The Pharisee in me

“We don’t usually want to be Pharisees. But we all want to feel like Pharisees — standing on solid statements, having a place from which to argue. Given the choice between knowledge and life we prefer knowledge. It’s how Adam and Eve chose their fruit. We’ve been choosing the same fruit ever since.” — Mandy Smith, Unfettered

Unfettered - By Mandy Smith (paperback) : Target

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.

Read more

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:

Read more

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.

Read more

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.