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December 20, 2010 / Don Sanders

Quantum Discipleship relaunches in 2011

After a year hiatus, Quantum Discipleship will be relaunching early in 2011.  Check back after the new year to get into the conversation.

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February 22, 2010 / Don Sanders

From Garden to City

If you would like to begin a year-long Bible reading plan that begins during Lent, check out From Garden to City at http://fromgardentocity.com/home/.  This website is published by National Community Church in Washington, D.C.  Their staff posts blog entries each day about the reading.  I am doing the year long schedule along with them.

February 18, 2010 / Don Sanders

Primal

by Mark Batterson

This past June I was blessed with a month-long sabbatical.  The best way to spend a month recharging my spiritual batteries, (aside from lots of mountain biking and a trip to Montana) was ordering about $50 worth of books on half.com (which amounted to about 20 books.)  Anyway, one of the books that I ordered was Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson.  I ended up not reading the book (but it’s in the queue on my desk still!) but I started following Batterson on Twitter (he’s the best tweeter I follow, btw.)  Anyway, to promote his new book Primal, he gave away copies every week to people in different ministries.  He offered for any discipleship pastors to email him and he’d send a free copy of the book.  So I took him up on it.

Primal is an exposition of the basics of following Christ, the great commandment.  Batterson lays out what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And what an exposition it is.  Laden with astute observations, scientific illustrations, and statistical figures, he does an amazing job of helping the reader to expand his/her concept of discipleship.  Amid all the illustrations are many little pithy statements that really capture the essence of Jesus’s statements.  While all of this is very good, the best thing about Primal is that it approaches discipleship from a positive perspective.  While many books pound and demoralize the read, this one is a breath of fresh air as it presents discipleship as an achievable enterprise.  Imagine that!

If one of the measures of a good book is whether or not you want to stop reading after finishing a chapter, Primal rates as good because I constantly wanted to continue on.  It was great encouragement to become more like Jesus.

January 6, 2010 / Don Sanders

Nothing New Under the Sun

Okay, just ran across this and thought it was hysterical. 

December 30, 2009 / Don Sanders

Top Ten Song on My iPod for 2009

I really thought that more Coldplay would make it into the Top Ten this year, but the fact that U2 released a new album probably pushed everyone else out.

10.  City of Blinding Lights by U2.  This song is the ringtone on my phone for my wife.  It always reminds me of her.

9. Levitate by U2.  This is from the fan club CD.  Classic U2 from the All You Can’t Leave Behind sessions.  Can’t believe they didn’t put this song on the CD.

8. 42 by Coldplay.  I really took hold of Coldplay this year.  Viva la Vida is just an amazing record.

7. Native Son by U2.  Another one from the fan club CD.  This is a previous version of Vertigo, which in some ways is actually better.  Nearly all of the lyrics are different, but it still rocks.

6. Stand Up Comedy by U2.  One of my favorite songs from No Line on the Horizon.  I was very disappointed they didn’t play it in concert.  Kind of a bluesy tune with some funky lyrics.

5. One Tree Hill by U2.  A former #1 (from 2007), this has got to be one of my top five favorite U2 songs.  It you really listen to the lyrics, there is a very powerful message of hope of the resurrection tucked in there.

4. In a Little While by U2. Last year’s #1, this great love ballad slips a little.  It made the rotation on their tour this year complete with astronauts from the space station making live appearances during the song.  Of course, they didn’t play it at the concert I saw.

3. Mysterious Ways by U2.  Another former #1 stays in the top ten.  Yes, it was played in concert this year and no they didn’t play it in Chicago when I saw them.  Very disappointing.  It is still one of my top five favs of all time.

2. Get on Your Boots by U2.  This was the first single from the new album, which is probably why it made this years top ten list.  It is kind of like Vertigo, part 2.  It’s the story of how Bono was on vacation with the family and saw fighter jets tear overhead on their way to start the gulf war.

1. Magnificent by U2.  This is the best song on the new album and could just about be sung in church.  Nearly every contemporary worship band sounds like U2 (which is fine with me), so they might as well sing the same songs, right!

Honorable mentions for 2009…Cemeteries of London (Coldplay), One Headlight (Wallflowers), Death and All His Friends (Coldplay), No Line of the Horizon (U2), 1979 (Smashing Pumpkins), Sgt Pepper (The Beatles), and Unknown Caller (U2.)

December 30, 2009 / Don Sanders

Sherlock Holmes

In the mood for a fun, clean, intellectual, but rather violent holiday break?  If so, get your ticket to Sherlock Holmes.  Having never read one of the books by Doyle, here’s what I know about Mr. Holmes.  He’s English, a detective, and the old TV movies give him a really goofy hat.  Other than that, I went in with a clean slate expecting a great late night thrill ride.  And that’s exactly what I got.

The dialogue is fact paced, dry, witty, and fun.  The acting is very good (although I really didn’t track on why the girl was in the film other than the obvious reasons) and Downey really bring a lot of humor to the role.  The visuals of late 18th century London are stunning and the plot, unlike a Bourne movie, is pretty easy to follow, and they set up the sequel very well.

