Category Archives: Featured Guest Blogger

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We have the same agent. And he’s even given me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, surprisingly Stuff Christian Like. And even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… (what the heck? wow. whoa. Jon Jon, way to go.) Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his spy name “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans off his scent.

This is all to say that this post isn’t to actually rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog. (Jon gets more views in two minutes than I get all week.)

In fact, I’ll tell you outright that Jon’s new book called Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt promises to be awesome. And Jon delivers in a way that could compete with Octomom. Delivers.

Is this a “coattails post”… like something written to ride on another writer’s popularity and winsome humor to get more readers? Of course. [And frankly, I’d be surprised if you’d need me to ask such an obvious rhetorical question. Will I always ask rhetorical questions?]

Anyway: I highly recommend you order Jon’s book for a loved one for the holidays. It makes a great gift. A limited time special here will give it to you for only $10. Laugh, Learn about Money, and Linger on the comedic stylings of Jon Acuff.

If you’re a Jon Acuff fan, you already know all these things, and I hope you’ve stayed with me. We all must be on the same page. You know this. I know this. Jon knows this. We’re a fan club, er…  family, er…community…team. So we have to move like one. As. one.

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

Jon Acuff: Funny man. Serious man. Modern Legend.

 

 

1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (Jon) writing about orphans. So this has to be true. You need more proof, then click here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stock pile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.

2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, just by being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison.

3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.

4. Jon raises money for orphans. Frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.

5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. Unbelievable. I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA.

6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it.)

7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given iPads, or shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)

Have I made my case?

(If you enjoyed this post, please come back soon, or click the “update button” for … you guessed it–post updates. Thanks.) 🙂

P.S.
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.

Guest Writer: Shane Tucker ‘Aesthetic Spirituality’

I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.

Shane Tucker

 

Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.

Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.

Aesthetic Spirituality
by Shane Tucker

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
-ThomasMerton

We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.

Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.

One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.

In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.

“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25

by Shane Tucker / Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) / www.ArtistSoulFriend.com

Thank you, Shane.

Are You Discouraged?

Oswald Chambers

 

 

Oswald Chambers meditation:

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11

 

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.
We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Have you thought about discouragement in this way?

Your thoughts or comments are encouraged.

“Stuff Christians Like” -Jon Acuff (Receives coveted Liger Endorsement)

I just love this book!

When best-selling Blue Like Jazz (by Donald Miller) came out, lots of Christians ooed and awed about how insightful, witty, and clever Don was. I liked the book, a lot actually. But still, I couldn’t help feeling like hmm, how did this happen? Don has a knack for writing a funny memoir–and lucky for him, it was slightly before he could be reprimanded for making it sound–basically–like a blog. That’s all well and good, but, is it the funny we all crave? Not exactly. Is he super funny? Will his wit make you pee your pants?

Well, I conducted test after test, on a full bladder, and found that, no, a hefty chortle was pretty much the maximum laugh for my buck (about $13.) Don’t get me wrong, I think Don’s great. He’s great in a lumpy, comfortable, wingman with baggage kind of way. That’s fine. We all need our projects. One of mine is pitying him, and I also like to see what he’s up to next, because it’s usually interesting. I just like the guy.

But then here comes Jon Acuff. He’s a whole different species. If you compare Robin Williams to former supreme court judge, Sandra Day O’Connor, you’ll start to get an idea of what I mean about just how incomparably fun, whacky, and talented Jon is. Sandra, you’re fine, but don’t try too hard, ok? Don, pace yourself, you’ll be just fine.

So, I pre-oreder Jon’s “Stuff Christians Like” book (for under 8$) assuming it couldn’t meet up with all the hype. But it TOTALLY did! I won’t go into the testing process with too much detail, but I’ll just say, sometimes I read it while using the bathroom. (It’s a two birds with one stone kind of thing.)

My mascot/partner and I have developed a new ratings system for all epically wonderful things, and Jon’s book (which includes his blog from whence it came) is now quality-tested, and officially approved.

Jon Acuff's "Stuff Christians Like" earns 95% + approval rating!

What could get 100% Liger Approval you might be thinking? I don’t mind the question, actually.

