Tag Archives: chip Macgregor

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

Data on this blog reports that married men, ages 25-35, with children are the biggest frequenters of this blog. I’m really flattered.

It’s a throwback to being picked by the neighbor boys to be quarterback for both teams during the zenith of my football prowess, ages 9-11. I guess they just trusted my skills. (Or, maybe I was bad at tackling.)

It seems I don’t write like a chick. A Lady. Or what have you.

BUT! I KNOW I don’t seem to read like one.

Case in Point:

I’d love to be involved with the women’s book club at my church. I love books and the discussions that ensue. I put one together for Blue Like Jazz. 3 people came, including me. One of them was a friend I drove to it, because I begged her to come at the last minute. She hadn’t even read the book.

The truth is, in general, I like the richness of mixed gender book clubs, and I like to hear various perspectives (unless it devolves into gender battles and insults, like Sunday School this past week. ACK! The men were PENT UP. Arrows were flying!) Plus, I think, this gender war stuff gets old, fast. Hello, John and Stasi Eldridge, can you hear me? Um. You’re causing infighting. It’s the truth.)

But for the exception of the wonderful Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, that came up at book club, it’s been just a slew of girly books. I just cannot stop my gag reflex long enough to muddle through something Pioneer or Amish related. I can’t stomach “historical fiction/dreamy (and yet Christian-safe–in-all-the-right-spots) romance–with–a–God-twist”. This dominates our book club. Completely.

Thanks to a reader’s helpful link, you’ll find a really fascinating rendering of this issue here (Newsweek article).

(Bear in mind that my area can’t support a Walden’s Book store in the mall (which shut down a number of years ago) let alone something mainstream like a Boarders. Something like that is 31 miles away. And a cozy and bookish sole proprietorship? HAA! NEVER. So, it could be the situation that I’m just a fish out of water around here.)

So, in a measure of self-soothing, I’ve come up with a quick list-

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

1. I don’t care about reading gooey, implausible stories about the Amish. I live near the Amish. You know what? They aren’t that interesting.(Basically, they just dress weirdly, frequent “dent and scratch” bargain grocery stores, and have gaggles of children.)

2. I like history, and I like (good) fiction. But, it always seems like the category so-called “Women’s Christian Historical Fiction” is just a mash up that’s two levels closer to crap than anything else.

I feel insulted by everything from the predictable plot-lines, to the saccharine Christian-evangelism tactics that snake through like, well, “like a string of pearls snaking between ample bosoms”.

3. Since I’m not a big fan of the macho man/Christian book market, I can’t start getting aligned to closely with mushy, girly books. It’ll trash my street cred. (Guilt by association, obviously.)

4. If it makes a guy wince to see a chick book, it makes me wince. I just don’t like feeling I should defend my gender for enjoying overly sentimental tripe, that often sacrifices intellectual integrity for dramatic episodes that involve a high- stakes rescue, or a whore-come-home riff. Call me silly.

5. These books all seem to severely lack in the sense of humor department. This. is. not. okay. This is perhaps the biggest reason I just can’t do it. I need more. I want to be challenged. I want to laugh and cry, but not because “his heart has been too scarred to let her love in, despite their undeniable attraction…but he unknowingly gave himself a milk mustache on his curvaceous and stubbly upper lip, and her heart skipped a beat.” (You get the idea.)

If you are a fan of these books (or a writer of them, or an agent of them (like Chip MacGregor, my agent)), I apologize for being so brash. I’m not trying to be a guy about it.


It’s just my opinion that these books are for women what the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show holiday tv special is for men. They offer something superficial, that aims to scratch an itch, but ends up inflaming the whole thing. Less, not more, is the remedy, but no one wants to give it up.

victoria's secret fashion show 2010

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

I realize writing this will mean I’ll never get a Christmas card from:

For a long list of these books, click here. If you start to feel ill, even at the sheer multitude, I wanna hear from you.

Here’s the surprise ending:
If any of these authors will have me over for dinner, and try to change my mind, I will indulge that. (In stereotypical male form, you may get to me through my stomach. And that’s a chance I’m willing to take, especially if there is PA German Apple crumb pie involved.)

What do you think about this genre?
Are you a woman who gets embarrassed by what’s available in the “Women’s genre”?


Ladies, if you like these books, have your say.


And guys, what’s your take on any of this? (If you were given $20, would you read a “bonnet ripper” and contribute at a book discussion? Or would you just break out in hives?)

Outsourcing: Ever tried it? Want to?

Here’s something you may have not considered before: Outsourcing

“Wait,” you say, “That’s a dirty word. That’s like saying, ‘I hate Grandmothers,’.” Oh, no, it’s not. Get a grip. Outsourcing is simply getting someone else to do something for you quicker and less expensively than you could do it yourself. Most of the time, time isn’t what you have. And, of course, money? Well, almost no one has that. So you leverage what little money you have to get what you need, specifically. A global marketplace means the world is flat.

Think about it, research, busy work, follow-up calls, answering emails, e-commerce, networking, and much more could be subcontracted, so you could save a lot of time, and maintain your main focus.

Soon I’ll update this with how my outsourcing is going.

Leave your questions! Or comments…

My ugly Confession.

I have a confession to make.

ambition while missing the point

 

In about 2 weeks, this blog site will be a year old. In the last 5-6 months, I’ve been trying pretty hard to write interesting, helpful, or entertaining stuff for this place, almost every single day. I’ve made fantastic contacts, great new friends, and I’ve had a good time doing it.

This is hard to admit, but, I have to confess, that I’ve been blogging mostly to build a larger reading audience. A little while ago my agent told me that I stood a good chance to have my material published, but the biggest obstacle was “lack of platform.” Lack of platform sort of means, not too many care who you are, or what you do. A successful blog can change that, and help a writer build this much-needed platform. I know there’s nothing shameful about writing a blog and hoping others read it, but my remorse at this moment is that I realize I have made it my means to an end. I’ve been holding so tight to this idea that I can generate a solid readership base to, as Pedro says, “make all my wildest dreams come true,” that I didn’t realize I was putting it before the whole point, which is to share myself and my God with others. In a real sense, I’ve thought of this blog as a vehicle to “get me somewhere,” and I’ve made it an idol. Sometimes I have said to myself, “Well, it’s really both, a vehicle and my ministry.” This may be true, and I hope things work out like this, but if my priorities or motivations shift weight, things get off balance. And they have been.

I stopped long enough for God to speak to my heart, and in my spirit, it seems “he” said, “Let it go.” I got a little panicky at first. “Completely? What? Huh? What ‘chu talkin’ ’bout Willis…er, Father in Heaven?”

Then it seemed like God nudged me, and “said,” “Don’t be such an extremist.” This threw in off a little. So, I sort of looked around sheepishly for a little, almost looking for an exit, but without trying to be obvious about it. It seems like God “said,” “You’re clutching. Stop it. Just write and stop thinking about the rest. It’s none of your business.”

This bothered me. I felt out of control. Of course, it was a false assumption that I really have control like I was thinking I had. But, then I thought about what that might feel like…to hand things over… and I tried to “put that skin on.” Even just putting it on halfway felt SO nice. Relaxing. Like the pressure was off, and leaving the room, like a smog lifting. So, I stopped that exercise midway, I took a deep breath and I yielded. I took my sweaty feet off the pedals and coasted. I waited. And nothing happened. Nothing, for better or for worse, but I felt much better.

I wanted to tell you about it, because I know I haven’t been thinking the right way. I know that has to change, and I’m turning my heart the other way. I may post less often, but maybe there will be more true joy and inspiration when I do.

I do hope many are blessed by this blog, and resources, but I’m not going to transpose the priorities anymore, if I can help it, (with God’s grace). This will happen on a heart level, and it might not even be apparent to you, but I hope that my honesty will not only encourage you to look carefully at your own priorities, and goals, but also be a way to ensure that I stay congruent to my core convictions and values, in the way and nature of my God.

