Rabbit Trails: On the Fives at Year End.

It’s the time of year when everyone is putting out their lists of favorites. Usually these lists are bad for my book habit, and they are fun to peruse and see what people enjoyed. This year two of the books we’re using in the Training and Residency Programs were voted books of the year by Christianity Today: both Senkbeil and Earley have written books that I’ve already seen bear fruit in my own life and those of our students. I am thankful for their work (which means I can point to them here and leave them off the lists below! See what I did?)

As my own contribution to the list-making season, I’ve tried to share some things that I’ve enjoyed this year across a few categories, meaning few are brand new works—more so just new to me. Maybe you’ll find something new for yourself to interact with in 2020. Also, as part reflection, I’ve included a few thoughts that in another year might have been blog posts, and for now are sentences at best.

10 is a lot, and it turns out, sometimes 5 is too. Here are 5 (or 4) things in each category.

-MK

 

Reads I Really Enjoyed

  • Out of the Silent Planet / Perelandra by CS Lewis
    I’ve often heard that people find this trilogy to be among their favorite of his work. These two books felt like I seeing a new side of an old friend, a secret talent that had long lay hidden away. His work, The Great Divorce, is among my favorite works I’ve ever read—and sections of these two books are now right there with it. Lewis has a way of describing ordinary things in ways that make one feel like they’re seeing it for the first time, and thus need to reinterpret previous experience. These were treats to read.
  • Theology as a Way of Life: On Teaching and Learning the Christian Faith by Adam Neder
    This little book is punchy, full of help, and a needed gut check for the learner and teacher. Since I teach multiple times a week now, there were many parts of this work that gave insight and corrective toward how to steward the classroom, and my own heart in the process. Last week I shared a few quotes from the work here.
  • The Fabric of Theology by Richard Lints
    This was certainly the densest and most helpful book I read this year in regards to understanding culture. Written in the early 90’s, Lints walks through the patchwork nature of the modern evangelical theological vision, and illustrates the need for comprehensive thinking regarding one’s own theological worldview which makes one wonder how he could read 2019 so well 25 years ago. This book explained postmodernity and its impact upon modern evangelicalism in a single chapter that is worth the cost of the book itself. For the 14 Residents that read it this fall, each found it eye-opening and helpful in understanding the last century of our faith, and the challenge ahead of us.
  • How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs
    This book introduced me to Jacobs, and I immediately began to follow his work. I signed up for his newsletter, which I enjoy regularly, and try to keep up with his blog. Jacobs is a regular contributor to Mars Hill Audio, and I constantly learn new things from his work. This is a handbook for how to look at our current moment and resist the urge to fight on its terms. Pair this with The Coddling of the American Mind, and you’ve got quite the combo of thought.
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
    I stayed up late in a quiet house last night to finish the last few chapters of this book. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve got a shelf of books in my office that all have the theme of sabbath / rest / hurry in their titles, and Comer seems to interact with most of them in this single work, meaning he weaves pieces of arguments together in a way that is readable, relatable, and helpful. This is a good book. It is the why, the what & the how, leaving you with practical steps to think through enacting what he’s talking about: living in the way of Jesus with a more present minded rhythm of life. This is the last full read of 2019 for me, and I am thankful for it.

Things I Will Re-Read

  • Who God Says You Are – Klyne Snodgrass
    I will read this book for the third time in January with our Residency Program. My D.Min supervisor first pointed it out while I was researching virtue formation. For a better part of two years I read the field on emotional health and identity formation. I carried four books out of that season, Snodgrass being among the top of the list. The final chapter is his plea to “become a real person.” For a media saturated, digital native age, I can think of fewer necessary calls than that of becoming who God says we are. Not our culture, not ourselves, not our experience, but our Maker. This is true humanity.
  • An Unhurried Leader: The Lasting Fruit of Daily Influence by Alan Fadling
    This book is a slow burn. It does some category-shifting for the performance addicted, and is a needed corrective to leadership that is based on task instead of people. Fadling has great things to say. I read this slowly the first time, and can tell that his lessons are born out of living the thing rather than merely talking of it.
  • The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson by Stanley Hauerwas
    I first heard of this book on a Mars Hill Audio interview with Ken Myers. The work is a collection of letters that Hauerwas wrote to his godson on the importance of different virtues. So a tenured professor writes to an 8 year old about the importance of constancy. Seventy years between them, and the reader walks away grateful for the reminder of the character we hoped for at 20, lamented at 30, and long for in the years ahead. This book gave language for virtues that I will use with my children, and myself.
  • The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) and The Wingfeather Saga (Peterson) – Here’s a short film of The Wingfeather Saga.
    My father read the Hobbit to my sister and I when we were young. I’m doing the same for my children now, and my son is captivated by Smaug the Dragon. He’s four, and I wanted something to capture his imagination. He asked me not to make the Gollum voice any more when I read it, so I think we’re there. We’re big believers in reading out loud in our house, and it has been so pleasant to hear this story in the again. I figure we’ll start in on Middle Earth when it’s time. The LOTR trilogy were the first books I read after my masters, a kind of baptism back into fairy tales from the land of academia. It’s time again. Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga is being re-released this year in a new hardback edition, and we’ll be purchasing them for our library. I’ve listened to the series via audiobook twice through, and am thankful for an epic tale for a new generation that has much depth and beauty within. These are excellent reads.

