Archive for the ‘Books I’m Reading’ category

Systems vs. Sytematic Theology

February 11, 2009

One of the greatest changes that I see in the future of the church is a shift from a systematic approach to theology to a more inclusive holistic Systems approach. The integration of so many differing systems into our daily environments will eventually warrant a change in the direction of the theological approach of most churches. Whereas in the past we have been somewhat satisfied with compartmentalizing differing aspects of theological interest.

We have been content to “zero in” on faith, grace, salvation, righteousness, etc. exclusively. Now there will be decidedly all-encompassing approach that will examine how these all are related to one another and dependant on each other. As the strings that connect shift, so does the related change in the tension between each area. What is exciting about all of this is that it brings a new dynamic to the conversation(s) concerning every issue that was previously looked at in exclusivity.

Systems Theology will seek to bring more of a solid foundation to much of the weaker present offering of “new church”. I’m reading a book now about the changes and shifts in cultures as different paradigms take shape. This is a key concept as we look both where we’ve come from and where we’re going.


January 22, 2009


Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost have a new book out called ReJesus. It is one of the most compelling reads as to how we can never get outside of our own distinct cultures to a pure Jesus. In every age Christians are compelled to again struggle with the meaning of Jesus again. Neibuhr wrote in Christ and Culture that we always are reshaping Jesus out of our cultural imaginations. Jesus is the center of the religion of Christianity, and yet, as Jacques Ellul, the French theologian questions, “How has it come about that the development of Christianity and the church has given birth to a society, a civilization, a culture that are completely opposite to what we read in the Bible, to what is indisputably the text of the law, the prophets, Jesus and Paul?”

To follow Jesus requires not simply believing in belief, but to encounter Jesus on an ongoing basis. This is true spiritual transformation. It becomes more than knowing about him. It must become about experiencing redemption, following his way, becoming like him and taking up his cause all the while in the current Western context.

We all know that Jesus is like God, fewer are aware that God is like Jesus, ans fewer still would admit that Jesus shows us the perfect example of what Human is – AND that we should seek to be like that perfect example. Roman 8:29 speaks of us being conformed into the likeness of his Son. It speaks of us being like Jesus.

What would our world look like if we became more like Jesus who was like God? Would we not wake to a better world? Instead of worshipping Jesus, what if we followed Him. What if we used the mysterious Christ as an example to what our own lives could be?

Too often we have relegated Christ as a figure to be looked at or revered – separated from us. We learn at an early age “how” to worship, but Jesus came to show us how to live. It is in the living that we learn to know him and experience that abundant life He spoke about.

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

December 28, 2008

greatest words

A new book by Steven K. Scott, the author of the best-selling book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, is entitled, The Greatest Words Ever Spoken. It includes over 1,900 statements by Jesus organized under more than 200 different topics.

The subtitle is – “Everything Jesus said about you, your life, and everything else.” When you read this book , you encounter the living Christ in a way few books allow. When you read the statements of Jesus, unencumbered by additional commentary or explanation, the truth, power and impact of His words become even more evident.

You read what Jesus said about Himself, about His followers, and about eternity. This book is a resource whose value will only increase each time you reach for it and read the “words in red”.

During His time here on earth, Jesus made remarkable promises to each of us who would hear His words and follow them. This book gives us the perfect tool to do exactly that, all the time providing a fresh view of the incomparable Christ.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your favorite local Christian bookstore.

Living Rich For Less

December 17, 2008

Living Rich

So you want to own the home you love, make memories on wonderful vacations with family or friends, finance college educations, and help others too?
You can—starting here and now.
With lively humor, proven know-how, and practical principles for financial health, Living Rich for Less helps you stretch your dollars to realize the lifestyle of your dreams. Ellie Kay’s entertaining and enlightening examples show you simple steps to save, spend, and give smart, and her three main principles are undergirded by dozens of effective rules and hundreds of Cha-Ching Factor™ tips that keep or put money in your pocket.
Ellie knows what it’s like to be financially-strapped or struggling, wanting to be the Joneses but feeling as poor in spirit as in pocketbook. She went, within two and a half years, from being a new wife and mom with $40,000 in consumer debt and seven children (and college educations) to support, to being completely debt-free and within fifteen years able to pay cash for eleven different cars, give away three of those cars, buy two five-bedroom houses (moving from one to the other) and nicely furnish each, take wonderful vacations, dress her family in fine fashion; and support more than thirty non-profit organizations in more than a dozen different countries, giving away more than $100,000.
Isn’t that the kind of transformation to a rich life that you want?
Living Rich for Less helps anyone get there in our taxed-out, maxed-out times. Because financial security doesn’t mean just genuine prosperity, but being able to live luxuriously, give generously, and care for yourself as well as the others around you.
Why keep up with the Joneses when you can be them?

