The Cross and the Lynching Tree

I finally had the chance to read a book I’ve had on my list for years now. The Cross and the Lynching Tree is considered by many to be theologian James Cone’s finest book (see: Amazon link). The book rocked me. Cone looks at the nature of the cross in light of America’s history of lynching. As such, this should be mandatory reading for all Christians in America. As Cone notes, “Every time a white mob lynched a black person, they lynched Jesus. The lynching tree is the cross in America.”

I was amazed how it guided me through moments of tears into moments of desiring God to use me in new ways for the benefit of others. This is a theology that I don’t find in many places yet I realize the deficiency this has created in me. We need to listen to voices such as Cone’s, even when (and especially when) they are hard to hear. I was somewhat aware of the history of lynching, but I admit I had barely scratched the surface on seeing the horrors of it. I suspect most (white) readers will have the same experience.

(more…)

2018 Reading List – 3/4

I’m sure the pumpkin spiced lattes alerted you that we are now entering Fall, and that means we are 75% through 2018 (not to mention that it’s almost time to bust out the Christmas music!). This year I’ve been 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 on my blog named “reading list.”

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.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.”

(more…)