Sunday, January 9, 2011

Under the Overpass - Mike Yankoski

A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America

And what a journey it was for Mike and Sam (his partner). This book was fascinating and motivating! It is the story of how Mike and Sam, both college students at the time, decided to temporarily give up their possessions (with the exception of some meager clothes, an old battered guitar and a $3 sleeping bag) and live on the streets in 6 different cities in America. I am amazed that first of all, in our material possession driven world (and especially for a young adult), that one person (let alone 2) would have the desire to take on such a "project". I think that this is atypical, crazy and simply unheard of. This kind of sacrifice seems so out-of-synch with our culture that it must be a "God thing". Remember, God doesn't have any interest in possessions. He doesn't have any interest in our careers, our paychecks, our transcripts, our "stuff". God is interested in our hearts. These guys felt the calling in their hearts to "Be the Christian they say they are". So they decided to live as closely as they could to the life of a homeless person so that they could better relate to people who are suffering and in need of not only physical (and sometimes mental) help - but spiritual help.

This book gripped my attention and pulled at my heart strings. I have always had a longing to help those less fortunate than myself. Ok, I haven't had a longing to help those less fortunate - God has that longing for me to help. I'm a greedy girl who wants to buy, buy, buy and keep, keep, keep. But God has bigger plans for my life. This book confirmed that. I laughed. I cried. I anxiously turned pages to read the next account of their journey. I prayed about how God might use this book to change my life and my world view, and He has.

My two favorite characters that they befriend are Doug and Rings. Their stories hit close to home and gives me hope for people that I love. I am sure that God can work even in the darkest of circumstances to turn a person's life around. There is hope as long as there is conviction of sin. 

I found myself praying not only for myself, but for the people I was reading about in this book. As I read the stories of how their lives intersected those of Mike and Sam, I felt my heart swelling, as if they were my own friends and family.

I have to say that I was also very convicted about how "the church" treated Mike and Sam (and presumably other homeless people that they may encounter). With the exception of a few fantastic examples of godly men and women portraying Christ to a world need....the church in general was a huge disappointment. From putting chains & locks on gates and declaring the church property was only for "church business" to actually telling homeless (very hungry) people to leave because there is an important breakfast that is happening that morning. As members of Christ's body - are we too distracted with how lovely we look to pay attention and have compassion for those who don't smell good? How would Y.O.U act if a smelly, hungry, raggedy person came and sat in a pew next to you at church? How would I act is the better question? I am only responsible for myself.

I was also very relieved that Mike has warned people who may be feeling convicted how to wisely go about helping the homeless in their area. He included not going out alone, helping during the daylight hours, hooking up with a local group that can help give you opportunities to help. The streets are dangerous and as Christians, God calls us to be vigilant, but wise.

What a fantastic book. I recommend this to anyone who knows how to read. But, be prepared for it to change the way you spend your life. It has mine.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where's the line to see Jesus?

I received this forwarded email and couldn't pass up the chance to post it. This is a powerful song about the true meaning of Christmas. Fantastic!

While at the mall a couple of years ago, my then four year old nephew, Spencer, saw kids lined up to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, he asked his mom, "where's the line to see Jesus"?

My sister mentioned this to my dad, who immediately became inspired and jotted words down to a song in just a few minutes. After putting music to the words, and doing a quick recording at home, he received a great response from friends. He sent the song off to Nashville without much response, except for a Christian song writer who suggested adding a bridge at the end of the first chorus. My dad then asked if I wanted to record the song to see what we could do with it.

I listened to the song, made a few changes to the words to make it flow better, and we headed to Shock City Studios. It was at the studio where Chris, owner and producer, rewrote the 2nd verse and part of the chorus...with goosebumps and emotions high, we were all hopeful and felt like we had

something special. The demo was recorded in just under 2 hours and sent off again to Nashville ... still no response.

Then 2 weeks before Christmas last year, my cousins Greg and Robbie decided to do a video to see what we could accomplish on YouTube. The first day we had 3000 hits and it soared from there. We received e-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages from people all over asking for the music, CD's, iTunes, anything... we had nothin'. After a couple of meetings with Chris following the amazing response, we got serious. We headed back into the studio this past spring... this time with guitars, drums, bass, pianos, choirs... the real deal.... and here we are today.

Getting iTunes set up, a website put together, and loving that thousands upon thousands of Christians have come together... remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation will cause people all over to reflect on the love of Jesus, and that one day we will all stand in line to see Him. We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father to have this chance to share our music with you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Betrayal, A Novel on John Calvin

I recently finished the book The Betrayal A Novel on John Calvin. This was a difficult read, but not in the way that you might be thinking. The author, Douglas Bond, did a fantastic job of painting a thorough picture of how life was during Calvin's life, that it was heartbreaking to read. In the beginning of the story, he told about the plague and how it forcibly tortured and then took the lives from so many. And if that wasn't hard enough to read about, he went on to describe the Protestant Reformation, including the burning and torturing of the martyrs who were standing for their faith. I cannot even imagine the sort of courage and faith it took for these individuals to denounce the church and to give their lives for the translating of the Holy Scriptures and for Christ alone. Today, we think it is a difficult task to approach someone and discuss Jesus - and during this time in history, they could have their tongues cut out and be burned at the stake just by having a copy of God's word in their possession. To read about how hungry God's people were for His Word - and how God gifted, guided and protected John Calvin so that he (and several others as well) was able to provide the Scriptures in the common language and write the Institutes - how amazing! If we all were to die to ourselves and sacrifice our lives for our Lord, what could He do through us? What a fascinating book that produced much thought and prayer in my own life. I highly recommend it. 

The Betrayal, A novel on John Calvin by Douglas Bond

The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin