Thursday, September 13

Holyshifting Places

Hey Loyal Readers,

I'm holyshifting over to a new location - Posts and conversations continue there. Please join me.

Monday, June 11

Top Ten Tuesdays

This has been a long time coming, but I've been spending some time watching children's tv with my daughter. And, now I've landed on...

The Top Ten Seven Issues I Currently Have with Kids' TV Shows

1. Sponge Bob.
2. Selectivity in anthropomorphism. Aardvarks shouldn't have dogs as pets.
3. Selectivity in pants wearing. Either you care or you don't - there isn't an in-between.
4. Characters who are in a race should NEVER stop to do a song and dance number - GO, RUN, WIN...what is wrong with you?!!
5. Kids know that Joshua didn't take down the walls of Jericho with Slurpees, right?
6. Gender ambiguity - Big Bird, are you nesting? You're a dude, right? I'm mean, it's cool either way. After 28 years of life, I'd just like some clarity.
7. No cartoons have parents or have parents worth having...seriously, who allows their 4 year-old to go out into the jungle, over an alligator infested lake, to a volcano?
8.  Gotta go...Dora's on!

Sunday, June 10

Christ-follower: Discipled. Discipling.

I've been thinking a lot lately about discipleship. Not just being a disciple, but discipling others as well.

I think when we talk about discipleship, we often focus on being disciples: who is investing into me, who is connecting with me, who is helping me in my walk. All important stuff, of course. I think we need to be disciples. We need to find people further along in their journey and be challenged, encouraged, and shaped by them. We need to find people willing to journey with us for the long haul. We need to be open to the challenge, to the direction, and to the wisdom of a person who walks with us.

But a funny thing happens when we talk about discipling. No one knows what to do about it. We want to be discipled, but we are too afraid, too timid, feel too unworthy to disciple another. But that is exactly what we are called to.

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
So, it is not just a question of what does it mean to disciple, it is also a question of who and how. We need to be so bold as to say, like Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." The Greek word, mathetes, comes from the verb manthano, which means "to learn". 

Essentially, being a disciple means to be a pupil, a learner; to follow the example of; to apprentice. And what are we learning? What type of pupil are we? We are learning how to live for Christ. How to love like Christ. How to serve like Christ. We are apprentices of those who are further on in their journey. We are following the example of those who are elder to us. 

Conversely, to disciple, then, means that we are willing to take the posture of a teacher, to show the example, to lead the way.  We are teaching others to live for Christ, love like Christ, serve like Christ. We humbly take on the responsibility that we have been called to: to make disciples and to teach them how to live for Christ. HUGE responsibility, but one we have been called to nonetheless.

A grade 7 student pointed this out to me the other day. It is something I have been thinking on a great deal lately, and he simply said, "we need to be discipling others, that's what we're supposed to do." Yup. So true.

I think we need to break through the insecurities of not feeling good enough to "make disciples", or feeling inadequate in who we are, or not feeling spiritual enough, or being too busy, or not feeling knowledgeable enough - we all need to tuck away our excuses and confront this thing called discipleship. 

You want to be discipled? It doesn't have to be a crazy revelatory moment when you ask a wise elder to teach you their ways. It can be simple. Finding someone you know, trust, respect, and whose journey with Christ you know is a few paces further on than your own. And ask them questions. Tell them your story. Do life with them. Learn from them. Be open and honest with them. Ask them to pray for you. Be open handed with them about your struggles and failures, joys and accomplishments.

But, I would say this, if you want to be discipled (which I hope you do!), you should also be willing to disciple. When you are being invested into, you should also be willing to invest into others. Ask them life questions. Ask them tough questions. Have light chats. Have heavy conversations. Have Godversations. Have fun. Cry a little. Laugh a lot.

This is the body of Christ. 

Brothers and sisters at various places in their journey, loving, supporting, and challenging one another in their walk. Making disciples, bringing new people to Christ, pushing those who already have a relationship with Him further along, and doing these things for the kingdom. Even if we all committed to discipling one or two other people, what a cool kingdom win we would see in that chain reaction. 

So, let's do it. Let's answer the call of Christ to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey the commands he has given to us. We were created for this.

