Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the tag “book”

Agenda of an Artist

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Photo courtesy @iStockphoto

 

Every time I start writing a book, I dread telling people about it. Inevitably, someone asks, "where are you going with this story?" And I usually don't have a good answer. 

I squirm and flail, mumbling something about a direction the story might go, or offering an apology for not knowing or being clear. Then they think I don't want to spoil the book for them. But that's not the case either. I simply don't know. 

When I start a novel, I don't have an agenda. I have a dirty black canvas, where anything could happen.  A medium to explore and discover. I chip away at the darkness, fashioning a moving, breathing story until just enough light is let in.

Other artists understand this. They don't ask what your agenda is, instead they wonder what you are currently exploring. 

Artists may not have an agenda or know where they're going, but we know how we're getting there.

 

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Save Blue Like Jazz

I can point to several authors who influenced my Christian faith: CS Lewis, NT Wright, Henri Nouwen and Walter Wangerin Jr., to name a few. There are fewer authors that influenced me as a writer. But I can only think of two authors who influenced me as a writer of faith: Anne Lamott and Donald Miller; specifically, Traveling Mercies and Blue Like Jazz.

By 2004, my spiritual and professional life had hit the skids. The only job I could get was working at a church office. (God sure has a sense of humor). It wasn¹t a bad job, actually. My bosses were cool, and my pastor let me come into his office at lunchtime and vent my frustrations and doubt. He¹d nod and say, ³Yeah, I know what you mean.² He loaned me several books that encouraged my faith. Not happy titles, mind you: Dark Night Of the Soul by St John of the Cross, Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, and A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. The latter title sounds positive, but it¹s written by a man whose wife, mother and daughter were killed by a drunk driver. The book is great. Read it.

BlueLikeJazz

But it wasn¹t my pastor who told me about Blue Like Jazz. It was this random artsy guy who stopped in to visit the seminary intern working at the office. You know these young, artsy guys. They dabble in creative pursuits. They have their whole lives ahead of them and think the answers to all their questions will be Yes and Amen. ³Get back to me in ten years,² I want to tell them. So this artsy guy was sitting across from my desk, raving about some über hip writer who had defined faith for his generation. ³Blue Like Jazz,² he said and tapped on my desk. That¹s all he said: ³Blue Like Jazz. Read it.² And then he and the seminary intern went off to smoke cigars.

Two weeks later our pastor brought in an entire box of Blue Like Jazz and gave me a copy. It was like he was daring me to read it. I took it home, ready to pick it apart with my cynical, artistically mature eye. I didn¹t want some young hipster dilettante telling me what my life was like. Then I read the intro. I had to admit his analogy was creative: God was like jazz because neither resolved. He had a way with words. I read the first couple of chapters and had to admit he made some great points. When he said that going to a big church ³was like going to church at the Gap² I laughed out loud. When he wrote about the confessional booth, I cried. Blue Like Jazz was better than Random Artsy Guy had said. It was terrific, and Don Miller became my hero.

When I sat down to write my own book, I thought of Blue Like Jazz and Traveling Mercies. Those books gave me permission to write honestly, and provided a yardstick with which to measure my own work. Six years have passed. I¹ve had the privilege to meet Don and get to know him. He's not some über hip artsy dilettante. He's a funny, talented, generous guy. I got to tour with him last fall. (God really has a sense of humor).

For the past two years, Don and Steve Taylor have been trying to make a movie based on the book. I read the screenplay, and it¹s great. But they¹ve run into problems with financing. And after two years they have finally given up. So, how come this insanely popular book can¹t get made into a low budget movie? Money. Basically, the guys who have the money to make the movie aren¹t from the same generation as those who¹ll go see the movie. The money guys probably like going to church at the Gap. They don¹t cuss or smoke (at least, not in public). The movie has a little cussing and smoking, and the Money Guys can¹t get around that. Now in Hollywood, old guys fund young-guy films all the time. Who do you think funded Superbad? Not Michael Cera¹s friends. But in faith-based filmmaking, they can¹t bridge the gap.

