July Book Recommendations

During the month of June I read five books that I recommend.  All were published either last year or this year: (5) There's a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor edited by Martha Spong (SkyLight Paths, 2015) (4.5) Teams that Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird (IVP Books, 2015) (4.5) From Tablet to Table: Where Community is Found and Identity is Formed by Read More …

Sermon: Our Lenten Creed

Sermon Text: Mark 12:28-31 Sermon Excerpt I have one Christian education activity I use more than any other to help Christians work through what Christianity is all about.  I have facilitated it in many churches with youth and also with adults. This is how it works.  Those gathered are divided into small groups of five to eight people.  Each small group is asked to create a list of what it is one must believe to be labeled a Christian.  The only rule is that for any item to make the Read More …

Top 10 Faith Enriching Books

Since launching this blog in 2009, I have reviewed over 150 books and recommended nearly 100 more.  Starting in 2010, I have published annual lists of my top books published each year (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014). Each year, I have concluded alphabetical top ten lists with the two books that had the greatest impact on my own faith journey during that year.  Together these ten volumes create a list of my Top 10 Recently Published Faith Enriching Books: Diana Butler Read More …

Sermon: The Jesus Creed

Sermon Text - Mark 12:28-31 Sermon Excerpt Every semester I teach a survey course in world religions at Hodges University.  While most students are fascinated to learn about a new religion every week, they tend to find the pace challenging.  When we reach the eleventh week of the term, many breathe a sigh of relief since it is the week we consider Christianity. Many of my students, perhaps like most of you, feel confident they know Christianity better than any other religion.  We know Read More …

The Changing Church

Renowned New Testament scholar Scot McKnight has always managed to balance academic excellence with immersion in and understanding of the real world of church life.  Given such, it isn't surprising to learn he will be leaving North Park University after this academic year for Northern Seminary.  His recent blog post on how the church has changed during his lifetime is a must read.  The piece is not intending to pass judgment on the changes, but rather call attention to them.  This perspective is Read More …

Review of How God Became King

Meet the Author N.T. (Nicholas Thomas) Wright has spent most of his life in academia.  He taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford Universities before serving as Bishop of Durham in the Church of England from 2003-2010.  Wright now serves as chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews.  He has written many highly regarded books including Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (2011) and Read More …

Review of The King Jesus Gospel

Meet the Author Scot McKnight is professor of religious studies at North Park University.  He is a leading authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus.  McKnight has written over 20 books including The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (read how this book has influenced me), Fasting (read my review), The Real Mary: Why Evangelicals Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus (read my review), and One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow (read my review).  McKnight’s Read More …

Rethinking Religious Rules

This morning I am preaching at Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL.  You can read the full text of my sermon, Rethinking Religious Rules, here. For more information about the books referenced visit my review of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow and my thoughts on The Jesus Creed, which was a part of my Who is Jesus? series. So What? In his recent book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, Scot McKnight writes these words: “Every religious culture multiplies rules (except Jesus’ Read More …

What Kind of Disciple?

Scot McKnight, renowned New Testament scholar and professor of religious studies at Northpark University, wrote an article entitled "Full Disciple" in the February-March 2011 edition of Neue Magazine exploring the discipleship ministry of local congregations.  McKnight asks his readers, "What kind of disciple is your church producing (p.56)?,"  before suggesting that churches would benefit from aligning their vision with that of Jesus: For Jesus a disciple is someone marked by kingdom holiness Read More …

Questions Worth Answering

Established in 1999, the Spirituality Book Club is "an on-line global community of kindred spirits who explore spirituality through books, music, discussion, and ways to get involved in doing good things globally."  Yesterday, I was featured on their Real People, Real Lives, Real Spirituality blog.  A copy of my interview follows: Name: Greg Smith Where you live: Naples, FL What you do as a vocation or avocation? Research, speak and write about education, especially relating to technology and Read More …