It’s hard to make confessions because, sometimes, it makes you feel really weak, stupid, or like some kind of a scum bag. It’s risky. The temptation to keep on a mask, and act like things are all pulled together, can be a strong influencer. Even though it feels embarrassing, it’s still the only way to move forward, and toward shalom (well-being/peace). I’m trying to be brave.

Thoughts… comments?

Perspectives- Ease and Struggle

We all have our troubles, and our issues. We all have pain, and problems.

In American, Jesus has often been sold like a product. When there is still struggle, disappointment,and  pain, the “Jesus is the Answer,” for some people just feels like a broken promise. Maybe even, a crappy snake oil kind of product. It’s quite a consumerist mentality.

ChineseJesus

Asian depiction of Jesus painted c.1880s

 

In many parts of the world though, being a follower of Jesus means one pays dearly. Perhaps in health quality, comfort, safety, status, personal/family economics, and in quite a number of cases, with one’s life. Is Jesus still the answer? Well, in the gobal South and East more adults have willingly claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord in the last 35 years, than in ALL the last 1,500 years combined. Christianity is booming like never before worldwide, and greatly outpacing any other belief system. One missiologist suggested, where there is struggle, oppression, and suffering, Jesus shows up.

(note: You may have heard Islam is the fastest growing relegion in the world, but consider that Muslims claim any one living in an Islamic state (at any age from birth on) and those under newly-changed Muslim governmental regimes, or anyone converted by force to Islam are considered Muslims in these tallies. A personal faith, or a conscious and unforced decision to choose one’s faith is not considered a criteria for Islamic adherence in these statistics.)

Simply put, the gospel message, and a person’s receiving of it, doesn’t result in an easier life. Maybe even the opposite is true, but it continues to be the hope and healing many give their lives for.  The affluence of America, and other Western countries, has seemed to create an entitlement mentality or expectancy of a time of comfort or ease for the spiritual journeyer. That concept seems to be a cultural construct, more than anything. And it seems a childish one, at that. We are here to help each through life, which can be very difficult indeed. There is something about the struggle that helps us grow, and makes us better than before, by grace.

I won’t kid you. Some people honestly need to be chemically helped with medication to feel well. That is in a different category, in my opinion. A doctor, and probably both a spiritual director and therapist can assist here, for those who cannot see life as anything but gloomy, or can’t get out of bed in the morning.

How does this play out in the real world, and in the blogosphere?

It’s quite interesting. I have stumbled on SO many blogs. So many perspectives. In them, people reveal who they are, and what they really believe in, value, or to whom they sacrifice. They tell who they count as important, whether they put themselves and their comforts in the center of their lives, or if they use their time to inspire. I have been saddened to see so many negative Christian blogs, consumed with bemoaning one thing or another.

Here are two authors whose blogs I visit. X & O

They are WILDLY different, and I still get baffled by it sometimes.

I visit one more than the other. One is a professing Christian, and one is not. Since I can’t be in the mind of either author, I must admit, I really can’t know what they experience, much at all. I can’t condemn either one, I don’t want to, and I won’t. 

Yet, one insight emerges after witnessing these two perspectives, when I ask myself,

“Who would I rather emulate?”

I ask myself, “How do I want to be in this world?’

I’ll leave general observations and summations to you.

If the exploration reveals anything for you–I’d be quite interested in your responses.

Who has inspired you, as you read various blogs?

And why?

Faith and Fleecing God- Hoodoo Part II

Gideon and wool

A common tactic among Christians who seek God’s guidance and direction is to follow the example of biblical hero, Gideon. (see Judges 6:1-8:32) Many people searching for God’s will, lay out a “proverbial fleece,” and ask that God show them which way to go. They hope for a sign, or at least a strong feeling.

