My wife recently posted her 10 most influential books. (She put my books on her list. Danger of nepotism?) So, here is my stab at my most influential. (Not counting my own. Danger of ridicule?) And, I’ve doubled and trebled up to get in some more. And, I’m leaving out some books that ought to get me banned from libraries and sitting rooms as penance.
1. The Bible. I read through the bible every year at least once and have for many years. It is more thrilling to me every year and is the foundation for my faith and my life. It is really 66 books, of course, but I’ll count it as one for this. If you haven’t read it yet, try starting with John and then Acts. Finish the New Testament a couple of times and then read the entire book.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. This is a 7 book set. It is lots of fun to get lost in them. Very easy reading. I love the spiritual connection and the fun. I read them to my children and look forward to reading them to my grandchildren. And, add to this Mere Christianity (Lewis’s best non-fiction, I think) and The Screwtape Letters (tremendous insights into our spiritual battles) by Lewis. A serious Christian thinker not reading Mere Christianity is sort of like a serious student of English novels never reading A Tale of Two Cities–these things ought not to be done.
3. Trilogy of the Civil War by Shelby Foote. These three Continue reading
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Tagged bible, bible study, book, Christian, Christianity, deeper faith, devotional book, discipleship, God, Immersed, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, revival, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth
Seminaries have tremendous influence in church life- for good or for bad. I prefer the good. (Does that make me a legalist?) So, with that in mind, here is my unsolicited advice (which is about the only advice I am usually allowed to give) for seminary leaders and professors.
1. Be practical. Seminary needs to be about more than imparting information. We can be educated, intelligent, knowledgeable and still be terribly ineffective in ministry. Don’t forget that that the goal of the M.Div. is more than just training students to get a Ph.D. Help us prepare to become pastors and staff members and missionaries. Make Hebrew practical. How does it help us preach to a diverse congregation? How can it help us translate the OT into the language of an unreached people group? Go beyond imparting information. Help us apply that information to hands-on ministry.
2. Teach leadership. (See point 1 for more information on why.) Pastors can leave seminary woefully unprepared (yes, woefully, I say!) to give the leadership that will be needed by them in the pastorate. They will be called to give leadership in congregations with great diversity of opinion. (I haven’t noticed any shortage of opinions on what a pastor should do.) Ineffective leadership can lead to dictatorial mandates or waffling indecision or unhappy power struggles. Ministers do have leadership responsibilities so teach us some basic principles that will help us to lead in an effective and Christ-like manner.
3. Recognize the twin dangers of Continue reading
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Tagged bible, Christian, Christianity, church, education, leadership, Religion and Spirituality, seminary
I spent a lot of time getting educated. Perhaps I needed more of it than most? I am so thankful for my educational opportunities and commend education to you. But let me note some inherent limitations.
1. Education doesn’t make you wise. My favorite definition of wisdom is “seeing things as God sees them.” Education can make you smart, but that isn’t the same as making you wise. Want some tuition-free advice? Seek wisdom. (See the book of Proverbs for additional tuition-free advice on the importance of wisdom.)
2. Education doesn’t make you godly. Godliness–seeking to be Continue reading
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Tagged Christianity, discipleship, education, faith, pastor, seminary