Wednesday, May 9

unHoly Fridays...

After a short hiatus, unHoly Fridays will be back this week. They were meant to be back last week, and then my daughter decided to baptize me in puke. It was unHoly for me, but not for the rest of you.  Until then.

Tuesday, April 17

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Reasons Why the Spring is Rad

1. The beauty of leaves budding on trees...and other beautiful buds.
2. The feeling of mud and grass under your bare feet.
3. Fresh breezes and allergic sneezes (okay, minus the allergies.)
4. Sunlight lasts longer than the time it takes me to update my Facebook status.
5. It's still cool out enough that people have to wear enough clothes to cover the majority of their bodies.
6. It's still cool out enough that I have to wear enough clothes to cover the majority of my body.
7. Thunderstorms.
8. Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  No wait, wrong list. The smell of fresh cut grass.
9. Baby animals. Adorable, soft squishy ones.
10. Garage sales. Yup, you heard me.

Tuesday, March 20

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Catch Phrases that I Enjoy (or Holy Catchphrases, Batman!)

1. "I love it when a plan comes together." - Hannibal, The A-Team (Me too, too.)
2. "Come on down." -Bob Barker, The Price is Right (Curse you, Bob, for retiring before you could tell me to come on down!)
3. "Suit up!" -Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother (Thank-you, Barney. I just might.)
4. "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto." -Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz (and you, whenever you drive out of honest!)
5. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride (poor guy, even the pacifist in me wants him to find the 6-fingered man and kill him. He tries hard enough!)
6. "Na-nu. Na-nu." - Mork, Mork & Mindy (Pure genius.)
7. "Hey Dummy/Dummies." -Liz Lemon, 30 Rock (Yeah dummies!)
8. "Be sure to have your pet spayed or neutered." -Bob Barker, The Price is Right (Bob, dropping so much wisdom. Amazing.)
9. "The power is yours!" -Captain Planet, Captain Planet (he's my hero...gonna take pollution down to zero.)
10. "And now you know, and knowing is half the battle." - GI Joe (There really is nothing left to say.)

Friday, March 16

unHOLY Fridays: UNinhibited

Often on a Sunday morning during the time of musical worship, I'll see kids dancing, jumping, shouting.  They are excited.  They are not worried about who is watching. They are not worried about looking stupid. They have no worries in that moment. They are present in that very space doing what kids do.

Now, I'm sure we could take this into a direction that wonders whether or not they are "worshiping" in the sense that when you are 3, 4, 5 years old what can you/do you comprehend in this way. But I think they do. I think that in the simple understandings that they have, they are worshiping and it is sweet and wonderful.

In fact, I think this kind of uninhibited worship is part of what Jesus points to in Matthew 18. He talks about becoming like little children to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. And then such a great line by Jesus that is packed with so much: "So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."

It was kids who had no position and no rights in Jesus' day. They were submissive to their elders and meant to obey. They didn't try to climb the ladder of success because what would the point be in trying? They were "lowly" kids. And as such, what did they have to lose?

When we having nothing to lose, we become uninhibited. We stop worrying about who's watching, how we look, that we might screw up. We can worship with our whole lives. We can run and fall like a kid learning to run - and that's okay. We can let the crumbs of our feasting for God stick to our faces.

But there is importance in remembering, it is our humility that makes us child-like, not our immaturity. God wants us to grow and flourish - but in an incredible uninhibited way.

Be uninhibited today.

Tuesday, March 13

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Things that are Really Only Awesome When You're a Baby (or completely socially acceptable)

1. Having super loud gas/bowel movements.
2. Drooling.3. Eating with food all over your face.
4. Being bald...well, some may argue this...

5. Gnawing on everything you get your hands on.
6. Blowing raspberries and making other somewhat rude noises.
7. Doing your "business" any time any where.
8. Having people gawk at your fat rolls.
9. Being called things like "poop-factory"or "squishy-bottom".
10. Having strangers come up to you, grab the aforementioned fat rolls, and talk gibberish to you.

Tuesday, March 6

Top Ten Tuesday

The Top Ten Movies I've Seen on Netflix To Date!

