Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Lamb

Every week we somehow misplace the baby Jesus in our nativity set. (everyone loves holding baby Jesus). This morning we're missing the lamb that accompanies the shepherd. After last night's Christmas message, I find this somehow appropriate.....

"When they found Jesus in the manger as the angel said, the very location of his birth was drenched in significance. The Savior had been born into their unclean world in the same manner as a lamb. The symbolism was not lost on them.

When the shepherds saw Jesus there, they not only saw that he had come, but they also got a hint as to why. He came to be the the perfect lamb, the ultimate, lasting sacrifice. This baby's coming was to accomplish and establish peace between the God of all creation and his image-bearers who habitually rejected him.

And so it would be all his days.

From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, Jesus moved among the people, came into their homes, touched their blind eyes, and permitted their unfaithful hands to touch him. He taught them profound lessons from ordinary events. He defended the defenseless and opposed the self-righteous. He ate at their tables, laughed with their children, and wept over their grief.

Never did he abandon his purpose for coming, which was to die for a world of spirit-poor outsiders as the Lamb of God who takes their sin away. Jesus was born poor. He lived poor. And he died poor for the sake of his people.....

- From Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative by Russ Ramsey

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Time of Waiting

I've been 'assigned' to write about Advent: what it is, perhaps a bit of history, how we can best spend our time as we wait. How to meaningfully prepare our hearts for what we know is coming: Christmas. Emanuel. Christ's birth. The coming of a King.

But Christmas  and Advent is more than waiting for Christmas morning. We look back and reflect, but we also look forward. We look forward and we again, wait. For Christ to return.

Yesterday was a difficult day. 20 elementary children dead at the hand of what can only be a deranged, evil, disturbed person. We attempt to make sense of the senseless. We are looking for a why. My facebook page is littered with all types of response from people and organizations. Some are talking about how broken our nation is, allowing guns. Some are sticking up for their right to own guns. Some are just sad and in mourning. Some are outraged. All kinds of advice, opinions and questions are on facebook.

Having elementary school-aged kids, my heart breaks, as this hits close to my heart. I can't even imagine the routine of sending my child to school and having something so tragic take place -- and right before Christmas! A time in our culture of  innocence and perceived goodwill. Of childlike wonder, hope and faith.


As my family lit the Advent candles, I whispered 'Come, Lord Jesus!"

The world still waits. We still ache and cry out. We yearn for peace. We want to see the Kingdom here and now, we work at it. We want what God wants, yet realize that only He can provide what we yearn for.

Come Lord Jesus.

 Come and heal. Draw those that mourn close to you. Let the world ask the questions of "why" and find the answer in You. Help us Christians set aside our own issues and opinions and work on being people that reconcile others to You. Help us wrestle with the questions and find a loving Father. Help me emerge from my questions to find solace in You.

The world is a broken place. In this darkness, in this time of waiting, let us truly find You and understand deeper the meaning of Christmas; of a loving Father, who sent his son to a hurting, broken world so show us His love.

The light shines in the darkness.......

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Farewell Hostess cakes! I will miss you; I think even the super healthy, snack-hating people will miss you. You were Childhood, all wrapped up in plastic. You were the most coveted item a child could tote in their lunchbox. You were a status symbol. You were envied. You were.....

Simply yummy.

Once upon a time in the town I grew up in there was a little Bakery Outlet. I think it was for Dolly Madison foods and Orowheat breads. Going in there was such a treat! But never for the stale bread; I loved going there for only one thing: Zingers.

Though Twinkies and Ding Dongs, Sno-Balls, cupcakes and Suzi Q cakes were always delicious and something I wouldn't turn down, the snack I loved the most was Zingers. Not sure it it was the frosting or that it seemed to contain more creamy filling than the Hostess varieties of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, etc, but I LOVED Zingers. My favorite was the Vanilla cake, followed by Raspberry, and then the Chocolate, but they were all amazing. I nearly cherished these cakes, slowly eating them in a very ritualized, systematic way. But something happened and the little bakery outlet seemed to no longer sell Zingers. I had to move onto something else.

Ho Hos.

