Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two Thumbs up for Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick wrote two fascinating, yet diametrically opposite books. In A Flickering Light, Kirkpatrick gives us a glimpse of life in the early 1900's (1907). It is rich with history and emotion as a young woman, 15 year old, Jessie Ann Gaebele seeks to enter a profession which was considered a man’s profession and a dangerous one: photography. Her passion is taking pictures, but it is dangerous, as the photographer has to mix toxic chemicals, and use the flash powder for lighting.

The realism and imagery were striking as Jessie Ann must deal with women’s rights or lack of rights in the early 1900's, adding to that, the profession and passion she enjoyed was a man’s profession. On top of that, Jessie was infatuated with her mentor and employer, F.J. Bauer, who is unhappily married and has an attraction for Jessie Ann. Bauer enjoys Jessie Ann’s enthusiasm and passion for his first love, photography, and the attention she gives him. But he has his unhappy marriage to hold onto.

Irregardless of the social constraints, stern parents, dysfunctional family systems, Jessie Ann seeks to make it into a world which is not ready for a young woman like her. Part of the beauty of the story is the fact that Kirkpatrick is utilizing her own family history to help this story come alive.

A great book to read.

You can find A Flickering Light at

The second book I am reviewing is Aurora by Jane Kirkpatrick . . .

This book was equally rich in history, but Kirkpatrick tells a very story which was equally rich but moves in an entirely different direction. Aurora, was filled with historical pictures of quilts made between 1850-1900; along with pictures of the people who were from the Aurora Colony.

The Aurora Colony was comprised of a German Christian commune founded in the mid 1800's in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. This is a true society that Kirkpatrick recounts of an attempt of these German Christians to develop a utopian commune. They had left their homes in Missouri, moving across the USA to the Pacific Northwest under the societal and religious leadership of Wilhelm Keil. They worked together and lived together as they sought to follow the two Great commands of Jesus, to love God and love one another. They sought to make their society better by the way they lived their lives.

This would be a great gift book for someone who loves quilting and / or is of German descent.

You can find this book at


Monday, April 27, 2009

The Apprentice

Aah, don't you love "The Donald?!" I love watching The Apprentice because it is so bizarre and shows people in their defining moments, demonstrating class or being totally classless.

After last nights fun episode in which Melissa Rivers, Joan's daughter was fired (finally - in my opinion), you could see who the real Joan and Melissa were. They were disgusting. The language, the accusations, the pity they sought after were pathetic.

What's interesting is that this is simply a game, a game where these celebrities are trying to win money for their favorite charity. It's just a game, but these people were brutal to one another. The funny part is that the one who escaped untouched was Annie Duke, a professional poker player (hmm . . . I wonder if she knows how to play the game better than anyone?)

The point . . . how do we portray who were are supposed to be in Christ? Have we changed, been transformed into someone who is honoring and glorifying God? Or are we no better than Melissa and Joan and a bunch of others who have made jerks of themselves?

How would people describe our witness to the world?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

10 Dumb Things Christians Believe

“Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe”

Now that’s a title that gets the old brain working. Before opening the book I sat and thought about what those 10 little things could be. Then I opened the book and read the praises and couldn’t wait to get started.

The author goes into great detail about so called “urban legends” of the Christian faith. When reading the first three chapters I laughed out loud a couple of times, remembered people I knew like the author talked about in other places, and thought this could make for a good 10 week study course on Wednesday evenings.

Then I read the 4th chapter and started to struggle with his theology. On more than one occasion the author talks of how if we pray for an answer about something like a new job, a raise at the old job, a new apartment etc. and we don’t get an answer from God because he is telling us “I don’t care.” Not that God does not care, but the decision we make is a free will decision.

Osborne has a different take on God’s providence and sovereignty. Osborne compares and contrasts God using a BLUEPRINT vs. a GAME PLAN. Osborne explains, God does not have a "blueprint" for your life, because if you don’t follow that blueprint, then you have moved out of the perfect plan of God. Instead, he explains God has a “game plan” set up. In other words, if you were supposed to throw a pass, but the receiver was not open, you improvise; and create something wonderful (hopefully). This is the point Osborne is trying to make. So, he makes statement such as “God doesn’t care where we work so much as how we work, where we live so much as how we live, and even whom we marry (as long as it’s within the faith) so much as how we do marriage.”

