Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Book Reviews: #2- "To Own a Dragon"- Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s “To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing up without a Father” is an excellent conversation partner.  He stays true to form with a gritty and honest style of writing that makes for a personal and memorable read.  I don’t always agree with his theology, however I do always find myself enjoying his work.

The book is about Donald’s journey to manhood and the growing up that he does with the help of an older man.  Miller, an expert in the genre of memoir, writes in such a way that illuminates his past actions and motives and gives the reader fresh insight into their own past.  I did grow up with a father and have had many men step into my life in important ways- yet I can still identify with many of the feelings Miller expresses in the book.

If you enjoy a good story, some laughter, and an honest discussion of problems- this book is for you.  I still think that “Searching For God Knows What” is Miller’s best effort to date, but this one is definitely worth a read.

Currently Reading: “Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision”- N.T. Wright ; it is amazing.  Be looking for that review soon.  Also, “Story Saturday” will start this Saturday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer Book Reviews: #1- "Confessions of a Reformission Rev"

I recently finished Mark Driscoll’s book, “Confessions of a Reformissional Rev.”  The subtitle is “hard lessons from an emerging missional church.”  It was a good read that captured my attention, gave me ideas, and gave me a look into Driscoll’s past and heart.  The book is basically a fly-by story of the founding and progress of Mars Hill Church in Seattle from a small group meeting into one of the largest, fastest growing, and most influential churches in America.

Driscoll characteristically writes with a gritty honesty that is much appreciated on my end.  He is very open about struggles and mistakes that he and his staff made in the hopes that others will be able to avoid the same shortcomings.  He makes some very interesting arguments for ‘big church’- though I am not sure he convinced me.  One of the coolest things I took from the book was the fact that pastors should love the people who aren’t yet at their church as much as the people who are already at their church.  I guess sometimes I feel guilty for caring so much about people I don’t know, so it was nice to know that it is allowed, even expected of a faithful pastor.  

While I don’t agree with everything he says or stands for, I do see Driscoll as a leader and a pioneer of our generation’s turn at preaching the Gospel.  “Confessions” is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 Things that have Changed My Life: #10- My Little Brother

With this post, my ’10 Things that have Changed My Life’ series comes to an end.  The last life changing item I would like to discuss with you all is: my little brother.

My little brother’s name is Brandon and he was born when I was 12 years old and in sixth grade.  His birth and existence have changed my life in so many ways I cannot even begin to fully describe them all.  His birth had two immediate impacts on my life.  The first was that I went from being the baby of the family to the middle child.  The attention from my parents that I was used to was all of a sudden transferred to my adorable little brother.  This led to some behavior problems in my life.  My grades that semester plummeted (I got my first ‘F’) and I started getting in a lot of trouble.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but looking back I can see that this monumental change in my life greatly disturbed my peace of mind.  However, I do not look back at his birth in a negative light because of the second way that it impacted my life.

The birth of my brother created in me a love so deep and powerful that I had never imagined could be.  Just by virtue of his existence, I knew that I loved him more than anything else and that I would gladly die for him in an instant.  I had never felt this before.  The joy of seeing him grow up and being a part of his life- from learning how to crawl, to walk, to going to school- has eternally shaped my heart.

I know it is probably difficult for him to have a brother who is a Pastor- but I hope and pray that I will continue to be a blessing for him and a source of life.

I hope you enjoyed my 10 Life-Changing things series!!  Have any ideas for a new series??  I am reading about a book per week- so I am thinking about posting book reviews and my thoughts/reactions to them - so that will be about once per week.  I’m also thinking about doing something like “Story Saturdays” with a short story from my past or week.  Any other thoughts or ideas?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

10 Things that have Changed My Life: #9- Basketball

“Basketball was my first love” - a sentence it seems I utter often when trying to describe myself.  For whatever reason, the sport of basketball has captured my heart from a very early age.  I can remember watching the Rockets (my favorite team!) and the Bulls battle it out constantly in the ‘90s.  I can also remember my first basketball team (the New Territory Suns) and my first basketball game (I air-balled the first shot I ever took).  I have always loved talking about, thinking about, watching, and playing basketball.

Basketball has changed my life in many ways.  One way is that it most assuredly kept me out of (even more) trouble by giving me something to be busied with.  Who knows what kind of mess I could have made without such a time consuming hobby?  Another way that it changed my life is that it taught me the art of discipline and self control.  I would schedule out training sessions, dates, times, work-outs, and rigorously follow them in order to be the best that I could.  As a kid, I kept a few journals that I would constantly jot down new plays or ideas on.  At one point, I had well over 300 different plays.

