Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are you well-rounded? (What does that mean?)

A friend sent this list to me on Facebook and I found it very interesting how much I had NOT read!  Of course, this list is just someone's personal opinion as to what constitutes a well-rounded reader and if I had been making the list, I would have definitely taken out some titles and added in a few others.  Still, it's interesting to see where you fall on someone else's reading list.

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.  You are supposed to copy the list and bold or italicize the ones you have read.

I haven't read nearly as many of these as I would have thought, but I have read tons that are not on here.  Does that count?

Next on my list: "The Bell Jar" #76.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller 
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams  
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding  
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath 
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Annie Dillard

So....I'm just now reading Annie Dillard.

Where have I been?  Why have I not read her before?

Presently reading "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek."

I have only just begun, so am not in a place to totally recommend it.

But her writing is mesmerizing.

Have you read her?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2011 Book List

Here is where we will share books for our 2011 reading list.

My startup pile includes:

The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler

Faith Begins at Home by Mark Holmen

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (I have started this book twice and can't get past the first chapter. I'm going to give it one more shot.)

On Earth as It Is in heaven: How the Lord's Prayer Teaches Us to Pray by Warren Wiersbe

Raising the Dead: A Doctor Encounters the Miraculous by Chauncey W. Crandall

The Lineage of Grace series by Francine Roberts  (It has 5 volumes)

Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory by William Forstchen

Operation Daybreak by David Norris

Thou Shalt Keep Them: A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture by Kent Brandenburg, Editor

Every Prayer in the Bible: Discover God's Patters for Effective Prayer by Larry Richards

How To Read a Book by J. Adler Mortimer and Charles Van Doren

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

As you can see, if I am going to read 52 books next year, I have 38 more to go.  So please post your comments with any suggestions.  (Or, if I'm going to be like Rick Warren, I have 349 more to go for 2011!)

reading and such

I am beginning my annual "season of reflection" which will last throughout the month of December.  I do not travel during December and try to keep any speaking to a minimum.  It is my time to draw close to the fire and reflect on the good and bad parts of the year that is ending and make resolutions of what to do better in the year that is ahead.

My resolution for 2010 was to make it "The Year of the Book."  Although I'm an avid book lover, various circumstances had forced reading to the back burner on way too many occasions for several years.  I felt stifled and felt as if a part of me was dying and knew that I had to return to a steady diet of books in order to see past the sameness of the every day.  I resolved to try to average one book per week in 2010.

So, my reflection has revealed that I actually averaged one book for about every 10 days.  I was very pleased about that until I read a tweet from Rick Warren yesterday that said:  "In January, I'm starting a Christian Leader's Library webcast.  For much of my life I've read a book a day."


What kind of book?  Dr. Seuss or a 300-pager?  Retention rate?  Who pastors the church?  When does he find time to write?  Has his wife seen him lately?  Does he eat?  Does he sleep?  That may be it.  I could read a book a day if I didn't have to sleep.  Is he a speed reader?  A genius?

That just floored me.  Boggled my mind.  Did he mean a book a week?

Well, I will definitely be listening to his library webcast.

In the meantime, check out the Book Club label to get my thoughts on some of the books I have read this year and to add yours to the 2011 list.

A book a day.  How in the world...?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving!

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to His name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine,
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be Thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant!
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord make us free!

Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Shock Book of the Week! By Michael Pollan.

The choices, preparation, and eating of food has a spiritual connection.  God spent a lot of time discussing food in the Old Testament and much of his earthly ministry and miracles were associated with food.  The Power of the Table has not been adequately addressed in the lives 21st century Christians.

For several years, I have been reading and studying, trying to analyze information vs. propaganda, and have become increasingly convinced that the Western diet is not only killing us, it is hindering our effectiveness in the Kingdom because of the vast amount of energy we must use to fight physical conditions which should not be.  After years spent under the care of doctors trying to find the cause of several physical malfunctions in my own body and ultimately being miraculously healed in March, 2009, I have made it my goal that I will do all in my power to keep my body as healthy as possible in order to fulfill what God has called me to do and to be.

I am also responsible for making sure my family is presented with healthy choices so that their bodies can remain healthy.