It’s an interesting metaphor for life, one that causes some struggle and consternation over because it seems Osborne has a lesser view of God’s providence. This would make for a good discussion, but I would want Osborne there to defend his views, since mine don’t necessarily agree with his.

This book may push some people from their comfort zones because of his views. Larry is not a liberal. I have had him in one of my doctoral classes and he was excellent. Other chapters were less stressful on the brain and convicting.

You can purchase the book at ~ or

Monday, April 20, 2009

One more about Miss USA

Here is more to the story - - -

Keith Lewis, the Executive Director of Miss California USA/Teen USA wrote the following to Hilton's website:

"As co-executive director of Miss CA USA and one of the leaders of the Miss CA family, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman. Although I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit, I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone. Religious beliefs have no place in politics in the Miss CA family."

Prejean responded on Monday's Billy Bush show, "It did cost me my crown, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that's all I can do."

She added:

"It is a very touchy subject and [Hilton] is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."


Miss USA

No, I didn't watch it or tape it, but I did see the final questions asked to the two leading contestants. Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked by Perez Hilton,

Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?” After this question there was some token applauding.

Prejean responded:

Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you.” After her answer there was a great deal of applauding.

What a great answer in a very difficult forum.

In his blog, Hilton called the answer “the worst answer in pageant history”. He later remarked "She lost not because she doesn’t believe in gay marriage, she lost because she’s a dumb *****!"

Like I would really want my daughter to be asked questions by this jerk.

Good for her for not putting aside her values of right and wrong. Of course, you need to know that Perez Hilton did not like that answer because he is gay.

Needless to say, Miss North Carolina won, while Miss California finished 2nd.

Are we willing to state what we unequivocally believe about Jesus to those who might not agree? Remember if you are willing, say it with love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Until now I had never read a book about being environmentally friendly. I know that is how I should live my life, but do I?

Reading Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate' was an eye-opening adventure into the pathology of over-indulgence and neglect so many people enter into.

I was struck by Abbate's passion for the environment. As I was reading, I was swept into his enthusiasm and passion for the world we live in. One of the reasons I appreciated this book was the bluntness in the way he wrote. He got to the point, often times reminding me of the abuses I inflict upon our world.

At times it was not an easy read because I felt like he was stepping on my toes, but I needed that as well. He asks questions that are not easy to answer. For example, since we have dominion over the land, is it ours to keep and destroy if that is our desire, or are we to cultivate the land for the generations which are yet to come.

He explains that so many people are addicted to a lifestyle predicated upon:
  • ME
  • MORE
  • NOW
How true that is when we stop and consider how we eat, how we purchase, what we purchase. There is a somewhat practical section in the second half of the book called Becoming a Gardener. Then he ends the book with a very practical section in which he gives a number of resources regarding - Food, Energy, Transportation, Home and a General section.

If you are interested in learning more about our role in protecting the land from a conservative Christian perspective, then this would be a great introductory book.

You can find Gardening Eden by clicking on the title or clicking on the link for
Random House Books

Happy reading and gardening. Remember GO GREEN!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Middle School Sex (Graphic material)


I received this from a web site called Church Relevance. You can go to the web-site at

Middle School Sex

Posted: 14 Apr 2009 08:47 AM PDT See the web site below.

The University of Texas School of Public Health recently discovered that middle school sex happens more often than most think. According to their study:

  • 1/3 of students experienced precoital touching behaviors
    > 43% of these students experienced sexual intercourse
  • 12% of students experienced vaginal sex by age 12
  • 7.9% of students experienced oral sex by age 12
  • 6.5% of students experienced anal sex by age 12
  • 4% of students experienced all three types of sex by age 12

Among sexually active middle school students:

  • 1/3 experienced vaginal or anal sex without a condom within the past three months
  • 1/4 had four or more partners

Obviously, this trend is alarming morally. But researcher Christine Markham also states:

These findings are alarming because youth who start having sex before age 14 are much more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, use alcohol or drugs before sex and have unprotected sex, all of which puts them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant.

This is part of the reason why a strong youth ministry is so vital. The middle school years for a youth pastor are so vital, yet these topics are usually taboo.

We need to keep our youth pastor search committee in prayer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review Opportunities

Would you like to read a book which I am to review; and review that book for me. You receive the joy of reading the book and writing 200 words or less to help describe the book. Obviously, the hope is that you will like the book and say something nice about it, but the publisher wants to hear the truth. So, in the upcoming weeks I have a number of books to review and if you want to read one of them in order to review, please let me know. Most of the books I receive will end up in our church library. So, if there is one you really like, let me know and I'll see if it is in the library, or if you can borrow my personal copy.

