”Be remarkable.” That could be the alternate title of this book, but by itself, saying “be remarkable” is not nearly as remarkable as “Purple Cow.” Th”Be remarkable.” That could be the alternate title of this book, but by itself, saying “be remarkable” is not nearly as remarkable as “Purple Cow.” The title of the book itself proves the point of the book - remarkable wins. It wins over cheap, it wins over “pretty good”, and it even wins over “safe”.
Which makes it a pretty challenging book for anyone in any pursuit of excellence.
It’s challenging to me as an excellence-seeking pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Most LCMS pastors don’t want to be “remarkable,” except maybe for their sermons. Other than that, receiving “remarks” is something that many of my tribe try to steer clear of. Remarks can quickly turn into judgments, and judgments into accusations, and accusations into heresies. So we attempt to escape “remarkable” and shoot for “friendly”, for “pastoral”, and for “overworked and underpaid” (in other words, “cheap as hell”).
The problem with that is that when we shoot for “friendly”, we’re not shooting for “remarkably friendly”, when we shoot for “pastoral”, we’re not shooting for “remarkably pastoral”, and when we shoot for “cheap,” we’re not even that cheap (just look at that Concordia Plan insurance package). Even when we attempt to cloak ourselves in “pure doctrine”, we usually don’t do so in such a way that it makes us remarkable to see how pure we are, but rather how well we camoflague ourselves into the way that we paint the picture of how we think “the Synod should be.”
At the end of the expanded edition that I read, Seth gives you case studies of “Purple Cows.” These Purple Cows are exceptional for profit and non profit adventures that people of all shapes and sizes have put together, including a church in the Bible belt that advertised at the bottom of shot glasses and the inventor of chocolate covered bacon. As I read, I began to imagine. As I imagined, I became excited by what my church and my denomination could be if we just dared to be remarkable.
No matter what your vocation is - church worker or laundromat owner or waitress - you’ll start doing the same thing if you read this book. You will look at the absurdities of the often counter intuitive and conflicting laws of “remarkability” and walk away dreaming of how things could be different, and how they could be remarkable....more
Imagine if church were like an A.A. meeting for sinners - a place to be brutally and awfully honest with yourself and others about the sins that you hImagine if church were like an A.A. meeting for sinners - a place to be brutally and awfully honest with yourself and others about the sins that you had committed and were repenting of.
For most of us, that church sounds like a nightmare.
We can envision the gasps, the head shaking disapproval, the condescending advice of “ex” sinners: “I used to have that problem…”. Standing like Adam, mostly naked with only the fig leaf of people knowing that they *shouldn’t* look down upon someone who is confessing sins, we shake in our boots.
This book is about a man who created a group, out of the necessities of his own repentance, of men who stood like Adam after the Fall: ashamed, naked, and defeated.
Nate’s own story of what he was repenting of is no small part of the book. What he confesses on paper is sometimes even hard to read - just because you want to turn away from the brutal honesty Nate gives to a disgusting sinful situation. But his honesty about his story engenders honesty about the stories of your own sins. If he can be this brave, why aren’t you?
Imagine Paul, opening up his heart in his letter to the Galatians. He had killed people. KILLED PEOPLE! What have you done? What do you need to get honest about when it comes to sin? And here’s the proof of your honesty - who are you going to share your sin with? Who else is going to know what you struggle against?
I struggle with this as a pastor. Who do I share my sins with? Who is my confessor? Who can I trust? Who can I not? I make it adamantly clear to my parishioners that I’ll go to jail before I share the slightest confessed sin, but I don’t hear that being offered that often.
If Nate’s book lacks anything, it’s a highlight on the forgiveness of Christ for confessed sin. The fact of forgiveness and reconciliation with God is certainly present, but it isn’t highlighted as much as reconciliation and forgiveness through other men is highlighted. I think I understand why. We pretend to trust God’s forgiveness, but the difference between our make-believe confession and absolution with God and the real thing is found in our willingness to talk about it, quietly, with one person, but talk about it.
I give high marks to this book. It will make you consider things that scare the crap out of you, and it might just get you to try something new....more
The subtitle of this book “How finding your passion changes everything”, basically explains what the book is about. In this book, Sir Robinson methodiThe subtitle of this book “How finding your passion changes everything”, basically explains what the book is about. In this book, Sir Robinson methodically tries to convince you that we are paying attention to the wrong things in terms of what we view as success.