Things I Want to Finish Reading:

  • The Pastor in a Secular Age by Andrew Root
    I must have picked up 8 books this year that began with a reference to Charles Taylor. He was in EVERYTHING. Root is charting the pastoral vocation through the ages, and so far it’s really intriguing, albeit a bit technical in places. I bought it in conjunction with building a lecture around post-modernity and secularism.
  • Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang
    At a recent conference, this book was mentioned by a friend as a go-to for pedagogical methods and how to move from lecture to active learning environments in specific, concrete ways. I scanned and found an exercise to practice for our closing lecture in the Training Program this fall and it led to fruitful discussion. I’m eager to read more.
  • Invitation to a Journey: A Roadmap for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland Jr.
    This book keeps getting referenced and footnoted in a lot of my reading, and so I would like to read his complete picture of being conformed to the image of Christ. It’s a little like Taylor, meaning it’s always in the footnotes.
  • The Man of God: His Calling and Godly Life: Volume 1 of Pastoral Theology by Albert N. Martin
    This series is the print version of a decades-old pastoral training course, one that used to be on cassettes for those looking to be mentored in what it meant to be an under-shepherd and overseer. Martin pastored a local congregation for 46 years, forming these thoughts through experience and then among those in the classroom. These are the kind of books that I love to sit with, the collected written fruit of a lifetime faithfulness and the call of the Scriptures to get wisdom.

Things I Learned a Bit More This Year: 

  • Communicating clearly with people takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and grace. Then there is the other person involved.
  • I overcomplicate most things. Life is more simple than we make it. Love people, be honest, work hard. Take people seriously, yourself less so. Rest and play on repeat.
  • In order to be good at anything, I’m convinced I need to do less, better. The lie of this age is that you can do increasingly more equally well.
  • The Christian life is a fight to live in reality at every turn. This world offers us fantasy and distraction as a means to escape our inability to be still. The road out of fantasy is the way into true life.
  • Mostly, I am praying these days that I would not confuse being well-read with well-lived. These are not the same thing.

Here’s to a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends. May God bless you and keep you, may he cause his face to shine upon you.

Theology as a Way of Life by Adam Neder: 10 Quotes

Adam Neder has written an excellent book, and I think you should read it.

It’s called, Theology as a Way of Life: On Teaching and Learning the Christian Faith.

The title is pretty helpful, and he’s to the point from cover to finish.

It’s 145 pages of thoughtful, punchy, and winsome calls to the learners and teachers among us.

Here’s 10 quotes that stuck out to me. Buy this book and take it in.

…If the reality of God’s reconciling love for the world in Christ teaches us anything about our students, anything at all, it teaches us that they are always already insiders to God’s grace. Each one of them is at every moment personally addressed by God in Christ. God continually calls them them not merely to listen but to act—not merely to reflect on the truth but to become truthful. Indeed, recognition of this truth (who they are in Christ) is inseparable from responsiveness to the truth (becoming who they are in Christ), and helping students perceive this—or perceive it more clearly‚is a distinguishing feature of all good teaching. (92)

Paul’s great exclamation, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:19-20). implies that we are never more fully human, never more fully ourselves, never more free, than when our lives become transparent to the life of Christ. That is how the Spirit liberates us to become who we are—not by turning us into the kind of people who automatically know and do the good, but by granting us faith to entrust ourselves again and again to Christ, whose power is made perfect in our weakness. (29)

Of course pedagogy matters; everyone knows that. But competence alone is not enough, since “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Thus progress in the art of teaching Christianity necessarily includes progress in the art of prayer. (36)

