Friday, December 25, 2009

Primal - Book Review

As Mark Batterson would say, we have a tendency to over complicate things. Sadly this is often particularly true when it comes to how we live-out our Christian faith. But, Jesus made it simple: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s really that simple, but we tend to make it so complicated.

In Primal, Mark Batterson challenges us to return to that primal faith that started it all, and to remember exactly what Christian faith is supposed to be all about. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

Batterson tells the story of hearing Senator Bill Frist speak several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast. Before serving in the Senate, Frist performed more than 150 heart transplants as a thoracic surgeon. At the Prayer Breakfast he spoke about the moment a heart is grafted into a new body. Apparently, all doctors can do is wait and hope that it will begin to beat. He said no one's really sure why or how it works.

It's a mystery.

And it seems the mystery of the heart doesn't stop there. Batterson writes, "Studies suggest that the heart secretes its own brain-like hormones and has cellular memory. So a heart transplant isn't just physical, it's metaphysical. Heart transplant recipients don't just receive a new organ, they receive cellular memories."

Primal pushes us to become great at living-out the Great Commandment Jesus gave (Mark 12:30) in the four areas of heart (compassion), soul (wonder), mind (curiosity), and strength (power). Batterson, believes, as do I, that when we discover or rediscover living our lives out of those four areas, we are then able to live out the true essence of Christianity.

This would be a great book to start 2010 with.

You can purchase this book at the WaterBrook Multnomah website. Here they will see different options where they can purchase the book online:

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601421319

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

The Moment of Conception

"What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." ~ Matthew 1:20

Is anything as miraculous as the moment of conception? A sperm penetrates an egg and all the genetic data that will determine who that person becomes is encoded within that single cell. A-mazing! The mother's body starts producing hormones before she even knows she is pregnant. The heart starts beating around day 22. In four weeks time, that single cell has grown 10,000 times larger. Around day 42, the first neuron is formed and 120 days later, a baby will have a hundred billion neurons. That is nearly 10,000 synapses per second. But it all begins with that moment of conception.

The Christmas conception was unique. Mary was a virgin. So what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. And all orthodox Christians believe in the miracle of the virgin birth. But I would suggest that it's more than a tenet of theology. It also sets an example. Anything of eternal value in our lives is conceived by the Holy Spirit. And God still works the same way today. When He wants to do something He conceives something inside of us by the Holy Spirit--a passion, a calling, a gifting, a prompting. And when we do what the Holy Spirit conceives we are advancing His kingdom on earth. And just as Christ came into the world at Bethlehem, Jesus incarnates himself through His children when the Holy Spirit is at work through us.

So on Christmas morning, here is my Christmas question: what does God want to conceive within you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The X in XMAS

For those who have are concerned with people who use X in place of Christ when writing Christmas, you might find this article, by R.C. Sproul interesting. Let me add that when I was in seminary I began using X for Christ, JC for Jesus Christ, HS for Holy Spirit, G for God. In a strange way it was comforting and expedient. This allowed me to write quickly, but also when I would throw a piece of paper in the garbage I was never throwing out the complete name of God.

Yes, it may sound strange but some of that comes with my Jewish background and the sanctity of God's name. You see, Jewish people (practicing Jews and others as well) when writing the name God, will write G-D, this way they will never throw the name of God out. It's an interesting premise which stuck with me through seminary and remains with me to this day. I don't even like deleting God's name from a sentence I write on my computer.

Here is the article from R.C. Sproul

The simple answer to your question is that the X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Taken from Now, That's a Good Question!
©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale on the blog of Ligonier Ministries.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review - 40 LOAVES

I am generally not a big devotional reader. However, this is one of the better devotionals I have read. The devotions are short and to the point. It only takes a few minutes to read each one, but the potential impact is great. C.D. Baker arouses your heart, spirit and mind as you consider the impact of the message of Christ.

He asks a lot of tough questions with his "Food for Thought" questions, such as "Why don't I have more faith? Why am I so bored with Jesus? Why don't I feel connected at church? Why don't I know what I want in life?"

If we were honest, we would know that he has touched a nerve with some of is questions which should cause us to take stock of our relationship with Christ.

He asked questions like, "Do I really want to take him by the hand or just take from his hand?" which should cause us to consider what is it we want from our relationship with Jesus.

This would be a great book to read for a 40 day devotion.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Publishing Group.

Regifting Etiquette

I found this on the Internet, so, for all you regifters, here is the Code of Ethics.

If you're a closet regifter, rest assured: You're not alone. In fact, a Code of Regifting Ethics has emerged from the shadowy, persecuted regifting underworld, marking horror stories the signs of amateurs at work. Follow these simple commandments, and you, too, can regift with class, dignity, and little to no fear of karmic retribution...

Rule #1: Thou shalt not regift anything you've already used. This is the single most important rule. Don't try to fudge it. Think of this rule as your excuse to give that gently-worn sweater to a worthy charity, instead of racking your brains trying to think of a friend who won't remember seeing you in it.

Rule #2: Thou shalt carefully examine your regift from every angle. Check for gift notes tucked into the box. Check for inscriptions on the first ten pages of the book. Check for damage. And for the love of sweet pickle juice, check for monograms and personalization.

