The Little Cross

When it comes to witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to young children, say as young as the age of eight, it can often seem a daunting task. The attention span of a child that young is short, often very, very short. One can easily ‘tell the story’ but if a child is not interested, it becomes simply a rehearsal of words. It’s important to seize upon those all too infrequent times where they truly want to know what it’s about. Today was such a day and an answer to prayer.

My husband and I were blessed to be asked to watch our grandson overnight. I love the times I get with the grandchildren. They are such a blessing. We’ve been keeping each and every one of them in prayer with particular emphasis on their salvation. I got up early today so as to attend early church service with my grandson while my husband had praise team practice for the later service. During the early hours of pre-dawn, I was praying earnestly that my grandson might happen upon one of those times of interest during hearing the Word preached at church. Little did I know, God had another moment in the Word in mind.

During our drive to church my grandson had my husband’s Bible on his lap. He noticed that the Bible had a metal cross attached to the zipper on the case. My grandson asks, “Why is there a plus sign on PapPap’s Bible?” I looked at him and he was smiling that sneaky grin he often gets. I said, “You know that’s a cross, right?” He laughed and said yes, that he often calls it a plus sign by mistake. We then got into a bit of a discussion on the difference between a cross and a plus sign. To better emphasize the point, I began to explain how they nailed Jesus to a cross and that they placed his arms open wide and nailed each hand to each part of the cross bar, then they nailed his feet together at the bottom. He looked at me and said, “Why did they do that?” There it is folks!!! That perfect opportunity dropped in the lap … a child sincerely wanting to know the answer to his question. It was then that I could begin to explain why Jesus died on the cross … why there needed to be payment for our sins and that only He could do that for us. He listened intently, truly taking in what I was explaining.

I then shared the best part of the Good News … that three days later God raised Him from the dead. He again looked at me and said, “How did he do that?!” My heart leapt with joy as I then knew he would hear and understand when I explained about the power of God, the only One who could raise Him from the dead. AND, that that same power that raised Jesus from the dead raises us from the dead and gives us new life in heaven. I knew he understood and was taking this quite seriously because he interrupted and said, “Not everyone.” It was then that I could share with him the salvation message. I could share with him what it means to be born again, to come before God with a heart that is sorry for ones sins … to say with your mouth that you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.

We were only minutes away from church by now so I took the remaining time to explain to him about thinking about these things seriously. That when he has come to a point of believing in his heart all these things– to go before God in prayer and tell Him all those things from his heart. It is at that time that God will forgive his sins, will assure him of his inheritance in heaven, will give him His Holy Spirit to live in him—guiding and directing him the rest of his life.

He understood, he really, really understood. In that short drive to church he heard the Gospel … all because of a small cross attached to a Bible. I am confident that one day I will hear the testimony of my grandson. My part today was planting a seed. Someone else will water and nurture until that day when fruit pours forth. It was a glorious Lord’s Day. I thank my heavenly Father for having prepared this young boy’s heart to hear the Good News that saves!

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IF I WERE A VISITOR AT MY OWN CHURCH TODAY

stock-footage-wman-entering-church-and-sitting-in-pewAs we began our Sunday morning service at my church today … as the Pastor was talking about the upcoming ‘Back To Church Sunday’ coming up next week, I was struck with the thought, “What if I were a visitor in this church this morning? What impression would this church family leave on me?” Here are some thoughts that came across my mind as I considered those very questions. I would have walked away with comments like these:

  • “Gee, these people sure do pray a lot when they get together.”
  • “Aw, wasn’t that cute how the children started it off with singing praise songs they had learned. I guess they think it important to teach kids the importance of corporate praise and worship.”
  • “Wow, they sure do get together a lot with each other. Did you see all these things they have going on throughout the week?”
  • “He’s going to teach a whole series of messages on the Bible??? You just don’t see that very often in churches these days.”
  • “They seemed to really care about all the needs of the church. Did you see how happy they were to announce a member back in church following a long medical struggle? And they name all those people one by one.”
  • “I noticed that their praise and worship songs truly do praise and worship God. Not all me-me-me. I like that!”
  • “It seemed nice that some people were free to raise their hands in praise and others worshipped quietly. Some clapped, some were introspective. It was nice that people were moved as the Spirit lead.”
  • “A whole sermon devoted to Jesus as King!!! Wow, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

I think off the top of my head I truly would have walked away from ‘visiting’ this church—my church, with those very thoughts and comments. It truly is a family of God and for that very reason I enjoy every moment I spend with them. Can a person ask for much more in being a part of the church of God?

