Recommended Read: I Can Only Imagine

If you’re like most of us at Gracepoint Berkeley church, you saw the movie I Can Only Imagine this past spring, and either cried a lot or cried a lot “inside.” I think I sat next to the person who wins the “Most Tears Shed” prize — you know who you are! 🙂

i can only imagineBUT did you know there’s a book? It came out a month before the movie, and I confess at first I was like…nah, even though I’m a sucker for memoirs. But I both read the book and listened to the audiobook (read by the author himself, which I always love) and recommend it for youth and adults alike! It is a quick read, written in a down-to-earth voice, but like the movie, it is a tear-jerker.

It is Millard’s fuller memoir and includes a lot more than what the movie could portray in 2 hours. It includes significant relationships in his life — for example, with his older brother (were you one of the people confused by the other guy in the family picture at the end of the movie?), as well as Kent, the friend from Glorietta Camp, who played a much more prominent role in his life than the movie was able to show.

And as can be expected, it goes into more depth of each person’s back story. Most notably, you get a fuller picture of Millard’s dad and how and why it is that he became the way he had been towards Bart and his brother. This book is excellent for developing empathy as you get a glimpse into each person’s story.

The movie played with the timeline of events, perhaps to create a more cohesive storyline, but Millard’s father fell ill while he was still in high school, so it was actually in his senior year that he was his father’s primary caretaker, and that they reconciled their relationship only to lose him so soon after.

I was reminded of this coming off of the Youth Ministry Training Retreat, where one of the big lessons we came away with was the power of listening and just being there and being with our youth, each of whom has a story, a world of struggles and realities beneath the surface. And actually, Millard’s youth group was instrumental in providing safety, stability, acceptance, and love amidst his tumultuous life. His youth group became a stable family for him, when he felt so unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. And they were there with him as he dealt with the loss of his father.

After reading the book, I felt like Millard was my friend. He was so vulnerable and real in sharing his struggles with self-worth and how he continues to build up his self-worth as a redeemed child of God. As I found out about his life story, I understood why MercyMe’s songs are often about these themes, and I could appreciate how his songs are born from the lessons and seasons of his own faith journey.

Anyway, wanted to add yet another book to your “to be read” list. This is a perfect one for bedtime reading, but be warned, you might stay up all night in order to finish!

 

 

 

 

Recommended Read: A Practical Guide to Culture

This past weekend, some of us across our Gracepoint Ministries gathered at Gracepoint Berkeley church for a Youth Ministry Training Retreat. It was a powerful time of raising our awareness of the world we and our youth are living in, as well as recognizing the role of the local church and youth ministry in bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the next generation.

practical guide to cultureOne book I want to recommend, not just for people involved in youth ministry, but any Christian living in the 21st century is called A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet (of Breakpoint) and Brett Kunkle (of Maven). It is, like the title states, a practical guide to culture. 🙂

I read a lot of books on Christian Worldview and Gen Z, but what I appreciate about this book is that it is even-handed in its treatment of culture. The authors aren’t overly alarmist nor naively “let’s just go with the flow” either. Before getting into the hot topics we might anticipate in a book about today’s culture, they provide an entire framework for understanding what culture is and how it is we got to where are currently.  And one of their main points is that living in a post-Christian world, we need to go back to the Bible, the inspired word of God, as our authority on all the big questions of who we are, what our purpose is, and more. The authors point us to the Bible to reclaim the narrative, to the real story told in four chapters: Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. And they get practical, focusing on 8 “cultural waves” of today — Pornography, The Hookup Culture, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Affluence and Consumerism, Addiction, Entertainment, and Racial Tension — all in the context of God’s grand story. So while much of what we learn about our world leaves us heavy-hearted and burdened, they keep coming back to “hopecasting” that is possible only because of the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I look forward to discussing some of the issues with many of you, whether you’re a parent, a youth or children’s worker, or just someone who wants to think Christianly about our culture. You can find physical copies of the book at the GP Berkeley bookstore now!

Reading Snapshots: North Carolina Edition

Happy Friday to everyone not just at Gracepoint Berkeley church but across all our Gracepoint Ministries! Can you believe it’s almost May?! Today I bring you a short but sweet Reading Snapshots post from Gracepoint North Carolina.

