12/19/14

Take Note of the NKJV Note-Takers Bible


I love to take notes in my Bible.  Sadly, deciphering my notes is like studyingy heiroglyphics.  I have scribbled notes with arrows pointing in different directions, tried to squeeze words and thoughts between lines and gone down the side of very thin edges.

What I needed was a Note-Takers Bible.  I was excited to get this Bible and start taking new notes.  I put it to use right away by transcribing notes from my other Bible into this one.  I love the wider columns along the side and bottom of this Bible.  It is wide enough to allow me the freedom to put down thoughts in a clear manner without squeezing my writings in, around and on top of the text.

This is a minimalit Bible in many ways. It features:
  • Deluxe wide margins for note takers
  • Complete NKJV text
  • Double column text for easy reading
  • Words of Christ in red letter
That's pretty much it.  However, it works for the purpose of this Bible.

In actuality, the only problem I have is that there is only room to take notes on one side of the column.  Despite that minor issue, this is a Bible I will use for many years to come.  If you are a note-taker, this is the Bible for you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookBloggers.com review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

12/17/14

A Charlie Brown Christmas



I love Christmas specials.  My family and I will gather together and watch Christmas classics of days past and it has become somewhat of a tradition in our house.  One of my favorites is called "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  You are probably familiar with this special.

They key scene for me is when Charlie Brown goes out to pick a tree and brings back a sad, little tree that earns him instant mockery from all of his friends.  In the midst of this, Charlie Brown wonders what Christmas is all about. Linus, standing alone on the stage, states that he can tell him, and recites Luke 2:8-14.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.”

He then says, "...That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

As we celebrate Christmas this year, let's look beyond the tinsel, the trees, the presents and the parties and look to the real reason we should celebrate.  God gave us the best gift of all, a Savior, Christ the Lord.

In the words of Linus, “that’s what Christmas is all about!”

12/7/14

Dancing Without a Care!

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." (1 John 3:1)

Today I went out to eat.  A local hotel has hosted an annual breakfast for the community for the last 15 years.  The event is geared towards families and includes hay rides through the snow, Santa and other characters and music provided by local fiddlers and musical groups.  All you need for entry is a can of food for the food bank.  The community was extremely generous and many, many boxes of food were provided that will help the food bank continue to reach out to those less fortunate.  Many of those receiving the food will be under the age of 13.  

I sat at a table watching another group of kids dance in circles to the music on the stage, holding hands and falling down.  They jumped up and down and laughed without a care.  Some would climb into their parent's laps and snuggle before darting back to play.  One fell down and cried before his parent came to comfort him.  All was better after that.

It was beautiful imagery of how our Heavenly Father cares for us. I believe He delights in seeing us, His children, dance and play with joy.  He loves to see us laugh without a care, snuggle in His lap and dart off again to enjoy the life He has given us.  Occasionaly we get hurt and need His comfort and care.

He also loves those children in need of speacial care.  Those who have no joy, no food, no home and no chance to dance without a care. 

Just as the community came together today to provide food for the local food bank, I believe God calls each of us, as His children, to come together as a community to share that love with kids around the world. 

There are so many ways we can get involved. We can volunteer at a local Salvation Army, at a food bank, church, school or other community programs that reaches out to kids in need. We can also help kids around the world who are in immense need via wonderful organizations like Compassion International

As children of God, we should love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.  Children of God should reach out to all of God's children, wherever they may be.  Every child should have the chance to dance without a care!

11/18/14

A Good Question

“What does that teach you about God, Daddy?”

This is the question my son has been asking lately.  He likes to sing praise and worship songs.  He also likes to make up new songs about God. Invariably he will end the song and ask what that song has taught me about God. It is a good question and will often cause me to think, what IS the meaning of the song and what DOES it teach me about God?  It is a great exercise.