I cannot recall any bad language and only one sexually suggestive scene, which is pretty mild.  The best part of the movie is that the intellectual side of crime solving is in the forefront.  You might even call this CSI, only a century earlier. 

Overall, it’s everything a good action movie should be.  Have fun!

December 28, 2009 / Don Sanders

The Cuckoo’s Egg

by Clifford Stoll

Between semesters I like to read books from really different areas, so I’m always on the lookout for good reads.  A couple of months ago I was helping a friend move and I was talking with a guy from my church.  He works in computer security for a very well-known company.  In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that this book was really good, so I thought I give it a shot.

There are three things that make this book interesting.  First, it is a true story.  Second, it is kind of funny reading about computer stuff from the 80’s.  Hearing the author describe personal computers and the internet from a 1985 perspective is kind of humorous.  Last, the ramifications of the events that unfold are the stuff that spy novels are made of.

Basically, Cliff Stoll is an astronomer who’s grant money runs out and has to take a job working as a network tech for a research lab.  His first job is to find out why their accounting program is $0.75 off.  He keeps peeling the layers of the onion back and eventually discovers that a hacker has broken into their system.  Thus, a year-long pursuit of an international hacker begins.

I have to admit, that even the 80’s computer lingo, technology, and systems were a bit advanced for me.  Anyone who knows about computer systems would probably understand a lot more of it than I did.  However, the computer descriptions don’t keep the book from being inaccessible to the layman.  It is pretty fast paced and it held my attention until the very end.

If you are a computer geek over 35, you’ll really enjoy this romp through the past.  If you like international espionage, you’ll enjoy it as well.  If you are a conspiracy theorist you’ll have a heyday.  Enjoy!

December 21, 2009 / Don Sanders

De-Railed

by Tim Irwin

I like to read books in my area of knowledge (i.e. biblical studies and fantasy baseball).  I also like to try to expand my horizons by reading good books for other areas.  De-Railed is my latest foray into the business world.

The premise of the book is simple…look at what makes corporate CEO’s crash and burn, then do the opposite.  In a way, it makes sense because there are countless books published that look at the good habits of business leaders.  To to this, Irwin divides the book into two sections–case studies and lessons learned.

The book opens with cases studies of several leaders who lead familiar companies but eventually derailed themselves and their companies.  For those in the business world, these names probably are familiar (their companies were, but the individuals were not familiar to me.)  Two things came to mind while reading these profiles.  First, while they were interesting at first, they quickly became repetitive.  Second, at some level these profiles in failure seemed akin to tabloid journalism.  While Irwin states that his sources are public, it still just seems a little gossipy as he provides details of personality flaws, bad decisions, and corporate failure.

The second part of the book attempts to gather common lessons for the profiles that lead to leadership derailment.  The lessons learned are certainly valuable, but not new discoveries in any way.  Actually, they are more common senses than anything else.  “Don’t be self-centered.”  “Character trumps competency.”  “Be nice to people.”  Really?  These things seems like lessons that we should have learned in grade school, not at the corporate level. 

In the end, the concept is interesting, but the information could have been stated in about 1/4 of the time and space and still have accomplished the same thing.  Are the leadership lessons valuable?  Absolutely.  Should they apply to any leadership position?  Absolutely.  Did I learn anything in this book that I haven’t seen in about a dozen other books?  No.  It really felt like I was reading  a report by a consultant, which is exactly what the author is.

December 20, 2009 / Don Sanders

Why Study Church History? part 10

The study of church history continues the story of the book of Acts.

            The final words of Jesus to his disciples were “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  The rest of the Book of Acts is the story of the beginning of how the church fulfilled that commission.  The story doesn’t end with Paul in the prison in Rome, though.  It continues with the continued development and expansion of the church into the entire world.  From the evangelization of the barbaric tribes of Europe to  missionaries forging into the New World to William Carey going to India, the history of the church is the history of the spread of the gospel.  The disciples of Jesus didn’t disappear when Luke ended his story—they continued to faithfully obey the wishes of Jesus and bore witness to Him throughout the entire world.

December 18, 2009 / Don Sanders

Why Study Church History? part 9

The study of church history keeps us relevant to our culture.

            This past presidential election nearly witnessed a first.  Mitt Romney came close to running for President.  If elected, he would have been the first Mormon president.  Most people who feared having a Mormon in the White House had absolutely no idea where the Mormons came from or why they are considered a cult.  A study of church history, though, would have answered these questions and kept those people relevant to the current culture.

            Church history is useful for keeping relevant to pop culture as well.  A new movie or book regularly is released that questions the history of the church or Christianity.  Bestselling author Dan Brown has sold millions of books doing just this.  Knowing the truth about church history helps to either confirm or refute what these books or movies present as truth.  I had many conversations with people who read these books (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons) and thought that they were historically accurate.  When Christians know the facts, though, it keeps us engaged with the culture and sets us up as a place to get the truth.