Rule #3: Thou shalt be certain, beyond a doubt, that the person who originally gave you the gift does not know, and never will know, the person you're regifting it to. File under "duh."

Rule #4: Thou shalt regift with the same care and generosity with which you, er, regular-gift. Wrap the gift nicely, include a thoughtful card, and observe your usual gift-giving discretion. You wouldn't tell a friend how much you paid for a gift you bought, right? You don't need to tell her how much you didn't pay, either. (Total honesty might make you feel better, but it probably won't have the same effect on the recipient.)

Rule #5: Thou shalt only regift things that other people might actually want. On the "do" list: Bottles of wine and champagne are almost universally welcome regifts. Other good regifts: new toys, bestselling books, unused (and unopened) beauty products, edible goodies that not only are fresh but also look fresh, music (anything that wasn't the big hit of last year, that is), and picture frames you've taken the trouble to put great pictures into.

On the "don't" list: Branded stuff (umbrellas with logos on them, the silver pen from the conference you went to that has the conference name on it), small appliances (too obvious), anything that was itself obviously a regift. . . unless you're headed to a White Elephant party.

And then there's "the big maybe:" Anyone who's ever been married has probably regifted at least one wedding present. We ain't sayin' it's right or wrong. But if you regifted a wedding present, you probably know that there's about a 65% chance that the recipient guessed. . . which isn't exactly the desired effect. Which brings us to the final rule of regifting.

Rule #6: Thou shalt remember why you give gifts to begin with. We give gifts because we want people to like them. We give gifts out of the impulse of generosity, and because as a species, we like seeing each others' eyes light up with delight and surprise, one of many characteristics that distinguishes human beings from, say, woodpeckers or garden slugs. If you can't see a regift making somebody you know and love happy, maybe that regift deserves another recipient. Like a charity. Or the recycle bin.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pray for your Pastor

Here is a blog from one of the most direct Pastors I know, Perry Noble. Perry leads about 10,000 folks in Anderson, South Carolina. He wrote this about praying for pastors . . .

Pray For Your Pastor
Perry Noble

"This particular post may seem a little self serving…but so be it…this needs to be said (AND…I don’t mind asking people to pray for me!) :-)

Here are several areas where you can be praying for your pastor…

#1 – His Walk With God – Pray that his relationship with Jesus isn’t one out of obligation…but of OBSESSION for HIM!!! It is VERY tempting for a pastor to read the Bible for sermon prep and NOT to know Jesus. Pray that His relationship with Jesus will be FRESH and that he will be filled with vision and passion like never before.

#2 – His Integrity – It takes YEARS to establish integrity…and it can be destroyed in seconds. Pray for your pastor to keep his eyes on Jesus and OFF of anything that might lead him astray!!!

#3 – His Marriage – Pray that your pastor just doesn’t preach about a healthy marriage…but LIVES it out. I promise you the enemy comes STRONG after his marriage…and his kids!!! Lift up his wife and children by name as well!!!

#4 – His Sanity – He deals with critics, he deals with unrealistic expectations, he deals with accusations, he deals with pressure that is intense. Pray that he will keep his sanity. I recently heard of a survey that said only 10% of the men entering the ministry actually retire…the others either get disqualified OR drop out! That is a 90% failure rate!!! THE STAKES ARE HIGH!!!

#5 – His Health – I was in a meeting of pastors a few years ago…everyone of us were leading large churches…everyone of us were under 35…and over HALF of the men in the room (remember, we were under 35) had been hospitalized in the past two years because of serious medical problems (most likely brought on by stress and anxiety!) Good health is so vital for ministry…and I can promise you that physical, emotional and spiritual health do not just “happen!” Do not assume that just because your pastor is young that he is healthy…lift him up.

Whoever your pastor is…seriously…I would ask that you lift him up. No matter who you are…no matter who your pastor is. I don’t care if you are reading this site and hate me…don’t hate your pastor. Cover him…and pray that Jesus will speak to him and through him in ways that he has never experienced.

Rick Warren once said that he believes pastors are the most underrated changes agents in the world…and I believe that!!! SO…let’s lift him up before God…and pray that Jesus will have HIS way in his life!"


.

The Church

As I was writing my thoughts from Revelations 1-3, this is how I ended my thoughts . . .

. . . Moving beyond this, really is the question of what is the church?
  • Is it about satisfying your needs or meeting the needs of others according to what God is calling you to do?
  • But, do you know what God is calling you to do?
  • Is it to complain or to serve?
  • Is it to have your needs met or meet the needs of others?
  • Is it to serve or be served?
  • Is it to be a difference maker or blend in with the crowd?
How do you answer those questions? Where is your commitment to the Church, and I mean THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ, not the local church. Your commitment to the throne of Christ, will ultimately determine your values and convictions within the local church.

Frankly, there are just too many complainers and not enough servants. Sadly, some of the 'so called servants' are complainers in disguise. So, as you move into 2010, what type of faith will you demonstrate to the world and to your Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ?

Will it be that lukeward, putrid faith which Jesus tells us in Revelation 3 is spit out of His mouth? Or will you serve with a renewed zeal, passion and energy?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spending

I saw this one too. I thought it was funny and rather tongue in check from Saturday Night Live about spending money.

Remember, click on the title "spending" to get you to watch the video.



It's a good video for Black Friday shoppers!

Joy

I came across this 45 second snippet from Tony Dungy talking about joy.

I thought is was worth listening to . . .

What Brings True Joy? from Family First on Vimeo.



Remember to view this, click on the title of this blog, Joy.

Blessings and joy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a church . . .

Perry Noble from NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C. wrote this, and I thought he was right on.

So, here are his dreams . . .

I’m Dreaming Of A Church… December 9, 2009

Below is the link to his blog . . .

http://www.perrynoble.com/2009/12/09/im-dreaming-of-a-church/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+perrynoble%2FZvVU+%28Perry+Noble+dot+com%29&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail

Jesus has done more in the past 10 years of ministry here at NewSpring Church than any of us ever thought possible…and I know there’s more.

Ephesians 3:20 keeps running over and over again in my mind…and I keep dreaming of a church (and churches…)

  • That the ministry goes beyond the walls of the building and actually IMPACTS the community in a radical way.
  • Where the broken, hurting and lost are received with open arms…and the religious are challenged to repent of their “perfection.”
  • Where generosity is embraced.
  • Where the staff and volunteers give their best to God in every task that they take on! (I don’t believe the church should look to organization like Disney and Apple for inspiration…I believe they should be looking at the church!!! Yes, they have great thinkers…we have the HOLY SPIRIT of the LIVING GOD! There is no excuse for half hearted, watered down effort in the Kingdom!)
  • Where JESUS is exalted…NOT a denomination or a political party.
  • Where Scripture, not Robert’s Rules of Order, govern the Body.
  • Where people in the church REFUSE to ignore injustice…and EMBRACE that God has called the church to do more about it than simply pray…but rather to DIVE IN and do all we can to help all we can.
  • That refuses to accept that the way things are is the way they have to be.
  • That champions the next generation instead of teaching them they are insignificant until they can get a job and begin to tithe.
  • That excitement and passion surrounds the Sunday services…and also an expectation that God is going to do something huge!
  • That throws the desire to compete with other churches out the window…and does all that they can to help the body.
  • That embraces the fact that Jesus originally called “unschooled, ordinary men” to change the world…and He’s STILL doing the same thing today. (See Acts 4:13)

The church’s best days are yet to come…and I can’t wait to see what Jesus does next. He loves His church way more than we do!!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Anger in Action

Here is what happens in a hockey game when anger gets the best of you.

Click on the title Anger in Action to watch the play.





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Reviews

I have three reviews for you . . .

The first is the book, Leaving Carolina, by Tamara Leigh.

This is a story about a girl named Piper Wick who left her hometown of Pickwick , North Carolina twelve years ago. She proverbially shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. Now she's even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

It's a fun fast moving book, which features quirky characters, some comedy and a little romance. It seems a little similar to the movie Sweet Home Alabama. If you like the movie, you should like the book.

You can purchase Leaving Carolina at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601421661


The next book is What Matters Most: Diary of a Teenage Girl, by Melody Carlson.

This is the 3rd book in a series of books subtitled, Diary of a Teenage Girl.

In this book, we see that Maya Stark is sixteen years old and has been mostly on her own for about a year. Living with her Uncle its more like a place to lay her head. Her father did not fight for custody as being a musician he is gone more than he is home and her mother is in prison for drug addiction.

As a Christian teen Maya has a lot to think about and sort through. It's a tough time of life and there are more complications anyone would want for their teen. Maya could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

This would be a good book to give to a teen girl who is considering options in life as she reads about Maya and her writings which uncover more of her personality.

You can purchase What Matters Most at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601421197


The last book is another Melody Carlson book called Limelight.

In this book, we learn about Claudette Fioré, who used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crook
ed accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.

Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

A wonderful book talking about values and change. It's one most people can identify with.

You can purchase Limelight at
http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781400070824



All of these books were provided for review by Random House Publishers.


Blessings to all!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LEAF RAKING

If anyone is interested in helping rake leaves or help some people with yard clean up this Saturday beginning at 9 am please let me know.

Also, we have a number of youth helping, and could use a couple of extra adult volunteers to help supervise, plus if you have a leaf blower to bring that would be great.

If you can't help, but are willing to let someone use your leaf blower, please let me know.

Thanks,

Michael

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Coupon Success


Okay, I admitted on Facebook I am a coupon addict, I'm a junkie when it comes to coupons and I drive Debbie a little bit more crazy, but let me give a quick example of what I bought and how much I paid.

Pay Less (Kroger) had a mega sale, buy to of certain items and you receive an extra $5 back. So, I bought 8 of these Pillsbury Refrigerated cookies and 2 bags of Chex Mix (both were part of the mega sale).

Here's the breakdown. If I buy them without sales, etc. the cost would be $2.88 x 8 = $23.04. Chex Mix would be $2.79 x 2 = $5.58. Total cost would be $28.62.

The sale for Pillsbury was $2.49 . . . . but, I used the following . . .

Buy 2 receive $1.50 off, I used 4 of these coupons. = $6 off.
4 coupons from the Internet @ $1 each. = $4 off.
3 coupons on my Pay Less card via Internet @ $1 each. = $3 off.
Mega sale $.50 off each item. = $4 off
Buy 4 and receive a $2 coupon on your next trip. = $4 back.

Net expenditure for the Pillsbury cookies would total $2.04 or $.255 per package. NOT BAD!!

