Wednesday 2.22.12

How to Boost Your Reading Comprehension – Do you find you have more to read than you can ever possibly finish? Do you actually take time to chew on what you read? There is a certain amount of value of being able to read and understand lots but it is easy to get lost in the flood and never profit from all you read. This article has some good tips for managing your reading work flow.

Five Thoughts on Vocation – A few brief thoughts on what the theology of vocation is and why it is so important that we see not just the “spiritual” acts of our life but all of life as before the face of God.

Finally, the theology of vocation is fundamentally about who we are created to be – both as human beings in general, and as specific creatures.

Review: Islam Without Extremes – a good overview of a book I’m really excited about Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty that summarizes some of its main arguments and shows why the book is valuable.

I honestly think it is one of the most important books of 2011; if you have any serious interest in Islam and its future, do make sure you read this.

Secularism: Its Content and Context – this is a pretty heavy article but makes some really interesting and strong points about what secularism should be and how it should be argued for. He, in a very interesting way, argues against relativism in a way that I really resonated with. While there are some areas of disagreement with the author I really liked the piece overall. (I’d recommend reading the full article, though a heavy 35 pages) because this excerpt just gets started on the good stuff!)


Tools or Tie-Ups?

For those who know me well, you will probably laugh at a post like this because I am most guilty of all. But after all that is part of the point of writing.

There are so many great gadgets and tools available. For just about any task imaginable someone, somewhere, has done it before and come up with something to make the task easier. Whether it is changing a tire on a car, making a pot of coffee, reading a book, or learning another language. There are tools available that are designed to make that task easier, or simpler, or more efficient.

This is a great thing. It is also a dangerous thing.

There is a danger that the tools become an end in themselves. Or maybe it doesn’t go that far but rather than making the task more efficient they actually end up becoming a distraction.

So before you start into learning how to use that newest tool for organizing your files or signing up for the latest program consider if it is going to be a tie-up or a tool.


Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris

Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God
by Joshua Harris

Do you go to church? Yes? Okay, why?

This book helps you answer that question. It is aimed to help restore your vision for what the church is all about and what your role is in relation to a real and tangible local church – you know “the church down the street” (the phrase he uses for the local church that you attend).

Joshua Harris first gained notoriety in the Evangelical world for his books on relationships (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship“) in the early 2000s. He has since become the senior pastor of a growing church in MD and has written a few other books.

This book has echos of his early books on relationships. It opens with the reality of what we are missing out on when we don’t commit to the relationship and what we get to be a part of when we do commit. It is a call to not be a “church dater.”

Why should you commit? Why is the church important?

The strongest argument I know for why you and I should love and care about the Church is that Jesus does. The greatest motivation we could ever find for being passionately committed to the church is that Jesus is passionately committed to the Church. (Loc. 265)

It is pretty hard to argue with that logic. If Jesus loves the Church then we should too.

But that’s the “Church.” What about “the church down the street”? It has got problems you know. Well, you know what? Problems are part of what makes the church wonderful. It is where God’s wisdom is on full display. “It’s the powerful effects of the Gospel being worked out in real lives and real relationships” (Loc. 280). The Gospel changes individuals. That is wonderfully amazing. What makes the church special is that it is where you see a whole new kind of humanity on display. A whole community of people who should be divided – by race, by class, by political ideology – all brought together into one body (Loc. 283).

The early part of the book is trying to answer the “why” question of loving the church. The end gets more practical with some suggestions for “how” to love the church. It means coming not for what you can get but for what you can give. It means being a part of the church more than just for those two hours on Sunday morning. It is about living out the “one another” commands in the context of “shared life.” It means coming to actively listen and be transformed by the preaching of the Word. Harris shares a quotation from John Piper who “encourages his church to ‘come on the lookout for God and leave on the lookout for people” (Loc. 1048). This what life in the church should look like. People transformed by their individual relationship with God, loving others out of the overflow.

This book is really just a call to care about the Church – including the church down the street – because Jesus cares about the Church.

It isn’t a deep theology of the church. Those are out there if you want them. It isn’t long. It is conversational and really is easy reading. It is a relationship book. It’s about the relationship between you and the church.


DISCLAIMER: I received a free evaluation copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah. I did not receive any monetary payment nor was I required to write a positive review. I hope my comments about the book will help you evaluate whether or not the book is worth purchasing and reading.

Thinking Fiction↑

When I was younger I used to read tons of fiction. Then around high school I struggled to find good books to read. I wanted to keep reading and tried sports biographies for awhile (John Harkes, David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley are the ones I can remember). Really reading became more of a chore than an enjoyment.

Then came college. I didn’t have much time for non-assigned reading. Though there were a few times when I’d sneak down in a stairwell and fly through a book that a professor recommended. For awhile I got into the habit of reading a book I chose the last 15 minutes before I went to bed. I was surprised how quickly I made it through a few books just doing that. Then came grad school and the workload increased and forced me to become a faster reader. I also started to find more books that I really enjoyed reading – most of them were non-fiction. It wasn’t until I was given a kindle that I started reading by choice and in volume and reading fiction.

Since then I’ve found that I enjoy fiction. It is a good way to relax but still involves more mental energy than surfing the internet or watching TV. It is also a great way to learn about new cultures. One of the best examples of that recently was Island of the World. I got to the end and felt as if I’d seen a whole world of which I’d been completely ignorant before.

So is fiction worth reading? I’d say yes. It is a window into the world. It stretches your own thinking. It engages your mind. And usually it is enjoyable!

Do you read fiction? What do you read? Why do you read?