…review of Barefoot Church…

First off, I want to start this review by saying that I am honored to be able to preview and review Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker.  A while back I noticed a tweet by him asking if anyone would like to review his book before it came out and I jumped at the opportunity.  About a week later the book showed up in the mail and I was pumped to be able to start pouring over it.

I was not sure what to expect when I began to read Brandon Hatmaker’s book.  It was his first book, it was my first time really becoming acquainted with him, and also the first time I read some of the kinds of material/information/thoughts that are in a book like this.

Brandon doesn’t hold back on what he believes should be at the core of the modern day New Testament church – serving the neglected.  He lays out his belief through honest, written conviction and verses and stories straight out of scripture.  I mean honestly, how can you argue with that? :)

I’ve been on a journey as of late redefining what scripture claims that “discipleship” really is. I was pleased and excited to see that Brandon touched on this – which only helped me think more on the subject.  On page 109 he wrote, “The problem with our current forms of discipleship is not necessarily found in what we do well; its found in what we’ve neglected.”  I found that to be strikingly insightful because we, as a church culture, usually try and fix what we are already doing.  We spend hours upon hours searching for a solution to something that might not even be a problem. Instead, it might behoove us to try and figure out what we may be lacking.

If the only thing that I read in the whole book was the first sentence on page 127, it still would have been worth it for me.  The sentence is very short, but reads as follows: “It is risky to be different in the church.”  Many of us out there have have felt that prompting.  We have wanted to step out, risk something, challenge the system, and just plain ask “Why?”  However, we often fear what the response will be.  This sentence along only encouraged and challenged me to live the life in response the Gospel that I feel God has always been, and always will, be calling me to.

One of the last things that I thoroughly enjoyed about the book was the Brandon did was that he encouraged you to seek the Spirit’s help in figuring out what your family’s, or church’s, or your own next step might be.  He gives examples of what you could do, or what Austin New Church did.  But in the end he tells you that you need to figure it out.

I think many times we can read a conclusion in a book, and convince ourselves that “Oh, that will never work with me.  I couldn’t possibly do something as drastic as that.”  And that will ease our conscience until the Spirit brings that topic back up in front of us.  But every Christian has the ability, and responsibility, to ask the question: “God, what do you want of me?”

Brandon, thank you for the challenging words, the stories, shedding light on scripture, and risking to bring a message that isn’t very popular yet in the western church.  I appreciate it more than you know.

(I received this book for free from Brandon Hatmaker and  Zondervan Publishing for this review.)

…my heart breaks…

I love my new job.  I work at a convenience store/gas station chain called Quik Trip.  It is only in about 9 cities, but it is one of the best companies to work for according to Forbes 500 list.

The pace of working at a store like this is crazy, especially for our store which is apparently one of the busiest stores of 75 that Kansas City has.  The good part though about the pace is that shifts just fly by.  Today was a 6 hour shift and it felt like 2.  It is crazy how nice that is when other other jobs have seemed to drag by.

A couple of the things that we sell at QT are cigarettes and lottery tickets.  Although these two things don’t necessarily break my heart, the people who buy them do.  I’ve seen young pregnant soon-to-be moms buy cigarettes and claim that it won’t hurt the baby till 6 months old in utero.

I know this type of thing takes place is all cities, but it is still hard to watch happen.  Legally if she is over 18 and has money than I need to sell her the cigarettes.  But that child inside is hurting because of her selfishness.  That breaks my heart.

The other thing is lottery tickets.  I think Dave Ramsey said in Financial Peace University that 80% of lottery ticket stations are in areas that are stricken with poverty, and that 90% of sales take place from people who are below the poverty line.  (Looks like someone is playing dirty.)

I’ve had people walk in and buy $4 worth of food on Food Stamps, and then turn around and spend 40 some on lottery tickets.  Are you kidding me?  Now I’m not trying to say that these people aren’t legitimately in the position to receive food stamps, but if you are going to spend 10 times as much on the lottery, then there are some priorities you have that are way out of whack!

It is just sad to see things like that take place.  It is also hard not to pity them and pretend that I am better than they are.  And it is hard to not to judge them and think that there aren’t things that I waste my money on.  I just have to watch it happen, take it in, and hope the situation will change.

What have you seen that has broken your heart lately?

…santa baby…

It seems like each year we hear more preachers, more parents, more analysts, more news anchors talk about how commercialized Christmas is becoming.  We hear about how much was spent on presents last year and how much is expected to be spent this year.  And there is thrown in there talk about how it didn’t used to be this way 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and definitely not 50 years ago.

Really?

Well, 50 years ago would have been the Christmas of 1960.  And although I do believe Yes there was probably not as much money spent on iPods, Wiis, iPads, Kindles and gift cards, I still believe that the focus of Christmas was probably starting to lose…well, its focus a lil bit.

I was born in 1981 and so I don’t necessarily have the corner on this information, but with my awesome sleuth skills along with the availability of the Internet, I’ve been able to come up with some information to maybe provide some answers for us.

In 1953, 7 years before our “50 years ago/Christmas 1960” statement would have taken place, a song was written and recorded that year which pretty much echoes the cries of the consumer in 2010.  “Santa Baby” was sung by Eartha Kitt and made its way to the radio.

Wikipedia nicely put that it was about a “woman who wants the most extravagant gifts.”  (Now, that is some good writing if ya ask me.  Way to go Wiki!)  Throughout the course of the song the woman asks for some crazy things – even by today’s standards.

She wants sable fur, which is an animal really only found in Northern Russia.  She also wants a brand new 1954 baby blue Convertible (remember this was recorded in ’53) and a yacht.  And to top it off she was the deed to a platinum mine – holy cow!  It makes her last request for a big diamond ring seem not so crazy.

In my mind it sounds like people were just as shallow about celebrating the true meaning of Christmas in 1953 as they are today.  Right?  Or am I missing something here?  I’m not trying to come off as a cynical, anti-present jerk in this post, so sorry if I am.

What I’m really trying to get as is this: Why not try and make sure you do what is expected of you according to scripture day in and day out and make sure the your Christmas season is inline with that?  I don’t know if it does us personally any good to sit and complain about how far society has drifted at Christmas and get mad at people saying “Happy Holidays” in stead of “Merry Christmas.”  Why not set a good example for your friends and family and congregants and let them see you celebrate Jesus’ birth in a way that is actually merry!

Just my thoughts…what are yours?