Thursday, November 30, 2006

book review #1

Another joy over the holiday weekend was being able to spend a lot of time in a couple of good books. I read two and would recommend them both highly. Here's my version of a book review for the first one.

Posers, Fakers & Wannabes (Unmasking the Real You) by Brennan Manning

I have read about five of Brennan Manning's books in the last three years and have been deeply touched by every one of them. Every other book I've read of his preaches the simple, simple truth that God loves us in our 'as-is' condition and that when we embrace that fact we will be able to be gentle with ourselves which allows us to live lives of love for the world around us.

The only quirk that some readers might not enjoy is his enjoyment of using words that no English-speaking person I know ever uses. This book is actually put out by NavPress for the college-aged market. Jim Hancock, a former youth pastor, joined with Manning to take his book Abba's Child and translate portions of it using more of the language of pop culture.

In Abba's Child, Manning explains that the chapter he wrote titled "The Imposter" got more attention than all the others combined. With Jim Hancock's help The Imposter became The Poser. In Manning's words,

This cunning poser exploits my temporary amnesia to make me
forget that everything I am is grace. Everything. Even the grace to
grasp grace is grace. Instead of being stunned by the extravagance of God's
love, many days I just expect it. In place of heartfelt gratitude for the
sheer, unearned abundance of God's gifts, I'm often gripped by an arrogant
satisfaction in my accomplishments and the false security of spiritual superiority.
The [Poser] is baffling, sneaky and seductive. At the same time
he tempts me with self-satisfaction, he also undermines my truest self, my
identity as Abba's beloved child. The [Poser] tries to convince me
that, no matter what God says, Abba's Child is a false identity, completely
out of my reach. The [Poser] wants me to believe my only hope is to forsake
my true self and become...'everybody else'.
One of the qualities I appreciate most about Brennan Manning is his willingness to be honest about his own sin and character defects. He is not afraid to use his own story to demonstrate foolishness of both 'scandalous' type sin (he is a recovered alcoholic) and the sin of religiosity and phariseeism.

Posers, Fakers & Wannabes... offers a great balance of biblical narrative, modern-day story and practical advice on how to identify the Poser and the Pharisee in us AND what to do after that. In the book introduction, Manning gives an overview of how he has dealt with The Poser in his own life.

If it weren't me, I would say it was a fascinating struggle. My
greatest difficulty in recent years has been bringing...The Poser into the presence of Jesus instead of trying to whip him into shape on my own. But it is me, and there's nothing fascinating about it. I want to beat The Poser into submission. I want to win this war with myself. Bitter irony. Instead of surrendering my self-centeredness to Christ, I try to beat it to death. Then I get discouraged and decide my alleged spiritual life is just self-deception and fantasy.

Finally, I appreciate that the author does not stop short of leading the reader to embrace the grace of God for herself only, but instructs that truly embracing the grace and love of God allows us to move beyond herself and extend that grace to the world around her. This, to me, is true religion...

I leave you with the blessing that Manning closes his book introduction:

May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted,
may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the
powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who
is Father, Son, and Spirit. And today on planet Earth, may you experience the
wonder and beauty of yourself as Abba's child and temple of the Holy Spirit
through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Wednesday, November 29, 2006

rachael ray dissed me!

It appears that Rachael Ray did not find my proposal story pitiful enough to put me on her show. I'm assuming this because I haven't heard back from the producers AND because when I sat down to watch the show on my DVR last night the first story was a proposal 'do-over'. I thought it was stupid and, frankly, I thought the girl was so flaky that the guy should have run away on the spot!! Now that would have been good television.

Oh, well...

I know you probably want the story. Maybe I should have Brian post it himself since he is a contributor on this site. What do you all think???

Sunday, November 26, 2006

respite

Brian and the kids and I just got back from a couple of days near Philly. We stayed with my brother and his wife and their two BEAUTIFUL children. We arrived on Friday which was also our anniversary (sweet 16, crazyfunchic!) Todd and Young-Mee offered for us to leave our kids and head out for the evening to celebrate. In all the greater Philadelphia area, guess where we chose to spend an evening out??? IKEA, of course!! I just love that place. The entire store -- the way it looks, feels, smells, sounds and even tastes (2 great little cafe areas) about it makes me want to fill up my cool IKEA, easy-to-manuever shopping cart with one of everything. I guess that someone pays attention to marketing in the back office there. Much to my disappointment, we did not buy one of everything, but did walk out with a couple of great bargains.

