Monthly Archives: January 2010

Away…

I am taking a brief, mid-winter vacation with my family this week. Though I will have internet access, I am intentionally limiting the time I spend online.

Don’t let that stop you from visiting Kingdom People. Since the blogosphere is such a temporary medium of communication, I am resurrecting some older posts and some “Worth a Look” links from way back that will hopefully be beneficial to you. Thanks to WordPress Time-stamps, these posts should launch even if I’m away from a computer.

I suspect I won’t be interacting with comments very much during this time. I’ll respond to comments and emails when we return.

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The Beginning of Love…

I found this quote to be a good supplement to my post last week on “Holy Humdrum.” It’s from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community:

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps-reading the Bible.

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 1 Comment

Trevin's Seven

1. President Obama’s State of the Union rebuke of a recent Supreme Court decision is one of the most unusual breaches of political etiquette we have seen for quite some time.

2. Tim Keller takes a look at The Shack and says, “Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible.” For some reason, the blogosphere has been abuzz with reviews and further commentaries on this book. I still stand by what I wrote last fall.

3. Could it be that Ulysses S. Grant, often considered one of the worst U.S. presidents, may be making a comeback in popularity?

Grant may be on the verge of finally receiving his due. Quietly, outside the view of most readers—including professional historians who do not specialize in the Civil War era—Grant’s reputation, including his service in the White House, has enjoyed a friendly revision over the past fifteen years.

4. I’m glad I got to visit Dr. Mohler’s famous library when I graduated from Southern last month. (See picture to the right!) Still, this video with Dr. Mohler giving a personal tour is about as good as being there!

5. The pro-life sentiments of young people are worrying those committed to abortion rights, as pro-choice journalist Robert McCartney reports:

I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to …

Posted in Trevin's Seven | 5 Comments

Solzhenitsyn's Masterpiece Uncensored

I’m a fan of long Russian novels. Whenever I peruse the literature section of a bookstore, I cannot resist the urge to dive into big books by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Solzhenitsyn.

Over the Christmas holidays, I spent some time with Solzhenitsyn’s book In the First Circle, now available uncensored in English for the first time. Many times, when you think of a book or movie being “uncensored,” you worry about sexually explicit content. But that is not the first reaction you have if you are intimately familiar with the ways of the former Soviet Union. Those who grow up in oppressive societies immediately think of censorship in terms of free speech that criticizes the government.

Solzhenitsyn’s novel is a fascinating look at the people caught in the crosshairs of Soviet imperialism in the 1940’s and 50’s. He takes the reader into Stalin’s prison camps and introduces us to a memorable cast of characters. There are scoundrels and heroes; poets and mechanics; philosophers and inventors.

Solzhenitsyn has an uncanny ability to “get into the head” of the people he is describing. Drawing from his own experience in Stalin’s camps, he describes the mental thought processes of the prisoners and the people in charge.

Two scenes from this book stand out to me. The first is Solzhenitsyn’s portrayal of Joseph Stalin. Solzhenitsyn’s Stalin comes across as the brilliant, yet paranoid man that he was. As you read the Stalin chapters, you cannot help but be drawn to the dictator’s magnetic power, even as you recoil from …

Posted in Book Reviews | 4 Comments

Worth a Look 1.28.10

Kevin DeYoung on the temptations of self-promotion.

Other forms of self-promotion are more insidious, more complicated, harder to discern. For starters, there’s the fact that publishers, conference organizers, and magazine editors have a vested interest (and I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad interest) in you promoting yourself. Is it self-promotion if you’re trying to help someone else by putting yourself forward? And what about all the mixed motives the human heart must navigate?

John Piper fills us in on his writing leave in 2010. I can relate to this part especially:

There is an inner impulse that I cannot explain that drives me to write. I would write if there were no possibility of publication. I have hundreds of pages that no one has ever seen but me, and it would not matter ultimately if they were destroyed. I wrote them not to be published but because there is an impulse from within.

Separation of “pro-life” and state. Sad.

Why, I asked, can I not wear a religious or political symbol inside a federal building? Bringing to bear the full weight of the supreme law of the land, the guards informed that it was a violation of the First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution: The combination of me, wearing a pro-life pin, in a federal building was a violation of the separation of church and state.

James Grant interviews me about Holy Subversion. Good questions from James!

The Burpee: the one exercise to rule them …

Posted in Worth a Look | 2 Comments

So You Think You Can Write…

Occasionally, I receive questions from blog readers who are curious to know how I wound up writing a book. Many bloggers have similar aspirations of writing for a larger audience. So questions inevitably come up:

“How did you get published?”

“What kind of proposal did you do?”

“What is the key to getting a book deal?”

Of course, the questioners are not merely interested in my personal story; they want to follow the same road and get published themselves.

The only advice that I can give about publishing comes solely from the author’s standpoint. I usually recommend that you try to get published in some magazines first. Building a blog audience is a good idea. Try to get your work into other places (whether there is a financial benefit or not). Sometimes, I will tell someone to consider self-publishing, especially if they have many traveling and speaking opportunities.

Of course, all this advice is from the author’s standpoint. The best thing you can do is hear the editor’s point of view.

