Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

New Books in the Mail

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Book ImageTwo books arrived in the mail yesterday. They were free review copies that came as part of my participation in “The Ooze Select Blogger Book Review” group.

The first is Brian Sanders’ “Life After Church” (Inter-Varsity Press, 2007). Eddie Gibbs writes, “There is a growing awareness of the extent of the ‘back door’ problem facing many churches. It is often assumed that church leavers represent either the disgruntled transferring to other churches or those who have abandoned their Christian faith. In reality, many are leaving churches out of disillusionment and frustration to continue their spiritual pilgrimage. Brian Sanders tackles this important topic with a clear, analytical mind. He identifies the complex process of leaving a church, and suggests practical ways it can be done in a responsible manner. Most important of all, he argues that leaving must lead to a fresh vision and renewed commitment to Christ, community and the kingdom of God.”

A full book report after I get “Life After Church” read.

Book ImageThe second is a new bible called “The Books of the Bible” (International Bible Society, 2007). This is a narrative type bible which uses the “Today’s New International Version” as its base. Many different literary forms are found in the Bible and if we don’t read the different books in the literary form intended, misunderstanding and distortion of meaning can follow. “‘The Books of the Bible’ seeks…to present each of the books of the Bible in their distinctive literary forms and structures.” Specifically:

  • Chapter and verse numbers have been removed.
  • Books are presented according to the internal divisions that the editors believe the authors intended.
  • A single-column format is used to present the text clearly and naturally.
  • Footnotes, section headings and other supplementary material has been removed.
  • Individual books that later tradition divided into two or more books are made whole again.
  • Books have been placed in an order that the editors hope will help readers understand them better.

My understanding is that the IBS is making this an affordable version at only US$8.95.

More later.

Praying Advent with the Gospel of John

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Congratulations to Brother Maynard on his new book, That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John. Learn more here. I’ll be ordering mine shortly.

Faithful to Ordinary Moments and Places

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

“The Ooze” Select Blogger Book Review

Glenn Packiam of the group Desperation Band and associate worship pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs has written an interesting book titled Butterfly in Brazil (Tyndale House, 2007).

The title comes from a question posed by MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz regarding French mathematician Henri Poincare suggestion that “small difference in the initial positions may lead to enormous differences in the final phenomena.” Lorenz’s question was, “If a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, does it cause a tornado in Texas?”

Packiam builds on this question by suggesting that one can create lasting change when you start small. To quote Packiam, “To be conduits of change, we must be faithful stewards of the small, ordinary moments.” That is a powerful insight. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the dream or frustrated by the possible that we never redeem the small ordinary moments God gives us.

The author further suggests that not only does “creating lasting change and achieving big goals [come as the result of the] consequences of a series of smaller actions…. But…widespread change is the eventual consequence of actions done in a particular place.” Change is local. “We may have a grand vision of what God has called us to do, but the next step is always to ask him, ‘Lord, what do I do right here?’ Don’t wait for the ‘somewhere out there.’ Don’t wait for a different platform or a different opportunity. What are the platforms and opportunities within your sphere of influence right now?”

Packiam also intimates that, because lasting change unfolds gradually, it is important that we learn to be faithful over the long haul. To stay the course even in the darkness and despair.

He sums up by saying, “Be faithful with the small things, Act where you are. Stay over the long haul. Multiply your efforts. Love people passionately and personally. Lay down your life in obedience to Christ. These are the marks a life remembered by God, a life that will make a world of difference.”

Not a bad read and the message of small, local, and being in it for the long haul is spot on. That is how to live in a way that matters, that can really change the world.

The Shack

Monday, September 24th, 2007

“The Ooze” Select Blogger Book Review

When bad things happen in your life, do you ever think God has intentionally brought or allowed them to occur and that you deserved it?

Do you ever imagine God in terms of a hard old white haired man who is ready to disciple us (the Father), the loving son who loves us and keep the Father from being too hard on us (Jesus) and the ethereal and unknowing “person” who seems to have no mind of his own (the Spirit)?

Ever ask, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”

I’ve thought those thoughts and asked those questions and a million more. Well so has William P. Young (he goes by his middle name, Paul) and The Shack (Windblown Media, 2007) is a novel that communicates many of the answers that he has discovered in his 50 year plus life journey.

The Storyline

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of the pain and darkness that has taken over his life as a result of losing Missy, Mackenzie receives an apparent note from God which reads,

Mackenzie,

It’s been a while. I’ve missed you.

I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together.

Papa

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there changes his world forever.

To be honest, most Christian fiction is pretty poor and I avoid it. So I didn’t start reading this novel with much of a positive expectation, but what a pleasant surprise. When I’d have to put it down to do other things, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I dog eared and marked lots of page. I simply loved Young’s portrayal of the triune God and his understanding that God loves the process and we are in process because He loves us.

