Making_Manifest_Cover_grandeImagine some tools from you garage: a saw, hammer, glue, pliers, a screwdriver.

Now, try to think about some tools from you kitchen. The catch is, the kitchen utensils must in some way be opposite of the garage tools.

If this sounds like a challenging and strange exercise, it is.  And I love this kind of thing.  

My new friend, Dave Harrity, has just released Making Manifest, a book that’s equal parts logic and poetry, thoughts and emotions, body and spirit.  It’s a book that leaves a lot of space in the margins, because it’s in the margins that the magic happens.

So what exactly is Making Manifest?  Dave says that it’s a “28-day devotional book grounded in the acts of writing, creativity, imagination, solitude, and community building, all designed to help you ‘re-vision’ the way you understand and interact with the kingdom of God.”

Now, I’m the kind of guy who hates, hates, hates devotionals.  Of any kind.  I haven’t found a good one yet.  When I hear the word “devotional,” I yawn.  I also hate “journaling.”  I’ve never successfully journaled (which makes the existence of this blog all the more baffling.)

Guess what?

This is the kind of devotional that I can get into, the kind of journaling I can look forward to actually doing.  It’s intellectual as well as spiritual.  It’s concrete as well as abstract.  It’s all about stretching your thinking and making some beauty manifest in your life through creativity.  If you’re looking for something to help you refuel this summer (like I am), this is a great place to start.  If you are looking for a new kind of spiritual practice, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Today, I’m making it super easy for one person to win a copy of this excellent book!  All you have to do to enter is tweet the following:

“Win a free copy of “Making Manifest” from @MattTCoNP and make creativity your new spiritual discipline - http://wp.me/pSZSu-1nK

Make sure you bring a writing utensil – you’re going to be doing a lot of writing!  Oh, and check out Dave’s organization, Antler, where you can learn more about creativity and spirituality.

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 4.54.50 PM.png.CROP.rectangle3-large.54.50 PMThe apostle Paul called the cross “offensive.”

He said it was a “stumbling block.”

It’s easy to see what he meant.  No one had contemplated the idea of worshipping a man who died disgracefully.  A slave’s death.  A notorious death.  The cross was a symbol of “Pax Romana,” the peace that Rome enforced by executing enemies of the state.

But I wonder…are people really still offended by the cross?  (Not just because we are inundated with violent entertainment.)

Are people really stumbling over the gospel?  Are they tripping over Jesus’ words?

Jesus said that people would hate us, his followers, on account of him.

I’m not sure Jesus’ words are all that true anymore.  People aren’t offended by the cross or stumbling over the gospel or hating us on account of Jesus.  The fact is most people can’t get close enough to Jesus to be offended by him…

…They’re too offended by us. Continue Reading…

paul_1020_2Have you heard the parable of the man who left the internet for a year?

Well, it’s not a fable, it’s true.  Paul Miller’s offline year just ended.  It’s a fascinating and delightfully human story about a man with high expectations of finding out how the internet is corrupting his soul, killing his body, wasting his life.

And sure, the first few weeks sounds amazing, filled with reading books and outdoor exercise and personal enrichment.  But there’s a reason New Year’s resolutions rarely last.

I actually think you should go read Paul’s story for yourself (which is why this is a short post).  But before you do, consider this.  Paul’s story has nothing to do with faith, but I think it is a parable for those of us trying to walk a spiritual path.

Continue Reading…

9780800722050Today, I’m pleased to share with you a book from my friend, Alexandra Kuykendall, called ‘The Artist’s Daughter.’  Alexandra was kind enough to send me a copy of the book in exchange for a copy of mine.  Two barriers initially stood between me and the book.  First, I’m not much of a memoir reader.  I think I have about one one my shelf.  Two, I’m not really at the center of the target audience.  Despite that, I enjoyed the book and I think you should check it out.  Alexandra was kind enough to answer a few questions to help you get a sense of what it’s all about.

Continue Reading…

fetusI’ve made no secret about it…

We want kids.

I’ve written about it a few times, about the club we unexpectedly found ourselves in as more and more friends became “un-childless.”  My moods have ranged from anxious to depressed to hopeful to patient, but never angry or jealous of people with kids of their own.

Navigating toward parenthood is a stormy sea when nature just doesn’t want to take it’s course.  For many of you, this may one of those situations that it seems dang near impossible to come up with the right words to say to friends who are struggling, grieving or even a little bit secretly jealous of your kids.

While I probably can’t tell you the perfect words to say in any situation, I can definitely help steer you clear of a few common encouragements that actually discourage your childless friends.  Take my advice, especially for the sake of your friends who are more sensitive than I am.

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People say a lot of things about God.

Sometimes, people say good things about God.  But an awful lot of what is said about Him is misinformation, slanderous, flaming, blaming, offensive, ranting, blasphemous, infantile or just whiny.  Really, God’s reputation is attacked every day as He gets way more blame than He deserves, and probably far too little credit.

And when slanderous things are said about God, there will never be any shortage of people to defend God, to argue, to picket, to protest in righteous indignation, to tell us what God thinks and how God feels.

If any of us got to be personally attacked liked that day after day, we’d feel pretty lousy. But I think God’s silence in the face of perpetual attack and blame is one of His most instructive attributes.

These are four things God’s silence has to teach us when it comes to defending ourselves, our reputation and our faith.

Continue Reading…