1. Of Gods and Men - okay, so its got French subtitles, getting over that for this movie is ABSOLUTELY worth it and beyond. This has become one of my favourite movies in existence. The movie looks at the question: what does it really mean to follow Christ? Complete with Trappist Monks and Islamic Extremists.
2. Lost in Austen - a little cheesy, but really quite fantastic. A young female gets tossed into the pages of Pride and Prejudice as a friend of Elizabeth Bennett's while Elizabeth ventures into the "real world". As a P&P fan, I enjoyed this little no-name drama!
3. Where the Heart Is - a movie from 2000 starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. I had actually never heard of it before Netflix, but was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't what I thought it would be. Dealt with some tough issues in a fairly raw way.
4. Funny Face - Oh, Audrey Hepburn, you're so wonderful. That is all.
5. Water - a 2005 movie directed by Deepa Mehta about the life of widows in Varanasi - including a little girl who is widowed at only 7 years old and forced to live the life of a widow forever. Incredibly moving.
6. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - just so fantastic. The ending had me both almost throwing up and balling my eyes out. Moving.
7. Date Night - I'll be honest, if it wasn't on Netflix, I probably wouldn't have seen it...and that would have been unfortunate! Steve Correll, and even more so, Tina Fey, knock it out of the park in this ridiculous comedy.
8. Notting Hill - What can I say? I'm a girl and Hugh Grant is, well, Hugh Grant.
9. Fried Green Tomatoes - Definitely a movie I haven't seen in YEARS, but watched it on Netflix the other day, and I had to laugh and cry along with Kathy Bates' crazy character.  And maybe I was naive, but I had not ever thought of this movie as a Gay and Lesbian title, but Netflix tells me it it must be true.
10. The Muppets Take Manhattan - classic. It's been too many years, Jim Henson.

We Are Family: Mark Driscoll, George W. & Me

It's easy for me to get riled up when someone brings up Mark Driscoll. He has a number of views that are quite contrary to my own and his presentation of those views often rubs me the wrong way. (To say the least.) Alas, hashing those through is not my purpose here. I want to look at him as a brother. A child of God. Though he ascribes to a very different brand of Christianity than I do, I want to be able to look at him and love him as a part of the family.

Enter George W. Bush. Copy and paste previous description re: Driscoll. I feel as though Bush and I would see eye to eye on very few things, but I do believe he is a brother as well.

So what do we do when family disagrees so strongly? I think one important factor (as hard as it can be) is to focus on our points of agreement: Jesus as Lord, His death and resurrection, our hope in Him - I feel like those are safe areas to find common ground. However, beyond that, it could get dicey.

So what happens when we disagree as family?

Someone once told me that you can't change how someone else feels or handles a situation, only how you do. And so I can say that for me, Mark and George are brothers in our colourful family and though we view the world quite differently, it doesn't change who our Father is. And because we have the same Father, we have an eternal connection. I don't have to like every view or stance of my brothers, but I will try with all I am to love them and respectfully disagree with certain views that they hold; and, I would like to think they would do the same for me.

Romans 12 is a fantastic chapter. In it, Paul challenges us to "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone" (v. 18).  I think this is so important within our church family. It is so easy to disagree with one another to the point of causing major rifts in our relationships. Disagreement and conversation can be healthy, but it is important to pull our attention back to the centrality of Christ: his life, death, and resurrection.

Dwelling (brooding?) in our differences can lead to unhealthy exchanges that negatively affect the church and its impact in our world. It can become easy for people to look to us and say, "Look, they can't even get along with their 'family'".  And though sometimes it can feel pretty painful being a part of a family - we can't change who our brothers and sisters are.

I'm not writing this having "arrived" at a place of being able to do this well, but I'm on a journey. I'd love for you to journey with me: who are the siblings that you need to love better? 

