Hannah Coulter

The more I read of Wendell Berry, the more I absolutely love Wendell Berry.  I continue to work through his Port William Series while I attempt to workout in the gym.  I cannot tell you how many people I have recommended him to – and I look forward to hearing their thoughts of him as well.  

Just when I thought that it could not get any better than Jayber Crow, I come across Hannah Coulter.  While the characters and conflicts are not as deep, the relationships cannot get any deeper.  The last 2-3 chapters are heart-wrenching and make the shorter book well worth the time.   

The narrator proposes, “The chance you had is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, …but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else.” 

Here is what I am learning from this masterful storyteller . . . that every life has a story.  And that every story matters.  We get so caught up in changing the world that we forget to play a part in our world.  Celebrity culture tells us that everything has to be bigger, bolder, and brighter.  But what if we are supposed to make a difference right where we are at?  What if we are supposed to slow down?  Be still?  Listen to what people are saying?  What the Spirit seems to be doing?  What needs need to be met?  

What if God loves the village as much as he loves the city?  What if “new” is not always the answer? 

I plan to continue the series, slowly but surely, over the course of the coming years.  However, I am having a bit of a difficult time discovering an order (or even a complete list) of how this series goes.  Can any true-blue Berry fans help me with this?  The best that I can tell is that I am supposed to move on to Remembering (which though the premise looks very promising, I am a bit disappointed in the size of the novel)?

And so I  return to the Port. 

Hannah Coulter

Blue Mountain

My “hat tradition” is well-documented (going back possibly eleven straight years now)

Karl Pilkington once suggested, “That’s the problem with having a bald head.  It exaggerates the shape.”  It also does not respond well to direct sunlight.  

I decided to go with my first blue Los Angeles cap in quite some time.  And it has been even longer since the last time I styled a two-tone model.  Without further ado, here is my 2013-14 selection…

Blue Mountain

Change Before You Have To

I really enjoyed reading Rob Ketterling’s Change Before You Have To: Discover A New Life Of Abundance, Passion, & Satisfaction.  In fact, the content was so good, our teaching team has decided to base our New Year’s series at Blue Bridge Church on this book.

Ketterling warns, “Most of the time it’s what we choose to ignore that ends up unraveling all that we’ve been striving for and working to achieve” (267).

Two areas I will continue to tackle this coming year will be my physical health and my social media habits.

In the area of fitness, I have shown great strides.  I have met my gym goal for 14 straight months but am still not seeing the weight loss that I initially hoped for (but I have recently changed-up my routine).

As for technology, I will revisit some of my former goals – especially as it relates to disconnecting on a regular basis.   

Change Before You Have To

Praying Circles Around Your Children

I have always appreciated the writings of Mark Batterson and his leadership at National Community Church.  In fact, it was largely his second book that compelled me to blog more often (especially on authors and books).

If you have not already, I highly recommend that you read The Circle Maker.  In preparation for his next release, I thought I would pick up his small work based on that premise which is called Praying Circles Around Your Children.  

Batterson proposes, “One of our sacred responsibilities is to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, and nowhere is this more necessary than our approach to the topic of sexuality.  We need to celebrate sex as a gift from God.  Sex is not just a good thing; it’s a God thing.  We also need to help our children understand that sex is intended for the enjoyment of a husband and wife in the context of marriage.  Sex outside the marriage covenant is sin.  Our culture today tells us it’s wrong to say something is wrong, and I think that’s wrong.  If we don’t use our voice, we lose our voice” (51).

And there we have it.  The gospel is Jesus’ invitation to people to be made right again with God.  But that conversation, that relationship, often leads people to first admit that they have been doing all wrong.  This is uncomfortable.  This can be quite offensive.  Especially when we have believed for so long that our emotions and appetites are of the utmost important.  And in the Kingdom of God – they are not.

Lord, I pray for the church.  And I pray for us as parents.  That we learn to navigate how to best offer Christ-centered compassion while still holding fast to our Biblical convictions.  Amen. 

Praying Circles Around Your Children

For the City

I was really encouraged by reading For The City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel.  Perfect timing considering that it has been nearly one year since we moved to the Tri-Cities to plant Blue Bridge Church. 

The authors propose, “We are on dangerous ground when we seek to define the worth of a church by how it meets our felt needs.  Instead, we have to start defining success of a church based on God’s criteria.  hen we don’t run the risk of spending every Sunday for the rest of our lives completely missing the heart of God.

A great church, a healthy church, is one in which Jesus Christ is found in word and deed . . . A God honoring, gospel-loving church is one where the Word of God is the primary motivator for doing the word of God” (13).

For the City

State of the Union

I wrapped up my vacation-read a couple of days ago.  I am still working through Brad Thor’s Scott Harveth Series with part three (titled State of the Union). 

My favorite quote from this work was a famous German saying that suggests, “For the security.  If one of us is getting tired, somebody else is watching over.  If one of us starts doubting, somebody else is believing with a smile.  If one of us should fail, somebody else will stand for two.  God will give a companion for every fighter.”  Brotherhood.  

As far as the book itself, the best yet in the series.  The premise was so creative.  The concept an absolute thrill-ride of suspense and intrigue.  The ending was fitting.  

My ranking (to date) of Thor’s works…. 

  1. State of the Union 
  2. The Lions of Lucerne 
  3. Path of the Assassin

I can’t wait to read part four (which I have heard is considered by many to be the author’s best book yet) when we leave next month for the beach . . .   

State of the Union