The sale for Chex Mix was $1.49 . . . . but, I used the following . . . .

2 coupons from the Internet @ $.50 each. = $1
2 coupons on my Pay Less card via Internet $.50 each. = $1 off.
Mega sale $.50 off each item. = $1 off

Net expenditure for the Chex Mix would be $0.00

So, do I need all those cookies? Yup, now we can have a family project without the mess and bake cookies for our neighbors and greet them in the name of Christ. Plus, we may eat a few on the way.

I'll write more about couponing in future dates.

By the way, yesterday's grocery bill was about $130, of which the bill was $32. I used about $48 in coupons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If God is Good . . .


I have been reading Randy Alcorn's book, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. Randy is tackling a huge theological question basically everyone deals with at some point in their lives. I've dealt with it personally and professionally. What do we do with a good God, one who is not evil or mean, and yet, bad things happen to people.

We all ask questions about God's presence in our lives during our most difficult moments, and frankly we hope nobody asks us the same questions we are thinking about because we certainly don't have the answers. Some of the questions are - -

» Why is there evil in the world?
» Why does God allow suffering?
» What's with a good God sending people to Hell?
» What about senseless evil? If God is all powerful, why doesn't He stop it?
» How can life make sense in light of all this muck in my life?

Randy Alcorn has written If God is Good to answer all these questions, and many more, in an everyday style of language. Yes the unit sections seem pretty steep and deep, but I really believe this is an understandable book.

His approach is to share stories about grace and life, hoping to make sense of the chapters and topics he seeks to cover. He also attempts to give a biblical basis to his reasoning.

Alcorn attempts to answer this question in a long, 512 page book. He breaks the book down into 12 units, which are listed below.
  1. Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering
  2. Understanding Evil: It's Origin, Nature and Consequences
  3. Problems for Non-Theists: Moral Standards, Goodness and Extreme Evil
  4. Proposed Solutions to the Problem of Evil and Suffering: Limiting God's Attributes
  5. Evil and Suffering in the Great Drama of Christ's Redemptive Work
  6. Divine Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice: Accounting for Evil and Suffering
  7. The Two Eternal Solutions to the Problem of Evil: Heaven and Hell
  8. God's Allowance and Restraint of Evil and Suffering
  9. Evil and Suffering Used for God's Glory
  10. Why Does God Allow Suffering?
  11. Living Meaningfully in Suffering
This is a well written book, which helps us understand the difficulties we face and what seems unjust to the seemingly just.

You can find this book at

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421326

This was book was provided for review by Random House Publishers.

Real Kids Prayers

Click on the title to watch this 1:50 video.

Kids Prayers from Granger Community on Vimeo.



It's powerful.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finding Wisdom in Darkness


Wisdom Hunter was originally released in 1991 by Randall Arthur; and has been rereleased in 2009. This was a fun nonfiction book to read. It was fast paced as you follow a middle aged, successful southern preacher, Jason Faircloth, who holds to legalism more than he does love. He is well respected and loved by many people but after enduring two life altering tragedies he begins a quest for his one living relative, which also leads him to have conversations with God and others as he seeks to rebuild his life.

His journey takes him on adventures he would never have dreamt possible for a faithful Christian like himself. Yet, he finds himself involved in situation after situation, sometimes from his own naivete, and the drama that unfolds along side of it. At times the book is a little sappy, but there is a powerful story with some great points about life, living it joyfully vs. living it dutifully.

You can find this book at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601422996&ref=externallink_mlt_wisdomhunter_sec_0908_01

This was book was provided for review by Random House Books.



Shadow Government was a fascinating book by Grant Jeffrey. In this book, Jeffrey writes about his concerns, and even more than that, his suspicion that surveillance is being used against everyday citizens like you and me.

Jeffrey goes into great detail and at times seems a little extremist, yet when reading this with an open mind, it makes you wonder where the surveillance starts and where it ends. For example, he writes about RFID chips. These are those little microscopic chips in books and 100's of other tech products. Wal-mart invested more than $250 million into these chips and requires their top 100 manufacturers to embed all their high end products which Wal-mart sells with these chips.

The end result, Jeffery explains is this, "IBM developed a program, named Margaret, designed to embed RFID scanners in the doors and floors of thousands of banks and financial institutions. Wealthy customers are given passbooks and loyalty cards that contain RFID chips, which alert the bank's ID system as soon as the valued customer enters the building. This allows members of a consumer relations team to provide a heads up to the manager and automatically brings up the customers account information on the bank's computer system. A teller can greet the customer by name, as if the customer were a long lost friend." That's scary folks.

Even IBM admitted, "The widespread use of RFID tags on merchandise such as clothing would make it possible for locations of people, animals and objects to be tracked on a global scale - a privacy invasion of Orwellian proportions."

It's an interesting book to read. How far will of this go, I don't know, but Jeffrey has alerted me to some issues that are out there which I need to know about. A good read for those interested in privacy issues, especially as they relate to the government.

This was book was provided for review by Random House Books.

You can find this book at . . .
http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400074426&ref=externallink_wbp_shadowgovernment_sec_0908_01

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Reviews

I thought I would mention the fact that I receive a number of books to review. Probably I could end up reviewing one book per week, minimum. Most of the books are pretty good, some better than others. As point of interest, I do not get paid to read the books, I simply enjoy reading and at times will be given an extra copy of the book. More often than not I give the book to the church library for people in the church to enjoy. On occasion I will send the book off to a friend or give it away.

