The Diversity Culture by Matthew Raley - A Book Review

The subtitle to this book immediately grabbed my attention: "Creating Conversations of Faith with Buddhist Baristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies, Political Activists, and Everyone in Between." As a youth pastor I have a large number of students that have friends (the majority % of my students have grown up in Christian homes) that fall into one of these categories. I have family that falls into this category.

I began to read through the pages and became immediately engaged with the coffee shop "Café Siddhartha" in which two individuals come to the table with very different perspectives on life and God and each other without saying a single word. I'm guilty of this.

Matthew Raley does an amazing job painting a picture of what the Diversity Culture is "the dominant American ethos of openness toward all beliefs and spiritual traditions". Raley walks through the preconceived notions most come to the table with. He encourages the reader to figure out what their own personal preconceived notions are and to wrestle with them.

Raley compares the conversations we are to engage in with those immersed in the diversity culture with the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. This is a very well written aspect of the book. It leaves the reader feeling encouraged knowing that Jesus walked through the same had conversations that we will have to in order to impact the culture. Raley is passionate about this cause stating that "unbelievers also need the endowments Christ has given you. As long as they think of Christian spirituality in terms of the group they know as evangelicals, they will not follow Christ. But if you show them the power of the risen Jesus in your testimony, the freedom you have found through the Scriptures, and the love you have stirred in members of Christ's family I think unbelievers will see the gospel for the first time. In think, in fact, that you can only show the gospel to the people of the diversity culture as an individual. You have to stick out."

The love of Christ must be shown to the world not simply told.

The Diversity Culture is a great book I recommend it to any an all who are looking for an hope in sharing there faith in the midst of this current world.


The Search for God and Guinness A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World By Stephen Mansfield - Book Review

The history of Guinness, one of the world’s most famous brands, reveals the noble heights and crushing descents of a great family and an innovative business.

It began in Ireland in the late 1700’s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness—as well as monks and even evangelical churches—brewed beer to offer a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began. Now, 246 years and 150 countries later, Guinness is a global brand, one of the most consumed beverages in the world. The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the beer itself.

The Search for God and Guinness is a biography that traces the heritage of the Guinness family. The creators of Guinness beer. The author, Stephen Mansfield, in the early chapters lays out beautifully the sense of wonder in the reader as he explains all that goes into creating the dark stout beverage. He spends some time on the origins of beer itself and how the Guinness family became involved in the business of beer making. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of it all are the ties of the Guinness family to social justice and the work of ministry through their beer company. Mansfield traces the various impacts that the Guinness family has had on the world, how the company itself treated it's employee's (to the point where Guinness was known as one of the best places to work in Dublin, Ireland. The author has done an amazing job with the biography and very noticeably has jumped in with both feet to provide the reader with an excellent and informative history of Guinness.


RagamuffinSoul Pimps My Music.

Carlos Whitaker "pimped" (promoted) a song I wrote called "Wild Goose Chase" for a series we did in PowerSource a little ways back. Head over to the site, check it out and leave some love!!!



If God Is Good - Randy Alcorn: Summary

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book,
Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Author Bio:

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy,and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

If you would like to purchase If God Is Good you can do so at the ollowing link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421326

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

My Little Friend

A mouse made it's way into my jar of animal crackers over the weekend (yes i forgot to put the lid back on) and I looked down and saw his beady little eyes looking back at me. I quickly put the lid on examined him a bit and then took outside to release him. Fun little excerpt from my day. : )


Family At It's Best Is A Beautiful Mess

Today has been a day of festivities. It's been a day of love and symbolic ceremonies. It's been a day of laughter and of love and beauty. There's also been some awkward moments and some unexpected ones. I'm reminded today what makes family so great. You never know what you're going to get. Sure you're related via blood or marriage to many people that you call "family" but you can't control much of what you get when that all comes together. And with all those people comes all types of emotion and expression and hang ups and habits and beauty and joy and love. Family can be messy sometimes. It's a great big beautiful mess. Family is there to support one another. As my sister-in-law and now brother-in-law said their vows today a room of surrounding family and friends stood as witnesses to the event. Our job is to help support them in this new step into their journey as husband and wife. There are no doubt others in the room who have been married once and that failed or thought about getting married but didn't. To them days like these can be hard. What does family do here? We surround, we encourage, we pray, we lift up. Why? Because we're family. We all have junk. We all have things that go wrong or that we aren't proud of... and that my friends it's what makes family at it's best such a beautiful mess. We love each other beyond words, though sometimes we can't stand each other, but at the end of the day, when the light fades and the shadows of that which haunts our souls creeps in like death we surround, we encourage, we pray, we lift up... because we are family. I wish nothing but joy and happiness to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law as they begin their lives together. It's my prayer that Kristin and I can be that encouragement and the help to them when they need it. I'm so thankful for family. It comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors but at the end of the day...

it's family that keeps us together.


More Than All I Am - Song Idea

Who Do You Say He Is?

In Matthew Chapter 16 jesus turns to those closest too Him and - in response to many saying that He was Elijah reincarnated - asks "Who do you say that I am?" Who do you say that He is?