Tuesday, February 28

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Things or People I'm Tired of Seeing News Articles About

1. Mitt Romney
2. Babycinnos
3. Robocalls
4. Snooki
5. Sacha Baron Cohen
6. Herman Cain
7. Kim Kardashian
8. Occupy...anything
9. The Keystone Pipeline
10. Stephen Harper

Friday, February 17

unHOLY Fridays: UNshaken (my confession)

Recently I attended a showing of the Broadway classic Les Miserables.  It wasn't, however, on Broadway.  It was done by a community theatre group of children and youth. Some of the kids have been in dozens of shows. Some of the kids were quite new to the whole theatre scene.

As far as community theatre goes, this show had a few more hiccups than one might hope. It was closing night, and the run had been pretty solid to that point. Their glitches had been minimal. But of course, I wasn't at the other shows. I was at the final show.

The show started off well. Some great voices. Some enjoyable young personalities. And then some glitches began to creep in. They were mostly small and relatively unnoticeable. A mic glitch. Some technical things that just happen no matter how prepared you are. Those types of things.

It was almost to the intermission when the young girl playing Eponine - a fairly major role - suffered some type of respiratory problem. She coughed and sputtered and collapsed to the floor.  There was an early intermission taken. An ambulance was called. Things didn't look great.

I'll be honest. I thought we would be sent home. It was a youth theatre production - there aren't understudies.  The cast is the cast. However, the director stepped in...and the show went on.

The kids didn't miss a beat. They were completely unshaken by the circumstances. You'd think that a group of young teens would be on edge, nervous, worried, or just plain spun for a loop. But these kids went on like pros. Despite the hiccups and despite a fairly serious circumstance with one of the lead characters - and one of their friends - the kids rocked the remainder of the show. Unshaken.

I'd like to think that I have that kind of faith. The "lead-character-goes-down-and-I-don't-even-blink" kind of faith.  The "I-meet-so-many-roadblocks-it-doesn't-even-faze-me-anymore" kind of faith. But I'm not sure that I am always entirely unshakable.

My confession is this: I have a bad day and I question God's motives. I go through a trying time and I ask God why and what I'm supposed to be learning, but am frustrated and annoyed while I do. When negative things come my way, it often appears as though I'm easy going and playing it cool, but my inner-dialogue with God is anything but easy going.

So my prayer is that I (and you too!) can be more like those kids on the stage - unshaken by circumstances. Ready and willing to continue on with "the show".  Not spun for a loop when the negative things, unfortunate situations, or messy life circumstances come my way.

And so, I wish to remind myself the words of King David when he said:

I see that the LORD is always with me.
      I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 

He is always near. I need not be shaken.

Wednesday, February 15

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten iPhone Apps I Use All the Time (or I just think are cool)

1. YouVersion - the Bible app.  All the awesome translations that you love and want. YouVersion LIVE allows you to connect in with events or church services that use the app (you can find The Meeting House programs for Sunday AM there)
2. CBC News - I like to stay up to date when I can
3. Ticket to Ride - that's right, the app. So easy to play. So easy to spend more time than you realized doing so!
4. Kijiji - I love me those deals! (I even search real estate, just to see what's out there!)
5. WagJag - so easy to peruse the deal of the day and grab a deal whenever you want!
6. What to Expect (Baby Edition) - I know it's a time of life sort of thing, but at my fingertips and sometimes fairly helpful!
7. Camera+ - takes great pics and allows for fairly solid editing on my phone (seriously, tell 14 year old me that I'd have a cell phone that takes better pictures than my actual camera!)
8. CIBC Banking App - I love to know that I can pay bills wherever whenever...I'm a practical sort who likes to be able to check my account balance on the go...and you know, to make sure I can actually afford the things that I am in line to buy.
9. Stumbled Upon - way to easy to kill time, but oh so fascinating to search interests and find really cool stuff.
10. Facebook & Twitter - I feel like these are a given, so I'll include them, but as one...and just at the end so they know I still care.

