Tag Archives: christian

I stand with them.

21 Sep

When I registered to vote, I was so proud to mark myself as a member of the Republican Party.

I was proud to carry my voter’s registration card in my wallet and I was proud to vote for George W. Bush. Both times.

When I renewed my driver’s license, I decided to change my party to “Independent.” I wasn’t liberal enough for the Democrats and certainly didn’t feel comfortable in bed with the GOP, who was/is constantly railing against the “entitlements” I NEED to live.

Now I’m probably more a Democrat than anything, but I tend to favor more centrist politicians. All things in balance, all sides talking, and doing teamwork. You know, like we learned doing all those group projects in school.

Here I am again feeling like a woman with no political party, but siding with those “evil” progressives who “kill babies” and want to take God out of America. The ones who want to let immigrants inundate our country and want the impoverished to have food and healthcare. You know, those evil liberals.

Now Jesus kept Himself out of politics siding neither within the zealots or the Pharisees or Saducees. His answer was love and He had friend in both low and high places and all those in-between. But if we’re honest, Jesus was a homeless vagabond and tended to attract the same type of people.

Both sides claim to be following Jesus…and honestly, since Jesus was apolitical, it’s hard to drag Him into the argument. Now the Bible as a whole, that’s a different story.

There are many times the Bible talks about caring for the poor and the widows, standing up for the abused and mistreated, and to give everything back to God–how we do so is the tricky part.

While I’ve seen churches provide much needed services to those in need, I’ve seen its individual members turn a blind eye. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good people I’ve met in churches who have blessed me in times of need. It’s the other ones, who share nasty Facebook posts about the poor or private message me to ask if I still believe in God because I don’t speak highly of the president, that I call out.

Those people are the ones who have hurt and disappointed me–the ones who equate being a Republican with being a follower of God.

They’re the ones who bother me the most, probably because I used to be one.

Applying for welfare, getting food stamps, and eventually Medicaid broke my pride and I knew I could not be that kind of person anymore. I knew God changed me.

I could never be a Republican again, at least not *that* kind.

I looked at my tattered voter registration card the other day and wondered what party would stand up for me. I thought deep and hard about my love for God and others.

I also thought about the phone calls and emails and letters that went answered and unanswered from my elected leaders.

I thought about the party that made a monster President of the United States and the evangelicals (like Franklin Graham) who lauded him as God’s choice for America and of those who publicly opposed him (Ann VosKamp and Max Lucado, among others.)

I want to be a part of something new, something real, something that can’t be typed onto a voter registration card. I want to see God move in America and change hearts and minds. The problem is my prayer is to change the hearts and minds of everyone. Not one side, not the other, but both.

Until that party exists, I will remain a centrist because two parties is not enough. But if I must take sides, at least in the healthcare debate, I choose the poor, the oppressed, and the widows and orphans.

I not only stand with them, but among them as well.

And I stand in direct opposition to the Republican Party and the Christian I used to be.

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Q&A with Escaping the Cauldron author Kristine McGuire

2 Aug

How could a committed Christian be lured into the occult?  And is there escapes?  Only by God’s grace and restoration.  Kristine McGuire answers these questions and many more in her book, Escaping the Cauldron, which details her decline into witchcraft and her ascent back to a life with God.  Christian Speaker Services graciously provided this Q&A with Kristen so more could hear parts of her story.  Check out her wonderful book, Escaping the Cauldron!

What is the book about?

The book is part testimony of how I went from committed, albeit legalistic, Christian for twenty-nine years to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years before God restored my faith and life. It details my personal struggle with trying to be “the perfect Christian” while being drawn to the Occult from childhood. The book is also a Biblical study that examines the current pop-cultural interest in the occult (in particular ghosts, hauntings, and mediums) and how this interest is affecting Christians as well as their beliefs about the supernatural.

Why call it Escaping the Cauldron?

