Archives For Books

My Top Picks for 2010

January 3, 2011 — 1 Comment

best_of_2010

Overall:

Top Movie: Book of Eli and Inception

Top Book: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans (partially because I read it with Sarah)

Top Album: Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”

Worship:

Top Worship Album: Gungor “Beautiful Things”

Top Worship Song: No One Higher/The Stand

Top Worship Leader: David Crowder

Blogs:

Favorite Christian Blog: Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight

Funniest Blog: Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

Favorite Pastor’s Blog: WithoutWax.tv by Pete Wilson

Personal:

Best Youth Group: SECOND Student Ministries (Just launched this year)

Best Church Website: Calvary Assembly in Rochester, NY (Also launched this year) 🙂

Best Looking Person: Sarah Sigmon

What about you? What were some of your favorites this past year?

In case you missed it, head over to my review/highlights of the book, or head over to Amazon to buy it.  I loved it.

And the winners of “The Hole in Our Gospel” Book Giveaway at TaintedCanvas are…

[drum roll]

judy

elizabeth

mitch

Congratulations to Judy, Elizabeth, and Mitch! I will be messaging you within the next 24 hours to get your home address.  If you are wondering what the cheesy “name picker” I used to randomly select the winners, it was Interactive Fruit Machine. I’m sure you will be using this all the time now. 🙂

And thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I’ll be excited to hear any feedback you might have from reading the book.

hole-in-our-gospel-cover

“Whoever claims to walk in him must walk as Jesus did.”

This is the plea of Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations.  I loved the book and it’s call to understand the Biblical mandate to help the poor.  As the book articulates, and as every person in our youth group (should!) understand, there are over 2,000 verses that deal with poverty and justice.  That’s a lot of time for our inspired, Holy Book to talk about something.  I think it’s safe to assume this is critically important.

If I were writing a formal endorsement for this book, it would read something like:

“The Hole in Our Gospel” reads with inspiring, personal stories that are uniquely interwoven with profound, Biblical truth and analysis.

The book correctly identifies Jesus’ mission statement in the Bible:

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

To expand upon Jesus’ mission statement, “The Hole in Our Gospel” goes on to paint the beautiful story in Luke 4 where news about Jesus was beginning to spread throughout the whole countryside.  When Jesus heads to the place where he grew up in Nazareth, he went into the synagogue and stood up to read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the opressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Then, Jesus rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant who had given it to him to read.  The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'” (Luke 4).

Jesus is the good news to the poor, but it goes deeper than just providing for spiritual needs.  Richard Stearns is consistent throughout the book in breaking down Scriptures in helpful, tangible ways while keeping it deeply personal.

Here are some highlights:

We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don’t believe He can change the world.

“When we say that we want to be His disciple, yet attach a list of conditions, Jesus refuses to accept our terms.  His terms involve unconditional surrender” (see Mark 8:34-36).

The first Reformation … was about creeds; this one’s going to be about our deeds.  The first one divided the church; this time it will unify the church. -Rick Warren

“Christianity was meant to be spread, but not through coercion. God’s love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated.”

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;

maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

Rescue the weak and needy;

deliver them for the hand of the wicked. -Psalm 82:3-4

“God can’t give you the blessings He has for you until you first put down the other things you are clutching in your hands.”

“In our evangelical efforts to make the good news accessible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of “fire insurance” that one can buy.”

“What if I had been born in Sudan or Bangladesh?” -Richard Stearns (asking a question each blessed person in America needs to wrestle with).

World Income Statistics:

Less than $2 per day = 2.6 Billion people (40% of the world’s population)

Less than $1 per day = 1.0 Billion people (15% of the world’s population)

$105 a day (U.S.A. average) = 0.3 Billion people (4.5% of the world’s population)

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” -Helen Keller

“[Often times,] giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need.”

“He who is dying of hunger must be fed rather than taught.” -St. Thomas Aquinas

———————————————————————————————————

The stories throughout the book are heartbreaking.  Richard Stearns talks about Haiti (even before the Earthquake or cholera) and tells the story of Placide Simone.  At 29, she offered one of her five offspring to a stranger, saying, “Take one” while holding her listless baby and motioning toward four rail-thin toddlers, none of whom had eaten that day.  “You pick. Just feed them.”

Wow.

So what is the Hole in our Gospel? You’ll have to read the book to find out exactly.

BUT. Because this book was so helpful in shifting my own personal perspective in helping to care for those in need (both locally and globally), I am giving the opportunity for you to win ONE OF 3 COPIES OF THE BOOK FOR FREE!  It is the paperback version of the book, and I will even mail it to you for free.  This book is that important.

The way to be eligible to win a free copy is to share one thing you plan to do in the next year to help people less fortunate than you. That’s it. The winner will be randomly selected. Contest ends on Sunday, December 12th, 2010 at 5pm. Comment below…

hearnoevil

WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK FOR FREE? IF YOU ANSWERED “HECK YES, I’LL TAKE ANYTHING FOR FREE!” SIMPLY READ MY REVIEW BELOW, THEN COMMENT WITH WHATEVER MUSICAL ARTIST/GROUP HAS MADE THE MOST IMPACT ON YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY. IT CAN BE THE BEATLES OR PETRA OR SWITCHFOOT. IT DOESN’T MATTER. SIMPLY COMMENT AND YOU’LL BE ENTERED TO BE SENT THIS BOOK FOR FREE.  CONTEST ENDS MONDAY, FEB 22nd AT MIDNIGHT AND THE WINNER WILL BE PICKED AT RANDOM ON TUESDAY FEB. 23rd. [MUST BE 18 YEAR S OR OLDER TO WIN THIS ONE…]

HOORAY FOR FREE.