Michael Pollan has made more sense about the Western diet and some practical things we can do to cope with the food choices we have in America than anybody I have read in a long time.  He is not radical nor  unreasonable.  This book doesn't leave me with a helpless, hopeless feeling that it's just too hard for me to make right choices because of my lifestyle, my lack of time, and my location.

This book not only increased my knowledge, it left me with hope and some tools to make a difference in what I deem to be a very spiritual area of the lives of me and my family.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is yo momma rich?

A couple of weeks ago, a group from our church went to the 'hood and set up a snow-cone stand and a grill and gave out hot dogs and hamburgers, cold water, snow-cones, and conversation to anyone who wanted any of it.  My son was among the group and came home telling me about his conversation with some of the kids who came around.  He said one little boy was really cute.  Their conversation went something like this:

Boy: Hey. Whacha doin?

Bradyn:  I'm texting my mom.  I'm telling her about when I'll be home.

Boy:  Oh. She give you that phone?

Bradyn:  Yeah, she did.

Boy:  Oh. You play football?

Bradyn:  No.  But I like it.  I play guitar.

Boy:  Oh.  You gotta guitar?

Bradyn:  Yes.  I have three guitars.  Do you play guitar?

Boy:  No.  But I like it.  Yo momma buy you dem guitars?

Bradyn:  Yes.  Do you go to school?

Boy:  Yeah.  I go to Huddle.  Where you go?

Bradyn:  Well, I'm homeschooled.

Boy:  Homeschooled. What's that mean?  Yo momma teach you?

Bradyn:  Yeah.  Some of it.  Then another lady teaches me some stuff, too.

Boy:  Another lady teaches just you?  Nobody else?

Bradyn:  Yes.

Boy:  Is yo mamma rich?

Bradyn (laughing):  Oh, no!  Not even a little bit!  It's a little complicated.  But we aren't rich at all.

Boy:  Sounds to me like you be rich.

I have heard sermons about it all of my life.  Dogging the rich, young ruler who valued his wealth more than following Christ.

Sitting in judgment from the pew, from behind pulpits, from a disconnected, third-party stance--he wears the black cape, rides the black horse, has the foggy shroud--he is the bad man, the antagonist of the story line--he is the object of the tsk, tsk clucking of our self-righteous tongues as we think that if it would have been US, we would have had eternal perspective and would NEVER have made that choice.

The sermon ends and we are asked to respond to what we have heard, and we kneel or go forward, we cry, we ask God to please show us what to do, we vow within ourselves to give more in the missions offering, we briefly, fleetingly wonder what it would be like to live overseas or to work with the homeless or to be known as the friend of the 'hood, but know that is IMPOSSIBLE and that makes us a little sad. 

We may go one step further and consider leaving our homes, our families, our security--but only for a few minutes because we rationalize that it wouldn't be fair to our families, to our children, to our parents. It's not realistic...and that makes us a little sad, but we can do all we can from here and then we tell someone to save us a place at the restaurant, we'll be there in a few minutes.

Besides that, WE aren't rich.  The guy in the Bible was rich.  Really rich.  That sure isn't me. We know tons of people who have more than we do.  THEY are the ones who are rich.  We don't even think about the people in our churches in Asia or Africa who pray for their bowl of rice to come every morning.  Whose teeth are rotting because of the bad water they drink and whose children die young because of no medical care. We have no concept of a grass or tin roof that totally disintegrates when it rains.

My only answer to that is that if you are reading this on your computer or iPhone or iPad, you're rich. Don't compare yourself to Mr. Fancy Neighborhood.  Compare yourself to some of the ones I know who are praying for rice and shoes and some medicine right this minute.  You're rich.

Matthew 19.  He asked Jesus what to do. Jesus told him to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him.  He considered it, maybe prayed a few minutes, thought about his family, his home, his security...and was so very sad because it just wasn't realistic for him.  He really, really wanted to respond to the GO!  But the odds were stacked against him and that made him so sad.  So, he slowly walked away.

I know exactly what happened.  Because I watch people walk away with him every week.  I have walked with him, too.

I am the rich, young ruler.

