Monday, October 19, 2015

Book review of Lime Green By Dr. Jackie Roese

"Dr. Jackie Roese was the first woman preacher in the history of Irving Bible Church, preaching her first sermon from the pulpit in 2008 to a packed house of 2250 attendees, and one local Dallas news crew. It was an event that caused ripples throughout conservative evangelicalism, where it is commonly taught that a woman's role in the church (and home) is submissive to a man, and the very idea of a woman teaching a man anything is sinful.

Image result for lime green reshaping our view of women in the churchIn her new book, Lime Green: Reshaping Our View of Women in the Church, Dr Roese shares her personal journey to discovering a new narrative for women in the church (one that her own church elders came to support); one that values women and fearlessly develops and promotes the giftings of,what she calls, "lime green" women." (Media release)

First of all let's get this out in the open ... this is NOT a book saying women should be preaching from every pulpit.  That is not the mission Roese is going for. Instead the focus is on her story alone. After all not all women are created the same. 

Jackie describes women in colors. Throughout evangelical history the church expects women to be "light pink". And she writes, "we need light pink ladies who remind us that God is peace and beauty. But we also need every color, every shade of color and colors we haven't even seen --yet-- to remind us of everything else God is".

In her own description she has never been pink and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't become pink. And even if she could ... wouldn't that be denying who God created her to be?

Her story is inspiring and heart-tugging. She's a brave woman.

It's important to point out for those skeptics that her fight has never been for the "right" to preach. Her fight has been to end injustice and inequality for women that transcends the globe. She talks many times about paving a new path for girls like her own daughter, Madison.
"Before walking up to the stage, I turned to my daughter to let her know that just like Jill (Briscoe) had chopped a few vines, so too was I about to chop a few to forge a path for her generation. She knew I meant something beyond a woman preaching from the pulpit. Madison knew I believed God was moving - globally - to address the gender injustice of women. Whether it was covert gender injustice like what goes on in the American church, or overt gender injustice like what we see in sex trafficking or in female genital mutilation, or the myriad other forms of female oppression, God was calling out what happens to his women and girls around the world."   
So if that entices you, confuses you or ticks you off go check out Dr. Jackie Roese' book Lime Green. It is a fascinating read that is easy and enlightening.

On a personal note, I was intrigued by the book and wanted to read it because my little, rural Evangelical church just went through a time of intense study on the role of women in the church because a woman in our congregation asked if she could be an elder. It was like a tidal wave! Suddenly we were all grasping for something we could hold onto all while trying to hold our breath. We, as a majority, suddenly realized we believed something strongly but very few of us could verbalize why. 

After an eight week study we still had no definitive answer to the question if a woman could be an elder but we had an immensely deeper understanding of all the opposing sides. And we had eliminated the previous and prevailing answer of "because that's the ways we've always done it".

One thing that stood out to me the most in our little attempt to decipher God's plan was those who were "afraid" left the group. They stopped coming. They stopped studying. All because of fear.

God warns us about fear. 

So we need more women like Jackie to step on that fear, uncloak it and shine some Light of Jesus on it. We might be surprised what we find.  
Dr. Jackie Roese is the Founder and President of The Marcella Project, a ministry committed to ennobling women through Scripture-focused teaching, training and dialogue. She has a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary and a DMin in Preaching from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Jackie spent eight years serving in a megachurch as Teaching Pastor to Women as well as serving on the Sunday morning preaching team. She has written more than fifteen bible studies, taught at women's conferences in Africa and at home in the U.S., and trained women here and abroad to preach through her She Can Teach course.
Thank you to Jackie Roese and Icon Media Group for the opportunity to review this book. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review of The Chase by Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky

Got a daughter? Granddaughter?
Or maybe a female friend whose sights are set on finding that "right" guy?

Then check out this new book from Kelsey and Kyle Kupecky.
The Chase.
"A must-read for single girls looking for a God-honoring relationship!" - Rebecca St. James; Grammy and Dove Award-winning recording artist and author of One Last Thing.
It is a fun read for young girls all the way up to the not-so-young. I would not recommend for girls younger than twelve or thirteen personally. However it would depend on where their heart is. If it's all about chasing guys ... then get it now!

