Three Amazing Books

Occasionally a book comes along that changes your life and you just can’t stop talking about it. It’s not super common. Often you’ll read through a ton of books and only a select few will impact your life in this way. That being said, here’s my list of those few.

1. Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne

When I learned in a college class one day that Jesus spent most of his time talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, I was confused. Why did he talk so much about the afterlife? Or did I not really understand what Heaven was? When Shane Claiborne’s book, Jesus for President came out, I immediately bought it due to the fact that (A) I loved Shane Claiborne and (B) every page was graphically designed the whole way through. I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, but as I made my way through it I began to realize that it was dripping with the understanding of what Heaven was. It was a place that existed here and now, had its own backwards ways of life, and even its own politics that ran very much contrary to our own. It caused me to think differently about how I needed to live my life and I actually became a different person in many ways after reading it, which is something just about no book ever does to its readers. If you want to live the Christian life out as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven here and now, there is no book I could recommend more for you to read.

 

2. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

I remember hearing about how popular this book was when I was a kid, but being a bit of a hipster, I guess I didn’t want to read it since everyone already knew about it or something. Many years later I saw the movie Ragamuffin, in which an actor portrayed Brennan Manning in a few short scenes. I didn’t know if the lines the actor said were pulled straight from Brennan’s books or just based on him, but I knew I wanted to read his books after hearing those lines delivered—some of them nearly brought me to tears. Some time later I busted out The Ragamuffin Gospel, and came in contact with God’s love more clearly than I ever had before. No book had ever been more convincing that God loved me even in my brokenness. No book had ever been more convincing that I had to love other people—all other people even in their brokenness. Some of the greatest quotes I’ve ever read are found in this book. Love is pretty much what ever Brennan Manning book is about and they’re all great, but I would start here.

 

3. C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces

We all rave about C.S. Lewis and rightfully so. The man is a genius. I don’t know where to begin to tell you to read as most of his work is eye-opening, so I’ll recommend one of my favorites from him. I thought when I bought his Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, that I may just be buying into a publisher’s attempt at milking Lewis for all he’s worth by throwing all of his extra material into a book, but I found that wasn’t the case. Lewis’ essays are wonderful to read and they get into all sorts of topics (even aliens!). They’re also often succinct, so you get a concentration of his wisdom in each essay quicker than you might find in some of his books. It’s a long read, but it’s worth it. Though if you’re looking for fiction, his Chronicles of Narnia series have become some of my favorite fiction. #AslanGivesMeShivers

 

Evangelicals and Politics

Click on the headline to see the video.

When I saw that Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne were in this video, I knew I was going to have to watch it. With the election coming up, take a listen to these different thoughts and conversations from amazing thinkers.

When I saw that Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne were in this video, I knew I was going to have to watch it. With the election coming up, take a listen to these different thoughts and conversations from amazing thinkers. Also check out Greg Boyd’s awesome new blog, ReKnew.

Reaching Japan

There’s a paragraph in my Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals that stands out to me every day:

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and pain. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread and, through our understanding, love; give peace and joy. Amen.

Now that this is ingrained in my mind, it has caused me to think a bit more radically about prayer. I mean, yes, of course I should be praying for Japan and others, but I also need to be (in the awesome words of Audio Adrenaline) God’s hands and feet to this nation. To bring them their daily bread and His love.

At church this past Sunday one of our members asked if we could all pray for Japan, so a few of us prayed out. I tried to take my own prayer in this radical direction, asking God how we could help with the situation. Then I asked again last night and once again this morning, and when I logged onto iTunes I found this:

My prayer this morning ended up being kind of sad. “Lord, you know it’s hard for me to give away my money, and so it’s difficult to go and google Japan to find out how I can.” I also prayed something along the lines of, “Lord, if I could do something more than donate to the red cross, that would probably be good.”

But then I log onto iTunes and there it is staring me in the face without searching for it. And even better, the buttons are already connected to my credit card. And donating to them is really probably more than I am capable of doing at this point, so why am I downplaying the work of the Red Cross? So I give my money and my prayer in hopes to be God’s hands and feet, and if something else comes my way, I only hope God will find me faithful in my giving.

If you’d like to give on iTunes, you can do so by clicking here. Or you can always give at their webpage.

This timing is pretty odd. I just finished making a new docusode for the radio station I work at, and it’s actually a promotion for the work of the Red Cross, which we set up about a month ago before any of this happened. It’s pretty funny so you should check it out at the bottom of the page.

And hey, if you have no money to invest, they can always use your blood. I’ll be honest—they tried to convince me to give some and I didn’t do it. So there’s one way I failed at being hands and feet when I probably should in the past few days.

Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

I asked for Shane Claiborne’s new book, Common Prayer for Christmas this year and I started reading it this week. Now I’ve never been much of one for liturgy and had you asked me to take part in it three years ago, I probably would have answered no in a second. But for whatever reason, I wanted to check this book out. Shane Claiborne is always a great writer and I was interested to see what he and the other two authors Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro had to say in it.

After reading the introduction to the book I was pretty excited to jump right in. It basically works like this: you get together in a community in the morning, afternoon, and night to read through whatever has been put together for the day. The morning prayer is different every day of the year, the midday prayer is the same every day, and the nightly prayer is different every day of the week. You’d think that it would be dry and boring, but I’ve actually found it to be quite refreshing, though it didn’t really hit me right from the get go. It’s actually taken me a bit to slow myself down and really meditate and focus on the prayers of the day rather than rush through it.

But I’m still missing something (other than a transitional statement between this sentence and the last).

See, this book is supposed to be read in a community. I’m reading it by myself regardless, but should any Spring Arbor University students be interested in trying it out with me, we would probably try to find a time in the morning, afternoon, and evening that worked for everyone and if you couldn’t make it here and there, that’d be fine. Either way, I’m not really looking to push anyone into this, but should you want to try it out, leave me a comment! Or if you want to try it out for yourself first or see what it’s all about, the daily morning liturgy is up on their webpage.

I’ve been reading a lot about monks and nuns as of late and I think I’m starting to fall in love with them. I guess I just figured if the monks could meet together to pray seven times a day, I could at least try to do so three times:

…it’s worth noting that some monastic communities have taken quite literally the psalm that says “seven times a day do I praise thee.” They even get up once in the middle of the night to pray together (16).