Are you?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Heart Mender

The second of two books sent to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers that I was asked to review was The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  I have enjoyed Andy's writing through the years.  I have not had any epiphanies while reading his works nor can I say I have ever been riveted, but they have been enjoyable reads and I eventually get around to reading whatever his latest happens to be.

The Heart Mender does not fit into his normal category.  From the first page I was intrigued.  Actually, his introduction was what hooked me.  He explained that the story was "for the most part" a true one.  A few names and locations had been altered since the principal characters are still alive, but in one word, "yes," the story was true.

Then, the setting intrigued me.  Realizing that the story was set on the beaches of southern Alabama, in and around Foley, Orange Beach, and Perdido Key, Florida, was plenty enough to grab my attention.  I have spent many pleasant days and hours there with my family when my children were younger.  We had access to a vacation home there and the landmarks and locations Andy describes in the book are all very familiar to me.

I am also intrigued by World War II history.  Having toured prison camps in Germany as well as many historical sites in the Pacific theater, I have long been amazed at how the United States seemingly turned its head for so long against the atrocities that were being committed elsewhere.  It was only when our own men and resources were attacked at Pearl Harbor, HI in 1941 that we began to sit up and take notice.  To find out that the evil that pervaded the world during those years was actually right on my back doorstep--off the coast of my own state, Louisiana--is amazing to me.

But it was the actual story itself that wouldn't let me put the book down and forced me to read it in two sittings.  An early morning forced the light out the first night.  The second night, nothing could have forced it out.  I read until 3:00 a.m.  There was no way I was going to save the end for later.  Amazing, mesmerizing, incredible...a story of love, forgiveness, suspense, horror, yet beautiful...

I wish so badly I could meet the characters who are still alive.  I know it would be infringing upon their privacy, but there are so many questions I would love to ask.

Male or female, you simply must read it.  I'm requiring it of my 8th grader in his Language Arts curriculum during the coming year.  I want my husband and college student daughter to read it, also.  I'm giving a copy to my mother.  And I'm calling my uncle, a history buff from Texas, to tell him to get it tomorrow.  It's a book for all ages.

You won't be able to put it down, either.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What difference do it make?

I have discussed the sequel to Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent in the past few posts.  What difference do it make? had some of it all.  It provoked me (to anger, sometimes), it inspired me, and it educated me as to how many of us with a compelling desire to help those less fortunate sometimes just spin our wheels because we do it "our" way instead of "their" way.

This book is not nearly as captivating as Same Kind of Different as Me.  However, that does not mean that it is any less effective.  It is simply different.  The first book is the story.  The second book is the world's reactions to that story.  It challenges us to act upon their challenge and make a difference.

Although not as mesmerizing as the first, I would still definitely recommend What difference do it make?  There are passages that will ring in my ears and that I will re-visit for a long time to come.  It's not enough to be stirred and filled with overwhelming good intentions, we must act upon them if we are going to make a difference.

When I die, I want the world to be a better place because I lived.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cool Christianity?

This article by Brett McCracken appeared on August 13, 2010 on Wall Street Journal online.  It addresses an elephant in the room which does not need to be ignored.  I have not read his book which is referenced at the bottom of the article, but it's one which I plan to read.