The rest of the evening was spent at the fabulous locations of Target (when you're out of chewing gum and shaving gel, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) and Outback and the movie theatre. Being out of town and sans children made us feel so adventurous, we didn't think twice about going to a move that started at 10pm. You'd think that the screenwriting masterpiece, Casino Royale, would have been enough to keep me captivated through all 2 and a half hours. If not the writing, than at least new Bond-guy Daniel Craig's well-carved pecs?

Nope.

I fell asleep barely 15 minutes into the movie. Every once in a while -- you know, on the rare occasion of a loud gunshot or engine roar -- I would stir from my sleep and find another comfortable way to use Brian's shoulder as a headrest. The poor guy thought I brought in the fleece blanket to cuddle, but instead it served as a fabulous cushion against the hard seat armrest between us. What finally brought me out of my sleep was the annoying, non-stop giggling from the two women next to us. Having never watched a James Bond flick, I thought maybe I was missing some great comedic dialogue. I groggily murmured into my husband's ear, "Are you supposed to laugh at a Bond film?"

He laughed, too ... at me!

After this wildly romantic evening out, I can say that 16 years is very, very, very sweet. I wouldn't trade it -- even if it meant missing out on some very painful marriage moments. I am maybe, just maybe, beginning to realize how valuable this whole husband/wife relationship thing is and I feel graced that God did not disqualify us from each other because of our own immaturity and sin. (and I realize this is making me sound a little bit like an old sage ... not the image I wish to portray!!)

So the rest of the weekend was spent with a houseful of siblings and cousins and all the noise and loss of hot water you might expect in the deal. We did some Christmas shopping at the Franklin Mills outlet mall and I discovered another favorite store...Fossil! Of course, my introduction to the fun-watches-and-groovy-clothing store included outlet prices so I don't know if I'd be so enamored in another setting. But, check it out for yourself!

Hope you all enjoyed your own "interval of relief from all things stressful or trying" this holiday weekend. Now, on to CHRISTMAS...yippeee!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Thankful List

I have never blogged before. What is a better topic to start with than thankfulness?

I am thankful for...

Good health

Good friends -- I would name a few, but would run out of space

Good living -- Not extravagant, but very good

Good Family -- No Great Family

Good Church

And a Heavenly Father who makes it His responsibility to watch out for all of this as well as touch my life with love, discipline, grace, healing, and freedom

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful List

Not just for tradition's sake but because I've been in a personal battle against self-pity and bitterness and cynicism for a couple of weeks and because...

"No truth, no matter how profound, will find its way into a heart that is absent
of gratitude." (Erwin McManus)

I offer my Thanksgiving 2006 Thankful List

  • my cozy, happy home (they are starting to burn down the condemned houses in Conklin...I feel nauseous every time I drive out of town)
  • my amazingly kind and hard-working husband -- who also gives the world's best foot rubs AND burned a CD of the John Mayer trio for me for our 16th anniversary (which is tomorrow!)
  • my four growing-up kids who remind me all the time how imperfect, and yet loved, I am
  • my extended family who have recently produced the most adorable nieces and nephews I could hope for
  • my new brown corduroy pants that look great and still will allow me to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast today (only if I leave the belt home, though)
  • my new job doing what I love at a place that I love with people I love
  • my DVR (materialistic I know, but I am thankful for it)
  • my church, as imperfect as it is, that is committed to risking all that status-quo offers in order to come against the gates of hell in this valley
  • friends who provide a safe place to land when life gets bizarre
  • my blogging buddies
  • my author 'mentors' -- Brennan Manning, John Eldredge, Madeline L'Engle, Dan Allender, Kevin Leman, John Ortberg, Andy Stanley, Donald Miller... (to name a few!)
  • my Abba who just blows my mind most of the time...for reasons like this...

"Your ordinary self is exactly where God wants to work extraordinary
miracles. The inconspicuous nobody who shivers when it's cold and sweats when it's hot, who wakes up so many days feeling not-at-all-ready to face the world, who can barely get dressed and show up on time and at the right place, who has to read the paragraph three times to understand it, who feels lonely and hopeless, isolated, crowded, horny, left out, and taken in all at once -- YOU are the one God loves! Deal with it. (Brennan Manning)

So...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanksgiving

Psalm 111
1 Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart in
the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who
delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good
understanding.To him belongs eternal
praise.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

and one more thing! (ok, there's two...)

