2012 reading plan

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”                                                                ― Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the US)

Over the holidays I pushed myself to finish up two books I had started earlier in the year.  I find it helpful to set goals for my reading as it keeps me focused and pushes some of my competitive “buttons” – even if the challenge in only internal.  Over the years, I have made it a habit to write down the name of each book I finish which has given me insight into my reading/thinking patterns over the years.

This year I’ve committed to reading 3 books a month, although it would be great to hit 40.  I usually read a few books at a time sometimes as many as 6 or 8.  My goal for 2012 is to read in four basic categories: history, theology, practical theology and fiction.

You can’t say that“, which is Ken Livingstone’s memoirs, is my current history book.  Livingstone was the former mayor of London and is running again this spring.  In the theology category, I’ve started Dan Doriani’s commentary on Matthew.  Doriani was my professor at Covenant Seminary and writes in a devotional style so I’ve been reading a chapter each morning.  N.T. Wright’s “Virtue Reborn” is my current choice in practical theology and Flannery O’Connor’s “The Complete Stories” is the fiction book next to my reading chair.

The Steve Jobs biography was a Christmas gift so that’ll be next on the history list.  Wright’s “Simply Jesus” and Stetzer’s “Viral Churches” should be mail – purchased with a Waterstone gift card. Plenty of books on the shelf waiting to be read as well.

Got a reading plan for 2012?

Make more enemies

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make more enemies. “What??”, you say.  Let me explain.

A few weeks back I received a blistering email in response to a tweet I posted (long story). After recovering from the initial shock, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s not so bad to make some people upset. As a Christian who is wants to see God’s people live way that gives glory to the God we serve, it shouldn’t surprise me that I might make some folks upset. Both those on the left and the right, may be frustrated with me at times and rightly so.

Now that doesn’t mean that I want to be a jerk who annoys everyone I come in contact with. No – in fact, my second resolution is to learn basic greetings in Somali, Polish and Arabic so I can greet more people on the streets of London. But I have resolved to not worry so much about how people might respond to my writing. My hope is that I’ll be able to challenge some and encourage others but in doing so, I may even get a few more emails.

And that’s OK.

“I am a man!”

For her birthday yesterday, I took Jos to see the play “Driving Miss Daisy” with James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave.  Over the years, we’ve tried to see about one play per year.   I’ve never seen the movie but we’ll watch it now over the Christmas holidays with the kids.

Jones plays “Hoke”, an African-American driver for “Miss Daisy”, an elderly Jewish widow (Redgrave).   Following their relationship, the play touches on various social issues in America from the late 40’s to the early 70’s.   Set in Atlanta, the play reminded me of my childhood growing up in South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.  The “Piggly Wiggly“, ice tea and that Southern drawl brought back memories from days gone by.

Two lines in the play stuck in my mind as we rode home on the tube.  In one scene, Miss Daisy refuses to let Hoke stop the car on a long road trip so he can urinate because he wasn’t allowed to use the restrooms at the petrol station.  In the ensuing argument, Hoke yells at Miss Daisy, “I am a man!”  His dignity challenged, Hoke lets her know the truth. Then towards the end of the play, Miss Daisy, the rich yet lonely woman, tells Hoke, “You’re my best friend.”

The dignity of all people and our need for relationships – two key truths that “Driving Miss Daisy” affirmed.

Two key truths that the Bible affirms when it states that we all are made in the image of God (Gen 1).   In my mind, art is well done when it reflects the truth about the world while engaging the emotions.  “Driving Miss Daisy” is good art; reflecting truth and touching the heart.

The Crowded House

Josephine and I spent this past weekend in Sheffield with 32 other folks learning together through The Porterbrook Network. This is a two year course written by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, the founders of The Crowded House which is a church in Sheffield as well as a church planting network.

Of their 10 values, the one I find most unique is “Home as the Primary Location of Church”  This is defined as:  “We want a reproducible model of church without any trappings that might impede freedom and flexibility. We are committed to homes as a context for all or most of church life with home shaping the ethos of church. When congregations use other buildings, those buildings will not be viewed as the main focus of mission.”

This has such an impact on church life that I’m still trying to get my head around it.  God is at work in Sheffield and thanks to the work of Timmis and Chester, some of us are being challenged in regards what we think “church” should look like.

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