Archive for May, 2010

Jesus Manifesto, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , on May 28, 2010 by seguewm

I’ve read several books written by both authors.  They were good, informative, uplifting even.  Curiously, this collaborative book touched me in ways neither author has in any of their previous works.  This book truly resonated deeply within my soul.  In fact, as I’ve mentioned to several friends, if I could have written a book, this would have been it.  It really captured the heart of what I, as a preacher, have tried to share. Thankfully I don’t need to write what has now already been so eloquently written.  

The church was designed to be the messenger, the vehicle, through which Jesus – His Life, our true Light – is seen and read and experienced. He is the Head of the church, His ‘body’.  Sadly, the church has been running around for centuries with its ‘Head’ cut off.  However even ‘usefully’ active, a ‘headless’ body is always a ‘dead’ body.  The church has gotten the proverbial cart before the horse.  It has ‘used’ Jesus to promote itself.  Yet, apart from Him it is only a secular institution masquerading as His ‘beloved’.  The church, as the authors wrote, seems to like itself more than it likes Jesus.

So, how do we get our Head screwed on right again?  The authors, in this book, lead the way. First acknowledge the problem as real. Second, let Jesus’ life be the core of who you are – not for merely a slice of your life on Sunday, but 24/7.  Third, this does not mean knowing more about Jesus, but knowing Him personally, inwardly.

Need coaching on how to really make this work?  Get their book.  Read their book.  Share this book in groups.  Ask the Lord to give you the courage to take seriously the high calling we have in Christ. 

Don’t get distracted by pseudo-Christianity.  Genuine Christianity is, and will always be, all about Jesus.  Present your whole existence as a living sacrifice to Him. Let Christ be seen through the uniqueness of who you are.

“He died to take Himself out of heaven and deposit Himself in you.” (p. 170).  Let it be so.

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Mystically Wired, by Ken Wilson

Posted in Book Review on May 26, 2010 by seguewm

Ken took a rather novel approach to prayer in this book.  He reminds us that prayer is not difficult, it is simply a different way to have a conversation. As such God invites us to be willing to learn how to perceive him in a manner that is not readily familiar to us.

On the other hand, references are made to various studies on the brain and presented as evidence that prayer really isn’t so weird that it exists outside the realm of the common person. Something really does happen in the brain when folks prayer.  In fact, it seems, we are all actually hard-wired to pray.  In other words, as far as our brains are concerned there isn’t anything to fear.  It is ready and waiting.  We may not have exercised this aspect of mind, but the evidence reveals that the structure for it is there if we are just willing to put it into practice.

The author, masterfully leveraging science, explores the how to’s of’ prayer. He suggests ways to enter into the ‘bliss’ of a regular prayer life that work in harmony with our physiology, sharing his own journey of prayer along the way.  His notion is that if we will give it a try, if we will work in harmony with our designe, we will actually find a life of prayer the lifestyle of choice.  We’ve just, possibly, up to now, conceived of it as far more difficult than it really is.  This is probably a consequence of Western culture.

Wish you had a better prayer life?  Wondering how to get started?  Fearful you will be disappointed if nothing ‘happens’?  This is an excellent book to get started with.  If you already enjoy a meaningful prayer life – this book will tweak your experience into the next level.

Searching For God Knows What

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , on May 7, 2010 by seguewm

Searching For God Knows What, written by Donald Miller, was first published in 2004 and recently republished in an expanded version in 2010.

I always am blessed as I interact with the mind of this author.  I like the way he ruminates about the things of God.  I appreciate his willingness to ponder outside what some may called the orthodox lines.  Don has an unassuming way of weaving into fascinating stories some truly synapse-screaming notions.

As I read through this book I found myself wondering who Don’s style of writing reminded me of.  Finally it came to me.   I imagine him as a cross between pastor/author Brian McLaren and children’s book author/online game designer Jeff Kinney – best known for his Diary of the Whimy Kid.

Donald is a story teller. If you enjoy well developed and rather lengthy illustrations cleverly designed to buttress up the theological point he is about to make, then you will not be able to put this book down.  If you prefer a no-nonesense book that cuts-to-the chase and/or colors only within your current and comfortable ‘bubble’ lines then – find another author of your own peculiar ‘feather’.  

Much of what Don discusses in this book are ideas currently being discussed within the Emergent literature of this last decade.  In fact, if you are not familiar with, yet intrigued by, emergent theology then Don’s book would be a gentle first step across the coals to see if they are too toasty for your twinkies.   On the other hand, if you’ve been reading McLaren, Frost, Cole, Tickle, Rollins, Hirsch, or many other emerging church authors, Don’s book will come across rather light-weight.  He raises many legitimate issues, but often stops short of the proverbial precipice from which others appear to delight in diving off from.

Finally, you’ve got to love this mans heart for God. His faith, his intergrity, his authenticity, his blessed twist of mind, and his gift for openly expressing in words what he is thinking will touch your heart as it does mine.