*any organization or ministry that spends resource tracking peoples' connections to formulate 'guilt-by-association' type lists will not have much influence on my thinking

*any organization or ministry that has to have a link on the sidebar of their webpage that says something like "here's what we DO agree with" will not have much influence on my thinking

oh for cryin out loud!

I was getting ready to comment back on burningalive's comment on my last post and decided to just post the comment for everyone to see....

I think in blogger-speak I'm in the mood to post a rant, but am not sure I have the energy to do justice to the topic. Here's the comment from burningalive:

Hey this is kind of off topic but could you check something out for me when you have a second? I was looking up stuff on Erwin McManus and one of the sites was this one www.lighthousetrailsresearch.comwhich said all sorts of confusing and disturbing things, not just about him but also Rick Warren and others. Check it out and tell me what you think. I'm certainly leaning torwards not buying what there saying, I was just going to but Erwin McManus's new book and I know you quote him sometimes so I wondered what your opinion was. Here's another link that goes directly to the Erwin stuff http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/erwinmcmanus.htm

It took me a few days to get to checking out this link, but I had a feeling what I'd be in for. A couple of weeks ago, I was googling "Bill Hybels" for some reason that I can't remember now and I stumbled onto a website for a church in Texas that has taken on themselves the mission of protecting the rest of Christianity from churches that use anything but the King James Version and hymnbooks instead of 'multi-media presentations'. I had a feeling this website would have a similar tone.

So, burningalive, here's what I've decided for myself:

*any orgnization or ministry that uses an angry or inflammatory or spiritually arrogant tone to prove their point will not have much influence on my thinking

*any organization or ministry that builds its foundation and mission on discrediting another organization or ministry's salvation testimony will not have much influence on my thinking

*any organization that uses the word "Lighthouse" in its' name will not have much influence on my thinking

Now, I'd like to know...

is this post cranky enough to qualify as a 'rant'??




Sunday, November 12, 2006

worship

"The Church's responsibility is not only to hold to the basic, Scriptural principals of the Christian faith, but to communicate these unchanging truths 'into' the generation in which it is living. Every generation has the problem of learning how to speak meaningfully to its own age. It cannot be solved without an understanding of the changing existential situation which it faces." - Frances Schaeffer

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yahweh by Bono

Brian and I got U2's Vertigo tour from Netflix. What an amazing concert.

I have no idea where Bono's heart is, but my new favorite song lyric is in his song Yahweh--

"Take this soul stranded in some skin and bones.
Take this soul and make it sing."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

my paraphrase of Proverbs 16:1

Man can make his plans, but the end result is up to the Lord;
sometimes man just makes dumb plans.

(i got to thinking that God might get tired of being blamed...)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Get this...

Get this if you don't get anything else. The spiritual life begins with accepting God's wholehearted love for our wounded, broken, surly, frightened, sorry selves. There is no other starting point.

God calls us every one to come out of hiding. God calls us back back from wherever we went running for our lives, calls us back home. God is the love-crazed father at the window, waiting for a lost boy to come to his senses, gazing down the road for a sign of his return, now running to meet and embrace and more-than-half-carry his kid the last mile so they can start all over, as if nothing bad ever happened between them, as if the party he intends to throw that very night is the celebration of his child's birth.

It's always been this way. Adam and Eve were ashamed when they disobeyed God, so they hid themselves. And one way or another, they've been role models ever since. Why? Because we hate being seen for what we truly are, which has almost nothing to do with being as bad as we could possibly be and almost everything to do with failing to be all we could be and should be -- what we aspire and maybe even pretend to be.

We know the truth -- or at least much of the truth -- about ourselves, and it's not all that pretty. Our way of dealing with the ugliness is mainly misdirection: Hey, look how ugly that guy is! Look at all the things I don't do! Our solution is faking it, taking cover when we lose our nerve -- hiding out. Which is no solution at all.

Simon Tugwell wrote:
We hide what we know or feel ourselves to be (which we assume to be unacceptable and unloveable) behind some kind of appearance which we hope will be more pleasing. We hide behind pretty faces which we put on for the benefit of our public. And in time we may even come to forget that we are hiding, and think that our assumed pretty face is what we really look like.

--from Brennan Manning's book, "Posers, Fakers, and Wannabes (Unmasking the Real You)"
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