I have also been privileged to review a book by Bill Easum. My name is even mentioned in the forward of the book, A Second Resurrection: Leading Your Congregation to New Life.
Presently I have been blessed to be reviewing and editing another book from Bill. You have to understand, for me this is an honor because he is one of my main mentors. Bill is one of the top 3 church leadership experts in the country (just my opinion). He is radical, he is edgy and more often than not, he is correct. Bill is not a spring chicken, he's in his 60's.

Bill Easum
The title of his new book is, Preaching for Transformation: How to Re-start, Turnaround, or Go Missional.

Why am I writing this? Not that anyone asked or questioned me, but just to say how blessed I am when I have the privilege of reading someone else's work and the influence and real blessing it has in my life.

Thanks to many of the authors I get to read their works of love and passion.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Extraordinary

The book Extraordinary was just that, extraordinary. I've read other books by John Bevere and this was one of his best. His premise, which is mine as well, is that God wants us to live an extraordinary life.

As I was moving into a sermon series this book came at just the right time, and Bevere helped me unflesh some of my thoughts. Bevere believes we were created to be more than ordinary, we are to be extraordinary. He outlines a plan for us to move from living a normal life to one which is filled more and more with the presence of God.

He eventually speaks about our ability to bring healing to others because of God's grace and power residing within Christians. We must remember that Bevere comes from a more Charasmatic background and theology. At times this became a little troubling, yet, His basic thesis that we were meant to live an extraorindary life supercedes some of my disagreements with his theology at the end of the book. One other comment was his use of scriptrue using various translations. When an author does this, it can sometimes lead to their manipulating scripture to make it say what they want. Not knowing Bevere I can't say if this is what he's doing.

Again, in spite of a couple of concerns, I still see this is a good read.

You can purchase Extraordinary at

AMAZON.COM

or

CHRISTIANBOOK.COM

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jesus smiling at you and for you!


How do you view Jesus?


How do you view your Heavenly Father? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? When you pray, do you ever have a mental image or picture of God? Most people don’t really have a picture or image of God.

I think our image of God (Father Son and Spirit) varies. Our image can vary from an angry wrathful God, to a disappointed God to a laughing and gracious God, with lots inbetween.

My picture of Jesus changes vastly. As I prepare for Sunday’s message about our marital relationship with Jesus (yes, you heard me right), wouldn’t it be great to picture Jesus as our Bridegroom counting the moments and longing for the wedding feast to take place. We can picture Him in many different ways, as our Best Friend, My Lover, My King, My Savior, My Shepherd, My Lord, My Counselor, My Soaring Eagle, My . . .

So, WHAT DOES YOUR JESUS LOOK LIKE???? Is He a stern father figure sitting on a golden throne waiting to bash you for wrong doings? Is He a large, grandfather figure with a long white beard like Gandalf? Is He the sweet baby Jesus in the manger? Is He aloof?

I like this picture of Him, smiling and laughing because He is happy with what I am doing. He also looks like He is simply enjoying life.

Powerful Video

This is all about a person being transformed, then taking action.

Click on the title Powerful Video to watch.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyEH0olSpxI&feature=player_embedded

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

As someone who loves to read, I had the opportunity to review this book by Rick Burgess and Bill Bussey. I was not sure what to expect, but I must add I was not disappointed. The book, Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage is a silly light hearted read. Expect to see yourself within this book. I must admit I never heard of these guys before, yet they take a humorous and light-hearted look at marriage and on the journey they disect some very real issues faced by couples today.

No couple is immune from the slippery slope that leads them away from emotional intimacy. By allowing us, the reader, to laugh with them, the authors, at some of their embarrassing matrimonial mistakes, provide glimpses into some of the do's and dont's every couple should know. If this book was only a book of comedy, it would still be a book worth reading.

However, the book goes beyond comedy and is sprinkled with many profound sections. The authors write, "show us a good marriage and we'll show you a union of two forgivers." That's a nugget most every couple can take with them. Especially the final chapters are worth the book. They get serious and instead of poking fun at themselves, give some good thoughts for couples of all ages. This would be a great book for couples to read together to laugh and share their own stories, or give it as a gift or anniversary present.

You can purchase this book through Thomas Nelson Publishers at

http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1401603998&title=Rick-and-Bubba%27s-Guide-to-the-Almost-Nearly-Perfect-Marriage&authors=Rick-Burgess-and-Bill-Bussey



YOU WERE BORN FOR THIS

If you are a fan of Bruce Wilkinson, you will find this book beneficial as you seek to better discover what your purpose is. Bruce's thesis for this book is that miracles are still occurring and should be occurring in abundance. However, he states most people either do not believe in miracles, or miracles are only performed by a select few, whom God has chosen.

Bruce writes about 7 Keys for each person to attain a life in which predictable miracles occur. In other words, you are the messenger of the miracle God performs through you. It's a challenging book, easy to read, and one which I believe will cause you to really consider whether miracles are real and can occur today, even through you, or is it only a select group who can perform miracles.

Bruce writes, anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by a direct intervention from God. Around the world these acts are called miracles—not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn the “protocol of heaven.”

