Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places

By and large I feel like most people need to learn to minister to those around them. The ordinary, mundane parts of life have a lot of potential for ministry if we are willing to open our eyes. The new book The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin is a call to do just that. Instead of thinking that ministry is only for the professionals or those in a far off land, we need to be aware of the ministry right around us.

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I love the tagline of the book “waking up to God’s goodness around you” because I feel like that is what needs to happen. If we simply wait until things are perfect, we will never minister to anyone. Instead, we should recognize that we can do it right where we are in our brokenness. Shannan gives us common examples of what how we can not only recognize where God is moving in our community, but also how to go about loving people.

Throughout her book, we see story after story of how people are impacted by her family’s work. The lives of those around us ought to be changed by our family leaving an eternal impact on the community in which we find ourselves.

Overall, the book was alright. I recognize that I am not the primary audience (I’m not a woman), but it read more as a series of blog posts. This may have been the angle that she was aiming for as she is a blogger by nature. There were no deep theological truths conveyed or discussed and that is alright. This is more of a memoir of thoughts of what it means to find yourself ministering to the community around you.

If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like the book. I can see it as being one that many people read and pass on and not re-read. However, that does not mean that the message of living for something bigger than ourselves in our ordinary lives is invaluable. Instead, this ought to shape our lives from here after regardless of whether or not we read the book again.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or publisher outside of the written manuscript.

Jesus: His Life

HISTORY® TO PREMIERE EIGHT-PART EVENT

“JESUS: HIS LIFE” ON MONDAY, MARCH 25

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Epic Retelling of the Life of Jesus Christ

Airs Over Four Weeks Leading Up to Easter

 

Download Photos from the Series at https://histv.co/2CtdkGA

 

New York, NY – January 23, 2019 – HISTORY’s eight-part event “Jesus: His Life” explores the story of Jesus Christ through a unique lens: the people in his life who were closest to him. Each of the eight chapters is told from the perspective of different biblical figures, all of whom played a pivotal role in Jesus’ life including Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary Mother of Jesus, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Peter.

 

Each figure takes a turn guiding viewers through the emotional and epic story of the most famous man in history, through his birth, death and resurrection, all conveyed through a combination of scripted drama and interviews with prominent religious and historical experts. Utilizing some of the world’s most respected Biblical scholars, historians, faith leaders and theologians, the series weaves together the canonical Gospels, historical sources and cultural context to create a complete portrait of Jesus – the man and the Messiah. The series reveals his journey through a complex world of kings, politicians, reformers and soldiers in a turbulent power struggle during a time of revolutionary change. “Jesus: His Life” brings viewers into this dramatic world to reveal the greatest story ever told. The series premieres two episodes back-to-back weekly beginning on Monday, March 25 at 8pm ET/PT, with the finale airing just before Easter. A+E Networks holds exclusive worldwide distribution rights for the series which is produced by Nutopia.

 

“‘Jesus: His Life’ brings together some of the world’s top scholars, historians and faith leaders from diverse ideological and theological perspectives to tell the story of Jesus in a new way,” said Mary Donahue, SVP, Programming and Development for HISTORY. “Viewers will see and experience the life of Jesus as never before, through this powerful and thought-provoking portrait of a man who is one of the most influential people in human history.”

 

The series interviews and consulted with a diverse group of scholars, faith leaders and theologians from across the ideological spectrum to provide a rounded picture of the life and times in which Jesus lived, including:

 

  • Robert Cargill – Assistant Professor of Judaism, Christianity and Classics, University of Iowa
  • Christena Cleveland – Associate Professor, Duke University Divinity School
  • Bishop Michael Curry – Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church
  • Nicola Denzey Lewis – Professor in the Department of Religion, Claremont Graduate University
  • Joshua DuBois – Author and CEO, Values Partnerships and Head of White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama
  • Rabbi Joshua Garroway – Associate Professor of Early Christianity and the Second Commonwealth, Hebrew Union College
  • Mark Goodacre – Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University
  • Nyasha Junior – Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Temple University
  • Mark Leuchter – Professor and Director of Jewish Studies, Temple University
  • Kimberly Majeski – Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries, Anderson University
  • Father James Martin, S.J – Jesuit Priest and Author
  • Ryan McAnnally-Linz – Associate Research Scholar, Yale Center for Faith and Culture
  • Scot McKnight – Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
  • Father Jonathan Morris – Catholic Priest
  • Candida Moss – Professor of Theology, University of Birmingham (UK)
  • Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III – Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ
  • Joel Osteen – Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Executive Producer
  • Michael Peppard – Associate Professor in New Testament, Early Christian Studies, Religion and Public Life, Fordham University
  • Reverend Gabriel Salguero – Pastor and President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • Stephen Schneck – Associate Professor of Politics, Catholic University of America
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore – Historian and Author
  • Reverend Shively Smith – Assistant Professor of New Testament, Boston University School of Theology
  • Pastor Susan Sparks – Preacher, Comedian and Author
  • Miroslav Volf – Founder/Director, Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Professor of Theology, Yale University Divinity School
  • Ben Witherington III – Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Annette Yoshiko Reed – Associate Professor of Religious Studies, New York University