Kelsey is the daughter of well-known Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury. She grew up longing for her own "love story". And she got it. In her first ever book, Kelsey tells about learning to focus on God ... not on who the next guy in her life could be. That coupled with some great teaching from her parents set the stage for her to anticipate God's guy for her fairy tale.

Kyle Kupecky is a Christian recording artist. He also had a great stage set for him about looking forward to a future written by God's hand and not his own.

Together this young couple writes a book, from their hearts, to young girls everywhere about chasing after the right Thing.  The book is a light and easy read filled with tons of personal stories. Both Kelsey and Kyle give their thoughts - a unique aspect for girls everywhere to have some insight in a guy's heart and mind in regards to dating and girls. Kelsey imparts great wisdom for girls and young women everywhere, while Kyle brings in scripture and a guy's thoughts. The book isn't your typical "save yourself till marriage" message. This is a nice detour down a little broader path. It's about where to focus your heart. Because if you focus it on God, He will take care of the rest. So, eyes on Him, not on the boys in your math class and let God write your "Happily Ever After".

Kyle and Kelsey give some very compelling stories and evidence that God had plans for them back before they even began dreaming of "the one". A very cool story to tell. I already have a few young girls in my life that would benefit from this book and message.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I do however have one comment to add that I hope will give insight but not deter you from the valuable piece that this book truly is. I wanted to read this book with my daughter, who is turning twenty. She was in a dating relationship and we wanted to find a book that would help steer her heart in the right direction. I was thankful I read it first. There is nothing inappropriate in this book - or anything you wouldn't want your daughters or granddaughters to read, it is just a very different take than my daughter can relate to. See, she is in college and in her very first dating experience. Kyle and Kelsey tell a wonderful story of how God orchestrated their lives to come together, but neither of them refrained from dating through high school. The entire book is filled with stories of the guys and girls who went wrong. Just not the kind of thing that is helpful for my daughter at this time.

So, my advice ... judge where the girl in your life is at. If she is chasing guys and not God then this is a fantastic read. Definitely. No doubt about it. However, for girls like my daughter - it is all good information and excellent advice, but the stories of dates gone wrong and guys not worth it wasn't quite what we were looking for.

What my daughter can take away from this book is that God is a far better author for our love stories that we can ever be. So, wait. Rest. And most of all chase after His heart and let him take care of yours.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Here is some other fun links for you to check out.

Karen Kingsbury's Bailey Flanagan series used Kyle and Kelsey for the video book trailer for book 3, Longing. :) That is alos Anthem Lights song, Can't Get Over You plays in the background. (A Christian band Kyle used to be a part of.) :D

Give You The World by Kyle Kupecky - official music video - with real footage of the two.

A truly amazing song for a young girl chasing after boys - Hide Your Love Away by Anthem Lights Lyric video. Buy this song for her! And show her this video - Anthem Lights - Behind the Song because she is worth waiting for!

I have so many more valuable things to share with a girl in your life that needs to know she is precious and worth saving her whole self - heart and body - for a true love that will  last. If you want more contact me. This is a passion close to my heart. I wished someone would have told me that simple line when I was chasing after all the wrong things.  Tell someone today ... you are worth waiting for.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Movie Review of 90 minutes in Heaven

By the way ... even if you don't read the rest of this post, please scroll down to the bottom and read the bolded words - all profits from this movie go to charity!!
I absolutely love that Hollywood is so on board making movies about faith. I truly hope this isn't just a passing fad.

I remember a few years back, somewhere on this blog encouraging my readers to go out and support Christian movies AT the theaters. Especially opening weekend ... because that's where Hollywood counts the interested dollars. And it has worked. (Not because of me.) But somewhere along the line the message was sent that there is a market for family-friendly, faith-building movies. Now it seems there are so many options, it is impossible to hit them all. At least for me who lives an hour away from the closest participating theater.

But I managed to make it to the theaters to watch 90 Minutes in a Heaven. This is an inspiring story of hope, family and community based on the true events of Don Piper, a Baptist minister. Those true events look like this:
  • Pastor Don died in a car accident 
  • He was left at the scene under a tarp unattended to for 90 minutes as the road crews cleared the scene 
  • Another Pastor waiting in his car behind the accident scene felt prompted by God to pray for the dead man; he crawled into the wreck to pray and sing over the lifeless, damaged body
  • Don then, pronounced dead 90 minutes earlier responds to the man's prayers and starts to sing along. 
That is the basic story plot. However that is not actually what the movie is about. And here is where the conflicting reviews may come in. While that dead body lay on earth another 90 minutes, Don actually visited Heaven. And when the man prompted by the Spirit prayed for Don in the crumpled up car on the road, Don was yanked from Paradise back to Earth to endure months and years of unimaginable pain in recovery.

Check out the trailer.

This movie isn't about whether or not heaven is real - we've done that one already. This movie is about a man trying to recover physically when all he wants to do is be dead -- and in heaven -- again.

But obviously God wasn't finished with Don Piper yet. The real life Don is still alive and well and living out his calling of bringing hope to people who seemed to have lost theirs. He was actively involved with the making of the film and seems to have made a life long friendship with the actor who portrayed him. He still vividly remembers his time in Heaven and can't wait to return. However he has accepted his calling here, on earth and has embraced it whole-heartedly.

Image result for 90 minutes in heavenI read the book Piper wrote in 2004. It was a fascinating story wrapped up in pages of anguish. Piper was a very angry man for a long time. The book itself covered very little of the heaven experience and endless pages of the recovery. That is what you will find in the movie as well.

I am not knocking the experience of his recovery. It was grueling. Thirteen months confined to a hospital bed. Thirty-four surgeries. And on and on it goes. Not to mention adding in the personal, emotional agony of not wanting to be alive at all; of seeing Heaven and then being ripped from its splendor. I get it. But I needed to see more than that in a two hour and one minute long movie. I needed more of the grace side of the story. I needed more of the Jesus I believe in.

It seemed like the greatest lesson Piper learned (from the movie perspective) was to let others into his pain. To allow someone to minister to him, instead of the other way around. Great lesson ... but where is Jesus?

It seemed the greatest lesson the movie wants you to take home with you is God still answers prayers. And hope is alive.  Great lesson ... but where is Jesus?

The movie I saw on the screen was moving, powerful and inspiring ... just not in the way I would hope a faith based film would be. And maybe that is where interpretation comes in. Don Piper didn't write the screenplay. It was written by Michael Polish. And I can say nothing to Polish's faith or understanding of the gospel. (Again, I will state that there is nothing wrong with the screenplay or making of the film. It is well done ... it just depends what you were hoping to find in it).
Image result for hayden christensen as don piperThe main character of Don Piper is played by Hayden Christensen, most well-known for his role as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars episodes II and III. I think he did a great job of a very difficult role. The movie is filled with a lot of slow moving and anguishing traumatic scenes. I say traumatic instead of dramatic on purpose. We, as watchers clearly see his pain and suffering. Also, there is a bit of a personal voice over as Piper/Christensen shares a little of what he was feeling inside. However it translated on screen as a hurting, angry man. Period.

One of the final scenes in the movie we get to see Piper accept the calling of his experience and walk across a room to encourage a young man enduring the same painful bone "fixator" experience. 

And yet, I still walked away from this movie with a feeling of "yeah that's nice, but so what?"

As a believer, excited to see Hollywood take on faith films I find myself caught in a conundrum. I don't agree with hitting people over the head with my three inch thick Bible. But I also don't agree with showing them any kind of faith that is lacking the Saviour.

In two hours of very fine movie watching I never once met Piper's Jesus. I saw endless prayer and huge faith. I saw a community of believers rallying around a hurting family. I saw tremendous strength in an impossible situation. But I never saw Jesus.

I'm afraid that unbelievers could walk away with another round of "why's" to fuel their unbelief. "Why" would a loving God send a man away from Heaven to endure excruciating pain on earth? Isn't God supposed to be good?

