Saturday, October 31, 2009

the dollar bill

This dollar bill thing in my face is causing me to ask some questions this morning. As I looked at the dollar bill taped to my bathroom mirror and on my dashboard this morning, I have been asking the following questions of myself...

- Will seeing this bill and remembering its significance cause me to consider better financial stewardship today? Will it change any of my choices today as I move out into the day?

- What can I tell about my appetites by the way I spend money? Does my life reflect an appetite for love and justice? Do I hunger for the rights and dignity of people?

- Will I begin to become blind to this dollar in front of me over the next three weeks?

Here's my prayer as I got in my van this morning to head out into a day of errands and engagements:


Guide me in your Truth. Help me to know the truth, trust you, and have the courage to live a new nature. One that looks like and smells like and feels like Jesus. Help me to know when I'm trying to self-protect and justify.... "The problems are too overwhelming for my part to make any difference anyway." or "I'm just living like most everyone else I know...I'm just being normal,"etc.. Help me to follow Jesus more than my culture. For deep down, I know it is your truth that will set me free.

Challenges for the Heart '09

Challenges for the Heart

With God’s help, we will grow His heart within us for under-resourced people in the Cedar Valley and in our world…


Connecting our hearts and minds with people who are in need around us and around our world.
Acting to help bring Christ’s hope and redemption into the world.

From November 1-21, we invite you and your family to the following challenges for the heart :

Ø Pray daily for those in need.
Ø Tape a dollar bill to the dashboard in your car, your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, your closet, or other frequently visited places in your life. Let it serve as a reminder that 1 billion people live on less than $1 each day. Another 2.6 billion people live on less than $2 each day. Each time you see the dollar, pray for those in desperate poverty.
Ø Pick up and wear a prayer bracelet found at the church information centers to remind you of the call to prayer during the Challenges for the Heart.

Child Sponsorship
Ø If you sponsor a child somewhere in the world, we ask that you write and send a letter to your sponsored child. Remember your sponsored child in your prayers.
Ø We ask that you consider sponsoring a child from Haiti or Mozambique. You may sign up to sponsor a child at the Information Centers on November 1, 8, and 15.

Connecting With the Poor
Everyday, nearly 4,000 children die as a result of drinking unsafe water. Six million people are blind as a result of drinking contaminated water. This just is not right. The week of November 1-7, consider one or more of the following challenges to help you remember and to begin to connect with those who do not have access to clean water.
Ø Go without water for a day. No shower or bath, no laundry, no dishwasher, no running water in the home.
Ø Drink water only for 1-7 days this week. Contribute the money that would have been spent on soda, coffee, etc… in a special offering box in the atrium on November 8. The money will go to special projects in Haiti and Mozambique.
Ø Walk for Water. Saturday, November 7, 1:00 p.m. Individuals and families are invited to bring a bucket or two to Orchard Hill Church. We will meet inside entrance G at OHC, and walk 2 miles on the bike path toward Seerly Blvd. We will collect water for our buckets in the stream adjacent to the bike path and walk 2 miles back to church with our buckets of water. We will do this to begin to consider how so many must walk long distances for water daily.

Act Locally
Throughout the 21 days, consider one or more of the following challenges:
Ø Go on a “need” hunt in your neighborhood, workplace, or school. Meet one need that you uncover.
Ø Consider actions that would reflect your love for God and others in a “physical and present” kind of way in the broader Cedar Valley. Select one and act on it. (see a list of ideas in the back of the booklet)
Ø Join with others from OHC on Saturday, November 21, for a Saturday of service in our community. Check out our church website for more information (

some stats

40 percent of the world's people....2.6 billion on less than $2 a day.

15 percent of the world's people....1.0 billion on less than $1 a day.

0.3 billion people....4.5 percent of the world's people live on $105 a day.*

*this number is based on the average annual income of an American which was $38, 611 per person- * U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis 2008

pity vs. compassion

Some interesting thoughts compiled about compassion from author Matthew Fox and his book Compassion:

"Compassion is not pity in the sense that our culture understands pity. It is not feeling sorry for someone, nor is it a preoccupation with pain....Pity connotes condescension and this condescension, in turn, implies separateness....Pity sometimes regards its object as not only suffering, but weak or inferior....Pity works out of a subject-object relationship where what is primary is one's separateness from another....we apply pity to those who are in such a low estate that they are not or have ceased to be our own serious rivals. They are 'out of the running'. By pitying them, we emphasize the discrepancy between their lot and ours . Such attitude, we believe, motivates much so-called charity."