One word of caution. If you need doctrinal purity or require that every theological point touched must to be biblically perfect, you may struggle reading this work. You have to remember that it is not scripture, it is a story intended to communicates some very abstract concepts. And I think he does it pretty well.

Who is Paul Young?

In his own words, “Overall, I am a very simple guy; I have one wife, six kids, two daughter-in-laws and two grandkids on the way. I work as a general manager, janitor and inside sales guy for a friend who owns a small manufacturers rep company in Milwaukie, Oregon, and I live in a small rented house in Gresham, Oregon, that Kim has made into a marvelous home. My time is spent loving the people that are a part of my life. I am not connected, or a part, or a member of, or involved inside any sort of organization or movement anywhere. The truth is that I doubt anyone would want me. From my perspective that is a very positive thing — for both of us. I have lots of incredible friends — Oh yeah — and I wrote this book.”

What Others Have Said

Here is what Eugene Peterson says about The Shack, “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”

And from Jordyn Foster, a 12 year old, “This is my most favorite book that I have ever read.”

From around the blogosphere: Internetmonk, Emergent Voyageurs, What’s In My Head, Pilgrimguide, and My Emerging Faith.

Paul blogs at Wind Rumors.

You can hear an interview with the author here although you will have to listen to some non-relevant discussion at the first, but wait for it because it is a good interview.

Any of you read this book yet? If so, share your reaction and comments.

A Community Called Atonement

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Book ImageI’ve never been accused of not liking what Scot McKnight has to say on almost any subject, so I’ve been looking forward to reading his newest book, “A Community Called Atonement.” This book deals with the doctrine of the atonement and I’ve got to say that it is one of the best reads around! A much needed and well done treatment of the subject.

Before you reject reading a book on atonement theology, be reminded that good theology lays the foundation for good praxis, and as Tim Keel, Pastor of Jacob’s Well, says, “by removing atonement theology from the provisionally personal and relocating it to the dynamically missional and relational heart of God expressed in Christ, McKnight offers Christian communities a holistic approach to the atonement that will help to incarnate and animate the good news in your postmodern world.”

Premise of the Book

Theologians have for centuries set forth a number of atonement theories, what Scot calls metaphors, and have vehemently held to the supremacy of one theory over all others. Scot argues that we cannot hold only one atonement theory. Doing so is like playing golf with only one club. He argues that what we need most today is not an “atonement war” for a privileged metaphor, “but a vigorous discussion of the value of each of the metaphors so that each image is invited to the table.”

“The issue of atonement is…both central to the gospel and has amazingly drawn so much controversy of late that I hope this book can put out some of those fires. Maybe some will find a reason to debate the book’s theses as well.”—Scot McKnight

What is Atonement?

Scot rightly, IMHO at least, indicates that it is only understood as a complete story with a beginning; we were created in God’s image, reflecting his nature (created as Eikons). With conflict; a rebellion against God that distorted and corrupted our relationship with God and also with self, others and the world (we became “cracked” Eikons). With a resolution; the act of God to restore cracked Eikons (through the perfect Eikon, Jesus Christ) in relationship with God, self, others and the world. With a purpose; to create a kingdom people shaped into Christ-like Eikons who are missional beings designed to love God, self, others and to represent God in this world and participate in his atoning work. And finally, with an end; glorified and fellowshipping Eikons throughout eternity.

A Brief Outline

Scot breaks this work into four parts comprising 19 chapters and 177 pages. The four major sections are:

  • Atonement and Convergence: Where to Begin?
  • Atonement and Image: With Which Image?
  • Atonement as Story: Whose Story?
  • Atonement as Praxis: Who Does Atonement?

I’m particularly appreciative that Scot included the final section, “Atonement as Praxis: Who Does Atonement?” Most books would have stopped with the theological, but Scot understands that atonement is something done not only by God for us but also something we do with God for others. Atonement is praxis. So he explores atonement as missional praxis including fellowship, justice, missio dei, living the story of the Word, baptism, Eucharist, and prayer.

Get it and read it. It will revolutionize your understanding of the Story.

Here is what some others are saying about this book:

Michael Kruse, Josh Brown, Erika Haub, Len Hjalmarson, and Tony Myles.

Forty Days of “Voices”

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Frequent visitor at The Blind Beggar, Anglican Vicar Paul Walker is reviewing one chapter each day here of Voices of the Virtual World, a Wikiklesia Project collaborative book.

The Wikiklesia Project is a largely self-organizing collaboration of authors writing on contemporary topics. This premier volume, Voices of the Virtual World, is available for download here, and will soon be available in paperback format. You can learn more from my post here and from Paul’s reviews.

