Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Lessons Learned from an Edited Life
By Lauren Yarger
Donald Miller isn’t an easy man to get to know. In fact, he doesn’t seem to know himself all that well, which is the premise for his latest book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" (Thomas Nelson, 2009).

Miller, who catapulted to fame with his best selling “Blue Like Jazz,” found his life had stalled. He was avoiding his publisher and deadlines while pondering the meaning of life when two filmmakers, Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson (“The Second Chance”) contacted Miller about adapting “Blue Like Jazz” into a movie.

The three begin to transform the “Don” of the book into a more film-friendly and easier-to-know character, and in the process, Miller discovers that his life is really, rather boring on the surface. He tries to create scenes for the character by remembering significant moments, and finds he has forgotten a lot and events that he does remember don’t lend themselves to great cinematography. He starts living new stories to create a character, including attempting a reconciliation with the father whom he barely remembers, and ends up writing a new life story.

What seems at first ramblings by a guy who is having trouble finding something worthwhile about his life to report to a God portrayed as impersonal and not inclined to let humans in on what their life’s purpose is anyway, shifts and becomes a rather thoughtful collection of insights into what’s important and how we can shape our lies into better stories.

I particularly enjoyed the format of the book, which follows Miller’s attempts to structure his life like a screenplay. Exposition is followed by chapters breaking down the overall premise driving any story plot: a character who wants something and who overcomes conflict to get it. Being a writer, I could relate to this approach to life and the format made Miller’s experiences and stories far more interesting.

In fiction, characters often take on a life of their own and write a story quite different from the one the author sets out to pen. So it is with life, Miller discovers, as characters write their own stories, despite what God, the author, might have had in mind.

“I told God no again, but he came back to me and asked me if I really believed he could write a better story – and if I did, why didn’t I trust him.”

It’s this kind of deep philosophical thought mixed with dry humor that propels “A Million Miles.” Despite an underlying sadness you can’t help feel comes from the author’s belief that he doesn’t know God as well personally as he’d like to or should, the book is a thoughtful exploration of developing a meaningful life.

You can download some sample chapters here. For more information or to purchase the book, click here.

News in Christian Arts

Variety Show Benefits Actors in Need
The Episcopal Actors' Guild offers the next installment of its popular variety show Yo Pro this Thursday featuring singing from three very talented artists, dances from three unique troupes and performance by two actors. And as always, get ready for the comedic stylings of Karen and Matt!

Oct. 1, 2009
Guild Hall, 1 E. 29th St., NYC
Happy hour at 6 pm, first act at 7.
The $10 suggested donation benefits the actors in need fund.

Rebecca Hicks - Singer (Opera)
Annemarie Rosano - Singer
Dane Aska III - Monologue
Jenny Efremova - Dancer
Mari Meade Montoya - Dancer
Vangeline - Dancer (Butoh)
and many more...

Refreshments will be served. Space is limited. RSVP to 212-685-2927, or matt@actorsguild.org.

Earlybird Deadline Nears for CLASS Christian Writing Conference
Save $50 with a registration for the CLASS Christian Writers Conference by Oct. 15.

The conference (formerly Glorieta) will be held Nov. 4-8 at The Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM and will include a time of spiritual strengthening, professional equipping and fellowship, with keynotes from Alex Kendrick ("Facing the Giants," and "Fireproof") and James Bryan Smith ("Renovare," "The Good," and "Beautiful God").

Workshop leaders include Bucky Rosenbaum, Jerome Daley, DiAnn Mills, Kathy Carlton Willis, Jesse Florea, Terri Blackstock, Len Goss.

To register visit http://www.classeminars.org/ or call 702-882-0638.

Screwtape Tour Doing Well
The Screwtape Letters, presented by Fellowship for the Performing Arts and starring Max McLean as Screwtape, is sold out in San Francisco and is selling well on a national tour following performances in New York and Chicago. Dates and cities include:
Phoenix Oct 30 - Nov 1
Louisville, KY Nov 6 - 7
Ft. Lauderdale, FL Nov 14 - 15
Chattanooga, TN Nov 21 - 22
Washington, DC Dec 16 - Jan 3

For more information, visit http://www.screwtapeonstage.com/.

Q & A with Bruce Wilkinson
Join WaterBrook Multnomah publishers for a live broadcast with Bruce Wilkinson, author of "You Were Born for This" read the review here).

DATE: Monday, October 5th, 2009
TIME: 7 pm EST
DESCRIPTION: Part 1/3 - Watch as Bruce explains what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need. Then ask your questions and receive answers from Bruce live through the online chat room on www.Livestream.com/WaterBrookMultnomah.

