A friend in my community group let me read his favorite book, which happened to be Catch-22. Never read this in school for some reason, but it is fantastic…an absolute tearing apart of the absurdities of war, but also of bureaucratic life and America in general. My favorite quote:

“The chaplain had sinned, and it was good. Common sense told him that telling lies and defecting from duty were sins. On the other hand, everyone knew that sin was evil and that no good could come from evil. But he did feel good; he felt positively marvelous. Consequently, it followed logically that telling lies and defecting from duty could not be sins. The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”

Review: Why Holiness Matters

This month I will highlight a couple of books by friends and acquaintances. Up first is Tyler Braun‘s Why Holiness Matters. I first came across Tyler when I read this post and discovered we have some overlap in our stories. Here’s my review of his first book.


Peel back the layers and you will find that one of he greatest fissures in modern Christian thinking lies between authenticity and rule keeping. Most people won’t lead with either of these labels, but they are there.

I work with college students and we have both types of students: those who just want the rules, just want a checklist, and those who use the quest for authenticity as a trump card, justification for poor decisions.

There is a third way, though, and this way is the subject of Tyler Braun’s strong effort: “Why Holiness Matters.” Braun argues that while most in the millennial generation will resonate with authenticity thinking, there is something better that Jesus offers: holiness.

Braun does his best work by taking this old idea and making it new and fresh for his contemporaries (although there’s plenty here for non-millennials as well).

I appreciated Braun’s relational approach to the conversation: holiness is not new (or better) behaviors, nor is it something we simply feel (or drift) our way into. Rather holiness begins with new affections. Our relationship, love of, and connection to a holy God leads to holiness.

I especially enjoyed the chapters on community and mission. Braun does well to emphasize that holiness is a communal process and draws us into community, it’s not a solo pursuit. But, holiness doesn’t lead us to lock the doors and keep the bad people out. We are compelled back into the world to love and serve our neighbors.

A solid effort, and a book I will likely use with students this year.

Sometimes we don’t need new words, we just need new definitions and conversations about good, old words.

Something I Like About Weddings…

Amy and  I went to a wedding this weekend…our friends Ramon and Rachel exchanged vows and became man and wife.

There are a million things I love about weddings, and as I get older I get more and more emotional at weddings, and here’s why…

Marriage shapes us. It shapes our character. If we jump in with both feet and submit to the “other” marriage changes us…we allow someone else to be the authority in our lives and to speak truth to us…to mirror back to us who we really are.

It is incredibly humbling and has the potential to be transformative.

I love that.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Ramon over the years about marriage. About why I married Amy. About why I think marriage is great and why I am “pro-marriage” (as I like to say). We argued about it. Ramon said people didn’t need to get married…it was an old-fashioned institution.

In the end though, he went for it. They are going for it. And I am excited because I can see the change already. My prayer is they stick with the process, they continue to submit to and love each other, and that they embrace the adventure. Because it is beautiful.


This year is flying by and as it does I’m struck by the fact that I (we) am entering new territory. This summer will mark the beginning of our fifth year of marriage, my fifth year in Boston, my fourth year with Sojourn. This will be the longest I’ve lived in one place since I graduated from high school, the longest I’ve been in any ministry assignment, and equally long to any other job I’ve held.

When entering new territory I find it important to go back to some foundational truths. Like this, from one of my old professors:

Your ministry is who you are not what you do.”

In other words: character is the foundation of ministry, not talent, not job description…it’s not the role you play. Always a reminder that character comes first.

And then this…these ancient words, from one pastor to another pastor, resonate still thousands of years later:

“…I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encouragewith great patience and careful instruction3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. – II Timothy 4:1-5 (bold for the especially pertinent bits)

New territory can be scary, but also an opportunity. An opportunity to be reminded of the foundations. I’m excited for this next season, for finding out what it is like to be in the same place for a while. To put down deep roots.

But new territory or not the foundation is the same: character, faithfulness, sacrifice…may it be so!