Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sea Monkeys

I was cleaning out some old files the other day when I came across this collection of old church bulletins that two of my very funny friends decided to "enhance" during a church service one day. I can still recall desperately trying to stifle my laughter as these were passed back and forth. We all would have been in our late teens or early twenties when these were circulated, but our subversive sense of humour was evident even back then. You may not find them all that funny, but I laughed out loud when I found them. Here's most of the series for your viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Book Review: Beyond Cheap Grace

This collected series of lectures originally presented at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2004 provides, as the sub-title suggests, a call to radical discipleship by way of incarnational ministry amongst the poor and marginalized. While not a difficult book by any means, the arguments that author Eldin Villafane puts forth may be a bit overwhelming if you are exploring concepts of justice for the first time. If, on the other hand, this is an area you have been exploring for some time, Beyond Cheap Grace offers some truly "get all fired up" quotes that will have you running for the nearest homeless shelter or getting on the next flight to Africa. From the first lecture: "The need of the hour is not for a soft, fragile, or fastidious Christianity, but for a rigorous, vigorous, concrete, and incarnational Christianity - a muscular Christianity, if you please - one that has the marks of the cross in its hands!"

Of particular interest is the lecture on the prophet Amos who put forth a call for justice to both Israel and the surrounding nations in the Old Testament. Amos 5:24 says, "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." While I sometimes worry that Christians are becoming so involved in justice issues that we are forgetting personal holiness, Villafane states, "There is a seamless relationship between ethical behavior and true worship, between justice and piety." Amos seems to be making this same connection. The call of God is not simply to live a holy life but to do a holy life. This is a great little volume to get us moving in that direction.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Book Review: The Passionate Visionary

Responding to what is rightly recognized as a dearth of writing on the leadership style of Paul the apostle, authors Richard S. Ascough and Charles A. Cotton (both from Queens University in Kingston, ON) have crafted a brief, but effective overview of his founding and leadership of the early Church. The Passionate Visionary is one part leadership theory, one part exegesis of Pauline theology which makes for an unusual combination, but for the most part, the authors pull it off.

While there are no earth shattering new leadership theories presented here, it does synthesize a number of the latest thoughts from leading experts in the field and then extracts similarities from the life of Paul. In some instances I had a hard time accepting the parallel between a modern concept and an ancient practice, yet there is still a lot of meat to chew on here for anyone in a leadership role, be it in the workplace or in the church. A worthwhile read at a reasonable price.

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