And the Giveaway Book Goes to…

Zane.JPGThanks to all of you for registering for the Book Giveaway. A drawing was held just outside our church building this afternoon.  The young man in the picture eagerly drew the names.  The two people who will receive an autographed copy of Stone Crossings are: 

Doug Young

Darlene Kyser

Congratulations! Again, thanks to all of you. Some of you may wish to purchase the book. You can do so here. You might enjoy keeping up with L. L. and her writing at her blog: "Seedlings and Stone." You can find her blog here.

L. L. was asked, in another recent giveaway, to say a few words on ‘award day.’ Here’s what she said and I thought it would also be apt to repeat it here at "A Place for the God-Hungry."

I thought about what I might say to the winner (and anyone else who decides to read Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places after learning about it here). Nothing seemed quite right. Then I remembered a story.

Well, actually two stories. Or maybe it really is one story (Forgive my vacillation!) that began long ago and found a new chapter this past year.

In Stone Crossings, I tell a small tale of loss; when I was a child, my stepfather threw a rock-tumbling project out the window. I’d been trying to polish some stones to amber, jade and purple perfection. That project ended abruptly with his hostile action. Funny how we carry things like this with us into adulthood, but I remembered the incident well enough to poignantly pen it into Stone Crossings.

When the book was published, I sent a copy to my third stepmother as a thank-you for letting me tell her part of our family history. To my great surprise, she wrote me a five-paged, single-spaced letter about her regrets and her love. And, with the letter, she sent a velvet green bag of polished stones. They looked much like the stones I’d been hoping to produce in that childhood project long ago. Okay, do you blame me … I held those stones, touched their smoothness and cried for a long time.

Which is to say that sometimes our grace stories take years to unfold. And we are startled to find, after all, grace in hard and hidden places.

Monday Book Giveaway

stone_crossings.jpgHere is an opportunity to win a free book. 

The book?  An autographed copy of L. L. Barkat’s Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places.  This is an opportunity not only to receive a free book but also to get acquainted with a very good writer. 

I read the book shortly after it was published.  I was moved.  

Some clues about the book can be found on the back cover. 

Sometimes it’s hard to see.  And even harder to receive.  When you’re hurt or angry or confused or doubtful, grace can seem as hard to grasp as sky. 

But actually, it’s as real and solid as stones: tangible, weighty, something to hold on to, a way through streams of pain, shame, and abuse.

In these pages L. L. Barkat shares her own painful, powerful story with us.  Weaving in truth from Scripture, words from other writers and stories of people who’ve come alongside her in her journey, she shows us the unexpected ways and places she’s discovered grace: grace that has helped her open her heart to love, discover a way past fear, find freedom from shame.

Her story will help you find the rock of God’s grace in the midst of your own broken, hard places.  And his grace will give you a new story to tell.

When I began reading the book, I was especially moved by her opening chapters on shame and the messiness of life (often caused by "messmakers").  For example, notice this sentence:

It seems that Adam felt like I used to feel — that it would be comforting to hide in darkness, that it would be a relief to flee from the God who walks around knowing what I’ve been up to. 

To be eligible to win the book, simply leave your name in a comment on this post.  Names will be collected throughout the week (through next Monday), and a drawing will be held in my office the following Tuesday.  If you win, you will be notified and an autographed copy of Stone Crossings will be mailed to you.

Interested?  Leave your name in a comment.

Places I’ve Been

The following links are some places I’ve been recently.  Enjoy!


Skye Jethani has written a fine post on the economic downturn and the churches’ ministry.


Also, see Terry Rush and his reflections on ministry and the economy.


Alan Hirsch has posted a funny cartoon on "The Last Thing to Convert."


Scot McKnight on "Reawakening Your Prayer Life."


Liam Byrnes has written a post in which he reflects on, "The Bleakness of Despair and the Harshness of Love."


See the cartoon at L.L. Barkat’s post, "This Was Me Two Days Ago.


You might read Mike Zook’s post on "Living in the Tension."  Mike has some very good observations about controlling.


Read this piece on Tim Spivey’s blog regarding the church.


Gary Cleveland on reading a book with which you disagree.

Days at the Quiet House

laity lodge_1.jpgA number of you are regular readers of L. L. Barkat’s blog.  Yesterday, she posted concerning her recent trip to Laity Lodge (Thursday – Saturday).  I was at the Wayfarer’s House (also referred to as the "Quiet House"), which is a part of Laity Lodge (Monday – Wednesday).  So, we agreed to post regarding the experiences at Laity Lodge that week.  (While you are reading L. L.’s post, by the way, be sure to make your way to Marcus Goodyear’s blog for a nice post about Laity Lodge as well as Tod Bolsinger.)

While at the "Quiet House" for three days, I read, prayed, and thought.  These three days were refreshing.  In particular, I was refreshed by:


  • Reading Scripture.
  • Hiking on a few of the trails and praying aloud.
  • Reading Scot McKnight’s book A New Vision for Israel.
  • Watching the deer eat, just feet from the door.
  • Hearing a chorus of birds as they ate from the bird feeders.
  • Thinking about things that matter.

Just before bed one night, I picked a book that interested me out of the library.  The book was entitled The Father and the Son: My Father’s Journey Into the Monastic Life by Matt Murray.  Murray, one of the editors of the Wall Street Journal, wrote about his father’s journey into monasticism.  What interested me as I read the book was Murphy’s discipline.  What fascinated me in the book was Murphy’s description of the dynamics of his family.

More later …

An Incredible Grace

coffee16.jpgRight now, I am reading two very fine books.  Both are books that speak of the grace of God but from two different eras.  I am reading a new edition of the Letters of John Newton (I am not linking this book to Amazon because apparently they do not carry this book yet.) and L. L. Barkat’s Stone Crossings.  Both books are deeply personal.  Both have helped me as I reflect upon the grace of God in my own story.

I was attracted to reading Newton’s letters because of his own story as slave trader and his radical life change because of Jesus.  I was particularly attracted to him, though, because he wrote a hymn that I have loved for many years: "Amazing Grace."  I am reading Barkat’s book because of her blog and her ability to write a story with the words of a poet.  The subtitle of her book, incidentally, is "Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places."

I read Newton’s letters and heard one speak who knows something about the human heart and the God of grace.  These letters were written long ago (Newton was born in London in 1725.), but I find his words nurturing and encouraging.  His life and ministry were apparently just as encouraging:

. . . his fame became more widespread and people came from far and near to seek his counsel and help.  His friendly and hospitable home at Olney, and later in London, was a place to which the troubled and tempted resorted.  They found in him one who had been a worse sinner than themselves and who could enter into their experiences with tenderness and sympathy.  (p. xi)

This morning, I read again a line that was especially meaningful to me in Stone Crossings.  This particular line will resonate with many people.  Barkat is reflecting on the story of Genesis and the shame that appears in the story early on:

It seems that Adam felt like I used to feel — that it would be comforting to hide in darkness, that it would be a relief to flee from the God who walks around knowing what I’ve been up to.  (p. 19)

In a few words, she has captured the way many, many of us used to feel about God.  Many, many people continue to feel this way.  Many people believe that the only safe place is darkness.

Both of these books have been a reminder to me of God’s rich mercy.  They have reminded me of his grace in my own life.  I’m thankful.

Today, I want to think about God’s desire to be with me and to have me live in his presence.  God’s love for me and you is not because we are a certain kind of people or a certain kind of Christian.  His love for me today is because he is a God of grace.