Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review of The Maxwell Leadership Bible



The Maxwell Leadership Bible
by God/and John Maxwell
ISBN 978-1-40167978-1
Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Clint Walker

For decades now, John C. Maxwell has been revered both as a ministry leader and as an expert on business leadership throughout the world. He is known for his sequential, step-by-step "laws" that help people grow and develop as leaders wherever they work and live.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible brings together Maxwell's expertise as a minister and a business leader by developing a "study" bible of sorts that goes through Scripture and uses Scripture to communicate the leadership principles he espouses.

The Bible has sidebars and illustrations of Biblical leadership principles on nearly every page. Every book introduction highlights the leadership issues for that particular part of Scripture. There are a few articles in the front of the Bible that introduce principles of Biblical leadership. In the back of the Bible, the leadership laws that Maxwell has developed. There is also a index of leadership issues addressed in Scripture and in this study bible, As well as summaries of several of Maxwell's other books, and how they apply to what you would find and read in Scripture and in The Maxwell Leadership Bible.

This particular resource could have several uses:

  • A devotional guide for a group of leaders
  • A guide for someone who wanted to do an in-depth study of Biblical leadership
For fans of Maxwell and students of Christian leadership, this is a must have book!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apprentice Institute Quick Hits: Talk 1--James Bryan Smith




THE TALK


TITLE: LIGHT DARKNESS AND THE YES OF FAITH

Quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar
"God before us explains himself as love. Love radiates from God and instills the Light of love in our hearts."

Galatians 4:19


Formation for mission includes:

1. Recieving the light
2. Letting the light be formed in you
3. Bringing the Light to a darkened world


Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review of Fleeing Herod by James Cowan


Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family


Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family
by James Cowan
ISBN 978-1-61261-304-8
Paraclete Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

What a unique book! Fleeing Herod tells the story of a pilgrimage of sorts by James Cowan as he makes his way through Egypt in the footprints of the Holy Family. In the process, Cowan discusses the intersection and conflicts between history and scholarship, between the politics of Jesus' day and the politics of today, of his own religious traditions and those of Coptic Christians in Egypt. In the process, he allows us to see the story of the Holy Family's flight to Egypt in new light, allows us to hear from some lesser heard voices in the Middle East, and open the doors for some new spiritual insights.

Fleeing Herod reads like an adventure story, a search for hidden treasure for the soul that will keep most readers turning from page to page. Of course, as with any spiritual autobiography from Eat, Pray, Love to Augustine's Confessions, there are going to be parts of the book that hit home with the reader, and others where one just has to chalk up Cowan's perspectives to who he is. Word to the wise though, Cowan does more reporting than editorializing, even though there are points where his perspective comes shining through)  However, whoever reads this book will learn a lot, grow a lot, and be challenged to think about their lives, the world, and Scripture anew.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Book Review of Ireland's Saint by J.B. Bury w/ Jon Sweeney


Ireland's Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick (paperback, smaller format)


Ireland's Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick
by J.B. Bury w/Jon M. Sweeney
ISBN 978-1-61261-333-8
Paraclete Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Ireland's Saint is a classic biography on the life of St. Patrick. First published over 100 years ago, people still regard this fine work as authoritative and the standard on telling the story of the ministry of St. Patrick. Bury was a scholar of the Greek and Roman Imperial history, and his study of the Early Church's expansion to the Emerald Isle is an outgrowth of that academic interest and its relation to his part of the world. For a person wanting to sift through the history from the legend, and to know more about Patrick than a few fanciful stories, this is a great book to have.

The book has some helpful, albeit rather expansive editorial helps from Jon Sweeney. First, Mr. Sweeney moves the summaries of Patrick's life and ministry, and its lasting impact to the front of the book. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful decision. One first sees the power of Patrick's story with this change, and then is left seeking to know more.

Another thing that Sweeney does is insert little annotations in side bars throughout the book that point to issues of discussion among religious folks or scholars, as well as highlighting some of the best of Bury's thought and work.

The text is relatively short. A small paperback that one could easily make their way through quickly. Pick this book up now, while it is on sale ($3 right now at Paraclete's web site), and then read it during Lent as you lead up to St. Patrick's day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review of the Way of Grace by Glandion Carney



The Way of Grace
by Glandion Carney with Marjean Brooks
ISBN 978-0-8308-3594-2
IVP Formatio
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Have you ever felt like you could not do the things that you used to do, or wanted to do? Have you ever felt like you life was out of your control, and wondered where God was in the midst of that struggle and pain? Have you ever struggled to find God's presence in the midst of persistent pain, disease, or other challenges? If you have, than you will relate to Glandion Carney, and his journey of faith that he shares in The Way of Grace.

This book is a spiritual autobiography and reflection on what it is like to experience God, and find deeper faith while facing Parkinson's disease. Carney centers his story around the experience of God's grace. Throughout the book he shares his physical, emotional and spiritual struggles, and how he finds God to be more and more faithful even as his body falls apart. The book is raw and confessional, with Carney sharing some deeply personal struggles and giving his readers some insight into some not-so-pretty parts of his thought life. It also has a lot of depth, drawing inspiration from saints that lived both decades and centuries ago.

This book is easy to relate to and easy to read. It is also beautiful. As one reads Glandion's words and testimony, one is prompted to remember and be thankful for the grace in our lives as well

Book Review of JOHN: THE GOSPEL OF WISDOM by Michael Card




John: The Gospel of Wisdom
by Michael Card
ISBN
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Michael Card has been a master story teller in his music for decades. He has focused much of his music ministry toward singing the story of God for the ages--with a special focus on the gospels. So, when Card continues his Biblical Imagination commentary series, and focuses on John--who focuses on lengthy narrative--readers like you and I should pay attention to what he hears and what he has to teach us.

As I opened the book, I was impressed that Card not only understands the narrative arc of the gospel of John and the stories within the story, he also deftly handles some of the more subtle theological themes and fields some of the more challenging questions that the gospel of John presents.

This specific commentary could work both as a devotional for many, as well as a commentary series for those teaching and preaching the Bible. It is deep in understanding, and yet accessible to most. I will return to this resource again and again.


Book Review of Coffee with Jesus by David Wiklie



Coffee with Jesus 
ISBN 978-0-8308-3662-8
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

A few decades back I became familiar with a magazine that I came to love. It was called the Wittenburg Door, which was later shortened to The Door. It was a witty book full of sarcasm and wit from a Christian perspective. After a while, the magazine was bought by a group that had an ax to grind against televangelists. While I shared their antipathy for television preachers, I felt that the quality slowly declined in their magazine after the sale.

About a year or two ago, I discovered  Coffee with Jesus and its regular appearances on Facebook. I grew to love this wonderful mix of humor and exhortation as well.  The premise of the comic strip is that Jesus has regular encounters with ordinary folks at a local coffee shop. Most of the characters are close to middle-class and white. Satan also makes an appearance, as does a preacher in his collar from time to time.

Jesus clearly exhibits love and acceptance in these comics, but often "calls 'em as he sees em'". He does not avoid challenging the hypocrisy of folks in his sphere of influence. He also does not play the game of giving "church answers" to questions his friends come to him with. He is smart, witty, painfully honest, and compassionate. And, as you listen to him talk to others, he makes you smile.

This book is arranged topically. This allows the reader to search by issues or seasons of the year. I am tempted to scan copies of this book, and use specific strips in PowerPoint presentations for worship from time to time. The messages are that challenging and thought provoking. But, I am not sure what Jesus might say to me the next time we got together for coffee. :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review of the Accidental Revolutionary by Jerome Dean Mahaffey



The Accidental Revolutionary
by Jerome Dean Mahaffey
ISBN 978-160258391-7
Baylor University Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

This book was released several years ago. And, a few years after receiving it, I am just getting down to posting a review of The Accidental Revolutionary by Jerome Dean Mahaffey. Let that not color your impression of this fine book or the reviewer however. The book is not really time-sensitive. And the thoughtful material takes some time to read, digest, and consider.

To make a long story short, Mahaffey's thesis is that George Whitfield's preaching and teaching helped galvanize and form the United States of America, and what he taught gave them philosophical underpinnings and theological justification for the revolt that would come in the colonies just a few years after his death.

Whitefield was unique. He was a Calvinist, and a revivalist. He was admired by the deist Benjamin Franklin, and had along and complicated relationship with John Wesley and his friends. He was born in England, but he died here in America, and his unique and dramatic preaching style was best received in the States.

From early on, Whitefield ordered his life and ministry as he felt led by the Spirit, even if that chafed against his peers and ecclesiastical authority. He took church meetings out of buildings and would speak in outdoor settings (which caused no little uproar, especially in England). He preached without notes. He went more where he wanted to go than where he was directed to go. He was led to faith by the Wesleys, but then adopted some theological beliefs that were not very compatible with them.

Certain ideas began to develop in his preaching and his conversations with folks, especially Americans. He gave people permission, through his preaching, to question authority. And his preaching began to plant the seeds that military revolt was justified in order to experience the freedom that God called his people to live in.

As the Declaration of Independence was written and the Revolution fought, people often felt they were fighting, in some sense, a holy war. Whitefield gave the colonists the theological groundwork to come to these conclusions. That is why some proclaim, "No Whitefield, no revolution" (ix)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Hits about the Kiss of Grace by Michael Frost at Sentralized 2014









THE TALK

Living by the Kiss of Grace


  • The kiss of grace insists that we must be present in the moment
    • Must be present in the moment
    • Must avoid the temptations of fear and laziness
    • Must understand NOW is the only time to respond to him
    • You did not meet Jesus 20 years ago, you are meeting him TODAY, NOW
  • The kiss of grace insists that we must throw all our faith on the goodness and the grace of God
    • Trust in the fundamental truth that Jesus loves you
    • Grace tells us that we are accepted by God just the way we are
  • The kiss of grace insists that we live with gratitude
    • The best motivator for mission is gratitude
    • "No one will remember me, no one will remember you, but we have been kissed by the grace of God, and that is enough

Quick Hits from Bob Roberts presentation at Sentralized 2014




THE TALK

Bob Roberts is a pastor of a megachurch in Dallas. He has had a suprisingly effective ministry with Muslims around the world. In DFW 40 percent of residents are born in non-English speaking countries(this does not include the high numbers of East Indian folks). There are 500,000 Muslims in the Metroplex.

He talked about being a witness in the public square.

"We Christians don't like the public square because we don't know how to be normal when we live in the public square"

Tips

  1. Respect authority
  2. Practice civility
  3. Stay calm under pressure
"The World is Open, We are Not"


Quick Hits from Caesar Kalinowski's presentation Sentralized 2014


Caesar Kalinowski

THE TALK


  1. Don't believe the do=be lies anymore.
  2. Understand that the mission is God's not yours
  3. Be filled with the Spirit
"We treat the Holy Spirit as the weird uncle of the Trinity"
"The point of the cross is to be filled with the Spirit"

What does the Spirit do?

helps, reminds, convicts of sin, leads, counsels, reveals, proclaims Jesus, knows the heart of the Father, advocates, guides. THESE THINGS ARE HIS RESPONSIBILITY, NOT MINE.

Ask "What's next Lord"

Instead of trying to figure out the Master plan, trust the Master who has the plan

Quick Hits from Brad Brisco's presentation at Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

I don't have the best notes on Brad's presentation, in part because much of his talk is also summarized in his book THE MISSIONAL QUEST.

But here is what I have

"There are no unsacred places, there are only sacred places and desecrated places"--Wendell Berry

He referenced Oldenburg--Great, good place

And he talked about three places where we experience life

First places--Home. Our missional practice there is neighboring.  We should offer Biblical hospitality. This is different from entertaining. Hospitality speaks of the LOVE of the stranger. In order to do this we need to have margin in our lives, because "relationships happen in the margins"

Second places--Work

Third place--Where we hang out. Our missional task in these places is twofold
1.  Identify and engage third places
2. Create third places
3. Support and defend third places


Insights from Christena Cleveland at Sentralized 2014


I Peter tells people not to be meddlers. In that context, meddling refers to trying to get non-Christians to be forced to live by Christian standards

The movement of transformation of communities and societies moves in this way:
Incarnation
Reputation
Conversation
Confrontation
Transformation



Kim Hammond's Sentness workshop and Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

We need to ask, are we a selling church or a sending church?

No one talks about postmodern stuff because we are now already there

How do we make the transition from selling to sending?


  • Begin to know the language of the people you want to reach
  • Understand their culture
  • Put yourself in proximity to people outside the church
We need to stop selling to people and start sending people. 10 percent are non-adopters. 10 percent are early adopters. Eighty percent of people in our church are waiting to be trained and sent

We need to share life with people. We are friendly but we don't love each other very much. diatribio--for skin to rub through skin because one is in close enough proximity

TAKE HOME
There is no real mission without proximity to those you are trying to reach


Starfish and Spiders and Church Movements Ori Brafman and Neil Cole at Sentralized 2014

How does one do starfish innovation in a spider organization?

  • Another question: how does one become an adaptive leader
  • Adaptive leaders should
    • Remember: Good artists copy, great artists steal
    • Create emotional bonds via networks
    • Repurpose ideas
In order to create a culture for starfish innovation one should...
    • Invite unusual suspects to the table
    • Create white space
    • Give circles specific models to solve
    • Shed spotlight on success
    • Change context and start again
(Cole)
Multiplication happens from micro to macro
    • start by reproducing disciples
    • then reproduce leaders
    • then reproduce churches....
Instead of joining a movement of God for people we try to create a movement of people for God

Concentric circles in multiplication
2-3-- life change
12-15--connect
25-75--place to train and equip
120-150--a tribe
300-500--a community that can set a culture


Quick Hits from the Missional Agenda for the Neighborhood Workshop by Michael Frost at Sentralized 2014



---Missional is more and different from recruitment to our brand of mission or ministry

--It is alerting everyone to the fact that YAHWEH reigns
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"--Isaiah 52:7

  • The mountains were places of idol worship
  • This was in Babylon
  • God says, "It is beautiful to proclaim my salvation THERE"
God's reign is utter, total and complete. Even it sometimes appears to be fitful, partial and mysterious.