Wednesday, February 1

Top Ten Tuesdays

The Top Ten Teaching Series I Have Thoroughly Enjoyed at My Church (The Meeting House)

1. Let's Talk about Sex (2007) - clearly about sex. But about so much more. Identity, relationship, and everything in between.
2. Licence to Sin (2011) - The things we want to condone, to be told are alright, and how God's word informs us of those things.
3. One Church (2011) - Oh good.  An exploration of various denominations with guest speakers to represent each.  Personal favourite: the week with the Catholic Monsieur
4. Travel Light (2007) - on getting rid of baggage, physically, spiritually, etc. Loved this series.
5. The Irreligious Life (2006) - the series title says it all. :)
6. rEVOLution (2008) - Love replacing law and the radical nature of Jesus.
7. Soul Sisters (2009) - GREAT series that was pitched to be called "Women in Leather" ... (leather Bible...get your mind out of the gutter)
8. Say What? (2010) - how to communicate the message in word, action, and life!
9. The Way (2004) & The Way Revisited (2009) - Anger, judgment, false prophets and all that jazz...reflecting on The Way.
10.  Get Over Yourself (2009) counter-cultural look at greed, materialism, narcissism and the whole enchilada!

Just a few of the awesome series.  Seriously, love being a part of a church with teaching this fantastic.  Check out for more!

Friday, January 27

unHOLY Fridays: UNqualified

I often feel unqualified for many of the things that I have to be.

There is no training to be a friend. Sometimes I am torn between wanting to be a good friend and the wear and tear of the rest of life that inhibits me from it.

There is no training to be a wife.  There should be.  But not the stereotypical things you might think (cooking, cleaning, laundry - blah!), but rather, how to live with someone else, how to appreciate your spouse, and, maybe even how to mind read.  That'd be good.

There's no "mom-training", Bachelor's in Mom-ology, or certificate to gain to be a mom.  (And I often think there should be.)  Unlike many mom's who claim they can determine what is going on based on each nuance of every cry - I can't.  I've got three of them pretty much nailed: hunger, pain, and fatigue.  All others remain a mystery.

There's no training for being a good sister, daughter, member of the family.

You get the idea.

I am thankful that we have the ability to find people in our lives to mentor us.  When I feel unqualified for the things I have to do or the roles I need to fill, it is nice to look towards those who have mentored me and see how they have been able to do these things before me. 

Mentoring is something that few feel qualified for, and yet, we all benefit from.  I have heard so many people say that they wish they had a mentor, and the answer really is easy: just ask someone.

I honestly believe that everyone should have a mentor - but for that to be the case, everyone needs to be willing to be a mentor themselves.  Maybe it's just the word itself that throws people off, but really it doesn't take someone with a perfectly polished life to mentor.  It just takes the willingness to share your journey with others and become a part of theirs.

When it comes to the list of things that I feel unqualified for - this is also probably pretty close to the top of the list.  But the nice thing is that being mentored helps me to mentor well.

So, I want to throw it out there to you.  Are you being mentored? (Who is pouring into your life?)
Are you a mentor? (Whose life are you pouring into?)

And lastly, thanks to all who have mentored me.  I know I'm a work in progress (that's for sure) but your input in my life has made a major impression.

Tuesday, January 24

Top Ten Tuesday

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Working with Youth

1. The energy - Seriously, I wish I could harvest and sell that crap!
2. New eyes - Being able to see certain ideas through the eyes of a youth, ESPECIALLY a Jr High who is discovering many things for the very first time!
3. Being able to watch students, first hand, be challenged and stretched in crazy ways.
4. Being able to use my usual vocabulary of "dude", "yo", and "peeps" without feeling judged.
5. Spending time of Facebook that is considered work.
6. Watching students move through transitional times in life (e.g. elementary school to high school, high school to post-secondary/work/travel/etc.)
7. Feeling young and old at the exact same time, and sometimes for the same reasons.  (e.g. Playing dodge ball.)
8. Seeing growth and maturity not just socially, physically or psychologically but spiritually as well.
9. The uniform. (Mine usually consists of a hoodie and jeans.)
10. Being able to see kingdom dreams be dreamed, and knowing that these kids will live them out in amazing ways.

Friday, January 20

unHOLY Fridays: UNcomfortable

This week at home church, our group got into a discussion about ways to go beyond and do more.  A few thoughts were put on the table when someone mentioned that they liked an idea, but it made them uncomfortable.

I knew the feeling. That happens to me a fair bit. God often pokes at our hearts to step outside of ourselves to do something for His purposes that makes us uncomfortable to reveal His glory all the more.

