My June Reading List

June was a good month for reading.  There’s a few gems in this list…



If you aren’t reading this series you need to start!  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the writing in the first book but now I’m all in.  I was up late into the night finishing this book off.  The series has great characters, a compelling plot and a boatload of meaningful metaphor.  Peterson’s endless creativity is engaging and fun.  I can’t wait to start the final book.


I’m a little late in the game on this book but I enjoyed it immensely.  Wait, enjoyed might be the wrong word.  It was uncomfortable.  In a good way.  It was spiritually challenging and I immediately wanted to create a teaching series around the material.  That’s what teachers do with great books.  We steal the material and pretend it was our idea.  Don’t worry, you won’t be able to tell what I did.  The series is going to be called “Strange.”

9780814432174_p0_v1_s260x420Sigh.  I hate it when this happens but I just didn’t enjoy this book.  I couldn’t connect.  The title lured me in.  Liberating creativity in my team is a passion for me but this book was too tied to the technology sector and I didn’t find the personal stories helpful.  This book just wasn’t for me.  It could be that I’m not smart enough for the world of technology and business.



I LOVED this book!  Sinek’s thesis deeply resonated with me.  Here’s the basic idea:  Organizations that treat people like people and foster environments of collaboration and relational safety thrive while organizations that treat people like cogs in a machine and competitively pit people against people don’t.  Organizational cultures are built by the leaders at the top.  To Sinek, the role of the leader is humble servant-hood.  Sinek’s idea of leadership fits well in the church.

A word of caution on this book, Sinek’s route to servant leadership runs through an atheistic and evolutionary worldview.  He believes that the key to successful leadership is understanding human biology, specifically the brain chemicals that drive our feelings.  Some of my more conservative friends may disagree with his worldview to the degree that they cannot agree with his conclusions.  I had no problem walking that line.  Sinek repeatedly referred to “mother nature’s design.”  Personally, I’m comfortable with his route and conclusions because I replace “mother nature’s design” with “intelligent design.”  In fact, I can’t understand how unguided evolution could design anything.  In my opinion, there must be an architect.

Anyway, the book is awesome.  If you’re in leadership, read it and let me know what you think.


10 pages in I was like, “Psh! What a setup.  I refuse to get sucked in.”  50 pages in I was like, “What do teenagers know about love.  I’m not gonna get sucked in.” 100 pages in I started to get sucked in by Augustus’ charisma.  150 pages in I couldn’t stop reading.  200 pages in I cried like a little sissy girl.  Dang it.

The Road Cover


I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I love a good post-apocalypse story.  This book is intense but I loved it.  However, you’ll probably fall into a depression after reading it.


A Case Against “Christian”

Warning:  I’m feeling a little feisty.  This may ruffle some feathers.


Let me begin by stating that I am a Christian.  By that I mean that I follow the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.  However, I wish I could outlaw the term, “Christian.”  By this, I mean the adjective.  Why do we, as Christians, have to create competitive sub-cultures, institutions and industries–Christian music, Christian movies, Christian bookstores, etc?  I don’t see how these help the movement of Jesus.

In my opinion, here’s why Christian subcultures and competitive industries don’t work:

1.  They make us look inept.

When’s the last time you saw a “Christian” movie that was competitive with something Hollywood produced after 1972?  I have an acronym for you:  CCM.  I rest my case.  Our “Christian” industries are a collective “face-palm.”  Our shoddy art places Jesus in a laughable and irrelevant light with society.  This is not OK.


2.  They set us up for failure.

How many news headlines over the last few years have been of “Christian” leaders making terrible decisions–illegal and immoral?  So often, the strategy of Christians seems to be: “We’re better than you, therefore, let us set up a more holy insert blank.”  The problem is that Christians are NOT better than the rest of culture.  We are often NOT more holy.  We are simply people who embrace the love and grace of Jesus and seek to follow Him.  This superiority complex has to go because every time one of us makes a terrible decision we damage our credibility.  Yes, we need to strive for holiness but I believe we ought to stop placing ourselves on public pedestals.

3.  They set us up for conflict

Why is everything a battleground?  We seem to be obsessed with battling over the morality and culture of the United States, thinking that somehow it is THE kingdom, when in fact, it is A kingdom.  We have this nasty propensity to set up opposing institutions and industries in order to battle the “sinful” institutions and industries.  By embracing this strategy, we’re teaching the next generations that being a Christian is about fighting the bad guys.  We tried that once.  It was called the Crusades and it sucked for everyone.


4.  They make us irrelevant

Jesus was absolutely compelling.  The worst of people were magnetically drawn to Him (and He to them).  Our Christian cultural bubbles are the farthest thing from compelling.  In fact, these cultural bubbles disengage us from society and culture.  Our teaching and conversations become irrelevant to the people and communities around us.  Our language doesn’t even make sense to the people Jesus wants to engage.


So what’s the answer?  Jesus called His followers to be “in the world but not of the world.”  In other words, the answer is to engage culture instead of creating subcultures.  Instead of fighting, we ought to focus on loving, serving and sharing Jesus.  What did the early Christians do?  They rescued and raised abandoned babies.  They stayed in plague-ridden cities and cared for the dying.  They engaged false philosophies smartly and relevantly.  They contextually shared the Gospel with the people they loved, which was everyone.  Within the Church, they loved and served each other so powerfully that outsiders were dumbfounded and longed to join their communities.  The early Christians built credibility through the way they engaged and treated others.

Jesus gave His disciples a commandment:  “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Instead of creating enclaves of finger wagging disapproval and judgment, let’s love each other profoundly and tangibly and let’s engage culture by serving our “enemies.”  No more, “Us against them.”

And, as safe as it may make us feel, isolating ourselves in “Christian” bubbles with Christian movies, music, t-shirts, stores, books and TV isn’t remotely close to the Kingdom living that Jesus described and the disciples lived out.   Let’s return to what has made the Church irresistible throughout history–smartly engaging culture, loving and serving people, and boldly sharing Jesus.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…even if I made you angry.


bubble imaged credited to Pascal Maramis via Flickr

I Started a Pinterest!

I had this impression that Pinterest was only for girls, until Jon Acuff told me that all the cool kids have a Pintrest.  I’ll basically do anything that guy says.

I did some research and it turns out I don’t have to turn in my man card if I have a Pinterest.  It’s just a short probation.  Technically, it’s called a “brobation.”

But seriously, I have now fallen in love with pinning stuff.   Like usual, I’m 5-7 years behind cultural trends.  Go ahead and laugh.

My new site is full of stuff from my blog, Lifeline videos (including the El Matadore collection) and random other awesome stuff.  Check it out!  Aaron’s astronomical new Pinterest.