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Granted they are looking at photo albums, but you see the early literacy practices they are engaging in? Given they’re from America, they are correctly going from left to right in the books as they “read” each photo. And while I wasn’t there, I heard they were engaging in the social aspect of reading as well, showing and telling each other about the interesting and sometimes shocking things they saw, such as one’s parents’ wedding photo! 🙂

What a delightful sight to behold in an age where the kids their age I usually see are swiping screens. Remember, I always welcome your reading snapshots, since they’re crowd favorites!

Recommended Read: The Action Storybook Bible

Hey, Gracepoint Berkeley church and beyond! You probably forgot about this here blog. I confess I kind of did too…until my *mom* mentioned to me that I hadn’t posted since last October. (Shout out to Mrs. Kim for reminding me to keep spreading the love of reading!)

I don’t want to make any promises, but I realize I should just write some posts about the books I most often recommend to people. Today I’ll start with a relatively new book from the super popular Action Bible franchise. As many of you who have read and love The Action Bible know, there are some intense parts (Valley of Dry Bones, anyone?). It might not be appropriate for younger kids, but at the same time, it’s a great way to get kids excited about reading the Bible. It’s awesome to see kiddos who come to Bibliopolis devouring The Action Bible, and reading it cover to cover multiple times.

Action-Storybook-Bible-3D-coverEnter The Action Storybook Bible: An Interactive Adventure through God’s Redemptive Story which came out this past October. It is designed for children ages 8 and under, and it is, as the subtitle states, an interactive reading experience.

I have one testimonial from a mom of a kindergarten boy here at Gracepoint Berkeley who said that her son asks to read it each day! There are questions to stop and talk about at the end of each section, so it can become a devotional type of experience for you and your child(ren) to share together.

So if you’re looking for a good book to go through with your child, or a good gift to get for the child of a friend or relative, I recommend it! We are carrying a limited number in our bookstore now. 🙂

Do you have an Action Storybook Bible testimonial to share? 

 

A Picture Book to Supplement Course 101?

To continue the picture book theme I started (see my post on Halfway Herbert), today I want to feature The Big Red Tractor and the Little Villageanother book by Francis Chan that was written in 2010 and I just discovered recently.

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Holly, Lydia and I took turns reading this one together. Their smiles speak for themselves. 🙂 

I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that Farmer Dave discovers a special book that changes everything for the people who live in the little village. It’s reminiscent of the illustration of the cars at the car convention from Course 101, the Christian Foundations course we developed at our Gracepoint Ministries churches.

If you want a preview before purchasing the book for yourself, you can see this animated video version.

Profile of the Lukewarm: Halfway Herbert

In my quest for good Christian books for kids and teens, I recently happened upon children’s books written by Francis Chan. Turns out Halfway Herbert has been around since 2010 (longer than some of the Bibliopolis kiddos have been alive), and a bunch of them have read it already.

Here’s a photo of Chloe (2nd grader) reading the book aloud to some of the 1st graders. They were cracking up at the story of Herbert, who does everything — including brushing his teeth, doing his homework, and telling the truth — halfway. But the girls quickly saw how this halfway disease was not good.

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Throughout all of our Gracepoint Ministries churches, we have been going through Revelation as part of our DT (Devotion Times), and as I listened to the book, I couldn’t help but think of the recent DT on Revelation 3 and Jesus’ message to the lukewarm Laodecians. I was also reminded of the “Profile of the Lukewarm” chapter in Chan’s book Crazy Love. 

I thought the book was a great way to talk about what it looks like to follow God with your whole heart, and if you or your child haven’t read it yet, I recommend it for a family read aloud!

 

Introducing Bibliopolis Santa Barbara!

I never imagined that what started out at Gracepoint Berkeley church a couple of years ago (this seems like eons ago!) would expand to our other Gracepoint Ministries churches as our young reader populations grow. Our latest addition is at our Gracepoint Santa Barbara church, where Joshua, who is a voracious reader, sets a high bar for the other youngsters there.

The aunties and uncles worked so hard to convert Luke’s garage into this amazing reading space. I look forward to visiting soon!

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Garage Goals!
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Thumbs up on the beanbag chairs!

You don’t need to have an empty garage in order to have an amazing reading space. It can even be a corner of a room. Looking forward to sharing more photos of reading spaces throughout Gracepoint.