Church

January 9, 2010

Just a quote from my present read:

“Here is a marvelously coherent and compelling picture of the participation of the church in world history. History is interpreted here as a struggle for liberation. The Christian has his place in it not just as a fighter for liberation but as one who has been liberated. Through the presence of the Spirit he is already a free person, bearing in his own life the freedom which belongs to the end. The community of those who follow Jesus is called to share in the struggle for liberation as those who are full of eager and patient hope: eager, because they have already tasted the freedom to which God calls all; patient, because God is to be trusted to complete that which he has begun.” (Newbigin, p. 120, The Open Secret)

Good stuff!

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10 Best Reads From 2009

December 28, 2009

I don’t know how so many great books found their way to my doorstep, but I think this year in reading has certainly been one of the best I’ve ever had.  If you’re looking for some good reads, or you’re curious what I’ve been reading this last year, here are my top ten:

  1. Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester — In many ways this book started much of my journey in to ecclesiology this year (its kind of a theme for the list…:)).  This book, paired with superb training from the people over at Soma Communities, has spoken volumes to me of the church as a sign, a servant and a foretaste of God’s Kingdom on earth.
  2. The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbigin — Almost finished with this gem.  Newbigin is a prophetic voice on mission in this introduction (written in the late 1970’s) that many would benefit from reading.
  3. So Beautiful by Leonard Sweet — With so many conversations these days speaking to increasingly smaller niche markets, Sweet’s book has a pleasurable generality to it.
  4. Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller — A great exposition on storied living and a pleasure to journey with Miller into purposeful living
  5. Organic Church by Neil Cole — Though a little more tilted toward the house church form of church, Cole has some great insights.
  6. Organic Leadership by Neil Cole — Another great perspective from Cole, this time on leadership.  I’m anticipating the value of this book (and #6) will both rise as the Church continues to lose its assumed position of authority (where I believe the American church is heading and the European church has already gone)
  7. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller — An inspiring, thorough exposition of the Prodigal Son (or Compassionate Father more accurately).
  8. Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal — While McNeal doesn’t detail the destination so much, I found this book had some great perspective for the journey.
  9. The Mission of God by Christopher Wright — To be fair, I haven’t exactly read this one yet, but it is next on my list.  I think it has made it on the list because of both my anticipation and it’s reputation as perhaps THE biblical theology of mission in the Bible.
  10. Compromising Redemption by Fewell and Gunn and Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel by Alan Culpepper — Two commentaries tied for 10th place for their acuity and insight into their respective texts.

By and large, it has been a year of ecclesiology really, but what great resources! All of these books are available here through Amazon.com. Hope you get a chance to check them out!

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I love Christmas.  Probably not as much as my wife loves Christmas, but I still love it.  There’s the family time, the food, the presents, the relaxation (or familiar holiday craziness) and all mixing together in one great big closing highlight as we take time to look back on the year and look forward to the burgeoning new year.

Today as I continue to read The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbigin I was reminded of that thing which, above all, makes Christmas so special:

The Bible does not tell stories which illustrate something true apart from the story.  The Bible tells a story which is the story, the story of which our human life is a part.  It is not that stories are part of human life, but that human life is part of a story.  It is not that there are stories which illustrate “how things are”; it is that we do not begin to understand how things are unless we understand how they were and how they will be.  (Newbigin, The Open Secret 92)

It’s not just the story, or “the reason for the season”.  It’s that we live in the story that God tells, and that his telling of how things were and how they are going to be has enabled us to live meaningfully in the present (how things are).

Christmas is special, because in the coming of God in the form of a baby over 2000 years ago my world was changed.  And every year around December 25th I remember with others that enormous leap in the story that in the Bible’s terms (Ac. 2:17; Heb. 1:2; Jas. 5:3; I Pe. 1:2 and many others), has catapulted us in to the last days as God’s restoration has already begun in Christ!

Merry Christmas indeed!

(BTW – the main impetus for this post is a conversation I had last week with a guy in our church who has stopped reading his Bible because it just isn’t relevant for him anymore.  This post is one of the reasons I cannot imagine living without a daily study of the story God says encompasses us all)

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