Compassion works from a strength born of awareness of shared weakness, and not from someone else's weakness. The surest way of discerning whether one has pity towards or compassion with another is to answer the question, "Do you celebrate with this same person or these same people?" ..Joy and celebration constitute the better half of the whole that compassion is about. Compassion operates at the same level as celebration because compassion is not feelings of pity but rather feelings of togetherness, suspended egos, or the 'feelings of kinship with all fellow creatures.' This kinship urges us to celebrate our kinship."

As I decipher Fox's writing, our common understanding in the West about compassion is often a feeling of pity that keeps everything on an us-them basis. It ends up being about competition and securing power, with the server/giver keeping the upper-hand.

True compassion, however, is about oneness and solidarity, where we understand our common weakness in humanity and experience the pain together. Joining with others in this way creates a oneness and wholeness that elicits joy and celebration in the togetherness.

Friday, October 30, 2009

the dollar bill challenge

I'm spending this morning putting dollar bills in locations that I frequently see in a day. Our bathroom mirror. Our fridge. Our van's dashboard. Our door into the house. These one dollar bills are a part of our upcoming Challenges for the Heart in which one challenge is to place these dollar bills around for three weeks to remind ourselves that almost 1/2 the world lives on less than $2 a day. Is this right? What do I live on? How am I stewarding God's resources to promote life, Jesus, justice? Will I pray for and consider the lives of my neighbors in need?

Shane Claiborne said it well in a few paragraphs he wrote recently in "The Restorer", an annual publication of CCDA.

"There are a number of core gospel values I see as a thread throughout Scripture- God created an economy where's enough. There's enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed. In the manna story, He says, 'You are not to take more than a day's ration,' to remind them of His providence. Even in the communion sacrament, we pray, 'Give me this day our daily bread.' When Jesus did feeding miracles, there were even leftovers that came out of one child's gift. We also see an admonition not to store up extra and live in luxury when others are starving and when we don't even know what tomorrow holds. Rebirth and redistribution go hand in hand. John the Baptist said, 'Repent!' but he also said, 'If you have two tunics, give one away.' Within CCDA, we're committed to not just reading the Bible with a highlighter but to see what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. In the book of Acts, they shared everything they had and things were distributed as people had need. And there were no needy among them. We have an invitation to bear each others burdens. When someone is without, that should disturb all of us; especially those who have a degree of comfort. Neighborly love involves redistribution, and we are becoming aware that the world is fragile. Scandals in inequity are causing an awareness that we need to change. We are re-realizing that we are to live in nonconformity to the world-that's a fresh word. We live simply because God is good and we want to make sure everyone can take part in that."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cubicle quotes

Some quotes I am staring at on the walls of my desk as of late:

- I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions. - Dorothy Day

- Discipline- the glad surrender. (title of a book on my shelf)

- Love God, love people. Nothing else matters. ( sticker)

- We must order our lives as if reconciliation and justice matters. - Laura Hoy

- Let the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. 2 Thess.3:5

compassion = suffering with

A quote from Compassion: A Reflection of the Christian Life by Henri Nouwen, Donald McNeill, and Douglas Morrison.

“The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. When we look at compassion in this way, it becomes clear that something more is involved than a general kindness or tenderheartedness. It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, evokes in us a deep resistance and even protest. It is important for us to acknowledge that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion is not among our most natural responses.”

Why compassion, then, if it is so hard and unnatural? Because in the upside-down Kingdom economy, it's in compassionate living that we will find the adventure we're longing for as we walk with Jesus in a way that will restore not only the world but our own lives as well. Join us as Orchard Hill focuses in on compassion and begins three weeks of "Challenges for the Heart" starting November 1.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CCDA in 2010

Next year's conference is in Chicago. The dates have moved a bit from the past few years. Next year's conference is SEPTEMBER 7-10.


ccda Saturday

Ellaysa, Blayne and Shane Claiborne.
Chassidi, Shawna and Ellaysa.
Great last day at the conference. We pull out for home tomorrow a.m. at 7:00 a.m.

Friday review

So much goes into a day here that it's tough to give a blog summary.