On September 16, Don announced on his blog that the movie was being shelved. In Hollywood they say it ³went away,² because no one likes to say ³over.² But the film was over. Or was it? Two crazy young guys got an idea: get the kids who love the book to come up with the $125,000 still needed to make the movie. It was like Michael Cera¹s friends decided to pass the hat. Here¹s their video.

Save Blue Like Jazz from Save Blue Like Jazz

Maybe you're thinking: ³Why should I donate? I¹m an old white guy. I like wearing Dockers to church.² Or, "I'm a young white guy and the movie will ruin the book for me." Or, "I'm poor, I don't have a buck to spare." Well I¹m an old white chick. I go to an old musty church with incense and choir robes. But if we are going to show how Jesus matters to another generation, we need to speak that generation¹s language. Young twenty-something hipsters won¹t respond to the things I respond to. But they¹re going to respond to the way Jesus and faith are presented in this movie, because it¹s written for them. Do you have a child or a friend who doesn't "get" your faith? If you could make Jesus come alive to him or her, would you spend ten bucks to do it? Then do it. I¹m that random artsy guy tapping on your desk. "Blue Like Jazz. Fund it."

Check out the Save Blue Like Jazz website.

This post is written by Susan Isaacs and is used with permission. Follow her on twitter @SusanIsaacs, check out her blog SusanIsaacs.blogspot.com and go to her website at SusanIsaacs.net.

Book Stuff I Like

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 Run, don't walk to get this one friends. Jonathan Acuff's Stuff Christians Like is laugh out loud funny. It takes a lot to get me ROTF laughing, but this book did it. Sometimes I would have to stop reading because I was tired from laughing! A huge thanks to Zondervan for providing me with a review copy.

Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we’ll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend’s prayer because she’s asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said ‘I direct deposit my tithe’ so people wouldn’t judge me.”

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny.

This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. In it you’ll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you’ve got a Metro worship leader-Use Acuff’s checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered.

Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.

Being convicted has never been so much fun.

Here is an interview with Jonathan on writing:

How did you get involved in writing?
A teacher in the third grade laminated some poems I wrote and I fell in love with it then.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
Finishing a piece. Starting is so much easier.

What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
The brainstorming part. 

How do you find time to write?
I get up at 5AM before anyone in my family is up.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?

Pick a time to write and then do it. Don’t debate whether you will write each day, just write. 

Click the cover to purchase Jonathan's book at Amazon.


Book: Screen Play

I haven't read much fiction lately, but I enjoyed this exception. Characters with fun names and realistic writing made this a quick escape from my every day life.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Chris Coppernoll

and the book:

Screen Play

David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Chris Coppernoll has authored six books including A Beautiful Fall and Providence. A national speaker to singles, Chris is also the founder of Soul2Soul, a syndicated radio program airing on 800 outlets in 20 countries. Chris holds a Masters degree from Rockbridge Seminary and resides outside Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7782533&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Screen Play, by Chris Coppernoll from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764826
ISBN-13: 978-1434764829

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

I absolutely had to be in New York by 1:30 p.m. Did my life depend upon it? Yes, as a matter of fact, it did. Just the thought of calling Ben or Avril with bad news from O’Hare churned my stomach and made my face prickle with a dizzying fear. I joined a sea of travelers bundled in parkas, hoods, hats, and gloves; they stretched out in front of me, pressing in and wresting me through a queue of red velvet theater ropes.

All of Chicago wanted to flee the blizzard they’d awakened to. Sometime after midnight the sky exploded with snowflakes. Icy white parachutists fell from their celestial perch as innocently as doves. The year’s last snowstorm tucked the city in with a white blanket knitted through the long winter’s night.

When I reached the American Airlines check-in, I hoisted one of my two black canvas bags onto the scale for the ticket agent.

“Harper Gray?” she asked, confirming my reservation.

“Yes.”

She returned my driver’s license, dropping her gaze to the workstation and tapping my information into the system. At the kiosk next to me, a large Texan with a silver rodeo buckle typed on his iPhone with his thumbs, mumbling something about checking the weather in Dallas.

Computers, I thought. What don’t we use them for?

It was obvious how many of my fellow travelers were heading somewhere for the New Year’s Eve festivities. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a cluster of merry college students reveling in their Christmas

break. They joked and chattered, mentioning Times Square, unbothered by long lines or the imminent threat of weather delays. At thirty, almost thirty-one, I could no longer relate to their carefree lifestyle. Too much water under the bridge, most of it dark and all of it numbing.

“Here you are,” the ticket agent said, handing me a boarding pass still warm from the printer. I fumbled with my things, stuffing my photo ID into my wallet as a mother and her young son squeezed in next to me. The crowd current swept me away from the ticket counter, denying me a chance to ask the agent the one question I most wanted answered.

Is anyone flying out of here this morning?

I rolled my carry-on through the main concourse. I’d used the small black Samsonite for so many trips, I thought the airlines should paste labels on it like an old vaudevillian’s steamer trunk. A row of display monitors hung from a galvanized pipe, cobalt blue icicles glowing all the brighter in the dark and windowless hallway. I joined a beleaguered crowd of gawkers studying the departure screens. Their collective moans of frustration confirmed what I already knew. My flight—indeed, all flights out of O’Hare—was:

DELAYED

I pinched my eyes shut. This was not what I needed. Not today, not today of all days. I absolutely had to be in New York by 1:30 p.m. Did my life depend upon it? Yes, as a matter of fact, it did.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Crave

Thank you to Dave Bartlett at Harvest House for providing a review copy of this fabulous book. 

Crave is a great read. I encourage you to read the first chapter below and then to get the book, you will want to finish it.

For once it's okay to crave something and to give into those cravings. This book is about drawing closer to God. That doesn't mean however, that we should pray more, read more scripture, do good works, or do anything at all. Read Crave to find out what it takes to have more God in your life, you'll be surprised at how little is asked of you.

I gave this book to our 13-year-old son, he is eating it up. Highly recommended by both of us.

 
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Chris Tomlinson

and the book:

Crave

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Dave Bartlett of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Chris Tomlinson, a graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the UCLA Anderson School of Business, is a businessman and writer who desires to see people realize the beauty and joy of knowing Jesus. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Anna.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736926933
ISBN-13: 978-0736926935

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Habit:

Habits Are Good
Unless They Become Our Habit

I hate to floss.

I don’t think I’ve ever liked it. My parents must have taught me how to floss when I was a child—they are great parents. But I don’t remember them doing so.

I do remember learning how to ride a bicycle on our front lawn. I also remember learning how to water-ski behind our pontoon boat. I have some recollection of learning to snow ski down the tee boxes on the golf course near our house, and I can recall learning how to jump off a diving board wearing a super-cool green and purple Speedo. My memories of learning how to read, spell, and count are clear. And I think I remember learning how to brush my teeth and comb my hair. But I don’t remember learning how to floss.

Come to think of it, I had an abnormal relationship with my dentist, Dr. Avery. I knew him to be a man of the church, and he had an expansive grin, so I felt good around him, even though he wanted to stick drills and needles in my mouth. But his best attribute was his laughing gas machine. I really loved the man for it. Nobody in his right mind likes going to the dentist, but I did.

After most checkups, he strolled into the office lobby with me in tow, waded through the towering piles of Reader’s Digest and Southern Living toward my waiting mother, flashed his enormous smile, and said these beautiful words: “Chris has a cavity.”

I loved those four words. Joy welled up inside me when I heard them because I knew I would soon be back in that office, high as a kite on laughing gas, floating in the blissful euphoria of altered hues and offbeat sounds. That was my reward for failing to brush properly, and what a reward it was. I would return to my dentist with great anticipation, and after he finished filling my latest cavity, Dr. Avery would always give me a new toothbrush and tell me to be sure to floss. I would nod my head in superficial assent. I knew it was the right thing to do because he told me time after time and my mom told me time after time, but it just seemed so rewarding not to do it.

Maybe that is why I have never liked to floss.

As I got older, I noticed a lot of things in my life mirrored my reticence toward flossing. I don’t particularly like doing sit-ups or eating vegetables. I rarely clean my shower, and I’m almost certain I have never once dusted the leaves on my fake ficus tree. I know I should spend time each day in prayer and reading my Bible, but I don’t do that with any regularity. I can’t remember a sustained period of time in which I consistently thought of someone else first, and I don’t often look for opportunities to provide for those in need.

