Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Would Life Be Like IF Love Came To Life?

Have you ever heard of Big Daddy Weave?

They are one of my top ten bands.  Their album Every Time I Breathe is a favourite of mine.  I love every song on the record. Most of the time I prefer to listen to songs on shuffle or a compilation disk like WOW, because often there are songs on an album that aren't my favourite.  This album is in my van because when I get the inkling for BDW - I want all of them!

I will tell you a little about these guys.

A few years back I purchased the BDW CD Every Time I Breathe because I loved the title song.  But that  is old news now.  These guys keep moving forward and getting better.  In 2008 they produced an album with the hit single 'What would Life be Like'.

This song is all about working so hard at being good that we forget why we are here.  God created us to love Him and let Him become our everything.

Have you ever felt like you weren't living up to where you should be?  Striving to be something better?  Big Daddy Weave knows about those feelings too.

I wish I was more of a man, have you ever felt that way? And if I had to tell you the truth I'm afraid I'd have to say that after all I've done and failed to do I feel like less than I was meant to be.

Mike Weaver, the lead singer of BDW, wants us to see that isn't God's plan for us.  God wants us to recognize our true need - we can't do it without Him.  We are not even capable of loving God fully without His help.

What if you could see yourself through another pair of eyes?  What if you could hear the truth instead of old familiar lies?  And what if you could feel inside the power of the hand that made the universe, you'd realize...
He made the lame walk and the dumb talk and He opened blinded eyes to see that the sun rises on His time.  Yet He knows our deepest desperate need. And the world waits while His heart aches to realize the dream.  I wonder what life would be like if we let Jesus live through you and me.
There is a terrific interview with Mike here.  He answers questions from where the band got its' name to the inspiration behind many of their hit songs.

If you want a glimpse into the heart behind these guys, check out this quote:
“We finally realized it is not the greatness of our offering, but it is the greatness of the God we are offering to that makes the difference,” says singer/guitarist and primary songwriter Mike Weaver. “It is not the greatness of our songs, but it is the greatness of the God behind the songs. When the little boy showed up with two fish and five loaves, it was so not enough; but that is exactly what Jesus used to feed everyone. The reason our offering seems insignificant is because it is. But God is not looking for our significance. He is looking for our availability.”

Their next big hit, Love Comes to Life from their 2011 single release is the next step.  So what does happen after we realize our need for God and we surrender to Him?  Mike says the song is saying, "‘God, I believe You can do through me greater things than I can accomplish on my own. Now God, will You go and do those things?’"  Read more here.

As I listen to the words of this song I am challenged beyond belief. I am humbled.

I need to step out and make the choice
to let go of everything
Would you reignite this heart spark here in the dark
Bring your love to life inside of me
Why don’t you break my heart ’til it moves my hands and feet
For the hopeless and the broken
for  the ones that don’t know that you love them
Bring your love to life inside of me
The generation you’re calling out
living everything we sing about
The revelation right here and now
love beyond the shadow of the doubt
Love that is greater than our own
won’t remain unknown
Won't you join me?  Let's do it together.  Let go of everything ... let God press upon our hearts until it makes us move...  Until I move.

Lord, bring your love to life inside of me.

Big Daddy Weave's Ultimate Collection Album now available is a compilation of their ten years of recording music together.  Check it out here.  They are also on tour in the States starting March 1, 2012.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Mighty Macs



Based on a true story, THE MIGHTY MACS was inspired by Hall of Fame Coach Cathy Rush—a woman ahead of her time—who took a seemingly unnoticeable position as the head basketball coach at tiny Immaculata, an all-girls Catholic college in suburban Philadelphia.  

Courage and determination helped her overcome a myriad of obstacles and in the end lead a ragtag group of girls to the first-ever national championship in women’s college basketball. 

I haven't had a chance to see this movie yet, but being a Basketball Crazy family I am sure it will be watched here soon! For families interested in watching this with your kids (or youth group) there is a discussion guide found here. (Just scroll down below the trailer.)  It is very in depth with questions based on three themes from the movie, along with the clip it is taken from. The three themes are belief, commitment, and perseverance.  An excellent resource!

I have to say how impressed I am with the number and quality of Family Friendly movies coming out these days.  You used to have wait years between quality films, but we have been showered upon lately.  Wouldn't you agree?

Dolphin Tale
Grace Card 
To Save a Life
Breaking The Press
Soul Surfer

Have you seen any of these and which was your favourite?  Any recent ones I have left off the list?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review - The Search Committee by Tim Owens

I was so exciting when this book came up for review.  What could possibly be better than seven church members piling into an old run down Ford van to drive around the country trying to "steal" a pastor.   I anticipated a great ride.

Cover: The Search CommitteePublisher's Blurb: A mismatched team of seven hit the road in an Econoline church van on a mission to find a new pastor. They don't agree on much other than the stops at Hardee's for coffee and a biscuit. But they stick to the call, trying to slip undetected into worship services across the Southeast—all in hopes of stealing a preacher for their congregation. 

Each member is wrestling to balance their own busy life and personal struggles. And they're trying to keep their issues to themselves. Forced to spend countless hours together, these very different personalities from different generations begin to bond. And their lives are profoundly changed as they love and support each other through the difficulties in each of their lives.

The premise for the book is fantastic.    I opened the first page one morning just before I had to leave for church.  I was waiting for my kids and I couldn't resist turning the cover open.  I tingled with excitement as the the first page caught me immediately.  I pronounced for all to hear that I knew how I was spending the rest of my afternoon.  The first-time author, Tim Owens has a great voice with an easy to read style.

The characters are rich and engaging with real and authentic lives. I really enjoyed the character arc of Bill, and older man - the patriarch of the group - struggling to take care of his wife and lead a band of mis-matched adults.  His story made me cry.  Any book that can actually make me cry is a good book.

There are sermons and scriptures that the author explores within the lives of the characters which I really liked as well.  Each chapter begins with a scripture or a reading from works within the Presbyterian Church itself.  The discussion questions in the back of the book are a nice bonus.

Yet I struggled with the layout of the book.  There are seven characters - all of equal importance.  You ride with them in the van, then you visit each of their lives, their pasts and their points of view equally.  I found I was lost by chapter five.  I had to back track to figure out who was who and facts about each of them. That took the enjoyment out of reading for me.  I would have rather read a story in one or maybe two points of view about the trip and the wacky things that went on between the group of seven.  I also find a book that bounces continually between present and past hard to follow.  That is MY personal preference.

Although I don't anticipate picking up the book and reading it again, it still carried a great story.  If asked,'would you recommend this book to others' - I would have to say - if you like the style of book that you shouldn't put down for long and carries a portion of mental strength to keep up with it, then I think you will really like this book.  It won the Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Award.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please mention as part of every Web or Amazon review that Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Junk or treasure?

Hopefully you had a little chuckle over the RECALL notice posted a few days ago.  It takes the truth of the Gospel and puts into words we can relate to I think.

Today we are going to take that one step farther.  Here is a visual to help you process that Jesus wants to take you on with His recall.

I have been studing a devotional on Freedom in Christ lately.  This is an area I have struggled with for years.  I am enjoying my workbook and I hope to have gained a lot by the time it is complete.  In the second lesson in the book the author gave a visual that has stuck with me all along.  It is dealing with the concept of REDEMPTION.  The work on the cross - what exactly did it accomplish?

It starts with the author finding an old, beat up and rickety looking chair at a garage sale.  It was in such bad shape to most people it looked more like garbage than a treasure to find.  "Despite its obvious flaws, I knew this chair was going to be beautiful once I worked my crafter's magic on it", says the author.

"Beneath the layered paint was a beautiful grain of oak.  Why would anyone want to cover it up with gloppy old paint?  Slowly and steadily, as I worked on it, the chair took on a new identity.  What had been just a piece of junk was now becoming a beautiful little side chair, soon to take its place in a room filled with country furnishings.  Once it was finished I was amazed at how beautiful, functional and special this chair had become to me.

"Just like this little chair, worn out and broken from use, we too need someone to recover us from the heap of life's pieces and make us new.  Our paint is chipped and shows signs of distress.  Our legs that keep us upright and functioning will need some extra-strength glue to carry us through the journey.  We need to be pulled out of the trash heap and reclaimed for the beautiful. functional, and special creations God has created us to be."  Italics added are mine.

God has a plan for you - no matter how broken down you feel or look.  You are a treasure.  He has bought you - paid for you in FULL.  Now He has plans to strip you of your old paint, sand down your rough edges and make you useful and functional for Him. Remember Jeremiah 29:11?

Now doesn't that feel good?  To be wanted.  To be useful.  To be beautiful in His eyes, despite our worn and tattered shell.

Front Cover
If that is exactly the message you needed to hear and you are a woman - check out Debbie Alsdorf's website and blog.  She is passionate about inspiring women to live "changed".  The bible study I am currently doing is He Is My Freedom: Living the Promise of a Changed Life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Important RECALL notice

Perhaps you have seen this posted elsewhere, but if not ... take notice!

