10/20/14

Culture Shock

www.cultureshockthebook.com

Sexuality. Homosexuality. The Environment. Abortion. Politics.

These are the issues Chip Ingram tackles head on in his new book Culture Shock.  Seeking to bring the light of Jesus Christ to these issues as opposed to the heat of emotions, Ingram does not shy away from truth.

Absoulte Truth.

Every issue that Ingram tackles is looked at from both the pro and con viewpoint.  He then looks at what the Word of God has to say. When the absolute truth of God's Word is applied, what we see is a wonderful balance of truth and love.

This book may make some uncomfortable and I am sure not everyone will agree with his conclusions.  Sadly, we live in a day and age where reasonable, heartfelt and thoughtful conversations on these and other issues are not always done in a way that makes either side of the issue look good.

Ingram challenges the reader to stand for righteousness while still showing the love of Jesus Christ. In a day when words like intolerance, hate and compromise seem more the norm, it is refreshing to see a call to a proper Biblical response.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

This book was provided for review by Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books. 

10/4/14

Coming to Life!

I bought a puppet last week.

Though I grew up loving the Muppet Show, I never thought about actually operating puppets myself.  Sure, there was that one time in Croatia where I did a puppet show at an orphanage with a friend but that was an isolated incident.

Until now.

After discussions on new ways to capture the little kids' attention at church, we decided to give a puppet a try.

I brought home the puppet (the one in the picture) and began looking for a voice. My four-year-old sat with me and kept weighing in on the various voices.  He made for a tough audience and shot down nearly every voice I came up with. I finally found one to his liking, and that's when "Hank" came to life.

As soon as Hank started talking, my son completely ignored me and began talking to the puppet.  He asked lots of questions, told him stories, and made it clear that Dad was just an appendage on the end of the puppet's body.  After a time of interaction and engagement I said that Hank needed to go to sleep, at which point my son began talking to me again!

This morning I began discussing how to use the puppet at church.  I wanted to talk about fear and mentioned how it would be good to have Hank learn a verse about fear.  Immediately, my four-year-old piped up and said, How about "Do not fear, for the Lord is with you?"

Recognizing the paraphrase of Joshua 1:9, I was excited that my son was able to recall a Bible verse applicable to fear and was able to use it appropriately. He will now teach Hank that verse in church this week.

Maybe this puppet thing won't be so bad after all!

10/1/14

Traveling Home


Occasionally I will hear snippets of words or phrases when my kids are playing or chatting and they just resonate with me.  This past summer, the words spoken by my children had me thinking about eternity!

Not too long ago, my son was learning time and measurement. Holding his hands wide, he asked his sister if that was how long forever was.  My daughter's response was, "You can't measure forever!" Truer words were never spoken. 

When you think about eternity, it is hard to measure with our finite minds. As a pastor, I speak of heaven and hell...but I do not know if I convey eternity in the way that my daughter did that day.  We live in a world of time and measure.  When we think of spending eternity with God in heaven, I do not think our minds can conceive the true reality of it all.  How do you measure the immeasurable?  How do you quantify the unquantifiable?  Eternity is a mystery we won't completely understand until we stand before the Father! 

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

In fact, the Lord has set eternity in our hearts!

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I think the joy is in the journey.  Which can be a problem for me!  I'm not a patient traveler.  I enjoy the destination but not the journey there.  I don't know why that is.  I get in the car and I want to get to my destination. As we traveled on vacation this summer, my son kept asking how long it was to various destinations. As we talked about how long it would take to our next stop, he said, "
No matter how long it takes, we will be there soon."

Life on this earth is fraught with problems.  Some days it seems like you take 1 step forward and 3 steps back before getting hit by a bus. Perseverance is not a sexy word.  It sounds hard and--well,--hard!  My son's words reminded me that life is short. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. My journey will be coming to an end.
I will be there sooner rather than later. I am traveling home! 

As I said, the joy is in the journey.  I have become more eternally focused.  Not in a maudlin, depressed sort of way but in an excited-to-sit-at-the-feet-of-Jesus kind of way.  I also want to see those around me take the same journey and travel home to the Father as well.

Traveling home...a road trip I can get excited about.

9/18/14

Dr. Livingston, I Presume?


I read a book about Dr. Livingstone once.

Bored me to tears.

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone by Jay Milbrandt was anything but boring.

David Livingstone was known as a missionary, explorer and anti-slavery advocate.  As a missionary, he only had one convert during his lifetime.  His entire life was a jumble of faith, missions, exploration, fame and failure. He spent more time in Africa than he ever did with his family.  In fact he went years without seeing his children. 

