Hillsong: Let Hope Rise – A Review

lethoperiselogonewIf you are a regular church attendee, and your music has any aspect of contemporary songs in it – you have sung something from Hillsong.  I have long loved their music, and the heart behind the writing of praise songs that are sung the world over.

This movie – really more of a documentary – follows the Hillsong United band through the development of a new album and to aWorship event at the Forum in California.  It was fascinating to watch as the “flashback” scenes culminated in the event.

I loved hearing from Brian Houston, founding pastor when he said that he had wanted to start a church that was music driven and that the music would “connect the soul to heaven”.  He and his wife Bobbie took us back to the place where they first met – with just 100 others.  Since 1983 they have grown from those 100 to 75,000 in 12 countries.

What struck me most as I watched this journey of worship leaders who truly believe that “the songs mean nothing if they aren’t helping people connect to God” as Joel Houston shared, is that they are just real people.  They don’t have huge houses, flashy cars and all that goes with the American experience of celebrity pastors.  The band has a heart to use their talents to lead people in meaningful worship.

The piece has been produced with lyrics on the screen during the worship songs, with the intention of the audience joining in with the music.  Just imagine a theatre full of worshippers singing so loudly that those in the movie complex hear it!  Surely a small taste of heaven…

While there is no question about the centrality of Jesus in the theme of Hillsong’s music, it occurred to me as the movie was coming to its end – that there was not much mention of him outside of the songs.  Brian even said that people should “pour yourself into a local church, and you’ll never be the same”.   Perhaps it is an over reaction on my part, but it’s not enough to be part of a church, it’s the relationship with Jesus that matters and it’s him that makes you not the same.

I loved watching the process of the song writing, even when one song was finished at the very last minute.  To see Joel sitting with his Bible open, pen in hand and journalling his way to the lyrics was lovely.  My very favourite moment though, was the international singing of Mighty to Save.  Just incredible!

Should you have the opportunity to see Hillsong: Let Hope rise – do so.  Better yet, go with your family and/or friends and worship in the theatre right along with the movie.  My thanks to GrafMartin Communications for the opportunity to independently review this movie.




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Posted by on October 7, 2016 in book reviews, Family ideas


Carefully Crafting…

father holidng childThis summer was one of significant change.  I left a job I loved, but realized it was not where God was truly calling me to be.  It was one of those seasonal change things…I had stepped away from Children and Family Ministries, but apparently no forever.

God began to unfold all of this late last winter.  A Facebook group I’m part of had advertised a diploma program for Kidmin and through a “contest”, we had an opportunity to be given a scholarship towards the tuition.  So, I completed the steps, but was sure that this Canadian wouldn’t hear anymore.  I put it out of my mind, until April Fool’s day (really!!).  Someone hadn’t claimed the scholarship offered to them, and when a name was drawn to be offered that space – it was mine!  We Prayed about it, and said “Yes”.

Fast forward to a lovely trip with friends into our local wine country, and a conversation about the dream of change that their church was having for an impactful Family Ministry.  He asked lots of questions, and I gave just as many answers.  We said our goodbyes and I carried on – but the conversation just wouldn’t let my spirit rest.  Later that week, I asked, “What if it was me who came and worked with you?”  to which is response was “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

So here we are – 3 months into a 6 month contract and we’ve begun to lay the foundations for what could change an entire community.  A ministry focused on empowering families as they influence their children for Jesus.

The leadership believes that Psalm 78 and Deuteronomy 6 are the foundations we must build our ministry upon.  We know that our time with kids is so limited through Sundays only, but it we pour into the time that families have together, we can exponentially  increase that leverage.

By flipping the order in which children encounter the Word of God, we give the opportunity to parents to watch the first steps of their children into God encounters and faith.  Just as a parent loves to be the ones who watch the first tentative steps, so to with first tentative steps of being a Jesus follower.  Our times of ministry will be a reinforcement of the times at home.

Through the intentional building of the child’s “hearing from God” muscles, the family will, together, make God the centre of their decisions and interactions.  We then, will support that with resourcing, serving opportunities and times of learning – together and separately.

Our community gatherings on Sundays will be ones of support and learning – all with each one discussing the same Scripture focus in an age appropriate way.  This will give the entire family a common experience and intentional conversation starting points.