I also realized, it is something I never used to ask.  I love to sing and will belt out a song anywhere and at any time.  Yes, I am that guy walking down the street singing to himself.  I will sing at work, in the car and yes, in the shower.  Until my son started asking his question, I never put much thought into what the song was teaching me about God.  Now I can’t stop.

I have also begun applying the question to my reading as well.  When I dig into God’s Word, I have asked myself, “What does this passage of Scripture teach me about God?”    According to God’s Word, the Scriptures are a light for my path (Psalm 119:105) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. (2 Timothy 3:16)

It is all that and so much more.  As I read the Old Testament, I see a God who is long-suffering and filled with patience and loving kindness.  Moving into the New Testament, we see a God who loved us enough to send His Son to earth, to die on a cross for you and me! 

God’s love, mercy and grace are all things that I have been taught through the reading of His Word. 
My son has challenged me to go deeper in worship and in reading the Bible.  Hopefully you will be asking yourself this same question he asked me.  “What does that teach you about God?”

11/15/14

Confessions of a Kid at Heart

I am a kid at heart.  Growing up I loved to read comic books, play with toys and collect baseball cards.  I have a confession to make.  I still collect baseball cards...and read comic books...but you won't catch me playing with toys...when anyone is around!

I look back on my childhood with fond memories.  Sure, like any family we had our problems, but I always had a warm meal, a loving family and plenty of friends and things to play with.  We were not rich by any means.  My dad lost his job when I was a teen and we went through some very hard times, eventually ending up homeless.

Having experienced life on both sides of the economic coin, my heart breaks for those caught in a life of poverty, hunger and need.

Which is why being a Compassion sponsor is so important to me.  My wife and I have sponsored children with compassion since  2001.  After our first child graduated the program and our second moved to a new region, we are now sponsoring our third child.  A little boy from  Brazil a little older than my son CJ, who is 4. 

We love getting the letters from our sponsored child and reading not only of his growing knowledge of the Lord but how much he loves the things a kid should love.  Through his letters we have found that he loves soccer and playing with cars. A typical child in an economically depressed area of Brazil.

I know that being a Compassion sponsor helps the child and his family.  However, I have also found it helps our family as well.  It reminds us that we are called to show Christ's love to the nations.  We can't all travel overseas but we can make a difference in our own communities and via organizations like Compassion, communities and families around the world.

I invite you to remember what it means to be a child at heart and to sponsor a child today: Compassion Sponsorship.

Feel free to share your own Confessions of a Kid at heart in the comment section.

11/7/14

A Near Death Experience

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000698067/Killed-by-the-Church-Resurrected-by-Christ.aspx

I once had a near death experience.

After years of attending churches around the world, I struggled under a heavy burden.  I had lost the joy I once felt when gathering with the body of Christ. I know I am not the only one.  For years I have met people whom no longer want to actively participate in church.

Most of those who have abandoned the church share stories of hypocrisy and church abuse. Long-time believers are ready to walk away out of boredom and frustration. Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ seeks to equip people with the principles they need in order to fall in love with the church again in a much healthier way.

I once sucumbed to "death by church". Then I found my identity.  It wasn't in anything the world had to offer.  It was only found in Jesus Christ!

In this book, you will find stories from around the world and right next door. Stories of all the good the church has to offer and sadly, some of the worst as well. You will discover Biblical principles that relate not only to church, but to our relationship with the body of Christ at large. You will hopefully develop a deeper understanding of your identity in Christ.

I invite you to pick up a copy of my new book, Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ.  

You can order it through your local bookstore (ISBN 9781490853789) or by clicking the image above.  (It is also available for download as an e-book on Amazon.)

You can also stop by the book's Facebook Page: Killed By The Church

Or Find Me on Twitter:   Killed By The Church

11/1/14

Vanishing Grace

 
Philip Yancey has written another book on grace.  

Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey is a sequel of sorts to his classic book What's So Amazing About Grace? 

