I’ve Got Joy

It has been almost seven months since I have been to L’Arche in Lynchburg for Spiritual Life Night. I went tonight and it was like a homecoming of sorts. I was invited to stay and sing (not realizing that was why I was there). I was asked about baby J and Megan. There were bright smiles and huge hugs.

Then, without instruction or directions, chairs became to circle up and we all took our places. The red song books were handed out, and one by one we sang each person’s favorite hymn. It was gloriously out of tune. And it was awesome! Through “I’ve Got the Joy” and “Amazing Grace,” we made a joyful noise.

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My God is Powerful

Holy.

Spiritual.

Transformational.

These are not always the first words used to describe a Vacation Bible School. You are more likely to hear words like loud, chaotic, messy. But that was not the chance at Peakland last week. While talking to Kristin, our VBS director at Peakland, she said, “My goal was for someone, somewhere, to have a spiritual experience.”

It happened.

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Book Review: A Sherlock Holmes Devotional

Holmes DevotionalThe first Sherlock Holmes story was published in 1887. Ever since, the brilliant detective has fascinated readers and viewers. Trisha Priebe’s devotional attempts to draw from the Holmes canon spiritual truths to inspire the Christian’s life. The publisher states that “this book investigates the spiritual truths we can discern from this enigmatic fictional character – a brusque, stubborn, and arrogant man who also shows honor, trust, and self-sacrificing friendship.”

Unfortunately, Priebe’s investigation does not reveal all that it could reveal.

I liked the concept, which is what drew me to read the book. I’m always interested in how others make connections between faith and pop culture – and yes even though Sherlock Holmes’ first appearance was in 1887, he is just as part of our pop culture as James Bond or Bruce Wayne. The best parts of this book are the first half of each of the devotionals where Priebe shares information about the different stories or events leading up to the writing of those stories. Here she reveals interesting facts about the character, his legacy, and his creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Book Review: Searching for Sunday

searching4sundaySearching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Rachel Held Evans, Nelson Books, 2015.

Searching for Sunday is one of the best books I’ve recently read. Rachel Held Evans is one of those Christian writers whom readers are divided on. You either love her or you don’t. Her latest book is no different. Some have gone to great lengths to explain why she has theologically missed the boat, or have longed for more. Others rejoice at this book. They have longed for the honestly that Evans communicates seemingly with ease about the realities of the Church.

I have not read a lot of her writing. I read a couple of her blog posts from time to time. Megan has read more of her books than I have. A friend of mine said how much he enjoyed and appreciated the book.

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Book Review: My Sing-Along Bible

My Sing-Along BibleMy Sing-Along Bible: 50 Easy-Read Stories & 50 Fun Bible Songs, Stephen Elkins, Tyndale Kids, 2015.

My Sing-Along Bible is a fun collection of easy to read Bible stories and easy to sing-along songs. The target “reader” is a toddler or preschooler. But, Baby J already enjoys this book, which includes 50 favorite Bible stories and 5o songs, one for each story.

Here is how the book is organized. There’s a “Let’s Read” section which is the Bible story. Most of them are only six lines. Short. The middle section is a key verse, which is followed by the “Let’s Sing” section, with the lyrics to one of the songs on the CD, which can be found in the front cover of the book. Each story also includes a “Little Lesson,” which is the one sentence main idea of the story.

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Book Review: Burning Bush 2.0

51Eka19YuhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet, Paul Asay, Abingdon Press, 2015

The title is what caught my eye. If you know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I like pondering the intersection of faith and pop culture. So, I was interested in Asay’s take, especially in his take on how pop culture has replaced the prophet.

In each chapter, Asay writes on a theme, weaving in different elements of pop culture. For example, one of the chapters deals with call (the burning bush connection) and Asay uses illustrations from various superhero films. Along the way, he makes valid points about why we should expand our thinking enough to hear what God may be saying to us through pop culture.

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Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over”

Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over”

Music videos have become powerful storytelling tools. The new video of Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over” single is no exception. I’ve been listening to Michael W. Smith since my own youth group days (remember “Friends” – the song that was used for every senior goodbye?).

The music video has a Lord of the Flies feel to it. Smith stumbles upon a camp of children who seem to be oppressed by a wild beast. Smith, in a Sword in the Stone kind of way, is able to use the sword lodged in a tree to kill the beast and the children rejoice!

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