Posts Tagged ‘Books’


A Theology of Technology

How do Christians handle technology? We we blindly accept it all forms as neutral? Do we withdraw in a sort of isolationist rejection? Fascinating questions we must tackle as faithful followers of Jesus during the digital revolution. These are the questions Craig Detwiler discusses in a fascinating new book, iGods. I had the change to chat with him this week over at Leadership Journal. Here’s a snippet of that conversation:

If you could counsel church leaders, how would you advise them to approach, in their teaching and personal life example, an adequate theology of technology?

As with entertainment, the temptation seems to be disengagement or overindulgence. How do develop a maturity that welcomes the wonders and gifts of technology without letting our devices drive our decision-making?

I’ve been rereading Scripture with an eye on technology, wondering how to translate enduring truths into contemporary terms. For example, can we call God the original technologist? Perhaps it is helpful to talk about Genesis in terms of engineering and aesthetics. We know that Jesus was more than a carpenter’s son, but do we also realize the Greek word for “carpenter” was tekton? Perhaps the “magic” that we associate with the iPhone isn’t so far removed from the original Designer.

I haven’t heard enough pastors talking and modeling digital discipleship. If our congregants spend hours each week involved in social media, then how do we follow God and craft a winsome witness via our smart phones? In the 21st century, we all have the capacity to be narrowcasters, with the possibility of becoming broadcasters. That is a remarkable moment to preach and teach within.

We also might find ourselves distinguished by our ongoing belief in the sacredness of the body, the need to relieve physical and psychic pain and suffering via presence—from chicken soup to bedside prayers. I’m confident the Spirit will continue to lead us towards acts of kindness towards our neighbors and into the farthest corners of the Internet.

You really should read the rest of this interview here:


Shaping Minds Thru Fiction – A Conversation With Trevin Wax

I had a chance to interview my good friend, Trevin Wax about his brand-new book, Clear Winter NightsTrevin is one of my favorite bloggers and authors. He’s also the managing editor of The Gospel Project curriculum from Lifeway, a fantastic tool that I highly recommend churches use for all ages.

In this video conversation, I talk to Trevin about his foray into fiction and how the power of story and conversation can help shape both hearts and minds.



New Book Trailer for Activist Faith

Here is the slick new video trailer NavPress produced for our new book, Activist Faith, to be released in July. This is a new project coauthored with my friends, Dillon Burroughs and Dan King. Check it out:



My 5 Rules of Writing

I’ve been working with words, in one way or another, since I was in high-school and it has been work with words that has formed the majority of my adult working life, both as a writer, editor and now in my role as a pastor. Writing is one of my loves and one of the few things I think I can do reasonably well, though I’m a long, long way from good.

Lots of people ask me what my “method” is for writing. I haven’t given much thought about it, but perhaps it’s worth a blog post. So here are my five rules of writing, if you are interested:

1) Don’t despise small things. Most people start with a book idea, the magnum opus of their lives. But if you start with that, your book won’t be very good. Better to start with small projects for lesser-known publications. Do this for two reasons: 1) To cut your teeth writing and get experience and 2) to build a resume of credits. Magazine editors and book publishers like to see that you’ve been published before. Blogging is starting to flatten that a bit. Still, it’s important to start blogging when only your mother and your wife reads what you write.

2) Above all, keep writing. The best way to get better at writing is to . . . well, write. So to piggyback off of #1, start writing when you’re a nobody and keep writing when you have no audience. For almost 8 years I wrote in total obscurity for a Christian organization, managing their publications, converting sermons into devotionals, articles, and books. This, as I look back, was one of the most important seasons of my life. It taught me to write fast and to produce something.

3) Be editable. Hold your words and ideas loosely. I recently had someone tell me their first draft was ready for publishing. This was the first draft of anything they’d ever written before. It’s not ready for publication. It needs a trained eye, some seasoning, some polishing. The best writing is collaborative. That is to say that you write the very best you can at that moment (a lesson Cecil Murphey taught me) and then allow others to heavily criticize it and edit it. Those red marks are not your enemy, but your best friend. If you’ve read a good book recently that inspired you its because the author had a few unseen eyes polish it. Be grateful for editors. This is God’s way of keeping you humble. In the immortal words of one of my editors, “You’re not Hemingway, so you need an editor.” Yes, yes. The older you get, the more you will actually seek out good editors to look at your stuff. I have two or three folks who do this for major book projects.

4) Find your voice. The thing about writing and getting more and more experience writing–is that you find your voice. Don’t strive to be the next ______. To quote Jon Acuff, that slot is already taken. Be you. And your voice will mature and grow as you mature and grow. Fill up your soul with good reading, life experiences, faith, and love. Drink deeply from a variety of sources and allow your ideas to be shaped and formed. This, more than anything, will make your writing sparkle and grow and inspire. The words I wrote as a young college student probably would inspire nobody now, mainly because I was writing from a position of perceived knowledge, but had not endured any of the real rhythms of life in a fallen world.

5) Find your own method. Some more disciplined writers get up every day at 5 am and crank out 5,000 words, regardless if they have a project. For many years I beat myself up, thinking that needed to be me. Then I realized that this just doesn’t work for me. I’m a deadline guy. I need a deadline to produce. So what I do is continually seek new projects and new ideas which give me new deadlines. Blogging makes this a bit more challenging, however, I’ve committed myself to two or three blogs a week. What’s really cool about this is that I simply write a blog whenever I’m inspired with a short idea that won’t be suitable for an article or a chapter. Then I just sit down and write it and schedule it. So this blog here came right before I was to work on a chapter. I scheduled it to post today. Interestingly, I don’t have a set time that works best for me. I can write at night, in the morning, late at night. Typically with a book project, I do this: I sit down for a large chunk of time and do the writing and I write until I absolutely can’t write anymore. Then I put it to rest for a few days and go back and start editing and then start writing again. Works for me.

A few other thoughts on finding my own method. I tend to work best with music on. For some that distracts. For me, it inspires. I have a hymns playlist that really gets me in the mood for deep reflection. Another key thing for me, is to have a pad of paper handy to write down key thoughts for that chapter or book–to sort of frame a loose outline. For some unexplainable reason, a pen in my hand and paper is better for capturing first seed thoughts. For a while I felt bad that perhaps I should have a more digital tool for this–Evernote or something. But then I remembered that it’s really okay to use a pen and paper. Sometimes digital tools make life more complicated. Lastly, I tend to like to do a bunch of research first, online or in books, and mark it up and organize it before I do my chapter (I do this with my sermons as well). Then I print out the online stuff. I know I could easily just read it online, but again, something about paper and pen here that serves well. I do use Evernote for online articles–just to have one place to keep them for going back and doing footnotes. By the way, I hate footnoting, I hate this work, but it’s important and publishers really keep you on your toes about sources. And as a reader I enjoy being able to see the sources for folks in their books. Still, I hate footnoting. Cool feature of Heaven, btw? No footnoting.


Friday Five: Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a gifted teacher, author, and speaker. Recently, she published her first book, Seriously God? I’m Doing Everything I Know To Do and It’s NOT Working!  She lives in Adairsville, GA with her husband, Chad and their three teen daughters. You can find out more about Jenny at her website or by following her on Twitter at @keepinstride

As a first time author, what led you to write “Seriously God? I’m Doing Everything I Know To Do And It’s Not Working”?

During the past couple of years, we lost everything we thought defined who we were. Our home was fore­closed, many of our so-called friends disappeared, and we struggled to maintain some kind of home life and make our three daughters felt secure. I was looking for a book written by an author who went through a similar experience. I could find all kinds of practical helps, websites to help us cook a meal for under $5, how to cut your cable bill in half, but nothing that went straight to the heart of the matter.

You say, at times, you felt abandoned by God. Did this book flow out of that seasons of doubt and despair?

