What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book Took Six Months to Read

Usually I am the last person in the world that wants to move at a snail's pace. But today, after six months, I finished my intentional slow reading of John Burke's book, "No Perfect People Allowed."

Along with a dozen other books it has been on the desk here in my study at the church. Been reading a few pages every day and mentally digesting a little at a time.

All the while I have been continuing to lead Pathway Church down the path of creating a "come as you are" culture. Not that we hadn't already headed down this path years ago, but there is always work to do in a church with a vision to reach broken people with the good news of God's love and grace.

I want to get some copies for our three children and their spouses and for other leaders at Pathway. That is a sign for me that a book is great.

To all my readers out there - both of you - take it from a reader/leader - get this book! Slowly digest it. Apply it.

It's the best thing I've read since "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

Went to see this movie Friday night with Deb - had to talk her into it. We went with a few friends from the church. Deb actually ended up liking it, I think because of the wry humor of Bruce Willis' character, John McClane. It didn't hurt that the plot was not twisted - just a good action flick with some over the top scenes (like Willis standing on the wings of a jet) and tremendously entertaining special affects.

And I was not displeased, as I sometimes am, with the gratuitous profanity Hollywood loves. In fact, I thought there was comparatively very little profanity in this film, certainly not any more than cable TV. I don't enjoy hearing vulgarity and I certainly don't use it. But I do get an earful sometimes when I'm out and about the city - especially talking to some of the roughnecks with whom I have conversations. So I guess that's another reason I don't cringe at it in the theater.

I've also gotta confess that I never have believed that watching entertainment that includes violence is wrong for Christ followers - unless its gratuitous. I never have wanted to watch chainsaw massacre movies and such.

I like to see movies portraying heroes taking chances when they're on the side of right and justice - and the character John McClane is the king of taking risks. It's appealing to me. Real men, and women, have to take risks for what's right every day and the odds are often stacked against them. (Am I coming across as being too corny?)

Movies like this charge my battery. Sometimes I need to be motivated to keep taking risks for right.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Amazing grace played out in an amazing life.

Haven't been blogging much lately because I have been doing a lot of reading. Summer is a good time to read. I won't try to catch up on all the books I've been reading but today I finished "Amazing Grace, The Story of America's Most Beloved Song," by Steve Turner.

Enjoyed the biographical portion of the book more than the history of how the song became so famous.

I received the book as a gift from Bristol Bay Productions and Walden Media for submitting a sermon to Sermon Central with "Amazing Grace" in the title. I did this in February but the books about the song and John Newton, the songwriter, arrived only recently.

I will write a sermon for books any day. And, of course, the sermon was shared with my church.

It was entitled, "Amazing Grace in Simple Terms."

The book's first half chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of John Newton. It truly is "amazing" to see how God's grace touched this man's life and changed his character so drastically. One thing that really stood out to me was Newton's total disregard and concern for his spiritual state early in life. At times he mentions having gone years without suffering the pangs of conscience for his sins. It was even in his later years that he came to admit to the horrible perversity of transporting slaves across the Atlantic Ocean as a ship captain.

Somehow that encourages me to have hope about some of the men to whom I share the Good News about Jesus. There may come a time when their attitude will change. I must be patient. God's grace is persistent!

I was also arrested by the humility of the man in later life. Even after his song became popular, both in England and America (more so in the United States, in fact), he seemed to remain acutely aware of his total need of Christ. I admire that. It is so refreshingly antithetic to "celebrity" Christianity today.