[self promotion on]There is some good reading in this book, so download a copy today.[/self promotion off] All proceeds benefit the Not For Sale Campaign.

Here is what Alan Hirsch (author of “The Forgotten Ways”) says about this project:

The Wikiklesia Project has garnered some of the savviest writers and bloggers around in a daring attempt to radically democratize knowledge—and in the process unleash theological reflection where it matters most: in the public sphere. This is not just some new way to self publish; it is a new and exciting form of collaborative theologizing on critical topics that concern us all. Welcome to your future.

Here’s a linked list of every Volume One author.

Andrew Jones
Andrew Perriman
Bill Kinnon
Bob Hyatt
Brad Sargent
Brother Maynard
Calvin Park
Cynthia La Grou
Cynthia Ware
David Hayward
Derek Flood
Drew Goodmanson
Ed Brenegar
Heidi Campbell
Jo Guldi
Joe Suh
John La Grou
John Sexton
Br. Karekin Yarian, BSG
Katharine Moody
Kester Brewin
Len Hjalmarson
Matt Reece
Michael Lissack
Mike Morrell
Mike Riddell
Peggy Brown
Rex Miller
Rick Meigs
Scot McKnight
Scott Andreas
Scott McClellan
Scott Ragan
Stephen Garner
Stephen Shields
Steve Scott
Steve Knight
Stuart Murray Williams
Thomas Hohstadt
Wild Grace

Voices of the Virtual World Released

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Voices of the Virtual WorldToday is the big day! Voices of the Virtual World is officially available for sale at lulu.com. Here is the link: http://stores.lulu.com/wikiklesia.

Voices of the Virtual World explores the growing influence of technology on the global Christian church. In this premier volume, we hear from more than forty voices, including technologists and theologians, entrepreneurs and pastors… from a progressive Episcopalian techno-monk to a leading Mennonite professor… from a tech-savvy mobile missionary to a corporate anthropologist whom Worth Magazine calls “One of Wall Street’s 25 Smartest Players.” Voices is a far reaching exploration of spiritual journey contextualized within a culture of increasingly immersive technology.

The Wikiklesia Project has garnered some of the savviest writers and bloggers around in a daring attempt to radically democratize knowledge ­ and in the process unleash theological reflection where it matters most: the public sphere. This is not just some new way to self publish; it is a new and exciting form of collaborative theologizing on critical topics that concern us all. Welcome to your future. —Alan Hirsch, Author of The Forgotten Ways as well as The Shaping of Things To Come (with Mike Frost) and Founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network

A chapter listing with some abstracts and author bios can found at here.

This is a not-for-profit, non commercial deal with all proceeds from the sale of the book being contributed to the Not For Sale campaign on the global slave trade.

Please pop over to this link and purchase a copy. You will enjoy the book and it is for a good cause.

Voices of the Virtual World

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Voices of the Virtual WorldThe Wikiklesia Project just announced that it will release its first e-book on July 23rd. In this e-book, titled “Voices of the Virtual World: Participative Technology and the Ecclesial Revolution,” we hear from more than forty voices (including yours truly) who explore the growing influence of technology on the global Christian church.

A print edition of the book will become available sometime after the virtual release.

Frequent visitors to this blog will recognize many of the contributors including Bill Kinnon, Bob Hyatt, Brother Maynard, Andrew Jones, and Scott McKnight. You can see a full list of contributors and their chapter titles here.

This is a not-for-profit, non commercial deal with all proceeds from the sale of the book being contributed to the Not For Sale campaign.

I’ll do a post on how you can purchase a copy as soon as that information is available.

What follows is some information from a recent press release that explains what Wikiklesia is about.

Conceived and established in May 2007, the Wikiklesia Project is an experiment in on-line collaborative publishing. The format is virtual, self organizing, participatory – from purpose to publication in just a few weeks.

Wikiklesia values sustainability with minimal structure. We long to see a church saturated with decentralized cooperation. The improbable notion of books that effectively publish themselves is one of many ways that can help move us closer to this global-ecclesial connectedness. Can a publishing organization thrive without centralized leadership? Is perpetual, self-organizing book publishing possible? Can literary quality be maintained in a distributed publishing paradigm? We’ve created Wikiklesia to answer these kinds of questions.

Wikiklesia may be the world’s first self-perpetuating nomadic business model – raising money for charities – giving voice to emerging writers and artists – generating a continuous stream of new books covering all manner of relevant topics. Nobody remains in control. There is no board of directors. The franchise changes hands as quickly as new projects are created.