In this newest book, Yancey asks why Christians continue to be ridiculed while losing respect and influence in our modern culture.  Vanishing Grace is actually four books in one. A World Athirst (1), Grace Dispensers (2), Is It Really Good News? (3), and Faith and Culture (4).

In part one Yancey shows the current view of Christians by society at large.  Insetead of judgement, Yancey calls believers to listen and love with grace and humility.  I enjoyed this chapter immensely. People are thirsty for more in life and we have the chance to show them the true Thirst Quencher. However, in order for people to truly listen, we need to judge less and love more.

Part two calls for believers to approach those we meet as pilgrims, activists and artists. I appreciate his call for believers to use the arts to call people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Seeing ourselves as pilgrims, we can take the journey together in humility instead of placing ourselves in a position where we can often look down on others in self righteous indignation.

Part three looks at why faith matters. Why are we here? Is there anyone else? How should we live?  These are the burning questions of life that Yancey seeks to address in this section.

In the final section of the book, Yancey returns to the theme of artist, activists and pilgrims and shows how we can and should be involved in the culture around us today.  All of these sections call us to be active grace giviers to those around us, calling people to a filling and fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

I will admit, I am a fan of Philip Yancey's writings.  Even with that bias, I think this book is timely for the world we find ourselves in today.  Do yourself a favor and add this book to your shelf.

This book was provided for through the Book Look Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review on the book.  I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

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!

8/9/14

Don't Miss Jesus

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her.

But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."  (Mark 14:3-9)

The people gathered at Simon’s house were missing the point of what this woman was doing.  They saw with their physical eyes and their indignation and disgust was distracting them from what was really happening.  The people were more focused on the value of the nard and what could be done with it, than they were on Jesus Christ. 

"The poor always being with us" is probably one of the most misquoted Scriptures in the Bible.  I have seen it taken out of context and used as an excuse to avoid asking the hard questions about poverty or as an excuse to do nothing.  Jesus was not talking about ignoring the poor in this passage.  He was not saying that they’ll always be there so therefore we should do nothing to relieve their suffering.  He was saying that at that particular moment, what this woman was doing was a reflection of God’s will and timing. 

Jesus pointed out that she was anointing his body for burial.  He was drawing their attention to the fact that He was going to die!  We know through the Scriptures that He was dying for each one of us, but at this moment in the story, people weren’t getting that.   
Jesus had a heart for the poor.  He reached out to and walked with those who suffered.  He called the weak, the sick, the impoverished and even the religious.  He called all of them and all of us to a deeper relationship.   He called us to love one another, just as he loved us. 

He calls us to walk with those less fortunate.  To reach out with His love, grace, mercy and hope.  If we do otherwise, we miss opportunities to see Him reflected in those around us.  I have seen Jesus reflected in the lives of the poor, the needy, the addicted and the afflicted.  I have felt the presence of God as a homeless man poured out his heart beside me, sharing his struggles with addictions, fear and faith.  I have seen the heart of Jesus reflected in an addict who reaches out in concern for those around him.  I have seen the love of Jesus in the actions of  the one whom society steps over and ignores.

Yes we have the poor among us today.  We also have an opportunity to experience God’s love in a fresh and exciting way.  Let’s not miss Jesus.

8/2/14

Let's Get Real!

Life is hard and sometimes it feels like we are on the losing side.  It's hard to get on top of life's battles.  Discouragement and disillusionment seem to be nipping at our heals.  

Let's be honest...that sounds like a typical day for some of us!

This week I was encouraged by a Psalm of lament. 

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.  (Psalms 13:1-6)

There was a man who sounded like he was suffering and yet He trusted in the Lord, the one who restores his soul!

Here is another Scripture with a similar theme.

Habakkuk 3:17- 19, Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

I remember sitting on my balcony in Croatia years ago.  I was in a bit of a funk and looking up, saw dark clouds rolling across the sky.  I decided to put down my feelings in a poem.  As I neared the end, the sky began to clear.

I Need Clear Skies 

I need clear skies
Lord, I need clear skies
I need a ray of hope
To start shining through

The winds are getting strong
Dark clouds are rolling in
And now the rain
The rain is coming down

Things don’t look good
A gloom is setting in
Help me Lord
Let it not affect my mood
Off in the distance
I see some brighter clouds
Oh please let them
Start to come my way

Finally here they come
Sunshine is on the way
The winds are calming
The rain has gone away

I see clear skies
Lord, I see clear skies
I see a ray of hope
It’s shining on my heart

I read that poem, thanks to translation via a Croatian friend, at an evening of poetry and song a few days later.  A lady came up to me afterwards and asked how long after I wrote the poem did I become a Christian.  I told her I wrote it last week!  She was stunned because she was not used to hearing Christians speak of discouragement and gloom.

In the midst of the storm, it is hard to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Distractions come to easily.  We lose our focus and look at the storm itself.  Yet it is only Jesus who can lift us up above the storm and calm the wind and the waves of life.

Sometimes my prayer is simply "Lord I believe; help my unbelief!"  (Mark 9:23-24)

The great thing about Jesus is He hears and answers those prayers as well!

7/7/14

I'm Broken!

“I’m Broken.”

After sobbing for 20 minutes, these were the only words that I could say to express the way I was feeling.  Broken.  I knew it was a lie, yet it was how I was feeling at the moment.  My wife, so wonderful through my long struggle with a head injury, continued to speak affirming words and prayed with me before we ended our phone call.

The day started off innocent enough, just going through the normal motions and doing my job.  What precipitated this emotional upheaval was looking back.  It has been 2 years since my 6th and most significant concussion.  After 18 months I finally felt like I was getting back to my “normal” self.  I was finally implementing all the tools I had been learning at the Brain Injury Association and had found a medicine that relieved some of my lingering post-concussion symptoms.  I had a good month and then, bang, concussion # 7 arrived.

Discouraged, emotional, tired, frustrated and sad would be just a few of the words I would use to describe the way I felt afterwards.  I thought I was finally hitting a stride, only to stumble and falter as I continued the race of recovery.  I made the mistake in the midst of this emotional upheaval of looking back at things I had written and done last year.  Where I thought I was doing well, I realize now I was not nearly as “recovered” as I had assumed.  I more “maintained” than anything else at work.  I made mistakes, simple mistakes that I should have caught, and began beating myself up.

As I returned to work, the Lord reminded me of a prayer I prayed a few years back.  I had been studying the passage of Scripture where Jacob wrestles with the Lord. (Gen. 32:22-32) He came away with a blessing and a limp.  I prayed that the Lord would take me deeper, whatever the cost and make me more dependent on Him.  Shortly after that, I acquired concussion 6 and then 7.  I have spent the last 2 years learning to cope and accept what has happened to me.  I saw the blessings in my situation.  Sarah and I had many a conversation about how God has used these concussions to change me for the better in my walk with Him and my relationships with others.  I have become more contemplative, reflective and still, listening in ways I never have before.  I have found a heart of compassion for those suffering with head injuries and mental health issues.

In all of that I have been blessed….but until recently, I ignored the limp.  I knew it was there but I never really “grieved” over what happened.  I have suffered a loss.  I have a “limp” called an acquired brain injury.  It hit me recently that I will, barring a healing from God, never be the same again.  Yet in that grief, I also see how I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)  Despite the loss, I am still a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17) Yes I have lost much, but I have gained so much more.  I can count all things as loss (Phil. 3:8) and look to Jesus Christ and Him crucified! (1 Cor. 2:2) I am honestly not ready to “rejoice” in my situation but I am ready to acknowledge God is still using, leading and guiding me.  Darkness may last for a night but there truly is joy in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

Night is ending and I see the cracks of dawn.

For now, I can rejoice in that.