Finally, I believe I have the world’s greatest information—the gospel of Jesus Christ, a message of great news to everyone on earth, something so important that I should not rest or eat or drink anything until I have shared it with every one of those people. But I have only told a few people about it. I haven’t even covered my apartment building, much less my neighborhood, city, state, or country. And if my apartment building, neighborhood, city, state, and country are still unreached for Christ, maybe you haven’t told them about this gospel either. We would both acknowledge the primacy of sharing the gospel with the world, but it seems to occupy very little of our conversation.

All of this makes me wonder if we spend nearly all of our time bypassing opportunities to do the things we know we should be doing. I see evidence of this both in my spiritual walk and in the mundane duties of being a presentable human. And as I look at the lives around me, both inside and outside the church, I think I can fairly say I’m not alone. When faced with the opportunity to do something for God, we'd rather eat chips.

Why are we like this? My own attitude toward God saddens me; I am actually pretty annoyed by it. But apparently I am not saddened or annoyed enough to really do something about it.

When I begin to feel badly about myself, I often try to take solace in the Scriptures and seek comfort in the stories of the heroes of the Bible. These were ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things for God. The apostle Paul is easily one of the Bible’s greatest heroes. He wrote about half of the books in the New Testament, and he is revered as one of the foundation stones of the faith, a man given over to God’s Spirit in heart, mind, and soul.

I did not write half of the books in the New Testament. In fact, I didn’t write any of them. I am not revered as anything in particular that I know of. But I find Paul wasn’t so unlike me in some ways. In a letter he wrote to the Christians in Rome, Paul cried out in the frustration of his flesh, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

This is the story of my life as well. This inclination to do wrong, or at a minimum, to do what is easy, is as natural to me as sneezing.

Often, I know the right thing to do, whether it is going to lunch with someone who needs a friend, or sharing my faith with someone who needs hope, or simply loving someone who is hard to love. But more times than not, I ignore these opportunities or come up with excuses or reasons why I shouldn’t have to act on them. Sometimes I know that what I’m about to do is wrong; I even know that when I am finished doing or saying the thing I know I shouldn’t do or say, I will be sorry I did it or wish I had not said it. And I do it anyway. Thinking I can get away with this kind of thing is like walking up a sheet of ice in bowling shoes; I don’t have a chance of making it up to the top, but I try anyway and fall every time.

God, however, was ready to give me cleats. I found them in David Crowder’s book Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi. One particular section caught my eye.

Years ago a friend told me that an action repeated for a minimum of 21 days is likely to become a permanent habit. So I thought I’d give it a shot…After much thought I decided that my trained response to “Hello” or “How’s it going?” or “Hi” would be to salute and wink. In the beginning it was quite fun. Some pal would walk in the room and say, “What’s up?” and I would raise hand over eye in quick, sharp movements and wink while responding, “Not much.” It was beauty. The inter
nal joy it brought was overwhelming. It was the perfect habit to form. It was quirky but legitimate. Impossible to tell if I was serious or not. The “Sunshine Sailor” is what I called it…Soon enough, before long I didn’t even think about it…until one day when I saluted the convenience store clerk and realized it did nothing inside. There was no suppressed smile…nothing joyous bursting in my chest…It was habit. I had done it.

It seems for most bad habits we [form], there was never any intentional formation…usually, destructive habits are formed more subtly with very little thought and planning. Good habits seem more difficult to manage…Why does it seem like the formation must be much more intentional in our adoption of good habits?

Lacing up these cleats, I reflected on this passage, and I thought a lot about the concept of habit forming. I often think of something that would be good to do on a regular basis, and sometimes I try my hardest to do it. Or I may find something about myself that I don’t like, or something that someone else doesn’t like about me, and if I agree with them, I try my hardest not to do it. I usually have some measure of success with my attempts toward personal change, but they never seem to work out on a long-term basis.

