Jess Mason

Jess Mason, M.A., M.Div. is a licensed minister, spiritual director, and director of the DeeperHope Institute for Women's Spiritual Life. She currently pastors the Wednesday Women's Community at Free Christian Church in Andover, MA. She lives in Haverhill, MA with her husband, Elliott.

More Poetic Than Demonstrative

Leonard Sweet’s I Am A Follower has a wealth creative elements. He includes remarkable video links. He sculpts metaphor upon metaphor for each of his points. He takes many risks in his use of words and language, which adds an element of fun.

Sweet’s main idea, that following Jesus and wooing others to the same is more pertinent for believers than the questionable value of human-powered leadership skill, is well taken. I found myself recognizing how easily I can leave my need for Jesus behind when I put on a leadership hat.

More poetic than demonstrative, the book leaves me craving concrete examples of followers in various walks of life today. Sweet keeps safely between the guardrails of creative and quotable statements one the one side and metaphor on the other—even his personal examples turn out to be lead-ins for a metaphor. I come away from the book with a lot of language to describe followership, without a contemporary picture of it. I want to know a guy, Joe, or a woman, Clara, preferably that he knows personally, that was for a moment a living example to him of a follower of Jesus who really gets followership, and why. While I’m asking, I’d like twenty examples, if possible.

Sweet’s writing is full of energy and enthusiasm, at times keeping me engaged, and at times leaving me in the dust as he spryly leaps from idea to idea, apparently unconcerned with how large of a leap he just made from the previous paragraph.

The interactive elements at the end of the chapters generally led out past the periphery of his own content, where I would have preferred instead the opportunity to re-engage with his own quotes more deeply.

I hope there is follow-up material, as I think his crusade for followership is a worthy and timely one.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this e-book as part of the BookSneeze reviewers’ program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Noticing God Today Gets a Major Upgrade

Noticing God Today are daily contemplative questions of 140 characters or less, with some of the posts including links to brief Biblical meditations. We’ve been sending them out weekdays for the past two years through twitter, Facebook, and a basic mail service.

Though twitter and Facebook remain essentially the same, starting in January we’ll be using ConstantContact email service for all of our email subscribers. The new features are:

1. Every email address is doubly secure (though we had no breaches)

2. No email is unwanted (with the handy Unsubscribe button)

3. You can easily forward them on to friends you think might be encouraged by them (with the Forward to Friend button)

4. You’ll be able to post comments on a comments page, and see how God worked in others’ hearts through the contemplation.

Though the email service is not free, we trust that God will continue to provide the funds we need to keep Noticing God Today coming to your inboxes for as long as it is His will for us to do so.

We’re excited to take this ministry to the next level. Enjoy!

A Severe Companion

It takes courage, and a rather other-worldly conviction, to write a book that’s not a self-contained experience of satisfaction. This book, in focusing on the gift of shattered dreams, is like a spiritual leaf-blower, blasting away all that covers your true grounding in God. And like a leaf-blower, it also kicks up a lot of other things, like worms and rot in the soul. It unearths more than it answers, and leaves your soul, and your story, open-ended, ready for a fresh, deeply personal encounter of God. The outstanding workbook accompanying this edition insistently fosters these encounters. Like a good spiritual director, the book is careful to stay out of the way of becoming more of a resource to you that God’s living presence.

When I finished the text, at first I felt disappointed, and maybe a little cheated, having secretly hoped for a grand conclusion after pages and pages of pent up (misguided) desire for a neat and tidy conclusion. But after a couple of days of turning to the living God, God spoke, as only God can do, to my unique soul. God gave me an image for an anchoring hope in Him that was not articulated as such in the book, but which I was made ready to receive because of the book. And now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now I’m glorifying God, not Larry Crabb, and I’m grateful to Crabb as a brother on the journey.

Working through this book is an eminently worthwhile experience I would recommend to anyone desiring deeper fellowship with and purer hope in God. When I say ‘working’, however, I’m not kidding–this book is spiritual labor. But it’s great work if you can get it.