Additional live broadcasts from the top Christian authors on a variety of subjects also are planned. For the schedule, visit http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/livestream.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Greetings from Maine

Greetings from the land of lobsters. This week I'm in Edgecomb, Maine, writing and enjoying a little break. On Wednesday, I'll be heading back to the site of a the former camp where I met God for the first time more than 30 years ago and gave my life to him.

I haven't been back to the area since, so I'm looking forward to reflecting and remembering. I've changed a lot in those three decades, and God no longer is a stranger. I'll blog about it next week when I get back.

Meanwhile, scroll down and read about Randy Alcorn's latest book: "If God is Good," hot off the presses.
-- Lauren Yarger

Book Note: 'If God is Good' by Randy Alcorn

Faith in the Midst of Sufferings and Evil
Summary from the publisher (Multnomah Books, September 2009): Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Author Bio:
Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

For more information or to purchase the book, visit http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421326.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review: 'You Were Born for This' by Bruce Wilkinson

Exciting, Practical Advice for Partnering with God on Miracles
By Lauren Yarger
Bruce Wilkinson describes his newest book “You Were Born for This” (WaterBrook Multnomah, 2009) as his former best seller, “The Prayer of Jabez” “to the miracle power.” While a few passages might bring to mind the prosperity message in “Jabez,” this work, written with David Kopp, who also partnered with Wilkinson on “Jabez,” stands on its own as an exciting, inspiring and practical challenge to Christians.

In “You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles,” Wilkinson takes on the topic of miracles and reveals our somewhat limited thoughts about how they can and do take place and what our part in them might be.

“We live in an era that seems to have reduced much of Christian life to two expectations: what God can do for us, and what we can do for God. But every page of this book has been intended to demonstrate to you a third and profoundly more thrilling expectation: what God can do through us for others.”

Through seven “keys” Wilkinson unlocks obstacles to practical everyday steps for learning how to identify opportunities where God wants to use us to work in the lives of others,

The author uses numerous stories of people who were helped by others who were willing to be of service. There are amazing stories of the author running late for an appointment, having plans changed suddenly or even having an urge for ice cream that turn out to be part of God’s plan, rather than normal circumstances of which we might not even take note.

Most exceptional is Wilkinson’s retelling of receiving spiritual “nudges” while addressing a group of men at a retreat. He singles out a man, puts him on the spot and asks what’s going wrong in his life. The man at first denies any problem and Wilkinson, doubtin himself, returns to the platform to continue his talk where he again receives supernatural urging to go back to the man and confront him again. As you might have guessed, there was a problem and the outcome of Wilkinson’s obedient persistence and the response of the men at the retreat will blow you away.

Just when you’re thinking, “Gosh, it would be fun to hang out with this guy,” you realize that he wants to unleash the same miracle partnering power in you.

It really is an absorbing read and absolutely inspiring. Personally, Wilkinson helped clear up a point I have been struggling with for many years now: just how much control do people, especially those unwilling to answer God’s urging to give of their time, money or other resources for his works, have in preventing God from accomplishing his task. Frankly, I’ve never heard any preaching on the subject, but Wilkinson offers some great insight into biblical passages that address the issue head on:

“The amount of our faith – and actions we take as a result – can either limit or release God to act in a miracle situation.”

If that seems at odds with your vision of an omnipotent God, I’d urge you to read the book. You might just be surprised.

Wilkinson’s use of miraculous stories from the bible, as well as from his personal life, sheds new light on some familiar passages and gives new perspective. You’ll never look at Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch quite the same way again.

Along with instruction for how to be open to God’s plan, Wilkinson offers some practical advice for remaining neutral and non-judgmental while a miracle is taking place and for making sure to give God the credit when it does.

“You were Born for This” will give you a new sense of purpose and a way to pursue it immediately. It all comes down to this:

“We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

SPECIAL OFFER: We have a copy of this book for give away. To enter for a chance to win, email masterworkproductions@yahoo.com with “BORN FOR THIS GIVEAWAY” in the subject line by 8pm Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. In the email, include your name, mailing address and telephone number. A winner will be selected Monday, Sept. 21 at 9pm with the winner's name posted on this blog.

Download the first chapter of the book here . You can share your own stories of miracles here.
For a video link, click here . For more information or to purchase the book, click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blessed by the Broadway Blessing

Retta Blaney and Lynn Redgrave

Asking Blessings on the Broadway Season
What a lovely service we enjoyed at last night's 13th annual Broadway Blessing at St. John the Divine cathedral in New York. Masterwork Productions, Inc. was one of the sponsors.