Below is a summary of the books (titles are in bold) I will be reviewing and the dates the review needs to be completed by:

Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe (Christian living)
Author: By Larry Osborne
Review: April 21-28

Just Because “Everyone Believes It”

Doesn’t Make It True

People don’t set out to build their faith upon myths and spiritual urban legends. But somehow such falsehoods keep showing up in the way that many Christians think about life and God. These goofy ideas and beliefs are assumed by millions to be rock-solid truth . . . until life proves they’re not. The sad result is often a spiritual disaster—confusion, feelings of betrayal, a distrust of Scripture, loss of faith, anger toward both the church and God.

But it doesn’t have to be so. In this delightfully personal and practical book, respected Bible teacher Larry Osborne confronts ten widely held beliefs that are both dumb and dangerous. Beliefs like these:

• Faith can fix anything
• Christians shouldn’t judge
• Forgiving means forgetting
• Everything happens for a reason
• A godly home guarantees good kids
…and more.

A Flickering Light (fiction)
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Review: April 27 - May 1

Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs, but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.

Aurora (Christian inspirational)
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Review: April 27 - May 1

Wrap yourself in a fantastic journey, a remarkable commitment, and a spare and splendid story

Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon ’s lush Willamette Valley . The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters—that our lives are the stories other people read first.

  • Unique and treasured quilt pattern variations
  • More than 100 photographs, many never-before published, from 1850 to today
  • Cherished stories from Aurora descendants
  • Rich images of fine crafts from the Aurora Colony and private collections
  • An introduction by renowned American artist John Houser
Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make—and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.

Dear Mom (Christian living / women)
Author: Melody Carlson
Review: May 4th-8th

Every mom knows how communicating with a teenage girl can be difficult, even impossible at times. One-word answers. Defensive conversations. Daily arguments. How typical for teens to put up such barriers. All the while, moms truly long to know what their daughters really think.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson, whose books for women, teens, and children have sold more than three million copies, bridges this chasm with trusted insight. She speaks frankly in the voice of the teen daughters she’s written for and she tells it like it is: struggles with identity, guys, friendship, and even parents—it’s all here. The straight-talk to moms covers such things as “I need you, but you can’t make me admit it,” “I’m not as confident as I appear,” and “I have friends. I need a mother.”

Instead of focusing on outward behaviors, Dear Mom looks at a young woman’s heart and reveals to moms:

· how to talk to teens so they hear,
· how to connect despite the differences of perspective or years and experiences,
· and how strengthen the bond every mom and daughter ultimately wants.

The lively chapters in Dear Mom can be dipped into topically or used as a read-through tool by moms and daughters alike to understand what motivates or deflates, troubles or inspires—and just in time for Mother’s Day and all the Mother’s Days ahead.

Mama’s Got A Fake I.D. (Christian living / women)
Author: Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira
Review: May 4th-8th

Formula for identity loss:

1. Take one multifaceted, intriguing human being.
2. Bless her with a child.
3. Mix with today’s cultural assumptions.
4. Add the demands of motherhood.
5. Presto! All identity except Mom disappears.

For every woman wondering what happened to the unique combination of gifts and abilities she was known for before kids came along, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira has good news: in Mama’s Got a Fake I.D., Rivedeneira helps moms reclaim their full identity as creative beings, gifted professionals and volunteers, loving friends, children of God—and mothers.

This inspiring and practical guide shows women how to break free from false guilt, learn a new language to express who they really are, and follow God’s lead in sharing their true self with others. After all, motherhood doesn’t have to mean losing one’s identity. Instead, being a mom makes it possible for a woman to discover a more complete identity as the person God made her to be.

The Night Watchman (fiction)
Author: Mark Mynheir
Review: May 25th-29th

Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando . Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman (first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.


Saints in Limbo (fiction)
Author: River Jordan
Review: June 1st – 5th

Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.

Stealing Home (fiction)
Author: Allison Pittman
Dates: June 1st – 5th

It’s 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald “Duke” Dennison’s golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.

That’s when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville , Missouri , so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts.

Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much–until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star’s charm.

Then there’s Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out.

Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home?

