Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Miserables

Mandy and I saw Les Miserables last night.  So, so good!  Anne Hathaway should win an Oscar for her portrayal of Fantine.  "I Dreamed a Dream" was about as moving and gut-wrenching as anything I've ever seen.  Go see it, whether are a fan of Broadway or not.

Some Kindle Book Deals

Here are a few Kindle books that are currently on sale.

The End of Sexual Identity, by Jenna Williams Paris ($1.99)

Creature of the Word, by Matt Chandler ($5.99)

The Resolution for Men, by Stephen Kendrick ($4.99)

Grace for the Moment (children's book), by Max Lucado ($1.99)

What Jesus Started, by Steve Addison ($4.99)

The Parent Adventure, by Rodney & Selma Wilson ($2.99)

The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson ($3.79)

Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson ($3.79)

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis ($5.46)

Love Does, by Bob Goff ($1.99)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans ($1.99)

Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young ($1.99)

Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch ($1.99)

The Call of Jesus, by Derek Worthington ($4.99)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Top Ten Lists: Moments

2012 was a great year.  Here are my top 10 moments:

10.  Joining the Memphis Men's Chorale.  It's been 15 years since I sang in a choir.  It was time.  It's been a great outlet.  It's very different from church work and real estate, it's allowed me to meet new friends, and it's given me the opportunity to use the gifts that God has given me.

9.  Family moments, specifically Taylor's wedding and the birth of Olivia to Mandy's sister, Megan.  It was an honor to officiate Taylor and Jim's wedding.  It was a beautiful one, and I'm grateful that God has joined these two together.  And I'm an uncle now, and to a sweet little girl no less!

8.  The Clean Water party at the Brass Door a few weeks ago.  Not only did the party raise close to $4000 towards the building of a well, but it was one of the more surreal moments I've experienced.  I told NC the next night that we're doing a lot of things right now that I've dreamed of for a number of years, but I don't think I could have ever dreamed up what happened that night.  Again, "surreal" is my word for that night!

7.  My work - I'm now in my third year with InCity Realty.  I really enjoy real estate.  And I'm very grateful to be able to pastor Neighborhood Church.  God has allowed me to do, as I said above, the things that I've been dreaming of for a long time.  I wouldn't trade NC for any other church. I feel that this year we've solidified our vision and strategy.  Our folks know what we're about and they're continuing to be released to do the work of God.  Both of these jobs give me the flexibility I need, plus they continue to challenge and fulfill me.

6.  Mandy's work - I am my wife's biggest fan.  Her passion and tenacity for education reform continues to amaze me.  I'm grateful that her work is fulfilling to her, but also that it doesn't dominate and keep her from her favorite profession: mom to Adam and Micah.  I have a feeling that we'll look back in ten years and see that God used Mandy to bring amazing change to our city.

5.  Adam & Micah's friendship - at 7 and 4 now, they are becoming friends.  The age difference still plays a factor at times, but they really love each other and enjoy being with each other.  Since school got out for winter break they've been with each other non-stop.  Last Friday Adam went to an art class and Micah went to my mom's.  They were so excited to see each other when they reunited.  For a humorous take on that friendship you can read this.

4.  Trip to New York City - What a fun trip!  It was a first for both of us.  Like many others, it's now one of our favorite cities.  We're planning on going back next fall.  The conference we went to was amazing.

3.  The Midtown Prayer Collective - I've written about this before, so I won't repeat myself, but I do feel that God is going to use this time, and the times ahead, to do great work in individual lives, in our churches, and in our city.

2.  Our California Adventure - Two weeks in California was so much fun for our family.  Time with the Currier's in Pasadena, a day at Disney Land, and then a full week in San Francisco was so good for all of us.

1.  Adam's baptism -  Again, I've written about this here, but leading Adam to Christ and then baptizing him a couple of months later was the highlight of my year.  I'm so grateful for what God is doing in his heart.

2012 was one of the best for our family.  As we celebrate the birth of Christ today and look forward to the start of a new year, we leave you with our annual video.

Merry Christmas!

2012 Christmas Video from MANDY GRISHAM on Vimeo.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Top Ten Lists: Books

I read some really good books this year.  Here are a few.  These first two are on the topic of of spiritual formation.

The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, had a huge impact when it comes to where we went with the Midtown Prayer Collective.  I've read several of Batterson's books.  The common element with all of them is that they increase my faith. This one was no exception.

Next up is The 24/7 Prayer Manual, by Pete Greig.  This too was very influential in birthing a desire for radical prayer.  I think we've just scratched the surface, and I'm excited about where the collective is headed in 2013.

While those first two focused on prayer, these next two have to do with fleshing it out in the real word.  First up is Mark Scandrette's Practicing the Way of Jesus.  Our micro church went through this book.  Each week we would together choose some type of experiment.  Some of the ones we did were practicing a time of silence every day for a week, cutting back our spending on essentials for the week, seeking out opportunities for reconciliation, etc.

Along these same lines was 7, by Jenn Hatmaker.  Jenn and her family tried a different experiment each month for seven months.  Some of these experiments dealt with food, spending, media, and possessions.  These types of books are helpful in that they help spark imagination for creatively living out a life of following Jesus.

Finally, three other books I read that were very influential were..

On the topic of discipleship, The Call of Jesus, by Derek Worthington.  Derek is a pastor of one of the Trinity Grace parishes in NYC.  The ideas in this books have permeated the culture of Trinity Grace.  It's a short but excellent read on what discipleship looks like.

On the topic of organizational health, The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni.  Patrick spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this year. He spoke on the contents of this book.  It was my favorite from the conference, and now our Leadership Team at NC has been reading it together.

And on the topic of church, The Spirit-Filled Church, by Terry Virgo.  This book deals with the Holy Spirit's role in starting, growing, and empowering the Church for God's mission.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Top Ten Lists - Music

With eMusic, Spotify, & Noisetrade, finding good music this year was not difficult.  Narrowing it down to a top 10 list...just a bit tougher.  But alas, here it is:

10.  All Sons & Daughters, Season One
Great vocals, musicality and lyrics.  I did this song at NC a couple of weeks ago.

9.  Vespers, The Fourth Wall
We saw this band at Otherlands this year.  Great music.  They're really young, which you can kind of tell when they're on stage, but it also makes it even more amazing considering the talent they all have.  Watch this and you'll see what I mean.


8.  Derek Webb, Ctrl
I don't know if Webb will release an album I don't like.  His new one is great, but what is even greater is the acoustic version, which I got for FREE on Noisetrade.  It's still there, so do yourself a favor and download it.

7.  Rend Collective Experiment, Homemade Worship by Handmade People
So glad I discovered these guys.  Check out their story here.

6.  The Lighthouse and the Whaler, The Lighthouse and the Whaler
One of my best Noisetrade finds.  I don't know if I would have ever heard of them if I hadn't found them there.  This is one of those albums where just about every song is either a 4 or 5-star on iTunes.

5.  Trinity Grace, We Sing As One
This is the newest album from Trinity Grace Church in NYC.  The song "We Sing As One" is one of my favorite songs of the year.

4.  The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
I was in line at Starbucks one day and saw their album next to the cash register.  It compared them to The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons (see below for both), so I knew I needed to check them out.  Great band.

3.  Eric Whitacre, Water Night
I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the majority of these artists, but perhaps composer/conducter Eric Whitacre is new to you.  I love choral music, especially like this.  Whitacre became famous through his virtual conducting.  This video features the beautiful Water Night.

2.  Mumford & Sons, Babel
I was looking forward to this sophomore release for awhile, and I was not disappointed!

1.  The Lumineers, The Lumineers
I assumed that Mumford & Sons would take the top spot this year, but then I discovered these guys.  I think I first saw them on Letterman or Jimmy Fallon.  I was hooked immediately.  Again, I love every song on this album.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent in light of Sandy Hook

Tonight our children will be in the worship gathering with us, so I've decided to make any comments about what happened on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School very vague.  But I'm not trying to avoid it.  In fact, I believe all of us need to spend some time in deep reflection.  We should mourn, we should pray, and we should love.  And all of us should ask what role Jesus has to play with any of this.

The fact is, our world is very broken.  And it's not just the Adam Lanza's of the world.  We're all broken.  We all have a role to play.

I continue to fight the battle of moving on and trying to forget what has happened.  Each time that happens I feel the need to repent.  As Friday's events unfolded, and the facts of the story began to come out, my response, just like each of yours, was shock:  "How could this have happened???"  No answers.  I recognized right away that this tragedy impacted me far more than any of the others we've seen over the previous decade.  I guess it's a no-brainer why:  these were young kids, and I have children this age.  It could have just as easily been my children.

This tragedy impacted me more because it caused me to come face to face with the reality that as hard as I try to protect my kids and keep them safe, they are vulnerable to evil.  As a father, especially, this is very sobering, and difficult to swallow.

So what do I do with this reality?  For one, I turn back to the truth I know...

Just as we have had a role to play in the world's brokenness, so we also have a role to play in its binding up and being renewed.  The great news of Jesus is that not only did he come as a baby in the most humble of circumstances, he also lived the most beautiful, creative and free life that's ever been lived.  And not only did he then die a brutal and sacrificial death so that you and I don't have to face the penalty of our sins, he was also raised from the dead and is King of all things.

Jesus is not twiddling his thumbs up in heaven.  Neither is he fretting about what to do.  We see that in the Advent.  He entered into the mess.  Into the darkness.  Into our brokenness.  And he enters into it today as well.  He brought hope and peace then.  And he continues to bring hope and peace today.

Advent is the season of expectant waiting.  We expectantly wait for Jesus to enter into our humanity and brokenness.  And not just to enter but to do something about it.  We are reminded of that first Advent 2000 years ago, but we also long for that Advent today.  Come Lord Jesus.  We need you more than you realize.  Bring us the help that we desperately need.  Bring comfort, healing, hope & salvation.