How To Develop a Reading Obsession

How To Develop a Reading Obsession

It is easy to see how reading is on the decline for many people today. With the rise of movies and TV with today’s technology, books have to work harder to compete with companies like Netflix. Then there are things we actually do read involving words, but those words are likely in a digital form on a blog or website. The printed versions of words come to us in the form of a newspaper or magazine. It takes a bit of effort then to find yourself reading a book. Most likely, the book is a recent release or a current best-seller.

Years ago I read a book called The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by former USC President Steven B. Sample (who passed away this year). It had a chapter about reading and explained something called the “fifty-year test.” This is a category of books that are still being read fifty years after they were written. Dr. Sample stated that reading these books will give you a deeper grasp of culture and perspective and set you apart from others. This is counter-intuitive (hence the book title) since most of us try to read to keep up with what’s going on right now. But I have noticed an unbelievable difference ever since I read that book and tried to pick my subsequent books accordingly. But how does a person ever get to a book which passes the fifty-year test that doesn’t completely bore them to sleep or drone on about irrelevant topics?

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Peacemakers – The Tent of Nations

Peacemakers – The Tent of Nations

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

Far and away one of the most moving experiences from my recent trip was getting to actually see the Tent of Nations for myself. I had heard about this for years but the hype could not hold a candle to seeing it firsthand.

Daoud Nassar is an Arab Christian who lives outside of Bethlehem. The nation of Israel has been attempting to repurpose the 100 acres of his land for decades now. Due to perseverance, support from around the world, and a land title dating back to the Ottoman Empire, Daoud and his family still have the land. Yet they live with a constant threat from the five Jewish settlements all around them. They have had harsh rules applied to them and their land that would cause most people to quickly give up and move on. For example, they aren’t allowed to build any new buildings or even to receive basic utilities such as water and power. They have had hundreds of their olive trees uprooted. They prepare for a forcible annexation at any moment in addition to physical threats of violence.

You might wonder this family’s response to such unfair treatment? They radically love them in the name of Jesus.

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When a Sermon Goes Off Script

This weekend my dad talked about great stories and decided to reference Star Wars. He wanted to actually have a lightsaber on stage for it so we got him a really nice one. The kind of saber that turns any male who touches it into a ten-year-old. You may not know this, but we actually rehearse and record a version of the message on Wednesday mornings. It was during this time an idea emerged.

After he does his creative element on stage, what if we did our own?

That’s when we unleashed the creative flow and Darth Jeremy was born. The video above shows us hijacking his sermon and catching him more than a bit off-guard. His laugh makes the whole thing worth it. Who said church can’t be fun?

*NOTE: if you watch the video on your phone you may not hear audio. Try watching it on a computer to ensure you hear the sound.

Christmas Music

Christmas Music

Welcome to December! The best time of year has officially arrived. And that means there’s absolutely no reason not to immediately start listening to Christmas music! But you might have noticed that the Christmas station on the radio only plays the same twenty songs over and over. So as an early present for my readers, here’s my updated Christmas mix on Spotify that you can listen to in order to fully dive into the Christmas spirit. Nearly 50 hours of a variety of gems for Christmas. Put it on random play in the background and let your inner Grinch drain from your system.

Click here to listen to it for free (you just have to create a Spotify login if you don’t already have one).

Peacemakers – The Parents Circle

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

One of the must stunning conversations from our trip to Israel and Palestine was with Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin. Robi is Israeli and Bassam is Palestinian. They’ve both lost a child in the conflict from the opposing group. You would think this would make them enemies, yet they have chosen forgiveness as their revenge. In that process an unlikely friendship emerged.

One of the most powerful parts of the above video, and indeed from my time in Israel/Palestine, is considering the fact that most Israelis don’t personally know a Palestinian, and most Palestinians don’t personally know an Israeli. These conditions are ripe to foster a view of an enemy out of the other. We do this with all sorts of people in America today that we often talk about yet know none of them personally. This could apply to many people’s view of Muslims, refugees, gay people, immigrants, or anyone else who we often form strong opinions about without also forming strong friendships with them. Peace begins by acknowledging the humanity of the others despite our differences or disagreements.

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A Hope Revealed

The video above is my message this weekend at Central in which we closed out our Hope in Hard Times series going through the book of 1 Peter. This weekend I unpacked the idea that true hope cannot be contained.