The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.

This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.

This defect has been identified as "Subsequential Internal Non-morality", more commonly referred to as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.

Some of the symptoms include:
  1. Loss of direction
  2. Foul vocal emissions
  3. Amnesia of origin
  4. Lack of peace and joy
  5. Selfish or Violent behavior
  6. Depression or confusion
  7. Fearfulness
  8. Idolatry
  9. Rebellion
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service FREE OF CHARGE to correct this defect.

The Repair Technician, named Jesus, has most graciously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs.  **There is no additional fee required.**

The number to call for repair is 1-800- PRA-YER.

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure.  Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.

No matter now big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self-control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (known as the Best Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING:  Continuing to operate the human being unit without corrections VOIDS any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list.  This will result in the human being unit being permanently impounded.  For FREE emergency service, call on Jesus!

DANGER:  The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped to the furnace.  The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility.  Thank you for your attention!

- God

P.S. Please assist your family and friends, wherever possible, by notifying as many as possible of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Manufacturer directly anytime by 'knee-mail'.

BTW, I did not write this.  I do not claim any credit for it.  No copyright infringement intended.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are there any answers out there?

I spent some of the weekend with my sister in law.  She shared with me the painful story of a dear friend of hers ... a young mother of two facing a horrific battle with cancer.  We both agreed that cancer is bad and we wish no one ever had to suffer from it, but it seems to be so much more devastating to be taking the life of a mother of two small children.
I know this woman's story is not unique.  We have another mom just like her that we are praying for in our own church.  I read blogs on the web from moms who are journalling their way through the pain. Why would God allow this to happen?
As I have been grappling with this the last two days I found my heart reminded of eternity.  I cannot place myself in this woman's shoes.  I cannot even imagine the heart-wrenching pain it is to be part of her family.  I  can't speak of such things because I have never lost anyone that close.  But I keep coming back to this question ... isn't death supposed to be the beginning?  Aren't we supposed to long for heaven?  
Please do not misinterpret me.  My intention is not to undermine any pain that comes with facing the end of a life, or facing the loss of a loved one.  This is simply the ramblings rolling in my mind.  This afternoon I heard a song on the radio that answered my questions.  It is called Where I Belong by Building 429.
I did some research on the song and the band and found this amazing devotional thought from the lead singer.  Check this out...

I realized that I live in the day - in the moment.  I know God is trying to teach me to live with an eternal perspective, but that is a very hard thing to do.  Can I truly say what this singer is saying? Is Jesus all I really want?  What about the mother having to look into the faces of her children and tell them she is dying?  Can she really say all she wants is Jesus?

So what are we do to now?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hold on tight!

Can you name a movie where there is a dangerous dangling scene?  You know, a scene where someone is hanging off some precipice somewhere holding on for dear life.  Then, if that were not enough drama, they have someone hanging on to them; like a chain of dangling people.

My devotions this morning prompted an image in me that I may never forget.  It is so vivid and profound.  Yet, it was not sparked by a scripture solely.  It is connected closely to a sermon, and a scene in the movie The 5th Quarter (I wrote about yesterday) and an experience from my own life.

Let's break it down one by one.

THE MOVIE: The scene from the movie involves the mom and dad who lost their son and the mom's sister.  Each family member is hurting from the loss and trying to pick up the pieces - alone.

Sister in law:  You need to go to therapy with her.
Husband:  I can't do that.
Sister in Law:  You need to.  It's important.
Husband:  Look.  It's not something I can do.  It won't help me to sit around talking to a stranger about Luke.  It's not how I deal with things.
Sister in Law:  It's not about you.  It's about her.  She's in real trouble here.  She needs you now.  Not next week.  Not next month.  She needs you now.
Husband:  I can't even take care of myself.  How am I supposed to take care of her and everybody else?

Then the husband turns to his hurting wife and says:  I'm sorry.  I just don't have any generosity left in my soul.


THE SERMON:  This last Sunday my husband spoke on Men and their roles as Warrior.  He challenged the men to stand for something important and fight for it.  Hopefully, that 'something important' they pick is their families.  We are in a battle today and it often looks like Satan is winning as the foundation of the family is dying.  The price we are paying is too high.  We need men to stand up and take their role seriously and FIGHT.  (The movie Courageous deals with this spectacularly if you want to know more.)  This is not pick on the guys day - honest!  I just believe very strongly in the call that men have to be the head of the home.  My husband has a different role in our home than I do.  It is just that simple.  (Don't worry ... in a few weeks he is speaking on the call of the woman.)


