So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

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A Pretty Important Book

jcalled

Every so often I take on a few books to read and review for various sites and publishers, and this was a book that caught my attention.  Within just the first few pages, I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I put aside many other things on my to do list and pretty much consumed this book.  There is a lot that I like about this book, but even more that I loved.  It spoke right to my heart about things I already believed, and challenged my thinking on other aspects of the church.  And… it struck a cord and convicted me too.

I think there are important books being written for the church & ministries.  Word-filled Women’s Ministry, for example, I think is an incredibly important book for Women’s Ministry.  But, as I read through Jesus Called, He Wants His Church Back, I may be so bold to say that this may be one of the most important books that I have read.  Right off the bat, author Ray Johnston comes out swinging with some big points.

Jesus is still popular in America.  We currently have better resources, than ever.  Our buildings are world class buildings, corporate level leadership, mega churches scattered about, and better communications thanks to the explosion of technology.  With all of the resources we have available, we should be seeing exponential growth in the church.  However the prevailing question that Johnston asks (and answers throughout this book) is:

Why is it that nobody wants to go to church anymore?

To find his answer, Ray Johnston had to go to Africa.

What an introduction, right?  Readers, all of this and I hadn’t even gotten into the first chapter yet!  I was invested in riding this through, put my highlighter to the test, and I’m blown away.  Ray Johnston was able to put his finger on the pulse of the church, detecting that slowing rhythm, and then puts himself to task to understand what is happening in the American church and how to fix it.

By the time you finish with Chapter Two, a quick journey spanning seven decades of decay in the American Culture is outlined right before you.  It seems so obvious, as you read decade to decade.  However, when you look at the cumulative of seven decades of loss… you almost have wonder:

Why aren’t we losing even more people from the church?

The good news is that everything we have lost can be found in Jesus, and there are those of us in the church who know this.  However, we are doing a poor job in ensuring that everyone walking through our church doors know this to be true.  We are doing a worse job making sure the world is pointed to the answer, the Truth.

As the book continues, Ray Johnston tells it like it is.  We are starting off with cracked foundations that are being influenced by the world around us.  Christians are taking the initials steps of seeking Christ, and saying the prayers for salvation… but coming up short of real trans-formative change.  If we want to really have an affect on the exodus of people from the church, we must repair these foundations.

If you know me personally, Bible Literacy is a big topic for me.  I’ve written about it before on the blog, talk about it more often, and even teach small groups on how to study the bible.  I’m pleased by how often throughout these pages Johnston points us toward Bible literacy in order to shape our biblical worldview.

After addressing the cracks in our personal foundations, we need to look at the church as it sits today with very honest and open eyes.  Johnston helps us to gain the perspective of those who are leaving (or not coming in the first place) and you can’t get through these passages without a sting of conviction.  Sure, some will feel a stronger sting than others… but I don’t think any of our churches are immune from these thoughts. Johnston doesn’t stop there has he also calls attention to the lukewarm churches who may have numbers but lack substance.

It is at this juncture in the book, we begin a new course.  The overall problems are identified and now it’s time for the solutions.  What holds us back, how do we get beyond them, and why is this so important?

How do we give Jesus back His church?

As I said, I think this is one of the most important books written for the church.  I would highly recommend this book for not only your Pastor Staff, but any leader in the church who is part of that vision cast.  Church Planters should start here, and even our ministry leaders need to ask how this applies to their ministry.

Jesus called, and He wants His women’s ministry back…

…and His youth group, children’s ministry, MOPS group, worship band, and every other part of it.

The book Jesus Called, He Wants His Church Back was provided to me via BookLook Bloggers program for the purpose of reviewing, all thoughts on this book are my own and not influenced by the organization.

The Gospel Coalition National Conference 2015

tgc2015

78 speakers, 49 workshops, 4 days, 1 gospel.
Hands down the best conference I have ever attended.

There are still some seats left, but they will be going fast in these final days to register.

Click through for more information on how you can attend this amazing conference.

#TGC15

BOOK REVIEW: The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel

Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review the book “The Case for Grace” by Lee Strobel.  While Family Christian sent me the book for the purpose of the review, the opinions in this review are entirely my own. 

caseforgrace

The first time I read anything by Lee Strobel, it was his book The Case for Christ.  I loved this book because it was practical and pragmatic.  His goal was to determine if there’s credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God.  Thankfully, the truth revealed to Lee Strobel would draw Him to Christ, forming a personal relationship, that would impact not only Lee’s life, but the lives of those He would touch through his writings.  In fact, The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator are both books I have recommended to people when they are in a marriage where only one of them is a believer.

When Family Christian gave me the opportunity to get my hands on The Case for Grace, I was eager to begin.  Grace has been an issue my heart has been camped out in for quite a while.  I was very excited to get an chance to get Lee’s take on it.  His books, for me, are like sitting down with a wise friend and getting to the heart of an issue.   His writing is comfortable, familiar, and he is able to see things from both sides of the coin. He doesn’t dismiss abruptly those whose opinions differ from his.

In The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel uses his investigative journalist skills to explore the evidence of grace in the live of real people.  Each chapter encompasses a look into the story of a person who was transformed by grace.  Stories that will take us across the globe, into the hearts from those who suffered abuse or addiction, lives transformed as children and adults.   Lee Stroble intermingles those stores with his own quest for understanding grace in his life.