'How can we stop the oil gusher?" may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.
As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment.
Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.
Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn't megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.
Increasingly, the "plan" has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called "the emerging church"—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too "let's rethink everything" radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity's image and make it "cool"—remains.
There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon, or a church sponsors a screening of the R-rated "No Country For Old Men." For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut, or by insisting on trendy eco-friendly paper and helvetica-only fonts on all printed materials. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub (as is the case for L.A.'s Mosaic church, whose downtown location meets at a nightspot called Club Mayan).
"Wannabe cool" Christianity also manifests itself as an obsession with being on the technological cutting edge. Churches like Central Christian in Las Vegas and Liquid Church in New Brunswick, N.J., for example, have online church services where people can have a worship experience at an "iCampus." Many other churches now encourage texting, Twitter and iPhone interaction with the pastor during their services.
But one of the most popular—and arguably most unseemly—methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. What better way to appeal to younger generations than to push the envelope and go where no fundamentalist has gone before?
Sex is a popular shock tactic. Evangelical-authored books like "Sex God" (by Rob Bell) and "Real Sex" (by Lauren Winner) are par for the course these days. At the same time, many churches are ļ¬nding creative ways to use sex-themed marketing gimmicks to lure people into church.
Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, Georgia, created a website called yourgreatsexlife.com to pique the interest of young seekers. Flamingo Road Church in Florida created an online, anonymous confessional (IveScrewedUp.com), and had a web series calledMyNakedPastor.com, which featured a 24/7 webcam showing five weeks in the life of the pastor, Troy Gramling. Then there is Mark Driscoll at Seattle's Mars Hill Church—who posts Q&A videos online, from services where he answers questions from people in church, on topics such as "Biblical Oral Sex" and "Pleasuring Your Spouse."
But are these gimmicks really going to bring young people back to church? Is this what people really come to church for? Maybe sex sermons and indie- rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?
In his book, "The Courage to Be Protestant," David Wells writes:"The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.
"And the further irony," he adds, "is that the younger generations who are less impressed by whiz-bang technology, who often see through what is slick and glitzy, and who have been on the receiving end of enough marketing to nauseate them, are as likely to walk away from these oh-so-relevant churches as to walk into them."
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that "cool Christianity" is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don't want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy or popular. It's because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It's because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same.
Mr. McCracken's book, "Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide" (Baker Books) was published this month.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

But I didn't feel led . . .

Since I been visitin a lotta churches, I hear people talkin 'bout how, after readin our story, they felt "led" to help the homeless, to come alongside the down-and-out. But when it comes to helpin people that ain't got much, God didn't leave no room for feelin led.

Jesus said God gon' separate us based on what we did for folks that is hungry and thirsty, fellas that is prisoners in jail and folks that ain't got no clothes and no place to live.  What you gon' do when you get to heaven and you ain't done none a' that? Stand in front a' God and tell Him, "I didn't feel led"?

You know what He gon' say? He gon' say, "You didn't need to feel led 'cause I had done write it down in the Instruction Book."

p. 154 - "What difference do it make?" by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Programs Ain't Gonna Cut It

I will try to leave it after today.  I will try to write about something else.  But you need to hear just one more of Denver's stories:

"George W. Bush walked right up to me and stuck out his hand.  "Denver Moore! What an honor to meet you, sir."

Well, I felt like I had to be dreamin now.  Here was the president of the United States of America, treatin me, a poor homeless man off the street, like I was some kinda important person.  I didn't know what to think.  I don't even remember what I said back to him . . . somethin 'bout bein glad to meet him, too, I imagine.  But I shook George W. Bush's hand and I ain't the smartest fox in the barnyard, but in that handshake I felt like a whole lotta history passed through: croppin all year just so I could pay the Man, passin by water fountains where a colored man couldn't get a drink, and spendin most a' my life bein called a nigger.  Bein dragged by my neck behind horses when I was sixteen years old.  Scratchin and scrapin and bathin in fountains in Fort Worth.  And now here I was, an ol' 'cropper with a prison record, shakin hands with the most powerfulest man on the earth.

Ain't nothin that can do somethin like that but love.  The love Miss Debbie had for the homeless had carried me all the way to the White House.  And while the president still had ahold a' my hand, God reminded me of that scripture where He says, 'Through Me, all things are possible."

Government programs aren't the answer. Just writing checks and handing out rights aren't the answer.  It won't happen without love.

I John 3:17 -- But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

excerpt from What difference do it make? by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't Waste Your Burden

Okay.  Moving on.  Let's leave the little offensive "nut ball holy roller" phrase that we talked about yesterday behind and move on to a passage in the book that is a must-read for anyone who loves people and has a burden to make a difference in our world.

This passage is written by Denver Moore, the man who was homeless for so many years and who found Jesus and a better life because of the dedication of Ron and Deborah Hall.  He has a message found on pages 44-45 that may surprise some well-intentioned people who are attempting to live out Matthew 25 to the best of their ability. Here is what he has to say:

Denver Moore

"Most a' the people on the streets know Jesus loves 'em. But they figure nobody else loves 'em but Jesus.  Street people done heard more sermons than most preachers ever preached.  Lotta good folks come 'round the 'hood, talkin 'bout Jesus this, Jesus that.  Tellin us about Him is one thing . . . who gon' stick around and show us Jesus?  See, deliverin kindness ain't the pastor's job.  That's our job.  When Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, He didn't go with 'em. He stayed back and laid low, maybe had Hisself a cup a' coffee.

