The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb

To my faithful readers and dear friends: I've been in large churches, small churches, tweeny-sized churches. I've done a stint in Baptist churches, non-denominational churches, and now, the Anglican church. In my elementary-school days, I even attended weekly mass at the ornate Catholic church on the corner of Rogers and Garrison. I've worshiped next to old ladies chewing gum and old nuns wearing habits. I've knelt, stood, even prostrated myself once out of some odd holy compunction. I've run the rails--communion and prayer alike--and I suppose what I can say with some certainty is this: I'm a church guy.

There are so many who've been busted up by the church. They've had their knuckles popped by Catholic rulers or heads bashed by oversized Baptist bibles. They've been shamed with and without cause--pre-marital sex, dancing, sneaking a nip of whiskey, whatever. They've been excluded from leadership because they asked the wrong questions or because they wore a bra. They've been pushed into corners--singles groups, over-the-hiller groups, you're-not-my-language groups, whatever. They've been on the blunt end of power, and they can tell you, the blunt end of power leaves mark.

You know this; yes?

I'm a church guy, but I see the fundamental disconnect between the call of Jesus to his followers (divest yourselves of power; become a child) and the all too familiar call of the modern church (solidify power; build your influence, your numbers, by being excellent). Enter the prophets.

Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin have written a book that's changing me. In The Way of the Dragon or The Way of The Lamb, they interview the church-sages of our day, sages like J.I. Packer, Dallas Willard, Marva Dawn, John Perkins, Jean Vanier, James Houston, and Eugene Peterson. Along the way, they find the most beautiful truth: [tweetherder text="The way of Jesus, the way of divesting yourself of power, is the soul-freeing, healing way to wholeness."]the way of Jesus, the way of divesting yourself of power, is the soul-freeing, healing way to wholeness.[/tweetherder]

I don't often pop in here to encourage you to buy a book, but today is that day. It's my sincere hope that every deacon, priest, pastor, minister, or church member--anyone in the church with a pulse--will purchase this book straightaway. It's my hope that you'll share a little about it with your friends, that you'll start a church book club, or an online reading group using this book as your discussion fodder. It's my hope that it will change you like it's changing me, and that in turn, it will change the church.

A modest hope; I know.

Would you like to grab your copy? The Way of the Dragon or The Way of The Lamb releases today. You can find it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

For the record, I received no compensation for writing this post. These are my honest, genuine, free-of-charge thoughts, so you know I mean business. Do you see my serious eyes? I mean business.

In all things peace,

Seth

 

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Cue the Ruckus

This week is the release of Mother Letters: Sharing the Laugher, Joy, Struggles, and Hope. Today, I'm grateful to be sharing a little mother story at Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. I hope you'll read along.

***

The sun set over the western bank of trees, long arms stretching across the waters of a tiny pond.

Welcome, they said.

Workweek over and itching to exercise his boyish spirit, Isaac called his best friend—Tippa, the black, wire-haired mutt—and reached for his fishing rod.

Down to the water glowing orange, the moss-covered banks. Down to his sanctuary, the place of catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. It was his place of refuge, his honey hole.

Lure to line, knot tied, Isaac rested his rod against the fence post and turned to his tackle box. He reached for split shot, some pliers, perhaps some scissors. The rod listed, fell, flipping the lure forward, barbed hook finding its way into the paw of Isaac’s best friend.

Cue the ruckus.

Cue...

Continue reading at A Holy Experience.

And if you'd like purchase a copy of Mother Letters (it'd make a great Mother's Day present), visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

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Weekend Review: Scapegoats, Nuns, and the Kind Freemans

Another week of 2016, burned to the ground. Burn baby, burn! But before we sweep out the ashes and start the whole shebang over again (Sunday is coming), let's take recap this week's good links.

A TINY LETTER UPDATE

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BOOKS

I've been finishing up Sunil Yapa's book, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Set in the World Trade Organization riots of 1999, Your Heart moves with a staccato pace, and explores the relationships on both sides of the teargas. If you're a fan of fiction, of social justice, and of well-written stories, you won't want to miss Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Trust me. (Rated R for language and violent content.)

LINKS

What's with all this talk of Trump winning over the Christians? According to Ross Douthat, "Trump is losing the most active believers, but he’s winning in what I’ve previously termed the 'Christian penumbra' — the areas of American society (parts of the South very much included) where active religiosity has weakened, but a Christian-ish residue remains."

