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Last year, I had the honor of endorsing Johnny Carr’s new book, Orphan Justice. If you care about the gospel, orphans and justice, you need to read this book. Below, Johnny answers some key questions about the book.

Oh, and if you want to win a free copy, see below.

1) Why did you write the book?

I felt like we had unique idea and approach that might cross over and expand the idea of orphan care to be more than just an area of ministry for a fringe group of people. I wanted to show the connection between orphan care and so many others areas of everyday life. When I first started learning these things for myself, I realized that I could not separate the orphan’s plight from so many social justice issues. Then I realized that I had never really taken these issues seriously because I chalked them up to issues that “liberals” dealt with. I saw it as an “either/or” scenario instead of “both/and”. It is clear from Scripture that we should care for orphans, what I am hoping to show in the book is that caring for orphans means that we also have to care about these social justice issues that we conservatives have not dealt with effectively in the past.

2) What are your thoughts on international adoption?

I have adopted two children through international adoption. I can’t imagine my life without my two kids that came to us from another country. I also can’t imagine what their lives would have been like had they not been adopted. I consider myself to be a very strong advocate of international adoption.

Most people are now aware that international adoption has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. Now, the vast majority of children adopted internationally are older or special needs children. Many of these kids will have significant challenges. However, the challenge of growing up without a family will be far greater than the challenges that come through adoption.

But, international adoption is only part of the solution when looking at the global picture. For kids that need a family, we need to be just as passionate about promoting adoption within their own country. This will include everything from preaching and teaching, addressing cultural issues, training, and supporting domestic adoption. In some cultures there will be significant issues to address and may take a long time to really see culture change. We must be committed and we must be convicted to seeing this type of change all the way through. Working through the local churches, we can see this happen.

3) Do you hate orphanages?

Yes and no (I should have been a politician). I am thankful that many of orphanages are feeding, clothing, providing shelter, and sometimes even providing spiritual nourishment for children. I recognize that it is better for child to have these things than to live on the street. I know that there are many orphanages that do good things and are run by good people with pure motives.

However, what I do hate is the fact that we have seen orphanages become a long term solution for children and that we (as the Church) have become satisfied. I show a lot of research in the orphanage chapter about children who live their lives in orphanages. Beyond the secular research, as Christians, we should be appalled that children are not living in a family. It’s is simple biblical principle that children belong in families.

Orphanages are built as a reaction to a problem. Family based and community based care is built on the principles of being proactive. It’s not easy and it’s not done overnight. I don’t think churches should leave an orphanage without support that they have been supporting. I am hoping that Orphan Justice will start a new conversation about how we do orphan care and the role of orphanages.

To answer your question more directly – I don’t hate orphanages. I do hate the fact that the must exist. I also hate the fact that so many of us have become satisfied with them being a long term solution for children.

Free Book Giveaway

Thanks Johnny for taking time to share and also for writing this book. I hope and pray it challenges readers to care for orphans on a much deeper level. You can buy the book here. (Affiliate Link)

Johnny is also giving away two copies of his book. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered to win. I will select a winner next Tuesday.

UPDATE: Congrats to Melissa Baldwin and Crystal Rucker for winning Johnny’s book. Email me (see comments) your address. If I don’t receive an email by this Tuesday, I will choose another winner. Thanks to everyone for leaving  a comment. I hope you purchase a copy of the book.

Book Review: 7

Chris Marlow —  January 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

Jen Hatmaker’s latest book “7″ is a quick hitting book, filled with lots of real life stories that so many of her readers can connect with immediately.  Humbly, and yet with a sense of boldness, Jen tackles some real life issues, that for the most part, we would all like to ignore.


How many of us really want to deal with the fact that we possibly spend too much, have too much, eat too much and spend too much time on technology.  No thank you… We all desire our sin to stay in the dark… to be ignored, or justified.

Yet, deep in our hearts we know we need change.  We know we have to process these simple yet powerful truths.

Recently, I sent a tweet out that said this: “The world needs the church to be brave.”

7 is exactly what I mean by brave.  When the church (people, not the building) is brave, someone who is hurting can be helped.  If we live simple and become more generous our impact becomes larger, and more people will experience help, an orphan will have food, a homeless person will maybe have a home, and community could have access to clean water… this is “good news,” if you’re hungry, thirsty or homeless.

This book, will help you to become brave.  Jen and her family set an example with a deep sense of humility, lots of fun, and a genuine heart that desires to serve the “least of these ” and also fight consumerism and over-consumption.

In scripture, Paul makes a simple statement: Follow me, as I follow Christ.  7, is a modern version of Paul’s statement.  May we follow Jen as she leads us on a real life adventure to live more simple and to give more extravagantly, so our lives can be make a larger impact in our world.