7/4/14

I Am a Citizen


I am both a US Citizen and a Permanent Resident of Canada.

I love my country of birth and my country of current residence.  My family celebrates both the US and Canadian holidays.  Though I am proud to be an American, because my wife and kids were born in Canada, I will likely one day seek dual citizenship.

We have just celebrated Canada Day and the 4th of July and as these patriotic holidays pass,  I am reminded that this is my temporary home.  I am not talking about where my earthly citizenship resides but where my eternal citizenship is registered.

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”   (Philippians 3:18-20)

I am a citizen of 2 worlds.  The one I live on in the here and now and the one to come.  Jesus spoke of this second world leading up to His crucifixion.

John 18:36, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

I am proud to be an American but I am prouder still that my name is written in the Book of Life.  I am filled with joy to live in Canada but will have joy never-ending the day I enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  One day this life will pass and my eternal life will begin.   On that day, I will gladly exchange my citizenship on earth for the one that will not end.  I look forward to spending eternity with Jesus Christ.

Everything else pales in comparison.

6/19/14

The Fast Facts Bible


Zondervan has released the Fast Facts Bible.  It could also be called the Trivia Bible because in a nutshell that is what it is.

With over 1,000 facts about God's Word trivia nuts can find lots of tidbits of information.  Sadly not all of it is useful.  I am not sure what to do with some of the info.  Each book introduction has a By the Number fact which includes the number of chapters, verses and words.  Interesting but not really useful.

I was expecting a lot more from the trivia sections.  Most of the stuff included is just pointing you to specific passages.  I thought the facts would be more background stuff which would be far more helpful for Bible Study. 

So each book begins with a fast fact page and ends with a trivia quiz.  The quizzes are designed to see how well you read each book and the answers are at the bottom of the quiz page (albeit upside down to prevent peeking!)  The quizzes are really helpful to see if you are taking in what you read.

The rest of the Bible is pretty standard.  Basic NIV text, no concordance or other features. 

Overall I can see this as a great Bible for a teen/young adult/new Christian but not a great Bible for in depth study.

I received a copy of this Bible for review via bookbloggers.com

6/18/14

D.L. Moody - A Life

I love a good biography.

I particularly enjoy biographies of men and women of God from days gone by.  A quick scan of my bookshelf reveals biographies of William Booth, Corrie Ten Boom, A.W. Tozer, George Muller and Hudson Taylor to name a few. 

So I was excited when I saw a new biography about D.L. Moody from Moody Press.  Author Kevin Belmonte has written a pretty good book with, D.L. Moody - A Life.

This book is fairly comprehensive and detailed but Belmonte's writing style makes the book an easy read.  The depth of material is there but I was able to go through the book fairly quickly.   I learned a lot and found some quotes by Moody that had me sitting back and reflecting on my own life.

I can't ask for much more than that in a biography. 

Moody only lived 62 years but his life is still having an impact today. The schools, church and publishing company he founded are all still in existence and have changed lives for generations.

Moody was a humble man and not afraid to admit his faults and yet his passion for God broke across denominational boundaries.  Belmonte does a good job of showing the many facets of D.L. Moody's life and I believe he has written a book that will become the definitive biography of D.L. Moody.  Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book.

6/9/14

What I Learned...


A friend has passed away.

He will be missed.

He taught me so much over the years.

Things like compassion, love, humor and respect.

All attributes he displayed to me over the last 8 years.

Some looked at him and saw his "issues", I looked at him and saw Jesus Christ.

I will always recall the hours we spent talking about the Lord while sitting on the couch.

I will never forget the day he made the choice to follow Jesus.

Today he is in glory, walking and talking with the Lord.

I look forward to the day I see him there.

His race was long and hard, but I know Jesus was smiling when he walked into the Kingdom!

-----------------

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

No one is beyond redemption. 

Everyone needs compassion.

We are called to love one another.  Let us share the truth of Jesus Christ in love and compassion.  By doing so we can see God change lives, including our own!

5/19/14

5 Questions With Edgar Harrell

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Edgar Harrell.

I just recently reviewed his book, Out of the Depths and Mr. Harrell has graciously agreed to discuss the book and his experiences here.

A brief bio from his website, www.indysurvivor,com:

Edgar Harrell owned and operated the Pella Window Company, Inc., Rock Island, Illinois for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1985. During the years 1970 to 1985, he served on the board of trustees of the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a popular Bible teacher and lay minister throughout his adult life. He has enjoyed many years of fishing and big game hunting in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico, and currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife Ola, together enjoying their two children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis (www.indysurvivor.com), Mr. Harrell speaks extensively around the United States about his experience at sea.

OK, let's get started:

1. During the tail end of WW2 your ship, the USS Indianapolis, was sunk by Japanese torpedoes. You and your shipmates were in the water for 5 days. Was there ever a moment where you felt like giving up?

I must say there were moments when I believed life on this earth might be over, especially when I saw the carnage of the many bloated bodies, unrecognizable, floating in our very midst, even slamming into us as they tumbled off a 10 foot wave of water, leaving some of their putrid flesh on us. Likewise, seeing a shipmate so exhausted that they were willing to just give up, or hearing that blood curdling scream, to see that kapok go under and see it surface in a school of sharks was indeed a test of faith. 

From the 80 or so in our group just after leaving the ship, and only 17 the third day at noon, was a test of our endurance. I often say "it is much easier to die than to fight to live". To see a body that had been disemboweled, or the bottom torso gone, left you with despair. Some of our shipmates were drinking salt water and became delirious and thus your enemy, even thinking that you had a canteen of water in your kapok jacket and thus might stab you  to get that sacred water. However, there was too many things happening daily that told me that somehow or someway I would survive. I had that assurance given to me when I looked into the oil covered water below when I was praying just before I left the ship. I had poured my heart out to the Lord, whom I knew, telling Him, "I don't want to die, I want to live. I have a Dad and Mom back home, two sisters and six younger brothers. I also have a brunette that promised to wait for me." (Yes and she waited and has been my companion for these past 67 years.) "I want to live and have a family, I want to live for you." As I prayed, the Lord responded by calling to mind the Scripture that says I will never leave you or forsake you or John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Those words flashed into my memory as if the Lord was personally speaking to me. That was the hope that ultimately sustained me those days. That too became my prayer of praise and thanksgiving, yes His Divine Providence.

2. Have you ever felt bitter about what happened?

With Commander Hishimoto? No.  With the Japanese people? Absolutely not. I would liked to have met Commander Hishimoto and thanked him that he did not surface and strafe us. I have met his grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter and embraced them with tears and delight of restitution on each of our parts.

3. Your Captain was eventually exonerated of culpability in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. How important was that for you and your shipmates?

Three hundred seventeen survivors fought for 50 years with the Navy, Pentagon & Washington to have our good Captain exonerated. This took the survivors organization going before the Armed Service Committee in Washington, DC and getting a joint resolution from the House and Senate, which President Clinton signed, getting Captain McVay exonerated. We could wish that our present President would go the next step and have the Court Martial EXPUNGED from the record. That is the need today for the miscarriage of justice and the court martial of Capt. Charles B. McVay III in 1945.

We have been promised by the Sec. of the Navy to have another surface USS Indianapolis in the not to distant future.

4. Throughout your book, Out of the Depths, you talked about the Lord protecting you, providing for you, etc. Did your understanding of God and His grace change in any way through the experience?


Yes, yes in many ways. It has become one of praise and thanksgiving. It has driven me closer and closer to the Lord. There is never a day that passes but what I remember those days and remember His assurance, plus His mercy and grace. Each of those 4 1/2 days God revealed Himself to my most present needs.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I could wish that readers would read the details of our daily experiences, plus realize the cost paid by my shipmates, which was the largest disaster at sea in the history of the US Navy. Respectt our service men who have and our presently sacrificing for our freedom.

