swindoll famously said, is not for wimps. This book is a good arsenal in the battle so one will be wise and joyful.”

http://www.amazon.com/Green-Leaves-Later-Years-Spiritual/dp/0830835652/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Our Triune God by Ryken and LeFebvre.  The authors provide a concise, yet responsible overview. For those wanting a good primer on the trinity, this is a good place to start.

http://www.amazon.com/Our-Triune-Three-One-ebook/dp/B004V9IFRG/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Love Works by Manby.  It sounds like a rather goofy and naive book, but it is actually quite good. Unlike the vast majority of business books, this author and successful business leader shares his own failures.

One quibble: He should have said much more about humility. And he seems to hold the popular notion that humility is elusive.

Overall, a wonderful book worth reading!

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Works-Timeless-Principles-Effective/dp/0310335671/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

 

POPULAR OR GOOD BOOKS?

Many popular books offer steps and strategies.  I have found most (almost all!) full of problems.  How does one go about evaluating their worth?  In my book, The Last Men’s Book You’ll Ever Need, I offer six (!) diagnostic questions:

Does the book convey (explicitly or implicitly) that it is the “key” to living the victorious Christian life?

Does the author present more of a formulaic approach to the Christian life rather than the need to grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (II Peter 3:18)

Does the book present a simplistic approach (read “cookie cutter”) to the Christian growth or does it value the wide variety of ways that God sanctifies His people?

Does the author tend to universalize or make normative his own experiences?

Does the author ask the reader to trust his interpretation of his experiences rather than backing those up with the word of God?

Most importantly, does the book focus on the person and work of Christ? In other words, is it a Christ-centered approach to the Christian life or is it a mechanical, moralistic, and behavioral approach?

QUOTABLE

“A man will give himself for a mystery, but not a question mark.”

(Archbishop Edwin O’Brien as quoted by Richard John Neuhaus, “Book TV/In Depth,” June 5,2005)

RIP THROUGH YOUR EMAILS

Two true stories…

A friend who was a CEO at the time asked me how to help one of his employees who just couldn’t get through his emails.  He had 10,000 emails collecting in his inbox!  Immobilized by his perfectionism he just did not know how to get traction.

Another friend sheepishly asked how I handle long emails from folks who are asking me for counsel.  I asked him what the longest he had waited to respond to someone, and he proceeded to tell me that our conversation marked the ten year anniversary of an email which he still had not addressed!  I asked him if he knew whether this person was still alive and I recall him saying he was not sure.

In light of these and lesser challenges with email, I came up with my own system for dealing with the daily deluge of email: RIP.

R is for email you can respond to right away.  I use the one minute rule.  If I can respond within a minute, I usually do it at once.

I is for incubate.  When I receive a large email asking for some kind of action, I respond right away with something like this: “Thanks for your email.  Right now, I am not able to address it.  Please give me a few weeks and I will circle back to you.”  Here is what happens on a fairly regular basis:  The person thanks me for responding right away and appreciates that it may take some time.  When I finally get back to responding, I many times find out that either my correspondent got his answer elsewhere or that it is no longer of importance to him.  It is common for people to write stuff, even long things, only later to realize it is not so pressing after all!

P is for pitch. This is the junk email.  Junk email grows so you have to be crystal clear about what really matters to your own calling in life.

So start RIPPING through your email and keep your inbox under control.

 

 

 

HOMER SIMPSON’S INNER ATHEIST (PART 2)

Homer Simpson

http://www.amazon.com/The-Skeptical-Believer-Telling-Stories/dp/0970651155/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Again, Dan has some well-chosen quotes to lead off each chapter.  Here is one by Samuel Johnson: “The existence of twilight is not an argument against the distinction between night and day.”

Here are a few other things I appreciate from further reading in The Skeptical Believer:

Christianity invites us to a entirely different type of life.  Dan does a great job of underscoring the ethical implications of Christianity and how our doubt may involve a whole lot more than just intellectual difficulties.

People who blurb books often say “Chapter 3 is worth the price of the book.”  They are obviously wanting to underscore how invaluable that particular section was to them.  Well, one of Dan’s chapter titles may be worth the price of the book: “Wanting What You Cannot Have: Certainty as Metaphysical Gluttony.”  Noodle on that for a few minutes!

There are some wise reflections on the importance of both story and propositions.

Dan has a wonderful way of taking popular views and turning them on their proverbial head.  For example, he argues that it is actually easier to believe when one lives in a skeptical age.

And learn why Satan is our first literary critic!

 

MISSIONAL CAN REPLACE GOD

A.W. Tozer famously said, “So many are caught up in the work of the Lord that they have forgotten the Lord of the work.”  The disciples of Jesus were amazed at the power God was giving them for ministry, but our Lord reminded them where their true joy should reside: having their “names recorded in heaven.”

Anthony Bradley has offered an important critique of a new type of zeal, especially among younger evangelicals, which at times can be misplaced.

http://www.worldmag.com/2013/05/the_new_legalism

It is unwise to assume any of us have the proper balance on this issue, but I do think Bradley makes some critical points…points that this middle-aged evangelical, who has done street preaching in places like Berkeley and Boulder, yet now lives in the suburbs trying to make sense of the Christian life appreciates.

I have lived both errors: “zeal with not enough knowledge” and “plenty of knowledge with flickering amounts of zeal.”  I don’t have it figured out, but I do appreciate those who offer an alternative perspective to new trends within evangelicalism.  And we evangelicals are prone to trends.  This is not all bad as we want to be always open to “reforming the church” when those reforms are truly called for.  The danger is to get enticed in a direction simply because it is novel and then becomes popular.

I am glad for the zeal and intensity of purpose among many younger evangelicals.  But since every strength can also be a great liability, I do think Bradley’s words ought to be carefully considered.  Much more needs to be said, but the conversation needs to take place.

So read Bradley and consider whether his push back on a new sort of “legalism” has any merit.

I would love to hear what you think!

 

LITTLE BOOK, BIG IMPACT

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0830839755

Years ago, I read Helmut Thielicke’s, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. The English version of that book appeared fifty years ago, so Kapic felt the need for an updated version which maintained the same spirit as Thielicke’s terrific book.

There are many fine insights in Kapic’s book, but his insight on how ministering to the “least of these” is the only way to know theology in the correct way, has immense implications.

Kapic’s book is currently less than $5.00 on Amazon!