Friday, July 31, 2009

What I've Been Up To......

I've been really busy this week....
Spending time at Vacation Bible School!

It rocked! Everything worked great. Few changes we need to make before next year, but overall, an awesome experience.

I think the music spoke to me, maybe more than the kids.

I have a new hair style, thanks to the kids raising more than $250 for Operation Christmas Child - a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.

The money will help ship more than 37 shoeboxes this fall!

Anyway, you can see more from the week by visiting the church photo blog ( The children's ministry blog is at

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog Tour: Book Review: Blue Like Play Dough

I’ll be honest. I’m not a mom. I don’t even play one on TV.

But I am a children’s pastor for a mainline denomination. In this role, I have the opportunity to impact the lives of numerous children (and youth) and their parents.

With that said, I initially picked up “Blue like Play Dough” thinking I should read it, because it might make a good resource for the moms within my circle of influence.

Not only did I find a book that includes spiritual insights and wisdom for moms, I found a book that spoke to my soul.

The first time through Tricia Goyer’s book, I found myself reading to see “what happened” as the stories she told “hooked” me into her manuscript.

Goyer weaved through those stories a series of “spiritual nudges” or “ah ha” moments that began to resonate with my life. Pen in hand, I began to underline some of Goyer’s faith nuggets, as I pondered how they might impact my life.

In her introduction, Goyer explains how she came upon the image of play dough. As she prayed about all of the “hard stuff” in her life, the image of a lump of play dough began to emerge.

She saw her life as a ball of play dough, sitting in God’s hands. The ball of dough would be “stretched” and “molded” into a new creation as God used the various experiences taking place in her life.

Ultimately, Goyer began to realize that she was being transformed by God, one squeeze and squish at a time.

It’s an interesting word picture – to think of your life as a ball of play dough, ultimately being molded into a masterpiece by God – the master creator.

In 23 different chapters, Goyer walks you through her life, and her experiences, first as a single, teenage mother, and later, as a mother, author, homeschooling mom and wife.

One chapter that particularly jumped out at me, involves a “lesson” Goyer learned as a young girl. After being let down by adults, Goyer decided “others couldn’t be trusted,” and that she would simply trust herself.

I found myself saying the same thing a few months ago, not as a child, but instead, as a 30-something single woman. I told a ministry friend that I needed to make a decision, not necessarily because it was the “right” thing to do, but instead, because I was alone – I didn’t have a husband to “fall” back on. I was alone.

Regardless of age, Goyer points out the obvious in her book – we have to remember to put our trust in God, not in ourselves or others.

Blue Like Play Dough won’t leave you “blue” as you read it. It will, instead, hopefully provide you with hope and encouragement, regardless of your stage in life.

-----More About Tricia Goyer, The Book -----
About the book: In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon, a woe-is me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognize the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

Read an excerpt:

About the author: Using her own experiences as a teen mother, and leader of today’s generation, Tricia’s vision is to be a voice of hope and possibility for teenage girls, pregnant teen girls, mothers and wives through her educational and inspirational speaking, workshops and books. Her intention is to serve ordinary women by encouraging extraordinary things with God’s help. Tricia expresses real life, real hope, for real women.

Tricia is the author of 20+ books and has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Guideposts for Kids, Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005.

In her fiction novels, Tricia writes contemporary and historical stories that feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She recreates historic wartime eras with precise detail through perseverant and comprehensive research.

Each of her World War II and Spanish Civil War novels tell the inspiring stories of engaging characters—and a God whose hand is evident in the landscape of history and the obstacles of ordinary lives.

Tricia speaks to groups interested in these eras, with the intention of preserving and honoring the memory of the men and women who served.

She also speaks and conducts workshops for teens around the nation, and offers programs to assist teens and teen moms through Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, which she founded. Tricia is a frequent workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention.

Want to learn more about Tricia Goyer? Visit her website!

Link to purchase the book:

Blog tour schedule! Check out what other bloggers are saying about Tricia's book.

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blog tour: Book Review: Religion Saves

When the chance to review/be one of the first to read Mark Driscoll’s new book “Religion Saves: and Nine Other Misconceptions” I jumped at the chance.

Driscoll is the founding and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, and a well-known figure. I became acquainted with his work during Nightline’s debate, held earlier this year, on whether or not Satan exists.

The book, with its catchy title, evolved from a sermon series Driscoll developed after he was inspired by Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians. In that chapter of the Bible, Paul answered a series of questions posed by the church in Corinth.