Let me know if any of these interest you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Experiencing the Spirit and The Treasure Principle

The premise of Experiencing the Spirit is not to prove the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, instead, the Blackaby's hope to teach Christ-followers to embrace the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. The subtitle speaks volumes, "The Power of Pentecost Every Day." On the surface you would think we would all want that type of power, but embracing the power of the Holy Spirit can be intimidating. Henry and his son, Melvin unpack the Holy Spirit, especially as He relates to you and I.

Blackaby asks what difference does does Christ make in your life, as he writes,

"Have you gone beyond accepting the fact that there’s a God? Have you moved beyond accepting Christ as God’s Son and made Him Lord of your life? If you believe there is a God, that He sent His Son to die for you, that God raised Jesus from the dead after three days, and that Christ is coming back for His disciples – that’s great. But satan believes all that! What makes your life any different from satan’s? To be different, you must come to Christ, pursue Him, give you life to Him, and keep growing in your relationship with Him — for He’s a Person to be loved, not an idea to be accepted."

I would highly recommend this short book from the Blackaby's. He was the one who wrote the wonderful study guide called "Experiencing God."

You can find the book at

One other book to read, especially in our finanacial situation is Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle. This is a great little book which packs a walloping punch. The premise for Alcorn's book is that Christians are missing the blessing of extravagent giving. The subtitle speaks volumes as well, Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving. Alcorn uses 6 Treasure Principle Keys which help us move forwad in understanding what Alcorn is getting at and what God wants. The book has practical ideas and is very relevant to our times.

In fact, The Treasure Principle is really a mirror of the Blackaby's book, since when we rely on the Holy Spirit for His power and transformation, then we gain a much better and healthier perspective of money and possessions. Again, I highly recommend this book.

Along with Experiencing the Spirit, The Treasure Principle would make a great short term study for a class or small group.

You can find The Treasure Principle at

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Breaking Stereotypes

I saw two things which broke some stereotypes for me while I was in Indianapolis yesterday . . .
  1. I saw a nun at St. Vincent's Hospital holding a cup of Starbucks. When was the last time you saw a nun holding a Starbucks? Granted we probably don't sit and daydream about nuns drinking Starbucks, but it's not the norm.
  2. I stopped to get gas and a little snack at a gas station and there were 4 Amish folks in there, and they were buying junk food! They had the door to the Krispy Kreme donuts open and were digging for their favorites, along with buying other junk food. It's not something you expect to see. When they spoke to one another it was in Dutch, that I expected, junk food . . . no.
So, big deal! I suppose, yet it led me to consider what stereotypes do I portray that may lead people away from Jesus instead of to Jesus. How about you?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Clutter Free Christianity Book Blog

I had the privilege of reading a prior book from Robert Jeffress entitled, "I Want More!" It was a book about seeking a deeper and more satisfying relationship with the Holy Spirit.

So, I was excited to read this new book, Clutter Free Christianity.

One reason I appreciated this book is that Jeffress is writing about Spiritual Disciplines, a topic which is near and dear to my heart. His main topics to bring a bout a transformed life in which we get rid of all the clutter focuses on 1) forgiveness, 2) obedience, 3) trust, 4) contentment, 5) serving and 6) prayer. This process is a lifelong journey toward transformation.

Jeffress reminds us that the preparations we make in this life will determine how you spend the next one. Yet, What occurred to me is that the preparations we make in this life will determine how we spend this lifetime. It is a nuance from what he was writing, yet I really think this is part of his main point of the book. We live our lives seeking personal transformation so that we can be more Christ-like.

One excellent point Jeffress makes is that "we try to modify our behavior without ever doing anything to transform our hearts, where our behavior origninates." This is a great statement by Jeffress because we try to change on our power and strength, without our hearts ever being changed. For that reason we struggle with our relationship with Christ, we struggle with our shortcomings and lack of spiritual growth. We become depressed and discouraged when that does not need to be the case. This is much of what Jeffress wrote about in I Want More!

The fact that Jeffress quotes one of my favorite scriptures leads me to trust his wisdom as well, as he explains we must watch over our hearts, or guard our hearts, for all of life flows through our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). It's a reminder to watch over our hearts, because it is the center of our being.

This is a wonderful book which will help the reader draw closer to Christ. He includes a short discussion / Bible Study section in the back of the book. I would recommend this book to help with spiritual growth. You can find this book at the link below, or clicking on the title of the book:

You can also find "I Want More!" at this link:

Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...