the blog that is.  After trying to think of what to blog about now that I’m not actively involved in the church, I’ve decided to move to a different blog.  I’ll still talk about the church, faith and theology but I want to talk about being a dad and sports as well.  I just always felt weird doing a sports post on here for some reason.  So join me on my new blog and I’ll try to keep things refreshed more frequently.

http://jroddysworld.blogspot.com/

I recently finished “The Justice Project” and would have to say that I found it a very easy but challenging read.  I appreciate the wide range of authors of each essay and how they each brought a perspective that is radically different from mine in middle class suburbia.  I appreciate that each author is living out justice in their particular situation.  It lends some credibility to their situation that wouldn’t be there if a single author tried to write on the broad scope of justice in the world.

I was challenged mostly by the wide range of injustice that is happening all around me.  Reading these essays has caused me to begin to rethink the way that I live and what more I can do to not perpetuate the injustice that I unconsciously promote through my actions based on what and where I buy goods and who I may or may not vote for among other things.

I would hope that the message of the Justice Project would be heard by fellow Christians who are trying to figure out what the kingdom of God is all about.  May be begin to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.’

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I just finished my latest read as a part of the blogger review program with Thomas Nelson.  The book was titled “The Search for God and Guinness.”  I picked this book for a few reasons and really enjoyed this book.  The first reason that I chose this book is to figure out if beer and God could coexist in the same sentence and not be opposing each other.  This stems from my holiness roots and the way it causes me to look down on certain practices.  God is working on me in this area and I’m happy to report that I am more open than in previous years.  The second reason I chose this book is that one of my best friends is a huge fan of Guinness.  There is not too much in this world that brings him more happiness than being able to down a pint of Guinness.  He does so in moderation and not as frequently as he would like, but I became intrigued by this drink that always seemed off-limits to me.  The last reason that I chose this title is due to a quick version of the Arthur Guinness story that I read in the book “Exiles” by Michael Frost.  I was really impressed by the kingdom mindset that Frost talked about in reference to Guinness that it peaked my interest in learning more.

Now on to the review.  I found this book to be a fairly easy read, especially considering that it is a history book.  There were a few times that I got lost in the family tree, but I think that points more to the great heritage of Arthur Guinness.  I am thoroughly impressed with the legacy that one man left and how it was carried on by his many heirs.  I believe this is a testimony of the importance of serving God faithfully in all that you do.  I am also impressed by the compassion that Guinness and his heirs showed to their fellow-man.  This is something that we need to hear in this day and time.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining and interesting read at a remarkable family over the last 300 years.  I echo one of Guinness’ current commercials for totally different reasons when I proclaim, “To Arthur!!”

Below is a quick review that I did of a book that I recently finished.

I chose to read this book solely based on the title. I also feel like I am in a lover’s quarrel with the evangelical church and I wanted to find out how someone else was getting along in the scuffle. I must admit that I enjoyed reading this book and did so in only a matter of days, which is fast for me. I found it very fascinating to read about the rise of a few mega churches and also much of Christian media.

This book confirmed for me much of what I struggle with in the evangelical church, namely that we have replaced our mission of discipleship and life transformation with “body count evangelism” (the author’s term) and that the only measure of success is numerical growth. I do feel that the author did a good job of stating some of the more glaring holes that many in the evangelical circle seem to ignore. I only hope that people can grasp the bigger picture that Smith is trying to paint.

I do however wish that Smith would have tried to encompass more of the broad scope of evangelism. I think there is more going on in some of the lesser denominations that are not of the Reformed/Calvinistic persuasion than Smith gave attention. I also wish he would have studied more of what’s going on in the Emerging/Emergent conversation than just to dismiss them as nihilists.

I will conclude by affirming that I do agree with Smith’s assertion that we have an understanding of history and how the medium of our message should line up with our theology. I would encourage others to read this book as I feel that it is a good conversation starter, especially for those who find themselves disenfranchised from the modern evangelical circle.

Let me add a few extra points as well.  I almost feel like Smith had a vendetta to promote Calvinism/Reformed theology and that of course rubs me wrong being a Wesleyan.  I don’t know the authors theological background, but for someone who is a journalist I wish there had been more of a generous spirit here.  On a positive note, I really did appreciate that he was critical of the megachurch movement in a sense than that of someone who is jealous or has been slighted by it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed pastors hoping to rise to be the next Bill Hybels or Rick Warren.  I would hope that more pastors would take a look at Smith’s treatment of their rise and begin to ask a few more questions about trying to imitate these men and their ministry.

Feel free to ask any further questions as I’d love to discuss the book more.

I have undergone some big changes in my life over the past couple of months that have me in a place that I’m unfamiliar with.  My wife and I moved closer to home after she graduated from med school in part to be closer to family for us and our daughter and also so that she can start making connections for where she will ultimately practice medicine in the future.  The biggest change for me is in regards to my vocation.  For the past four years I have been a co-youth pastor to an amazing youth group and now I am a stay at home dad.  Now I want to make absolutely clear that I love staying at home with my daughter.  I love seeing how she changes almost from day to day.  I love making her laugh and my heart melts almost every time she flashes a big grin when she recognizes me.  I hold the “job” that I’m doing now as an even higher calling than working for the church.  I had a former pastor always use the phrase “family is your first parish” and I believe that with all of my heart.