Maybe the Bible? Or the Book of Common Prayer? No, apparently they wouldn’t. I don’t exactly know what Liger’s like. They are strange creatures with hopes, dreams, and moods I have no way of understanding.

It’s a rather vague system. However I can tell you Blue Like Jazz got 88.4 %, so that should tell you something.

Hope you get to read Jon’s book soon. Tell us what you think. That will be what it’s truly like… when the doves cry.

(If you didn’t read the book, that last part won’t be hysterical, and you’re probably going to feel left out. I’m – Sorry. Though I care about how you feel, I don’t make the rules about how you may or may not react emotionally to this sort of thing. Don Miller used to say, “Buying something makes you feel new.” Yes, he may have meant “new” in a false sense. But you’ll never know until you buy Jon’s book, now will you?)

Cheers!

😉

Featured Guest Writer: Sarah Cunningham! Free Book/s too.

Sarah has a fresh new book out, and it’s great. Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds.

Sarah's new book

I asked her to guest post here, and she also sent me a couple of books to give away! I’m going to be honest and tell you, I’m reading one of them, and I’ll give it away, when I’m ready. I really enjoy Sarah’s writing.

She is also the author of Dear ChurchLetters From a Disillusioned Generation, a high school teacher, frequent speaker, wife to Mr. C, mom to Justus, the wonder baby, and keeper of a frenetic (aren’t they all) Jack Russell terrier, Wrigley. This is among many other accomplishments, but I only have so much space, and time, before you click away, with that short attention span of yours. Read here, to learn more, at her site.

If you would like to try for a copy of Picking Dandelions, here’s what to do.

1) Click the link to her website (above).

2) Learn 3 new things about Sarah.

3) Post them in the leave a comment section.

Rules/Tips: You can’t repeat anyone else’s item. (So, hurry, because the first people will get the good ones.) The person with the best eye for detail may be selected, but whimsy will give you bonus points. Go for it!

Sarah Cunningham

Guest Post from SARAH:

On Change

Dear readers of the lovely Lisa Colon Delay.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Just because I wrote a book on change doesn’t mean I’m good at changing.

You might even say I’m bad at it.

Resistance to change is not necessarily a good quality when it comes to faith.

But sometimes I’m lazy.

Not changing just seems easier.

Its easier to view conversion as an event frozen in time, tucked away with Shrinky Dinks, glow worms, and other relics from the 1980s (or whatever decade you came to the faith).

Its more convenient to leave conversion there, during that one shining moment when we turned to God, than to continue to lug the light around where it might inadvertently illuminate things that still need changing.

This is what we tell ourselves anyways.

That its easier to let ourselves off the hook when our flaws rear their heads.

Its easier to protect our pride.

To keep being a little bit controlling.

To insist losing our temper is just the “way we are”.

Changing those sorts of things takes too much energy.

It costs too much.

Not changing is just cheaper.

Or is it?

It sorta depends on how you calculate the cost.

After all, our lack of change is probably costing someone.

Like the people who have to smack into the wall of our pride on a daily basis.

Like the family or friends or co-workers we manipulate.

Like the wounded left in the wake of our temper tantrums.

There is also, of course, the cost to ourselves.

The damage to the life God intended for us.

A life that is a little more scarred, a little more strained, a little more convoluted.

A cheapened version of the life-to-the-full Jesus said he came to bring.

So we sidestep the cost of personal reflection and hard work to confront our flaws.

But do all those times when we cheap-skate change end up being more expensive in the end?

What do you think? Can Christians afford the luxury of unchanged living?

Featured Guest Writer- Professor Doug Jackson (not a futurist)

Professor Doug Jackson

Today’s Featured Writer has something to say about the future of the church. But, he has an altogether different perspective, than our previous guest writer, John O’Keefe, and actually, most people. And this, in a nutshell, is Doug Jackson. But you could ever squeeze him into a nutshell, so never mind. He is a thoughtful and gifted thinker, a searching pilgrim, a devoted Christian, and a baking whiz. And, he’s topped with more than a modest dollop of wisecrackiness.

Please enjoy and interact with Doug’s contribution.

Mini-Bio: Doug Jackson

Director of Logsdon Programs, Instructor of Spiritual Formation at South Texas School of Christian Studies, in Corpus Christi, TX.

  • D.Min. – Truett Seminary ( 2006)
  • M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
  • B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

The Church with a Future

-Doug Jackson

John O’Keefe is a futurist.  I find that intimidating as heck.  Personally, I’m a traditionalist.  I can quantify the difference.  Tramping through the jungle, a futurist and a traditionalist happen on some tiger tracks.  “You track him,” suggests the traditionalist, “and find out where he’s going.  I’ll backtrack and find out where he’s been.”

There isn’t even a cool name for the preferred direction for my arrow of time.  “Futurist” conjures up images of, well, guys with shaven heads and soul patches.  “Traditoinalist” calls up images of guys with bald heads (which is SO not the same thing) and no soul at all.  This part I can at least work on.  I think from now on instead of “traditionalist,” I’ll call myself a “past-er.”

So what can a past-er say to the church’s future?  If there is, in the words of T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, “time for a hundred visions and revisions” of the people of God in community, how much time do we have (and should we allow) for a rear-vision?  Not too much, I don’t guess.  Accordingly, I want to state a thesis and offer three theories.  My thesis is that, whatever the church OF the future looks like, the church WITH a future will be the one with a past.

To speak of the church OF the future is simply to make a chronological observation.  It means “the church that isn’t here yet.”  It doesn’t tell us much about what this church will do or how long it will last.  By the church WITH a future I mean the local community with staying power.  And this church, I believe, has a future precisely because it has a past.  Which leaves my three notions of what such a church looks like.

First, I believe that the church with a future cares less about the draft of its craft than the depth of its ocean.  In his eightieth sonnet, Shakespeare admits to his chick that other poets can praise her better.  So why should he keep scribbling?  Then the bard continues:

But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,

My saucy bark inferior far to his

On your broad main doth willfully appear.

Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,

Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride.

In other words, what matters is that her merit can bear the burden of grand praises and meager ones. I come from a generation of ministers who learned that good meant big so bigger meant better.  I think the church with a future looks back on the mighty acts of God in history and realizes that the Queen Mary of the megachurch and the rowboat dinghy of the corner congregation all float on the vast sea of God’s greatness, and that plumbing this depth, not scaling our own impressive rigging, is what counts.

Second, I believe that the church with a future cares more about reading its story than writing its narrative.  “Narrative” seems to be a big word in church these days.  As far as I can tell, it has a lot to do with composing our own future in a compelling way that attaches single acts of worship or service to a greater purpose.  I’m all for that, but I think it is important to remember that, at best, we’re writing one chapter in a very long book whose plot is already clearly laid out.  This even works at the local church level.  Eugene Peterson warns us in The Contemplative Pastor that, “the cure of souls takes time to read the minutes of the previous meeting, a meeting more likely than not at which I was not present.”

We find those minutes recorded in church history and church hymnals, two documents which have fallen from favor in my own denomination, where we seem to believe that the church poll-vaulted from Pentecost over several regrettable centuries until she landed safely in our own generation.  That’s why we jettisoned a songbook that came to us polished by millennia of theological mulling on the part of the worldwide body of Christ and opted instead for toe-tappers and hand-clappers that can give us no idea of who we are.

I’m not knocking contemporary music, nor do I believe the Spirit quit inspiring songwriters somewhere around the time Fanny Crosby died.  But because more recent music has not had the advantage of the filtering years, I would like to apply C. S. Lewis’ dictum about books to the business of congregational singing:  “After (singing) a new (song), never allow yourself another new one till you have (sung) an old one in between.  If that is too much, you should at least (sing) one old one to every three new ones.”  (I should admit here that Lewis disliked ALL hymns because he thought the poetry was bad.  He’s probably right, but to me it seems that their theology is rather good.)

Finally, I believe that the church with a future cares more about present faithfulness than future viability.  Because the church of the future will be a mess.  Do what we will (and I hope we will), she will remain a morass of carnality and littleness and arguments over service times and carpet samples for the new fellowship hall.  And she will be the Body of Christ, the one institution Jesus ever promised to care about, and one which he said would sit on an unshakable foundation.