In high school I discovered a bit of freedom: the freedom of purchasing whatever I wanted for lunch. I never sat in the cafeteria; I always hid out in a band practice room or with some nerd upperclassmen who ate lunch in a classroom with a chess board. I've never learned how to play chess but for whatever reason they welcomed me. I'd go stand in line in the snack area and about 90% of my 4 years of high school I ate the same thing every day: Ho Ho's and a can of Diet Coke. Nothing else. No "healthy" hamburger, or salad or slice of pizza. Just the Ho-Hos, washed down with the best soft drink ever: Diet Coke.  (and when I did deviate from the Ho-Ho's it was to eat french fries with nacho cheese on 'em).

The proper way to eat a Ho Ho is to take all the outer chocolate off. Then, you unfurl the rolled up cake layers with all the cream on it and S-L-O-W-L-Y tear off small bits of it to eat. This makes it last longer. And the best part of  Ho-Hos?  Unlike Twinkies or Cupcakes, it came with 3 cakes, not just 2. It was perfect. I don't think my parents knew that I ate such a lunch for four years, and even when I went away to college it was a favorite.

I slowly moved away from solely eating Ho-Ho's and diet coke. But then a few years ago I rediscovered Zingers. The Raspberry ones were the most rare and difficult to find. I wonder if it is because it was the least favorite of folks. Because it really didn't taste anything like raspberry. Or even coconut. It tasted like chemicals, but in such a sweet, good way. And because it was completely covered by the coconut, the inside cake seemed even more moist than those of the Vanilla and Chocolate varieties. And the Raspberry ones didn't go as perfectly with the Diet Coke like the other two varieties did.

They say someone will resurrect the brand of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. That's good, but my hope is that Zingers will once again find their way on supermarket shelves. Or, if not Zingers, please keep Ho-Hos. Yes, these cakes are everything that is wrong with society and a balanced diet and all that, but it is also Childhood. The carefree days where you could eat a 3 pack of Ho-Ho's and not even be concerned.

Farewell, my sweet, delicious snack cakes! My kids will never know you as I did. And that's probably a good thing. But I will miss you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Question of the Day

Do you think that the "closer" you draw to Christ, the less you see things in black and white and the more you see things in grey? What I mean is, does the distinctions of "right and wrong" fade to a more open attitude about that and is less important?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dance instead of Doubt

I love Sally Lloyd-Jones The Jesus Storybook Bible Of course, so do my children. That book makes my voice crack when I read it to them, my eyes often mist up.

Sometimes I even sob

Simple, basic truths but told in such a touching way. So simple. So mind blowing. And this is a Children's book that has me on my face, sometimes in questioning awe: is His love that great?

I'm a self professed questioner but I can't deny God. I can't deny His existence, and, though I am oft-times lacking in faith, I haven't been able to deny that He really is working in my life.

Since I love the Jesus Storybook Bible, I looked forward to her new release, a book of devotions for kids. I haven't read it all yet, as it just arrived yesterday. Already the stories are beautiful and the prose beautifully written. Because of my own doubts and questions and a desire to truly follow God instead of the questions, cynicism and skepticism, I thought I'd supplement my own reading with this book. Keep in mind, that I'm reading through the Bible, and I often, near exclusively, read non-fiction Christian books. Lots of them. I gobble books. Classics like C. S. Lewis, old dead puritans, and the newer releases too. One would think that with this steady diet of good books by some amazing theologians I'd be a super christian.

I'm not. I still live in doubts and questions.

By choice, as I'm realizing more fully.

In the foreword of Sally Lloyd-Jones Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Tim Keller (one of my absolute favorite authors....  so much so, that it borders on idol worship, if I am honest and his book Counterfeit Gods probably heightened that!) wrote this:

"Somehow, however, the experiential side of a relationship with God is often neglected, so that by the time children are teens, they are woefully lopsided - long on information, but short on experience of God's presence." 

I'm lopsided! I could use a HUGE dose of experiencing God vs. doctrine and knowledge about Him. I need to see God in my life more, to not only know His love but experience it.

So, I thought, though I am (just) over 40, I'd read this book with myself in mind, prayerfully being open. And that sounds so odd..... being "open" to teaching from a child's book!

But I am.

I'd love to type out the devotion that I read today that I am putting at the forefront of my mind, but that would probably be frowned upon, to write out a whole devotion. But basically, it was a reminder that it is sin to put myself in the center instead of God.

Small words but huge implication. It is so easy to put me in the center. To abide by my own selfishness. So easy and you become numb to it, this sin.

Today I choose to participate in this "Dance of Joy" by orbiting God, not putting myself in the center and demanding life circle around me and my timetable, desires, and questions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day One

I'm a Christian but I don't always act like it. Sometimes I don't even want to act like it. Sometimes "being a Christian" (to me) seems to be to turn off your brain, talk in a language of religiosity and be perpetually happy with a "come what may" attitude that seems to make no sense. I just feel there must be more. Maybe that attitude is from Christ. I don't know.

I know God is sovereign, but sometimes do we really do Him any favors by perpetually trying to explain his sovereignty? Why is it so often fit into what we want? How can we really know what He wants? In the same scenario, what God wants can easily be deciphered in either direction. I've heard so many decisions explained away with a spiritual component. How do they know?

And I have become a jaded cynic. Does God truly speak today? Does he actually reveal our paths?

Sometimes it seems so ugly; so ungodly. Sometimes I want to shake people and say, "do you realize what you're saying?"

I long to make sense of God, but sometimes I think we try too hard. I think I'd rather let God be one of mystery than one that fits so neatly into a box of my choosing. Because I usually choose wrong.

I've spent four years in the Questions. I've spent 4 years in Angst, trying to figure out God and myself. And I actually emerged more entrenched in the questions and refusing to trade them, even for Christ Himself. I've refused Him so I could keep my questions.

Keep my non-conformist ways.

Keep an arms length from Christianity, the Christianity that I find fault with. That is imperfect. That is, at times, misguided and wrong and heartbreaking.

But what I chose was worse. The questions have eaten me up. Become my identity. My misery.

I've heard that it is all a choice but I've refused that. How can it be a mere choice? Isn't that of our own doing? Where's God in my choices?

My decision to treat someone kindly when I don't feel like it.

But.... isn't that what Christ asks me to do? So isn't that...... obedience? What if it is all obedience? What if it is trading what I want, what is easier to me, for what I already know I should do? What is even, at times, common sense.

I don't know my answers, but today my prayer was "more of You, less of me". In EVERYTHING. In my exchange with a woman at McDonalds. Outside with my neighbors, being chatty when I didn't feel chatty. Lunch with a friend I love., and a great, open honest conversation with her. (okay, that was easy). In my Community Group, a place where (at times) I can play a role of a rebel brat, even though I'm the leader of the group. Let that go, and just genuinely listened to them. And.... it was great. I smiled. I was happy. I liked it.

But my biggest fear is: Is God really in this? Am I finding happiness in Him or just this change in behavior? How can I know it is God, not me going through the motions, OR... is this "going through the motions" what we call "obedience"?

Yes, I over think things.

An Obedient Rebel

I'm an obedient rebel. Sounds like an oxymoron; 2 things that can't exist at the same time. And maybe that's true. Maybe one can't actually be obedient and a rebel at the same time. But I thought so. Basically, it is just enough to rebel and refuse submitting an surrendering all to Christ, but still do all the outward things.

Perhaps a better word for it is a hypocrite? I think I like the term obedient rebel a lot more and to me, it truly reflects it better. No one wants to be a hypocrite. No one starts out with that in mind. But obedient rebellion, that's different. Because at least on some level you started on a journey of desiring to do the right thing. You even want to do the right thing. Sometimes. Plus, on obedient rebel is simply too scared of the consequences of true rebellion; so they obey. But not for God; not out of a reverent love and acknowledgement of who He is and who we in turn are. No real surrender and understanding that He is the Creator and I the creature.

Obedient rebels go through the motion.
Obedient rebels are involved in (too many) church programs.
Obedient rebels can be your most valuable "doer" in the church.

But inside, the rebellion is a quiet one against God. A refusal to submit. To give him 100%.

Sometimes I think it is even "trendy" or acceptable to be an obedient rebel. Obedient rebels question. And I'm not saying questions are bad; I am saying that it is easier to question and hide behind the questions and pointing out the imperfections.

What do you think? How would you define "obedient rebellion"? How have you rebelled? In loud ways or quiet ways? Do you regret your rebellion? I nearly thought it was safe - this obedient rebellion -- but now I know it isn't save. It hurts me. It hurts those around me. It might even hurt those around me more than by explicit rebellion.

