Category Archives: book review

Blue Like Jazz

I have had this book sitting on my “to read” pile (the pile is now 34 books long) for awhile and thought I would finally get around to it. I know that it was the trendy and popular book about a year or two ago and I admit that I am behind in the times, however I am learning to live with my lack of trendiness – I just call it Retro.

I actually started reading it about a year ago and only got through the first chapter; I guess I wasn’t in the right head space at the time. However, this time I found it fascinating. It was appropriately humorous and warmly compelling…none of the ideas were new per say but the narrative Miller wove was gripping.

The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham

After reading this book the only word that can even possibly sum it up is “inspiring.” You can’t read about Billy Graham and his life, which is firmly and distinctly rooted in Christ, and not be inspired. Billy Graham is unique not because of his incredible talent and gifts (for which he has many), but because he is unapologeticly tethered to his faith in God and the one thing God has called him to. For someone who could have been the most powerful man in America as President, he chose a different path that in the end, has arguably made him one of the most influential.

The best parts of this book are not the methodological leadership gems offered but the anecdotal stories. My only wish is that the authors would have described more of Billy’s failures, of which they mildly allude, as lessons in leadership as well. Maybe because this book was written as a tribute to Billy legacy it was skewed in it’s content but I would have appreciate the stories where even great leaders like Billy make mistakes and those mistakes are not necessarily insurmountable but potential times of learning and wisdom.

This is one of those books that are a must to read in times of weariness where inspiration is needed to carry on – it is packed with it. In the end, it must be remembered: Billy’s accomplishments are not his own but God’s. I am positive that Billy would make this distinction and would be disappointed if I did not.

Reading Update

Over the last few months I have been doing some reading for a class I am taking on Pastoral Leadership. These five books are a sampling of the reading I have done for that class. I am not going to give an extended reflection or review of each book but thought I would give a few highlights:

  • Being Leaders has reminded me of some of those fundamental leadership treasures that, by nature of being in active and busy ministry, you can forget or let your guard down.
  • Building Leaders has started me thinking and rethinking the idea and concepts of leadership development and the need for an effective and dynamic leadership strategy in church ministry.
  • Leading From The Second Chair has reminded me of my role in my current position; how it interfaces with the overall leadership team, church staff, mission and vision of the church.
  • Gentle Shepherding was a tough book to forage through. It more reflected pastoral ethics from a mainline perspective, which was interesting but it was very philosophical and theological. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I expected and thus I found myself forcing my fingers to turn the pages are carry on.
  • Revolution of Character was by far the best read. I have been intrigued lately with the topic of Spiritual Formation and this book kept me attentive, turning page after page with ease and expectation. As part of our classes assignment we had to participate in a weekly online discussion (one chapter per week); it was interesting to reflect along side others and get a glimpse of their perspectives on the topics discussed. I was once again reminded that my life as a pastor needs to ALWAYS center around and be feed by my relationship to GOD.

Book #15 of 30: The Myth of a Christian Nation

I bought the book The Myth of a Christian Nation after seeing the author Gregory A. Boyd on PBS. Do I sound smart and sophisticated after disclosing the fact that I at times watch PBS? During his interview on PBS, I was impressed by his knowledge and perspective and though the book was worth the read and I was glad that I did. It is one of those books I read expecting to agree with most of it and for the most part, I did. Boyd engages this controversial topic on many levels including the destructive intertwining of the politics and the church. Boyd sees an important distinction between the Kingdom of God with the Kingdoms of the World, one in which the North American Church has too often interwoven together. Using history (distant and recent) as well as theological arguments he makes a case for the separation of the two and the dangers of entangling them.

Instead of getting into specifics, I would just make a general comment that I think the concept of the Kingdom of God is intriguing. Just the discussion on how much of our theology (eschatology, ecclesiology, etc.) feeds in and out of our view of what the Kingdom of God is and isn’t, is worth pursuing. My interest in this topic was intensified this last week after taking a class on the Gospel of Matthew and spending, as Matthew does, a lot of time talking about the Kingdom of God and what it is and isn’t.

Although I have some issues with Boyd’s conclusions, especially his views on passivism (that is a topic for a whole other day), the book is well worth the time. This is especially true if you have been working though the concept of the Church’s role in government and issues related to it. If nothing else, this book will get conversation going.

Book #14 of 30: A Scandalous Freedom

I read Steve Brown’s book “A Scandalous Freedom” recently and it has left me thinking, evaluating and re-thinking my view of the grace of God. A good friend recommended this book to me and it did what he promised it would. Consequently, I find myself constantly pondering the reality of my freedom in God and conversely the self-imposed prison’s I put myself in. This book has definitely “rattled my cage” and although I don’t hold to everything that Steve Brown says, it accomplished its purpose and made me really think on this subject.