We will further put building blocks for community into place, and beginning on Thanksgiving Sunday – we will host a breakfast that will lead directly into Worship.  A safe, welcoming setting to bring guests and those who are put-off by the formality of traditional worship settings.  This will encourage those who have been around forever to interact, through the fellowship that food creates, with those who are new to the gathering.

By modelling that our relationship with Jesus is an integral part to all aspects of life we can begin to effect real transformation in the lives of our church community, and the community around us – all for the building of the Kingdom

I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this journey! It’s one I never expected to find myself on again, and to be in a community who is excited at what God can and has already started to do is humbling beyond words.worship-child-arms-out




A review of Miracles From Heaven – Sony Pictures

Miracles from heaven now playing

I am the first person to admit to being a skeptic when it comes to movies and books about heavenly revelations.  I have been heard to say – “if God wanted us to know what heaven looked like, I’m pretty sure Jesus would have shared that when He was here.”

I have heard some press about this movie, with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah – it definitely had my attention.  Based on a true story, the movie follows the sickness and investigative treatments of Anna Beam and her mother’s, Christy Beam, crisis of faith in the midst of it.  And now that my eyes have dried having watched it, and my suspicions quieted – I’m happy to share my impressions of it.

The movie begins with a of a very normal family living life.  They live on a farm in Texas, where Dad is expanding his vet practice.  The Beams and their 3 daughters love each other, pray in their home and attend a very refreshingly normal church.  Although, I’ve gotta say – it would be pretty fantastic having Mac Powell lead your Worship Team!

An evening bout of stomach sickness for Anna begins a long and exhausting journey of questions and desperation as she is misdiagnosed over and over again.  When a doctor finally realizes the true cause – an incurable disease of the intestines that prevent the digestive system from functioning at all – Christy takes measures to have her treated at all costs.

She and Anna head to Boston to insist and wait on an appointment with the country’s top specialist.  While waiting, Christy and Anna meet Angela, a caring and very friendly waitress who becomes their tour guide around Boston.  When the call for the appointment finally comes, Dr. Nurko believes he can treat Anna.  What seems quite insignificant, yet touching – is an interaction with Dr. Nurko’s Elmo tie.  He admits that his wife doesn’t like it, but that he’s promised to remove it when he has a patient get well.

During her stay in the hospital, we see Anna make an impact on a roommate, while not getting any better.  When she if finally stabilized, she and the family head home.  She heads out to play with her sisters, and becomes involved in a very serious accident on the farm.

It is after her recovery from this that Christy begins to learn just how present miracles and the God who still performs them are.  Anna tells her story and encounter in heaven- and this is where my skeptical expectations stopped.

So many heaven movies try to share all the details of what heaven looks like, who the person met, and the message for mankind that God had for them to take back.  I’ve never been convinced.  Yet, in this account, Anna says that she and God were able to talk without ever seeing each other, and that He promised her she’d be okay when she went back.  She doesn’t meet any people from her past or have details that no one can ever verify.  Just a little girl who was assured of her safety by the God she knows loves her.

I found the most touching moment was the last time we encounter Dr. Nurko.  Christy shares her story poignantly in church and the reminds us of all the places during the journey with Anna where they saw miracles happen.

I was impressed.  This is a high quality Christian movie – so refreshing in the Christian film movie world – and I am pleased to be able to fully recommend this as a family movie.

Movie link has been provided courtesy of Sony Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.





Delilah – Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt

Delilah book cover

I had the privilege of an unexpected week off – and the joy to spend it at a friend’s cottage.  This was the perfect book to take with me.  I love when time affords me to be able to read a book completely interrupted.  I have yet to be disappointed with this series, “A Dangerous Beauty”.  The first two women we met were Bathsheba and Esther.

Angela’s newest book is perhaps my favourite in the series.  Biblical fiction that makes me have to pull out my Bible to rediscover pieces of the story is alway worth my time.  We don’t know many details of Delilah’s life, but this book paints a picture of a woman, desperate to save her family and her rightful place in a community that wouldn’t recognize her.

Angela weaves her vision of who this very maligned woman in Israel’s history with the Biblical account of her encounter and ultimate downfall of Samson and his enemies.  We see her move from a very broken young woman, to a caregiver and mother needing to take action to keep her family safe and fed.