JP's Bible Study in the morning was again compelling. About justice being God's deep motivation for redemption. Unable to stand for sin, our Holy God asked the question, "how can I be true and just and yet deal with and get rid of the problem of sin?" Of course, the answer is Jesus, and we must continue to confess our sin to God and others so that we can be restored through Jesus and free to be used as God would like to use us.

Bart Campolo was our first speaker in the evening. He was gut honest and very strong in story and speech. In a nutshell, he spoke about how so very often in this walk of love and justice, we will walk with people who won't change. We can't fix and help so many....but there's nobody we can't love.

Alexias Salvatierra, an activist for economic justice in southern CA spoke eloquently about compassion and solidarity. She advocates often for immigrants in the USA, and she had some words that stuck...

Compassion means to "feel with". But before we can have compassion, we have to SEE people. It's not that we have compassion fatigue, it's that we don't have vision. We don't see because we don't have the courage to see.

She spoke about how it's not that we're not connected, it's that we already ARE family....we are connected in our human experience, and we need to live in the truth of that connection.

I bought the dvd of tonight, as the whole evening was very powerful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

sassy salsa

Salsa Dancing! Cindy and Olivia Mickey, Doug and Deb Tensen, George and Judy Marshall, Neil and Barb McMahon, Dante Marcellous and Derek Sallis with salsa partners.

The Freedom Museum

Kentucky's Freedom Museum is just over the bridge of the Ohio River, a river that separated a slave state from a free state by 179 yards. Several of us went to the museum today, and toured through the atrocities of the sale of human beings for the economic gain of white man. I was struck by two things as I walked through the journey from slavery to freedom. First, the propensity for evil in our hearts and flesh. And second, the perseverance and courage that God instills in the human spirit to pursue liberty. It was such a moving experience for me of confession and repentance for the ways my fellow human beings and myself have treated other fellow human beings with such injustice. Both in the past, but even today in ways that place my gain and power over someone else's basic rights and dignity. And there was such a power in the courage and activism of the abolitionists and runaway slaves. One woman declared, "I'd rather be a corpse than a coward." That I would have that resolve and passion as a follower of Jesus to fight the good fight for people's freedom in the spiritual sense and in the very tangible ways people are in bondage in our world.

John Perkins

John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, is a man to know. He abides deeply with Jesus, he is a prophet and visionary, and he is an evangelist to the core.
I urge you to google John Perkins and read one or more of his many books. With Justice for All and Let Justice Roll Down would be good starter books. They tell his story and the birth of CCDA.
John leads Bible Study every morning for an hour. On paper, it's a morning "option"; in actuality, he's the start of the plenary session in the morning because almost everyone arrives that hour before to hear the Word of God from John.
John Perkins will be 80 in June. He's as passionate today as he was 50 years ago about reconciliation to God through the blood of Jesus and reconciliation to one another in how we love each other.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

multi-ethnic community

One of my workshops today was entitled, "Seven Principles of the New Culture", principles for sharing life in multi-ethnic community. Real, real good. I haven't checked it out yet, but the presenters were from Renew Partnerships and recommended we go to their site at I look forward to being able to spend some time at that site.

Thursday review

To summarize the day-

The day started off with a 3 mile run for me. I ran in two states today...Ohio and Kentucky. The bridge that connects the two states is about a five minute jog from our hotel, so we crossed the bridge, ran Kentucky for about 15 minutes, and jogged back into Ohio. Nathan, if you are reading this, we ran past the Cincinnati Bengal stadium.

Opening session was some worship time and a precious hour with JP (John Perkins) leading Bible Study. If I had to give his study a title today, it would be "back to the basics". John spoke of the crisis in the Church today as being one of a lack of discipline and discipleship. Knowing the Word of God, living out the Word in obedience, confession, and prayer as listening to God. He used 1 John 1 and 2 as the text.

Wayne Gordon gave a good word this morning using 1 Samuel 15:1-35, the text where God had asked Saul to annihilate a people and their possessions, but Saul spared Agog and the best of the spoils he did not destroy. He then tried to justify his disobedience and live as if partial obedience was to be respected. Gordon spent time talking about partial disobedience to the Word of God is disobedience straight up. And if anything is going to derail ccda, it's our disobedience to the full Word of God.

