Scrappy Church – Book Review

“Is your church dying from self-inflicted wounds?”


“Leading a church would be a lot easier if we didn’t have to deal with people”


“A God powered minority”


“God did not put the church at that address by mistake, there is a plan”


“Cultural Christianity is dead”


These are just a few of my most thought-provoking quotes from the book by Thom Ranier. Scrappy Church is not for the faint of heart. It gives a thorough review of all things that may be driving your church to extinction.


Author of over 20 books dealing with church health, Mr. Ranier gives an honest look through the eyes of members, leaders, and visitors to show how a church can kill itself without even realizing it. But he does not leave you hanging on for dear life. He also gives a blueprint for preparation to turn the church around, I will briefly overview this blueprint later.


He gives the main characteristics of a church to become “Scrappy”, focusing on prayer as one of the main and most important items. He tells us to remain positive, partner with other churches in the area and do not consider them the enemy, and focus on outreach.


Under his blueprint for preparation, Mr. Ranier lists three different areas to work on: Outward Deluge, Welcome Readiness, and Backdoor Closure. None of these points can be met honestly until the church undergoes an “Attitude Adjustment”. And it is not just the members, but also the leaders and even the Pastor that need to take part in this step. These three items focus on the structure of the church as a welcoming body of Christ.


I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it as a read to build or even maintain the health of your church.

You may purchase this book at:


This book is also available as an ebook



I have a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255


What Wondrous Love is This?

We sang this hymn at our Wednesday Lenten service this week.  I found that it originated in Appalachia in the 1800’s and has been described as a “white spiritual.”  The melody is sad and haunting but the words express hope and gratitude.  It sets the correct tone for this meditative season in the church year.


Harriet Beecher Stowe by Noel Gerson — Book Review

Since Fanning the Flame recommends that we find historical and Biblical mentors, I have been on a quest to find Christian women who are worthy of emulation.  I located this free biography on BookBub (check them out, they have many free and low-priced e-books in a variety of genres at

Harriet Beecher Stowe by [Gerson, Noel]

Before I read this book I only knew Harriet Beecher Stowe as the author of  Uncle Tom’s Cabin who was involved in the abolition movement.  I was surprised to find that she wrote many novels, as well as short stories and essays for magazines, both before and after the publication of her most famous work. Far from being sentimental drivel (as I always thought), Mrs. Stowe based her novel on factual case histories that she researched and that verified all that she had written.  She was respected by leading writers of her time, including Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain and others who accepted her as their peer.  She became quite a celebrity and was in great demand as a speaker, although she remained shy, and in old age, rather reclusive.  She traveled to Europe and met Queen Victoria as well as other members of British nobility and literary circles. She also met with President Lincoln who supposedly greeted her as “the little lady who started this big war.”  I am frankly puzzled that she was not included in any of the America Literature reading lists or courses I encountered as an English major!

Like Anne Bradstreet, whose biography I reviewed previously, Harriet considered herself first of all, a Christian wife and mother.  Gerson says:

“Her obligations as a wife still took precedence over everything else, an attitude she would keep, however wealthy and famous she became.  Her career was satisfying, but her duty was plain to her, and it took precedence.”

Her books reflected her continual struggle to grow in her faith and relationship with God.  She was an ardent and courageous abolitionist who was disturbed that:

“They (the American church) were ready enough to attack such minor dissipations as social dancing, but were cowards when they claimed slavery posed political and economic problems beyond their sphere of interest and jurisdiction.”

Her home became a rallying center for anti-slavery activities and she refused to take fees for writing anti-slavery speeches.

Verdict:  Harriet Beecher Stowe is definitely a worthy, historical mentor for Christian women today.  After reading this biography, I’m interested in also reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and some of her other work.  Maybe I’ll be reviewing one of them later!

What is My Duty?

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

Sometimes doing our duty seems to be a sort of boring burden. The very word, “duty” brings to mind the sort of chores that nobody is anxious to undertake. Sometimes we try to make fulfilling our duty to God harder than it needs to be.  We worry and fret and wonder if we’ve made the right decision. Sometimes we want to have a set of one-fits-all, easy to follow rules so we know exactly where we stand.  That doesn’t work because God relates to each of us individually.  He wants every Christian to do the best he or she can with the specific talents and abilities we’ve been given.