Prior to this book, my recall of his life was limited to his failures and the fact that he got lost in Africa.  The whole, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" was the only thing I could quote about his life.

One thing that was largely lost on me was his passionate drive to end the slave trade in East Africa.  This is where Jay Milbrandt does Dr. Livingstone justice. Milbrandt examines David Livingstone's life through the lens of his anti-slavery crusade.  He looks at his failures and successes and how they impacted the ongoing slave trade.  Quoting from Livingstone's journals and other papers, he shows his commitment to God, desire to serve Him and the many times he falls short.  Yet through it all, you see Livingstone's continual focus on stopping injustice.

My view of Livingstone has changed quite a bit after reading this book.  Shortly after his passing, the slave trade was ended in East Africa and it had everything to do with Dr. Livingstone.  After reading the facts laid out by Jay Milbrandt, I can say unequivocally that David Livingstone changed the world!

A must read for history buffs, those who love missions and for anyone who desires to see an end to the modern day slave trade.

BookLook Bloggers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy.

9/6/14

Back to the Wall!

Over the years, I have always tried to sit with my back to the wall. 

It could have something to do with the fact that, as kid, I was attacked from behind at school.  I remember sitting on a ramp near our locker area and feeling a sharp pain near the back of my neck.  I woke up on the ground with my back and neck bleeding from cuts made when another kid repeatedly hit me with his cleats. 

Whatever the reason, I always liked to sit facing the door.  I wanted to see what was coming.  I learned to live with one eye open!  I felt as if I couldn't trust anyone and had to watch my own back.

Actually, It was a pretty miserable way to live.

My relief came as I began to understand the nature and character of God.  I found comfort in a passage from the latter part of Isaiah 52:12. While speaking on deliverance for Israel, Isaiah has this word, "...For the LORD will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard."

Now that sounds like someone who has your well-being in mind!  He goes before them and is their rear guard.  We also see from Scriptures that the Lord surrounds us. (Psalms 125:2)

God has my back, my front, my whole being!

Now that is protection you can count on!

9/4/14

David Wilkerson


My familiarity with David Wilkerson comes primarily from The Cross and the Switchblade and receiving his newsletter for a short period of time in the late 1980's.  This created an image in my mind of a man who seemed cutting edge but also at times quite legalistic.  I knew almost nothing else about him.

When Zondervan announced a new biography about David Wilkerson, written by his son Gary, I was intrigued and also a little curious how open his son would be about his dads life.

Having now finished the book, I am impressed.

Gary Wilkerson has crafted both a loving tribute and an unvarnished look at his father's life.  This book gives you a clear picture of his dad's spiritual life and corresponding struggles.  You see both his highs and lows of a lifetime of service to the Lord.  The behind the scene looks at his book The Cross and the Switchblade and the movie of the same name were quite interesting.  The fallout among his own staff when he released The Vision was a bit surprising.

David Wilkerson's ministry is still changing lives today.  I saw firsthand the work of Teen Challenge while living in Croatia and can attest that it does change lives.

What develops over the course of this book is a story of a man who was passionate for God and who still struggled with his own faith walk.  I found myself encouraged by this clearer picture of David Wilkerson. I found myself relating to some of his spiritual struggles and his final acceptance of the grace of God.

I highly recommend this book.

8/23/14

Jesus Loves Me This I Know


 I have been singing this children's hymn for over a week now.  Like any ear-worm, it has buried itself deep and I have even woken up in the middle of the night with the song on my lips.  However, this simple but profound song isn't driving me crazy, it's driving me deeper into the Word of God!
 
I found a definition of love that I have been using as a baseline as I read various scriptures on the topic.

Love - It is
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

Tender and passionate.  That is the kind of Love I believe the Lord exhibits towards us on a continual basis.
  It is that passionate love that caused God to send His only Son to die for us!  It was that kind of love that caused Jesus to submit His will to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane.  A sacrificial love!


"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2)

One of the most encouraging Scriptures to me is found in Romans 8:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

The key to experiencing that love is relationship with Him!  Recognizing and accepting the work he did on the cross!

From the Garden of Eden to the Book of Revelation, Love Permeates the Bible.  Yes,  at times God has had to discipline His children, we have suffered the consequences of our own sinful actions, but His love is there, wooing, calling, and available.

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

If we except, or have excepted that love then we can also rest in that love:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)

To Abide meas to: to remain or continue, to dwell, or my favorite, to await in expectation!

Jesus love us, let us abide in His Love!