Archives For Praxis

 

The Abundance of Wholeness, Completeness, and Fullness

A Feature Review of

Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World
Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart


Paperback: IVP Books
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle

 
Reviewed by Tamara Hill Murphy

 

Approximately a dozen years ago, my husband and I attended a conference which featured, among several stellar speakers, Eugene Peterson. We were young, newly entrenched in church ministry, and looking for some answers to our big questions. While Peterson gave his talk with his signature warmth and wisdom, it was the post-talk Q & A session that has stuck with us all these years. I don’t quite remember what the questioner asked, but it’s safe to assume it was similar to the kind of internal big questions my husband and I carried into the conference. The question hung in the air, the room of several hundred people silent, pens poised over notebooks to capture the insight of a seasoned minister. The silence lasted a moment or two as Peterson shifted in his chair, looking off toward the ceiling, and finally intoned: “I’m wary of big ideas.”

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Walking Forward Into the Future
 
A Review of 

The Last Arrow:
Save Nothing for the Next Life

Erwin McManus

 
Hardback: WaterBrook, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Andy Johnson III
 
 
While Erwin McManus was finishing his writing of The Last Arrow, the message of the book took on deeper meaning when he was diagnosed with cancer. Although he did not write the book intending to describe it as his “last arrow” processing this life-threatening situation accentuated the insight that we are all living with a terminal condition. The question is not if but when we will die. McManus writes, “It’s only when when we realize we are terminal that we start treating time with the respect it deserves.” (96)
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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

   

Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World

Kyle David Bennett

Read the Christianity Today review of this book

 
Watch for our review of this book in our Fall 2017 print magazine!
*** SUBSCRIBE NOW

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

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May Christ Increase.

 
A Review of 
 

40 Days of Decrease:
A Different Kind of Hunger.
A Different Kind of Fast.

Alicia Britt Chole

Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Debbie Philpott

 

The more there is of us, the less there is of God!—Eugene Peterson

 

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

According to Morgan Lee at Christianity Today, a 2015 OpenBible.info twitter poll of more than 400,000 respondents (with serious and cynical tweets) cited “school, chocolate, Twitter itself, alcohol, and social networking as the top five fasts for Lent”[i]  And when categorizing all tweets in hierarchical order according to the seven most deadly sins, the following list resulted:

  • Gluttony (fast food, sweets, chips, coffee)
  • Greed (shopping)
  • Sloth (sleep)
  • Wrath (being mean, swearing)
  • Envy (complaining)
  • Pride (cell phone, selfies)[ii]

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God Dwelling in the Commonplace

A Review of

Playdates with God: Having Childlike Faith in A Grownup World
Laura Boggess

Paperback: Leafwood, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Zena Neds-Fox.

 
Laura Boggess starts her spiritual memoir Playdates with God with one of the most resonant spiritual dilemmas.  Sehnsucht – a German word best translated as nostalgia or a deep longing for a far-off home.  Or as CS Lewis puts it, “our best havings are wantings.”  The blue flower – the desiring of some lasting, perfect thing to fulfill us.  The hum in each person that reminds them, whether or not they want reminding, that they were made for more.  That propulsion towards God is the journey Boggess takes us on; how she recognized it, how she entertained it, and what it has taught her, going down the roads it lead her to.
 
Playdates is quite readable, and though Boggess cites philosophical sources as her inspirations, she writes in an uncomplicated way that makes walking with God seem as plain as everyday potatoes.  She’s a simple girl, admittedly so. When trying to locate what it is that will satisfy her soul, she lands at falling in love and all the giddy feelings that come along with it.  She sets out to fall in love with her creator, over and over again, through a series of, as she calls them, playdates.