This is actually the first book in a series, What Christians Need to Know about the Occult. It is a series of collections written from my former experiences as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter. This book is primarily about ghost hunting, mediumship, and the paranormal but I chose “Escaping the Cauldron” as the main title because witchcraft was truly my entry into the arena of occult interest and exploration including such things as divination, psychic ability, spirit guides, mediumship, ghost hunting, etc.

What do you think is the most important chapter of the book?

I think there are many important chapters but “Spiritual Warfare” and “How Should Christians Respond?”are the two which take everything discussed in the previous chapters bringing it all together, helping the reader understand their authority in Jesus Christ and leading the way to a ready defense for any kind of paranormal or supernatural event they may experience in their life as a Christian.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope to inform and equip Christians with information about the occult. Additionally I pray the church will begin to acknowledge the presence of the spiritual world around us and listen to people who come forward with stories or claims of paranormal experiences without dismissing them immediately. When the church refuses to listen or offer any Biblical assistance, many people are forced to seek help elsewhere. This generally means seeking out ghost hunters, mediums, and psychics. I also hope to encourage Christians who may be questioning their faith to seek a deeper relationship with God, especially if they are stuck in a form of legalism. Our answers truly can be found in Jesus Christ.

Where is the book currently available to purchase?

The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon. The book is also available in paperback and e-book editions at my blog site: Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com and Lulu Publishing.

How are you available to the Christian community?

I write a daily blog, Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com, on a variety of topics including faith, marriage, prayer, spiritual gifts, and the occult. I also work with my husband through Big Fish Ministries at www.BigFishMinistries.com, ministering through speaking with him at church and para-church events about marriage, facilitating seven day or special event prayer rooms, helping the homeless, etc. I am also available to speak at any youth, women’s, or church events on a variety of Christian topics.

Find Kristine McGuire on Social Media Sites:

Follow on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/kristinemac

Follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/kristinemac

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Book Review:: Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner

18 Feb

Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner is the first truly excellent book I’ve read in months.  Well-written and chock full of humor, Hear No Evil is a musical memoir about Turner’s journey through fundamentalism, his appreciation for Amy Grant, and of course, the Christian music industry—and how all these things relate to his relationship to God, faith, and development of self.

Wit flows naturally through Turner’s words as he recounts his childhood in a strict fundamentalist Baptist church nestled on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  There are laugh out loud moments as Turner describes people, events, and conversations with amazing clarity.  While Turner shares his thoughts of fundamentalism, the Christian music industry, and a certain unnamed Christian college in Florida, he ceases to bash anything incessantly.  In fact, he simply states the facts, offers a bit of opinion, and moves on allowing his readers to draw their own conclusions.  This, I believe, was an intelligent decision on Turner’s part as readers grow weary of being force-fed opinion by know-it-all authors.

In writing this review, I am tempted to type inspiring quote after inspiring quote or share full chapters with you to convince you, my dear readers, Hear No Evil is a truly marvelous read.  Not only does Turner write about buying, trashing, and then re-buying Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion five times, he also shares a personal story about meeting Amy Grant for an interview—an interview in which Turner’s editor insisted Amy Grant should “apologize” to her fans for her divorce from former husband, Gary Chapman. If you want to know what happens, you’ll just have to read Hear No Evil (psst! I’m giving away a free copy! See below.)

Hear No Evil tells a great story and I felt like I got to know Turner a little better, too.  As a writer, Turner shines above his peers in the publishing world (especially those who have a bone to pick with the church.)  Simply put— Matthew Paul Turner is a darn good writer and Hear No Evil is a must, must, must read.

CONGRATS TO TINA FOR WINNING A COPY OF THE BOOK!

*This book [and the giveaway] was [were] provided for review [and giveaway] by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.*



CymLowell

What did you think of the book?  Love it? Like it? Hate it?  Speak your mind!

WANTED:: Reformed Bad Girls

3 Jun

If you’re in the Allentown, PA area and female, you can come to a new Bible study starting on July 6 and led by yours truly.  We’ll be meeting at my mom’s pad on the West End.  E-mail me if you’d like to join us!  Here’s my nifty flyer.  Feel free to pass it around to all your female pals.