No one likes to be uncomfortable - (that's why we add the "un" in front of it) - in fact, it's quite the opposite of what we usually work towards.  We work hard to find the comfortable places in life. We work hard to make life comfortable for ourselves and our families.  We work hard so that eventually we don't have to work hard at all.

And yet, sometimes it is when we are put in uncomfortable situations that we have the very best of times, the very best adventures, and are challenged in new ways. Being uncomfortable often forces us into something new, something different, and sometimes, something better.

The Bible is full of the stories of uncomfortable people. 

Think about Noah.  He looked like a crazy person - building an ark when there was nothing (it seemed) to fear. Gathering stinky animals and spending 40 days and 40 nights shut in with them and his family on a boat. The ups and downs of the waves. 40 days and 40 nights with family...stuck...on a ship. Uncomfortable. And yet, Noah was being obedient to God's call.  It saved Noah and his family and allowed God to work as He had desired.

Think about Daniel.  He just wanted to honor God by praying three times a day. And yet, when this became illegal, he did it just the same no matter what the consequence.  He was under constant threat, until, of course, he was found and tossed into the lion's den. He didn't care that he could have been comfortably left alone had he stopped the praying - he chose to follow God they way he had. And with that, an uncomfortable trip to the lion's den. And God remained faithful.
Think about Mary: so young, not yet married, pregnant, taking a long trip to an unknown city, having a baby among the animals. THAT, my friends, is uncomfortable.  And yet, the result?  Of course, it was the birth of the Saviour of the world.

In fact, it is hard to think of a story in Scripture that has anything at all to do with comfort. Throughout church history, God's kingdom has advanced through persecution, martyrs, pains, and difficulties. God's plan for His people is often birthed out of many uncomfortable, but incredible, experiences.

And so, why is it that we so often desire comfort?  I want to be challenged. I want to be pushed. I want to be uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong, I like comfort. But I want to be used by God, and I want to be willing to be uncomfortable for His purposes.  So, at the danger of fearing what it may bring, I'm praying for uncomfortable situations that God will use me for His purposes.

Tuesday, January 17

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Reasons Why I Think Everyone Needs a Home Church (or something like it!)
(as usual, in no particular order)

1. To learn and grow in community and meet Christ in new ways.
2. To share burdens, struggles and joys with.
3. To be challenged (you know, the ol' iron sharpens iron deal)
4. To be able to journey through Scripture within community (I just taught this to Jr Highers - "community hermeneutic"...they loved that they learned that word!)
5. To encounter people who are liked-minded, and quite the opposite from you!
6. To get to know brothers and sisters in a safe, welcoming, and open setting.
7. To have someone watch your house when you go on vacation (...I kid, but they are trustworthy people!)
8. To know a consistent group of people are journeying with you and praying for you.
9. To be able to sit (uncomfortably at times) in the middle of a community setting that will force you to have an active faith
10. To "be" with, to go out and do works of compassion, to do life with, to have fun with, to hang out with, to call when you're having a bad day, to pray for you/your family when life kicks you in the teeth, to hold you accountable, to hold you up, to love on you and to love.

I could go on.  I think a Home Church community is something beyond a group of solid friends. It's a clear extension of the family of God and I love mine.

Saturday, January 14

unHOLY Fridays: UNinspired

So, as I sat down to write, I really felt like I had nothing to give.  With nothing in mind, my heart sank a little as I was feeling pretty uninspired.  The reason, I think, my heart sank as it did is that as of late, I have felt like I have had loads to write about, think about, and therefore, blog about.  But today...nothing.

Maybe it was the incredible lack of sleep last night.  Maybe the blah-wet-snow that I can see sitting on top of my neighbour's roof.  Or maybe it was the realization that it is in fact Saturday and not Friday - like I had originally thought.  Whatever the case, uninspired as I was, it got me thinking.

It got me thinking about who and what inspires me.  I think that God drops inspiration on us in various ways at various times. It's neat to see it when it happens - perhaps throw a mundane object that you cross paths with.  Or something that seems like a roadblock that actually becomes a stepping stone.  But I know, quite often, for me it is people.