 

“Jesus: His Life” is produced for HISTORY by Nutopia with Jane Root and Ben Goold serving as executive producers. Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Evan Lerner serve as executive producers for HISTORY. Joel Osteen also serves as Executive Producer. A+E Networks holds exclusive worldwide distribution rights for “Jesus: His Life.”

 

About HISTORY®
HISTORY, a division of A+E Networks, is the premier destination for historical storytelling. From best-in-class documentary events, to a signature slate of industry leading nonfiction series and premium fact-based scripted programming, HISTORY serves as the most trustworthy source of informational entertainment in media. HISTORY has been named the #1 U.S. TV network in buzz for seven consecutive years by YouGov BrandIndex, and a top favorite TV network by Beta Research Corporation. For a deeper dive, visit history.com or follow @history on InstagramTwitter and Facebook. For additional press materials visit the A+E Networks Press Center at http://press.aenetworks.com.

 

About Nutopia

Nutopia is a leading television production company based in LA, DC and London, creating innovative, award-winning, premium content on a global scale. Founded in 2008 by Jane Root, former President of Discovery Channel US, Controller of BBC2 and co-founder of Wall to Wall TV, Nutopia created the ‘mega doc’ model, blending huge scale history series and high-profile talent from the worlds of documentary and drama. Nutopia has become synonymous with creating high quality content that stands out from the crowd, working with some of the most prominent global broadcasters including Netflix, CNN, National Geographic, the BBC, PBS and A+E Networks. Most recently, Nutopia created National Geographic’s One Strange Rock which received three Wildscreen Festival Panda awards, was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Documentary awards and was shortlisted for the Grierson Best Science Documentary award. Other recent projects include Civilizations (BBC/PBS) and The Great American Read (PBS). Some critical successes for the company include the Emmy Award-winning series How We Got To Now; two seasons of ratings smash Finding Jesus. Faith. Fact. Forgery; Emmy Award-winning series America the Story of Us and Mankind the Story of All of Us.

Book Review: Insider Outsider

I have to be honest and admit that I know that we are living in a tumultuous world. To say I am well aware of the issue of white nationalism would be an overstatement. I am aware of it, but have not encountered it in my day-to-day life. There are multiple reasons that this could be the scenario. The main one is that I live in a predominantly white area. My town is roughly 1,200 people. We have maybe seventy-five minority individuals (regardless of nationality). What I do know is that this is not always the case.

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Bryan Loritts has released a book called Insider Outsider that details his journey through the American evangelical church. I would hesitate to call this a biography, but instead is meant to call attention to the truth that evangelical culture in America has been built around the white culture. Seminaries were started and are rooted in white theology. Nearly everything that has found its way into our tradition is something that a white person has conceptualized.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in what Loritts is saying, it does not take away from his experiences. Loritts has experienced enough throughout his years of ministry and training to speak as an expert. While I may not believe Loritts is correct in everything, I cannot argue with his experience. His experience is different than mine and if he has specific examples of people white washing the truth, I believe he is speaking the truth. I may not view each example as important as Loritts makes it, but I do believe we have a problem. Recognizing we have a problem is the first step. Thankfully, Loritts gives us more than just a step to help out our darker skinned brothers and sisters.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in taking a deep look at your own Christian experience and trying to gain a different angle on it. I received this book for free in exchanged for an unbiased review. The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or publisher in any manner other than the written manuscript.

Book Review: Holy Roar

Out of the gate, I feel it is important to note that this book is not very in depth. Yes, seven words for praise in the Psalms are the focus of the book, we simply do not get much more than the definition, some references, and a personal story. While I admit that this is the first time I have come across such a distinct book that has this specific content  presented in this manner, I would have liked to have had more.

Holy Roar

Through the book we hear of first-hand stories from both Darren Whitehead and Chris Tomlin. I find it interesting that Tomlin’s name comes first on the title even though Whitehead writes most of the words. I enjoyed hearing the background on the songs that Tomlin describes while also reading of Whitehead’s account of events of his own life.

