Archives For Grace

Top Books Read in 2017

November 24, 2017

Below is a list of the top books I have read in 2017. I’d recommend these as gift ideas or for your own personal growth.

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

This is the best leadership book I have read in some time. Fuller Seminary studies growing churches and how to keep young people in church. Their insights are very timely for the missions organization I previously served with and the church I now work with.

 

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

If you are a leader who takes missions teams or sends them from your church, this is a must read. This book gave me words to articulate my strategy as a missions pastor following 25 years of missionary service.

 

I have an attraction to leadership books which describe real leaders, rather than those with a polished, corporate facade. I fully acknowledge we can learn from books touting secrets and methods, but I find much more encouragement in those which help me lead in and through my weaknesses.

An all time favorite of mine is Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender, which I have spoken about multiple times on this site.

A new addition to these ranks is a book I am currently reading. The Way of the Dragon, the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel is study of leadership in weakness.

Coupled with their musings, they interview multiple humble giants of the faith. The authors spent time with J.I. Packer of Knowing God fame, Eugene Peterson who paraphrased the Message, and several others. The heroes share many of their observations on the North American church, which has been largely influenced by power, prestige, platform and personality.

I was in America for the first time in forever on Memorial Day. This is a day where we remember the sacrifice of many who fought for the freedom of America. Drive down any street and you will see flags waving on houses with patriotism abounding. I found myself in the heartland of America this year. As I watched a military color guard present the Stars and Stripes for the national anthem of a baseball game, it struck me.

I live here now. This is not a visit, it is a move.

Perhaps my love for baseball made this epiphany so poignant. I simultaneously felt my love for America swell in my heart and my nervousness at returning after 12 years overseas cause my stomach to churn.

We are living in the most connected time in history. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, Facetime……

Why is it we have an epidemic of loneliness coupled with a lack of vulnerability?

Depression, anxiety and stress are at all time highs.

We are desperate to be known, yet terrified of being discovered.

We are able to create a public face to be anyone we want to be.

This face is merely a cover story, not reality.

Loneliness, Isolation and Self-Pity are our companions.

We are not alone in this…and not without some Biblical insight.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah has the classic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. He challenges them to call down fire from heaven from their gods of wood and stone. When it is Elijah’s turn, he soaks his offering with barrels and barrels of precious water during a drought. God answers with fire from heaven, consuming the water and the sacrifice.

Grace When You Disagree

February 20, 2017

It seems there are more opportunities for division and disagreement right now than ever.

Many world events have caused Christians to take opposite sides on issues.

The recent election in the USA
The worldwide issues with refugees and immigrants
A global fear of the foreigner.

There are those embracing terms like evangelical and inclusive, while at the same time others are fleeing them.

Economic Disparity
Racism
Moral debates

Being unified as a church is harder than ever.

The apostle Paul had some experience in these areas.

He needed to bring together the arch enemies of the Jews and the Gentiles in the church of Rome. This required dealing with moral and cultural issues.

The church in Corinth was divided over spiritual gifts, freedom in Christ, and lawsuits to name a few.