I love it when I see God doing extraordinary things through ordinary people.  Ordinary people - or even more so - the underdog is often used by God in amazing ways and I find that inspiring.  When I see God use an ordinary person for His purposes, it excited me.  I think, "Hey, I'm just that ordinary!  Maybe God will use me next to do His extraordinary."

And when God uses the underdog, well, that just makes my heart swell.  I am inspired by these people beyond belief.  If you've never seen the movie Simon Birch, I would strongly suggest finding and watching it.  It stars a young guy named Ian Michael Smith. His big personality makes up for his small stature.  At 3'1", his character is an amazing example of God using the little guy.

I won't give away the movie, but I will say this: God uses the underdog in this movie for His purpose in an amazing way.  Simon always believed that God had an incredible plan for his life and for his size.  Sure enough, Simon's faith leads him into the place God intended for him.

I don't cry in movies.  In fact, I'm not sure I've ever cried in another movie.  But the three times I have watched Simon Birch I have balled my eyes out.  Inspired.

It's not grand acts of people who were given the advantage in life that inspire me.  It's not when someone has something handed to them.  It's the little guy.  The fringe people.  It's the ordinary.  That's what inspires me.  I'd love to know what inspires you?

Monday, January 9

Top Ten Tuesday

The Top Ten Books That Have Impacted My Life (in Process):

In no particular order...The Bible is a Given.

1. Things Fall Apart - by Chinua Achebe  This book is told from a uniquely African perspective in such a way that it actually changed the way that I read, view Western culture, and see the impact we have on people all around the world (both positive and negative).

2. The Cloister Walk - by Kathleen Norris  An honest, and sometimes raw, account of Norris' experience of what lead her into a time as a Benedictine oblate (monastic living).  Seriously, I read this book at the right moment in my life.  Continues to be a favorite.

3. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference - by Malcolm Gladwell  Interested in trends? Social changes?  What is cool and why?  This book explores all of this and more in a brilliant but easily written manner.

4. The End of Religion - by Bruxy Cavey  I'm not just saying this because he's the teaching pastor at the church I work at (The Meeting House).  This book is a must-read.  Bruxy very clearly, articulately (and quite frankly, in an enjoyable way) explores the idea that Jesus came to turn the religiosity of the time on its head...that Jesus came to show love, not law.  To: save us from sin, show us God's love, set up His kingdom & shutdown religion.  Simple.

5. In the Name of Jesus - by Henri Nouwen  Short book, big message.  Nouwen shares from personal experience what it looks like to really live the message of Christ.  An easy read by writing standards; a challenging read by spiritual standards.

6. Technical Virgin - by Hailey DiMarco  As someone in youth ministry, the topic of sex is often, if not on the lips of students, on the tip of their minds.  In one of the best Christian books for teens on the subject, DiMarco looks at all of the implications of a physical relationship and why sex is more than just a physical act, why purity isn't just about virginity, and how this all works in our culture.

7. Stargirl - by Jerry Spinelli  To be honest, this book is written for pre-teens and/or maybe early teens.  Again, through the eyes of student ministry, this book is golden.  Spinelli doesn't write from a Christian perspective (at least not that I know of), but he deals with the idea of identity, value, and fitting in with the crowd in an incredible way.  This book should be a part of every school's curriculum.

8. The Thursday Next Series - by Jasper Fforde  These books aren't life-changing.  They are of no spiritual value, sociological value, or psychological value.  But I wanted to include them on this list because I believe they show hope for a brand of witty and fascinating modern fiction that assumes a level of awareness of the literary canon.

9. I Love You, Forever - by Robert Munsch  Because every now and then, we all need to be sung to, reminded that we are loved, and be rocked back and forth, back and forth.

10.  Mere Christianity (and pretty much everything else by C.S. Lewis)  I picked this book in particular because I read it at a time in my life when I needed it to help me articulate the things that it covers.  Lewis is brilliant and is the kind of writer that I simply enjoy wading in the waters of his words.  Very easily, I could have said The Narnia Series here as well.  Simply incredible.