The world of Christian publishing differs quite a bit from the world of non-Christian publishing, but enough of the same rules apply to non-fiction that one can glean important insights from editors of secular non-fiction. Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2003) by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato is a good place to get started.

Aspiring authors need to know what editors look for when they see a book proposal. They also need …

Posted in Blogging Tips, Book Reviews, Writing | 6 Comments

Worth a Look 1.27.10

A different kind of Pharisee:

Authenticity is a funny thing. God desires it, but He doesn’t need it. He already knows us from the inside out. We can’t keep secrets from God. Authenticity is more about how we act with each other. It’s important to be “real” with each other but if we’re not careful, our authenticity can turn into a badge that we wear. God hates masks…but he also hates badges.

Don’t let your hipster jeans, modern worship bands or iPhone bibles fool you into thinking that you’re somehow closer to God than the suit-wearing guy sitting in the pew.

President Obama recently mentioned his desire to be a great “one-term” president versus a mediocre two-term president. Joe Carter writes of some one-term presidents in the past.

That leaves only twelve Presidents that would be comparable to Obama’s situation: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, James Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.

Controversy over Tim Tebow’s pro-life ad at the SuperBowl. Where’s the tolerance?

Odd isn’t it? Freedom, they cry! Liberty and equality for all and don’t you attempt to force your view of morality on others. And yet it is that very same group that is now demanding that CBS not allow this perfectly legal and approved spot to air. Their desire for freedom is so specifically and narrowly defined as their own right to destroy inconvenient human life that the hypocrisy …

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Holy Humdrum

Life is filled with interruptions.

We had a tire blow out on our van last week. I unexpectedly spent several hours resolving that situation and then getting new tires.

Julia recently had a new tooth come in. My wife and I endured two sleepless nights listening to her wake up every hour and moan in her crib.

Early last week, I was excited at the thought of getting ahead in my teaching and preaching preparation. Instead, the church office became a revolving door of visitors. At the end of the afternoon, I felt like I hadn’t gotten anything done.

Life is filled with interruptions. Sometimes, these interruptions keep us from activities that we consider very important. We want to use our time wisely, to be on mission for the kingdom of God, to be proclaimers of the gospel while we still have breath. We go to conferences and get pumped up to make a difference. We download mp3s of sermons and benefit from others’ insights. We want to feed the hungry, comfort the grieving, and give the gospel to the lost.

But then we catch with the stomach flu and spend two days at home in bed. Our responsibilities pull and push us in a gazillion directions. We get saddled with additional responsibilities that don’t seem to get us anywhere.

Much of our life is spent reacting to boring interruptions. Even our daily routines can be a drudgery.

    Taking a shower.
    Brushing teeth.
    Changing diapers.
    Carting the kids across town for sports events.
    Cleaning the house.
    Paying bills.
    Mowing the lawn.
    Fixing the …

Posted in Life & Culture | 9 Comments

Worth a Look 1.26.10

Why you may be having trouble finding volunteers at church:

Vibrant churches are very reliant on the power and number of their volunteers.  Mark Beeson, the pastor at Granger Community Church has written a piece on why good people volunteer.  His insights may help you in building a successful volunteer base at your church.  See if you are offering your people these opportunities…

Why the term “African-American” should be reserved for those who are truly from Africa:

Last year the number of Africans here topped a million, and we could use that as a numerically convenient time to let go of the conceit we have gotten used to over the past twenty years, that black people born here are ethnically hyphenated people of half “African” ancestry.

It just doesn’t go through. The black American does not look back on a childhood in the African “old country.” The black American speaks English natively, not Twi or Hausa (and in truth, it’s possible that not a single slave brought to the United States spoke Swahili). Barely a black American alive today knows anyone who ever even knew a slave born in Africa.

In Missing the Missional Mark, Ed Stetzer reflects on the current discussion about the term “missional”:

Clearly there is a misunderstanding at some level. Either men like Leeman are not putting much effort into understanding missional thinkers, or some missional thinkers are not being clear enough. My guess is, guys like Leeman can try harder, and some missional thinkers could be more …

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Introverts in the Church: A Review

I have never been a fan of personality tests. Every time I take one, I feel like I am being forced to decide between false choices.

For example:

“Which sounds more appealing to you? Reading a book at home alone or attending a party with lots of people?”

I could spend a long time debating that one. Sometimes, I need a break from people and find refuge in solitude with a good book. Other times, I crave being with other people in social settings. Does that make me an introvert, an extrovert, or someone with tendencies that vascillate?

Adam McHugh’s new book Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (IVP, 2009) goes beyond superficial personality tests to address a real problem in evangelical churches today. McHugh makes the case that most churches are led by and geared toward extroverted personalities. Evangelicals tend to measure progress in discipleship by participation in essentially extrovert-focused activities. Even the wider society rewards extroverted traits, which leaves people with more introverted personalities feeling left out.

Introverts in the Church is helpful on a number of levels. Extroverted church leaders will learn about people in their congregations – people they have never quite understood before. They will come to realize that a person’s reticence to participate in every church activity or ministry might not be rooted in apathy. Likewise, a person’s silence in a meeting or gathering does not always signify disapproval.

People with introverted qualities learn how to navigate their way through the evangelical churches that may …

Posted in Book Reviews | 7 Comments