We view “success” as something that is perhaps different than what we should, and our talk about success has in many ways brought us the most unsuccessful endeavors of our history. Sir Robinson argues wholeheartedly for educational transformation away from standardization and “pragmatism” towards individuality and creativity.
A delight in the book are the several stories about the effect of our current education systems upon creative people who resisted the educational system and became successes on their own. These stories give the anecdotal evidence to what Robinson is proposing.
It’s an interesting, but not surprising, read. It sets out straightforwardly to convince you that education and life without creativity is worthless, and that we’ve been changing our lives to embrace more of the worthlessness. After a while of reading this book, you will be hard pressed not to think back to your own education and look forward to the education of kids being born today, daydreaming of how their experience might be different....more
The title of this book tells you automatically that it is going to be a challenging read. The idea behind “CGood book if you don't read the Afterword.
The title of this book tells you automatically that it is going to be a challenging read. The idea behind “Christian Atheist” is that while many people call themselves “Christians” or “followers of Christ,” it is rare to find people that take their discipleship under Christ seriously.
Groeschel, the pastor of LifeChurch.tv and innovator in the “satellite church” phenomenon, leads you through 12 different “When you believe in God, but…” scenarios. These scenarios range from not believing in prayer to not sharing your faith. Groeschel brings all of these scenarios back to the 1st commandment (You shall have no other gods). The issue isn’t that you don’t like to forgive people, it is that your “god” is not the God who forgives, it isn’t that you don’t like going to church, it’s that your “god” wants to sleep in on Sundays or thinks it’s too advanced for your boring local church.
Groeschel does a much better job of treating the issues of sanctification (growing through the Holy Spirit leading you in good works) than same other pop-Christian authors who write about the same topic. At least Groeschel usually brings things back to Jesus, to forgiveness, and to your state as a redeemed child of God. It isn’t often that he’s over the line, but it happens occasionally (like when he tells you that if giving your offering doesn’t hurt, it’s not good enough). Usually, however, he’s right on with the Law - accusing you of making yourself or something else your god and calling yourself a Christian all the while.
Unfortunately, I do have to say that “usually” Groeschel brings it back to Jesus. The most disappointing thing about the book is the Afterword. In this Afterword, Groeschel wrecks everything that he has just lined up. In a story about a vision from God, Groeschel calls into question the faith of every Christian that hasn’t reached his level of sanctification. (Insert annoyed groans of disappointment.) Instead of showing us that a true Christian rejects false gods and the false securities that come along with those false gods - he constructs for himself a false god of his own piety. That move ruins the rest of the book.
I repeat: If you read the book, don’t bother with the Afterword. It will absolutely ruin an otherwise good book for you.
It took me a while to get through this book, I won’t lie. The books is basically divided into two parts. The first half is short stories, almost enti It took me a while to get through this book, I won’t lie. The books is basically divided into two parts. The first half is short stories, almost entirely dealing with the subject of marital infidelity. The second half is a novella “Rabbit Remembered” which is a sequel to one of Updike’s earlier stories about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.
I had never read an Updike collection before, and if you had asked me in the beginning section of the book (the stories of marital infidelity), I most likely would have told you I wouldn’t ever again. It appears that Updike needs a little longer set up to really get a plot in motion. His prose is beautifully descriptive, but it slows his stories down into what appear to be simple character studies with no sense of plot.
This isn’t the case for the novella at the end, and a few of the short stories are more than worth the slogging through Updike’s rehashing of unrequited loves from within and without marital bonds.
Given the rabid Updike fans that I know from other parts of the world, I’m assuming I just picked a bad one to start with. So this is probably a great collection if you’ve already developed a taste for Updike’s Pennsylvanian tales, but not a great collection if this is what you’re first picking up....more
Great Bible. The ESV translation is spot on, and the notes (written by all Lutheran authors) help to give a distinctly Lutheran perspective on verses.Great Bible. The ESV translation is spot on, and the notes (written by all Lutheran authors) help to give a distinctly Lutheran perspective on verses. Loved it!...more
This is my second time through Mark Buchanan’s “The Holy Wild”. The first time that I read this book it was over my vicarage (internship) in GainesvilThis is my second time through Mark Buchanan’s “The Holy Wild”. The first time that I read this book it was over my vicarage (internship) in Gainesville FL working there with First Lutheran. Even though the book is written by a Baptist pastor, the content is surprisingly Lutheran, it shuffles back and forth between Law and Gospel just like a Lutheran preacher might in a sermon.