Hitchhiking with Tara Leigh Cobble

20 Sep

By Amy Sondova If you’ve been around the singer/songwriter end of the indie music scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Tara Leigh Cobble.  The sassy singer is also an accomplished author and speaker, who grew up in Tennessee hunting and gutting.  Between working on her third book, playing shows and touring (including a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea), and exploring Manhattan, Tara Leigh was sweet enough to answer a few questions via e-mail for Backseat Writer.

Clearly you love New York City, how’d a Tennessee girl end up on the East Coast?

The basic answer is that God made it clear to me that He wanted me in NYC, so I went.  The details of the story were enough to fill a book, so I turned it into one (Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan).  It’s about knowing and discerning the voice of God in regard to life decisions.

Do you really know how to use a gun and gut ducks?  (Have you adapted to gutting pigeons being in the city?)

I do!  And unfortunately, I’m not allowed to have a gun in the City!  Sad.

Your faith seems to ooze out of your music and your writing—how did you and God meet?

I grew up in a home where Jesus was a daily thing—my parents lived out their relationship with Him in front of my eyes.  When I was four years old, my brother Jason and I were playing a board game, and he asked me if I wanted to meet Jesus.  I told him I did, so I prayed a short prayer asking Jesus to save me and be in my life.  It might seem like I was too young for that to be real, but He was faithful to answer me.

Some of the songs on your latest project, Playing Favorites, like “Walking on Sunshine” and “Holding Out For a Hero” are covers of classic, but where did your unique slant on “Hallelujah” come from?

I heard the song covered by so many people, but I’d never heard a girl cover it, so I set out to learn it.  When I was picking through it the first time, I realized that the chords and the feel worked perfectly with “Thy Word” so I knit them together.  The things that I cling to in both songs fit seamlessly in my mind.  It’s still one of my favorite songs to play live.

But what about songs I never heard before like “Everlasting Love” and “Please Forgive Me” and my personal favorite “I Wonder”?

“Everlasting Love” is one of those rare pop songs that has a message about love that isn’t far off from what God says.  It’s pure and hopeful, and it reminds me that God’s best is worth waiting for.  “Please Forgive Me” was a suggestion from Lee McDerment, who helped produce the record as well as sing and play on it.  He and I sat down at the piano one day and he worked out that slower, softer version—I loved it.  On that same day, he suggested that I do a piano version of “I Wonder.”  I hesitated because I’d already put two versions of the song on two other albums.  But on his first attempt at interpreting the song, he left me speechless, with tears in my eyes.  I knew I had to do it again.  Today, it is my favorite version of any song I’ve ever recorded.

This is almost like a girl power album.  You have super powers, don’t you?

I can kick really high.  I can drive long distances without much sleep.  But I have yet to learn how to eradicate calories in ice cream.  If you figure that one out, let me know!

How did you survive producer (and Sparrow Recording Artist) Josh Wilson’s hot recording closet?  (Word on the street is that he makes people record vocals in the closet to make sure background noise is at a minimum).

True story!  It was burning up in there.  He tried to buy an air conditioner, but we recorded in January, and Home Depot didn’t have any in stock at that time.  I took frequent breaks to run outside and roll around in the snow.

You emerged on the indie scene eight years ago; why have you remained an indie artist for so long?

Fame doesn’t motivate me at all.  In fact, not only am I not interested in it, but I don’t want it.  At all.  And most labels are propelled by the mission of achieving a far-and-wide acceptance of their artists.  Since their vision usually conflicts so drastically with what God has put in my heart, it’s been an easy answer up to this point.

I heard that you have signed with a major recording label, is there any truth to this rumor?

Nope.  There have been talks, but at the end of the day, it always comes around to me staying independent.  There could be a time when that changes, if the right things fall in place and our visions line up.

You are one busy lady—singing, speaking, writing—how do you manage it all?