You can get this great timely book at, or


November 20, 2008


Yes, I went to see Twilight. Not only did I go to see it; I was watching it at the midnight premier showing. I brought Shawn McCann, he helped me on a book review a few weeks back, and then there was about ten thousand teenage girls. I won’t put in any teenage girl humor because you’ve probably already added it in yourself!

The movie itself was different than the book in it’s tone. I read about half of the first book before going to the movie. The plot and dialogue came up to be about what the book contained. I can’t stress how different the reactions were in the movie theatre from the reactions I had planned on hearing. From the start there were more giggles than “oohs”. The main character was supposed to be a smooth guy, but he started off decidedly un-smooth.

There were some good parts, but the movie was aimed to a distinct target audience – an audience that didn’t include me. Humor was the most surising facet of Twilight. Toward the end there was a quote that was somewhat profound. The main guy and gal are dancing under the lit gazebo for the school dance and she asks him why he didn’t let her become a vampire like himself. Her feeling was that, if he had, she would be able to live forever with him. He responds by asking her if just one long lifetime with him would be enough.

I couldn’t help but think if that is the conversation the Church is having with God/Jesus today. There is such a stress on the “happily ever after” fairytale “by-and-by” life in heaven, that many so-called Christians waste the life given to them, to live here dissatisfied and without desire to “do” anything but wait “until He comes”.

How sad that the gift of Christ is used for such a small expression of life. Life is to be lived. There is an abundant life to be lived, but you must live it. It will not live on it’s own. You must give it breath and strength as you choose to step out and become active in your life.

Me, Myself & I Am

November 5, 2008


Matthew Peters and Elisa Stanford’s new book, Me Myself & I AM is a new book that can become an experience of knowing yourself better than you thought possible. It is   

made up entirely of insightful, profound, and occasionally ridiculous questions.  Me, Myself, and I AM invites you to open to any page, open yourself to God, and be the author of your own story.


Questions range from spiritually intriguing—

You overhear God talking about you. What do hear him saying?


to thought-provoking—

You are on a long car trip with a close friend who is not a Christian and the conversation turns to faith. What is your biggest fear about what your friend will ask or say?


to challenging—

Do you believe that all of Jesus’s followers have a responsibility to tell others about him?


to just plain fun—

If your life before you became a Christian were a movie, its title would be:

Animal House

As Good as It Gets

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s a Wonderful Life


Me, Myself, and I AM will inspire, and get you thinking about your spiritual life from entirely new angles. You can use Me, Myself, and I AM as a reflective tool, a way to start conversations with friends and family, or as a spiritual time capsule to look back on years later. To sum it all up, this book is more than just another book. This book helps you to see better – to see yourself, God and the world around you through a new third person awareness lens. You won’t be disappointed in the results!


You can find Me, Myself & I AM at Amazon, Books a Million, Barnes and Nobles, or your local Christian bookstore.


October 24, 2008

I just finished a new book by Seth Godin. Seth is one of my favorite authors. In just about every case, every book of his that I have purchased has been outstanding. Tribes takes the cake. This is one book you simply must at least give a glance over – I’m certain that you’ll buy it if you glance at it! You would think, at first, that the book would be about Tribes, or a “fable” about a tribe (fables are all the rage now in business writing). You may even think that perhaps Seth is interested in setting up his own tribe. You would be wrong.

Tribes is about you. Tribes is about your inner struggle to become “you”. The book incessantly makes you look at yourself and ask “Why are you not doing what you know you want to do?” Then, before you have a chance to bring up a reason, he’s already told you why the excuse you’re about to give isn’t good enough to warrant inaction.