But in light of the many changes that I have personally undergone, I find myself struggling a bit in different areas of my life.  Let me explain a bit about myself.  I am totally a creature of habit.  I like having patterns and routines and predictability in my life.  I am OK with a little bit of unpredictability but not too much.  Working in the church and having a set office time each day gave me the opportunity to set up patterns and routines, and I did.  These patterns and routines helped me to stay in the word and pray on a regular basis.  They helped me to accomplish the various ministry tasks that I was responsible for each week.  But now that I am not in the office each day and my life is largely defined by an unpredictable baby, I am having to adjust on the fly.  Karis is starting to get into a daily pattern of sleeping, eating and playing which is allowing me to look at how I pattern my own day.  Thankfully I am finally starting to prioritize a few things in my life that have fallen by the wayside in the midst of my new responsibilities.  Please pray that I can stay faithful to them.

The biggest change though has come in the loss of community.  I know and understand the importance of community and have even spoke on the topic a time or two, but you never fully grasp the impact of community until you are no longer immersed in said community.  Over the past 4 years I have been serving next to some of the finest ministers that I have encountered.  People who brought so many different gifts to the table and who shaped and challenged my conception of what a church staff could become.  Around two years ago a major change occurred when our leader left to pastor another community.  Those of us on staff seemed to rise to the occasion during the void in leadership and forge ahead to the vision that we believed God had given our community.  Then a new leader came in with a different vision and slowly I saw many of those that I was close to gone.  I don’t want to debate here the reasoning behind the leaving or termination of my friends, we can do that later.  I only want to highlight the fact that my community was drastically changed in a matter of months.  Thankfully the person that I was closest to and worked with was still around.  Our brotherhood continued to grown stronger as we shared our hurts, fears, joys and dreams with each other.  This is what I miss the most.  I currently find myself in a place where I am flying solo most of the time.  My wife works a ton, which we knew would be the case, and my daughter is not speaking just yet.  I am not involved in a church just yet and haven’t even decided where we will attend.

But community cannot be forced and it develops in an organic way.  So as I find myself mourning the loss of something very great and meaningful in my life, I look forward to what God has in store for us here in this time and in this place.  I just pray that we will walk with eyes open to what God places in front of us.  To all of those that I have been in community with, I miss you greatly and the time that we shared together and I treasure each and every minute.

So I think the layout of these posts need to change a bit since I’m not in the office with free time.  I’ll try to experiment with it a bit and hopefully land on something.

The weeks that have been:

Busy.  I have a new found respect for single parents.  I never thought ill of them or looked down upon them before, but now my respect level for them goes way up.  It has been quite an adjustment juggling Karis’ varying schedule with the things that I hope to accomplish in a day.  The first thing to suffer has been my blog and any reading time that I had.  I am slowly working that back into my rotation.  Karis is changing almost by the day whether it be new noises or new dexterity.  She has recently discovered the mid part of her range and is constantly exercising it along with the high and low range from before.  Another big change is that she is now grabbing for things, especially toys.  She is just about ready to teeth so most everything she gets her hands on goes straight to her mouth.  I get a kick just out of watching her grow up everyday.

Holly has officially started and has hit the ground running.  She is in one of the hardest rotations that she will have in this program right off of the bat.  This is both good and bad though.  Good that she gets it out of the way, but bad that her first month is very hectic.  We have heard that her next month is a bit more relaxed, so we look forward to that.  The thing that I’ve had to adjust to is her being on call.  Before this wouldn’t have mattered too much to me, but now that means that I’m alone with Karis for at least 30 hours.  I’m not worried about that nor do I not look forward to it, I really do, it’s just that it can be a bit overwhelming at times.  Luckily I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

One new thing that we have recently acquired is an elliptical machine.  It came as a graduation gift for Holly from a few of her family members.  We are both very excited about this as I hate to run outside and Holly (and I) prefer the elliptical over a treadmil.  One funny/frustrating thing is that everytime I go to work out on it, Karis wakes up from her nap.  It’s a very quiet machine, but it never fails.  I get about 5-10 min into my workout and she wakes up.  I guess that’s just a part of life with a baby.

What I’m reading now:

I’m working through two books that I have started.  One is called “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” and the other is called “The Evolution of God.”  The former is a book on the atonement which seeks to look at other metaphors beyond the penal substitution theory as a means for understand what exactly happened on the cross.  The latter is a look at how the concept of God has evolved over time and I believe that he will culminate in the three Abrahamic faiths in hopes that they can find some sort of common ground.  I’ll be doing a review on this when I finish as it is a part of another blogging program.

Misc stuff

Does anyone out there know of something that I could do to make a little bit of money from home?  I will kindly take suggestions.

holegospel I recently finished the book “The Hole in our Gospel” by World Vision President Richard Stearns.  I selected this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson bloggers program purely because of the title.  I was curious to see what hole someone else saw in the gospel that many of the churches in North America promote.  Now I must say that I do believe that Jesus loves us and died to save us from our sins, but I think that’s only the beginning.  I believe that the love of Christ compels us to share that love with everyone that we come in contact with.  That is truly good news and that is what Stearns wants his reader to understand.  I won’t ruin the book for you but I do want you to understand that Stearns was considered a very successful person in both the Christian and secular business world.  He had climbed to the top of the corporate ladder and was still living his life for God.  But God began to move Stearns in a different direction and in that process Stearns learned about the hole in our gospel.  I appreciated the openness of his personal story of transformation as I believe that there are many in the pews of North America who share in his story.  Just as Shane Claiborne and others are calling the new generation to opening their eyes to see the poor and hurting around them, I believe that Stearns is a voice for an older generation that is less likely to take Claiborne and friends too seriously.  May we have the ears to hear and the courage to act upon this message that should in no doubt convict and motivate us to do our part no matter how big or small.  I would highly recommend this book to all.  Enjoy!