10 Inspiring Quotes from “Through Gates of Splendor”

book_ through_gates_of_splendor amazonIf you heard someone say, “”Every Christian should read this book,” what would you do? You may or may not listen to him.

But if that person is an elder at your church, and says this while teaching on a Sunday morning, you are more apt to listen to that wisdom.

And if that person has been a mentor for you for over 15 years, you definitely follow his advice.

A man like that encouraged our church body to read Through Gates of Splendor last fall. I’m glad he did, since this book was one of the top books I read in 2014.

If you haven’t read this book, or if it’s been a while, here are some excerpts that inspired and challenged me:

In preparation for the mission

“We’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned?” Ed McCully (in a letter to Jim Elliot)

Click here for more points to ponder…

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The Injustice of Prison and Slavery

book letters_incarcerated_brother amazonUpon a recommendation from a friend at Allendale Correctional Institute (he is a “resident,” the term they prefer over “inmate”), I bought a copy of Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper. This book would have made little sense outside of my experience working with guys at that state prison.

Even as it is, I still do not fully understand what it’s like to be in prison (and I hope to keep it that way!). Therefore, most of this book challenged my thinking. And that’s a good thing.

But there were also plenty of parts that were easier to understand, even while giving me new insight. This includes when the author makes a connection between historical slavery and the modern prison system.

The Slavery of Prison

In Chapter 8, Harper is reflecting on a statement made by a counselor in a state prison, “I tell all my students who become repeaters, ‘You’re volunteering for slavery.’”

Captivated? Click here to learn more…

The Church and Diversity

book_unitedMore from Trillia Newbell, in United, on the topic of church —

“We are not merely individuals walking out our faith alone. We are a part of humanity, each one of us heading toward heaven or hell. We want to be mindful as we interact with others, that though the here and now may feel and seem incredibly permanent, it is not.

Click here to read more…

Your Identity as a Missionary

transformed book

“When a man journeys into a far country, he must be prepared to forget many of the things he has learned, and to acquire such customs as are inherent with existence in the new land; he must abandon the old ideals and the old gods, and oftentimes he must reverse the very codes by which his conduct has hitherto been shaped. . . . It were better for the man who cannot fit himself to the new groove to return to his own country.” Jack London, “In a Far Country” (HT: Art of Manliness)

If you were sent out as a foreign missionary, to start a church and spread the gospel, what would you do first?

Caesar Kalinowski, in his book Transformed, gives a typical answer:

“We would start by getting to know the language of the local people. We would eat what and where they eat, start to dress more like them, and adopt some of their customs.

We would shop at the same places over and over to get to know the shop and restaurant owners. We would look for ways to be a blessing to them, serving them in simple ways as a display of God’s love for them.

We would need to live as much like them as possible and build relationships over time.”

Of course, we need to have this same strategy as we aim to live on mission in our communities!  Continue reading

We Created This Monster

frankenstein bookHave you read Frankenstein? If you haven’t, the first thing you need to know is that the movie portrayal of his “monster” (an unfortunate term, but we’ll use it here) is very different from in Shelley’s book.

In the movie version (and all the following knock-offs), the monster is lumbering and barely coherent. In the book, he is agile, strong, and grows to be extremely intelligent.

But here is what both versions agree on:

  • Frankenstein created a monster, for reasons that may have been partly noble and partly not.
  • However that monster came to exist, the monster became dangerous.

(Because the book — which I read on a suggestion from Art of Manliness — is fresh on my mind, I’ll mostly be referring that version of the story in this post.)

I’m no expert in literary analysis, but I could not help but see how much Frankenstein spoke about our culture and our innate human nature.  Continue reading

Why Don’t We Strive for Racial Reconciliation?

book_unitedI began reading Trillia Newbell’s United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity a few weeks ago. This book is only 150 pages long, but I think it’s going to take me a while to get through it. Every page I read, I am challenged and burdened.

Even the introduction presents ideas that grate me, such as:

Maybe our churches remain segregated simply because it’s comfortable. There’s nothing malicious to it; we are just more comfortable with “our own.”

(You won’t get far in this book before you’ll see that I believe “our own” needs a new definition.)

But maybe it’s because diversity and racial issues are scary. Talking about race and racial reconciliation can be downright terrifying.

We have to talk about this. If you know me, you know I’m not hesitant to push an issue out to the front. Let’s get it all out on the table.

Click here to keep reading….

Review: The Weight of Mercy

weight of mercy“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”  Matthew 23:23

I became aware of the Triune Mercy Center years ago, well before The Weight of Mercy was published. After hearing about its ministry among the homeless and prostitutes and drug addicts, I assumed it was another social service organization. At best (I deduced), it attached Jesus’ name to its ministry and loosely held to select Biblical principles. At worst, it ignored gospel truths for a worldly emphasis on love and acceptance.

I now see how wrong I was. Reverend Deb Richardson-Moore has not persevered in her job at Triune to do social work, but to serve and lead a church that is made up of both underprivileged and affluent Christians.

Throughout this captivating story, I saw how the Triune Mercy Center, fueled by the faith of Reverend Moore, changed lives and honored Jesus in how they combined Biblical truths and wisdom in ministry. Also, while she humbly admits her mistakes and struggles, she never shied away from calling her parishioners to action.

Click here to keep reading…