 
Thank You Mr. Harrell!

God Bless & Semper Fi

Edgar Harrell USMC
Survivor USS Indianapolis

If you get the chance, check out Edgar's website here 

Notes on the above interview: 

A kapok is a type of flotation device. 
Commander Hishimoto was the Captain of the Japanese submarine I-58 that sunk the USS Indianapolis. 

5/18/14

Out Of The Depths

I love history.

In particular, I love to read about the generation that served during World War 2.  They have often been referred to as the "Greatest Generation."

Out of the Depths is the story of the USS Indianapolis.  The men of the USS Indianapolis fought valiantly during the war.  Then the unthinkable happened.  On July 30, 1945, she was hit by two Japanese torpedoes.  The Portland class heavy cruiser sunk to a watery grave in twelve minutes. Only about 900 of the 1,196 men aboard entered the water. A series of Naval mistakes meant that no one knew the USS Indianapolis had been sunk. For five horrifying days the men drifted at the mercy of the seas. They were exposed to shark attacks, hypothermia, severe dehydration and salt-water hallucinations. Finally, the 317 men who had survived this terror were accidentally spotted and rescued.

Written by Edgar Harrell, one of those survivors, Out of the Depths takes you on board the USS Indianapolis as it fulfills its missions during WW2.  Edgar's first person account is coupled with the memories of other survivors and paints a vivid and horrifying picture of the struggle to survive against overwhelming odds.

Despite those odds, Edgar also shows how the hand of God was with them during these terrifying days.  This is a story of sacrifice, courage and faith that grips you as you read through the accounts of what happened during those 5 terrifying days.  It is a miracle that anyone survived this ordeal and throughout Edgar's story, you see how God provided for he and his shipmates as they drifted on the waters day after day.

This book is a must read for any history buff and for anyone who yearns to see God moving in peoples lives today.  Edgar Harrell shares the story of the disaster but also of the recovery and the impact it has had on his shipmates and their families today.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book today.

I received a free copy of this book for review by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 


5/11/14

The Art of Storytelling



I love to tell a story.  Sadly, I have not always told a story well.  It took me many years to learn that there is an art to telling a good story.  I wish I had come across The Art of Storytelling by John Walsh ages ago.  This is a book that encapsulates all of the lessons I learned and many more that I never knew until now.

Walsh breaks down the art of storytelling into three sections.  The first section is on crafting a captivating story.  Here you will find everything from planning your first words and researching the facts to adding description and eliminating needless details.  I found a lot of useful information in this section of the book.

The second section is on the tools for telling a captivating story.  This area deals with facial expressions and body language.  I have always struggled with what to do with my hands when talking and this section covers it.

The final section is on BibleTelling.  This is great for anyone who wants to capture an audience of any age with the wonderful stories found in the Bible.  In fact, I finished this book as I was preparing to tell the story of David and Goliath.  After applying a few of the principles found in this book I received numerous complements on how I presented this passage of Scripture.

You don't have to be a pastor or even a public speaker to  benefit from this book.  You can use it to enhance how you tell stories to your kids or grand kids.  Students would also find great use for this book.  Do yourself a favor and learn from John Walsh The Art of Storytelling.












5/9/14

OneCry - A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening

"If we are content to live without revival, we will."  Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

I have always loved reading about revivals.  One of the best gifts I ever received was when Sarah tracked down a copy of Charles Finney's Revival Lectures.  I would love to see a revival breakout nationwide, as it has in various places around the world over the years. 

So when I came across OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening, I was more than a little intrigued. The authors, Byron Paulus and Bill Elliff, are calling people to unite in Biblical repentance and fervent prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  

This book is a call for revival for the next generation.  Each chapter ends with a QR code so that you can watch videos that support the topic being discussed.  The website, http://www.onecry.com/ is filled with resources, including revival tweets you can send out over social media.  The authors have put a new-fashioned spin on an old-fashioned call to revival.