Wilkinson describes how anyone can be a “Delivery person” from heaven in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose, and spiritual growth. You Were Born for This will change how you see the world, and what you expect God can do through you and others to meet real needs. He offers 7 tools of service, hoping you will conclude and proclaim, “I want to deliver a supernatural gift from God to someone in need today—and I expect to!”

A video link of Bruce introducing this book is below.

http://bit.ly/wGT7l

You can purchase You Were Born for This by clicking on one of the links below . . .

Amazon.com or

Christianbook.com


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Healthy Pastors - Part 3

Healthy Pastors: Pastors Do Get Depressed

John Catanzaro

N.M.D. - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Healthy Pastors Series [Part 3 of 3]: Click | View Series

On the eve of October 19, 1856, Spurgeon commenced services at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall, a popular amusement hall that Spurgeon's congregation rented when they had outgrown their building and had not completed a new one.

During the morning service he preached at New Park Street Chapel on Malachi 3:10: "Prove me now." With chillingly prophetic voice he declared, "I may be called to stand where the thunderclouds brew, where the lightnings play, and tempestuous winds are howling on the mountain top. Well, then, I am born to prove the power and majesty of our God; amidst dangers he will inspire me with courage; amidst toils he will make me strong... We shall be gathered together tonight where an unprecedented mass of people will assemble, perhaps from idle curiosity, to hear God's Word; and the voice cries in my ears, 'Prove me now.' ...See what God can do, just when a cloud is falling on the head of him whom God has raised up to preach to you..."

Reason Shattered, Distressed, Ministry Flourished

The evening service was held at Surrey Hall, which seated up to twelve thousand and was overflowing with an additional ten thousand people in the gardens. While the evening service was underway, during Spurgeon's prayer, several malicious people shouted, "Fire! The galleries are giving way!"

The panic produced rushes of people. Seven people were trampled to death and twenty-eight were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Near the Furnace of Insanity

Spurgeon (only 22 years old), was carried from the pulpit and taken to a friend's house where he remained for several days in deep depression. He was so distressed he was unable to preach for several weeks and later said the experience was "sufficient to shatter my reason" and might have meant his ministry "was silenced for ever." He remarked, "Perhaps never a soul went so near the burning furnace of insanity, and yet came away unharmed." A friend and biographer commented that his early death may have been the result of this tragedy, "I cannot but think, from what I saw, that his comparatively early death might be in some measure due the furnace of mental suffering he endured on and after that fearful night."

Spurgeon later recounted the agony he went through: "Standing in this pulpit, this morning, I recall to myself that evening of sorrow when I saw my people scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, trodden upon, injured, and many of them killed. Do you recollect how you cried for your minister, that he might be restored to a reason that was then tottering? Can you recollect how you prayed that, out of evil, God would bring forth good, that all the curses of the wicked might be rolled back upon themselves, and that God would yet fill this place with His glory? And do you remember how long ago that is, and how God has been with us ever since, and how many of those, who were injured that night, are now members of our church, and are praising God that they ever entered this hall? Oh! shall we not love the Lord? There is not a church in London that has had such answers to prayer as we have had; there has not been a church that has had such cause to pray. We have had special work, special trial, special deliverance, and we ought preeminently to be a church, loving God, and spending and being spent in His service."

Not Erased From My Memory

"I cannot speak, as a grey-headed man, of the storms and troubles which many of you have endured; but I have had more joys and more sorrows, in the last few years, than any man in this place, for my life has been compressed as with a Bramah press—a vast mass of emotion into one year. I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory—a night connected with this place."

Spurgeon's ministry was vast and people all over the world loved him, but I believe he would have lived longer if his sheep only cared more deeply for his total wellness!

Your Pastor-Shepherd Feels Deeply

Your pastors may be built as tough as a Dodge, but I tell you they weep, ache, sweat, agonize, intensely labor and lose sleep over their tribe. They weep over those who are living separate from Christ and labor to keep sheep in healthy pastures away from harmful predators. They sweat to provide nurturing food. They ache and agonize to provide a better way for you and for me. Give them the best of your prayers, service and work—your sacrifices and action of faith will be the aroma of Christ.

Learn to appreciate the work of your pastors, and when they don't seem to meet the mark don't just throw them in the trash compactor with the hopes that they will see things your way after the battering is done. Give way to grace, for we all have our down days and it's good to have a friend in our corner to give us the light of reason when we need it most!

Lift up your pastors!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

David Robinson - part 2

In order to access the video, just click on the previous RIGHT HERE

There was an access problem on the last blog.

Thanks,

David Robinson

I watched Michael Jordan's 23 minute NBA hall of fame speech. He spoke of what made him more competitive, what added logs to his fire. At times he was funny, at times he seemed a little arrogant or rude.

Then I watched David Robinson's speech, it was far different, you see David is a Christian who lives according to Christ like values. His speech is below. Watch it, especially the last 1 minute, what a great testimony.

Click HERE or below:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stray Affections

Stray AffectionsIn Stray Affections, the last thing that Cassandra expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snowglobe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home—even if means wrestling another shopper for it!

The beautiful snowglobe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw , Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange—flurrious, as Cassie deems it—moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.

“As a believer, I know the power of forgiveness and new beginnings, and of a God, and family and friends, who love me the way I am,” Charlene Ann Baumbich says. “The heartbeat of change flows through those wonderful gifts.”

With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites readers to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.

About the author:

Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author and speaker and an award-winning journalist. In addition to her Dearest Dorothy series of novels, she has written seven nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. A bungee-jumping, once motorcycle-owning grandma and unabashed dog lover, Charlene lives with her husband and rescued dog Kornflake in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. (Right near where Debbie and I used to live) Charlene loves telling stories, laughing whenever possible, and considers herself a Wild Child of God.

Also included is a video link of Charlene introducing the book. The video is available on facebook and/or YouTube.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/video/video.php?v=101927788491

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWwya52SkjU

You can purchase the book at . . . (click on the links)

AMAZON.COM

or

This also includes a video from Charlene CHRISTIANBOOKS.COM


Healthy Pastors - Part 1

I read this at a blog by John Catanzaro, N.M.D. - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.

http://theresurgence.com/how-to-help-your-pastor

I thought it was well written. So, here you go, in fact pass it on to your friends, not just at FBC, but for others who attend different churches, so they may support their pastors as well . . .

This is Part 1 . . .

He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

I have the privilege of being a pastor to the pastors in coaching and praying for their wellness. The expectations parishioners place upon pastors in this church age are both complex and demanding. For the last two decades I have observed the continual decline in the heath of pastors in the Pacific Northwest. It is both distressing and grievous when pastors share some of the pressures of the ministry and the criticisms and burdens they carry. I believe the best place to begin is to clarify the pastor’s responsibility list.

Unhealthy Expectations

  • They are not substitute parents
  • They are not shrinks
  • They are not janitors, plumbers, or construction workers
  • They are not crisis managers
  • They are not perfect problem-solvers
  • They are not corporate executives
  • They do not have wireless access to the Holy Spirit concerning your problems
  • They are not responsible for your sin
  • They are not constructed for long-term bashing
  • They are not required to shoulder repeated harsh criticisms
  • They are not celebrities
  • They have families with real problems too
  • They are not always available and tireless
  • They are not God in human form
  • They can burn out

Healthy Expectations

  • They serve
  • They teach
  • They lead
  • They inspire
  • They pray
  • They cry
  • They get tired
  • They are human
  • They need family time
  • They must be renewed

To be continued.

Healthy Pastors - Part 2

I read this at a blog by John Catanzaro, N.M.D. - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.

http://theresurgence.com/how-to-help-your-pastor

I thought it was well written. So, here you go, in fact pass it on to your friends, not just at FBC, but for others who attend different churches, so they may support their pastors as well . . .

This is Part 2 . . .

Pastor, how can I help? Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the greatest revivalist preacher of the 19th century, was asked this by many parishioners. His response to this question was to establish a serving and prayerful church. His ministry became the largest prayer-based evangelical work in the Christian church since the days of the apostolic era.

How to Help Your Pastor

  • Understand. The first way to help your pastor is to develop understanding and sensitivity to the stress and demands of a pastor's work.
  • Pray. Secondly, pray for your pastor. A very active prayer ministry to support the pastors in their evangelical work is fundamental to the health of pastors and the church at large.
  • Grow. Thirdly, mature in the faith. Grow and work to preserve the work of God in your sphere. Do not contribute to confusion, gossip and bitter attitudes. Get involved in action, service, and financial contribution, which are all vital to the health of the Christian mission of proclaiming Christ in your community and the world.
  • Lead. Finally, faith in action is serving others above what you want in support of the ministry of the church. Don't just get involved in ministry; actively work with the leadership to provide healthy momentum in ministry and to become a personal preacher of the ways of Christ!

Preachers Are Human

Your pastors can become physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Again, C.H. Spurgeon shares his afflictions and trials throughout his ministry to demonstrate that it was in his weakness that Christ's strength within him was magnified.

Spurgeon was afflicted with spiritual agonies, slander and scorn, the weight of preaching, emotional trials of depression, ministry burden, and physical illnesses of gout, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.

Saved From Much, Called To Much

His journey began with the foundation of suffering and by his own words he gives a clear picture of his agony before his conversion. "The justice of God, like a ploughshare, tore my spirit," he recalled. "I was condemned, undone, destroyed--lost, helpless, hopeless--I thought hell was before me... I prayed, but found no answer of peace. It was long with me thus." Thus, he clarifies through his life that the present suffering he encountered in ministry was no match for the devastating bitterness of soul he experienced before living for Jesus. This taught him to pursue the holiness of God and to loathe sinful living.

Slander and Scorn Go With the Territory

During the early years of his ministry he encountered intense slander and scorn, and his response to this was, "If I am able to say in very truth, 'I was buried with Christ thirty years ago,' I must surely be dead. Certainly the world thought so, for not long after my burial with Jesus I began to preach his name, and by that time the world thought me very far gone, and said, 'He stinketh.' They began to say all manner of evil against the preacher; but the more I stank in their nostrils the better I liked it, for the surer I was that I was really dead to the world."

