Resident Aliens

I recently finished the book Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon (see: Amazon link). It was the 25th anniversary of the book, so I was unsure how it would stand up over the years. I was then surprised how encouraged and inspired I was as I read about the radical nature of what the church is to be in a culture. In case the title confuses you, here is where it comes from: “The church is a colony, an island of one culture in the middle of another. In baptism our citizenship is transferred from one dominion to another, and we become, in whatever culture we find ourselves, resident aliens.”

This is an important book for the American church today, as I believe our sense of nationalism is the greatest threat to our ability to live as the church. While many people express sadness at the way things are developing regarding the church and our culture, I (and the authors) see it differently. “The demise of the Constantinian world view, the gradual decline of the notion that the church needs some sort of surrounding ‘Christian’ culture to prop it up and mold its young, is not a death to lament. It is an opportunity to celebrate.”

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite passages in the book:

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Top 20 Quotes from Leadership Summit (2018)

Top 20 Quotes from Leadership Summit (2018)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I’ve been to the Leadership Summit for a number of years now, but this was the first year we’ve ever hosted it at Abundant Life Church. Together with business and church leaders in our community, we spent the last two days growing together and practicing being teachable.

Below I’ve selected twenty of my favorite quotes from the event. Each of these quotes is my best representation in writing of what they said verbally or a summary thereof. Any errors in wording are my own. These are in order of appearance at the conference, not in rank.

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2018 Reading List – 2/4

We are already halfway through 2018. This year I’m posting my annual reading list as the year progresses (once per quarter). You can see my yearly list at any time by clicking on the upper right menu title named “reading list” on my blog.

Here are the books I’ve read since January of 2018 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. In addition to this list, you might also check out my reading lists from previous years as well as my recommendations on how to become a better reader.

(Click here) to see the books I have personally written, and see below for the ones I’ve read this year. Click on any of the titles below to get to a link to buy it.

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Are Christians Obligated to Support the Government?

Are Christians Obligated to Support the Government?

It’s a common desire for Christians to want the Gospel without any politics involved. I understand that desire if it means a separation from any specific political party. But the Gospel is always political… just not in the ways you might think.

Last week reminded us how the Gospel inherently finds itself in a political stance. Jeff Sessions, the United States Attorney General, cited Romans 13 to enforce why it was justifiable for the government to remove children from their parents. In case you haven’t followed this event, the Associated Press recently reported that nearly 2000 kids have been separated from their families in six weeks time. This has been referred to as a zero-tolerance policy of discouraging illegal immigration. Many of these families are refugees seeking asylum and the stories emerging from this practice have been horrific. One state employee recently quit after receiving this instruction for a sibling group of three kids separated from their parents: “Tell them they can’t hug” (source). Even worse than that, one mother tells of how her child was forcibly taken from her while she was breastfeeding (source). When she resisted this, she herself was handcuffed. And then there was the man who committed suicide after being separated from his family (source).

As we might hope to happen, there has been quite a lot of backlash against this, near universally across the spectrum of Christianity. In defense of the United States government’s actions, Sessions said: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.” Basically, this argument implies that Christians have a mandate to follow and obey all laws from a government. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it this way, “It is very biblical to enforce the law.” What’s easy to miss is that targeting children is the strategy currently being used to get the desired results. John F. Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, referred to this policy of separating families as a “tough deterrent.” Jeff Sessions explained it bluntly, “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”

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7 Reasons Why I Read Books Digitally

7 Reasons Why I Read Books Digitally

I read a lot and am often asked how I do it. There’s no secret to this, and my best advice is to read a chapter a day. But part of my reading strategy is built around my Kindle. As a result, if you would like to be a more focused reader, I’d like to try and persuade you to adopt digitally reading as well.

Let me begin by addressing what I suspect will be the initial response from many of my readers. “But I love real books!” You may love the smell, the feel of them in your hands, or any other tangible aspect of reading in this way. I get it. But try a little thought experiment with me. Take your favorite argument as to why you love reading a physical book and substitute the word “blankie” instead of “book” in the sentence. For example, “I love the smell of a new blankie [book].” Or, “I feel so relaxed with a blankie [book] in my hands.”

Notice how similar your favorite argument sounds to a toddler. I don’t mean this as an insult, but rather to highlight what I find to be a humorous area of overlap from our childhoods. Hopefully, it shows these are not necessarily good reasons to avoid reading digitally. Without further ado, here are the seven reasons why I use a Kindle to read the majority of my books digitally.

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Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2018)

Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2018)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst West conference this week with some of the team from Abundant Life Church. Catalyst is a great shot in the arm of encouragement and connection with other church leaders. It was a bit weird to have been at this event only a year ago with a different staff team but once I took the Portland team to dinner at TGIFridays it all felt right.

Below I’ve selected twenty of my favorite quotes from the event. Each of these quotes is my best representation in writing of what they said verbally or a summary thereof. Any errors in wording are my own.

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