Let’s think about Gideon for a moment. When God called Gideon to lead his people in victory over their oppressors, the man was hiding out in the bottom of a winepress threshing wheat. Remember, to thresh wheat, one needs the wind, and open air, so the chaff can blow away, and leave the kernels behind. (One doesn’t get much of that, in a pit of a winepress.) This man was scared silly. One can’t expect to feel even much of a breeze in a hole! God calls him “mighty warrior” too. HA! What a sense of humor! He was either being totally sarcastic, or meant Gideon could be this with God’s divine intervention–in the future. (or maybe both, I wasn’t there to hear the Angel of God’s actual tonal inflection) 😉

Then, Gideon starts mouthing off, acting all bitter, and asks that the Angel of God to actually prove he is really God. To my knowledge, no one else in the Bible is this brash. Graciously, God permits this, instead of just smiting his sorry butt, he obliges him, and burns up a meal, right in front of Gideon. This, of course, scares the snot out of Gideon, and he believes, sort of. He’s still a big-time coward. God instructs him to take down his family’s idols that they all worship. God’s not a big fan of idols. DUH. God was already putting up with a lot of bologna. This garbage removal is an obvious “first things first” order of business.

Everyone in Israel knows you should not worship idols, EVER (they all are aware of those 10 Commandments, and laws of Moses stuff.) Gideon is totally justified to rip them down immediately; so he marches over and does it, no problem. NOPE. Not at all. Gideon goes the cowardly route, and tears down the family idols, by sneaking out to do it in the middle of the night, with a few buddies.

After gathering troops, still, Gideon struggles to feel right or the least bit courageous about God’s calling, or God’s Almightiness. This unlikely victor asks for, not just one miracle, but 2, yes two, miracles, before he follows God’s direction. Very presumptuous, indeed, not to mention faithless.

Here’s the kicker sometimes left out in this hero’s story. After a mighty, and completely miraculous victory, over a powerful and oppressive enemy, the Midianites (with a tiny fighting force of just 300), Gideon constructs a sacred golden object in his town that is soon worshiped by him, his family, and the whole community. WTHuh? I think Gideon and his ways boarder on ridiculous. He’s quite ordinary, in fact. Just like you or me?

While some use the fleece part of the story as a prescriptive idea for determining God’s will–a genuine way to find God’s guidance and will–I believe the Bible includes it as a failure of faith on Gideon’s part, one of several. Really the entire story is part of a greater witness to an idolatrous and unfaithful era in the times of the Judges. It’s really not a picture of Gideon as a good follower, at all, but instead a picture of God, and his forbearance with a very weak individual, a supremely unlikely leader, and a faithless people he has called his own, and wants to save. God continues to use misfits, and losers in his is amazing Story, but we don’t have to emulate these folks in their weaknesses.

In reality, Gideon was like a lot of godless inhabitants of the region; he was a superstitious sort. This was an unfaithful and tumultuous time in Israel’s past as they co-opted with many ungodly practices. Are behaviors of Gideon’s type really the best for us, or the most advisable? I say, “No.”

So if not, what should we do? I’d love for you to weigh in here on this! But, I’ll put in a few ideas.

First, we shouldn’t think of spirituality/the Divine as magic. “If I do this, I’ll know I should do this thing here, if this such thing happens.” Totally hoodoo. That is trying to get God to jump through hoops, so we feel more comfortable. Yes, sometimes God works with this shortcoming in us, but we should also understand that God will purposefully let us flounder sometimes.

Which way to go, or what to decide, might be part of our growth process. Also, Biblical narratives show that God will purposefully allow us to encounter temptation, or the opportunity to make an unwise choice.

Loyalty, and a close walk with him is one of the best guards against going hoodoo with God. (I call this close walk, Practicing the Presence of God. So did Brother Lawrence.) If we are being loyal/obedient, and we thoroughly love God with all we are, it is much easier to choose what God wants for us. And I really think it’s not always just one specific thing we have to pick that is his “will” for us. Sometimes, it’s the situation of good, better, and best. God doesn’t bite his nails wondering if we’ll pick the right thing, and then viola– “be in his will.” He redeems situations, even the foolishness we get ourselves into. It’s that much better if we pick wisely, and make him the center and glory of our decision making.

