…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.)

…juan pablo…

In a few weeks I’ll be heading back to Planet Wisdom with the students in our student ministry.  I am excited about that.  They came to Tulsa in 2009, took a year off in 2010, but are back again here in 2011.

Last time a lot of things were impactful for my students including Mark Matlock, Dutton and the Skit Guys.  While I enjoyed each and everyone of those guys, that wasn’t really what impacted me the most.

Juan Pablo impacted me the most.

During the conference Mark stood up and talked about how he had become a sponsor of a child through Compassion International and had used this as an opportunity to help his kids connect with those outside of Dallas.

He said that his kids had really gotten into writing the 1 or 2 kids – I can’t remember how many they sponsored.  It was cool for him to watch them minister to these students across the world.  He kind of got choked up talking about it even.

You know those times when the Spirit starts speaking to you in such a way that you feel like the room just got 50 degrees warmer, your ears tingle, your stomach turns, and you can only think about one thing?  That is EXACTLY what happened to me when Mark offered the challenge to sponsor a child.

I knew that this is what I was supposed to do.  I knew it!  But I didn’t know if my wife was wanting to do sponsor a kid or not.  Although she was sitting right next to me it wasn’t the best time to talk something like this over.  So I whispered a prayer much like Gideon did when he put stipulations on God.  I said “God, if You want me to sponsor a child then when they pass out the packets in a minute, then I need to be given the packet of a little boy from a Latino country.”

See I had gone to Mexico in college and loved the little boys in the orphanages.  So I had a heart for those little boys already.

When the people came by with the packets, I raised my hand signaling I was interested in sponsoring and they handed me a packet.  When I looked at the front there was a picture of Juan Pablo – a little 8 year old boy from Colombia.  He called my bluff and answered my prayer.

I looked at my wife and said “Are we gonna do this?” And she responded with “If God is calling you to then yeah.” So I signed up that day.  I’ve been sponsoring little Juan Pablo since February 2009 – almost two years.

Last April our church participated in Compassion Day at church and through that my wife felt called to pick out a child.  So she picked out little Herrietta from Ghana.  I was so proud of my wife for that.  And it turns out that Herrietta had been waiting over  months to get sponsored, and my wife did that for her!

It has been a blessing getting little pictures, and cards, and “art projects” in the mail from these two kids.

I’m thankful for the fact that we can help these two in Colombia, South America and Ghana, Africa from our little house in Tulsa, OK.

If you are interested in sponsoring, head on over to Compassion International now!

…a bike for Johnny…

After lunch on Sunday my wife and I walked out of The Brook Restaurant to find our friend Johnny sitting on the bench outside.

We met Johnny almost 2 years ago when we moved from our apartment to our house in Brookside.  Tiffany was the first one to meet him one day when she was running.  I first met him when he showed up to a block party that our church did.  I’ve ran into him all over Brookside.  I helped him pull closet doors out of a dumpster one night while running.  He took them the next day and went and sold them somewhere.

While on walks with Riley we have seen him at Sonic and Quik Trip and other places.  Every time we see him he is nothing but pleasant and gives us a good smile.

Well Sunday while talking to him we found out that someone had stolen his bike a few days before.  He told us that if someone really needed his old bike that bad than he was fine with it.  He was naively optimistic too.  He thought that whoever stole it would bring it back when they were done with it.  But I, on the other hand, just didn’t feel right about this man in his 60s who is living on the streets having to get around by foot until his bike is maybe one day brought back.

So, I made a phone call and got one.

I went out to Ken’s house and got his son’s bike.  I offered him $25 for it, but Ken is so nice that he told me to just keep it.  When I got home Tiffany, Riley and I went out looking for Johnny, found him and gave him his new bike.  It was great to watch him ride away a little more proud.

I love doing spontaneous ministry with my wife!

What is your favorite kind of ministry to do?