The evening session's speakers were Gabriel Saguero, senior pastor at Lamb's Church in Manhatten, and Jim Wallis, leader of Sojourners. Both were excellent. Both spoke on synergy and how we must be about this walk and work together. I'll likely bring home cd's or dvd's of many of the main sessions if you'd care to borrow and listen after our return home. The picture at the top of this post is of a group of young ballerinas called Cure City Princesses who danced this evening in the main session.

what a great group of friends

This is our group at CCDA this year:

front to back, left to right:

Ellaysa Newton, Laura Hoy, Brad Hillebrand, Barb McMahon, Marla Kraayenbrink

Derek Sallis, Blayne Jesse, Brynn Gardner, Dante Marcellous, Chassidi Ferguson, Deb Tensen

George Marshall, Shawna Stone, Judy Marshall, Randy Kraayenbrink, Erin Hagen, Doug Tensen, Neil McMahon, Kirsten Klepfer, Cindy Mickey.

The group met after tonight's session for some time together to share and pray. And play...below is a picture of a round of "1,2,3, Kung Fu Panda", a game taught by Mr. Brad Hillebrand, game master and friend to humpback whales.

Bob and Peggy Lupton

Some of our group ran into Bob and Peggy Lupton in the hotel lobby this morning. Bob is coming to CF next month to teach an institute called "Empowerment". Bob wrote an excellent book that I highly recommend called Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life.

Bob wanted guarantee that we will get no icy or snowy weather in mid-November, as he leaves the following day from his visit with us to go to Ireland with his wife.

We'll pray for good weather, Bob, and we're excited to have you with us next month!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

opening plenary

Summary of tonight's opening at ccda:

1. Started with the Cincinnati youth symphany orchestra. Beautiful.

2. Barbara Williams-Skinner, chairperson of the ccda Board, talked about how we are standing between the old and new. She used Deuteronomy 1:6 where Moses is speaking to Joshua and passing on the baton of leadership. She talked about how the church of old is steeped in a culture of racial alienation and there's a new generation that wants to break free. God is calling us as a whole people, collectively as His followers to:

-Break camp. We've settled into white spaces and black spaces and Latino spaces, rich and poor spaces...we're separate and disconnected from one another. We do not know one another. We do not understand one another. We need to break camp. Get up and move from this separation and begin to spend time together. Begin to know one another. Own our fear and move toward freedom. We have to mentor people in freedom not in fear. We have to model the way.

- Advance into hill country. Move up. Not even so much physically as mentally. We have to pray like never before. This land cannot be possessed by our own power. It will be God's power. We have to change our language about one another. If our associations and relationships don't look like a piece of the Kingdom of God, then we should move ourselves until they do.

- Possess the land. The land of racism and poverty will be possessed by the Kingdom when we surrender and come broken-hearted and humbled to the foot of the cross to be reconciled first to God and then to one another.

3. John Perkins had a few words of vision for us about the Church not accomodating to apartheid but being a living testimony of the Gospel of reconciliation.

4. Soong Chan-Rah gave a compelling talk about our changing world. How by 2023, the majority of children in America will be non-white. By 2042, the majority of Americans will be non-white. And the American Church is changing as well. The growing segments in Christianity in America are multi-ethnic and non-white churches . By 2050, about 85% of the Christian world will be a non-white population. His question was "why are we then captive to white, western culture's paradigm of Christianity?"

Chan-Rah used Haggai text to talk about the 3 R's of Christian Community Development:

Relocation- He spoke about how relocation is less about the white wealthy moving into the inner city to help change the community and more about how it is the willingness to give up power and privilege to learn from the poor. That God's power most often manifests in weakness and struggle.

Reconciliation- God's power, God's Spirit is essential for reconciliation. It's about God's covenant of Grace, not about earning points for God or works.

Redistribution- Haggai 2:9 and 2:6. "This temple will be greater than the glory of the former house." At the current time in Haggai, the beautiful temple that Solomon had built was a pile of rubble. But 2:6 talks about "the desired one of nations" coming...Jesus... which will make this pile of rubble even more glorious than before. We are that pile of rubble. And there is nothing more glorious than the moment Jesus steps in. What should we be redistributing? We should be sharing and spreading the presence of Jesus in our lives.

The night closed with a joyful, passionate worship set by a gospel choir from this area. And then several folks went to an ice cream social down the block. I can hear music from it and imagine lots of folks networking. This is the kind of conference that you can almost never sleep at...always something going. I, however, am getting old and need to find a little sleep tonight. I want to be up early to run with Noel Castellanos, the ceo of ccda, and other interested runners. I can go because I am a runner now! :)

on the streets in Cincinnati

I was up before light this morning and asking in the lobby where I might find a coffeeshop in the neighborhood of our hotel. Hotel staff gave me directions to a nearby Starbucks, and I proceeded to walk outside to accidentally take a right, left instead of a left, right as she had told me to do. I could tell quickly that I was heading in the dark toward even darker streets, and I was keenly aware that I was a woman, a stranger to this city, and I had with me my laptop and my bookbag that had every dollar and bank card I had brought on the trip. At one corner, I met a homeless man seated up against a building with a big backpack and bedroll next to him. I asked him the location of the Starbucks that I was trying to find, and he pointed me in the right direction, ending with a "can you spare me change for a cup of coffee?"

With my response being that I'd buy him a cup if he wanted to come along, I found myself walking and talking with Gary, a man who'd been on the streets for four years. In our course of conversation over a cup of coffee and some donuts at Starbucks, Gary became a man with a story rather than an object and statistic of homelessness that we typically picture in our minds. Gary graduated from high school one year behind me and has a birthday in two days. He's troubled by the death of his mom 17 years ago, a death that he believes was a murder at the hands of his half brothers, but that the police ruled a suicide. Gary is obsessed with this and trying to prove the police are dirty. No matter how many topics we addressed, Gary came back to this story.

On our walk back toward the hotel, the city had begun to bustle at 6:30 in the morning. The street we took back was not the street that we had taken to get coffee, and I was amazed by the mix of the business community and street folks. That always impacts me so much in the downtowns of large cities. The stark extremes of wealth and poverty sharing the same sidewalk but not sharing eye contact. It's just such a picture of our separateness and brokenness as a society.

Gary and I parted after I told him that I'd like to pray Jesus's peace for him over his mom's death, and now I'm sitting in the hotel lobby ready to do a little reading and noticing several of the ccda leadership wandering through. My daughter just called to usher in the morning and I'm now going to attempt to "chat" with her a spell on facebook. Our group is excited to be's fun to watch the relationships begin, and we're anticipating all that God has for us through this week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CCDA in Cincinnati

I've arrived in Cincinnati, the location of this year's Christian Community Development Association conference. There are 21 adults of us from the Wloo/CF area here, and we're looking forward to spending the next five days together learning about best principles and practices for community transformation in Christ.

I'll look forward to sharing a little of our week here on this blog in the upcoming days.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haiti Home of Hope

The people in the picture above are Jennifer and Bill Campbell. Bill and Jennifer and their son, Jessie, received God's call and left their Kansas City home to move to Haiti in 2002 to run an orphanage. What they first believed would be a home for about 15 boys, God has made a home for 36 children, boys and girls.
Bill and Jennifer were at Orchard Hill a week ago and shared for over an hour in the sanctuary on a Wednesday evening.
I was moved and inspired by their great faith and obedience. I was moved to prayer that these little ones will grow up not only strong in body, but strong also in mind, soul, spirit. At the Haiti Home of Hope, the children are receiving 3 meals a day, an education, and they're learning about God's Word and their identity in Jesus. They're hearing the Gospel, and they're experiencing the Gospel being lived out all around them. I pray that God would raise them up to lead and help transform their community in Christ.
Other prayer requests and needs at this time are:
- money for infant formula so that the Campbell's can continue a milk program for babies in the area.
- money for a new truck that is badly needed.
- Also prayers for Jessie. He's in Kansas City, living apart from his parents, for his senior year of high school.
When we send teams to Haiti from Orchard Hill, the teams visit the orphanage, which is near Pignon, each year.
You can write an encouragement email to the Campbell's at
The Haiti Home of Hope exists to provide food, shelter, clothing, medicine, education, and most importantly, the love of Jesus, to orphans and other needy children in Haiti.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kingdom footprints

I recently completed the Chicago first marathon experience...and I posted this same blog at the marathon blog found at I thought the marathon was a great example of seeing God's presence, His goodness, His work all around us all the time.

Some things have the Kingdom of Heaven written all over it and just need to be named as such. The Chicago Marathon was just such a thing. It was definitely like the kind of party Jesus would have thrown.
Who was at the party? Every color, age, ability, size and shape. Some running. Some cheering. It was the same party whether you were a runner or a spectator. There was this enormous sense of oneness at this event. On the course, there were the some of the fastest people on two legs on the face of the planet and there were people in wheelchairs. There were many who were running for a cause or in memory of someone. There were the injured who often had friends walking with them toward the finish line. The street was oozing with perseverance, determination, comradery.

