Monday, May 22, 2017

NOSES ON! Red Nose Day 2017

For several years I’ve been seeing commercials for RED NOSE Day, but really, other than knowing I could go to WalGreens and buy a red nose, I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. And since I don’t pay too much attention to commercials, I never explored it any further. Then I heard a little more about it, and realized that one of the goals of this project is to make people aware of childhood hunger and what they can do to help.  Noses On!

Then I was invited to blog about Red Nose Day, and because chronic hunger is such a problem, impacting children in so many different ways, it was a no-brainer.  Kids go to school hungry, and don’t perform well. Before long they’re below grade level, and suddenly their future is dim. Without the education, it’s sometimes hard to get a job, and generational poverty rates spike.
When kids are hungry and there doesn’t seem to be a solution, they become prey to so many of society’s ills. Gangs look like a good alternative. Selling drugs means they have money to help feed the family. Prostitution, with its own set of nightmares, allows them to escape the harsh realities of chronic hunger and chronic poverty. Generational poverty is, to my way of thinking, one of the biggest problems in our society today.
Some schools in our area send food home for weekend meals, but that’s just a bandaid, and there’s so much more that can be done. The school districts offer lunch during the summer, but weekends aren’t included, and there is often an overlap between school ending and lunches starting. Then at the end of the summer, lunches end, but school hasn’t started yet.  This year, because we can, our church is stepping up to fill the gap in our neighborhood. A couple of times a week, during those gap periods, we’ll be handing out free lunches.  It would be nice if all it took was money, but someone needs to go shopping, someone needs to fill lunch bags. Who is going to clean up after lunch? And beyond a full stomach, how are we going to gain their trust and learn what other needs they have?
Although this didn’t start out to be a Red Nose project, it’s easy to say that we proudly stand with this project. Ending poverty, ending hunger and empowering children, worldwide and here in this country, are goals that we should all get behind. 
Since Red Nose Day started over a billion dollars has been raised globally.  Since 2015, Red Nose Day has raised over $60 million in our own country. Wear the nose. Join the fight. Be a part of the solution
Watch some of the video clips showing what a difference we can make:

You can donate here

And remember that this Thursday, May 25th is RED NOSE DAY 2017.  Check listing for the television coverage!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Discipleship by Dad

     Batterson does it again.  I have to confess from the beginning that I am a huge fan of Mark 

    Batterson’s books. I think I have read all of them without being disappointed, and Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be (BakerBooks, 2017) is no exception.

     What I particularly like about this book is that it is personal and practical at the same time. There are far to man books that claim they have the answer to a specific issue, but turn out to be nothing more than an excuse for the author to brag about what he (or she) is doing or has done.

     This is Dad Discipleship at its finest, and when things don’t go as planned, Batterson is Man enough to admit his mistakes.

     Part I is titled Play the Man: Seven Virtues and Batterson goes through some of the attributes that a godly man possesses. Things like being tough, but not hardened, being a gentleman, without being a doormat.

     Bottom line is that God would like for men, created in His image, to think, speak and act in a certain way. And if Dads don’t teach their sons to be godly men, then someone else, or society will teach them something…and it may not be what you want your son to learn.

     Batterson has talked about the rites of passage that he created for his sons in at least one of his other books. I enjoyed reading more about it in Part II.

    Baker Books sent me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

A great book on discipleship

What’s your gospel? Jared C. Wilson tells us that his is “sweaty and ragged around the edges”, it’s ‘smudged”, it’s an “old hymn”, it “broadcasts on a different frequency”, and it’s been “both a welcome mat and a place mat”.  And a few other things. In other words, you may not see it as perfect. But that’s what his latest book, The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People who Can’t Get Their Act Together, (Baker Books, 2017) is all about.

                I remember sitting in church, watching pastors, elders, deacons, lay-leaders, and almost everyone else in the church. And the common thread was “I could never do that”. How can they do that, how can they be so Christian? And more importantly, why can’t I?  Doomed to failure before I even started. And then one day it was my turn to be approached with “I could never do that, I’m not spiritual enough to do that, can you help me be as Christian as you are?”
                But that was a different time, people used to behave themselves in church. We dressed up, and everyone knew the unwritten rules about church: you have to behave, you dress nice, you watch your language, you show up on time every time the door is open, and volunteer and volunteer for everything. The pendulum seems to have shifted, and we don’t expect quite as much, but is that a good thing?
                We’re so used to telling people that God loves them just as they are, that we forget, that He loves us way too much to want us to stay that way. God wants us to grow in our faith, he wants us to grow in our love for Jesus, but along the way, the church seems to have forgotten how to pass on those basic lessons. And so Wilson has written this book about following Jesus for those of us who don’t wake up each morning and spend all day everyday as the Christian who has it all together. That is at least 99.999% of those who identify as Christians.
                There are good lessons here, reminders that if we were all that perfect, we wouldn’t need to be following Jesus in the first place, much less need someone to help us on that path. It’s a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect before you get to church, and although church—community and fellowship—is important, we don’t see perfection there, (or, except when we encounter Jesus, anywhere this side of paradise).
                Discipleship is all about following Jesus, and Jared makes good use of these pages reminding us that a faith walk doesn’t start at the pinnacle of success. He reminds me that church is not a museum for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners. If we were well, we wouldn’t need to be there. Didn’t Jesus say something like that? (Matt 9:12 , Mark 2: 17 and Luke 5: 31)

                I received a copy of the book from Baker Books in exchange for my review.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stories to warm a young girl's heart

If you have young children, you’re aware of how excited they are when the mailwoman stops and there is a letter for them. In Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart (Zonderkidz, 2107)   by Glenys Nellist (illustrated by Rachel Clowes), there are over a dozen letters to your girl.
                The book is made up of stories. Wonderful stories about some amazing women in the bible. Women like Eve, Rahab, Deborah, Esther, and a couple of different Marys.  There are even some unnamed women; and all of these women have something in common, their stories teach a lesson. There is a character trait identified for each of these women, things like strength, patience, and generosity are highlighted.
                Each story is a short paraphrase of a Biblical account, and several things stand out. They are short, they stay true to the sacred text, they are written at a level that girls 5-10 will understand, and they are written in such a delightful way that girls (and women) will enjoy. There are bound to be some jealous boys in families where a daughter gets this book—the boys are certain to be asking where the book for boys is.
                On each page, you’ll also find a “love letter from God.” The note is attached and opens up like an actual note-card, there is a place to fill in your girl’s name, and ‘God’ recaps the story, encouraging the girl to be prayerful or grateful, and the note is signed with a descriptor, like ‘your strong friend’, or ‘your caring friend’
                I would recommend this book for girls from 5-10 years old, but the book is so appealing, that they’ll probably soon be reading it to their younger sisters, and showing it off to older sisters, cousins, aunts, grandparents and friends.
                A definite must if your household includes young girls.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.