I came across this quote from George MacDonald, a Scottish author and minister, which has helped me.  Maybe it will help you, too.

“‘What is my next duty?  What is the thing that lies nearest to me?’ ‘That belongs to your every-day history.  No one can answer that question but yourself.  Your next duty is just to determine what your next duty is.  Is there nothing you neglect?  Is there nothing you know you ought not to do?  You would know your duty, if you thought in earnest about it, and were not ambitious of great things.’ ‘Ah, then,’ responded she, ‘I suppose it is something very commonplace, which will make life more dreary than ever.  That cannot help me. ‘ ‘It will, if it be as dreary as reading the newspapers to an old deaf aunt.  It will soon lead you to something more.  Your duty will begin to comfort you at once, but will at length open the unknown fountain of life in your heart.”

Duty doesn’t have to be drudgery.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  It doesn’t have to be big.  If we do the duty that is in front of us, God will teach us and lead us on to all that he intends to make of our lives, and that will be downright exciting!  Just walk with Him, day by day.  It will be enough.


Have You Seen Jesus?

One of the questions our Fanning the Flame coach asks us at each meeting is, “Where have you seen God at work this month?”  A friend on the team said to me, “I don’t understand why we’re doing this.  God is at work all the time, it isn’t a rarity we need to point out.”  Well, yes and no.  God is always at work, the problem is we become distracted and fail to notice what’s right in front of us.  The question is really just a reminder to open our eyes and pay attention.  This isn’t something new, the disciples had the same tendency.

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” John 21:4

There’s a song we use of Via de Cristo weekends that expresses the same thought.  It’s called, “Have You Seen Jesus, My Lord?”  Listen to it and look for Jesus in the events and people around you today.

Even More Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Today my husband and I watched the movie, “Gosnell:  The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.”  I borrowed this DVD from our local library and didn’t know much about the case… not surprising because there have been few reviews and very little media attention.  Why?  Well, Gosnell was an abortion doctor, and evidently, nobody likes to criticize abortionists.

The thing is, Doctor Gosnell did not just perform abortions, he performed them in a dirty clinic that had not been inspected for 17 years, despite complaints.  Why?  Well, nobody wants to shut down abortion clinics because that would interfere with the reproductive rights of women.  He was convicted of causing the death of one patient, and of “snipping” the spinal cords, and thereby killing a number of infants who had been born alive.  There were probably many more victims.

For me, the most revealing moments of the film were when an doctor who performs legal abortions described the procedure. She explained that at her clinic, no abortions were performed after the legal cut off of 24 weeks, and no infant had ever been born alive and killed.  Why?  Well because in the procedures she performed, babies (or fetuses if you prefer) are injected with a drug that stops their hearts while they are still in the uterus.  The doctor waits to make sure the heart is no longer beating and then removes them.  This is not murder because the child is already dead when it is delivered.  Does it make sense to say this trial was not about abortion?  Clearly it was, at least if “you have ears to hear.”

Is it just me or is all of  this just another example of stinkin’ thinkin’?  It is somehow okay to ignore medical malpractice because it might cast abortionists in a bad light?  How is this protecting women?  It is somehow okay to administer a lethal injection to a child while still in the womb, but becomes a crime to kill it after it breathes air for the first time?  Where is the logic in this?

The jury agreed that Gosnell was a murderer.  I wonder if any who started as “pro-choice” changed their opinions in the course of the trial.  I wonder if many people will watch this movie and be brought face to face with the “stinkin’ thinkin'” of our society.  At the end, the policeman who first brought the charges asked an investigative blogger why she had helped him and the D.A..  She answered something to this effect, “I was after the truth, and it’s still the truth even if I don’t like it.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate, John 18:38

It seems that this is still a good question.

A Life of Lovely – Book Review

A Life of Lovely


It is hard for anyone to find the lovely in the ugliness that can sometimes surround us.  The author, Annie Downs, does a wonderful job of helping young, and older, women navigate the sometimes disappointing journey of life with humor and perseverance.


The author takes the reader through all aspects of modern life using humor and scripture to help ease the reader into finding the “lovely” where it does not appear to exist.


I like the upbeat style and humor that makes the book an enjoyable read; I give it 4 out of 5 stars and found her words a fun way to look forward to finding my “lovely.”



Purchase this book at this link: