In his thought-provoking (and very often insightful!) book You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, author James K.A. Smith reminds us that Christian discipleship isn't only about what you know; it's also about what you love. (That right there is a statement we should marinate in and meditate on, by the way.) The book teases out what this can mean for the Christian and in the life of the local church. Is desire really that big of a deal? How are our loves shaped? What role does the local church play in this?
Smith then goes on towards the end of his book to apply the concepts he's developed to other specific contexts (family, education, vocation). I want to BRIEFLY highlight a small slice of what Smith says about Christian education, since it overlaps with so much of what we want to be about at the Brookside Institute.
As of yesterday, it's officially summer. I laughed when I saw this tweet from @ChrchCurmudgeon:
And since it's summer, I figured I'd post a few books I'm wanting to read and spend time in this summer. No guarantees, but here's to hope! :)
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books you may want to consider. I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is looked to their Amazon page where you can learn more) and jump in - the water's fine!
This post is a (very slightly modified) duplicate of a post I wrote about a year ago. Since Brookside has recently read through Jeremiah 29 as part of the 365 Reading Plan, I figured it was fitting to update and re-post.
It doesn't take much for Christians to look around and observe that - in certain important, noticeable ways - our cultural landscape "looks" less Christian (from the standpoint of a traditional Judeo-Christian ethic) than it did even a few short decades ago.
As we notice these shifts, it's important that Christians NOT respond in panic or fear. Rather, we as Christians need to keep asking ourselves the sorts of questions we should ALWAYS be asking: What does faithful Christian living look like in our culture? What does faithful Christian living look like when we interact with others who hold different values - perhaps very different values? Or the specific question we'll be considering in this post: How can we as Christians keep our footing amidst the shifting soils of our larger culture?
Thankfully, we are not left to ourselves on how to answer this question. Back in the time of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, God's people spent some time exiled from their homeland. In this environment, they could look around and easily observe how much distance there was between their values as God's people (values given to them by God), and certain values of the dominant culture.
In Jeremiah 29, we see how the Lord counseled His people to keep their footing in the midst of this situation in Jeremiah 29. I read through this chapter again recently (I encourage you to read through the whole chapter as well), and see great wisdom in listening to five things we learn there:
I'm totally gonna geek out on a copy of D.A. Carson's (ed) new book, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, as soon as I can get my hands on it. (Which will be soon.)
As the title indicates, the book talks about the authority of the Bible. (In fact, it talks A LOT about the authority of the Bible. The book is 1200+ pages.) And as part of that, the book upholds a nuanced-yet-firm belief in Scripture's inerrancy - that the Bible tells the truth (i.e., it is "not errant" / inerrant).
As Carson says in an interview with The Gospel Coalition on the word inerrancy: Like so many other theological words, "[inerrancy] can serve as a useful one-word summary, even while it needs unpacking with care and with great attention to what Scripture says." This book helps us "unpack with care" and "give great attention to what Scripture says" regarding inerrancy and the closely-related topic of the Bible's authority.
In the following 17 min video, Carson gives some reasons why the Bible's authority and inerrancy are of continuing importance. I encourage you to at least watch the first 8 minutes, where Carson addresses this most directly. The remaining 9 minutes or so are still worthwhile, but they get into the nuts and bolts of the book a bit more.
No Brookside Institute "FOMO" Here: A Review of the Top 5 Blog Posts Each Month, for the Last Six Months
Many of you have heard the acronym "FOMO" (Fear Of Missing Out) - an anxiety or fear that something is going on somewhere that you're missing out on. Well, have no fear. In case you're experiencing "Brookside Institute FOMO," I've helpfully included all of the "top 5 blog posts" for each month, for the last six months (July-December 2015). If you're brand new to the Brookside Institute, be sure and check out our "About" page, our "Classes Overview," and our most recent "Speed Dating the Brookside Institute" as well.
Click on any of the posts included below to revisit posts you've already enjoyed and catch up on anything you may have missed!
If you're like me, you've perhaps seen some "Top Reading Lists of 2015" floating around the internet and social media. Rather than adding my own such list (though click here to see some other books I've recently recommended), I figured this year I'd continue my two-year tradition of highlighting some of the "Top Reading Lists of 2015" that I pay attention to.
In other words, check out these book lists and you'll find some books that are worth reading. Of course, keep in mind that not every book is created equal, remember to read discerningly, and always remember that a careful and responsible reading of the Bible should be our final authority. But I generally think these "sources" are worth listening to for some worthwhile reads (I know I'll hope to be reading many of these I've not yet!) - and to see what's current in Christian publishing today.
If you're still looking for some Christmas gift ideas or want some reading material for yourself while taking some vacation days, these lists can come in handy that way too!
Here are my top 5 "Top Reading Lists of 2015" - in no particular order:
What are the best books you've read in the last 12 months, that you'd recommend to others?
Christmas is officially two weeks away, and that means many of us are considering gift ideas for others in our lives. If you're looking for ideas for the "reader" you know, here are six suggestions. Each of these suggestions has been recently published (in the last 2-3 years) and will be linked to an Amazon page where you can learn more. You'll see they're listed under 6 categories that I try and stay loosely tethered to:
What other books (in any of these categories listed above) would you suggest people consider? List 'em here!
Earlier this week I was talking with a gentleman who communicated a mild "angst" regarding the fact that the church he was attending (a local church that's healthy and vibrant in many ways!) didn't have much in the way of an organized plan for laying a basic theological foundation as part of how it discipled others. As he and I talked, I wondered out loud if that's because of a certain reputation theological instruction can have as dry, divisive, distracting, and more. If that's what theology is, we need to protect our churches FROM it rather than lead our churches TOWARDS it!
But what if, at its best and when approached as intended, theology ISN'T dry, divisive and distracting? What if theology offers a strong foundation off of which to build, fuel that propels growth, a fountain that quenches our thirst, and a fence that provides protection? What if theology helps set our trajectory so we can worship God in all the ways He's chosen to reveal Himself and continue the mission Jesus sends us on? What if theology is an essential ingredient of the individual Christian life and the local church, helping us love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40)?
What if seeing theology and the local church as separate fields that don't necessarily have a whole lot to do with each other is the wrong way to look at things? What if we approach theology and the local church as necessarily interwoven and symbiotic? This is the stance I (strongly!) take and advocate. Theology and the local church go hand in hand. But what else can we say about what this relationship between theology and the local church should look like? Let me suggest at least three things to get the conversation started:
I recently got the just-produced NIV (New International Version) Zondervan Study Bible. I've had a chance to glance through it, and am eager to add it to a list of Bible study tools I recommend. In just a second I'll list some "quick reasons to consider" this latest NIV Study Bible (just in time for Christmas lists!), but let me first mention two prefatory comments.
In just a few weeks, Fall 2015 Institute classes will begin. (Woo hoo!)
The start of a semester always gives me lots of great opportunities to (re)introduce people to the Brookside Institute - what the Brookside Institute is, values that guide us, etc. As part of that, once or twice a year I compile a handful (or two) of links - most of them blog posts - that relate to these sorts of questions and topics.
Consider it "speed dating" the Institute - learning a lot about what we do and what we're about in a short amount of time! Happy reading!
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.