M is for Money

Birr is the Ethiopian unit of currency. When we were in Ethiopia in 2009, one US dollar was the equivalent of about 11 birr (I think). When we were there a few months ago, I was able to get approximately 22 birr per US dollar.

There was a little souk (store) right outside our guest house. They had all kinds of different goods available for purchase. I was happy to discover that they had my favorite soft drink – one that I’ve only been able to find in Ethiopia – for sale! And it only cost 17 birr for the equivalent of a 20 ounce bottle. You can’t beat prices like that. It’s pretty remarkable how much buying power the US dollar has in Ethiopia.

So imagine how much good could be done by partnering with World Vision and sponsoring a child. The results would be…I don’t know which word to pick….amazing? revolutionary? life-giving? world-changing?

I believe the answer is yes. All of the above.

3 life lessons I learned on staff at Beaubien Camp at Philmont Scout Ranch

Beaubien Staff 1995

Some college students dream of working at Disney World during their Summer Break. Others work as camp counselors or lifeguards. Some spend the long, hot Summer days working at a part-time job.

Me?

I had the opportunity of a lifetime. During the Summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years at Milligan College, I had the opportunity to live out my own dream. It is also the dream of many others who have been involved in Boy Scouts over the years. I was a Backcountry staff member at the summit of Scouting: Philmont Scout Ranch.

I had already hiked five different Philmont treks during my Scouting experience: four as a Camper and one as an adult Advisor. My love for Philmont ran deep. It still does. During my first trek, I had decided that I wanted to work in the Backcountry at Philmont. That’s not unusual, though. I would imagine that at least half of the thousands of Scouts who stream through this high adventure base have this same thought.

There is one event that solidified this dream for me. Continue reading “3 life lessons I learned on staff at Beaubien Camp at Philmont Scout Ranch”

K is for ‘Koinonia’

K is for Koinonia #AtoZChallenge

Summer in the Son (aka SITS) at Kentucky Christian College (now known as Kentucky Christian University) was an annual tradition for our youth group while I was in high school. In fact, it looks like it’s still an annual tradition for them.

My experiences at SITS were highlights of my high school career. I guess you could call Summer in the Son an Ebenezer in my life. During my Freshman year, I was on the team that won the conference’s volleyball championship. Later on (possibly the year before my Junior year), I had the honor of standing up with one of my friends and watch him get baptized. I was introduced to the music of Rich Mullins, DC Talk, A-180 (later known as Audio Adrenaline), and Al Denson. There are some days where I think about songs like Be the One

and Beyond Belief

…and I have a little tear well up in the corner of my eye. It’s not because the videos are so hokey. Don’t get me wrong. They are pretty hokey. But the tears well up because the music takes me back to that Ebenezer. And I remember where God had brought me. And how far He’s brought me since those five amazing Summer experiences.

Summer in the Son was where I was challenged to shock the world with the Good News.

At the end of each night, our youth group would meet in an upper room in the Chapel. We’d sit in a big circle and share highlights and lowlights from the day. We’d laugh. We’d cry. We’d open up. Some people would share some pretty deep secrets. There was a lot of praying. There was a lot of hugging. And more crying. And more hugging. And more praying. And it would go on for hours. It was pretty intense. There were many nights where we’d be late for curfew. But that was OK. Because something BIG was happening. And God was moving in some powerful ways.

It was known as koinonia – “fellowship.”

There are very few moments since my SITS days that I’ve really, truly, experienced a deep connection with so many people on such a strong, personal level. I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit was working on us and through us during those intimate moments in the upper room.

I’m thankful for these moments in my past. I’m thankful for the adults who were there and prayed with us, prayed for us, listened to us, and supported us. I’m thankful for the other students who were there and for the bond we continue to share. I’m thankful for the grace that was showered upon us. I’m thankful for the unconditional love that we encountered each night. I’m thankful for the healing that began and the friendships that grew.

I’m thankful for the way God uses simple, no-frill meetings like our koinonia sessions and turns them into something that’s life-changing.

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

6 books that changed my life

Please note: The links to the books are affiliate links. That means that if you click the link and choose to purchase the book, our family gets a very small percentage of the proceeds. These links had no impact on the books I chose. Believe me, if I did, I’d have chosen books like Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, Four-Volume Set. Obviously, I’m better than that.