The Crushing Blow of Scorn

Spurgeon's again on his deepest emotions regarding the scorn and slander he faced: "Down on my knees have I often fallen, with the hot sweat rising from my brow under some fresh slander poured upon me; in an agony of grief my heart has been well-nigh broken; ...This thing I hope I can say from my heart: If to be made as the mire of the streets again, if to be the laughing stock of fools and the song of the drunkard once more will make me more serviceable to my Master, and more useful to his cause, I will prefer it to all this multitude, or to all the applause that man could give."

Don't contribute to the sufferings of your pastors by gossiping, backbiting, or scorning. Instead, get in the trenches with them!

To be continued.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shame on Joe Wilson

I didn't watch Obama's speech about health care last night, but watched pieces of it, including Joe Wilson's proclamation "you lie!"

Whether I agree with Obama or not, he is the president, not only that, he is another person, Wilson just set back his cause decades. His 2 simple words, whether true or not will be remembered and his causes for his state will be ignored. He has done incredible damage to the health care cause, which now has Obama opponents rallying to his side.

Sometimes, it's best to keep our mouths shut, think it, pray over it, then resolve our disputes in private, never in public.

Remember the words of Mark Twain, "never argue with a fool in public, because the public will not know who the real fool is." Not that I'm calling Obama a fool, but I think you get the gist of it. When feeling anger, check it out, and keep it in check. In the words of James 1, "19 ... Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." A great prescription for each of us.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

09-09-09

Here is some fun facts about the number 9.

As the final numeral, the number nine holds special rank. It is associated with forgiveness, compassion and success on the positive side as well as arrogance and self-righteousness on the negative.

FUN FACTS

The sum of the two-digits resulting from nine multiplied by any other single-digit number will equal nine. 9x3=27, and 2+7=9; 8x9=72, and 7+2=9, etc.

Here is a fun one to always help your child check their math problems when multiplying with the number 9. Multiply nine by any two, three or four-digit number and the sums of those will also break down to nine.

For example: 9x62 = 558; 5+5+8=18; 1+8=9.

Again, 9x597(any 3 digit number)=5373; 5+3+7+3=18 or 1+8=9

9x7,064(any4 digit number)=63,576; 6+3+5+7+6=27 or 2+7=9

A final example 9x9,999=89,991; 8+9+9+9+1=36 or 3+6=9

COOL stuff to teach your kids/grandkids, to then teach the teachers in a fun classroom project.

Lastly, September 9 also happens to be the 252nd day of the year 2 + 5 +2=9

Enjoy the day . . . be a blessing to others.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Long Week

Well, somehow the first draft of this blog was deleted by the computer, ugh! It was a long week for us regarding 6th grade football in Alexandria. I was the 6th grade coach and as of last Monday we only had 13 boys, which was not enough to field a team safely, so Debbie and I decided it was in Joshua's best interests to go to Frankton, where two other boys had gone (because of numbers).

As a result, Joshua was called 'quitter,' among other things. Not a fun week for Joshua as he took abuse he should not have had to deal with. That is 11 year old mentality. Amazingly, they still have a team since 5 new kids of migrant workers came out for football and there is a new coach. My greatest concern was for the safety of all of the boys and keeping a team in Alexandria, yet in the end, I felt 13 boys would not suffice for safety reasons, Joshua included.

Joshua is now playing football in Frankton and enjoys the kids on the team. They have 17 boys, a good number to have. I help coach the offense, and everyone seems to be very nice to us. It was a long week with lots of 11 year old football drama. So, there's a short version of a long story and week. Hopefully the football season will be smoother than this.

Thought for the Day

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

How rare it is that we follow this advice. We take the safe road, and leave the road less traveled to those willing to risk in the name of adventure and mystery. Who knows what we will find on the other side, until of course, we venture into the unknown.

Sometimes the path with a trail is safe, and there are times we need to journey on that path, but there are those moments when we are called by God to move into the unknown so that we may trust the God who called us, will never, never abandon us, but goes before us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Major Change is Coming

Change and I mean major change is about to happen and I don't think I can take it.

The people of Samoa are going to have to change the side of the road they drive on. Imagine that kind of change in your life. You drive on the right side of the road on September 6, and wake up on September 7 and have to drive on the left side of the road. Now that would cause road rage which is already happening because of protests.

Imagine that change in your life . . . Talk about people who are nervous drivers, yikes, I'd be a nervous passenger.

Read the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125086852452149513.html?mod=yhoofront

Why change? Because the neighbors of Samoa, Australia and New Zealand already drive on the left side of the road. Read the article to learn more.

God's Bride

As I was reading through the book, Praying the Names of God, I was reading about God being our husband, the Hebrew word, Ish (Eesh). It's found in Hosea 2

16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master. '

19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.

20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

The author of the book, Ann Spangler states, "our destiny, our greatest purpose as God's people, is to become his bride (page 219)."

On the one hand, I do believe the church is the bride of Christ, which includes Christians, yet, for a man, and this is just me thinking and reflecting out loud (or at least on paper) does a man really want to be a bride? Not that I don't want Christ, not that I know He should have full authority over me, and I should be obedient to Him and love Him . . . I know all that, but . . .

. . . do men like that image? Men want to be in control. Men like to have the answers, to solve problems, to be knights in shining armor, to be rescuers on our white horses, to rescue our beloved, to be perceived upon as strong.

Your thoughts?


The Courage to Grow!

I appreciate devotionals which are real and relevant.  This devotional perfectly meets that requirement.  Annie Downs has written a powerf...