Will you be brave…?  You can start by reading this book, and also give this book to friends, family members, your small group… etc!  We need this message to spread like a wildfire.


* I was given an advanced copy of this book to review. I did not have to give a positive review.

Go Barefoot

Chris Marlow —  October 27, 2011 — 2 Comments
I wish Barefoot Churchwas written before I planted my first church.  It would have saved me a lot of pain and mistakes.  This is a book filled with practical action-steps that will help the church embrace the beauty of Sunday and prepare for living out the mission, to love God and love our neighbor; locally and globally.

I would encourage pastors to share this book with their board members, staff members and key church leaders. Take time to process what is at stake here.  You will get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of  what a living church can be like if we are willing to take risks, move away from the “known” and see how we can truly love our broken world.

Brandon has penned a missional guide…he leads us down a practical pathway that will help us discover some tangible ways that will cause our churches to be more effective.

Though I must warn you, if you’re looking for something easy, or a silver bullet to church growth, you may be disappointed.  While the book is practical and helpful, it’s also challenges us to do the “hard” work that is necessary to love people and to see God do amazing works through the local church.

Get the book; read it, pray over it, get together with some other friends, leaders, pastors and discuss the content and it’s potential Kingdom ramifications.  Let it challenge you, inspire you, and make you angry.

Agree with it, disagree with it…allow it to help shape you and your church into a deeper missional community, that is striving to live out the principles of God’s Kingdom together.

Let’s go barefoot today…

Last week I interviewed blogger Dan King. He just released a new ebook: The Unlikely Missionary.  I hope you enjoy it.

Dan, before we jump into the content of the book, let me ask you a question. “How did you overcome the natural fears that most aspiring authors have and actually write this ebook?”

That’s a great question! Even though I’ve finished writing this one, I’m still kinda freaked out! I’ve been a blogger for about five years. I’ve rarely (if ever) referred to myself as a writer, because bloggers really aren’t writers, are they? But I’ve had some people express their confidence in me as a writer, and that’s helped a lot. One author asked me how many words I have published on my blog, and realizing that I’ve written over a quarter of a million words, he told me that I’ve already been published more than many other authors he knows. I guess sometimes I’m too hard on myself, but that’s only because I don’t have any professional training or a big degree in writing. But sticking to it, consistently, has helped me earn the respect of others who have helped to encourage me. I just know that I have a story to tell, one that’s important to God, and the power of people who believe in me. That’ll get you though any obstacles!

In your book, you state that you believe in the “power of laity of the church.” This struck a huge chord with me, as I believe every Christian must be engaged in seeking justice. Can you expand on this belief?

Yeah… this is a big one for me. And as you read in the book you see that I’m just an average dude. I’m not the seminary-trained pastor, or anything fancy like that. I’m just an average guy who sits in the church like 99% of the rest of Christianity. But as I study the word, I learn that the work of the ministry is for everyone. We are ALL called to go impact the world for the sake of the Gospel. All of the other clergy of the church… they’re really just our support structure. But too often we look at them to lead us somewhere, when (I believe) we are the ones that should be looking at the world and calling out, “Hey! Look at this need over here! They need help, and I want to do what I can to help them… in Jesus name!” I love my pastors a great deal, but if I wait on them to deal with the poverty epidemic or orphan crisis (things that are important to me), then I may never see anything get done. But they have taught me, equipped me, and sent me out to go make a difference on my own. And that’s the way it should be for all of us!

In the ebook, you stated that you knew your life was going to change when you took your first mission trip. Why?

Doing something like going to Africa carries a certain expectation with it. We all see the commercials on TV with the kids with bloated stomachs who are dying of starvation. I knew that I’d probably see some of that, but I wasn’t sure how much. All I knew ahead of time was that diving head-first into an experience like that was going to provide a certain level of culture shock that I knew would be difficult to overcome. But being on that trip made me see lots of things differently. It made me think about how I could experience a similar culture shock by traveling just a couple of miles to another part of town that I usually try to avoid. But taking the time to get into these people’s worlds, understanding them on a personal level, and connecting with them as friends, it all made me see them as human beings who suffer extreme circumstances. And when a friend goes through something extreme, it impacts you. There’s just no way to go back to ‘normal’.

In chapter five, you talk about that it means to invest your talents. You wanted to make a tangible impact. Looking back, how did you do that and what fruit have you seen?

It’s hard to say, because I have little contact with the actual students who’s lives I had the chance to invest in. But I’m definitely seeing impact on this side of the equation too. The experience has impacted my family a great deal, especially my son. He’s learning at an early age that helping others less fortunate than us is one BIG way that we show the love of Jesus to the world. It’s funny, but even at eight-years old he is already sensing the presence of God in the times when we serve through global missions or local outreach ministry. I’m also seeing the fruit in others through the stories that I’ve been able to share. I’m seeing people who are becoming motivated to stand up and find little things that they can do to make a big difference… and THAT’s what it’s all about. Even if I haven’t left much tangible change in Africa, their lives have sent ripples throughout my life and the lives of those around me.

What advice would you give someone who’s never been on a short-term mission trip, and wants to go?

Start small. Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of having to go on some big trip and do something huge. For me getting to Africa (my first short-term mission trip) started with writing a blog post about an organization who I thought was doing good work. In fact, it probably wasn’t even 300 words. But that little thing led to another little thing, and before you know it, I’m getting an email asking if I’d be interested in going to Africa. And that brings me to the other thing… pray constantly. I’m not talking about asking God, “Should I go to Africa?”. But I talked to him enough about this issue that when the opportunity came up it was kind of a no-brainer. I already knew that He was in it, and it was quickly evident that doing this trip was right where I needed to be. But it’s all about following God’s leading and just doing what you can with the things that He’s putting on your heart.


Great job Dan – To read this book in it’s entirety, go here for the Kindle Version, here for the Nook version and here for the PDF version. And, feel free to share this link on Twitter, FB and other social media outlets.


Leadership Is Dead

Chris Marlow —  May 16, 2011 — 3 Comments

I just started reading Leadership Is Dead: How Influence Is Reviving It by Jeremie Kubicek. This book was recommended by my good friend Brandon Hatmaker. He also has a review on his blog.


Some quotes to ponder:

“True empowering leadership can be revived if we are willing to embrace a few core concepts: • We must understand what the role of leadership is and what it is not. • We must be willing to explore the inner world of leadership—things such as intent, power, and motive. • Influence needs to be recognized as the engine of true leadership. • Leaders must understand how to influence, not simply how to lead.”

“Where manipulation typically wounds, influence energizes.”

“Self-preservation has no place in the mind of a modern leader; at least not if he or she expects anyone to follow.”

“A leader highlights the path, models the principles and values of a group, or a department, or an entire organization, and encourages those who follow in pursuit of their clearly designated goals.”

“Since a leader’s role is to be at the forefront of change, being left behind is a bad career move.”

“We must always remember that good leadership is a vehicle for people to influence for others’ best. To do so we must manage ourselves before putting generic principles on the backs of others. It is our responsibility in order to see true leadership come alive.”


You can find a review of the intro here and chapter one here

rejesus-cover-v1-199x2993Some thoughts from chapter two: 

The focus on chapter two is the need to ReJesus the individual as disciples of Jesus. The authors argue that the life of the disciple should directly be influenced by our Christology, and our Christology then directly influences our missiology, which then determines our ecclesiology. Basically our mission in life and how we operate that mission comes directly from our belief in the way of Jesus. 

Not everyone agrees with the authors conclusions. Some argue that our Ecclesiology should come second, then Missiology should come third: Christology>>>>Ecclesiology>>>Missiology. I prefer to see it more from a triangle perspective: Jesus is the head and missiology and ecclesiology are both essential, but one is not more vital then the other-they need to co-exist! 

Some quotes:

“If it is not already clear, let us state it emphatically: We believe that Christology is the key to the renewal of the church in every age and in every possible situation it might find itself in.”

“Christology must determine missiology (our purpose and function in this world), which in turn must determine ecclesiology (the cultural forms and expressions of the church).

“One of the most urgent reasons why we need to re-envision ourselves around Jesus is that our imaginations so easily become captive to the dominant forces in our culture, whether those forces are economic, political, religious or ideological.”

rejesus-cover-v1-199x2992Before I review chapter one of ReJesus, I wanted to share some thoughts that Jonathan had here and here. Also, here is a link to an interview by Alan Hirsch via Ed Stetzer. 

Quotes from chapter one: 

“By dying for us to set us free from the penalty of our sinfulness, he doesn’t nullify the call to good works and godly living.” 

“The process of reJesusing the church will begin with a rediscovery of the fierce and outrageous life of Jesus.”

“Through the eyes of Jesus, we will see God differently, no longer as a distant father figure, but through the paradigm of the missio Dei to find the sent and sending God. Second, we will see the church differently, no longer as a religious institution but as a community of Jesus followers devoted to participating in his mission. We call this the participatio Christi. And third, through Jesus’ eyes we will see the the world fresh, not simply as fallen or depraved but as bearing the mark of the imago Dei-image of God.”

“When we see God as Jesus understood him, we see a God so devoted to his broken planet that he issues himself forth to redeem it.” 

“It us one of our greatest mistakes to equate the church with the kingdom of God. The kingdom is much broader than the church-it is cosmic in scope. The church is perhaps the primary agent of the kingdom but must not be equated fully with it. We need to be able to see the kingdom activity wherever it expresses itself and join with God in it.”

My thoughts: 

The authors are laying a foundation in chapter one. Basically they are promoting the idea that God is on a mission (missio Dei) and he calls us to be ambassadors for that mission. Yet, we’ve (current Western culture) have domesticated Jesus and replaced him with religion.  Therefore we need to be “reJesused” so we can get back to the original plan of God and participate (participatio Christi) and bring redemption to humanity which had been created in the imago Dei-image of God.

Thoughts On ReJesus

Chris Marlow —  January 9, 2009 — 3 Comments


I’ve decided to do a chapter by chapter review on ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church.

Missional is all the rage these days. But I’m worried we may water-down the importance and meaning of missional. No I don’t think we need to have a post-missional discussion yet. I think we need to do our best to stay focused on the task at hand, which is: 

1. How do we become missional followers of Jesus from an individual perspective? How does the story of Jesus change me as a person?
2. How do we become missional followers of Jesus as people involved in a larger global community which is known as the church or God’s people?
3. How does God’s people live on-mission outside the so-called walls of the church? How do we influence culture, love our neighbor etc?


Thooughts from the Introductions

H&F asks some key questions:

 -”What ongoing role does Jesus the Messiah play in shaping the ethos & self-understanding of the movement that originated in him?”
- “In how many ways do we domesticate the radical Revolutionary in order to sustain our religion and religiosity?”
- “How can a rediscovery of Jesus renew our discipleship, the Christian community, and the ongoing mission of the church?”

“It seems to us that a constant, and continual, return to Jesus is absolutely essential for any movement that wishes to call itself by his name.”

“Surly the challenge for the church today s to be taken captive by the agenda of Jesus, rather than seeking to mold him to fit our agendas, no matter how noble they might be.”

“The challenge before us is to let Jesus be Jesus and to allow ourselves to be caught up in his extraordinary mission for the world.”

“And so any attempt to reJesus the church must also recover a real sense of the radical and revolutionary nature of what it means to follow JEsus in the current  Western context.”

“Christology is the study and examination of the entire phenomenon of Jesus, including his person and work and teachings, for the purpose of determining in what ways the various elements of his life and activity can be emulated by sinful human beings.” 

“ReJesus is an attempt to reinstate the central role of Jesus in the ongoing spiritual life of the faith and in the life and mission of God’s people. More specifically, it is an attempt to recalibrate the mission of the church around the person and work of Jesus.”

I’ve recently received The Chronological Study Bible from Thomas Nelson. Needless to say I did not read the entire text. I spent a few weeks doing my morning devotions from this Bible. Because of that I feel like I have a good feel for what the publishers were trying to accomplish.

First of all let me say that I’m thoroughly impressed with the artwork and amazing colors. It really makes reading the Bible enjoyable. 

The text is arranged in chronological order. So if you’ve read the Bible over and over, this can really be refreshing and it can also help you understand the events as they happened. The point is not to change the canonical order of scripture but to help us grasp the Biblical narrative as it played out. 

They used the NKJV Translation and the Bible is divided into Nine Epochs. Each Epoch has a through introduction and  I did enjoy the various study tools that was provided. They also provided a legitimate concordance. Throughout the text you will find great study tools that will benefit the reader. 

Don’t get me wrong, I would not make this my permanent Study Bible. But I do think it adds value to my collection. I’m thinking about reading it as a devotion in 2009 and I would recommend it.


Marcus Buckingham is one of my favorite authors. Not that long ago Marcus brought to the forefront the need to make sure we are focused on our strengths. It’s been really helpful for many people. So when I had the opportunity to review his latest work I was excited. 

The Truth About You is not really a book. It’s more like an experience. It’s basically a multi-media toolkit that includes a small book, memo pad and DVD. You really have to take time to think and process the information so you can put it to use. The tool kit helps you do that. 

The book really deals with 3 Myths// 3 Truths. As always Marcus tries to help us discover our strengths by by neutralizing our weaknesses. The book is a quick read. I know for me it not only reminded me that I need to stay focused on what I do best, but it helped me create a pathway to do just that. 

The one aspect that I did find frustrating was the book could not come out of the case. It felt a little awkward. But it’s truly a good tool and I would definitely recommend it.