I’m still trying to figure that out!  God has always helped me fit the right things into my schedule.  Summers are slow for touring, so I spend my summers writing and working on talks.  Lately He’s been providing a lot more opportunities for me to speak, so I’m throwing myself into that more than into writing songs.  Just trying to follow His lead.

What are some of your favorite topics to write about?  (Basically, what’s your niche?)

Jesus shows up in everything.  He cares about every detail.  He speaks to me about work, rest, friends, charity, love, brokenness, nature, guys that I like—He covers all that ground in our conversations.  So when I write, I tell those stories.  I talk about the way He speaks to me, the way He works, the things He says.  I call my style “spiritual memoir,” but the main truth that lies underneath all my writing is this: intimacy with God is possible, it’s vital, and He has gone to great lengths to achieve that with you.  He wants to be involved in every part of your life.

I know you’re working on a book right now—what’s it about?

It’s kind of a secret.  The plan is for it to be the third in the “Letters” trilogy.  That’s all I’m prepared to publicly say right now.  Hah!  Sorry.

Perhaps one of my favorite Tara Leigh “things” is your Twitter updates, why do you Twitter?

Twitter serves many purposes to me—it’s a way to remind myself of things I need to remember, it keeps me updated on the lives of friends near and far, it serves as a journal, and it encourages me.  Also, I once twittered that my iPod was broken and a guy who follows my feed gave me a new one!  You can’t beat that!

If I was in Manhattan, where’s the best place to get a bagel?

H&H Bagel on the Upper West Side.  It’s the best in the City!  But if you want the best bagel in the entire world, you’ll have to go to Corner Bagel in Anderson, South Carolina.  It cannot be beat.

How do you feel about being labeled “the female Donald Miller”?

It’s an honor, of course!  The only drawback is that sometimes male readers think that means I don’t translate into dude-speak.  They think I’m “the Donald Miller for females,” but I try to be relevant to both sexes.

How can I apply to be your temporary merch girl?

Next time I’m playing a show near you, shoot me an email!  I’d love to have you behind my merch table!  Whee!!

Print copy of interview.

To learn more about Tara Leigh Cobble and her amazing work, visit her online at taraleighcobble.com.  Head on over to iTunes or Amazon.com to buy or download her latest album, Playing Favorites.  While you’re checking out TLC merch, you’ve got to order her books, Here’s to Hindsight: Letters to My Former Self and Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan.

Review :: Wonder of the World – Rush of Fools

16 Sep

By Clay W. Ginn Coming off a somewhat out of nowhere debut, Rush of Fools returns with their sophomore release, Wonder of the World. A wonderfully consistent recording, the new CD showcases an acoustic-based, modern rock sound. This talented quintet from Birmingham, Ala. has crafted an aurally mesmerizing sound, not soft enough for adult contemporary, but not ragged enough to be called hard rock.

As far as worship music goes, the band hits the mark. Rush of Fools has garnered a great deal of attention in the last year, collecting several Dove Award nominations, including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and New Artist of the Year.

One of the things that stands out to me in this album is the strength of the lyrics. Having not been exposed to much of their music before, it was a phenomenal surprise to hear such unique music attached to such praise-centered lyrics.

There is a mix of different sounds on the album, from the eclectic funk sound of “How Much” to the airiness of “Escape”. The mellow title track, “Wonder of the World”, is destined to be sung in contemporary worship services. “Holy One” has some of the best lyrics on the album:

“Face to the ground, I’m not proud
Of all you must see when you look at me
I tremble at first, as You wash the dirt
The dirt from my feet
And I see my need for thee”

Honestly, how many times do you see the word “thee” weave its way into a modern song? Even better, it doesn’t seem out of place, like it was chosen just to rhyme with “me.”

One complaint that I have with the album is that many of the songs tend to have the same makeup: soft beginning ramping up into a more driving chorus, a short interlude of the mellow music, and ending with the driving rock again. While never straying too far from their basic formula, Rush of Fools puts together a quality album.

Print copy of review.

