Moving Beyond Ideas to the Heart

PrintOver the past few years, I’ve really come to appreciate the work of Jamie Smith. One book in particular that’s caught my attention is Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation.

In particular, Smith looks at how our formation (or he uses the word education at times) is not ultimately about disseminating ideas, but rather shaping hearts and desires. It’s profound to consider this, really. Not just at the Christian university level, but also for the local church setting. In our teaching and preaching, are we primarily just communicating ideas or are we shaping deep desires. As he remarks, education (or formation) is really happening at all times. So how are we forming those in our care?

To give an example, Smith considers the role of the mall within our western culture. Consider how this institution shapes and forms not just the minds of people, but it’s hearts, desires, and even bodies. It is a full five-sensory formational experience, if we allow it to be.

What if Christians recalled that the five senses are good gifts from God and are available to help form us at our core?

For Christian leaders and educators, this is a book worth picking up. I’ve put some quotes below that come from the book. Hopefully you’ll see how Smith begins to flesh this out a bit more. Pretty intriguing stuff! Continue reading

The Role of Stories in Life

peterson-wrk01.inddI’ve probably mentioned not a few times of my love for Eugene Peterson as a pastor-teacher. I can read and re-read any of Peterson’s work at any point. He’s simply one of my favorites. I recently decided to re-read Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, which is part of Peterson’s “conversation” series. The book is based off the lines of a Gerald Manley Hopkins poem entitled As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Continue reading

Books That Compel Us to Return

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There are books that you read and, when finished, place back on the shelf to never again pick up.

There are books you read, find great enjoyment in them, and maybe have even sensed the words of impact upon the pages. Even as they sit upon the shelf, a glimpse at their spine reminds you of the lasting significance of those words.

Then there are books that you read, possibly shedding a tear or closing your eyes to soak in the content, sensing the voice of God himself ringing through the pages, but even more……you know you will, you must, dust off these works, returning to them again and again to feed upon the treasure at hand. To not do so would be considered a personal tragedy of the gravest kind.

One such book for me is Thomas Kelly’s A Testament of Devotion. It has had such an impact on my life for 12 years now, so much so that I listed it as one of the top 10 books that has impacted my life. I shall never be able to rid myself of this little work. Continue reading

Human Beings, Not Human Doings: A Call to Create Space

clockMaybe The Matrix was right. We’re just programmed units doing a job, filling out a task force, being driven by machines. Such a thought makes me shutter, though. Does it for you as well?

The drudgery of our daily habits does lend itself to such an approach to life. Think about our jobs, our families, our churches. We are directed by the programatic pressures of western society.

Listen, I’m not against the simple daily habits of life. We all have daily rhythms we enter in to. And I love that word rhythms. Some might call them rituals. Both are correct. It’s just that one causes an unnatural churning in our stomachs when we think about it. Hence, why I use the word rhythms. But I’m not against the daily habits and rhythms of life. As humans, we need them and should appreciate them. Continue reading