I will not cease to call for repentance

A year ago there was hope. The shock of Ahmaud Arbery’s mugging, then Breonna Taylor, and then George Floyd provided a time when there was hope that white evangelical America was actually listening. I loaned out books. I bought books for others. I invited folks into conversation.

Then… well, we got tired. White fatigue set back in.

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Books this year

I had a smaller goal for reading this year, but then just kept on reading. I also listened to books on Audible since I was driving quite a bit at particular times of the year.

I was able to read more widely this year than probably ever before. More female authors. More authors of color.

Here are a few that stood out:

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Book Review: Might from the Margins

I’ve known Dennis Edwards for a few years. He was pastoring a church in North Minneapolis where one of my sons and his wife attended. They raved about Dennis. It was a privilege to visit that church a few times and take in what God was doing in a hard part of town. This church was a shining jewel. Dennis would deliver such depth in his sermons. I was always jotting down some book he would reference in his sermons. They turned out to be DEEP reads… academic studies/theological works, etc.

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Book Review: Be Kind to Yourself

Book Review: Be Kind to Yourself by Cindy Bunch

The other day was yet another exercise in mental self-flagellation for me. My mind raced with questions about why I had made certain choices in certain times, why I had not become “awake” in issues around me sooner, etc. It is a regular occurrence in my life.

This particular time I was so frustrated with myself I pulled out a legal pad and simply began writing. It was a brief review of my life as I looked back on what had influenced me. Within minutes I had 9 written pages.

Beating myself up is a too often regular exercise in my life. In this particular moment came the book, Be Kind to Yourself, by Cindy Bunch. In a few short pages I felt amazing relief.

First, I wasn’t alone.

Second, I needed to hear words of kindness that poured over my soul and I learned quickly the best words of kindness will come from the Spirit… and me.

Cindy is a spiritual director and also works for Intervarsity Press. As she was reading another book on spiritual formation, there were some healing words that came to her from that writing and challenged her to reflect more. This book is the result of that reflection.

This book is an exercise based on two questions:

  1. What’s bugging you?
  2. What’s bringing you joy?

Ask these two questions each day for 30 days. She found that asking those two questions helped her look deeply into the negative thought patterns she had about herself or others.

When we ask the first question, we can then hear how we talk about ourselves. I am harsh. But the question causes me to then ask WHY I am harsh. I walk back through the scenario that set me off and ask what I was feeling.

It is a process of learning how to deal with moments in new ways.

Cindy leads the reader in very practical exercises and opens up her own life to the very real struggles. Her goal is to move us to shame-free self-examination.

The book is a refreshing exercise. It is practical. It is real. She gets personal.

This is an exercise to walk through with intentionality… and grace. Walk slowly. Find joy in this journey.

Book launch day — get this one!

I had the privilege of interviewing Marlena Graves along with Dennis Edwards on another subject a few weeks ago. Today Marlena is launching her latest book: The Way Up is Down. Get this book! She is a fresh, powerful voice needed in this generation.

I WILL BE GIVING AWAY ONE COPY OF HER BOOK. HERE ARE THE RULES:

  1. Share this post on your social media accounts.
  2. Leave a comment on this post (NOT my social media accounts… THIS POST!) Answer this question: What is the last book you read from a person of color and when?
  3. I will draw randomly from the posts if I get at least 5 people involved.
The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself ...

A book worth your time

There has been a LOT of reading in this time of coronavirus. I was glad to be able to get an advance copy of Marlena Graves’ new book The Way Up is Down.

In this section she talks about the need for confession in our lives to deal with our sin and dwell humbly before the Lord. She makes the case for the return of the sacrament of confession in the Protestant Church:

“But the sacrament of confession involves confessing our sins to a representative of Christ’s church and receiving absolution. Confession is this traditional sense is of paramount importance. There is something mysteriously transformative in hearing the words of absolution: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.'”

The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself ...