Christianity with Benefits

Christianity with Benefits

For most Christians reading this, being a Christian has been a pleasant experience for us. It has gained us respect, or friends, or community, or a network, or at a minimum a sense that we are moral people. If you can make sense out of Jesus and the Bible, what’s not to love about this?

But this association we have enjoyed is rapidly diminishing around us. It’s becoming ever clearer that being a Christian these days will likely cost you something. Or, at least some versions of Christianity will cost you. While many people confuse it for a political discussion, the reality is that a very spiritual discussion is happening right now about what it fundamentally means to be a Christian. Consider what Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) recently wrote on Twitter.

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Let Your Life Speak

Let Your Life Speak

I was recently given a copy of Parker Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak. Parker writes from more of a Quaker perspective and I’ve really enjoyed it (as I have with other Anabaptist roots the last few years). The book is now almost twenty years old and has become a bit of a classic when it comes to hearing from God on how we live our lives faithfully to what God has given each of us. As a pastor, I talk often with people who are attempting to discern God’s will for their lives in areas both big and small. Parker offers quite a bit of perspective in navigating these questions.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

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My 62 Books of 2016

My 62 Books of 2016

Here are the books I’ve read since January of 2016 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. Topping the list were How to Be Here, The Sin of Certainty, Rejection ProofThe Explosive Child, and People to Be Loved.

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Top Posts of 2016

Top Posts of 2016

This was a crazy year.

I don’t think that needs an explanation. But it also brought record traffic on my blog and that’s thanks to those of you who faithfully read what I wrote, and especially those of you who shared it on your own platforms. There was much to write on in 2016 and most of it was polarizing. Below are my top five blog posts from this past year in order. Unusual for me is that three of them are about politics. I normally try and refrain from entering my opinions into that conversation but I felt that I needed to this year.

So in case you missed any of them (or just wanted to enjoy them again), here are the top 5 of 2016.

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Peacemakers – Elias Chacour

Peacemakers – Elias Chacour

This post is part of a series on peacemakers I met in Israel/Palestine.

blood-brothersIn preparation for our recent trip to Israel/Palestine we read through a number of books and other resources. One of the particularly moving ones is a book called Blood Brothers by Archbishop Elias Chacour. I had read this book back in 2013 and blogged about my favorite parts of it (see: Blood Brothers). To say that it moved me would be an understatement. It strongly shaped my view of nonviolence that I was reevaluating at that time. This book is a great introduction if you want to learn more.

Chacour tells the story of growing up as a Palestinian child in the midst of Israel becoming a nation. I’ve written previously on the significance of this if you aren’t familiar with much of the modern events that have shaped this conflict (see: Israelites or Israelis). Today, Bishop Chacour offers a Christian narrative of peace and nonviolence in working to bring about ways to move forward through the conflict. The stories he tells are incredible and cause you to think of ways we could radically live for others.

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Finding God in the Waves

Finding God in the Waves

finding-god-in-the-wavesI recently finished a great book from Mike McHargue, popularly known as Science Mike. It’s called Finding God in the Waves, and it looks at Mike’s journey away from God and back again. Mike tells it with refreshing transparency as well as an enjoyable sense of humor. What makes it really stand out is the focus on science and logic he brings into the discussion. If you’ve ever wondered if faith is just a crutch for the simple-minded, Mike offers you another perspective. The subtitle of the book: “How I lost my faith and found it again through science,” shows that this isn’t your typical Christian point of view.

Mike’s story—and this book in general—doesn’t fit well into normal Christian categories. That’s why it’s a great way to challenge your thinking and possibly emerge with a much deeper understanding of your own faith in Jesus. As with all authors, I don’t agree with everything in the book. Yet I found this one to be a gem of a read and I highly recommend it. You can also hear Mike on the Liturgists podcast or on the Ask Science Mike podcast.

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