The ecumenical celebration of the new theater season featured thoughts from actress Lynn Redgrave, songs by Broadway's Jean Valjean J. Mark McVey, Carol Hall and Patrice Djerejian accompanied by performers from Project Dance. Casey Groves (below left) gave an excerpt from his one-man performance as Father Damian, the Catholic priest who ministered to lepers, and the Broadway Blessing choir performed medleys of show tunes. Bruce Neswick, director of music at the cathedral, played the organ.
Rabbi Jill Hausman of the Actors' Temple, The Rev. Canon Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts at the cathedral, and The Rev. Mittles DeChamplain of St. Clements Episcopal Church officiated at the service, offering prayers, thoughts and a special candlelighting which Miller said represented the light that shines out from and on those in the Broadway community. Karen Lehman, (left) Executive Director of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, read psalm 98. Mark McVey and Christopher Smith

McVey sang a beautiful song from Christopher Smith's Broadway bound musical Amazing Grace. Redgrave's reflections on surviving breast cancer were very moving. She thanks God for being here for another performance every time she stands in the wings, she said, because God and her faith are an important part of her survival. She concluded with a heartfelt reading of Psalm 23. The event is produced by founder Retta Blaney.
-- Lauren Yarger

Retta Blaney, Karen Lehman and Masterwork Productions
Executive Director Lauren Yarger

Book Review: Lights, Action, Lily!

A Fun Look at Pre-Teen Drama
By Jerry Starks
Middle school: cliques, social rivalry, and the beginnings of romantic interest. Into this bubbling pot, add a drama activity and you’ve got… “Lights, Action, Lily!” (Zonderkidz 2002). Author Nancy Rue captures many of the issues of pre-teen joy and sorrow in this fun story.

The book opens with the school children lining up for their class pictures. Shad, Lily’s personal nemesis, grins at Lily and she scowls at him just as the camera takes her picture. Not a good start to the day.

Bickering in the hallway between Lily and Shad is interrupted by Mrs. Reinhold, the English teacher, who asks Lily to meet her at lunch time. At lunch time, instead of detention Lily is offered the chance to be in a drama competition with a group of other students. They are to do some scenes from Shakespeare, and Lily is thrilled.

When the group meets for the first time, Lily finds all the students are seventh graders, and the only other sixth grader is Shad. Believing he must be there by mistake, she’s shocked that Mrs. Reinhold actually invited him. Horror is added to horror when it turns out that she and Shad are to do a scene from “The Taming of the Shrew” together. She’s appalled, but becomes determined to show him up as a fool.

As the story continues, Lily develops a grudging respect for Shad as an actor, and actually begins to enjoy their scene. Meanwhile, Ashley, who is Shad’s girlfriend, is threatening death and destruction to Lily for coming between her and Shad. Ashley eventually stages a scene of her own where she frames Shad and nearly gets him suspended and therefore unable to participate in the drama competition.

The seventh-grade members of the Shakespeare Club are annoyed at having to put up with the two younger kids. When nobody else came up with a theme to hold all the scenes together, Lily’s idea was glumly accepted and covertly ridiculed.

Against all odds, Shad learns his lines and is magnificent, Lily enjoys working with Shad, and everything looks successful. Then two days before the competition, Lily gets sick, and the doctor says there’s no possibility of her participating in the competition. A tiny bit of comfort is that her friend, Kresha, has been helping her learn lines and is familiar enough with the script that she can stand in for Lily. Even through her dismay, Lily is genuinely happy for Kresha, and happy for Shad being able to compete after all.
Sick and miserable at missing the competition, Lily is startled when the whole drama team comes to her house to celebrate their victory.

Ms. Rue’s characters felt very real to me. She did a good job of portraying pre-teen angst and gently introducing Biblical morality and behavior into the story. In a very deft twist of plot, when Lily sees the picture taken at the beginning of the story, she’s at a place where she recognizes how unattractive she is when she scowls, and decides she needs to change her outlook and behavior. Other positive messages include not being intimidated by bullies, being willing to change your opinion of someone, and the value of friendship. I thought the ending scene when all the members of the Shakespeare Club show enthusiastic approval of Lily and gratitude for her ideas… well, that was the most unrealistic part of the story for me. Success doesn’t always change people from being disdainful to being appreciative. That being said, “Lights, Action, Lily!” is still a good read for young readers.

Buy this book, or other in the Lily series here http://www.christianbook.com/lily-lights-action-nancy-rue/9780310702498/pd/02496?item_code=WW&netp_id=266848&event=ESRCN&view=covers#curr

Jerry Starks is associate director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and has numerous acting and directing credits in both secular and Christian productions. He resides in Essex Junction, VT where he is active in the arts ministry at his church.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bells Peal Peace Near Site of 911 Ground Zero

By Lauren Yarger
Eight years ago on this date, I didn’t know if it would ever be possible to feel peaceful, or in fact, to feel anything again, after the terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center. Personally, it was the beginning of a long walk through an emotional and spiritual desert in which the Lord was my only oasis (read how God walked with me through the dry years in an article published by ByDesign Ministries by clicking here.)

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero, now the site of bustling construction as redevelopment and a memorial are going up. Just around the corner stands historic Trinity Episcopal Church, (you may know it from the movie “National Treasure”) a lovely building with beautiful stained glass windows that stood when the towers came down. It also boasts a new donation of 12 change bells (read the story here) . Last Saturday, members of The North American Guild of Change Ringers had gathered at the church for its annual meeting and at noon, the baffles in the tower were opened. A burst of unfettered joy resounded all through the area.

Sitting on a bench in the adjacent cemetery which holds the resting places of those dead for centuries, with many tombstones so worn with time that they are illegible, I felt a peace I never would have imagined possible in 2001. That day, the world changed. We united, recovered and moved on, but we’ll never again be able to live a day without knowing that everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Except for God, that is, and this thought is what brought such peace last Saturday. The bells pealed and seemed to tone “He is here; yes, he is here!” and the tragic events of September 2001, for the first time, seemed a long time ago.

A burst of applause greeted the first touch. It was like a little slice of heaven, where all that is good and all that is right joins together in harmonious song to shout with joy to the Almighty.

The bells will ring again in a special memorial Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 from 8 to 8:45 am.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Simple Answers to Living Without Fear

By Lauren Yarger
“Fearless” by Max Lucado, a timely essay on the complicate process of overcoming life’s many fears, offers good advice, catchy turns of phrase and hope-filled stories and can be summarized in one easy lesson: trust God. That lesson, true and sound as it might be, could ring a little hollow for believers in the throes of severe struggle, or for non believers hoping to find solutions in the book (Thomas Nelson, 2009).

In typical Lucado style, the minister of writing and preaching for Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, TX offers lots of practical advice. There are action plans for controlling fears we encounter. I particularly liked the eight-step and easy-to-remember approach to dealing with worry (each step begins with letters that spell out the acronym PEACEFUL). In addition, Lucado gives good advice about praying for our children, focusing on what God has accomplished, trusting God to use evil for good and remembering that the Holy Spirit walks with us through any trial.

He gives many “Lucadoisms,” those “ah ha” moments that become fuel for status updates on social networking sites like:
• “Nothing can foster courage like a clear grasp of grace. And nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy.”
• “Questions can make hermits of us, driving us into hiding.”
• “Fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment.”
• “Whether or not storms come we cannot choose. But where we stare during a storm, that we can.” (incidentally, I felt that thought could have been edited into better structure)

He tells hopeful stories of faith born out of fear, like the conversion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Lucado’s own experiences as he faced heart surgery, but the bottom line always is the same: just have faith.

Arguably, he's right, but practically, this advice won't always bring the comfort intended. When struggling with the fears Lucado highlights like financial ruin, disappointing God, violence, death, insignificance and the unknown, sometimes knowing that we should just trust God is easier than doing it, even if that's what we want to do. Is it helpful to tell the parent sitting at the bedside of a dying child to just "trust God?" It’s like telling an atheist who struggles with the idea of God to “just believe.” Yes, that solution will fix the problem, but does that advice really meet him in the midst of fear and help him know how to do that?

Believers unable to apply the advice to their situations, or unable to view them “from an eternal perspective” might end up feeling like failures, like their inability to just fix everything with some simple theology or scripture means that their faith isn’t strong enough. I suspect also that some non-believers who pick up the book looking for solutions might discard it early on since most of its advice is based in faith or scripture. On page 18, assuming that nonbelievers must be among his readers, Lucado writes “Have you accepted the forgiveness of Christ? If not, do so.” Again, easier said than done.

The simple lessons don’t dismiss the helpful advice which can be found in the book, however, and readers who act on the advice will be able to find comfort and solutions. After all, as Lucado points out, we have only to turn on the television newscast to find something new to fear and actively putting it in perspective is proactive. Particularly helpful is a discussion guide at the end of the book with questions to help readers and small groups examine the fears detailed in each chapter and take practical steps to alleviate then

You can purchase the book here . You can share your own stories here and watch a trailer for the book here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

This is Our Labor -- Of Love!

Masterwork Productions, Inc., a Christian organization reaching out through the performing arts. (For my full bio, scroll to the bottom of the posts on this page.)

Masterworks produces shows, presents, supports and represents Christian performers for bookings and provides training through conferences and customized workshops for church drama and worship teams.
Our artists:
(author of comedy sketches and "Adventures in Odyssey," award winning actor and screenwriter. Performances, workshops, conference tracks.

MARTHA BOLTON (Emmy-nominated writer for Bob Hope, Kathy Troccoli and others as well as being Brio magazine's "Cafeteria Lady"). Bookings and training through conferences and customized workshops for church drama and worship teams.

ERICA LANE, talented singer, song writer, worship leader. She's featured on the reality TV program "Inspired Ambition." Her music video "One Song" has just been released. Book her special Christmas tour now!

TRACIE CARLOS, worship leader and speaker
with a heart for the artist
and for women.
Workshops and retreats.

BILL COOPER, talented musician, vocalist, writer and worship leader. Former lead singer for the band Jumping Ugly, Bill can lead worship at your church and conduct workshops to take your artists to the next level.

We also have two high quality dinner theater scripts available for production at churches: Getaway to Chipaway featuring original music and a message, perfect for a church outreach or youth group event and The Seasons of Friendship, four sketches following the friendship of two women with options for adding your own music or other elements, perfect for a women's outreach event or retreat.

Our reviews of Broadway and NY theater are the only source for a professional review combined with added Christian perspective. Read them at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/

Visit our our home page at http://www.masterworkproductions.org/ or contact us at masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

24 Hour Film Project Welcomes Actors

The Filmmakers Group at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York invites all actors to learn more about their upcoming 24-Hour Film Project.

An informational meeting will be held 7 pm Saturday, Sept. 5 in the Redeemer offices, 1359 Broadway (at 36th Street). Actors will join a team of filmmakers and will collaborate to create a short film in 24 hours!

Dinner will be provided. RSVP to filmmakers@redeemer.com. If you can't make the meeting, you still can participate. Check back here after Sept. 10 for more information.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

'Passion of the Christ' Renews Passion for Christ

I just watched the movie "The Passion of the Christ." Yes, it takes me a while, sometimes (the movie was released in 2003), but for some reason, I just never got around to seeing the film that rocked the box office when church folks crammed theaters in a rush to see a Christian film made by a huge Hollywood star (Mel Gibson).

Maybe because it was a film being embraced by the church I was reluctant to see it. Honestly "Christian" films that the church gets excited about usually aren't films that interest me, and I'm a big fan of Franco Zefferelli's "Jesus of Nazareth," so I didn't feel a big need to see 'The Passion."
I'm glad I finally watched it, though. It has given me greater insight into what the Savior endured -- on my behalf. This film probably is the most realistic of any in its depiction of the brutality of the ordeal of the cross. We tend to gloss over the account of Christ being beaten without fully realizing the kind of abuse he received. I can't fully comprehend enduring the scourging with whips and flesh-ripping barbs, then having to carry a heavy cross.

I was struck by the incessant lashes while Christ was carrying the cross. "Enough, already," I wanted to yell. What's the point of whipping someone who already has been scourged almost to the point of death? The answer is shown artfully as Satan observes the action from among the crowd. Yes, that's really what it's all about. Evil influencing us to rebel against and think we're stronger than, better than, smarter than the one who can save us. Every time I sin, it's like adding a lash to Christ's suffering.

We gloss over the fact that soldiers stuck a crown of thorns on his head and mocked Christ as the king of the Jews. I used to think of that as a sort of costume piece part of the story until one day when I was gardening and reached to pull some weeds. I accidentally brushed my head into a rose bush. Let me tell you, those thorns hurt -- really hurt beyond lots of other pain I have endured -- and I only had them stuck in one small part of my head for the few seconds it took before I could extracate myself. I can't begin to imagine the suffering it caused when a crown of thorns was pushed into the flesh of my already beaten Lord. Every time I sin and refuse to repent, it's like forcing that crown on Jesus head.

Witnessing all this in the graphic detail of "The Passion" gave me a renewed sense of awe for a God who loves us so much he would sacrifice his own son to save the souls of the very people unjustly causing his pain. It boggles the mind. It puts things in perspective. It makes me want to serve him every minute of every day.

"He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." (Romans 5: 6-8 The MESSAGE).

--Lauren Yarger

Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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