Sycamore Row – by John Grisham

Sycamore_Row_-_cover_art_of_hardcover_book_by_John_GrishamThis past weekend, I completed John Grisham’s most recent novel, Sycamore Row. I’ve read all his books (except for a couple of the children’s novels). This was truly an enjoyable read, mainly for 3 reasons:

1) I hadn’t read a fiction novel in a few month’s time, with my head mainly stuck in theology.

2) The book takes you back to where Grisham’s novels all began: the 1980’s in Clanton, Mississippi. Specifically it connects back to his first published novel, A Time to Kill.

3) For me, the book had a good, emotion-evoking end.

Here’s the Amazon blurb: Continue reading

The F-Word for Pastors – “Fail” by J.R. Briggs

Fail JR BriggsFirst off, I’d like to thank the kind folk of IVP for a review copy of J.R. Briggs’ newest release, Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure. It’s always a pleasure to receive such gifts!

J.R. Briggs serves as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community, a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers – based in Landsdale, PA. He also serves as Director of Leadership & Congregational Formation with The Ecclesia Network. Even more, he’s becoming most known for creating the Epic Fail Pastors Conference and now the penning of this new book.

Failure is not an easy word for pastors. Well, that’s probably true of most people! Of course, when many think of failure for pastors, their mind might typically imagine some grave moral failure. And, though, such is true at times, it is a small slice compared to the greater reality that pastors deal with concerning failure. Continue reading

Surprised by Scripture – Review

Surprised by ScriptureJust this month, New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright, released his newest book to date: Surprised by Scripture. Wright continues to make more of his work available to a popular Christian audience, as opposed to his more weighty and academic works, such as his Christian Origins and the Question of God, currently a 4-volume and 3700+ page set (with 2 more volumes to be released at some point).

First off, I want to offer a special thank you to Renee Senogles, Publicity Manager at HarperOne. She was kind to send a review copy a couple of months back. I always appreciate kind publishers willing to make copies available for free in exchange for reviewing them on one’s blog. Thanks, Renee! Continue reading

Slow Church: How to Practice It

slow-church-bookI recently received a review copy of Chris Smith and John Pattison’s new book, Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. Much appreciation to the kind folk at IVP, such as Adrianna Wright!

I looked forward with great anticipation to the release of this book following both my reading of the Slow Church blog and Chris Smith’s initial e-book release, The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities (I reviewed the book here).

I appreciate what Smith and Pattison are looking to communicate about a necessary foundation for the church – not because it’s something so greatly counter-cultural to “the world,” though it is. Rather because it is counter-cultural to the church of the west. I simply love the subtitle: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. We cannot microwave relationships, community nor discipleship. Well, we can try. But we all know what that will look like.

In a recent blog post, Pattison offers 10 practical ways of how to begin cultivating “slow church.” Read them below, but also check out the book! Continue reading

A Farewell to Mars

A Farwell to MarsOn Sunday, Brian Zahnd, lead pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, released a new book entitled A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.

Zahnd has traveled a path of change across various theological and ecclesiological areas. And one is detailed in this book, noted in the subtitle – moving from an adopting a view of the sword towards one of embracing the gospel of peace as seen in the cross.

The Amazon blurb is as follows: Continue reading