Thursday, April 16, 2015


I’ll be honest. Before seeing the movie “Ragamuffin” I had never heard of Brennan Manning. I didn’t know there was a book called “The Ragamuffin Gospel” that had a huge impact on Rich Mullins and gave him the name for his band.

Post-movie I went looking for the book online. The reviews were so diverse they made me laugh. Psychobabble! Life changing! Hooey! Love it! I’m paraphrasing – I don’t recall actually seeing the word “hooey”. I ordered the book, figuring that I’m smart enough to head over to scripture if something seems off.

I found “The Ragamuffin Gospel” to be a cool reminder that God loves me. Not so much an earthshattering revelation to me but a good reassurance, a good step back. I don’t know what your theology says, but I think when you look at the entirety of scripture the overarching message is love. Love. And freedom. God is a loving father who wants us to be free, but he leaves the choice to us. Good grief, I am so blessed to be secure in my faith at this point.

This is not to say that anything goes. There are rules and guidelines. Being free doesn’t mean giving in to every whim and temptation.

I may not have had a mountaintop moment, but I can totally see how “The Ragamuffin Gospel” could be life changing for someone with a different background or at a different point in their life. A trusted friend pointed out recently that, at the time the book was originally published, the image of a loving God versus a judgmental God was a fairly revolutionary concept. (Funny how we humans can read the same bible and interpret it differently.) You might know the latter better than the former if you grew up on fire and brimstone, have ever listened to a street preacher yelling “Repent!”, or are familiar with legalism.

I have seen many people impacted positively by all things Ragamuffin over the last year … the movie tour, retreats, and an active online community. People with a wide variety of hurts … abuse, addiction, depression, dysfunction, isolation, disillusionment with the church and Christianity, and even just feeling angsty and unworthy.

The makers of “Ragamuffin”, having seen that somewhat unexpected impact, are working to bring the follow-up film to life. The prayer is “Brennan” will be used by God to have a similar impact on those who need it, to reach more people with the good news of the gospel.

We need help if all of this is going to happen.
  • Above all we need prayer … for all involved in production, for all involved in financing or considering making a contribution, for all those needed to make the movie tour go smoothly in 2016.
  •  We need people to help spread the word about this film and why it’s important.  Share this post, tell your friends and family, tell your church. Follow the movie’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Sign up for email updates at
  • Watch “Ragamuffin” if you haven’t yet. Available on Netflix, or order the DVD from one of several online retailers. If you would like to host a “Ragamuffin” screening of any size, contact me or whoever shared this post with you. We can make it happen.
  •  We need churches and other venues (we’re not too picky!) to host “Brennan” screenings when the movie tour begins in 2016. Email for more info.
  • We need funding. It’s true, it takes money to make a film. Please consider supporting the gofundme campaign.* Be sure to watch the video from director David Leo Schultz on the gofundme page!  
Thank you for reading this far. God is doing some pretty cool things through this effort. It's not about any one of us individually or even as a group of ragamuffiny types. It's about pointing people to Jesus.

* Update: Originally a Kickstarter was set up for this effort. Understand that, unlike gofundme, Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" campaign ... if the goal is not met, no credit cards are charged and the project is not even funded in part. Out of the blue (God will provide!), about a week before the scheduled end of the campaign, when the total raised was not looking good ... a generous donor provided half the budget but did not wish to donate through Kickstarter. Soooo ... the filmmakers have launched into pre-production, cancelled the Kickstarter, and set up a gofundme to raise the remaining funds. This movie will be made!

Monday, April 13, 2015

God Speaks

God speaks to me through my iPod.

Not burning bush style or anything, but when I have it on shuffle, driving down the road usually, sometimes the perfect song with the perfect message at the perfect time comes on. More than just an “oh hey I really like this song”. Something I need to hear.

God speaks to me at the beach. Maybe I just finally get quiet enough to hear him there.

I think God spoke to me through a Hallmark movie the other night.

I’ve heard it said, “If you go looking for God, you’ll find him.” Indeed. But what about those times when you weren’t particularly seeking him out. I mean, you know he’s there. You talk to him all the time.

But do you really? Do you really shut down that overflowing, ADD-like brain of yours and just listen? For more than a few fleeting moments here and there?


For my fellow nonbelievers in coincidence …

I feel like God throws me little hey, hi, howdy signs. Hi, I’m still here. Hey, you’re on the right track. Howdy, yeah, I really meant that.

Please don’t take any of this as a self-righteous “I’m special because God speaks to me” not-so-humble brag. I don’t hear his voice so much as I hear a thought or phrase in my head I can’t seem to shake. I think many people of faith have similar experiences. Some talk about them, some don’t. When I do actually “hear” something, I constantly question whether it’s from God or my own active imagination. Prayer and being cognizant of open and closed doors seems to help. I definitely don’t have it all figured out.

Actually knocking on those doors helps, too.

I don’t pretend to have a clue how to bring on the nudge I so often seek. God speaks when he wants. He speaks what I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Often I don’t know quite what to do with what I hear either.

I also don’t pretend to understand the difference between those times I view a push or nudge or message of comfort as heaven sent versus just the usual puttering through my day. Is it me? Is it a faith thing? Don’t really know. Not sure I really care either.

I am in a season of a lot of closed doors. Old ones that used to be open. New ones that looked promising. Some that seem to be waving in the wind ... open, closed, open, closed. They’re not all closed, but the open ones can confound me to the point that I wait what seems like a million years to walk through. Maybe I expected them to close by the time I got to them. Maybe God was holding me back for a while. God’s timing is perfect and all that, and I’m probably just being impatient with myself, but those open doors weren’t the ones I expected. And I hate surprises.

Some friends asked me a challenging question over dinner recently. Challenging because I knew the answer, but I wasn’t ready to broadcast it yet. Watch Jenn bob and weave like a seasoned politician. Their words, followed by more words from other places and some more words after that and tons o’prayer and probably some more words … made it abundantly clear that yoohoo I really meant what I said and it’s time now.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

I honestly think sooner might have been too soon, so there’s that.

Awhile later a few things have happened, some doors are open, but I feel slightly at a standstill. I was just happy to find a couple hours of escape in a lovely Hallmark movie. It’s Hallmark, so there will be plenty of lighthearted moments, the drama and/or conflict will be short-lived, and everyone will live happily ever after.

The themes of this particular movie were relevant to my current situation. That was not lost on me. And there was a wise old soul who said things in a que sera sera manner to the effect of, “If God wants x, there will be x.” I never object to a little dose of Jesus in my Hallmark movie. (You won’t usually get more than a little dose, but that’s a whole different post.) What caught my attention, though, was a visual toward the end. It snapped me back to something I have not been able to get out of my head. It was a super-clear-to-me, hey-yeah-I-actually-did-mean-that, over-here-hi-remember-me kind of thing.

I could have been reading a book. I could have been watching something else. I could have left the room during that scene.

But no.


Yet again today I saw a similar scene on the social media. Okay, thanks, I get it.

I also wasn’t sure I was going to publish this post when I first wrote it. I let it age overnight in anticipation of doing a final edit and maybe posting or maybe not. Monday distractions and obligations have been keeping me from getting to it. An email notification of comments on my blog – a rare event since about five of you lovely people read me – provided yet another nudge to get on here and get on with it.

Hallmark movies. Sure. Why not.