Lip Worship

Matthew 15:8-9 (TNIV)
"These people honor me with their lips but, their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain their teachings are mere human rules."

This morning I was reading a bit in the gospel of Matthew for Chasing99 playing a little bit of catch up from yesterday and I came across this verse. It reminded me of some things I've been meaning to write about for a little while now about worship. I've had the unique opportunity to be involved in some various worship environments leading people in singing. Each experience has given me some different perspectives and some questions raised. I want to share them with you.

The House Show: Many of you know that I sing and write music for the band The Great Rescue (hence the blog name). Recently I had the opportunity to do an acoustic set at a house show with a could good friends of mine. All of us are Christ-followers and enjoy each others company. I set up in the living room of the home and about 20-30 people showed up for things to begin. It's been a long time since I've played a house show. The environment is always strange. There are those outside smoking their cigarettes and cloves and those inside trying to decide if they want to brave the smog on the font porch or go deaf in the living room. Since I was an acoustic set it gave a nice compromise for those in the living room. I got to meet up with some good friends I haven't seen in a long time. Some friends I needed to see.

Much of the music (if not all) that I write for The Great Rescue has to do with finding hope for the hopeless. I like writing music that can bring encouragement to those who need it and draw people toward the only source of true hope, Jesus. During the set I felt like I was healing and attending to more wounds than playing a set at a house show. There were a few with tears. Some that came to me afterwards and talked a bit about the songs with me. I was able to encourage many that night. I felt as though God had placed me in that house in that moment to minister. I was there to draw hearts toward worshiping the true King.

One gentleman in particular came in to the room that caught my eye. He had tattoos on his face and dressed like he was homeless. He stumbled over to me afterwards. It became immediately obvious that his state of consciousness had been altered a bit by drugs alcohol or a bit of both. He slurred, "Hey man that was a good set. You played the **** out of that guitar." I thanked him and we talked for a bit about my guitar playing (he thought it was great... this confirmed my suspicions about his altered state). Then he said, "You sing a lot about God." "Yeah man God changed my life." "God doesn't like me very much." "Dude, God loves you. He has a plan for your life." At this he stopped and thought for a little bit. The said, "I guess God's an OK guy then." "He loves us dude. That makes him way more than ok in my book." He looked at me glazy eyed for a second then smiled. "And God bless ******* Texas!" He started laughing. I chuckled a bit and said, "Sure, God bless Texas." He laughed and turned quickly walking out the door. I may never meet this gentleman again. He may not remember anything we talked about. I hope he does. I hope he holds on to some kernel of truth in our conversation.

I headed out of the house got in my car and made my way to my next worship environment. In this one I wasn't leading. I was participating. Or at least trying to...

The Glorious Unseen: I attend Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and our Student Life department is pretty amazing. They bring in some amazing concerts for free for students all the time. Recently, The Glorious Unseen came and played in the new student center called "The Tilley Center". They were amazing. Ben Crist and crew lead those trying to seek after God in a night of unashamed worship. It's always a beautifully freeing thing to be in the midst of a group of Christ-Followers worshiping God publicly. There was just one problem. There were so many students in the Tilley Center not there to worship. They were talking and so loud that at some points it drowned out the band. It made it difficult to focus. Difficult to worship. There were many there more excited about seeing the band than meeting with God. I remember feeling more able to worship at the house show than I was here in at the Tilley center. Strange. It felt like God's presence was more fluid and alive in the midst of cloves and cigarettes, the hopeless, the broken, than he was in a room full of students coming to a "worship concert". I felt like I was in the middle of these verses from Matthew. I was in a room full of lip worship with no heart worship.

Tussekiah: A few nights ago The Great Rescue had the privilege of leading worship at a youth rally at Tussekiah Baptist Church in Meherrin, VA. It's a small church and there were a little more than 100 people there that night. We were fed and loved and treated better than we deserved. We were loved with the love of Christ. We played a full set of some originals that I was able to explain a bit in VH1 Storytellers style. Then we launched into a full worship set in which the youth and adults came with us in the public worship of our King.
The room ignited.

It felt as though God's presence was thicker than water in the air and the youth and adult unashamedly worshiped. It was amazing to see. It was amazing to be a a part of it.

Thoughts: In each of these three environments worship took place. Some worshiped "gods" of addiction. Others worshiped the God of restoration. Some worshiped with their lips alone. Others with their hearts open wide to heaven. Where is God most pleased?

God is most pleased when His people who are called by His name gather together and worship with their hearts close to His heart and their lips speaking His truth in love.

What about you?
Are you stuck in Lip Worship?


You Were Born For This - Summary

His New York Times phenomenon The Prayer of Jabez changed how millions pray. Now Bruce Wilkinson wants to change what they do next.

Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by a direct intervention from God. Around the world these acts are called miracles—not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expectingGod to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn the “protocol of heaven.”

In the straightforward, story-driven, highly motivating style for which he is known, Wilkinson describes how anyone can be a “Delivery Guy” from heaven in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose, and spiritual growth.

You Were Born for This will change how readers see their world, and what they expect God can do through them to meet real needs. They will master seven simple tools of service, and come to say with confidence, “I want to deliver a supernatural gift from God to someone in need today—and I expect to!”

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.