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Aligning Beliefs and Practice

A Feature Review of

THE ANSWER TO BAD RELIGION IS NOT NO RELIGION: A Guide to Good Religion for Seekers, Skeptics, and Believers.   
Martin Thielen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Bob Cornwall

*** This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog and is reprinted here with permission.
 
It’s no secret – fewer people are going to church than they used to.  Many give the bad state of religion as their reason for staying away.  People seem to have noticed that there is a lot of hypocrisy among Christians.  They’re too politicized, angry, exclusive, dogmatic, and self-righteous.  They’re simply not pleasant to be around.  So why spend your Sunday’s around such people.  Instead, we can be spiritual without the trappings of religion.  I can understand the sentiment – I’ve known these kinds of people.  I’ve even been counted among them a few times in my life.    But just because some religion is bad, doesn’t mean we have to totally give up on religion!
 
Martin Thielen, a United Methodist Pastor serving in Tennessee, and a former Southern Baptist pastor, doesn’t think that we have to give up on religion completely, because some representatives of the faith are not all that attractive.  In other words, he’s asking people to give the church a second look.
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Unlearning and Relearning
 
A Feature Review of

The Missional Quest: Becoming a Church of the Long Run

Lance Ford and Brad Brisco

Paperback: IVP Books, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Scott Emery
 
There is a movement afoot. It has been brewing within many circles of the American church and has recently come to a tipping point that can no longer be ignored. It is due largely to a story I have heard over and over again from both local pastors and from ones across the country. Things within their church have either stalled out, radically declined, or have been discontinued altogether. The Siamese twin to these predicaments is the utter confusion, bitterness, and/or personal exhaustion found by many along this journey. Unfortunately for some, it has been too overwhelming, which results in the dismemberment of many local churches around the country.

 

Stirrings typically begin as whispers between friends over coffee wondering what might be next. Potential solutions to these ecclesiological problems bounce around as similar stories are shared and commonalities come out from the dark. Within these conversations, authors, books, and conferences get thrown around as leaders and laity alike begin to push into the unknown future of the church. Quite a bit has changed, yet one thing seems to remain the same: our preoccupation with ideas with little to no actual action.
 
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“Experimental Dojo-following

A review of
Practicing the Way of Jesus:
Life Together in the Kingdom of Love

by Mark Scandrette.

Reviewed by Jasmine Wilson.

  

Practicing the Kingdom - Mark ScandrettePracticing the Way of Jesus:
Life Together in the Kingdom of Love
.
by Mark Scandrette.
Paperback: Likewise Books / IVP, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBooks.com ]

“Practicing the way of Jesus begins with having an imagination for life in the kingdom of love, desiring that life, and then taking steps to live into that reality through tangible changes in our minds and bodies” (67). Mark Scandrette has found a method of making those tangible changes both in his life and in the lives of others through a method he calls “experimenting.” He defines an experiment as a practical act of obedience to Jesus that is creative and part of the process of finding out what pleases God (30), and ultimately, a sign of our journey as disciples of Jesus. The experiments should be embodied practices and communal—not just abstract ideas that you think about by yourself, but instead practical changes you and your friends make in your lives, such as being a vegetarian (either for a short period of time or for the rest of your life), giving away half your possessions, or finding someone in the sex industry and giving them the dignity of hearing their story.

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A Brief Review of

Down We Go:
Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus
.
Kathy Escobar.
Paperback: Civitas Press, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Paperback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Warren Hicks.

Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of The Refuge, a missional church community in the Denver area offers here a primer (I know, it’s an old fashioned word) about how communities of faith can engage in practices that replicate the “downward mobility” that Jesus modeled in his life and ministry.   This volume is part spiritual autobiography, part journal of a real community of faith and part clarion call to individuals and communities that are trying to really follow Jesus. The author cut her pastoral teeth as a woman in the decidedly male world of an evangelical megachurch, but as many of us do after a time in ministry, she struggled with the disconnect between God’s work in the world, the cost of discipleship and the structures and organizational policies and politics that seem sometimes to be in opposition to one another.

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An excerpt from

Living Without Enemies:
Being Present in the Midst of Violence

(Resources for Reconciliation Series)
Samuel Wells and Marcia Owen.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ ChristianBook.com ]