I’ve begun reading it again and will probably read it several more times. I found myself reading a paragraph or page and then closing the book to think. Then I would read a little bit more and think some more. To say that this was a book whose timing was perfectly matched to my own individual circumstances would be an understatement. The great dividend of this book is that I would bet that I’m not the only person to have those thoughts.

If you have an idea in your mind and have found reasons not to pursue it, read Tribes and then go do it!

For Young Men Only

October 9, 2008

For Young Men Only is a book that I was asked to review from the Multnomah Publishing company, a division of Random House. The book is insightful in it’s premise to be a “guy’s guide to the alien gender”. After almost fifteen years of marriage, I have learned some of the concepts from the book the hard way – through experience. Since the demographic of the book was out of my present capacity (yeah I’m old!), I decided to enlist the help of a good friend of mine. He is in the trenches (high school) and is confronting these issues daily. Instead of doing a cover review of “Oh the book is great”, I thought that a first hand account of the books main audience would do more than I ever could.

In his own words, I give you Sean:

Well here I go, the book was amazing! If I had to pick a book to give to teenage boys, this would be the book. The real life surveys made the  book seem more realistic. While I read the book, it felt like they were inside my head and answering my questions as the book went on. I even wish girls could read this book so they could get an adequate view point on a guys perspective. Some of my girl friends read some passages from this book and they told me what the book says about girls is totally true. I would really recommend this book to any lonely guy in need of relationship help, but I would also recommend it to any one! As a not so good with girls guy I felt like I have a better perspective on how a girls feels and acts by this book.

Could not have said it better if I had been paid! This book is available at Amazon, Family Christian and your local Christian retailer.  You can also find out more by clicking here. If there is a teen guy under your roof – get this book!

Debbie Blue – From Stone to Living Word

September 18, 2008

Had to write a little about this book. From the first line – “I’m not good with answers” – the book is immediately accessible. Blue writes openly and confidently as she weaves through some thoughts that many of us have had but found difficult to articulate.

As a pastor, she talks about wishing to be like Father Zossima in The Brother’s Karamazov.

She quotes Eduard Thurneysen speaking about Father Zossima saying:

 “It [his pastoral approach] is not designed to remove [people’s] burdens, to lead them out of the uncertainties of their lives, but it is intended to lead [people] into them truly and for the first time…for in persevering in the uncertainties of life, he sees the only way of redemption.”

She follows that great quote, about a character in a book that you should read if you haven’t, by stating, “I honestly don’t know what it would even quite mean to straighten a life out.


So often we perceive the church as a place to fix things, as God a “fixer”, as life needing to be fixed. Life is meant to be lived fully and that often means it will be messy and loud and unpredictable and wild. When we accept that we are trying to embrace the Unembraceable, know the Unknowable and understand the Incomprehensible, a non-straightened out life seems to be the only kind that would fit.


Oh to let go and embrace nothing, knowing that in that futile attempt you have found what you were looking for. He is unembraceable not because he is far and distant, but because he so permeates every inch of our lives that if we were to contain him, he would cease to be himself. He is “in all, above all and through all”. If we can learn to live within the drawing love of God the Other, our lives themselves will transcend understanding and the chaotic will become beautiful and our view of God himself or herself will expand into an ever increasing undulation of love that desires to overwhelm and overtake us.


August 16, 2008

Normally I wait until I’ve completed a book to comment on it, however Peter Block’s “The Answer to How is Yes” has got my mind on overdrive – and I’ve just passed the first chapter. He suggests that the question “How?” could be more of an obstacle rather than a help to an end. He uses “How?” as a symbol because it is the most frequently asked question following critical conversations about changing directions in our jobs and lives. Coming to the decision that something should be done is often easy. The raising of the question, “How?” inevitably leads to a halt in progress until we have some perceived certainty.

One of the best observations I’ve read yet is when Peter says that, “if we were really committed to the pursuit of what matters, we might well be served to hold a moratorium on the question ‘How?’…If we could agree that for six months we would not ask ‘How?’, something in our lives…might shift for the better. It would refocus our attention on deciding what is the right question, rather than what is the right answer. It would force us to act as if we already knew how – we just have to figure out what is worth doing.”

What is keeping you from pursuing something that has captivated your mind? Removing the question “How?” from the conversation leaves us with only a decision to decide what matters most. Think about your life and after evaluating what matters most, make it a priority to take the first step toward seeing that “thing” happen.