For this sermon series, Driscoll invited people to submit questions they wanted answered most, through his church’s website. With more than 800 questions posed, and more than 340,000 votes cast, Driscoll boiled the series down to nine questions focusing on birth control, humor, predestination, grace, sexual sin, faith and works, dating, the emerging church and the regulative principle.

The 260-plus page book includes a plethora of footnotes and other notes – all designed to help you delve into the nine topics in an informed manner.

Driscoll’s writing appears similar to his speaking style. The book, though weighty in subject, is easy to read. Driscoll presents a variety of “sides” when applicable, all while explaining what he believes and why.

I’ll admit, my reading of theology books has been limited since graduating from seminary. Driscoll’s book provided a mental challenge for me.

It’s refreshing to find someone – anyone – who will address topics revolving around “hot button” issues such as birth control, sex, faith and works, and even the emerging church.

While I may not agree with everything Driscoll writes, I am glad that I took time to read his book.

For the record, I believe and follow the principles found in the Wesleyan/Armenian theology concerning predestination and prevenient grace. (Driscoll is unapologetically a follower of Calvinism).

I believe Driscoll has tapped into a current desire by many to define their identity – especially when it involves faith issues.

People are searching for answers – and for direction. If anything, Driscoll’s book gives readers a place to start their journey of discovery.

I’ll be honest. His book – and arguments – left me digging out “old” notes from class, as I reminded myself the reason for what I believe. Even after reading several of the chapters more than once, I still find myself trying to digest the topics and issues.

Ultimately, even if you do not agree with everything he writes, you will find some well researched ideas, which will definitely leave you searching for additional answers as you affirm what you believe in these faith issues.

About The Book/Driscoll

Religion Saves and Nine Misconceptions is part of the Re:Lit Series.

Want to see the book on Amazon? Click here.

More about Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest-growing churches in America. He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is the author of several books, including Vintage Jesus.
Pastor Mark preaches on Sunday, trains pastors, and writes curriculum. Mark is married to his high school sweetheart, Grace, and they enjoy raising their three sons and two daughters. More about Mark here!
Want to read more about the book?

Join the Blog Tour

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Would you sell your soul?

Editor's Note: I wrote this column for the July 6, 2009, issue of our church newsletter.

How much is your “immortal soul” worth? Sounds like a trick question, but it’s not.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard an anchor ask this, as a lead into a news story, my mind turned to the Simpsons’ episode, where Bart “sells” his soul to Milhouse for $5. That cartoon was good for a laugh or two, as Bart pondered his eternal existence.

But, what I found, as the actual news story unfolded, was almost chilling in nature.

In Latvia, where the economic crisis has hit hard, the Kontora loan company has come upon a solution to potential money woes.

The company, under the leadership of Viktor Mirosiichenko, provide loans IF the perspective clients sign an “agreement” pledging to use their “immortal soul” as collateral.

Would you sign a loan using your soul? Sounds ludicrous right? Really, no one would do that...or would they?

According to Reuters, more than 200 loans have been issued by the company within its first two months of business.

Mirosiichenko has a simple business model. He said if people do not pay their loans back, “They won't have a soul, that's all.”

Regardless of what Mirosiichenko believes, you can’t put a price on a person’s soul.

I especially believe this about a child’s soul.

Oh, we may put a price tag on the things we do - like the mission trip, VBS, Timothy Team, M&M Day, etc., - ultimately everything we do and say has one goal in mind - provide a young student with the tools they need to make a decision regarding their eternal life and their faith in Jesus Christ.

We do this, not by taking out loans, but instead by providing them with experiences of learning to “Fear Not” (one of the key themes of this year’s VBS), to put “Others First” (our older elementary/middle school mission trip theme), and to jump into learning about the early church (this year’s Timothy Team theme).

Yes, children’s ministry is messy, it costs money and it takes up a LOT of our time. But ultimately, the rewards are priceless.

In the past year, the children’s ministry program has grown by leaps and bounds at First UMC. We have had the privilege of helping to nurture the faith journeys of numerous children.

The best, I believe, is yet to come. VBS is in just a few short weeks. We still need people to step up and help serve our children in a variety of ways (many jobs without prep...just ask!).

In less than two months, we’ll be starting the new year of Timothy Team. We’re looking (right now) for a few teachers to join us in this vital discipleship ministry.

Forget what the Kontora Loan Company would tell you. You can’t put a price on your soul - and you definitely can’t put a price on a child’s soul.

How will you step up, to help impact a child’s life in the next year? What will you do to make an eternal difference in the life of a child?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? -- Mark 8:36

ABC news link
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