According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ wants followers, not admirers, and while following him involves thinking about him, thinking about him is not yet following him. (40)

And yet it seems to me that many of us who teach Christian theology are better and more comfortable helping students “look at” Christian doctrines than helping them “look along” them—better at helping students understand theological ideas and arguments than helping them reflect on the difference theology makes for life. (44)

We are responsible for thinking with students, not for them. To do otherwise is to confuse education with indoctrination. And while some students will want to hand their freedom over to us—after all, it is far easier when someone else thinks for you—allowing them to do so is lethal to theological education. (52)

In the classroom, we are never not teaching. Everything we say and do (and do not do) communicates something to students. An unguarded and revealing casual aside can falsify an entire lecture, indeed an entire semester.  Kierkegaard is relentless on this point. No matter how informed, articulate, and engaging someone happens to be, “it is actual existence that preaches.” In other words, your life is your final answer to the question of who you think God is. And there is no good reason to hope students will be persuaded by what you say if, when they examine your life, they conclude that you do not believe what you say. (73)

To become honest, to tell the truth, to teach in your own voice, is not merely a choice you make. It requires an ascetic impulse to examine and acknowledge our weaknesses and insecurities, the vast gaps in our knowledge, the specific defects of our character, and especially the ways our frailties apply pressure on us to compensate for them by manufacturing false personas. Ironically, learning to point away from oneself to Jesus Christ requires sustained self-examination. (78)

[Our students] struggle to see what difference our courses make for ordinary life and ministry. And the really unforgivable thing is how little time we spend helping them imagine these connections. Maybe we even have some convoluted rationale for why doing so is not our responsibility. We operate as though training students to trace the repercussions of the material in their lives is ancillary to our important work—if we think it is part of our work at all. But in addition to describing and examining theological ideas, a fully Christian approach to teaching Christian theology will involve helping students perceive some of the concrete implications of the material, and thus help them live less divided lives. (91)

The first group of students, those seeking to submit to an authoritative teacher…Rather than engaging in the struggle of real theological education, these students expect their teachers to do the hard work for them. Since second hand knowledge of God is impossible, since God is always known in the context of a living relationship that never passes over into human control, since theological knowledge cannot be reduced to pieces of intellectual data that teachers accumulate, organize, and dispense, teachers are incapable of offering these students what they want. We cannot give them what we do not possess. Real theological education is a process of continual confrontation with God. To receive it, students have to fight for it themselves. The most teachers can do is participate in this apprenticeship alongside them. (107-8)

 

There are two dozen more passages I’m typing for my own notes, and won’t share here—because you should read this book. The final chapter is around conversations: how to frame them, how to facilitate them, and how we can’t learn (or effectively teach) without them. This chapter alone is worth the price of admission.

For those learning (who isn’t among us?) and for those teaching (Lord, who is sufficient for these things?), Neder has words for us. I’m circling back for a re-read so I make sure to hear them.

Rabbit Trails – Late November

*Things have been full lately, so here we are a month late. I’m learning to hit send instead of continuing to mull over the right way to say it. Enjoy. – MK

§ Deformed by Distraction

I’ve been reading about spiritual disciplines since high school, and I still struggle to consistently do the thing I know will bring about the ends that I want. Willard says this is the general human failing, to “want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.”

Ouch.

I want to be formed by the Spirit into the image of Christ, and it feels like many days I am being deformed by app designers and dopamine. The road to sloth is paved with glowing rectangles.

And for all the warning of what is happening, we accommodate ourselves to being used by machines instead of using them. After plenty of books, talks, podcasts and posts about hurry, rest, sabbath, and habits—I can tell you there is plenty of data about the crisis of virtue in the western world, largely fed by the very tech we’ve trusted for deliverance from the weight of boredom and the thinness of our own character and relationships. This should be offensive to us, and it momentarily is if we will give our attention to it, but the cost to convenience, false connectedness, and the pull of dopamine (which is merely the anticipation of something good happening, not getting the good itself) keeps us bound.

I attended a conference put on by the Center for Pastor Theologians last month. Given their topic around technology and faith, I’ve been waiting for several of the talks to be available online. When they do, you will find it here. In the meantime, the CPT has released Felicia Su Wong’s talk, Digital Life as Secular Liturgy via their podcast. I took 6+ pages of notes during this talk, and am thankful to be able to hear it again. Note that it is in two parts on the podcast – episodes 34 + 35.

 

§ Get Wisdom. 