I was completely captivated by this telling of the story.  I found the telling of the life circumstances a fascinating possible connection to the sate of mind she must have been in to trick Samson in to sharing his secret.  At the same time, to read of the development of her relationship with him breaks the typical view of Samson as a weak man who falls instantly to the temptation of a beautiful woman.

If you are looking for a book to bring Scripture to life with a fresh new breath – this should be at the top of your list.

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.



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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


The Longing In Me

To say that I am fond of Shelia Walsh – her writing and her speaking and even her tweets, would be an understatement.

Shelia’s story of her life and her honesty about living with Depression and how her faith in Jesus sustains her through it all is incredibly inspirational.  She has honestly shared once again, this time about the longing that is in all of us and how God longs to meet that deepest need in each of us.

You can find more about the book here, and once I’m done the book this weekend – I’ll post a more complete review.


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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in book reviews


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Live Loved – Margaret Feinberg

Live Loved BookTo say that I am a fan of Margaret Feinberg and her Bible Studies would be a huge understatement.  I find that she writes about things in a way that comforts and challenges all at the same time.

I was delighted to see that she had designed an adult colouring book.  I recently discovered the calming effect that these books have, and was excited to be able to spend some time with this one.

Each page has a floral colouring design, as well as a Bible verse to focus on while adding your own flair to the creation.  I found it a form of lectio devina.  To be able to pray the words of the verse, to say them repeatedly while working with my colours – it was a very soothing time of refreshing.

To take the experience one step further, each page has a complimentary on that allows for you to write your conversation with God.  It’s a loosely guided reflection.  I have been quite skeptical of this approach, but gave it a couple of honest attempts.

After having coloured the page, praying about what God might be saying to me through the Scripture passage – I remained in a prayerful attitude and let the pen just be on the paper.  I was amazed at what flowed as I wrote.  A true conversation with God.  Truths about how much of God’s love I often miss appeared on the page.  Reminders about the promises that he makes to his children were a great reminder to carry with me through the day.

I found each coupling took about 1 hour to complete and reflect upon. A wonderful, guided way to spend some quiet time – just the individual, the pens and God.  Honest moments of “be still and know that I am God”.  I know I need more of that in my life – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

While the Adult Colouring Books are quite trendy right now, I can see this book playing a part in the devotional life for people who are looking for a creative outlet at the same time.  I am grateful to Graf-Martin Communications and the Nuts About Book program for the opportunity to independently review this Bethany House publication.



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Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Uncategorized


Bathsheba by Angela Hunt – Book 2 in the Dangerous Beauty Series

bathsheba coverI love it when an author drives me to my Bible while reading a work of fiction.  This latest offering from Angela Hunt proved to be just that kind of enjoyable read.

I truly believe that God teaches us many things through story, and this wonderful glimpse into “the rest of the story” of Bathsheba’s life opens the reader to many facets of her life.

I have read the story of David and Bathsheba many times, know the Veggie Tales version, and loved the ending of Francine Rivers account of her life in her series “Lineage of Grace”.  Angela let us feel the anger and grief that Bathsheba must have felt after David’s horrible actions towards her and her household.  We follow along as she learns to forgive and even love this King she has been brought to.  We grieve with Bathsheba and David as they lose their first-born son, and we understand her fear as she watches and waits for a very real threat to Solomon’s life to pass.

The telling of the story is shared by Nathan and Bathsheba.  It provides us with a complete view of life in and around the castle of this Royal family.  I found it a fascinating theory that Nathan had long been in love with Bathsheba from a distance…not sure about that, but it certainly added some interesting sides.

I have always been taken by Bathsheba and her story.  How one so broken could find such favour from a king (a broken man himself).  How from such a sinful beginning, God would raise one of his most faithful rulers.  It is truly a story of redemption, God’s grace, and his love and favour for those who faithfully seek him.

Once again, Angela Hunt has reminded me why she is well nestled into my top 5 favourite authors.  She certainly does not disappoint in this novel – one I had to slowly read, so as to be able to savour the story so masterfully woven.  I am thankful to Graf Martin Communications, the Nuts About Books program and Baker Publishing for the opportunity to independently review this book.

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized