In Search of Blogging Mojo

You’ll notice that I haven’t posted anything for months now. Once again, I’ve let my blog grow stale on the vine. I’ve had so many starts and stops over the years. I’ve let what little momentum I had fall apart faster than a celebrity marriage. I need help.

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo

This week I’ve had the chance to review Bryan Allain‘s 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo. This new book looks like the help I need to get this blog back on track.

Can you turn a blog around in 31 days following Allain’s advice? Yes. Will your blog be acquired by HuffPo next month, not likely. Don’t blame the book if Arianna (or the Aggies) isn’t interested in your Baylor Bears football blog.

In 31 days you will focus on 3 core elements — audience, perspective and content. Each day has a short lesson and a Mojo action task designed to get you moving in the right direction. Here is the daily Mojo action for Day 3:

Pretend someone just asked you what your blog was about. Grab your notebook and write down your answer. Don’t over think it. Try to write down exactly what you’d say to them in conversation. And don’t worry if it sucks, we’re about to make major improvements.

You can see a bit of Allain’s wit and writing style there. I am really enjoying how each day’s lesson ends with a bit of humor form his blog archives.

Do you blog? Do you like to laugh? For less than the price of a WhataMeal ($4.99 in the Amazon Kindle Store), grab a copy of 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo and join me in quest. I can’t wait to see this blog come late October.

FTC required disclosure, I received a review PDF copy of this book from Bryan Allain.

Jesus is Better than Bacon Review of The Greener Grass Conspiracy

The Greener Grass Conspiracy

I recently completed reading Stephen Altrogge‘s The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. I know I am supposed to write several long paragraphs and glowing review for this book, but I can’t. I’ve got to cut straight to the point. This book is wonderful! Friend, buy it and read it right now!

This book is written for Christians, but that isn’t to say non-Christians won’t benefit from this book. Everyone needs this book. Why? Because everyone suffers from and is part of the “Greener Grass Conspiracy.” What is that you ask? Trust me you know it well. You need a spouse, your job stinks, you want a new car, etc., and your life will be better when you get it right? Check back with me later. Trust me, there is always something more.

Altrogge writes, The problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within. They’re not the product of my circumstances, and the desires won’t be satisfied when circumstances change (p. 17).

So what grand solution or transformation is Altrogge promoting with this book? Just one thing: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, his life and death for the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection for our justification. Everything in this book is grounded in the Gospel and the finished work of Christ on behalf of discontented sinners like you and me.

Altrogge writes to a modern audience and draws upon his 1980s youth for many anecdotes. That said, his words are not watered down. He leans heavily upon Scripture. He quotes from the Puritans, Charles Spurgeon, and Randy Alcorn among others.

His creativity shines in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 5—The Kings Madness. In a great scene at Starbucks, Altrogge share’s a coffee with Sol, who, despite his riches, is miserable. The scene ends with:

“It’s vanity,” he said. “All of its vanity.” He then strode out the door toward his cherry-red Porsche with the custom plate that said KNG SLMN.

Reading the book, I couldn’t help but feel like Altrogge was speaking to me. He must have mentioned discontentment with your children (going to sleep, obedience, etc.) half a dozen times. Being convicted of you sin hurts. Yet each time he led me back to the cross to see what Christ has done on my behalf.

Again, I want to encourage you, my readers, to get this book. Learn to be content like Paul in Philippians 4. Learn to rest in the finished work of Christ. Learn to yearn for the life and age to come.

Here is a trailer for Stephen Altrogge’s Greener Grass Conspiracy. RSS Readers may need to click through to see video.

Order your copy of The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence at:

FTC required disclosure, I received a review copy of this book from Crossway.

Christ is My Only Comfort In Feast or Fallow

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Today, I was looking at a few reviews in the iTunes Store. One review stood out making the point that so much of contemporary Christian music sounds the same. Along With this unified sound the reviewer also mentioned the flowery generalities that make it sound like Jesus is a vending machine just waiting to give you an abundant life.

Sandra McCracken recently released her new album In Feast or Fallow. The album features a collection of historic and self-penned hymns. McCracken, in collaboration with her producer and husband, Derek Webb, have done a great job of making a unified album built upon the title song In Feast or Fallow. The album tells a story like a good movie or book. That story reminds us that whatever life brings our way our only comfort in life or death is Christ. The album begins in prayer with Petition, centers on This is the Christ, and ends with Faith’s Review and Expectation.

We’ve got enough modern worship that preaches man and not Christ. We need Christian musicians like Sandra McCracken who are committed to sharing these historic hymns in a fresh way. We need these hymns to teach theology, sing about the ups and the downs of life, and honor God alone.

This is a beautiful, must have, God-honoring, album. I look forward to hearing the hymns in our churches, small groups, and homes in years to come.

In addition to her own site, In Feast Or Fallow is also available via iTunes and Amazon MP3.

PS If you want a little bit of the back story on the album dive through Sandra’s twitter archive (@sandramccracken) and listen to the Question and Answer mp3.

PPS Sandra will be in Houston next week, May 12, performing at Holy Trinity. See this tweet for more!

FTC required disclosure, I received a review copy of this album from MIXTUS MEDIA.

Your Church is Too Small

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In Your Church Is Too Small, John H. Armstrong presents a vision of the unity possible for Christians across social, cultural, racial, and denominational lines. When Jesus’ followers seek unity through participation in the kingdom of God and the mission of Christ, they demonstrate God’s character to a watching world.

Armstrong’s vision of unity is built on Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” in John 17 and verses 20-23 in particular.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (ESV)

Armstrong lays out his argument in three parts. Starting with the past he looks at the Biblical and Historical Case of Christian Unity. Armstrong argues that Jesus prayer in John 17 was for relational unity. From here he lays out our need for co-operational unity with other Christians (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant). As we move closer to Christ we should be moving closer to fellow Christians Armstrong states in chapter 6. He concludes his look at the past with a look at the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

In the second part, Armstrong brings us into the present with a look at Restoring Unity in the Church Today. Armstrong presents the case for Christian unity being the Apostles’ Creed. Armstrong then argues that sin and sectarianism are the reason for disunity. He then builds his on case for unity with a fresh look at the church, the mission, and tradition.

Finally in third part, Armstrong looks at the future in The Missional-Ecumenical Movement. He starts by getting us to look at the true church of God and who is a real Christian. Over the remaining chapters, Armstrong outlines his missional-ecumenical paradigm by which Armstrong means (1) the unified God-head is a sending God and that (2) we would be united relationally as we are sent out on mission in the world.

I found Your Church Is Too Small to be very challenging. I certainly agree that the Church is much more than my local congregation and even more than my denomination. The elect of God are the bride of Christ, the church, those He purchased from every tongue, tribe, and nation. The Church is the people of God, the true children of Abraham. I want to agree with Armstrong’s argument. It made me stop and think about my beliefs. In the end, I don’t entirely agree with Armstrong’s position.

My main issue is with the thesis of Armstrong’s argument. I don’t see that Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23 is about relational unity. The verses immediately preceding (17-19), Jesus prays that believers would be sanctified in truth of God’s word. It seems logical to me there would be doctrinal unity as well as relational unity. Paul would seem to agree with this position. Just look at 1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

Armstrong agrees that there should be doctrinal unity which he states should be the Apostles’ Creed. No doubt that the creed it historic, but is it enough? If the our only basis for doctrinal division is the Apostles’ Creed then why not included Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons into relational unity? I have found Mormon arguments that their teaching does not contradict more definitive Nicene Creed. The Apostles’ Creed is not even definitive on the nature of the Trinity, let’s welcome the Oneness Pentecostals and Unitarians as well. See a problem here? How can we be follow Augustine’s advice “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” unless we know the essentials. At least we both agree that Brian McLaren looks to be on the outside looking in.

My second issue is more practical, if we practice the missional-ecumenism that Armstrong envisions the watching world won’t be any less confused than they already are. Say for example five Christians (a Roman Catholic, an Eastern Orthodox, a Pentecostal, a Baptist, and Presbyterian) agree to work together to evangelize a neighborhood and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While the five Christians hold that they are all united in Christ, they will most likely not share the same gospel message. Instead, their message will be shaped by their denomination. So, the non-believers in the neighborhood will be hearing five different gospels! So much for unity.

The body of Christ must be united in essential doctrine and relational unity for there to be the unity that Christ prayed for John 17. The Church needs to share the Gospel of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins and his resurrection on the third day for our justification according to the Scriptures.

Again, John H. Armstrong’s Your Church Is Too Small is a book that will challenge your thinking about the church. While I don’t share his position, the book is worth reading if for no other reason to get you thinking about Christ’s bride, his Church.

Official Site for Your Church Is Too Small

FTC required disclosure, I received a review copy of this book from Zondervan and participated in the John Armstrong Blog Tour.