6 Books That Changed My Life

We’re in the midst of back to school madness here in Central Indiana. That’s right. It isn’t even August yet and Summer Break is already over! Long gone are the days of starting after Labor Day and ending before Memorial Day. If I’m honest, I usually like the new balanced calendar – except when we get to the end of a not-long-enough Summer and wonder what happened to the kids’ break. And since Mihret has been asking us how many days until school starts since…oh…the last day of school, let’s just say that the early advent of the school year is not necessarily an unwelcome development.

Readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic are about to be in full swing here in the Todd household. So in the spirit of going back to school for getting a head full of knowledge and stuff, I’d like to share with you some of the books that have had a big impact on me over the years. Because of the way they changed my outlook, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that they changed my lif. Some of them were books I read in college. Others were read more recently. Sorry, high school teachers. None of the books I read while under your tutelage made the cut. It’s nothing personal. I promise. I was challenged by several teachers during my high school career. In fact, I’m still challenged by some of the things they said.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Here they are, in no particular order…

6 Books That Changed My LIfe

Art & the Bible
by Francis Schaeffer

 

 

 

This book is small. It’s a little bit larger than a pamphlet. Its message, however, forever changed how I approach creativity and using God-given talents for His glory. The big takeaway for me? We are created in the image of the Creator. We were created to create. It’s what we were made to do.

I was introduced to this book by Dr. Alex Wainer during my Junior year in college. After I read it, I put it down and asked, “Why hadn’t anyone shown me this book before?” After all, I was majoring in Communication at the time. At a Christian school. In my opinion, this was a book that should be read by everyone in every department of the school that is remotely arts-related.

I’ve gotten rid of a lot of my books from undergrad. This book, however, is one that will always remain on my bookshelf. It’s a relatively quick read, but it has challenged me in ways that very few books have.

7 Practices of Effective Ministry
by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones

 

 

 

I read this as a book for church leadership, but it’s had an impact on how I approach leadership in general. It’s because of this book that you’ll often hear me say things like:

“Clarify the Win.”

and

“Celebrate the Win.”

These are so important. The book is worth the price just for the first chapter alone.

Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones

 

 

Communicating for a Change is one of the reasons I stopped trying to come up with a three-point sermon.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t try to do many lists or multiple-point posts on my blog. We’re moving into an age of communication – one that I’ll probably talk about in an upcoming post (I think this is fascinating stuff). While having lists might help with the Google searches, a post with a single point that’s approached by several different angles is more focused and is more memorable in the long-run.

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
by Susan Cain

 

 

 

Quiet reminded me that it’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to be sensitive to other introverts. You don’t have to be an extrovert in order to change the world.

I wish every church leader would get his/her hands on a copy of this book. It could encourage much healthier churches. It also could improve a church’s track record in regards to retaining visitors – especially visitors who happen to be introverts.

It should probably be a must-read for managers and HR professionals, too. I think the book would be pretty eye-opening and could positively impact the morale of many offices.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
by Mark Batterson

 

 

 

Inspired by the relatively obscure story of Benaiah in the Old Testament, In a Pit with a Lion challenges you to step out on faith and chase that God-given dream.

Even if it means jumping into a pit with a lion.

 

Roaring Lambs
by Bob Briner

 

 

 

I was introduced to this book in Comm 101: Intro to Mass Media by Professor Mattingly. It completely revolutionized my understanding of the meaning of “salt.” It’s not just to “add flavor,” it’s a preservative, pushing back against the forces of decay.

See? Pretty revolutionary.

And it changes everything.

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
by Brennan Manning

 

 

Up until I read this book in the Summer of 1997, I thought grace was something you had to earn. I thought you had to be worthy of forgiveness. Brennan Manning wrecked that understanding. He also wrecked me in the process. I will never look at God’s love the same way again.

And that’s a good thing.

What about you?

Well, there you have it. These 6 books have had a tremendous impact on my life. They have helped shape me into who I am today.

I know what you’re thinking. I listed 7 books. I kind of lump the two Andy Stanley books together. They’re kind of like 1a and 1b. That’s my story, anyway. And I’m sticking with it.

What about you? What books have changed the way you think, believe, or act? What books have had a profound impact on your life?

Maybe I should add them to my reading list.