Yes. My world continued to crumble. It didn’t match up with what I believed about God. We made mistakes, but I also knew God was supposed to be our provider, and it felt like He had been laid off too. It seemed like God had let us down. Where was He? Why did it seem like no matter what we did, everything disintegrated around us?

I finally came to the end of myself. I realized I didn’t have the strength I needed to face my changing reality. The only option left to was to open my Bible and cry out to God for help. I found great comfort in the book of Acts. I noticed the repeated use of the phrase, “in the name of Jesus”. I has always assumed this was a kind of tag for the end of our prayers, but these early Christians lived daily in the name of Jesus. It was a lifestyle.

So how did you begin to live life in the name of Jesus?

I realized pretty quickly that the early church knew Jesus at a much deeper level than I. Many had actually seen Him, talked with Him, walked beside Him. I remember sitting in my chair thinking, am I going to have to study all the Gospels, I don’t have time for that! That’s when I discovered the “I Am” statements of Jesus in the book of John. They changed my heart and my outlook on my circumstances. Seven times Jesus says “I Am…”

In my book I cover all seven  statements both in their original context and as they applied to my current situation. As I journeyed through these powerful words of Jesus and continued to study the believers in the book of Acts, it grew apparent that I had not been living fully the life God intended.

Could you share one of those “I Am” statements and what it means to your life?

The very first “I Am” statement Jesus made spoke directly to my situation – not in a comforting way, but in a piercing way. Sometimes Scripture cuts right to the heart of the matter. I had confused the gifts with the Giver. In John  6:35 we find Jesus telling the crowd that the only reason they followed Him was because their bellies were full! On the day before, Jesus had miraculously provided bread until they “ate their fill of the loaves” (Jn. 6:26b). My heart was pierced as I realized how much of my commit­ment to Jesus was based on Him letting me eat my fill of life.

This realization both opened my eyes and gave hope. The words Jesus spoke, “I am the bread of life,” began to take root. I realized I had become so dependent on the gifts God gave me that when they were gone, I felt abandoned. The reality was I had not been abandoned! I came face-to-face with a decision: would I follow even if I couldn’t eat my fill?

How can the Church best encourage and minister to those who are struggling in what has become our new reality of hard times?

Recently I was listening to a caller on Christian radio share her difficult situation to the host.In five days she would have to move out of her rental home because both her and her husband had lost their jobs. So many people told her “to have more faith.” I knew how she felt because we often heard the same platitudes. What we need to do is look people in the eye and see them as people, brothers and sisters in Christ and offer real help, not simply words. One of my most vivid memories is sitting at a table with some friends. For the first time in our lives, my husband and I feared we wouldn’t have enough money to pay our bills. I’m talking about the essential bills like groceries, electricity and water. We asked our friends to pray for us, and they offered not only prayer, but money. We decided to wait until the end of the month. God ended up providing some odd jobs, but their willingness to help changed my view of how Christians should respond.



Friday Five: Tyler Braun

Tyler Braun is a pastor from Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife Rose. His first book, Why Holiness Mattters releases August 1st. You can find Tyler on TwitterFacebook, or his blog,
The title of your book is Why Holiness Matters, so in a nutshell, can you tell us why it matters? 

So many of us have whittled down following Jesus to set of beliefs rather than a God who desires to apprehend us through his affection for us. First off, holiness matters because God calls us to be holy. Secondly, it matters because the full and abundant life promised to us in Christ is only possible as we journey toward living a holy life.

You don’t see a ton of books on holiness. Are we afraid of holiness or do we misunderstand it? 
I’d say it’s most likely a bit of both for all of us.Our fear of it stems from wanting to keep parts of our lives separated away from our faith and relationship with God. We know that pursuing holiness has implications and we’d rather ignore them.

I think we misunderstand it as well because we believe holiness is something we have to do. While holiness does take action our own part, the first action is God toward us, not us toward God. While this is mostly just a re-framing of how we think about living the Christian faith, I think the re-framing has the power to change so much.

It’s encouraging to see a millennial writer discussing this subject. Our generation is know for a lot of things, activism, passion, etc. But holiness is not usually one of them. Depending on who you talk to Millennials are either the worst generation or the best generation in history. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. It probably isn’t completely fair for me to say this, but I think a lot of the blame for the lack of holiness in Millennials lies with those who have come before us.

Most Millennials I talk with know holiness to be a set of rules and behaviors that we have to follow. As holiness has been framed in such a poor way, Millennials have abandoned it rather than trying to fit into a system for holiness that didn’t make sense to them. This is why Millennials have often been known as hugely independent within religious circles. We haven’t engaged well with other generations but I also don’t think they’ve engaged us in a way that made holiness accessible in our lives.

You previously helped provide leadership for fatherless kids with The Mentoring Project. Explain why you were involved with this ministry and why it is so important. I have so many positive things to say about The Mentoring Project and the great work they are doing in Portland and in plenty of other cities in the US. The simple reason why I’m involved is because I grew up with a dad who I have so much respect for and I see the difference his involvement made in my life everyday.

When I spend time with any of the boys who have mentors through TMP it is easy to notice them growing more fully into who God created them to be. Often they start with a mentor as a shy boy lacking individual personality, but a mentor has the power to help them see who they are. We underestimate how powerful the affirmation of who we are, can truly be.

If you were to give one piece of advice to a millennial, what would that be? 

Stop waiting for the life you’ve dreamed of to show up and go seek after the life God has set before you. In the midst of economic stagnation and rising education costs, Millennials have a large deck stacked against them and no one is giving away free handouts because they’re trying to protect their own first. It would be easy to settle for something far less than what God wants from us because of these dire circumstances.

As my friend Justin says, “take heart, we were made for these times.” I believe finding our calling begins in enter more fully into relationship with the God who works out His holiness within us. So my one piece of advice is to do that. Take one step closer to Him today. It might change your life.


The Launch of My Book, REAL

So July is the official launch of my latest book, REAL, Owning Your Christian Faith. This book has been on my heart for years and I’m glad to see it finally coalesce into a book. I wrote Real for a few reasons:

  • I wanted to give voice to the struggles that many second-generation Christians face growing up in the church.
  • I wanted to talk to those who grew up in the church and both encourage and challenge them to grab a hold of the baton and carry God’s truth in their generation.
  • I wanted to write a book about growing up in church that wasn’t a whiny memoir of how terrible the church is.
  • I wanted to write a book about growing up in church that wasn’t advocating the overthrow of everything we do in church.
  • I wanted to write a book about the real reasons kids leave the church–the deep-rooted, theological reasons, such as original sin, temptation, and lack of real intimacy with God through Jesus.
  • I wanted to discuss how we, in our generation, can create healthy environments where faith can be nurtured.
  • I wanted to talk with prominent “children of the church” like Jon Acuff, Trevin Wax, Andrea Lucado, Tom Blackaby, Jonathan Merritt, Stephen Altrogge, and others.

Some More Info About the Book: 

Visit the book’s page, including endorsements from folks like Drew Dyck, Editor of Leadership Journal, Johnny Hunt, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jonathan Merritt, leading evangelical culture writer.

View the Book Trailer:




Drew Dyck on Real

I was honored to receive this endorsement of REAL by Drew Dyck, editor of Leadership Journal:

“Second generation faith can be a little like next day pizza—cold, stale, and tough to swallow. Darling’s book is for those weary of subsisting on spiritual leftovers. He understands the sometimes stultifying effect of the evangelical subculture on spirituality and sees what it takes to thrive as a second generation Christian. The writing here is lively and the reflections—interspersed with interviews with top ministry thinkers—are fresh. The perfect read to send fresh wind through your spiritual life.”

Drew Dyck is the managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of Generation Ex-Christian: Why young adults are leaving the faith…and how to bring them back (Moody).