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Interview With Barnabas Piper on ‘The Pastor’s Kid’!

Author, Barnabas PiperI’ve been really excited to post this interview with Barnabas Piper, author of the soon-to-be released book ‘The Pastor’s Kid’. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of the book and, in complete honesty, it was a great read. One I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. Join me now in this interview as I ‘speak’ with Barnabas via e-mail about all things Piper! What was it like growing up as son of the well-known evangelical pastor, John Piper? Was Dad the same in person as in the pulpit? Do pastor’s kids really have tricks they use to get past the congregation? Why did you write a book about being a pastor’s kid? All this and more. Enjoy!

THE INTERVIEW:

The first thing I’d like to ask you, Barnabas, is would you share a bit about where you were born and raised? Feel free to actually throw in how old you are. How many siblings, etc.? From what I understand you’re a city boy and the neighborhood you grew up in wasn’t the easiest. Is that true?

I’m 31. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN just southeast of downtown in a neighborhood called Phillips. I have three older brothers and a younger sister. Where we grew up was an urban residential area, and it was inner city without being a really rough neighborhood. Suburban folks thought it was the hood, urban folks would find it pretty decent. I loved it. It was great experience to grow up in a neighborhood that was diverse and to play with kids from lots of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. It had its tough moments like when your garage was broken into repeatedly and bikes were stolen or when people would smash our car window in and steal the stereo. But I never felt unsafe or unsettled. It was a great place to grow up, and, having lived in the burbs for the past 13 years, I miss it.

I have to be honest in saying that one of the things that I was immediately curious about, especially when I heard you had a book coming out entitled, The Pastor’s Kid, was what it must have been like growing up the son of John Piper. I hope you’re not offended if I spend some time in that area. First, is John Piper—the father and husband—the John Piper we see from the pulpit?

Yes in terms of character and teaching. He is as consistent as the day is long. No in terms of expression. My dad is a quiet, introverted guy at home, not the fireball you see in the pulpit.

Many times your father talked about not having a TV. Is it really true (not that I’m calling your father a liar) that you grew up without television??? Surely you were able to ‘cheat’ and watch TV at your friends’ house(s)? Have you taken up this mantle in your own home as an adult?

We didn’t have a TV at home, and my folks still don’t. That was much more of a time thing than a moral thing. They never had an issue with me watching movies or sports with friends. They just knew that a TV would eat up time that would be better spent doing other things. I think that’s a big part of the reason I love sports and reading so much now. Those were my primary hobbies growing up, not TV or video games.

As your father grew in popularity, did you notice it happening and, if so, how did that affect you being his son? Did it change family life as you knew it?

I took notice of that in high school and then especially in college (late 90s-early 2000s). That’s when he went from a relatively known author/preacher to a guy who was widely known in evangelical circles and more of a “celebrity”. It didn’t change life at home much. Like I said earlier, my dad is a very consistent guy. My mom is also a strong, stable lady. They kept home life about like had always been, just with a bit more travel for him.

Outside the home it took the aspect of life I was familiar with as a PK of being known to an entirely different level. Now I was known at other churches or at the Christian college I attended. So I had to learn how to navigate that, and I didn’t always do a great job. I think I got better at it as I grew and matured, but there were too many times when I resented being known and was rude or tried to shock people by being not what one would expect John Piper’s son to be.

In your book, Barnabas, you mentioned a sermon your Dad once gave where he used a story about something that had happened to you early in life. Your side of that story/sermon is very interesting. What I’d like to know is, was it often that your Dad used you or your siblings to emphasize a sermon point and did that cause family problems?

No, it wasn’t often. My dad is not a big storyteller in his preaching, so there weren’t too many opportunities to talk about us publicly. My siblings and I weren’t often spotlighted from the pulpit. We made some appearances in his books, and it just so happened that a couple of his better known sermons feature embarrassing moments from my life, though – one when my bike got stolen (mentioned in the book) and another when I totaled my folks’ car.

I took note to the fact, while reading your book, that I was struck with the honesty with which you share childhood memories and your feelings. Did you have much experience with other pastor’s kids while growing up or did you have to learn the ropes, so to speak, alone?

I was around other PKs a lot, mainly the other PKs at our church (it had a large staff). We went to some denominational meetings and pastors conferences too, and my folks were friends with some other pastors too. But even with all that I didn’t really talk through life as a PK with anyone. I just sort of dealt with it (and not all that well). Looking back, it might have been good to have some folks with whom I could have been open with.

You’re married with children. Yes?

I am married to Lesley, and we have two daughters, Grace (8) and Dianne (5).

What things as a father do you find you now do that are a direct result of your father’s influence? Conversely, are there things your father did that you have vowed not to do?  Maybe letting your kids watch TV? 

Like any parent, I am sure I do all sorts of things unintentionally in imitation of my parents. But one thing I try very hard to follow my dad’s example in is discipline. He was a steady hand who rarely, if ever, lost his temper. He was really good about talking through what we were being disciplined for, disciplining, and then making sure things were settled and sending us on our way with a hug and forgiveness (as needed). I remember that always helped me feel free as a kid, like there was no lingering anger or anything. I try to be the same way with my kids.

And yes, I do let me kids watch TV. But really they watch more movies than TV. TV for kids is mostly just so stupid. Another thing I do differently than my folks is that I am far less intentional about family devotions. They were very rigorous and strict about doing it with us daily. I try to make scripture, prayer and conversations about faith or God more just a part of the rhythm of life.

I’ve been enjoying your blog for awhile now and would love to know when you started writing? How did you get started? Was it blogging or some other venue such as work?

Blogging was my first real avenue for writing. I started doing that in 2011. It grew out of journaling and just sort of stewing on a whole pile of ideas. I realized that I thought more clearly when I wrote and that my perspective was helpful to some people. The more I wrote the better I got at it (still improving, I hope), and it opened some doors to write for Worldmag.com and some other outlets too. I’m at the place now where writing is a part of my life. I love it and am really glad that it seems to benefit others.

Speaking of work, what exactly do you do for a living, Barnabas? Had you ever thought of going into ministry like your Dad? Oh my! Now I’m guilty of doing something you talked about in your book–assuming that question!!!

I work for Lifeway Christian Resources on the Ministry Grid Team. Ministry Grid is an online church leadership training platform, and I do a lot of our marketing. I thought about ministry; every PK does at least long enough to say “no.” I worked in youth ministry for a while, but vocational church ministry doesn’t seem like the thing for me. I don’t think it fits my gifts or passions.

What made you decide to write ‘The Pastor’s Kid’?

I was at a place in my life where my upbringing as a PK was on my mind, and I had been sorting through it and learning and really coming into my own in faith and life in general. I was asked to write an article for Table Talk magazine about the challenges PKs face, and as I wrote it I realized there was so much more to say than a single article could hold. When I saw the responses from PKs and pastors alike I realized there was a hunger for something from the PKs perspective.

I think you might like the opportunity to tell people what your book IS, and what your book IS NOT. For example, you probably wouldn’t describe your book as a tell-all about the Piper family. Do you have a sense that people might be expecting something like that?

I’m sure some people are looking for that, either because they’re fanboys or haters. I suspect they’ll be disappointed. It isn’t a tell-all or expose’. It’s also not some sad sack tale of a PK who now hates the church and is embittered toward it.

I wrote it with the voice of all the PKs I connected with as well as I could. I wanted to represent the PK experience and give voice to PKs. I wrote it from PKs and for PKs, but significant portions are addressed to pastors or the church at large.

