Lent can be a difficult time to engage in hospitality. Perhaps you agonize over what to give up for the season. Should I drop Facebook or shut down Netflix, or both? Should I fast from certain kinds of food or food altogether? If you’re like me, this decision sneaks up so fast, there is no time to agonize before Lent is upon you and you keep saying, “Let me think about this for a few more days.” But once a decision is made you find yourself in the company of others. This company may be observing Lent, too, but remembering Jesus’ admonition not to appear to be fasting when you fast (Matt 6:16-18), you don’t disclose the fact. This can be tough, especially when you’re invited to someone’s home on Friday when they are serving meat and dairy. Continue reading
Tim Keller has been a highly influential figure in evangelical circles for quite a while. He is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and has written several books including the Reason for God and The Prodigal God. This winter, while thinking through the deacon ministry at our church, I picked up his book Ministries of Mercy and was blown away. As a rooted evangelical, the topic of mercy ministry and social justice have always been associated with liberal Christianity. However, Ministries of Mercy presents our biblical mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves in a disarming manner. Having read that book, I was drawn to his more recent book, Center Church.
Each year my family desperately tries to make it to the beach before it gets too cold. School schedules make it nearly impossible to take advantage of off-peak rates. However, fantastic parents and in-laws made it possible for my wife and I to spend our eighth anniversary in South Walton for some much-needed rest. Any beach excursion, I think, needs to be accompanied by some light reading. This is usually a good opportunity to switch to fiction selections for me. However, I just can’t seem to do it. I have great intentions but I usually end up reading non-fiction. However, rather than try to stretch my intellect by reading authors I can’t understand (that is my year-round approach), I opt for some “Christian Inspiration.” This is that random section at Barnes and Noble that is not “Christian Fiction,” nor is it “Christian History” or “Theology.” In other words, light beach reading that won’t make your head hurt. Last year’s selections were “Mirror Ball” by Matt Redman, “Scribbling in the Sand,” by Michael Card, and “To Own a Dragon” by Donald Miller. Continue reading
Some books become popular and influential because they have the ability to communicate something profound in an accessible manner. Academic books almost never fall into this category. However, James K. A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation may be an exception. That might be an exaggeration but I continue to hear this book referenced and recommended again and again, mostly by academics, of course. While I’m not an academic, Desiring the Kingdom caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, the cover art is intriguing. I know that sounds lame but it makes sense after reading the book. The title, too, piqued my interest. After reading the subtitle, I knew this guy was speaking my language.