Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Advice to writers.

Cameron Lawrence shared from Thomas Merton’s book New Seeds of Contemplation.

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy.”

“If you write for men–you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while.”

“If you write only for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.”


“If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.”


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These books have impacted my life and ministry to children at risk. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and knowing some of these authors and they are all legends! Just thinking about them and their words of wisdom stirs me to action!

Amazing Grace: Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol – A great introduction into the lives of America’s urban children. Kozol is a legend.

Celebrating Children by Glen Myers and others is really the handbook to ministry to children at risk – a tremendous comprehensive resource of articles with an academic perspective on ministry to children at risk. It’s exactly what it’s subtitle says it is: Equipping People Working with Children and Young People Living in Difficult Circumstances Around the World.

Children in Crisis by Glenn Myers is a summary of the various crisis facing children around the world and a Christian response to it.

Street Children: A Guide to Effective Ministry by Phyllis Kilbourn is practical and a great resource for training others.

Submerge: Living Deep in a Shallow World by John Hayes follows his life journey in incarnational ministry to the poor and how you can be a change agent!

Understanding God’s Heart for Children edited by Doug McConnell and others is a great book for a “Biblical framework” regarding our responsibility to, for and with children.

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On being a servant of God.

I don’t love people the way I should love them, sometimes God feels a million miles away and I wonder if I even believe all the Biblical things we’re teaching the kids each week. I suck at teaching, anyway, and really lack any sort of speaking talent and the kids hate me. And Christians are mean, maybe even the meanest people I’ve ever met in my life. Why should I have to deal with their attitudes and unkindness? Dude!

This weekend I picked up Warren Wiersbe’s On Being a Servant of God. My soul and heart have been rather chapped lately and this book was like lotion for my soul. While reading it, I found myself saying “YES!” and highlighting every other sentence.

On Being a Servant of God and the Tony Campolo sermons I listened to this weekend reminded me of what ministry is all about and why I accepted God’s call for my life into ministry.

Wiersbe writes (something very applicable to me right now):

“It isn’t enough for us merely to love suffering people and want to help them. We must also love the truth that God has given us…Many of us confess that we’re not capable of loving people the way Jesus loves them and us. We do our best to practice 1 Corinthians 13, but it doesn’t always last…God doesn’t ask us to work up our Christian love in our own strength because He offers to create it within us when we need it: “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The love that we need for ministry is no a natural ability; it’s a supernatural quality that only God can provide. When the people we serve irritate us or disappoint us, the first thing we usually do is pray for them and tell the Lord to change them. What we ought to do first to pray for ourselves and ask God to increase our love.” 

I really can’t wrap up these thoughts neatly into a little conclusion package, because I don’t have a conclusion. I just know that I need to pray that God would increase my love because without love, why am I even doing what I’m doing? Sure, I can teach and visit and help practically, but if there is no love behind it, it’s worthless. I know that above all, I need to love.

I highly recommend On Being a Servant of God for every believer, for every person who wants to serve God with their lives.

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The last week has been difficult for me because I feel like finally, after a year of being in the City, I’m starting to really “get” urban ministry. Now I have a few stories, one of my girls had a huge black eye from her mom punching her, another one of my boys was beaten up, some of my kids go to bed hungry every night, and I’m very slowly starting to identify that behind the smiles and nice clothes, many of these urban kids live really difficult lives.

You might respond with, “Well, DUH, Jenn! Of course they have difficult lives!” And I know this, and even though I live in the heart of the city, in the ‘hood, in the ghetto, even here, it’s easy to forget the desolation of many of the lives of the children. I’m going to write more about this in the future, but it’s easy to only look at the surface and not want to go deeper, even when we deal with the kids every day. People in the suburbs tell themselves it’s not that bad and people in urban ministry can even find themselves saying, it’s not that bad.

But more about that later.

These days the thing that breaks my heart are the young boys. It’s almost visible and tangible, how they cross over from having sweet hearts to having hard hearts. At about the age of eleven they transition into being “tough” and a complete hood kid. They start wearing their gang bandanas and hanging out with the older boys on the basketball court. I see them and my heart breaks and I ask myself and I ask God, “Why does this ALWAYS have to happen?” It seems inevitable.

The other night I started praying for the kids I know, and as I looked at their names, I felt really overwhelmed. Each and every one of these kids needs serious intercession. They need someone who will get down on their knees, before the throne of GOD, and interceed! These kids need PRAYER more than they need anything else. How in the world will I have time to do this when I’m busy with “ministry” stuff 90 hours a week and need to sleep and somehow maintain my own relationship with God?

Amy Carmichael wrote this maybe 80 years ago, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things in the whole world, and again, it’s completely applicable to my current life situation.

“But words are froth too; the desolation of the children who had no deliverer, the wrong that we could not redress, the fear, the cold deadness of forced sin, how little of this could be shown then, can be shown now. 

At last a day came when the burden grew too heavy for me; and then it was as though the tamarind tree about the house were not tamarind, but olive and under one of those trees was our Lord Jesus knelt and knelt alone. And I knew that this was His burden, not mine. It was He who was asking Him to share it with me, not I who was asking Him to share it with me. After that there was only one thing to do; who that saw Him kneeling there could turn away and forget? Who could have done anything but go into the garden and kneel down beside Him under the olive trees?”

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Urban Youth Workers Institute has a great resource of mp3s of many of the workshops from their annual conference. My favorites are:

A Place of Community by Efrem Smith


What Every Woman In Youth Ministry Needs to Know by Kara Powell

There are many, many more really helpful workshops, so check it out!

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