Clay W Ginn My real job is as a software developer for a small company in North Texas. I’ve been married for nearly 12 years and am the father of three. I’m an avid reader, weather nut, and love playing my guitar and singing. My wife and I are huge fans of Walt Disney World, trying to get there once every couple of years. I grew up on a farm in rural Kansas, and attended seven different colleges before completing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology and a Master’s degree in Information Systems. In the past I’ve been a youth leader, worship leader, police dispatcher, accounting clerk, customer service representative, and a gumball machine builder. I love writing anything, from movie and music reviews to political screeds to comparisons of culture and faith. I’m even working on a novel as well.

Amy’s F.A.Q’s

10 Aug

Due to the overwhelming popularity of my blog (readership going from 5 readers to 25 readers…just kidding), I have decided to take the time to answer your “frequently asked questions”…or rather to make up questions I’m sure you frequent ask yourselves. Whatever. There’s going to be questions and you’re going to get answers, OK?

*Are you some kind of a Christian, or what?

Yes, I am some kind of a Christian. While it has been debated among readers whether I am “cool”, “not like any other Christian I’ve ever met/encountered/read”, or “evil,” I am a Christian. However, I prefer to use the term “Christ-follower” because “Christian” means so many things to so many people. I think Christ-follower shows that I believe that Jesus is my Savior and that I follow God. I affirm the truth of the gospel, the authority of Scripture, the Trinity, and all that other good stuff in the Apostles’ Creed.

*Why can’t you just admit that Fred is dead?

I will never do that. You might as well as cover me in a vat of treacle tart and let the narguls lick it off because I will never admit that Fred Weasley is dead because he’s not. In fact, page 637 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows doesn’t even exist to me.

*How can yourself a writer and you have typos, spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and so on and so forth?

Have you ever hear of what Emily Dickinson’s work looked like? Admittedly, I really stink at copy editing. Maybe one day we’ll get one of those really good typos and someone can add it to a funny list of “blog typos” (you know, instead of those church bulletin typos…nevermind).

*What’s up with this Derek Webb obsession?

Ever since I heard She Must and Shall Go Free, Derek Webb’s first album, I’ve been a major fan. I couldn’t believe that someone could write such beautiful and creative songs while calling out and respecting the church so well. Derek Webb is the ultimate songwriter and he will forever be my obsession. Unless he turns into a Satanist and starts sacrificing little kids, then I might have to find a new singer/songwriter on which to obsess.

*Who are Sarah, Shari, Julie, Cassie, Mary, Maddy, and Kylie?

I see I need to make a character guide to my life.

Sarah: best friend and roommate and often the other part of “we”.

Shari: friend, owns a samoyed named Savannah. We also hang out with her sister, Sandy.

Julie: friend, lives in the apartment complex and owns a greyhound named Bart.

Cassie: my dog; 9 year-old peekapoo who likes to growl at people.

Madalyne (Maddy): my other dog; 2 year-old shih tzu who loves people

Mary: 22 year-old who graces us with her presence from time to time. We love her. (“We” being Sarah and me…see how Sarah just becomes part of “we:”?)

*Why aren’t there any guys in your cast of characters?

I have no idea. Occasionally guys I interview are added in as extras! I’m sure adding a guy or two to the regular cast would make this blog much more interesting. Any guys who would like to apply for the part of guy friend, boyfriend, or “other male,” shoot an e-mail to amyismyfriend@aim.com.

Well, those are all the questions I have time for today. Join in next time when I answer more questions that you send in or ones I make up to make it look like y’all send me questions.

We haven’t done a Carman video in a while….

3 Jul

…so here’s one that starts out good and then goes downhill when he starts singing. My BFF Sarah told me that she MISSED the Carman videos. I bring you “America Again” in honor of the 4th of July.

Carman Video of the Week

17 May

It’s been months and months since I posted a “Carman Video of the Week” for you guys, and for that, I feel terrible. But Carman is back in the house and better than ever. Seriously, this guy is legend.


Here’s when Carman went through that nasty rapping phase–“Who’s In the House?” J.C.!

Risk Being Vulnerable

6 May

Today a cool gal I met through blogging made a very vulnerable post describing how she fears rejection because she is a former porn addict.  She made a bold proclamation to the world and I admire her courage.  Although I’ve spilled many of my secrets on this blog over the years, there are still some I hold close to my heart.  I cannot or will not reveal them to anyone but my closest and dearest friend, and even then, there are things between God and me.

It circles back to this scrap of paper I found when I was organizing the piles o’ stuff on my desk earlier.  When I get ideas I write them down on whatever I can find at that moment.  I have several small notebooks, scraps of paper, old receipts, and you-name-it (a ticket stub!) filled with thoughts.  The one I grabbed today says, “Risks of Being Vulnerable to Other Christians” and lists a few of these risks.

Risk #1:  “You’re not a real Christian.”  Sinners struggle with sin, not Christians redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  That’s what the Bible says, isn’t it?  We’re new creations and the old has passed away.  If I am a new creation, I should be, uh, new.

Growing up with depression, I really wondered if I was saved.  I think I gave my life to Jesus 15 times “just to be sure”.  I didn’t feel “saved” and struggling with cutting I knew I was going straight to hell.  Sure, Jesus forgave people if they asked, but I just kept on sinning.  I fiercely believed the truth of the Gospel, loved and tried to serve God…  I could never do enough.  I wasn’t a real Christian.  In fact, that’s what I was asked by well-meaning adults again and again, “Are you sure you asked Jesus into your life, sweetie?”

Even now when I admit that I battle daily with depression and anxiety, I am sometimes questioned about my salvation.  Because Christians can’t struggle…WITH ANYTHING.  And if a Christian struggles, well, that brother or sister just needs some prayer.  The story of the prodigal son is always the goal of every Christian, yet so often we live like the Israelites in the desert.  Are we any less saved because we are fallen?  Or is salvation one of those things we truly don’t “get” as Christians, a wonderful mystery we can never quite understand?

Risk #2: “God will never give you anything you can’t handle.”  Actually, God gives us things we can’t handle all the time.  Welcome to the REAL Christian life.  We humans can’t do life on planet earth all by ourselves, which is why we so desperately need to cling to God.  He also gave us other humans to help bear our struggles, except human beings aren’t always great partners in pain.  We say stupid things, walk away when we should stay, and muck the whole thing up.  Yet God uses us to touch others in their pain, to listen to their vulnerability.

I love this one passage in Job in which he is in a very vulnerable state of despair.  Here’s what his friends do, “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (2:13).  It’s when his pals start talking, problems arise.

Risk #3: “Rejection and judgment”.  I didn’t know how to put this one into a catch phrase, but it’s a very real fear.  Oh, how we love to cast the first stone!   As long as we can focus on the sins of everyone else, we don’t have to look at that pesky plank in our own eyes.  “At least I’m not as bad as so-and-so, she’s a mental case” or “I’m better than him because he was addicted to porn”…how’s that prayer go?  “O, God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Risk #4: “If I show you who I really am, you have the power to hurt me.”  This is perhaps the most painful risk of all–to show someone your heart and have it thrown aside.  When a trusted friend looks you in the eye and says, “You are not worth my time anymore” or a lover throws you aside for someone younger, it is devastating.  To open your life to another is to risk being hurt in new and profound ways, to make things ache that you never knew could ache (like a person who jogs for the first time pulling muscles he never knew he had).

In his book Sex God, Rob Bell says that Jesus was the ultimate example of vulnerability.  He let the world see who He was and they killed Him.  Yet Bell urges that we should be the same way (yet wise as wolves and innocent as lambs) and notes that we will suffer for it like Jesus.  While we don’t need to “bear it all” and should use discretion, we could all try to be a little more vulnerable with one another.  Not just that, but when someone takes a risk on you or I, let’s try to be worthy of that risk.

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