Searching for answers, I turned to the source of all knowledge: Google. I searched on the following phrase: “I do the things I don’t want to do,” looking for commentary on the apostle Paul’s frustration with his flesh, hoping to find some other poor soul who had felt my pain or had lived what I was living or had experienced what I was going through and had come out on the other side.

The first website Google listed opened with this:

Bored? Listless? Help is at hand!

Pass away the pointless hours with our list of things to do when you’re bored.

Push your eyes for an interesting light show.

Try to not think about penguins.

Repeat the same word over and over until it loses its meaning.

Try to swallow your tongue.

Step off a curb with eyes shut. Imagine it’s a cliff.

Have a water drinking contest.

Stare at the back of someone’s head until they turn around.

Pick up a dog so it can see things from your point of view.

Let me be clear: I appreciate the creativity this represents, and if I were to be completely honest, I have to admit I am thinking of penguins right now. I also wish I had a little dog.

What bothers me, though, is this: Why did this useless information appear when I went looking for Bible verses describing the frustration I feel with the inadequacies and emptiness of my life? Why isn’t the Internet full of wisdom for souls desperately seeking a greater understanding of our human condition instead of inane information that addresses none of the real problems we face in life?

Clearly, this list doesn’t answer my question at all. But as I thought more and more about this list of things to do when I am bored, I realized the words I read on that page were emblematic of the things I waste my time on every day. Maybe the things I do aren’t quite as useless, but they are no more valuable when weighed on the scales of eternity.

So I decided the time had come, and I would live like this no more. My habits had to change. I decided that for the next 21 days, through rain and snow, hell and high water, under no circumstances backing down, I would floss.

And floss I did.

On the first day of my experiment, I wrote out the numbers up to 21 on a green sticky note, which I stuck to the wall beside my bathroom mirror. Every night, when I was getting ready for bed, that day’s number called to me softly. So I would floss, and then I would cross off a number. And it felt great—a neat and tidy little system of accountability.

Days flew by quickly, and nighttime would find me in my bathroom, laboring with my new, minty friend in the fight against unwanted plaque. Night after night, me and my floss. Days turned into weeks, and we were still together.

The morning of the fourteenth day, I awoke and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I noticed I had forgotten to cross off the previous night’s number, and an anxious pause came over me. Had I failed myself yet again? My confidence returned quickly, though, as I remembered that indeed, I had flossed the night before but had forgotten to mark it down. The habit was slowly taking shape.

The days continued on, and I was excited to finally be a person of good habits. All the poor habits in my life, my little grinding sins that cling to me like gum on a shoe, my idiosyncrasies that don’t bother me but drive others crazy—all of these things would soon be footnotes in the chapters of my life. My horizon was clear and blue; nothing could stand in my way from being exactly the person I thought I should be. I grew more and more content with who I was, and more importantly, with the man I was becoming.

The final day of flossing arrived as quickly as the end of an all too pleasant vacation. I had emerged as the conquering hero in this trial. I didn’t need to see Dr. Avery anymore, and his laughing gas machine was now a thing of the past. I had achieved resounding success in this area, putting together a DiMaggioan streak I had never before accomplished in all my life.

As I reflected on my triumph, the simplicity of it all struck me; it merely required a little determination, a little persistence, a little accountability, and a little green sticky note.

The implications were staggering. If I could master a habit of the flesh, why could I not also master a habit of the soul? I knew life to be far more than good dental hygiene. I knew God wanted me to address my lack of discipline in my Christian walk. And I felt the deeper cravings for more of God in my life. I had tried so many different things to experience God more fully, and perhaps this notion of habit forming could be a way to satisfy these longings.

I sensed a time was coming in my life when God would need me. I knew He could use my success and my good habits for His purposes in order to advance His kingdom on earth. I had practiced on something small, but I had succeeded, and God saw what I had accomplished. He knew He could count on me, and He knew I wouldn’t let Him down. Every boy who plays basketball on his driveway or practices his swing in his backyard dreams that one day, during the right game and at the right time, his moment will arrive, and he will be ready for it.

However, I also knew my time of testing had only just begun. I knew of many areas in my life that needed more practice, and I was finally ready to lay them before the Lord and say, Teach me how to do this better.

