The Teeny Tiny Post

Disclaimer: Homework is seriously kicking my butt, however, I am compelled to share this story.

Tonight between putting the girls in bed and actually closing their door for the final time, I had to run upstairs for Claire’s nighttime meds. When I came back into their mostly dark room I could hear Ada’s little voice:

“I am bee-u-tee-ful. The Bible says, God loves meeeee.”

Best song ever.

A Rare Title: The Beautiful Fight

I’ve been tagged for another book game, and, as Andrea commented, I like these tags because you can learn so much about a person by seeing what they are reading and how it affects them. But, since the books I’m reading are mostly literature anthologies, I’m going to use it as an excuse to review a book I’ve been wanting to highlight here for awhile. (It is Spring Break for me and I don’t want to be reminded that British Literature exists right now!)

I can’t remember which one of Gary Thomas’ books I read first, but several of them have been there for me at just the right moment. Soon after a relational split between some of my closest friends and leaders, I read Sacred Pathways and learned that differences in spiritual temperaments don’t have to be dividing lines, they can be sources of strength and inspiration. As newly weds, Dan and I took a Sunday School class that used Sacred Marriage as the text. Understanding marriage as a spiritual discipline intended to make me holy, not just happy, revolutionized my expectations for our relationship. My first year teaching a spiritual formation course, I reached for The Glorious Pursuit right away. Its focus on our embodiment of the virtues (gentleness, patience, love, chastity, etc.) as a measurement of spiritual growth – instead of measuring by amount of time spent praying or reading the Bible – is so helpful to Bible students hungry for true relationship with God but wary of anything smelling remotely of legalism. So, when Thomas’ new title came out last year, I was anxious to read it.

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The Beautiful Fight did not disappoint! I was challenged by Thomas’ charge that we see this Christian life as more than just a “list of prohibitions.” Thomas claims that in our pursuit of righteousness we have made Christianity into a dull and lifeless religion that is more about what we don’t do than about what we have the possibility of becoming. But this is not a greasy grace message, on the contrary, Thomas believes if we truly understood the freedom that comes with holiness we would pursue it even more.

For me, the best part of this book was that it answered some of my deepest questions concerning my kids. (I have a secret habit of analyzing the characteristics of Christian families whose children have survived adolescence and college with their faith intact or, better yet, with their faith even more their own.) Here is the inspiring excerpt from the book:

The gospel of transformation is a far more powerful and inviting journey than the religion of prohibition. If we teach primarily that Christianity is about learning how not to do something, we will raise seriously frustrated children, because James promises us, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). A merely prohibitive faith will seem at first frustrating and eventually impossible. But when we teach how Christ transforms us and uses us, including sharing insights on how to experience God, know him, and be used by him; when we rouse people to join the Beautiful Fight — then each battle scar will build assurance, confidence, and joy. Every moment becomes pregnant with possibility…

I love this. I’m trying to incorporate it into my everyday life. This relationship with Christ is life-giving and should be demonstrated as such. I want my children (and my students) to chase a life of holiness because they are chasing a holy God. And he is so much more than a list of Thou Shalt Not’s. This book is excellent reading for a Rare Rock!

A Rare Find: CBC in Brazil

Last week was the Missions Conference at our church. It is my favorite (and busiest) time of year. Although I spend much of the conference being completely humbled by my comparative lack of commitment and faith, I am always challenged by the stories of the missionaries.

Earlier this year Dan had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to visit with some of the missionaries who attend our conference. Marcondes and Ruth Marques operate an awesome ministry called CBC, or, the Channel to Brazil for Christ. The primary tool of their ministry to street children is a supplementary education program called The University of Life. In Brazil only 8% of students will graduate from high school. CBC tries to fill the educational holes by offering tutoring in basic subjects as well as training in fine arts, sports, and computers.

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When Dan visited last year, the most moving day for him was a Saturday when the students at The University invited the children in their neighborhoods to a special event on the grounds. Volunteers came in with hygiene lessons, make-up bags, and hair cutting stations. Dan said it brought tears to his eyes to see children washing the feet and hands of their young friends, literally scrubbing away their neglect and abuse with fingernail brushes and soap. By the end of the day, children left clean and coiffed. What a message of love.