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Book Giveaway: 15 Books on Spiritual Formation

If you’re interested in spiritual formation, you’ll want to check this out. Thanks to Logos, we’re giving away a copy of the NavPress Spiritual Formation Collection, which features 15 books on spiritual formation from people like Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and Donald Whitney. Here’s a bit from the publisher’s description:

Are you spiritually healthy? Or spiritually busy? The NavPress Spiritual Formation Collection challenges you to evaluate your spiritual life. In 15 volumes, you’ll rethink what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discover how you can pursue God in his moments of absence through lament. Learn how to be transformed into Christlikeness by meditating on Scripture. Observe Jesus’ life and character in the Gospel narratives and experience what true love and faith look like.

If you’re interested, just check out the giveaway below.

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Flotsam and jetsam (9/3)

not a sith

Good Reads

  • Religious Language and Everyday Discourse: My list of seven troublesome words and brief explanations is below, with suggested alternatives. Feel free to consider them for yourself and wonder about the continuing usefulness of these terms that most non-Christians have no idea what we’re talking about. Many Christians are foggy on the meaning as well. This is an appeal for clarity in our communication. (The Good Book Blog)
  • Give Us This Day Our Daily Brew: My husband has been working in specialty coffee shops since his teens, and the Chicago location he now manages is our second home. Watching him and other Christian friends work their way quietly through the coffee scene, I’ve observed the theology behind their work, and I’ve seen how coffee can be a uniquely-suited vocation for Christians to live out the image of God. (Hermeneutics)
  • Liberalism’s Parochialism: What I find remarkable is that liberals aren’t even willing to entertain the possibility that I’m right. I’m a heretic—a menace to society—not someone who cares about people, worries about the common good, reads surveys, observes society, and has a capacity to reason and analyze. (First Things)

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August’s Top Posts

top fiveIt’s always interesting when the most popular post of the last month is something that I just posted a few days ago. But that’s the case with the post about Phil Ryken’s commencement speech and his reflections on depression. That has generated a lot of interest, so check it out if you haven’t already.

And although the “Top Posts” lists each month usually focus only on posts that were actually written during that month, I’m breaking that rule here by including 6 Reasons You Should “Waste” Your Time Reading Fiction. Apparently, quite a few English teachers use that one with their middle school and high school classes, so it’s always a top post around the beginning of the school year. I thought I’d include it this time in case it’s one you haven’t seen yet.

  1. Breaking the Silence: When Christian Leaders Speak Openly about Depression

  2. Become a Heretic for a While

  3. 6 Reasons You Should “Waste” Your Time Reading Fiction

  4. The Best Theology Books from the First Half of 2014

  5. Blaise Pascal (A Prayer for Sunday)

Flotsam and jetsam (8/29)

can't even

Good Reads

  • Going, going, gone: Books study exodus from religion:  he question of what is happening to organized religion in America remains unanswered, but one thing is clear: Larger and larger numbers of individuals are drifting away from traditional notions of church. (National Catholic Reporter)
  • Overall, Americans in the Suburbs Are Still the Happiest: City centers and downtowns across the United States may very well be in the midst of a comeback or a renaissance, be reaching a moment of triumph or successfully transforming themselves into magnets for millennials and retiring boomers. But according to the new Atlantic Media/Siemens State of the City Poll, when it comes to overall community satisfaction, the suburbs are still king. (CityLab)
  • Kindle + Evernote = ♥:  Books hold the information I want to know while Evernote holds the information I want to retain. When I put the two of them together, I get a powerful system to record and remember what I have read. Let me share a simple technique to quickly and easily get every one of your Kindle notes and highlights into Evernote. (Tim Challies)
  • Iraqi Christian Village: From Sanctuary To Ghost Town In 2 Months:  While the Christian exodus from Iraq is extreme and driven by the country’s bloodshed, it’s a trend that’s been underway for decades throughout the Middle East. In the mid-20th century, Christians were estimated to be about 20 percent of the Middle East’s population. Today, it’s 5 percent at most. (NPR)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/27)

star wars

Good Reads

  • Can You See Too Much Jesus in the Bible? Throughout history, Christians have affirmed that Jesus is the focus of Scripture. But one Bible scholar is being forced to take early retirement by a conservative seminary for seeing too much Jesus in the Old Testament. (Christianity Today)
  • How Pastors Get Hired Today: Sure, candidates can just keep mailing unsolicited resumes to overwhelmed search committees of small churches and hoping for different results. But don’t be surprised if this approach is less likely to land you behind a pulpit than on the front page of USA Today. (Gospel Coalition)
  • How the Internet Could Protect Your Memory: The Internet is frequently blamed for messing with our minds, making us superficial, distracted and even deluded. But a new study suggests that for some people, using it could actually be healthy. (New York Times)
  • Multi-Ethnic Churches Lament America’s Racial Injustice:  The fact that 86.3% of local churches throughout this country fail to have at least 20% diversity in their attending membership is one reason the American Church has been rendered impotent in attempting to speak on what is, perhaps, the most critical issue of our time: lingering, systemic, racial injustice in a supposedly post-racial society. (Time)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/25)