So the church with a future doesn’t spend too much time reading the chicken guts of the changing culture and dealing a Tarot deck of trends.  She doesn’t cross with sliver the grasping palms of earringed “consultants” ensconced in dark tents of occult insider info.

Lewis’ Screwtape rightly warns his protégé Wormwood that the proper focus of human endeavor is the junction of Right Now and Forever which leads us to ask what we need to do in the former in order to serve the latter.  But “the future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity.”

The beauty of futurists like John is that they won’t let us rest in Merlin’s tower forever gazing at some ecclesiastical zodiac; they keep demanding that we do something about this stuff.  They refuse to let us fall into Screwtape’s trap of forgetting that the future is not (Screwtape again) “a promised land which favoured heroes attain,” but rather “something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

In short, I should simply say that the Church is the church with a future.  For two thousand years we have hijacked her with our high-handedness, betrayed, bureaucratized, bushwhacked and bamboozled her, tarted her up, sold her out, locked her in and dragged her down.  We have made her impertinent, irrelevant, irreverent and irritating.  We have used her to camouflage our carnality and let the slimming stripes of the martyrs’ scars hide the midriff bulge of our overfed carnality.  “And for all this,” the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds us (if I may take a large liberty), Christ’s church

. . . is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over Christ’s bent
(Bride) broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

What feedback do you have for Doug?

Featured Guest Writer – John O’Keefe !

I’m thrilled to have John O’Keefe as our featured guest writer. John is at the tail end of finishing his dissertation, and is writing a book about vision for Christian ministry and leadership in this century. Some exciting times are just around the corner, and I do believe John has some valuable insights to share. Below is a brief bio, and then his post. It’s sure to whet your appetite for what’s to come. Feel free to ask him more about it, contribute your thoughts, and give John a shout out.

Bio:

John  is a doctoral candidate at George Fox Seminary, and has been called a “creative futurist ,” by people other than his mom. For 15 years has been an active voice in the emerging/evolving conversation regarding Christian Spirituality. As Senior Pastor and Church Planter with 15 years experience, he is leader, and a dynamic, honest, up front speaker and consultant. 

Besides being the founder of ginkworld, John has written for a number of other ezines: the Ooze , dtour , Next-Wave , and others. John has also written for homiletics and other publications. He likes to take pictures of himself driving, such as you see here.

John O'Keefe

 

The Conceptual Church: A Vision

-by John O’Keefe

When I was asked by Lisa to be a guest blogger, I was excited.  I was excited because in her request she told me I could share with you what was on my heart and for me, as of late, that has been the idea of leadership in the emerging church.   First, I want to say that I am beyond the term “emerging.”  Not because I see it as a “bad” word, but because I am beyond thinking in terms of “emerging” and think more in terms of being a conceptual church – let me explain.

When we think in terms of “emerging” I think in terms of “coming from.”  That is to say, a flower emerges from the plant.  While the flower “emerges” it is still very much the same as the plant it emerged from, with minor variations in color and size.  The flower will go to seed and produce a plant pretty much the same as the plant it comes from – the cycle continues; even though they emerge they carry the DNA to the next generations.  So I have found with the leadership concepts of the emerging church.  Those in leadership are products of what I call the “industrial church” (what many are still calling the modern church).  Because of this, many emerging churches are simply younger offspring of the industrial church model.  While the church may look different, at its core leadership there is very little difference.  So, what I am calling for is something very different, and something very right brained – something I am calling a “conceptual church” (a church for the 21st Century).  For the conceptual church we need to develop a “conceptual leader” – a shift from the left brained industrial church to the right brained conceptual church.

I am in the process of writing a book for my doctoral dissertation based on that very reality.  The idea to reach out to a conceptual people we need to develop conceptual churches lead by conceptual leaders.  Right brain thinkers who are creative, empathic, dynamic, and understanding people who see the world with new eyes, and lead in new (yet very ancient) ways.  Without going too deep into the book (not willing to give away the surprise) I will share that one of the keys to understanding a conceptual leader is to see people as people – in the industrial church people are seen as resources and assets and are placed in the “expendable” category when it benefits the organization.  Yet, in a conceptual church people are seen as people and add to the diversity of the of a community of faith.

My prayer is that the book will be ready by the middle of 2010 – let me know what you think.