What really stood out to me, from these various stories, was that in each… despite how different from my own… there were elements that I could understand.  They might be a shared feeling of despair, the understanding of hope they found, and sometimes it was just an insight I had not considered for myself.  Very different stories, but they showed that the gift of grace knows no bounds.  It is available for the abandoned orphan turned street kid, the addict curled on the floor, the refugee…. you…. me.  God’s grace is a gift he freely gives to those whom He adopts into his family.

A Father’s love to the fatherless…. in body or spirit.

The book also includes supplemental materials:  discussion questions, scriptures to reference, and books for continued reading.

The Case for Grace makes for a great weekend read, curled up with your coffee… or a group discussion for small groups or book clubs.

#FCBlogger

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Whole Bible in 16 Verses!

Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review the book “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses” by Chris Bruno.  While Family Christian did gift me the book for the purpose of the review, the opinions in this review are entirely my own. 

16verses

If someone came up to you, and asked if you could summarize the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, could you? What would be the key points you would want to include? What is the most important scriptures that you would want to convey? Those are some tough questions.

However, they are important questions for anyone serving in ministry. If we are teaching children, we need to understand the overall theme of the Bible. If we are leading a ministry or teaching bible studies, we should have a basic grasp of the overarching story line.

If you could only have twenty minutes with someone, to share the structure of God’s Word, there is a lot of text to shuffle through. Everything is important, it is the life breath of God in written word, that allows us to commune with Him. How do you cut anything out?

The good news, you don’t have to. Until you are at a place where you are an expert theologian, someone else has stepped up to the plate to identify the entire story of the bible, in just sixteen verses.

Chris Bruno tackles this task perfectly, but writing a concise and to the point guide through the scriptures that best represent that over all theme of The Word. The chapters are short and easy to tackle, making this book a perfect addition to your morning devotions. His organization of the selected scriptures covers everything from creation, biblical prophesy, fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the end of days, still to come. Bruno also takes care to help guide the new believer, or new Bible reader, on the next steps to take after finishing this book. Bruno points the reader back to the original text, God’s word. This clearly indicates this book is not a replacement for the true word of God, “read this and you’ll have all you need to know”. NO! Instead, Bruno gives us the prompting to learn more on our own and fill those gaps between the sixteen verses.

The chapters are structured in a manner that helps you not just understand the scripture, but how they each fit into the story over all.

If you are a new believer, or wanting to read the bible for the very first time, this is a great book to start with. It is also a great option for evangelism, have a few copies on your bookshelf to share and give away. It’s simple, easy to read and to the point; this book will not overwhelm someone who is encountering God for the very first time.

#FCBlogger

#FamilyChristian

BOOK REVIEW: PROOF

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I find that most books I read fall into one of three categories.  Inspiring, like when I am reading someone’s testimony.  Motivating, the books that get you off your duff and into action.  Challenging, which are the books the make you stop & really think.  The ones where you find yourself re-reading the same chapter a few times because it is SO good, opened your eyes or challenged your preconceived notions about everything.

PROOF is without a doubt a Challenging book.  If I had to guess, I probably earmarked about every third page.  It was that good.  I’ve been reading a lot more lately, as I find myself in a season of life where my kids are more independent.  Recent reads have been lending them to identity, that we are image bearers of God and our identity in Christ comes before our ethnicity, gender, position or passion.  I think it is by no mistake that I would following those books up with PROOF, a book about God’s grace, given to those He has claimed as His own.

About the Authors:  Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

PROOF is a well written book that has substance that is presented in a very easy to read manner.  The authors make cultural reference that my age & a bit younger would relate to.  This makes this a great book for my generation and the next, because it is applicable and current.  You can identify each author by their own writing styles, but they give the reader the courtesy of identifying themselves as they hand off the baton.  They manage a solid balance between personal experiences and biblical truths, sticking to the subject and staying on course from beginning to end.

About the Book:   PROOF:  Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

With a title like that, where can it go wrong!  Without a doubt, this book will stop and make you think…. but you will walk away encouraged and, frankly, happier as you embrace grace gifted to you by God.  The authors have a very concise view on grace, that they spell out throughout the chapters.  PROOF isn’t just a title, it is an acronym for the elements of God given grace.  Scripture has a strong presence to back up their point of view & will challenge readers to examine their own views on what grace is & what it isn’t.

The book also discusses predestination, which for this reader, was a HUGE challenge.  I came into the book with a clear opinion on predestination.  While I can’t say that my opinion has definitively changed, the authors made valid points that are worth my further study.  I would recommend that you not allow your own opinions on predestination to keep you from reading this book.  Whether you agree with them or not, you will find yourself referencing and considering the scriptures as you read through their position.  A book that points you to further study the word…. YES PLEASE!  Like I said, this is a book I would categorize as a challenging.  Carve out some time to read through it carefully, refer to scripture as needed, and get ready to embrace the freedom of grace.

Highlights from the Text:

“Sometimes idols happen to be physical images of created beings, but not always.  Idols are also found in less obvious locations – in the balance of your bank account, in the praises of your peers, in the delusion that you can control your destiny.”    (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“If God waited to give the gift of salvation until one of us made the right response, we would all be damned.  That’s because, left to ourselves, none of us will ever desire what Jesus requires.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“God gives his grace according to his own sovereign design, and his design has never depended on any potential he saw in us.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“Many of us remain completely addicted to a legal method of salvation that tries to barter our best deeds for divine blessing.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

Purchase Information:

BOOK:   PROOF – Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

AUTHORS:   Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones

PUBLISHER:  Zondervan

ISBN: 978-0-310-51389-6