Staff Picks: Words from the Hill

July 13, 2017
Note: Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our youth pastor, Dave Hallahan.



I haven’t always been a crier. In fact, before the marriage/fatherhood portion of my life I rarely cried about anything, especially not over books or movies. I think I got close to tears while watching Ladder 49, Friday Night Lights, and Field of Dreams. Two thirds of those are sports movies. So you kind of get the picture.

Then I got married and shortly thereafter we had our first daughter, Riley. Have commercials always been this emotionally draining or did advertising change the moment I had a daughter? [Note: I’m a mess just from posting those videos.]

So fatherhood has tapped an emotional vein that lay untouched prior. But I’m pretty sure Words from the Hill by Stu Garrard would’ve have brought the waterworks at any time in my life. Every chapter is lump-in-the-throat inducing with stories that beautifully depict Jesus’ ideas shared within the Sermon on the Mount.

For those of you who have been in Christian Evangelical circles for the last 20+ years, perhaps you remember the band Delirious? Their lead guitarist is Stu Garrard and he set off on The Beatitudes Project. Which the website describes this way:

More than three creative works, the Beatitudes Project is a movement of people inspired afresh by Jesus’ challenging message. We have heard the call to reach out to “the other”; to embrace the outcast; to believe that the world can be changed for the better.

The “three creative works” reffered to are the book mentioned above, a music album entitled Beatitudes, and a film. But back to the book, Stu takes a chapter and dedicates it one of the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the                         .” In each chapter he shared stories from his own life and stories from those he has come in contact with. Through it all he paints beautiful pictures of what it means to be blessed. As he says, the Beatitudes are not another to-do list or a bunch of things to aspire to. Instead they are things that happen to us. It’s in those moments – when we cannot help but be poor in spirit, meek, and persecuted or when we cannot help but mourn and hunger and thirst for more – that God is on our side. He’s closer than you think. As Stu dives into these stories, he addresses the fact that in times of darkness and need we all want answers and clarity, but what Jesus promises us in the Beatitudes is his presence.

The stories that Stu shares are beautiful examples of mercy and peacemaking. They encapsulate what it looks like to live in the kingdom of God. Stories of death row inmates who receive mercy and return that gift to others; mothers who become neighbors with their son’s murderer; victims of sexual abuse who start companies that now employ and educate over 1800 women worldwide.

I strongly encourage you to go pick up this book and respond to the “invitation to the unexpected.” And for those who are not readers or just have a musical bent, take a listen to the album.