Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess

Matthew Paul Turner tells his story of growing up in a fundamentalist church in his book Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess.  This story is not the typical anti-fundie, bitter rant, but rather, a light-hearted humorous story that will make you laugh without feeling disrespectful.  He shows how his upbringing helped him love Jesus despite the many foibles of the fundie culture.  I imagine that every church contains the types of characters that cross his path, and if you were conservatively “churched”, you may find you know these people too.  Somehow he manages to tell his story in a light but profound manner, humorous without sarcasm.  His giftedness with penning words to his journey is exceptional and his writing style is delightful.

My favorite part of this book was the surprise of the last chapter, his ‘benediction’, where he gives a too-brief summary of his journey of leaving fundamentalism, dabbling in Calvinism and non-denominational churches, a brief stint in Catholicism, and finally landing in a community church – one that is not perfect, but a group of people where he can fit as he grapples with being a different kind of Christian.  If he puts this part of his journey in a sequel, I’ll be the first in line to buy it!

I am now a new Matthew Turner fan.  Check out his blog at: www.matthewpaulturner.com for a sample of his diverse writing styles and some thought-provoking reading.

For additional information, check out the following websites:



I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press in exchange for my honest review.

The Sacred Year - Book Review

What can the spiritual practices of the ancients of 1500 years ago teach me that is relevant to my relationship with God and others in this post-modern age?  What purpose can these practices serve in this high-strung, hurried and superficial world where we seek to define ourselves and our significance through social media?  I am recently learning about how to walk the tightrope between contemplation and action, finding balance between them both while deepening my faith and being transformed.

In The Scared Year, Michael Yankoski shares the story of his existential crisis and then his journey prompted by the inner turmoil that sent him away from “the shallow, and fa├žade-obsessed existence” he was living and toward a pursuit of depth and intimacy with God manifested in his love for others. Through a conversational style, he connects with the reader through his insightful stories as he explores 18 spiritual practices that he divides into three categories: 1) Depth with self (e.g. practices of attentiveness, daily examen, simplicity); 2) Depth with God (e.g. confession, Sabbath, pilgrimage); and 3) depth with others (e.g. gratitude, justice, caring). 

His discussion of the spiritual practices are far from dry, and his book is aptly subtitled: “Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice – How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave, and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life.” While he spent a sacred year diving into these practices, he emphasizes that it’s not enough to accomplish them and check them off a list at the end.  They require a lifetime to come into full maturity and to bring forth the intended fruit. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to increase their capacity for depth in life and to actually put a deeper spirituality into practice.  If we walk away inspired to incorporate even just one of these practices into our lifestyles, we will be changed.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe Is Coming Apart

Much of modern Christianity has been firmly built on “absolute truth” and conformity of beliefs.  Many Christians have begun to experience a shift in how to relate to God and the church.  We hit a barrier.  Things stop working in the ways we’re used to.  We notice inconsistencies in leadership and theology that never occurred to us before.  We start to experience spiritual vertigo.

Do you ever ask the questions like, “Why am I a Christian? Do I really believe in God? Is my whole life of faith a sham? Why have I given myself over to the church for years when it has consistently used me? How could I ever have believed some of the things I have been taught? Am I a blind sheep, following the herd from desperation to belong?” 

Do you ever feel like your faith is unraveling as you realize your list of “I don’t know’s” is growing?  Does the world no longer seem as black and white to you?  If not, or if you have no patience for people who ask these questions or feel these things, skip this post.  If so, keep reading!

Kathy Escobar (pastor, writer, advocate, speaker, and spiritual director in North Denver) defines the questioning of the systems to which we previously happily subscribed as a “faith shift”.  Some common experiences of faith shifters include:
  • A background in a faith system of very clear rules and expectations for participants,
  • A significant shift in your relationship with God and/or the church,
  • Uncertainty about whom to trust with your thoughts and emotions,
  • Discomfort in once-welcoming communities and groups,
  • Fear that maybe you are the problem, that you are wrong, sinful, or deceived.

In her book Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart, Escobar discusses her flexible model of the faith shifting process based on her observations of the stages that faith shifters tend to experience and shows that the shift is a progression. She explains the spiritual journey in terms of fusing, shifting, and unraveling. This can result in returning, severing, or rebuilding.  Everyone’s journey is different. 

Escobar insists that this book is not her memoir, a text book, or a self-help book with guaranteed results to squeeze out faith-challenging feelings and put you back in a spiritual box.    She is not giving easy answers or advice.  Rather, she acts as a facilitator, helping you put words to your experience, encouraging you to start the conversation with yourself, and re-assures by sharing stories of other’s experiences that can help you navigate your own unique faith shift.  She will help you process the shifting of your faith and show you that you can find your way to something more, something bigger and truer, without actually trying to tell you what it is.

I highly recommend this book to those who are questioning the things they always believed, and especially those who are unraveling from an identity within fundamental/evangelical Christian churches.  She will help you process, understand, and help you not to feel alone. And I speak from experience – as if she had crept into my head and heard all my thoughts, and then gave me the tools to rebuild a much larger faith that doesn’t have to be black and white, but many colors of a prism with so much mystery, freedom, and diversity to explore.  This book is top on my list of favorites for this season of my life.  You can get a taste of her writing and the topics in the book on her blog at www.kathyescobar.com.  For more information about the book, go here.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Convergent Publishing in exchange for my honest review.