Your book is very honest about the ‘tricks’ pastor’s kids have come to learn in order to cope with the stresses that come with the territory. These were eye-opening revelations to me. I had no idea! What kind of damage do we as a congregation do to the children of our pastors and is this one reason for writing the book?

The biggest hurt church members, collectively, do to PKs is the pervasive awareness of them. People just know so much about PKs that they wouldn’t know about any other kids. With the awareness comes expectations of better behavior, more bible knowledge, etc. All of it adds up to a feeling of living in a glass house or a fish bowl. This is a big part of why I wrote the book, to help pastors and church members see what PKs are feeling and experiencing.

Do you feel that some of your success in life (work, writing, etc.) can be attributed to the popularity of your last name? If yes, do you find there are times where you capitalize on this?

If by ‘success’ you mean notoriety, then yes. It’s undeniable that I have been able to gain readers that other young writers have not because people are interested in reading what ‘John Piper’s son’ writes. My last name does open doors for me. It does make me more recognizable than many of my peers. (That can cut both ways, though, because with being recognized come many assumptions about what kind of person I am or ‘should’ be.) I try to find a balance between name-dropping to gain an advantage (which I dislike) and using the relational capital that comes with my last name to create opportunities. I realize that may sound like semantic nit picking, but there is a significant difference.

Do you find that there are people out there in the world who associate themselves with you (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) because you are John Piper’s son? Are they easy to spot and do you find you try to distance yourself from them?

Yes, there are. I try not to worry too much about picking them out because no good comes of it. I don’t want to assume anyone’s motives or label them. My way of “dealing with” this is to try hard to simply be myself. If someone thinks they are getting a mini John Piper they will be sorely disappointed. I am willing to interact with all sorts of people as long as the interaction is not them badgering me because I am not like my dad in some way. I really enjoy interacting with people, and if some (many) of them find me because of my last name, so be it. At that point, though, I am just me and will interact with them as such.

At any point have you felt animosity toward people, or even your father, because they have made you feel like you have to live up to the Piper name?

I have never felt like my dad has pressured me to live up to our last name or maintain his reputation. I have made some pretty horrid mistakes that could have embarrassed my dad if that was his concern. But his concern was always for me. We have our differences. We see some things differently than each other, but I hold no bitterness or angst toward my dad (or mom) for wanting me to “live up to the Piper name.”

I can’t say the same about other people. I have, and sometimes still do, feel resentment toward people for assuming I should be a certain way because of my last name. Pretty much every month, if not more often, I get some joker on Twitter responding to me telling me how ashamed my father would be of some sarcastic (and really funny) tweet I posted. It’s as if they think I should live by a WWJPD motto. I get mad at these people. How dare they? What business do they have supposing what my dad feels like they’re in his head and heart? I’ve made it a point never to respond because it would just not go well. It is better for me to just move ahead as if it never happened and forget it.

How have you been able to become ‘your own man’… learning the balance between being John Piper’s son and Barnabas, the husband/father/author?

Really, that’s a thread that runs through The Pastor’s Kid. Every child is a product of his or her upbringing. Every child carries the influence of both nature and nurture. I am no different. What sets apart a person who “becomes his own man” is the recognition that he holds responsibility as an adult and before God for those traits and habits that need changing. No longer can he blame his parents for things in his life he doesn’t like. For me, that meant dealing with sins that had rooted in my heart since childhood and coming to an understanding of God through different means than my father’s expression of theology. It was through a whole lot of pain because of my own failures that I came to understand the overwhelming wonder and power of God’s grace.

Once I began to understand grace I began to gain confidence to explore who God is and my own relationship with Jesus. I could ask questions without fear and express faith in language that was no longer the verbiage of my upbringing. I also began to gain confidence in my work and my writing because I knew to whom I was really responsible and who I really wanted to please most of all (and it wasn’t my dad.) God’s grace was the driving force to get me to grow into my own man.

Now, this doesn’t mean I have abandoned all things from my youth or turned my back on my parents. Their genetics are in me and they raised me; I’m not escaping that. The foundation laid is still there. It just means that the life being built on the foundation is not built to imitate the one John Piper lives. Because of the freedom of grace I no longer need to feel the pressure to construct a life (or an article, or a book, or my home) that is just like my dad’s. That isn’t what God asks of me, and that is freeing.

john-piperI’m sure your Dad has seen the manuscript of your book by now. Was there anything in the book that came as a surprise to your Dad? Something he really never knew about what it was like for you growing up as The Pastor’s Kid?

He actually wrote the foreword for it after reading it. I’m sure there were some surprising parts for him. He is pretty honest in the foreword that part of the book stung. I don’t think he was shocked by anything because we have talked over the past few years about much of what the book says.

Finally, Barnabas, what’s the main take-away you want people to know about your book?

It’ll vary depending on what people bring to the book. I hope that hardened PKs will see the grace of God as something accessible and desirable. I hope broken PKs will see it as something restoring and defining. I hope pastors will see the needs of their kids in a fresh light and connect in a new way with them. Maybe some pastors will need to repent and change and others will be inspired or challenged. And I hope church members and the church at large will be helped toward a better understanding of the pastor’s family and how to love and care for them better.

Thank you so much, Barnabas, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to ‘talk’ with me here. It’s been such a blessing. I’ll be keeping you in prayer for much success with your book and that it will be a blessing to many, many people.

And for the reader’s, please take a moment to check out any or all of the links included in today’s interview. You can pre-order Barnabas’ book through Amazon. The release date is July 1, 2014. This book is an excellent read and one I highly recommend. It will surely be a blessing to all who read it.

 

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Rosario ‘Charo’ Washer Interview!

I have always been a proponent of the old adage that says, “Behind every man is a good woman.” Er, is that, “Behind every good man is a woman?” Well, whatever way you wish to say it, I believe there is much truth in it. Today has been such a blessing because I got to ‘talk’ with a woman who falls into that category. But Charo wasn’t always ‘good’, at least not in the sense many Christians understand. Charo has a profound testimony—one that truly has touched my heart and the hearts of many around the world.

Join me in my conversation with Rosario ‘Charo’ Washer as she discusses her life as wife of the prominent, itinerant preacher, Paul David Washer. She shares with us what life has been like since her actual conversion. She lets us in on personal feelings about what people get wrong about her husband, how she handles criticism of her husband, how she keeps home-life normal for the family, her joy in photography and hobbies, and what’s coming up in 2014.

The interview:

Charo, I’ve read that you spent much of your youth in Peru. Were you born there? Can you share a bit about your family?

“I was born in Lima, Peru but I have also lived in Spain, Bolivia, and Paraguay and of course here in the States. My father is Spanish and my mother is Peruvian. They both currently live in Peru. I am the oldest of four sisters; two live here in the States and one in Italy. We are scattered all over the place!”

 

I’ve read through your testimony and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone express an almost ‘testimony within a testimony’ as you have. Since that time when you spoke so openly about your actual conversion and the difficulties leading up to it, did your husband, Paul, encounter any backlash as you feared he might?

“I am not aware of any backlash. Most Christians I know rejoiced in what God had done in my life, I have personally not heard anything negative.”

 

What kind of response did you, the wife of a prominent evangelical missionary and teacher, experience when you made people aware of your conversion? Was it generally a positive experience or were there difficulties?

“A couple of very close friends had some trouble wrapping their mind around the idea at first. We had worked together for years. They had seen me work with street children in Lima, with believers in the Andes and with the church in Barranco. Because of this, it was difficult for them to comprehend, but they came to see that it was not just the “outward” works but the inner testimony of my life that counted. Before my conversion, I was simply doing empty works, living on auto pilot, and “doing the right thing.” I am very duty oriented so I was going to keep doing what was right no matter what. But there was no love for God in me, only a sense of duty. However, by God’s mercy He allowed me to run out of every ounce of strength. He showed me my sin and need for Him.”

 

Do you feel that your experience, as expressed in your testimony, is one that God is using to help those going through a similar experience? Is there any story you could share that emphasizes that point?

“I have received emails and cards from people letting me know that my testimony was instrumental in them coming to know the Lord. That is always a great encouragement and a blessing to me because everything has been a work of God. Having been lost, I became the recipient of his grace and mercy and in sharing about this, He in turn reaches out again and saves another soul. It is pretty amazing and all to His glory! It is especially moving when some of these testimonies have come from people who like me, were involved in ministry for years before truly becoming converted.”

 

It’s been several years now that you’ve been in the United States. Did you overcome that feeling of misplacement? Do you still miss Peru?

“I don’t think I ever had any feeling of displacement to be honest. Maybe it is because I knew the language before I came to the States to go to college therefore I was able to forge great friendships from the beginning and feel at home. I do miss Peru though; I would go back there as a full time missionary in a heartbeat!”

 

Paul and Charo Washer

Paul and Charo Washer

So how long have you been married now? You have children, yes?

“Paul and I have been married 21 years and we have three children; Ian (almost 13), Evan 10, and Rowan (almost 7).”

 

 

Your husband, Paul, has become such an in-demand speaker and teacher? Was this a daunting experience for you?

“It was not daunting at all. I had always had the feeling that the Lord would use him in the way He does. It is a blessing to be a part of the ministry the Lord has entrusted him with. Most of all it is a blessing to know there are so many dear brothers and sisters who faithfully pray for him here at HeartCry and all over the world as he ministers.”

 

With notoriety comes criticism. One can’t help but Google Paul Washer or look him up on YouTube without seeing many positive, and negative, comments. How have you reacted to criticism from people who don’t even know Paul personally?

“Honestly I do not think too much about it either way. The good things are encouraging and are a blessing; the bad things, I honestly do not dwell on them at all. I would also be worried if all people had to say about Paul was wonderful and full of praise all the time. I think it would certainly mean that he is compromising somehow in something. You cannot please everyone all the time. He, like many other men know that if you faithfully preach the Gospel you will be criticized and even vilified but that is only natural and to be expected. The job of a preacher’s wife is to encourage her husband to faithfully press on regardless of the cost.”

 

What do you and Paul do in your home life to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for your family given all the attention and popularity? Are your children aware of Paul’s name recognition? I guess I’m asking if they ever experience being out and someone coming up to them and their father saying, “Wow, it’s Paul Washer! Hey Brother Paul, can I get an autograph?”

“Our life is completely normal in every aspect. Our children are aware that their father preaches to people in various places but don’t see any “celebrity” status involved in it. People are kind and attentive but not overly so as if Paul were a movie star or anything like that so there is none of that environment around them. Our children have been there when he has preached to very large crowds and when he has preached to a handful of people so it really makes no difference to them. Being the oldest, Ian gets to travel with Paul more so than the younger ones. He enjoys being with his dad and is very comfortable being around people; all our children are.”

 

As the wife of Paul Washer, you would know best … what is the one thing about Paul that most people don’t know or they simply get wrong?

“That it is easy for him or that he enjoys preaching a hard message to Christians or unbelievers. It is a hard thing to have to tell someone the truth and it is not enjoyable to hurt them in the process in order to open their eyes. It certainly does not make you many friends most of the time! Paul dislikes controversy and conflict. He does not preach hard because he wants to get an argument started or to get anyone stirred up for the sake of having the last word. He simply tries to faithfully preach the word of God in order that someone may come to know Christ or that a believer would be encouraged in their faith.”

 

Too often, Christians put wives of pastors/teachers/speakers in the stereotypical role of teacher and speaker themselves. You spoke of this being uncomfortable for you prior to your conversion. Has that changed now? Do you find opportunities to speak and teach in areas that you now enjoy?

“That feeling has definitely changed being that I am now converted. As far as teaching, I only teach as doors open and when I travel with Paul. I don’t have a “teaching ministry” of my own. I have taken a few invitations here and there but they are harder to work into our schedule due to Paul’s traveling and preaching schedule. Also, with the kid’s homeschooling and other activities there is not much time for anything else.”

 

HeartCry Missionary Society is a wonderful organization. Do you have a specific role there?

“Since I am a photographer I am currently involved in volunteering at the photography department at HeartCry doing editing and the archiving of pictures for the coordinator reports, the blog or the magazine. Recently, I started learning a bit about video in order to step in as a “back up” film person when necessary.”

 

Charo Washer  Rustic House Photography

Charo Washer
Rustic House Photography

Your photography is wonderful. I understand you also like cooking, and reading. I’d like to know a bit more about the type of photography you like most (i.e. landscape, architecture, subjects, etc.). Also, can you share your favorite reading genre? What’s your favorite type of food to cook?

“I enjoy photographing people in natural situations; I am not good at posing people, it stresses me out a bit when they are not comfortable in front of the camera. I like landscape, journalistic, architectural and food photography the most. Lately I am playing around a bit doing some night photography or “light painting” which is a lot of fun.

As far as reading I love a bit of a jumble of things; Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and so many other great English period classics and poetry. I also enjoy reading about the history of civilizations, historical biographies, Christian biographies and Biblical counseling books. Biblical counseling was one of my minors in college and I hope at some point to become a certified Biblical counselor so I read Nouthetic counseling books whenever I get a chance.

I enjoy cooking in general; there is not one specific food I enjoy cooking more than others. I am more of an instinctive cook than one that goes by a recipe unless I am baking. Having had a chance to try so many diverse foods and most of them so wonderful, I could not possibly chose one! My top favorites would probably be Peruvian food, Spanish, Sushi and pretty much any and all sea food.”

 

Finally, Charo, can you share with us some of your plans coming up in 2014?

“I am looking forward to working on our yard and house! We moved in October and had no time to deal with a lot of things around the house so it will be a nice thing to just get those loses ends tied. Besides that, the schedule at HC is always developing but so far; I have some trips scheduled to video and photograph Paul teaching in CA and one conference to teach with him in Italy in June of this year.”

 

I want to take this opportunity to thank Charo for taking time out of her busy schedule to address my questions. It has been such a joy to get to know Charo better through this interview. I hope that it is an encouragement to my readers for it certainly has encouraged me! Thank you, Chrao, and may God continue to bless you and your family abundantly. He is so good!

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Acts 4:20 Productions Inteviews TONY VERKINNES!

On-Air Producer WRETCHED Radio, Tony Verkinnes

On-Air Producer WRETCHED Radio, Tony Verkinnes

You may know him as (aka) ‘That Lutheran Guy’ but I know him as Todd Friehl’s sidekick from WRETCHED Radio.  That baritone voice that interjects his thoughts and ideas to listeners around the world.  And today, you get to hear him as he takes on my questions as part of this ongoing series of interviews at Acts 4:20 Productions.

I am so pleased that Tony agreed to tackle my questions.  I sent him an audio of the questions. He, in return, sent me his answers.  I put them together for this short interview as a way of you and I getting to know Tony better.  Here he is, Tony Verkinnes [Ver Ken ess] from WRETCHED:

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Acts 4:20 Productions Interviews SHEILA IMME!

What an exciting time it’s been working to put together this interview with Christian film producer, Sheila Imme.  I’m so happy to introduce you to this wonderfully gracious person.  We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about Sheila Imme and Lilies and Ravens International.  After many glitches and set-backs, we’re able to finally bring you this video.  God has been so good throughout all of this and we pray this is as much a blessing to you as it has been for us at Acts 4:20 Productions.

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The Twitter Trap

Twitter_8

I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker … whatever that cliché really means.  I assume it means ‘totally’ which would be an apt description.  I’m speaking about the Twitter Trap.  At least it was a trap for me, but perhaps it’s actually not an issue for you.  If that’s the case, this won’t be very interesting.  But, I have done an about-face and corrected my course and hope that this post will serve as a reminder to me if I ever start drifting back into ‘the trap’.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS:
Yep. Found myself getting wrapped up into feeling as if the number of followers I had somehow validated who I am.  There I was, following people whom I had no clue as to who they were, and practically begging them to give me a follow-back.  And, oh my word, should I ask a ‘famous’ person to follow back … well, insert cricket noises.   What was I thinking?

THE NARCISSIM FACTOR:
My, how people do love to talk about themselves!  The main difference I find between Twitter and say Facebook, is that Twitter people love to talk to others.  Facebook people like to talk with each other.  At least in my experience that’s what I’ve seen.   My least favorite tweet is the humble brag.  Goes something like this, “Wow, can’t believe I have another book signing today. What are you doing today?”  I guess I could answer, “Laundry” but somehow now I feel inadequate to even be breathing on the same planet.

IDOL WORSHIP:
Quite some time ago, I wrote a blog about Idol Worship, with the emphasis on Christians putting well-known Christians up on pedestals and how that just can’t be good for those well-known Christians.  Although all forms of social media are guilty of this, Twitter has the worst offenders.   It’s not just the numbers that tell the story, as in millions of followers hanging on their every tweet, it’s the glaring idolatry dripping from the worshipers.  For example, a person tweets, “I’m sitting in the airport just 20 feet away from MATT REDMAN!!!! OMG!!!!” And the comments that followed were no better.  As if being in the proximity of Matt Redman somehow warrants such behavior.  I simply reply, “So”.  I know, I’m a real favorite on Twitter.

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT–NOT:
Twitter is not a place that I would go to if I needed a word of encouragement.  Oh, I suppose if I tweeted that I actually did need a word of encouragement, some poor stranger might actually feel sorry for me and tweet something without knowing who I am or what I’m going through.  It’s not only about a need to be encouraged at times; it’s the near total lack of replies to a happy event in my life.  For example, today I celebrated my first grandchild’s birthday.  It’s kind of a big deal to me.  I posted that fact on Twitter with an absolutely adorable pic of my grandson. And as my husband loves to say, “Insert cricket noises.” Yep.  Silence.  Posted the same note and pic on Facebook and people quickly chime in with notes of happiness for me and the birthday boy.  And of course, this goes both ways as I love to give a shout out to people celebrating important events in their lives.

MAKE IT QUICK:
So often you just can’t say all there is to say on Twitter.  That whole 140 character thing can lead to poor inflection, let alone poor grammar.  Dare I ever try to comment about a tweet regarding an article, blog, book review, etc. that in any way disagrees with the OT (original tweeter), prepare for a quick retort.  It’s just not the place to actually hold a fair discussion where both parties can come away fully understanding the intent of the comment(s).

WHAT AM I?  CHOPPED LIVER???
I think for me, the worst part about the ‘Twitter Trap’ is the damage it does to ones sense of who they are.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is probably a personality problem.  Not everyone takes issue with this.  Sadly though, I do/did.  When someone tweets a comment, or a link to say an audio/video sermon, or to an article they wrote, and I find the comment/sermon/article warrants a question on content or meaning, I’ll tweet them and ask my question. *insert cricket noises*  What???  Am I not worth answering?  Am I not famous enough or important enough to qualify to get a minute of your time? In all fairness, they would probably defend themselves in that they can’t reply to everyone, now can they?  So what’s the point of tweeting it?  For my benefit, and all those in the Twittersphere!?  Whatever their reason, it feels like dog pooh.

HORAY FOR THE CHOSEN FEW:
The odds of you being a Twitter follower of mine, now reading this blog, is extremely low.  But I do want to give a big thank you to those that don’t fall into any of those categories above.  You are the chosen few who gladly follow back; you quickly regard my comments; you do appreciate those that take time to read what you write in articles and blogs; and you always make one feel like an equal human being.  To borrow the tag line from a song, “You light up my life.”

Even after all my ranting and whining on this subject, I will remain on Twitter.  There are those that wholeheartedly disagree with me and only use Twitter for social media.  I value who you are so I’ll stay put in order to keep in touch.  And there are those well known(s) who greatly bless me with their articles and sermons, even if they never reply to my questions.  I may not like it but I do concede.  I’ve trimmed down my list to reflect the people I know and enjoy. Perhaps now I’ll have less to whine about.  And thus I step out of ‘the trap’!

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