new study

Good Reads

  • School Starts Too Early:  Parents, students and teachers often argue, with little evidence, about whether U.S. high schools begin too early in the morning. In the past three years, however, scientific studies have piled up, and they all lead to the same conclusion: a later start time improves learning. And the later the start, the better. (Scientific American)
  • How Magic Conquered Pop Culture: Something odd happened to popular culture somewhere around the turn of the millennium: Whereas the great franchises of the late twentieth century had tended to be science fiction—Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix—somewhere around 2000 a shifting of the tectonic plates occurred. The great eye of Sauron swiveled, and we began to pay attention to other things. What we paid attention to was magic. (Time)
  • Of Exiles and Educating in the Tradition:  The task was not to defend the particular stream of Christianity in which my students had first touched the waters of baptism, but to show them that it was fed by a vast river stretching back two millennia. In short, I defended Christianity by helping them swim upstream so that they could discover just how deep and wide Christian Tradition was. Through a confrontation with full-throated Christianity, students had the resources to criticize the stream to which they belonged while also locating that tradition within the great river of Christian Tradition. (First Things)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/22)

dark side cookies

Good Reads

  • Why We Never “Wait” for All the Facts Before We Speak: What wisdom is there in a silence that risks nothing for the oppressed and grants no opportunity for understanding? What wisdom is there in a call for “all the facts” while ignoring some basic and publicly available facts that give cause to lament? What wisdom is there in a silence that actually speaks volumes about its willingness to not even comfort the grieving? (Thabiti Anyabwile)
  • Four Unexpected Benefits of a Small Church: over the years I have been so grateful for our small church, and many of its unexpected benefits and opportunities are specifically related to its … smallness. (Leadership Journal)
  • Behind Ferguson: How Black and White Christians Think Differently About Race: With an increasing number of Christian writers arguing that a significant gap exists between black and white Christians, the latest findings from a significant ongoing study of religion and race in America offers some hard statistics—and suggest that polarization is increasing. (Christianity Today)
  • 5 Misunderstandings about Church Discipline: In the evangelical churches I have participated in during my adult life, there has always been a policy regarding church discipline, attempting to be true to the teaching of Jesus in this text. But a number of exegetical observations are often overlooked. (Craig Blomberg)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/18)

deadly water

Good Reads

  • While You Were Talking About Gungor, Driscoll, and Walsh: While the white evangelical twittersphere was debating whether Mark Driscoll should step down from his pastorship, members of the black twittersphere were guessing which picture of them the media would show if a white person or a cop gunned them down. This is the world we live in. (On Faith
  • When Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse: Several new studies show that praying might help alleviate worries—but only if the person has a secure relationship with God. (The Atlantic)
  • 13 Tell-Tale Signs of HR Problems in Your Parish: churches, which should be models of health and life, often are dismal places to work. And if they’re dismal places to work, you can bet that parishioners are feeling the effects, no matter how vibrant your parish may otherwise be. (Episcopal Cafe)
  • The Atrophy of the Evangelical Imagination: many Christians do not know how to receive art, they only know how to use it. Expressions of culture–whether through film, literature, television, or the fine arts–are typically seen as valuable only to the degree that they affirm Christian worldview or ethics. Those that don’t (which would be the vast majority) are labeled anathema. (Samuel James)

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Blaise Pascal (A Prayer for Sunday)

pascalOne of the most brilliant thinkers of his age, Blaise Pascal was a noted theologian, philosopher, writer, mathematician, and scientist. After undergoing an intense religious experience as an adult, Pascal became involved with the Jansenists, a movement within the Catholic church focused on promoting a robust form of Augustinianism, and wrote several influential theological works, including his famous Pensées.

Blaise Pascal died on August 19, 1662. In honor of his amazing life and legacy, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life
…..except to spend them for thee and with thee.
Thou alone knowest what is good for me;
… therefore what seemeth thee best.

Give to me or take from me;
conform my will to thine;
and grant that, with humble and perfect submission,
…..and in holy confidence,
…..I may receive the orders of thine eternal providence;
and may equally adore all that comes to me from thee,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Flotsam and jetsam (8/15)


Good Reads

  • Ferguson and the Quest for Racial Justice:  These divisions and hatred are older than America, and are rooted in a satanic deception that tells us we ought to idolize “the flesh.” The gospel doesn’t just call us individually to repentance, but also congregationalizes that reconciliation in local bodies of persons who may have nothing else in common but the image of God, repentance of sin, and the redemption found in Jesus Christ. (Russell Moore)
  • The parenting police state: Will we ever be able to go back to freer childhoods? There’s a strong developmental case to be made for a return to free-range childhood. Letting children navigate the world outside their door (but not too far) on their own and with friends can foster a sprit of independence, teach social skills, promote an appreciation of nature, encourage creativity, and allow a healthy space to learn how to fail. (The Week)
  • 5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist:  Ironically, I truly want them to listen and improve. Why? Because I want every worldview to have good representation. It does me no good in my pursuit of truth to have my worldview challenged by an impotent and weakly opponent. (C. Michael Patton)

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