MY LIFE:  When I was about thirteen years old my parents split. The strangest part for me was I had never witnessed a single fight between my parents before the night that the rug was pulled out from under us.  But that one fight was so bad my siblings and I escaped the house in the middle of the night to hang out in a safe place - the school playground.  Everything we knew and understood to be true was shredded that night.  Suddenly there was no foothold.  There was no place to hold on to.  It felt like a free fall without a hand to hold.


THE IMAGE IN MY MIND: See if you can picture this with me.  A cliff.  A dark, black hole below that seems to have no end.  One minute you are standing on the edge then the next you are thrown over the side.  In scenario one (like my life and the movie), everyone decides at that moment it is every man, woman and child for himself.  They each begin clawing for something to grab onto - something to slow the ascent into the darkness. It becomes a fight.  There is pushing and scrambling to keep oneself safe.  But instead you have five ( or whatever number) people falling into the darkness - alone.

Or take scenario two, the same set-up as before but this time, one brave soul grabs onto the edge AND another person, forming a chain.  The strength of the one holding the side is testing beyond measure.  Their muscles are bulging in strain and they fear they will not be able to hold on.  But they resolve to not give up.  I WILL NEVER LET GO.  

Can you picture the movie scene in your head now.  (Maybe you pick The Day after Tomorrow, Die Hard, Titanic or Cliffhanger - which ever one you want.)  Sometimes the hero fails and the loved one drops and sometimes he succeeds and everyone survives.  Here is the catch.  Here is the moment that brings it all together.  In our journey with God we are never holding on alone.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior
      my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. 
   He is my shield, the power that saves me
      and my place of safety
  I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, 
      and he saved me from my enemies.

  The ropes of death entangled me; 
      floods of destruction swept over me. 
  The grave wrapped its ropes around me; 
      death laid a trap in my path. 
  But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; 
      yes, I prayed to my God for help. 
   He heard me from his sanctuary; 
      my cry to him reached his ears. Ps 18: 2-6

  He reached down from heaven and rescued me

      he drew me out of deep waters. 
  He rescued me from my powerful enemies, 
      from those who hated me and were too strong for me. 
  They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, 
      but the LORD supported me
  He led me to a place of safety; 
      he rescued me because he delights in me. 
  The LORD rewarded me for doing right; 
      he restored me because of my innocence. 
  For I have kept the ways of the LORD; 
      I have not turned from my God to follow evil. 
  I have followed all his regulations; 
      I have never abandoned his decrees. 
  I am blameless before God; 
      I have kept myself from sin. 
  The LORD rewarded me for doing right. 
      He has seen my innocence. Ps 18: 16-24

If these words encouraged you, then turn to Psalm 18 in your bible and read all of David's words.  They will inspire you to fight the good fight; hold on tightly to those you love, and NEVER, NEVER let go.  

No one ever said it would be easy.  But God says it is not impossible - with Him.

Today I pray for all of us, but especially my man and your man that he will hold on tight ... with God's help.

Leave me a comment if you can think of any other good 'dangling' scenes from movies.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 5th Quarter

Are you looking for a great family friendly movie that reflects your beliefs?  Try The 5th Quarter.  It has faith, family and football - what else could you want?  And if you're thinking it sounds a lot like The Blind Side, you're right ... and you're wrong.

The 5th Quarter is based on a true story about a young boy who is suddenly killed in a car accident.  The story chronicles the struggles his family face as they try to make sense of the tragedy.  The death of Luke Abbate forever changed his family's life when he died four days before his sixteenth birthday.  However the life of his older brother Jon was chronicled in this story. Jon Abbate was playing football at Wake Forest university at the time of Luke's death.

In the 2006 season, after his brother's death, Jon convinced his coach to let him change his jersey number from 40 to 5, representing the number Luke wore on his high school football field.  Then as the season progressed Jon would raise his five fingers to his parents in the stands at the start of the 4th quarter. Soon the other players, the fans and even the opposing teams would join in the raised number five as a memorial to the life of Luke Abbate.  Soon the fourth quarter became renamed The 5th Quarter.

Inspirational movies can be a dime a dozen, however this one stands apart.  Like The Blind Side, the family involved had a deep faith in God.  Tragedy is no respect-er of beliefs, but how we respond to them can shape and inspire an entire nation.

The 5th Quarter is not preachy.  There are no sermons or monologues laced with doctrine.  In fact - far from it.  The question 'if God is so good, how can He let these kinds of bad things happen' is approached in this movie. Yet, the credits roll without giving an answer.  I admire that.