Listen at this: Jesus sent the disciples out. John and Mark and Nathaniel and them went into the villages.  When I was homeless, one thing I just couldn't understand is why all these folks kept tryin to invitin me in someplace that I didn't wanna be.  They'd come out and hand me some kinda piece a' paper, talkin 'bout, 'Jesus loves you! Come fellowship with us!' Now, their hearts was in the right place, and they just tryin to show me the love a' God.  But seemed like they didn't understand that it just ain't that easy.  

For one thing, them folks that invited me was all smilin and clean, and I was all ragged and dirty.  'Sides that, most a' em was white, and I was black as a coffee bean.  Wadn't no way I was gon' show up at their church lookin like I looked. 

For another thing, where was I gon' leave my bags with all my worldly goods, my blanket and my soap and my half-pint and what have you? It wadn't much, but wadn't no way I was gon' leave it in the 'hood with all them fellas ready to split it up amongst themselves. And I was pretty sure they didn't have no luggage check at the church. 

Then they'd say, 'God bless you!' and leave me with that piece a' paper so I wouldn't forget where I was s'posed to show up. 'Course, they didn't know I couldn't read.

See, we don't need to be tryin to drag the homeless, or any kinda needy people, to 'programs,' to 'services.' What people needs is people.

What people needs is people.  

Don't waste your burden.  Spend it wisely.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Throw the Baby out with the Bath Water!

So I told you yesterday about the new book I was reading, "What difference do it make?"  I also told you it was a sequel to "Same Kind of Different as Me."  Make sure you read "Same Kind of Different as Me" before you read "What difference do it make?" because you will get so much more out of it.

These books are true; they tell the story of how an incredible woman ministered to the homeless in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the fabulous connection her aristocratic, snotty husband made with a homeless black man who lived on the streets.  I have been mesmerized with the whole story for a long time.  The homeless black man was originally from Red River Parish about 75 miles from where I live.  The fact that there are others like him all around him has captured my mind and my heart.  I haven't done anything with it yet, but this story with me isn't over.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  I am now reading "What difference do it make?" and am just as enthralled as I was with the first book.

However, yesterday, I hit a major snag.

Ron was describing how his wife witnessed to him and ministered to him through her prayers.  It is a beautiful description and I was reading along a bit teary-eyed until I came to this passage:

"To tell you the truth, even I felt intimidated when praying with her.  Deborah prayed with such passion -- not like some nut-ball holy roller but with such knowledge of the Father as though He was her daddy and she was His favorite child..."

BAM!  Excuse me?  "...nut-ball holy roller..."  I stopped reading.

I am a Pentecostal.  Pretty passionate about my God and all things spiritual, actually.  The church of which I am a part has been in existence for over 60 years and was labeled in years past "the holy roller church." So, I guess Ron was putting me in the box he labeled "nut-ball holy roller."

I was offended.

I am not a nut-ball.  Most of the times, I pray quietly.  The times I do pray out loud it is a conversation with God and I have never, ever even considered the fact I may be a "nut-ball."  I wanted to stop reading, close the book, and give it to someone who might be spurred by its message to do something good for somebody, and forget about it.

Then it hit me that Ron's whole story is that of a man who overcame his prejudices and propensity toward judgmentalism to love people on the streets who were incredibly different from him.  

He just hasn't overcome his judgmentalism toward "nut-ball holy rollers" yet.  But he will.  God has brought him a mighty long way and he can conquer this, too.

And, in the meantime, I might need to look in the mirror and check out the level of my prejudice and judgmentalism toward people that I don't understand, also.  After all, that's the whole message of this book.  

This whole thing just illustrates beautifully the point that we will never totally agree with an author on every point he makes in a book.  But if there are enough truths there to overcome the negatives, we must learn to glean the nuggets and throw away the rest.  

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Read it anyway.