Static

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

“The Ooze” Select Blogger Book Review

“Static” by Ron Martoia (Tyndale, 2007) is one of those books that will speak to the person who already knows the truth the author is working to relate and to those who have never explored this ground. For the former, it will refresh and invigorate the concepts. For the latter, it will open a whole new door of understanding.

So what is this book about? Its about how the words many Jesus followers use to describe their faith often shuts down spiritual conversation instead of enhancing it. Our language creates ‘static’ and the author want us to learn to tune out the ‘Christian noise’ so both the Jesus follower and the not-yet-Christian can experience the real message of Jesus.

Although the style used in the book to communicate the message is not my favorite approach, it is effective. It takes the form of an ongoing dialog between the author and Jess and her husband Phil. Phil has been “sharing” with a Marty, a coworker. Seems Marty is now avoiding Phil and Phil can’t figure out why.

In the 241 pages, Martoia does a tremendous job exploring the language Phil and most Jesus followers use when talking with not-yet-Christians. Ron attempts to answer questions like “Why do people tune out the Christian message? Why are the words we use turning people off from the real message of Jesus? What if these words are causing misunderstandings about Jesus? What if we haven’t heard the whole story?”

To give you a taste, let me leave you with this line of thought from the book.

Martoia asks, “How many people do you know today who go around with feelings of guilt over their sin, over missed obligations, over offending God?”

Most people in our post Christian western world who are not followers of Jesus simply find no connection with the idea that they are sinners in need of a savior and therefore don’t connect with our “gospel.” “That doesn’t mean they are accurate in their self-assessment, but it does explain why they have moved on to other conversations,” say Martoia. Further, the author explains why Jesus dying on the cross for our sins so that we can go to heaven doesn’t even reflect the story that people in the first century would have understood when explaining the word gospel.

What’s the answer? You’ll have to read the book, but as Chuck Smith Jr. writes, Martoia guides “us back through original language in its original setting [and] brings us to a gospel that is a divine newsflash, as compelling today as it was in the first century.”

For those who read and enjoy Scot McKnight, you will also like this book. You can hear the echo of Scot throughout, who, not surprising, Ron credits as a major influencer.

Highly recommend.

Any of you read this book yet? If so, what was your take?

Fred Peatross, Building a Culture of Missional Christians

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Fred Peatross ImageFred Peatross, Conversational Editor at New Wineskins magazine, describes himself as one who makes “ordinary attempts” to evangelize through relational acts of kindness and enjoys praying behind his friends’ backs as he journeys with them as a spiritual explorer and sometimes guide. He avidly creates safe-places for the not-yet-Christian. He has missional in his DNA and he is on a missional mission.

Fred is currently in the middle of writing a series of booklets that relate to emerging-missional church. These are more “why-to” than “how-to” handbooks.

In explaining his motivation for doing this series, Fred said,

My vision is the building of a culture of missional Xians. Unlike Frost & Hirsch, I still have hope, though faint, for the established churches in turning from attractional to missional. And even though we have created a generation of consumer Xians, many practice works that could be characterized as evangelistic.

With that said there are two important things that must be accomplished: To educated Xians on the fact that evangelism is as much process as it is event and being in the lives of people at the different turning points on life’s continuum makes a difference. Second, intentionality must replace apathy and “spectatorship.”

If things are going to change the established church must create the space for change to happen. Hence, the suggestion of replacing the traditional adult bible class for missional training.

So through this series of booklets I’m expressing my vision.

There are currently four guides out:

  • Shine Like Stars: In a Post-Enlightenment World — As the late Keith Green says in one of his songs, “We’re asleep in the light” and Jesus commands us to go. It’s not a choice whether or not we want to be missionaries.
  • Moderation or Abstinence: Liberty or Law — “The realization that our views on drinking alcohol have been influenced more by cultural trends of the 1800’s than a rigorous examination of the Scriptures comes as a shock to many of us.” —Andrew Jones
  • Evolution of an Emerging — Where is this all going? Will the emerging conversation become a movement or remain just a phenomenon?
  • Some Say We Need a Revolution: I Say Revolution — Offers the established church a mechanism for making the transition from attractional to missional.

Here is a quote from Some Say We Need a Revolution: I Say Revolution:

[Missional] training should emphasize the development and momentum to resist the centripetal attraction of exclusive, self-obsessed Christian fellowship. To sustain a centrifugal ministry it will require a commitment to mission–a holistic way of being Christian, a culture, a lifestyle that is comfortable functioning without the regular weekly church structure, that is able to draw on a diffuse set of spiritual resources, that is innovative and creative in generating community and in providing mutual support. At the very heart of it all must be an instinctive enthusiasm for developing a ‘cross border’ spirituality. This will require both patience and time.

You can find out more about Fred and his guides by going to his blog, Abductive Columns.