The essence of “The Holy Wild” is counter-intuitive to what you might think from the title. This is not a book about “how to be wild” or being a “wild Christian” - at least that’s not its primary consideration. The primary consideration, instead, has to do with how “wild” you think God is.
If your picture of God is some ever-compromising impotent walker-bound grandfather, then you’ll never be able to fully rest in His house. You will instead tire yourself to death keeping all night watches and fighting windmills. If that is you, you will have no energy left to embrace the intoxicating wilderness of His Kingdom. You will, in effect, lose the wilderness in the domestication.
Buchanan reinforces the perplexing wild God that we know from Scripture. This is a God who is good beyond our goodness, victorious through a cross, and wise beyond even the wildest of our imaginations. This is the God whom we can worship. This is the God in whose arms we can rest. This is a God who we can trust when He promises we will be safe if we shut our eyes for a nap.
If you haven’t been risking for God, or if you have gotten tired of taking risks that you thought were God-led; if you haven’t trusted God, or if you feel like the God you’ve been trusting isn’t there —- this is a book for you.
As someone who naturally works with younger Christian leaders (I'm a (college) campus minister), this book wasn't all that surprising. The basic premiAs someone who naturally works with younger Christian leaders (I'm a (college) campus minister), this book wasn't all that surprising. The basic premise is that older leaders should allow themselves to be in relationships with younger people. This premise is predicated on the ideas that a.) older leaders have things to learn from younger people - like how to use facebook, and b.) that the exchange is a win-win for everyone in the relationship.
If you already believe that these things are true, then you're probably not going to be blown away by the book. Still, there are a few helpful ideas when it comes to understanding the "Millenial" psychological disposition. ...more
I’ve been a fan of Seth for a while through his blog and then reading Tribes, which makes me a new comer to the “tribe” of Seth. This book exemplifiesI’ve been a fan of Seth for a while through his blog and then reading Tribes, which makes me a new comer to the “tribe” of Seth. This book exemplifies a lot of the reason that I’m a fan of what Seth has to say. His iconoclastic way of looking at the world makes you stop and consider if what you’ve always believed is really the way that it is.
In “Linchpin” Seth takes on the topic of economy and asks if we’re still living in an industrial age. Seth’s approach is that we are in a new age - which still has yet to be defined, a sort of postmodernism of economic systems. Just as postmodernism sought to define itself away from modernism, Seth defines the worker today away from the industry or factory of the industrial age.
The writing has the hallmark of Seth’s other books - chapters are subdivided into things that are probably best termed “blog posts”, which makes for an easy and fast-paced read. I enjoyed this book a lot, and it got me out of a few slumps I’ve been feeling with its ability to make myself ask new questions. I recommend you pick it up.
Francis Chan’s bestseller, Crazy Love, was a bit of a disappointment for me. Like many other books that I’ve heard hyped up in mainstream evangelicaliFrancis Chan’s bestseller, Crazy Love, was a bit of a disappointment for me. Like many other books that I’ve heard hyped up in mainstream evangelicalism, I found the basic ideas of the book to be somewhat rudimentary and a little cliche.
Still, there were a few bright points to the book, and it wasn’t a complete wash.
The basic premise of the book is summed up in the Hebrew metaphor of the heart. Ancient Hebrews considered the heart not to be necessarily the seat of human emotion (as post-Victorian Europeans and Americans might), but rather the seat of human decisions.
Francis is telling us that to love God means to make decisions in our life based on God’s will.
It’s a challenging point, and he excels in making it challenging. Francis encourages you to dream big, not small. He attacks the “lukewarm” who rely on some misguided nominal and false sense of Christianity. He provides a “cloud of witnesses” of modern day Christians who live out the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. He encourages you to live day by day, giving all you can, being obsessed with living life as a Spirit-guided Christian.
Yet, noticeably lacking from this treatment of Christianity is Jesus - at least Jesus presented as a redeemer and Savior. Little time is spent on the “crazy love” that God has shown us in the cross, and that….well….it’s just crazy.
My favorite explanation of the Lutheran concept of “Law and Gospel” is “Disturbing the Comfortable and Comforting the Disturbed.” (Lex and Terry Radio Show by-line). Francis succeeds in disturbing the comfortable, but not in comforting the disturbed and giving the empowerment to do that which God has set before us. To me, that means that the job is only half-done....more