Yes, sometimes God will open and close doors, and almost seem to force our hand. If we love and trust him, we’ll be okay with that, knowing that he will do that sort of thing for our best benefit and interest, (though it may be hard to see what that is at the time.) To test God, by fleecing him, is to deny ourselves the opportunity for a close intimacy with God. He is a relational Being. He gives us opportunities to walk with him by faith, and not just by sight.

I would love to hear your responses to this post.

Leave a comment, if you will.

No Fun Allowed? Not so fast!

 

(actual sign) Creepy!

(actual sign) Creepy!

When the kiddos where swarming Jesus, his disciples started barking at the parents. They said Jesus couldn’t be bothered with that sort of thing. Jesus harshly rebuked his helpers. He had time for the kids. I can picture him ruffling their hair, smiling at them, and blessing them, as they crowded around him.

 

He went on to say that to come  in the Kingdom of God you must be like a child. I think he was primarily speaking about “child-like trust,” and perhaps “purity” of heart, but let’s also think about the nature of children for a minute.

Most kids aren’t super serious, most of them find joy in the present, most can be fairly easily amused, most of them assume they need some help to get by. Oh, and another thing–THEY PLAY! So, maybe those of the kind of people Jesus enjoys the company of. 

Have you grown up? I should say, have you gotten old? Have you forgotten how to play? How to play with all that you are-like a kid-all out? Can you shelve your crotchety outlook, and have a good time, without feeling awkward, bringing someone down, or looking at the negative?

I’ve met so many Christians who are so “grown-up,” they could meet up with God, and he’d seem more like a boy to them. In other words, they would have no idea how “youthful, innocent” exuberance looks, or sounds like. Look at the world of created things. God must have been laughing when he fashioned some of those creatures! Tough-skinned grown-ups aren’t much able to id joy, or what is joyful, if it hits them in the face with a cream pie. They’ll probably say, “Oh, thanks joy! Perfectly good pie, and YOU wasted it! Now clean this up.”

God sings, smiles, and laughs. Shocking! (Actually, only to some people.) Open your eyes. God is good. God is even fun!

Maybe we should remember that he gives us this world to enjoy. He give us others to enjoy. This world is our playground, and we may be happy here. Tag-you’re it!

Hi Jon’s friends from SCL

I love you

I love you

If you’re visiting because of Jon’s Stuff Christians Like blog. I welcome you!

If not, um this might get a little awkward. (I’m trying to woo new readers, so talk amongst your selves for a sec., k?)

Anyway, I think Jon is  a rock star. And by that, I don’t mean that he just has his mind on drugs, violence, sex, and music with a throbbing beat. I mean, I think he’s highly funny, clever, poignant, and says all the right stuff, so you can’t help but to really like him, for just being him.

If you enjoy him, you probably have a vivacious sense of humor. Perfect. Please look around, comment on posts, and know that I’m pretty much, wishing on a star that you’ll come back and read things here again soon. (I had put in here “kissing your buttocks,” but I thought that sounded needy and cheap. So, I took it out. I suppose I have to draw the line somewhere.)

I post 4 times per week, or more, so please drop by soon. One fun post I recommend to visit here, is the quiz that can determine if your soul can fit into a mailbox. Check that out. (You can do a search in the sidebar, when you scroll to the bottom of this page.) It’s a bad Cosmo Quiz meets a Christianity Today mini-article sort of thing. And golly, it’s cleared up a lot for soul-searching types of people so far.

Thank you for coming to visit. I feel like we’re practically best friends at this point-almost like we known each other for just years and years!

(Is this coming on too strong? Do you feel smothered? Well, you know, come by soon, we’ll talk. Or I can call you maybe. Or is that’s too much, too soon? Sorry. I’m being forward now. Right. You can…you know, just call me, I guess. I love you. Give me a call. Or, you know, whatever makes you feel comfortable. No pressure. Except… I just love you SO much. xoxo.)