Last week in the Training Program, I taught on the biblical wisdom literature, and then preached on it at Mosaic Church in Richardson (audio here).

In studying for lecture, I was struck by how in our secular, post-christian world, we have traded the classical view of wisdom for the availability of information. The internet in your pocket has leveled the street value of experience and expertise. Life hacks, how to guides, and self-help books have replaced the call of the scriptures to get wisdom, because they have built the foundation of wisdom on self, and not upon faith in our Creating God. The Bible says  at all costs, get wisdom—our modern culture seeks wisdom through information, and we trust in our own judgement, our own rationalism more than revealed knowledge. 

It reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s poem:

Choruses from the Rock

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
o perpetual revolution of configured stars,
o perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
o world of spring and autumn, birth and dying
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.

 

§ Are you successful?

I really enjoyed this video from Ned Bustard, an illustrator whose work I first came across in Every Moment Holy. (Note: I would buy this book, and consider giving it as a gift this Christmas. It is uniquely special.) Now don’t let that distract you from this video.

 

“We were made, in joy, to make things in and for joy.” Amen and amen.

 

§ Currents

  • I’m looking forward to reading through Isaiah this year during Advent via Tony Reinke’s reading plan. It starts this Sunday if you want to join in.
  • My wife and I have really enjoyed listening and talking through John Mark Comer and Jefferson Bethke’s podcast: Fight Hustle, End Hurry.
  • On a recent trip I finally got to see the movie, Yesterday. I enjoyed it so much I watched it on both legs of the trip. Since then I’ve been happily humming the Beatles with zero regrets.
  • My oldest child and I are working through Ryan Lister’s new work, Emblems of the Infinite King, and it is fantastic. As a theology primer for kids, it is giving me language to use with adults. Ryan has done a great job, and the book itself is illustrated beautifully.
  • If you made it this far, cheers! I’d love to hear from you on twitter or instagram.

 

 

 

Rabbit Trails 9.12.19 – a poem, the care of souls, & sabbath rest.

§ George Herbert – Aaron 


I work through a few Herbert poems each month, and am increasingly convinced the man was a literary genius. The structure, turns, and endings are layered in such powerful ways. Here is one that I have really enjoyed lately:

Aaron

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfections on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest:
Thus are true Aarons drest.
//
Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest:
Poor priest, thus am I drest.
//
Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest:
In him I am well drest.
//
Christ is my only head,
My alone-only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me ev’n dead,
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in him new-drest.
//
So, holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come people; Aaron’s drest.

Re-read it. Look at the structure of each stanza and how it repeats in the same topical pattern. Then, if you’re interested, here is an analysis.

Herbert is my favorite poet. I love this collection, and have been really enjoying Ryken’s commentary in this anthology of Christian devotional poetry.

§ Harold Senkbeil – Care of Souls

The first book we are reading in the Ministry Leadership track of the TVCI Residency this year is from Lexham Press, and is entitled The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart by Harold Senkbeil. Senkbeil is a lutheran pastor who, after 53 years in ministry, has written a beautiful work on the classical model of pastoring. I keep finding myself caught between stories of his childhood on a farm and pictures of him ministering in the most humane ways that shine with God’s mercy. It is an encouragement and call toward the normal work of pastoral ministry, and I keep getting the kind of gentle, patient, but firm sense of truth that I sense from men like Eugene Peterson and Zack Eswine. There is a settledness about Harold’s words that is comforting and calls toward something beautiful in the work for the pure sake of the work for the Savior, and not for success in secular terms.

Here are a few quotes:

“What you might consider mundane routine is the very heart of your calling: to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and to administer his life-giving sacraments. Preaching, baptizing, communing may be ordinary and God-ordained—but they are never dull. Through these sacred acts, God gives his Holy Spirit, who works faith when and where it pleases him in those who hear the gospel. Week after week, day after day these seemingly ordinary tasks of a pastor are extraordinarily rich in their impact: sinners are forgiven, saints restored, lives enriched and hearts consoled—all by your mouth and hands! The Spirit’s work continues through you daily and richly in his holy church. This may be routine, but it’s never boring.” p.29

“People have been scrambling to find some way of carrying out what seems to be an impossible task: making disciples in a world that seems with every passing year less and less inclined to become disciples. All kinds of methods have been borrowed from business, advertising, and the social sciences in service of Christ’s commission. Yet the most important ingredient in that mission is often overlooked: the promised personal presence of Jesus by means of his word and sacrament.” p.15