What do you think? Is any rebellion against God "safe"?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


There's a part of me that is a skeptic. Oh, I believe in God and all the "essentials". But I doubt. I question. I look around and observe and wonder if certain things truly are true then..... why?

Why do we believe differently?

If the Holy Spirit convicts and there really is absolute truth then why do we all believe different truths? Like what is a sin and what is not? Like how to think and act? Like how to understand Scripture?

Why do we put our own brand of Christianity and call it "truth"? A Christianity that reflects us and what we want and how we want to view God. Is this true Christianity? Does it even matter?

Why do some trivialize God by forcing him to fit into their answers .

I used to think what we believed was important but now.... not so sure. So many of the folks I know that truly passionately love God don't obey Him. Don't read the Bible, don't know Him in that type of way but feel they know him through their emotions. Through their touchy-feely worship songs.

In the words of U2, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thoughts on The Southern Foodie

The Southern Foodie is a cookbook that highlights famous restaurants in the South and includes recipes for the chef to try at home. Because I don't live anywhere near the south, and I don't know a lot of famous restaurants, it didn't interest me as much as it might some. I haven't yet tried the recipes; I am more of a quick cook and many of the recipes (for me) seemed a bit more time-consuming. The recipes sound wonderful and the photographs are stunning.

If you love good Southern food and are familiar with some of the restaurants, you will love this book. Since I'm not a very accomplished food and southern food isn't my favorite, this recipe book didn't interest me that much.

I received this book from Booksneeze and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts on Date Your Wife

Date your Wife by Justin Buzzard is essentially a call for men to step up and actively and intentionally nurture their wife in all areas of their relationship and part of this is done by taking the initiative and responsibility to "date your wife".... basically, that men (and women) spend so much time and effort winning the woman of their dreams and once that phase is accomplished... that effort and care can be lost in the daily mundane existence of married life.

I'm not sure I agreed 100% with some of his assertions, for instance, is it really the man's fault if his wife is unhappy or not "flourishing" under his care? I'm just not sure the blame can be completely centered on the husband. But there are some practical ideas on incorporating a "date night" in this book as well as a well-written articulation of WHY this is so important. He presents this as a very thought out, intentional year long plan, addressing birthdays, mother's day, a weekly time away for the wife to go out, weekly dates, a longer weekend away with no kids, and a vacation with the whole family. In his sample plan (with 3 kids) he writes in the amount of money each excursion is projected to cost, noting at the end that a bit over 2,000 for date nights/vacations is completely worth it. And I agree.

This book is a good, gentle "push" for men to be intentional about their marriage. At the end of the book Taylor, Justin Buzzard's wife, chimes in about how the wives are the "dream girls" of their spouse and to work hard at maintaining and enhancing that.

All in all, a good book and very solid. As a person that has been married for nearly 20 years, I did laugh a bit that the author has been married for around 7 years but his advice is still solid and I think it can enhance and protect marriages. A worthy book to read and I'd recommend it to a small group setting or to be read individually. I think it would be a fun book to read in a group setting and spark some good discussions and creative ways of 'dating' as well as perhaps encouraging a small group to help swap babysitting and elevating the need for a consistent date night in a marriage.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book thoughts on You Be Sweet

You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time is a tantalizing cookbook! First, let me say that this is the first cookbook I've ever downloaded to my Apple iPad and I now LOVE having cookbooks in an ebook format!

The recipes look amazingly delicious. I'm not a huge dessert baker but now I really want to try all these recipes! The bright, colorful photos just enhance this huge baking desire in me. Some recipes I really want to try are: Homemade Carmel Candy, Cherry Cheesecake bars, Fried Blackberry Pies, Sara's Peanut Brittle and and Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce.... doesn't it all sound yummy? There are SO MANY recipes in this delightful book!

What can I say? I'm a fan. This book has also inspired me to check out their other cookbook, Bless Your Heat: Saving the World one Covered Dish at a Time. 

I was given this book free of charge through Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze Bloggers program and was not required to write a favorable review.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thoughts on 'Daydreams'

I've been reading Daniel Parkins' blog for over a year now, at first to follow his son Samuel's progress. Samuel lived nineteen days and in those nineteen  days impacted many; me included.  Though at first I read his blog simply for the updates on Samuel's health, afterwards I kept reading because Daniel Parkins is a truly gifted, insightful writer and I simply enjoyed his blog. Currently he's been doing a lot of writing.... writing a fiction book, updating his other books and writing on his blog, which lately often recounts the stories of some senior citizens he comes in contact with. Actually, more than "come in contact" with.... he considers himself blessed to get to know them, to share Jesus with them, and to simply love on this group of people that the world in many ways has forgotten. He shows compassion towards them, but he also shares his love for them in humorous, ways that oftentimes even make me cry.

When I first started following Mr. Parkins' story of Samuel, one of the ways he "asked" for help was for folks to purchase his book, Daydreams, so of course I did. I looked through it but it wound up on my shelf and I finally got around to really reading it a few days ago. There's a part of me that wishes I'd have read it earlier, because it is really good, but I think I almost "needed" to read it this week. Funny how things work out like that!

If you want to read my thoughts on Daydreams by Daniel Parkins, check out my review on Amazon. I also highly encourage you to visit his blog HERE. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

"When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade."
-Dale Carnegie 

How many times have you heard this or a variation of it? If you google it, it is attributed to several people, and the general consensus of its meaning is simply that even in the worst situation, we can make things better. Of course, it has other interpretations too and depending on the type of person you are, you can come up with all kinds of "wisdom" from this quote. Me? I like the theological aspects of it: so are we in control or is God? Ah, the whole "free will vs. sovereignty" debate! I'll leave that for another day.

A few weeks ago, a friend who is going to Haiti on a missions trip with my church, mentioned the possibility of doing a garage sale to raise funds for the trip. I am not sure why, but I volunteered my home, mostly because it is in garage sale "territory." There's always a garage sale happening in spring or summer, and we don't live far from a rather busy intersection.  The garage sales I've done in the past have fared pretty well, so I offered up my home. I'll let you know how it turns out later. 

Garage sale people always fascinate me, as the people that troll them are incredibly diverse. You have some that are newlyweds or young families. They're the ones that hold hands, peruse the items at a leisurely pace and don't say too much outside of the usual pleasantries and greetings, yet they are smiling the whole time and happy just being with their spouse or kids. I almost wonder if this is their version of "date night" only it isn't at night. To them, the garage sale is just for fun. 

The second group of folks I tend to see at these sales are grandparents. They're usually pretty cute, intent on finding toys for their grandkids at a really cheap price. The love and interaction between an elderly couple is heartwarming as they converse and ask each other questions like, if the grandkids have a Wii or an Xbox, or if Amy could use another doll, or if Emmy still collects stuffed animals. Then they painstakingly ask if you'll accept 3 dollars for the whole lot. (I usually say yes because they are so sweet). You get the impression that they don't have a lot of money, but what they have they're spending on those they love. 

The third group is the ones that have a need; they are out and about actually looking for things they or their extended families NEED. I've been there! That's how I found a crib for my firstborn. In fact, at a previous garage sale I hosted,  I sold the same crib to a family after my 3rd child no longer needed it. Actually, she was only 2 and still needed a crib, but the lady asked if I had a crib for sale (I had a crib mattress I was selling) and I brought her into the house and showed her my daughter's crib and she bought it. 

Of course, there are several other types of garage salers, some are looking for the next treasure to take to Antiques Roadshow (I am quite sure nothing of value is found among anything I've sold!), or a reseller simply looking for things to sell on Ebay. I am usually not too sympathetic to them, as they try to talk me down from the toy marked $1 to a mere quarter. and their minivan is already filled to the brim of toys and other items that you just KNOW are predestined to go up on ebay that night.  

I have found that the best way to entertain my 3 kids at these garage sales is to put them to work! And the most entertaining way I have found is to let them man their own Lemonade Stand. Like most moms, I try to teach my kids that life is not all about THEM but about helping others, so in the past all proceeds to the lemonade stand has gone to various charities;  last year going to Blood:Water Mission. They make it fun and really easy to put on your own Lemon:Aid stand, complete with posters, temporary tattoos, iron on graphics to make your own tee shirts, etc. 

This year, when I brought up the idea of the kids having a lemonade stand for charity, it was suggested that they raise money for my church's kids mission trip. It is a local missions outreach, and I mean LOCAL! To our own city, the city of San Jose. Our children's pastor calls it "Mission Possible: San Jose".  An entire day of kids, aged 6 to 10, serving their community through such acts as going to retirement homes and visiting the residents by putting on a little "talent show" for them, as well as creating cards and dropping them off at a local children's hospital. I'm sure they'll do plenty of other things too, and as a parent I love this about my church: that we want to be a church that exists outside the four walls of church or the "Sunday only" model, and I appreciate that my church is helping parents instill that love of service and loving others at such an early age. 

But it is more than just training up our kids to serve; it is the reason WHY I want my kids to learn to serve and love others. Not because "it's the christian thing to do", not because these people were dealt "lemons" and we can help them overcome that and "make lemonade", but because I want my kids to understand how much Jesus loves them, and what He did because of that love. This beautiful, all-encompassing unconditional, always-forgiving love. I know it is a lot to hope that my child understands at age 7, but it is my prayer that someday she will understand that out of God's enormous love for us, we simply want to love and help others in all we do. Even through a lemonade stand that will help them go on their Mission: Possible trip. 

Lemonade: 25 cents. Homemade cookie: 75 cents. Learning to love others the way Jesus loves us: Priceless.  (but if you come to our lemonade stand, you can still give generously; it's for a great cause!) 

Monday, June 4, 2012

So Many Books.... .So Little Time

If you had to create a list of books as "recommended reading" for your church, what would you choose? What if you were forced to narrow it down to 10? And (attempt) to have a variety?

I'd love to know what your favorite books are!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Unity of the Church

"The unity of the church will consist
not in organizations,
not in dogmas,
not in liturgies,
not in pious hearts,
but in the word of God,
in the voice of Jesus Christ."

- Bonhoeffer

Monday, May 28, 2012

Playing Favorites

A few weeks ago, my church began a six week series titled "Be Different." In some ways, it is a follow-up of our "Creed" series where we went through the Apostle's Creed and took a closer look at basic tenets of our faith. Topics like Creation, Christ, God, Salvation, etc. "Be Different" in a way says that, because of what we believe, we now go out and DO things. Our beliefs fuel our action.

Belief is very important, especially to me. I am always wondering what is truth? Is there absolute truth? What does it mean when people say "all truth is God's truth" because.... in some ways, I kinda almost feel like we invent our own brand of truth and what is 'right or wrong' is now rooted in our own personal belief systems. I can't recount how many times last week I kept reading that "everything changes" when we hear a person's personal story. How can we say something is wrong when we know there story? But does their story or experience change truth?

Truly, I search for answers and am finally very nearly coming to wonder if there are any. (though I still believe there must be absolute truth!)

Sorry; those that know me understand my little tangents and strings of questions. Infuriating quirk, I know but this is really a personal blog and no one reads it anyways!

Our "Be Different" series began with one of the pastors preaching on "John Newton and the Gospel". It was fascinating, partly because Pastor Philip did a very good job, but also because John Newton is quite a character and study in life transformation. I was already aware of John Newton's life so it wasn't quite as shocking to me, but in later conversations with others, I realized that if you didn't know the story it was even more impacting. John Newton was simply a horrible person, yet redeemed and transformed and such a difference! You can listen to Pastor Philip's message HERE. 

This past Sunday, Pastor Joe spoke on Mother Teresa and did a very good job as well. Mother Teresa was also a compelling character, not because of her wretchedness like John Newton, but because of her goodness. Pastor Joe kept coming back to the fact that Mother Teresa was really just a normal, ordinary person who was simply obedient. Nice try, but I think we all hold Mother Teresa up as a saint!  Personally, knowing that Pastor Joe was speaking about her, I was wondering how he'd address what she has described as her "dark night of the soul"...... her feelings that God had abandoned her. That intrigues me; to speak openly and honestly about what perhaps is a universal feeling: the absence of feeling God. The doubts. The agony of feeling abandoned and what the truth is in that situation. I think that would be really interesting to hear from the pulpit. Admitting that sometimes faith is not perfect.