Matthew Paul Turner is funny.  That is the first word I associate with this recovering-hyper-fundamentalist Christian author.  Matthew is known for his hilarious remarks on God and the Christian subculture on twitter and facebook, as well as at his blog titled “Jesus Needs New PR“. And I think that most of us in ministry agree that Jesus could use some better ways of spreading his message of hope, love, peace, and reconciliation.  For those who can laugh at funny images of Jesus and a little cyncism, Matthew is one of my favorite twitter users and bloggers.

Over the past week, I have read Matthew’s new book, Hear No Evil, and it has been a hilarious journey.  I found myself at the dinner table reading chapters aloud to Sarah and sharing the stories with friends.  Like any good writer, Matthew draws you in to make you feel a part of the conversations.   On a more personal level, the stories resonated loudly to me as someone who thought he was supposed to work in the music industry, but was instead called to vocational ministry.  Hear No Evil is a memoir, written from a perspective like Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz or Chuck Klosterman’s musical journey across the U.S. in Killing Myself to Live.  The book tells personal and engaging stories of Matthew desiring to become the Michael Jackson of Christian music.  Michael grew up in a very strict, conservative home and was not allowed to listen to “devil music” like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith (who are both Christian artists btw).  The stories that Matthew tells not only chronicle this journey, but give profound nuggets of wisdom woven throughout his interactions and narration.  For those that lean more conservative, this may not be the book for you, as Matthew comes at some of his conclusions from a slightly more progressive view.

Even in the more “edgy” scenes (edgy in the Christian meaning of that word) with Matthew making out with a girl who suddenly feels called to date Jesus and descriptions of his male, college accountability group (you can guess where that one is going…), this book is brutally honest.  And that is the word that kept coming back to my mind as I read this memoir: honesty.  Many Christian authors feel the need to stay “within the box” and often miss facing real issues that Christians are dealing with today.  One of the biggest lessons I learned was not about his interesting experiences within a messed up, Christian music industry, but instead that it is more important to be true to who you are and to be honest with your struggles.  God wants us to be honest about what we are going through, and having other people around you as support can be the best thing we can get for our soul (which is one of the best purposes of the local church I would add).  In fact, I posted a very moving video by Matthew last July here at Jonathan Sigmon’s Blog where I reflected on the importance of the mystery of God.

If you would like to read Matthew’s writings, check out an edited chapter of one of my favorite chapters in the book called Chasing Amy.  You can read it at Patrol Magazine here and hear of the scandal behind Matthew being forced to get Amy Grant to apologize for her divorce by the publisher of CCM. Yikes.

Honesty wins. So does “Hear No Evil”.

If you don’t win the contest below (win by commenting the group who has made the biggest spiritual impact on you) and receive the free copy from Siggy, you can purchase the book at any of the links below. You won’t be disappointed.
Amazon

Kindle
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble E-Book
BooksChristian (Autographed copy here)
Christianbooks
Lifeway

This book was provided for free for review and distribution by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

15 Books

June 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

15-books

The latest “tagging” of notes on facebook is people sharing the 15 most influential books on their lives they can think of in 15 minutes.  I normally avoid things like this, but I was interested in some of my friends picks and decided to do it myself.  I thought for those that follow me here and not on facebook, I would share it here.  Here are the 15 books that will stick with me for the rest of my life (which I noticed afterward was more reflective of “books I’ve enjoyed after my first year out of college”):

1. Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
2. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
3. The Rise of the Creative Class – Richard Florida
4. Tribes – Seth Godin
5. The Shack – William Paul Young
6. Artist Management Manual – Jeremy Rwakaara
7. Worship Matters – Bob Kauflin
8. All You Need to Know About the Music Business – Donald Passman
9. Adventures in Missing the Point – Brian Mclaren and Tony Campolo
10. UnChristain – David Kinnaman
11. Wisdom for a Young CEO – David Berry
12. Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw
13. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth – Gordon D. Fee
14. I Am America and So Can You – Stephen Colbert
15. When I Don’t Desire God How to Fight for Joy – John Piper

It’s interesting! You should do it too.  Here is a link to the conversation on facebook or you can comment here.  Recommendations welcomed!

“Top 50 Evangelical Books”

February 20, 2009 — 1 Comment

evangelical-books

This is an old article from Christianity Today, but click here for “The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals” and short snipets on each.  I thought it was interesting.  Maybe I’ll get around to posting the most influential faith books I’ve read in my 23 years on this Earth…

What are some of your most influential books you would recommend to me (faith related or not)?

Nipple Jesus

February 17, 2009 — 6 Comments

jesus_old

“Nipple Jesus” by Nick Hornby is my favorite short story I have ever read about “what to do with Jesus”.  It is from a compilation of Hornby’s short stories in a book titled, “Speaking With The Angel”.  I will leave my commentary for later and simply make for two different ways of reading this – either by downloading the .pdf’s at my box.net account or by reading the .jpg’s below.  There is no online version available, so this was the best I could do.  If your eyes go crazy looking at the internet, then click on the box.net and print it out – it’s worth it.  It took me a while to get these all uploaded and such, so please take time to read this incredible story and see yourself in the different characters:

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