“It amazes me that the medical profession depends on something that we pastors in recent generations have tended to dismiss: quiet, probing conversation accompanied by a great deal of attentive listening. In my experience, the listening itself provides an immensely therapeutic benefit. Most people in our time are frenetically occupied with so many things that they don’t take the time to sit down and unburden their hearts. And if ever they are inclined to do so, there’s no one to listen. So simply giving someone your undivided attention for sixty or so clock ticks, you’ve given then an immense gift.” p.68

§ Sabbath – Recent Sermon and Resources

Last weekend I preached on Sabbath from Psalm 95. As we are learning to practice this rhythm in our house with small children, I have included the sermon and several resources below for use.

“If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.” – Dallas Willard

§ tidbits: 

Lately I’ve been enjoying a song by The New Scottish Hymns Band, Give Me Some Truth. Here it is below:

Here’s to hoping the Texas weather cools off soon, it’s the time of year where I want to end the day around the fire pit with friends. Thanks for reading.

Rabbit Trails – End of Summer

§ Alan Jacobs and the Reticence of the Bible

Jacobs writes in his latest newsletter:

“I’ve also been thinking lately about how the Bible tells stories. Erich Auerbach famously said that the biblical narratives are “fraught with background,” with so much that matters but is unspoken. (For example, what does Abraham think when God tells him to sacrifice his son?) Robert Alter calls this the “reticence” of biblical story, and while both of them were referring to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament can be reticent too. So in response to that reticence I’ve been telling a few small stories of my own: onetwothree.”

There are moments between the text that require the imagination of the reader to see the humanity of the text. The phrase, the reticence of the text, struck me as I read it, along with Jacobs’ own stories linked above. Over the years I have tried to look into the text with my imagination, and akin to Jacobs, here are a few of my own attempts to see the humanity of the text:

Acts 9:26-27
Exodus 12: If We Survive the Night
Holy Week (Day by Day)

§ Art and the Reticence of the Bible: Rembrandt

Rembrandt is one of my favorite artists. Other than an art history course at A&M, my first introduction at length was Nouwen’s meditation on The Return of the Prodigal Son. What a book.

I recently discovered Art Twitter, and have really enjoyed seeing sketches, studies and etchings from @ArtistRembrandt that give image to the biblical text, helping us look into history and think of the background.

I have been drawn to the use (and absence) of detail in these sketches. They are really stunning. Here are a few for you to see:

The Return of the Prodigal Son: 

(I posted this on instagram and my friend shared a quote from Peter Brown quoting Augustine: “The Father of the prodigal son ‘falls on his shoulders.’ It is Christ placing his yoke on the Christian, and in a flash we see the incident as Rembrandt would see it; every line of the heavy figure of the old man charged with meaning.”)

Jesus writing in the sand when approached with the woman caught in adultery:

Pilate presenting Jesus before the people:

Christ being removed from the cross:

 

§ Books to check out

I’ve spent the last two months planning the curriculum for the second year of our TVCI Residency Program. That means I’ve been scouring tables of contents, calculating page counts and trying to refine learning outcomes. I’m really excited and hopeful for the conversations we get to have with our incoming class of Residents.

Along the way I’ve come across some resources that I couldn’t fit into our curriculum this year (or I’m waiting for them to be published). Posting them here for you (and as a reminder to myself to read them).

The Pastor in the Secular Age, Andrew Root  / Podcast Interview with Root: The Pastor Writer
In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World, Jake Meador
Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, Andrew Peterson
Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction, Bartholomew and Goheen

§ A Must Listen: This Cultural Moment

The current task of discipleship involves the process of awakening to cultural narratives and anti-gospels presented by modernity, and confronting their impact in our own lives with the true narrative of the Gospel of Christ. It’s an awareness of the history of redemption, of which we stand in the same timeline that Paul stood as he spoke with authority to an unbelieving culture in his day.

To this end, cue the podcast, This Cultural Moment, hosted by Mark Sayers and John Mark Comer.
This is a must listen for what it means to interact with a post-Christian society. These conversations are incredibly helpful. Go ahead, start listening.

§ Routine

Come mid-August, the environments I work with are ramping back up for the school year, and this series will move to being posted at the end of the month. As always, I’d love to hear from you on twitter if you want to interact. Thanks for reading.

 

Rabbit Trails 7.10.19

Power.

Each of us have it, and handling it well is a daily challenge.

Here’s a few podcasts and a book to help you think through it:

§ Gravity Leadership has been running a series on power that is worth listening to. I’ve taken in two episodes: Chuck DeGroat on Why We Love Narcissistic Leaders, and another with Rich Villodas on Cruciform Power and the Contemplative Life.

Chuck has a work coming out in the next year entitled When Narcissism comes to Church. I’m looking forward to reading it. This episode had me stewing for a few days around the question of why we trust the uber-confident, and how my stability and security seeking self can at times be tempted to look for earthly confidence to trust in before I settle my anxious thoughts and look for the stability of Christ.

Rich Villodas was a great listen, and he described an exercise over a period of a few weeks where when he noticed himself having a reaction to something, he took the time to identify the story he was telling himself, why he was upset, and then think through the true story the Gospel tells him in response to the situation. Rich said after a few weeks he began to notice patterns and see a decrease in the negative power of his reactions. This was a good listen.

§ Pete Scazzero is expounding upon his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, via podcast. Recently he covered Dual Relationships and Power. This podcast hit home, as in the last decade I’ve had to navigate lots of crossover in relationships. The combined roles of friend, coworker, manager, and pastor can bring complications into relationships if you are not aware of them and willing to address it. Scazzero’s point is that we all have power to steward, and you need to do an inventory of it to know what you could potentially be wielding when you’re not meaning to – or when you are tempted to use it for ill. Kind of wish I had heard this podcast five years ago.

§ One of the most impactful books on the concept of power that I’ve read is The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that has Abandoned It, by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin. I think I highlighted, bracketed or underlined at least half of this book. There are interviews dripping with wisdom and cultural insight toward evangelicalism. Here’s a brief list of 20 truths from the book. Get the book, read the interviews. Notice the age, disciplines, and demeanor of the people they’re talking to. Look at the type of power that we need and juxtapose that with the type of power we want when our longing to be part of something special lands in having a uniquely gifted pastor, rather than living into the cruciform way of weakness.

 

Newsletters. They’re Back.

Newsletters went away, and now they’re back. You could say this series is my attempt at a newsletter, but without the inbox. I subscribe to a few, and have come to really enjoy their appearance in my inbox.

Here are four I look forward to:

§ John Starke (Lead Pastor, Apostles NYC). John has a thoughtful offering that has recently been engaging how to think about secular culture. It’s fun, varied, and helpful. He’s on issue #6, so you can still jump in and say you got in on the ground floor.

§ Thomas S. Kidd (Baylor Distinguished Professor of History). Kidd writes about habits, his new works, alongside professional and family life hacks. He’s a great writer, and these are fairly to the point. I’ve been subscribing for a while. He writes at TGC, and has numerous biographical works to consider. I have really enjoyed his written works.

§ Alan Jacobs (Baylor Distinguished Professor of Humanities).  This is an eclectic and fun newsletter that can cover what Jacobs had for dinner, to his latest book, and then an obscure work of art that suddenly you realize you needed in your life. I read his work, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, and have been following along ever since. There is something refreshing about his approach, and I kinda like that he has an open letter to his students about how to attend and conduct oneself during his lectures.

§ David Murray and The Christian Man Academy. David has put together something pretty special. This newsletter is a weekly call toward Christian maturity, resourced with diverse readings and media. Each week there is a “required reading” section full of links, and there are themed discussions and videos that David produces. I’ve been thankful for this new endeavor of his, and hope to see it flourish.

 

Books I’m Into / Need to Finish / In the Queue

More reading would have happened, but Stranger Things happened.

The Fabric of Theology -Richard Lints
Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine – Kevin Vanhoozer
The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart – Harold L. Senkbeil
Plugged In: Connecting your faith with what you watch, read, and play (Live Different)- Daniel Strange

 

Holy Baptism – George Herbert

One of my favorite books is The Complete English Works of George Herbert. It’s a bit of a poetic anchor for me. Here’s one I enjoyed this week.

Holy Baptism (I)

As he that sees a dark and shady grove,
Stays not, but looks beyond it on the sky
So when I view my sins, mine eyes remove

More backward still, and to that water fly,
Which is above the heav’ns, whose spring and rent
Is in my dear Redeemer’s pierced side.

O blessed streams! either ye do prevent
And stop our sins from growing thick and wide,
Or else give tears to drown them, as they grow.

In you Redemption measures all my time,
And spreads the plaster equal to the crime:
You taught the book of life my name, that so,
Whatever future sins should me miscall,
Your first acquaintance might discredit all.

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