So, watch the movie, you ask?
  • Yes. I think the movie is well done. The story is inspiring. 
Read the book?
  • Yes. An even stronger yes. You need to fully understand the anguish Piper went through to come to terms with returning to this world. The books does a better job of this than the movie.
Use this as a opportunity to share my faith with my friends and co-workers?
  • Nope. Sorry. Tell them instead of what JESUS did in your life, even if it isn't as dramatic as Piper's life.
My next step ...  I am still intrigued by the overwhelming experience Don Piper endured. Following the release of the movie, Eva Piper's side of the story emerges with a new book titled A Walk Through the Darkness. I think I will check this one out.

Interesting fact: If you are going to go see this movie, save your ticket stub.  If you've seen it already but didn't keep your stub don't worry. All profits from this film will go to charities as the first film put forth by Giving Films. So visit their website and select the charity you which your movie dollars to go to. I chose StreetGrace, an organization committed to make a difference in the human-trafficking of children. Tell me in the comments which one you picked?

Thanks to Graf-Martin and 90 Minutes in Heaven for a chance to view this movie and review it. My opinions are all mine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review of Get To Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Aimee can identify a killer.
Dane can keep her safe.
But is he willing to face his past to do it?

When Aimee Jansenn stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad she comes face to face with a killer. As the only witness to a crime, she falls into a deadly situation and is in need of police protection.
Dane Scott has sworn off women. Until a fireball named Aimee enters his world. Telling himself they’re just friends, he vows to protect her. Can his heart follow suit or will she change his mind about love for good?

Book Two in the Men of Honor Series, titled Get To Me was so much fun. Lara Van Hulzen's characters were so much fun to follow around and it was hard to close the book. It all revved up quickly in a fiery fun first chapter. If you can make to the end of page 18 you are hooked. I was.

Get To Me brings out the stories behind Dane and Aimee. Dane is the cop partner to Ben from story one. Aimee is the sister to Tess from story one as well.  However, that's all the connection necessary to book one. From there on Get To Me can stand alone.

The romance is more intense in this story. And a tad spicier too. That may be more due to the personalities in the story. Aimee is a red head full of life. In fact, she is described by Dane as "sunrise mixed with fire". Her spunk leaps off of every page. Dane seemed a cool, levelheaded, take life a step at a time kind of guy in book one. But apparently he isn’t when he has feelings for a woman. And he definitely has strong feelings for Aimee.

Lara Van Hulzen has a talent. I couldn't put my finger on it fully in book one but it was there page after page again in book two. I'm still struggling to put words to it. For book one, Remember Me, I worded it like this:
"The suspense plot of the story takes a bit to get going, but I never felt bored or impatient. There was a lot to sort out between the two characters and the author did a great job of keeping the story entertaining. Once the suspense plot of the story gets into action, the reader is in for a ride." Book Review of Remember Me
Get To Me dives head strong into the action thread of the plot by chapter 3. From there on the story is moving along a white water ride to the end. Yet Van Hulzen has a knack for slowing everything down just enough to develop the characters and their inner stories. I think that is a writing gift. Anytime you slow down the plot you risk losing your reader. But she never lost me. Not once!

As the story charges to the end, a new character is introduced. Keith, is Dane's brother. Massive in size and  also in "broodiness", he enters the story and immediately sparks fly between him and Torie, Aimee's roommate and friend. Excellent set up for book 3!

Overall, the story is alive and vibrant with bright, interesting characters. The tension is strong with suspense and romance. Again, as in book one, I felt the ending came abruptly with a quick resolution leaving me feeling a little jolted. However the ending is good; realistic and entertaining. Obviously this is not by mistake and more of the stylistic voice of the author.

I'm looking forward to book three (I think it's titled Rescue Me) to be released later this year I believe. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, check out Lara's website, her goodreads author page and her book! You can get it off her site, or by visiting amazon(.ca), amazon(.com) or Barnes and Noble.

A Great Summer Read!

Thanks to the author for a free copy of her book in exchange for my honest opinion.