Archive for the ‘ivp book club’ Tag

Dipping, Dunking and Devouring   Leave a comment

As I sat at my desk recently I noticed once again the proliferation of books! Yes I do have a Kindle which helps but, no matter how hard I try, piles rise relentlessly from every surface in my vicinity. Most books have been opened but I  could not honestly say I am “reading “them. As I pondered this I realized my reading habits in many ways fuel this phenomenon. In my mind I have the books around me in three categories.

First are those in the “dipping ” collection. These are volumes that have caught my attention for one reason or another (or perhaps come from the amazing IVP Book Club!). They have an interesting title that is relevant either to my devotional interests or some subject about which I am or might preach. So I have dipped! I have read the back cover to see who has endorsed the content and what qualifications or context the author writes from. I have also consulted the table of contents from which I have found I can learn so much more about the book than simply chapter headings. If a writer gives his chapters quirky or amusing titles their style will, in all likely hood, be very different than one whose titles are simply subject headings. The way in which chapters are ordered or collected also gives insight into how the author thinks about their subject. Often I will also read the introduction and occasionally the first pages of a couple of chapters.  This done, most books take their place in one or other of the piles.

Then there is what I call the “dunking” books. Dunking is a more substantial immersion that just a dip! These volumes are ones that I have discovered whole chapters or sections that interest me. Sometimes a chapter will address a particular question I have been asked or challenge I am facing. Inevitably these volumes spend at least some time resting in one pile or another , maybe a smaller one or one closer to me but a pile nevertheless.

However none of these has reached the final stage of “devouring.” These are the books ( hopefully not more that a couple at any one time!) that have so captivated me that I have determined to read them systematically from cover to cover with yellow highlighter in hand. If my Kindle is in my hand, notes, marks and highlights are frequent and I am unable to resist the temptation to talk about the content to anyone who will listen.

Here are a few books that I have currently in some of these groups:


“Whats a Christian to do with Harry Potter” Connie Neal  “Found: God’s Will” John MacArthur  “Creating a Missional Culture” JR Woodward, “Community is Messy” Heather Zempel, “Preaching for God’s Glory” Alistair Begg, “Center Church” Tim Keller


“Pursuing God’s Will Together” Ruth Haley-Barton      “Doing Church as a  Team” Wayne Corderio   ” The Lamb Wins” Simon Ponsonby, ” Deep and Wide” Andy Stanley,


“Organic Outreach for Churches” Kevin Harney   “Living into the Life of Jesus” Klaus Issler

Then there is a final group of well thumbed books that I have devoured and have so helped me that I like to keep them close and refer to them often ( but I can’t think of an adjective beginning with “D” for them!). Here are a few:

“Jesus Driven Ministry” Ajith Fernando, “A Praying Life” and “Love Walked Among Us” Paul Miller, “Invitations from God “Adele Ahlberg-Calhoun

How about you? Do you have any particular reading habits? Do you have books that you might place in any of the above categories that you could recommend?

Posted January 6, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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I might be wrong…   Leave a comment

… and I am certainly not willing to consider Charles Barkley’s caveat  “…but I doubt it!” Yet again I have reason to be grateful to the IVP Book club!  A little while ago my selection included a copy of “Invitations from God” by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. I did not pick it up at first but, at the recommendation of a friend, Maggie purloined my copy and began to read it. Pretty soon she was regaling me with quotes and finally insisting that I “really needed to read” this particular chapter. The title of the chapter “ An Invitation to Admit that I Might be Wrong.” I confess a little reluctance even though her recommendations are nearly always very worthwhile. However she was right and, you’ve guessed it, I was wrong!

As I mentioned during the sermon on Sunday I have now read this particular section of the book two or three times and I am ashamed to tell how many times I have recognized my own resistance in the pages. It strikes me how crucial this attitude is, not just for me, but how helpful it would have been for those who encountered Jesus during his three years of ministry. How often He tried to explain to them that He was not ignoring or abusing the law but fulfilling it. However their minds were made up and they were not willing to admit they might be wrong. Tragically our society today is riddled with people of all faiths and creeds (as well as none) who are similarly unwilling. The creationists who will give little credence to the discoveries of the research scientist and the biologist who will countenance any explanation of observed phenomena other than the existence of a supreme creator. But does that mean everything is optional and belief in truth is to be discouraged. I do not think so. A life in which we are unable to reach convictions and live by them would, in my opinion be colorless, confusing and perpetuate insecurity. Calhoun very helpfully explains it like this

This doesn’t mean we can’t know truth. It simply means we cannot be certain that our take on truth is absolute or that our judgments about others are absolutely right.

It is, however, our attitude that changes when we accept this invitation. We approach others with openness and receptivity that can only enhance and enable our witness for Jesus. We will find that we participate in conversations by really listening to others rather than using half an ear while our mind assembles the next facet of our irrefutable (of course!!) argument. One of the most challenging quotes from the chapter is the following:

The type of humility that admits you are wrong when you know you are wrong is confession. The humility that admits you might be wrong when you’re pretty sure you’re right is maturity. Without both types of humility, we become rigid and unteachable. Without both types of humility, relationships flounder and implode.

So the challenge for us is to locate those subjects upon which, for one reason or another, we are unwilling to consider the idea that we MIGHT be wrong and as the author encourages us, “Seek humility which acknowledges the limits of my knowing…” and “Seek teachability, which allows me to keep on growing and changing.”


Posted February 15, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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