28 June 2016

Book Review: The Power of Together

Over the last several years, it seems that there has been more attention to the relational aspects of the Christian faith. There have always been some people writing about relationships, often the biblical counselors, but the focus has spread. More and more, Christian authors are recognizing that the Trinity is not simply incidental to Christianity, but essential--not just what is, but what must be, if God is love.

The Power of Together: Discover the Christian Life You've Been Missing (2016, Baker) by Jim Putman is a wonderful addition to this growing body of books. Putman is the pastor of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho and has developed and promoted what he calls "relational discipleship". Matthew 28 reminds Christians that we are to go and make disciples and Putman (rightly) surmises that making disciples happens in relationship. On page 66, he wrote, "That's what discipleship looks like--learning to love in real relationships."

Perhaps what I most appreciated about the book is that Putman brings to it a balanced wisdom. He doesn't come from a naive perspective where every one simply holds hands and tolerates everyone else. He knows, from lived experience as a pastor, that relationships can be difficult. Difficult conversations can and must happen in order to continue to grow as disciples of Christ.

Putman is a churchman in the best sense of the word. He strongly advocates for engaging in a local church and staying in a local church even when things get tough, because they will. Churches are made up of messy, sinful people, yet they are God's plan for the world. If God is relational (He is) and love is expressed through relations with God and others (it is), then it happens in the church.

In sum, The Power of Together captures my hope for the church. I desire to see the church become more intentionally relational in the way that God has called us to. Putman's book helps us on the way. 

I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions presented here are my own. 

15 June 2016

Ortberg on Reviewing the Day with God

I found this gem in John Ortberg's excellent book The Life You've Always Wanted

Reviewing the Day with God
  1. [At the end of the day] Be still for a moment and quiet your mind. 
  2. Acknowledge that Jesus is present. Invite him to teach you.
  3. Go back in your mind to when you first woke up. Watch that scene, as if on video. This may lead you to pray for patience, greater love, courage, forgiveness, or other virtues. 
  4. Continue through the day, going from scene to scene. As you reflect on them, some scenes may fill you with gratitude, others with regret. Speak directly to the Lord about this. You may also be led to pray for some people you were interacting with during the day. 
  5. End with a prayer of thanksgiving for God's mercy and love. Ask him to refresh you as you sleep.

13 June 2016

#Orlando: A wandering reflection

Most gun owners don't kill people,
Most Muslims don't either.
Most conservatives aren’t greedy,
Most liberals aren’t either.
Most homosexuals don’t hate those who are different,
Most Christians don’t either. 

Some things on the Internet are false.
                                Perhaps many things.
                Exercise wisdom and honesty
                                with what you share
Ask yourself
         Is it kind?
              Is it true? 

 All people want to be known and valued.
                Gun owners and Muslims,
                Conservatives and liberals,
                Homosexuals and Christians.
All people want to hear,
                “You matter.” 
Let's tell them.