So I sat down to write a list of good habits I would like to have in God’s kingdom, behaviors and practices I knew would take me closer to the heart of Jesus and awaken my cravings for more of Him, and I came up with a really good list.

obedience

purity

charity

humility

love

prayer

I thought of others, but I figured I should start slowly. The journey of my entire life would be spent shaping and forming these habits, but I could get started on them right away.

There were my goals, simple and on paper. Just as my little green sticky note and I had scaled the rocky heights of proper dental hygiene, so too would we conquer the sins of my soul. I began my quest in earnest, brimming with the confidence and optimism that only past success can bring, energized by my ability to make things right in my life, destined to be a person of good habits.

And clean teeth.

Touching Wonder

This is a great book. As a culture, we've been desensitized to the Nativity. Jesus' birth is much more than a plastic baby in a wooden box, surrounded by fake oxen.
With his unique writing style, John Blase describes the birth of our Savior with stunning clarity. I was tangibly touching wonder many times throughout the book. It's raw, it's relevant and just right for Advent.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you! 

Today's Wild Card author is:

John Blase

and the book:

Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas

David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of the The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Blase’s work includes Living the Questions and Living the Letters Bible-study series, the Worldviews reference book (TH1NK), Real Life Stuff for Couples, and The Message Children’s Bible. A former pastor, John currently edits by day and writes by night. He and his wife, Meredith, have three children and make their home in Colorado.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Hardcover: 128 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1434764656

ISBN-13: 978-1434764652

AND NOW…an excerpt:

Three

Angelic Visitor

Luke 1.26–38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,

be called ‘Son of the Highest.’

The Lord God will give him

the throne of his father David;

He will rule Jacob’s house forever—

no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

the power of the Highest hover over you;

Therefore, the child you bring to birth

will be called Holy, Son of God.

“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said,

Yes, I see it all now:

I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.

Let it be with me

just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

Gabriel

The theologians have rendered us mindless God-slaves, wisps of cloudy wings, doing nothing but the bidding of the Mighty One. Theologians. There is so much they do not know.

I found her just as He said she would be found: sitting on her bedding, barefooted, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped tightly around them, chin resting on her knee-tops. I saw why she had gained the favor of the Mighty One. I liked this daughter-of-Eve-to-bethe-mother-of-God.

“But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

I expected this. But unlike that old priest’s, hers was not the doubting of a skeptic but rather the wondering of a child.

“But how? I can’t see it.”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you. Mary, you have nothing to fear.” The Mighty One had expressly said, “Herald the news, Gabriel. Don’t report it.” I would have liked to elaborate further, but Mary would have to live out the details of my news in days to come. Truths unlived are not truths.

Then she paused and looked away. I have spoken to many of God’s children, and their eyes are always transfixed on me. They should be. I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God. But Mary’s gaze wandered for a moment. But what I initially took for a distracted mind was rather a devoted heart.

Her eyes returned to me. “Let it be with me.” Ah, the Mighty One had chosen well. Her words were not

resigned, but faith-full. The faith of a child. Of such is the Mighty One’s kingdom.

“Cousin Elizabeth? Really? Old Elizabeth? But how?”

I laughed.

“Nothing, you see, is impossible with God. Mary, you have nothing to fear. I have told you all you need to know for now. You are more ready than you realize, stronger than you know. God is with you. Now I must go.”

But I did not want to go. Faith is rare, at least true faith. Yes, the word is often used, but the reality is hard

to find. Yet here I found it, in an earthen vessel surrounded by an earthen room. I liked Mary.

I left her just as He said I would: barefooted, sitting on her bedding, knees pulled up to her chest, arms

wrapped tightly around them, chin resting on her kneetops. She looked older now. Human eyes would not

recognize this, but mine have seen much.

The Mighty One had revealed glimpses to me, what days ahead would hold for this glorious girl. Her cousin’s leaping womb. Joseph’s broad shoulders. The back of a borrowed burro. Herod’s jealous-red face. The cries of the innocent. The breath of stable animals. The agony of pushing the Mighty One out into this world.

I found myself praying for the favored one. Mary had so much to carry.

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Touching Wonder by John Blase. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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