Do you know Emily Freeman? She's one of the good ones, a writer bent toward creating space for your soul to breathe. And in this season of political turmoil, she's teaching us how to pray for kindness.

What happens when one drunk-driving, illegal immigrant slams into a car full of nuns, killing one? Don't miss this piece at Mockingbird about scapegoating, nuns, and the power of forgiveness.

Who wants to learn better writing habits? Check out these 10 writing tips from original "Mad Man," David Oglivy. As always, Brain Pickings supplies the goods.

INSTAGRAM

MUSIC

This is beautiful in every way.

Thanks for reading along. I'll see you next week!

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Weekend Review: Opdiggy and the Amazing Broadway Rat

It's been a good week in these parts. I snuck a mini-vacation with Amber (what a gem I've married) sans kids, which is to say there were a few days of much-needed quiet. We walked on a beach, ate a few good meals with a few far-away friends, talked, and unwound. I shopped for sneakers--something I never feel the freedom to do--drove a coastal highway, and ate a faux-schmancy French meal in an airport. We laughed on occasion, annoyed each other on occasion, held hands on occasion.

There's nothing I like more than spending time with my best friend. I mean it.

We're back to the grind now, and I can feel the todo list lengthening. But before I start checking boxes and knocking things off that list, I'm catching up on a few of my favorite things from this week. Take a look.

Music:

I'm flipping the script a little today, giving you my music pick first. Why? It's the soundtrack of the day. Play it while you read along. (Thanks for the tunes, DJ Opdiggy.)

Books:

Are you operating at your highest and best level of contribution? This is the fundamental question of Greg McKeown's book Essentialism. It's a book that has me asking the question, "am I overreaching, tending to too many nonessential things?" It's a book of focus, of clarification.

Here's the truth: I do not like productivity books. Here's the other truth: this book might be changing my entire outlook on productivity. You need it. Trust me.

Essentialism

Links:

Did you keep up with this week's news? Informed brains are creative brains, or so the saying goes. See how informed you are by taking this Fast Company quiz. (For the record, I failed.)

Do you remember Zack Morris's amazing knack for productivity? Attending classes, flirting with Kelly Kapowski, selling potatoes on margin via a cell phone the size of a shoe--he was always multitasking. And perhaps you were just as productive in your high school days. Let's harken back; shall we? This week, 99u gives you some practical productivity advice in "How To Be As Productive As Your High School Self."

Do you follow Cool Hunting? It's a new favorite of mine. Check out their weekly review, wherein they share the story of the unlikely rat who made it on Broadway.

Podcast:

This week, I was graced with the opportunity to join Anne Bogel's podcast "What Should I Read Next." We discussed my favorite novels, my hatiest hate (of all time, ever), and what books I should read next. Let me be clear: this is one of the most fun things I've done in quite some time. Take a listen.

***

I hope you've enjoyed this week's selections. Stop in next week as we continue the Tuesday Reflection series, and hear from a special guest who's jumping into the Recovery Room.

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The Sixth Love Language (Hint: It's Literary)

In some circles, there's a lot of talk about the five love languages--gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch (ahem). Drawing from the work of author Gary Chapman, folks posit that each person experiences love through one of these five "languages." But I have news for the Chapmanites: there's a key love language missing, a sixth love language--books. There's nothing that says love quite like a good book. I suppose the converse is also true--there's nothing that matches the desolation of a terrible book.

Last week, I joined Anne Bogel to discuss books. For the most part, we unpacked my favorite novels of the last two years (novels being a specific love language of love languages). We also discussed a terrible book--a self-aware, whiny, horrendous, tormenting, terrible work of drivel not fit for adults, teens or children (but somehow a must-read for writers and lit nerds). And if that weren't enough, there was a moment of self-discovery, a moment in which I realized I have different reading habits for morning, noon, and night. Bizarre, eh?

Perhaps you're looking for a good new read, something unexpected and fresh. Maybe you'd like to know what a non-fiction writer reads in his spare time. Perhaps you're a self-righteous bibliophile who'd like to judge me for my sometimes-bawdy reading list. Whatever the case may be, make sure you check out Anne's podcast. I think you'll enjoy our conversation. I know I did.

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR THE FULL SHOW.

Now, tell me: what was your favorite book of the last two years?

***TINY LETTER***

CC Austin OuttakesThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you'll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin Outtakes. The Outtakes share the story behind my latest release from Zondervan, Coming Clean|A Story of Faith.

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