On the sidewalks, there were a million plus people cheering. Smiles, signs, costumes, excitement, encouragement that never ended. People didn't pack up after the fastest runners were through. They stayed and cheered on and on. Fans called out people's names. They yelled. They clapped. "This is YOUR day!" "You're amazing!" "Be strong to the finish!" Many fans cheered in one section and then moved to other mile markers throughout the course, so we'd see some encouraging faces again and again. Thousands of volunteers handed out Gatorade and water with smiles and cheers. Some people offered pretzels, candy, cookies to runners. There was joy and encouragement abounding.

Throughout this world there's a desire in people to believe that there's still good. That people still care for one another and are kind. A place to go where you feel safe to be known because you believe people will encourage and love you despite your struggles. That was the environment of this marathon. The marathon's affirming messages were "You are loved. You are capable. You have worth. We are all together doing this."

After rounding a corner early on in the first few miles and getting jazzed by seeing Maribeth and Darwin Boelts, my first familiar faces, I determined two things right then. 1. I would smile throughout the entire race and 2. I was going to make eye contact with as much of the crowd and volunteers as I could.

Those two things were like an infusion of energy for me the entire way. Even in the last 6.2 miles when the legs really began to feel the run, the crowd kept my mind and spirit strong and energized.
I love how God's Kingdom footprints were all over this marathon. Encouragement, a deep sense of acceptance and community, victory and overcoming limits, sharing and caring, joy even in the pain...these are all marks of the Kingdom that Jesus ushered in and invites us to live in everyday.

I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

book review

I just finished reading The Monkey and the Fish by Dave Gibbons. He talks about "liquid leadership for a third-culture church". Basically, Gibbons talks about the huge shifts taking place in our world. This global village we live in that is now becoming extremely multi-cultural, multi-ethnic. The technology that is linking people together, the collaboration that is happening among international companies and communities, the rise in a generation that has social advocacy on the front burner. Gibbons challenges the Church to take these great opportunities to join this shift with the love and creativity and servanthood of Jesus. He challenges the Western Church to examine some of her paradigms and consider some questions that might make for some new thought, some new ways of being and doing as a follower of Jesus.

Definitely worth the read!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The secret of the Kingdom in throw-away books

A few years back I read a book by Gerald Mays titled Addiction and Grace. Mays lists his 13 or 14 addictions that he's identified in his life. I began to identify mine...I think I had 17 or so that might qualify: a few being caffeine, sugar, carbs in general, a tendency toward workaholism, etc. I don't know if books would qualify as an addiction, but I really love books and have a hard time passing them up.

I had to run into the Dollar Tree yesterday, and even though my mission wasn't to buy a book, I always take a quick glance in the book section to see what unlucky author has landed his/her books on the shelf of a $1 store rather than the NY Times Bestseller List. One never knows if I might find an unexpected treasure amongst the titles. There on the bottom shelf, was a row of Bibles. I think they've always been there when I've looked , but it just struck me yesterday. Amidst cheap crosswords and word finds, poorly written children's books, a few biographies and how-to books, was the most powerful book in the world...relegated to the bottom shelf of the dollar store.

I was reminded of it again, today, as I walked with my daughter into one of our most favorite places to visit...the public library. On the way in, there was a book cart with a sign that said "Free Books". Though it looked picked over, I stopped (okay, it probably qualifies for addiction) to glance through the titles left. Of the maybe 30 books on the cart, I found about 15 Christian books, some of the titles being:

Servant Leadership
Christian Caregiving: A Way of Life
Honest Prayer
Christians and the Art of Caring
Who is this Jesus?

I was thinking about how these books were sitting there free for the taking and seemingly not moving off the cart in much of a hurry. I was thinking about how even Christians might not like to engage themselves in many of these titles. More and more, I'm convinced of the upside-down kingdom of Jesus...the power of God found in the way of compassion and suffering, servanthood and sacrifice...the way of Jesus. I'm pretty sure that the more I stretch myself in these disciplines, the more my faith will have a chance to break out from my comfortable and cultural experience and grow.

Did I pick up those books? You bet I did. For me, the real task won't be the discipline to read them. The real task will be to move past word into deed.