While the book is short and there is no great theology presented, it is an alright read. You could read the thing very quickly if you sat down with no interruptions. If anything, I could see this being used for a seven week sermon series by a pastor than I could a small group study.

Overall, I would recommend it if you are interested, but I would have a hard time dropping the cash on it. If anything there are enough blogs like this that have covered the book and you could find the seven words. That’s the bulk of what you’re paying for here as the other is just personal stories.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any manner by the authors or publisher except for the written manuscript.

 

Major League (The Film)

I am not ashamed to admit that baseball is my favorite sport. Yes, I recognize that it is supposedly a dying sport as less and less people are following it. While I am sure that it appears that way, I have fond memories of both playing baseball and watching baseball related movies. In fact, my favorite sports movie of all time is the title Major League released in 1989. Why? Well, I am glad you asked.

Truthfully, we could talk about the memorable characters that were created for this film. I still think of the humor and wittiness of the movie. We also see a convicted felon  who gains a second chance at life as he is on work release to play baseball. I do have to admit, some of the background of the characters does seem unbelievable. However, I think more than anything the thing that solidifies it in my brain is the way it took a team full of misfits and watches them to progress to do something that seemed impossible.

Through a series of events the manager (and the players as a result) find out that the new owner of the team is working against them so that they will flunk. In return, she will be able to move the team to a warmer climate. It is a timeless story that has been told many times before now, but this is one of the first times that I remember seeing it with adults playing in their roles.

Regardless of how timeless the story is or how outlandish the characters are, there is still the inspiration there. It is the story of folks working together to achieve a goal. As someone who has sometimes struggled with confidence issues, it encouraged me to not only set an ambitious goal, but work to complete it.

The new film Creed II is all about remembering. Sometimes no matter how much we may want to remove ourselves from the past, we cannot escape it. What we have experienced have made us who we are today.

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About The Movie (Synopsis)

Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.  The film releases in theaters on Wednesday, November 21.  #CreedII

Trailer

A Special Treat Once A Year

 

I do not know whether you would classify me as being from the South. I mean, geographically we do fall south of the Mason-Dixon line, so I qualify by that perspective; however, I am not so far south that I have a long drawl when pronouncing words. If I had to qualify my culture, it would probably be Appalachian. If you don’t pronounce it with the word latch included, then you do not know what I am talking about. Regardless of how different I may think I am, I know that my family still has many of the same Christmas traditions as other families even if we are separated by thousands of miles.

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We have a couple of desserts that we fix only for Christmas Eve dinner. Despite the fact that these would work for other occasions, they are only made during this special time. The first is what is called an applesauce cake. It uses, you guessed it, apple sauce as the base. It is then seasoned with clove, walnuts, ginger, and bay leaves among other ingredients. The family recipe (and I am sure there are countless others online) turns out a dark, rich, dense cake that is best enjoyed with some coffee.

The second dessert is more eclectic and not as well-known. It is what is deemed frozen fruit salad. The main fruit in the ingredient list is pineapple. Beyond that, I do not know if there are other fruits included except for the maraschino cherries that adorn the top. What I do know is that it may carry the word fruit in its name, but it is in no way healthy for you. The instructions require boiling an odd assortment of ingredients including egg yolks and mayonnaise. Do not take it at face value. The end product is quite delightful and after it has thawed a little, it has a creamy consistency that is different than the normal holiday desserts. Yet again, this is another family recipe.

I would love to share both of these recipes with you, but then that would go against the family and I cannot do that. Not really, it is more due to the fact that I am only aware of one copy of each of these recipes and it resides at my parents. I suppose my sister and I will fight over these recipes later. If I am able to find those copies, I will be sure to edit this post.

The holiday season is full of merriment and delight. This holiday season is shaping up to not disappoint. To kick it off in style, Disney is releasing a new film called The Nutcracker and The Four Realms. All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” releases in theaters on November 2.

For more information, please go to: https://movies.disney.com/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms

If you are like me, I thoroughly enjoy the holiday season. I cannot wait to start celebrating and watching this movie.

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is an upcoming holiday film from Disney that I am excited to see. It features Misty Copeland as a ballerina princess. Misty is the first African-American principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theater and showcases her world class dancing in the upcoming holiday film.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.

Opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 2, 2018.

Directors:  Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston

Producers:  Mark Gordon, Larry Franco

Executive producers:  Sara Smith, Lindy Goldstein

SOCIAL LINKS:

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