Still, it was a good message and part of it was an encouragement and a challenge to not just pray but go and do; to take action. Love someone, do what you can in obedience. At least that's what I got out of it without going back and double checking my notes.

At the end of every message in our "Be Different' series, we're issuing a challenge to the congregation and to the readers of twinoakschurchblog.com. Philip's challenges are listed HERE and hopefully Joe's will be posted tomorrow. This coming Sunday one of our elders, Steve, will be speaking on Brother Lawrence. (wait; isn't he a mystic? My oh my!)  Other historical  figures we'll be discussing are Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sister Irma (and I will admit: I have no idea who she is!) and ending it with Martin Luther King, Jr. (again, I'm looking forward to how MLK Jr. is handled.)

Did you notice? At least 2 of the 6 are Catholics! And I wonder if Sister Irma is too and that would make it 3 out of 6. The Very Reformed Protestant in me is offended; do the Catholics have a "market" on serving the poor in love, or prayer? But then I realized that some of my favorite authors are considered "Catholics" and C.S. Lewis isn't and yet, everyone wants to claim him.

My questions to you are:

1) Who is your favorite Catholic? (it can be author, humanitarian, religious figure)

2) Who would you choose for this "Be Different" series? Which historical figures would you select that embody the characteristics of:

  • the Gospel 
  • worship
  • discipleship 
  • prayer 
  • missions 
  • social justice 
My answers? My favorite Catholics are Tolkien and Chesterton, both primarily known for their writings. 

As for who I'd choose that reflect the spiritual truths above, I'm not really sure. Definitely I'd choose Bonhoeffer for discipleship. And I do think that John Newton was a perfect choice for understanding the Gospel. (just read the lyrics of "Amazing Grace"). I'm still musing over the others. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's been awhile...

It's been awhile since I've blogged. Partly because I've nothing coherent to say; partly because does it really matter what I have to say, think or believe?

I'm still pondering those questions. In the meantime, please share with me what books you are currently reading (or recently read) and your thoughts on the books and if you'd recommend them to folks. (namely ME!)

If you are wondering what I'm reading, I just finished Bob Goff's Love Does and actually enjoyed it and think most people would too.

Also recently finished was Douglas Wilson's Evangellyfish.  I have to admit, that at first it just filled me with dismay, thinking of the dysfunction and hypocrisy and immorality in the Church but at the end, I simply enjoyed it and gave me much food for thought. Plus, it is incredibly engaging and well-written.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Real Marriage DVD Kit

There's been so much controversy about Mark Driscoll and his book and book tour of "Real Marriage." I will admit, I wasn't looking forward to this DVD series and so I gave it to a friend who is doing the group study in her small young marrieds community group. She's actually going to give me a better, more in depth write up of the study. From what I looked it, (without doing it in a group) is a DVD kit that looks like it would be excellent for use in a small group. There's an openness in the DVD that promotes people to be open about their own struggles; there are topics addressed that would be difficult to approach had it not been brought up in the DVD. The questions are probing but constructive. I am looking forward to hearing what my friend thought of it in a group couples setting. Mark Driscoll often gets in trouble for the brash way he can come across but many really need to hear the straightforwardness of his words and, though I might not always like or agree, I am thankful for him and his ministry. I received a copy of the DVD by booksneeze. The views I hold are my own.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Words I Loathe

"Buy In"

Oh how I cringe when I hear the word "buy in" in church. Why is it like this? Why do we need to get our own people, people who come to church faithfully and worship freely, to manipulate them to "buy in" to what the church is doing and its existence?


It fills me with sadness and yet, it's such a reality: marketing, making it attractive and presentable.

Why isn't the Gospel and the Glory of God enough of a "buy in"?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Everything by Mary DeMuth is a good, challenging book! It is broken up into 3 sections. Part 1 is Head - What We Think. Part 2 is Heart - Who We Are and Part 3 is Hands - How We Live. Basically, these three components add up to 'everything'. Jesus wants our everything - Head, Heart and Hands.

At the end of every chapter are Questions for Reflection and Discussion, that really add to the book. These questions would also be useful if you were to do this in a group study. Mary writes from the heart and is very sincere and passionate, as well as very open about her life and journey. Because of this, it doesn't sound like a sermon, but one person earnestly sharing her journey with others.

Everything is a good, challenging book. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.