If the only thing our neighbors know about the reign of God is what they see in you, what would that look like?

Would there be wholeness/shalom
Would it be relational
Would people see reconciliation
Would they see fear and laziness
Would they see justice and equality
Would they see beauty


Quotes from Nathan and Richard Foster's Presentation of Nathan's Making of an Ordinary Saint



"Love is a far greater motivator than guilt"--Nathan

"Virtue and vice are both deeply ingrained habits"--Richard

"We are learning to enjoy God--RELAX"--Richard

"Distraction is the great enemy of the soul today"

Those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit move forward--even in sleep"--Brother Lawrence


Quick Hits from Sentralized 2014--Neil Cole



THE TALK

The church we are accustomed to was born in a previous era and will never be repeated, and the training you have received has not prepare you for what you are about to experience.

Change is the order of the day

How are things different:

            • Credentials loose relevancy in a day
            • Education must be constant
            • A leader is no longer a bridge to the future
            • Resources cannot be banked--everything is unsure
            • Strategic decisions are not planned, but done in the moment
            • Expertise is no longer a currency because change is so fast
            • Traditions are irrelevant

This means we need multiplication growth instead of addition growth

How would you respond if 100 came to Christ in day in your ministry
Or 1000 in a week? Would you be equipped? 

Mulitiplication growth is necessary to reach a growing population with the gospel

This means we need to shed dependency and release control
Be less invested in the "stuff" of church


One of my favorite moments from Apprentice 2014



On Friday morning at the conference I went to last week, I went into the classroom where there was a presentation from Richard and Nathan Foster, based on Nathan's new book. There were two seats available at the front of the room. I sat in one next to a sweet little old lady. We got in a conversation. She asked where I was from. I said I was from Hot Springs, SD. She said, "Oh we were just there!" She recounted how in the last few weeks they had been through town, stayed at the Sundowner Best Western Hotel, got a bite to eat at the Subway, and then spent the rest of the next day visiting Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park, like she and her husband did when she was first married.

Our conversation ranged all over the place. I showed her pictures of my wife and family, which she loved. She talked about her love for the 700 Club. Then she said her family was with her. Her name was Carolynn. Her husband was Richard Foster, and her son was Nathan Foster. They were the presenters today. Her grandkids, she said, were to my left, as was her daughter in law and her kids.

She asked me if I had read any of her son and husband's books. I said I had purchased Nathan's new book, and read several of Richard's books. Buy Nathan's other book, she said, "Because, you know, the grandkids need new shoes."

(I have been tempted to buy the book. But it is about a father and son reconnecting relationally. And since my father seems to have no desire to have a meaningful relationship with me or the kids, I think it would just piss me off)

We talked about weight loss, diet, and she and my wife being breast cancer survivors. It was one of the highlights of the trip. I almost asked her to autograph her son's book, but I am not into that autograph stuff (I think it leans toward celebrity worship).

I spent most of the week in Dallas at Sentralized trying to find ways to be social with folks at the conference, and although some folks were friendly, I found it to be a very cliquey event with a lot of insider culture and a clear lack of openness to other folks that did not seem to be invested in their "tribe". Almost like a denominational conference, only focused on a different organization and the practice of ministry. There were notable exceptions, but that is a general gist of how things felt.

Then I get to this new conference. And someone seeks me out, instead of me having to be friendly. And the person that I met and had one of the best conversations about life, faith, and family with just happened to also be the mother and wife of two of the presenters.

Quick Hits from Alan Hirsch--Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

The talk began by discussing "What does it mean to be a movement"?

Examples of movements were shared. They included:
The Ancient Celts
The Reformation Era Moravians
The Wesleyan movement

Mark of a movement #1--
Embracing the call to REPENT

  • In order to learn, we need to unlearn
  • Must embrace the need to begin again



Mark of a movement #2--
(my shorthand here) PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
  • Every believer is a church planter
  • Everyone is the seed of a movement
  • Every believer has the potential for church in them
  • Every cell has the DNA of the body of Christ in it
Movement killers in the church

1.  Non-discipleship of the church (what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission)
  • You can do more wit 12 disciples than 1200 consumers of religion
  • Christianity without discipleship is a discipleship without Christ
  • If you don't want to hang out with Jesus now, what are you going to do with eternal life
  • Problem: The Catholic attempts to institutionalize grace through sacramental theology
  • Church needs to be always reforming
2.  The clergy-laity divide
  • Creates dependency
3.  We lead too much with service
4.  By supressing the agency of women

"The greatest truths are remembered not discovered or invented"

THE TAKEAWAY

The pastor-centered model of ministry will not work if the church is to reach the world today. The Spirit's work is too big to be managed or contained by one executive.