Perhaps the largest way that basketball has changed my life has been the therapeutic effect it has had on me.  During the hardest times in my life, basketball has constantly been there for me.  During my junior year and my struggle with panic disorder, one of the few places where I could forget it all was in my driveway shooting baskets.  During panic attacks, my greatest and most effective strategy to calm down was to think about the Rockets and my favorite player, Steve Francis.

While there are other sports I appreciate and enjoy, basketball will forever be my favorite.  It has, without a doubt, changed my life.

Have any sports changed your life?  How?  Please comment and share! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

10 Things that have Changed My Life: #8- Reading

Hey friends.  The '10 Things that have Changed My Life' series is coming to a close!  Be looking forward to my last two entries- I have some pretty awesome (old school) pictures to go along with them! =)
Number 8 on my list of life-changing things is the art, the craft, the skill... of reading.  Yes, I am a book nerd and a big believer in the power of the written word and the ability to read.  Reading has changed my life in so many ways that it is not even possible to list them.  Reading has : been part of the process of Christ finding me, created in me a love and ability to learn, been therapeutic in difficult times, developed my vocabulary and mind, developed my writing and speaking skills, etc and etc.  The list could go on.  A few of my favorite authors: N.T. Wright, Eugene Peterson, Donald Miller, Matthew Paul Turner, Peter Clement, David Scheff, and more.  Has reading been as meaningful for you?  Comment and share!  Who are your favorite authors?  Favorite Genres?

Also, do you have any ideas about a new series of posts?  Things y'all would like me to write about?  I like to do (and read) posts that are interesting and give you insight into the author's life..  Gimme some ideas!


Monday, May 4, 2009

My Summer Plans

I want to take a break from my '10 Things that have Changed My Life' series and ask you all a question.

This summer I will be trying my hardest to be as productive as I can for the kingdom.  I will be doing alot of preaching, some writing, some traveling (3 trips!), and hopefully a lot of exercising!  I also have set a goal to read 12 books (roughly one per week I am in town).  I have a short list, but wanted your opinions/advice/suggestions on a good book to read.  It does not have to be christian and/or theological.

Here is the list I have so far (in no order):
Confessions of a Ref. Rev- Mark Driscoll
To Own a Dragon- Donald Miller
Justification: God's plan and Paul's vision- NT Wright
Comeback Churches- Ed Stetzer
Provocative Faith- Matthew Paul Turner
The Life of Pi- Yann Martel
A Random Memoir at the bookstore
A Random Medical thriller at the bookstore

That means I need 4 more books!  What should I read?  Please comment and make suggestions- with the reason why I should read it.  Again, it does not have to be Christian.  The only rule is it canNOT be Twilight! haha

Also- I am looking to preach/speak all over the place this summer.  If your group or church needs a speaker- talk to me about booking.  I cannot miss Sundays because of church obligations but I am willing to travel anywhere during the week to serve you.  

Looking forward to your suggestions,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Holy Struggle - 5/3/09

Hey friends.  This is a summary of the notes of a sermon I gave on 5/3/09.  Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to record it.  

This sermon, titled "A Holy Struggle," was the third part of our 'Missional Living' series.  This series is our attempt to search the scriptures and find out how we can live and breathe for God's glory and the advancement of the Gospel.  This week we were answering the question of how we can be faithful missionaries even though we still struggle with sin.

We started in 1 John 1:8- and set the scene with John's declaration that even Christians still have sin in their life.  Once we agreed with that fact, we decided there must be a righteous or, even, holy, way to struggle with sin.  Now, there is NOT a right way to sin, but there is a right way to STRUGGLE with sin.  If we struggle with our sin wrongly, it has the ability to derail all of our attempts to evangelize.  So how can we struggle with our sin in a holy way?

4 Points:

1) It is NOT o.k. to struggle with sin unrepentantly - Hebrews 10:26-27
- we looked at the story of Hosea, and the call to feel the weight of our sin and have godly grief over it

2) It is NOT o.k. to struggle with sin passively- Romans 8:12-13
- true repentance leads to action.  Paul commands us to actively put our sin to death.  Not to sit back and hope it goes away.  This could be getting accountability, counseling, waking up early, etc.

3) It is NOT o.k. to struggle with sin alone- James 5:16
- commonly overlooked- the christian call to confess to each other; sin is like mildew- it festers in the darkness.  The new testament community was one of honesty and openness

4) It is NOT o.k. to struggle with sin without hope- 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:14
- we have the promise of forgiveness for all of our sins, and the promise of victory over time.

I concluded by saying that when we struggle with sin in these biblical ways- it can enable us to evangelize more effectively.  We are no longer paralyzed when someone who we are sharing with brings up our sins- because we can explain to them our sorrow over that sin and all the things that we are doing to put it to death.

Temptation and sin are HUGE parts of all of our lives.  We must struggle with it in a godly way that would further the kingdom.

Love much,