The passion that Paulus and Elliff have to see revival spread across the nation comes across on every page.  OneCry is filled with interesting stories, applicable Scriptures and a true challenge to the reader to pray for revival.  The book would probably work best if done as part of a group study.  The discussion questions and prayer portions of the book are ideal for spurring your church onward towards revival.

I thought the book was very well written. Any reader who came away from reading it without having their hearts stirred toward revival should check their spiritual pulse.  Where the book does not work, in my opinion, is that it is to limited in it's call for revival.  The authors provide statistics on the state of decay in the US and make frequent references to seeing revival break out in America.  Many of the discussion questions also are specific to the United States. Living in Canada, I felt the book fails to connect with an international audience.  

If you can get past that and you desire to see revival break out in your lifetime, then this is the book for you.



5/5/14

Sheep or Goats


I was listening to Keith Green's song, the Sheep and the Goats the other day.  If you have never heard of Keith Green here is a YouTube copy of the song for your enjoyment: 



The song is based on Matthew 25:31-46.  I have always read that Scripture through the eyes of the "sheep".  Another words, as the Christian who did those wonderful Christian things like feed the poor, visit the sick, etc.  I felt somewhat self righteous.  I have never looked at myself that way but I see now that I was very proud of being a sheep.  Every time I have looked at this passage I recalled all of the times I ministered to those less fortunate. 

I was needing a good smack upside the head.

I got when just over a week ago.

I was coming back from a Salvation Army social service conference Abbotsford, BC.  It was a great few days of encouragement, refreshing and a challenge to embrace those God has called us to work with.

I left feeling pumped...and tired.

We left the conference after lunch to start the 13 hour drive home.  We had plans to overnight a little over halfway home.  A couple hours in we stopped at a convenience store and got out to stretch.  As we walked in the store, my wife noticed a lady hitchhiking on the road.  Unbeknownst to me she began praying and asking God if we should pick her up.  Apparently He said yes because as we pulled out on the highway, she asked me to stop and pick this lady up.

Let's just say I was not happy with the decision.  I was tired and didn't feel "up" for ministry.  I pulled over and the lady hopped in.  Over the next couple hours I had my own conversation with God, one I am ashamed to say was filled with grumbling and complaining.  Meanwhile Sarah was chatting this lady up in the backseat.  As she continued the conversation the lady began opening up and the next thing I know she was sobbing. 


You would think that would have softened me up a bit but even though I silently prayed for her and for Sarah, I was still miffed that our schedule was impacted by this distraction.  I was wondering what this adventure would "cost" us.

After awhile, she asked to be dropped off and Sarah again spoke with her about God bringing her into our path and the woman again broke into tears. 

I had a lot of repenting to do that day.  I was reminded of this passage of Scripture and on this day, I was acting much more like a goat than a sheep.

I was not wanting to inconvenience my plans.  MY PLANS!  God obviously had other plans but on this day I was not wanting to go along with them.  Only God knows where this woman is with her journey towards Him, but I know that if my thoughts had become action, it could have negatively impacted this woman to the Gospel.

Thankfully Sarah was listening to God.

I share this confession of my mistake because I don't want you to make the same one.  I thank God His mercies are new every morning. 

I never again want to act like a goat.  I was miserable. 

I want to reach those less fortunate but not out of pride.  I want to serve those God brings me into contact with in humility. 

I want to be a sheep because of Him!

Sheep or Goat? Which one are you today?

4/27/14

Hope Rising



I usually avoid books on alleviating poverty as I find that many are either unrealistic in their approach or the author heaps on so much condemnation you want to just give out of guilt or give up out of frustration.

What drew me to this book was the fact that it was written by Compassion International's Senior VP of Global Advocacy.  Though I was not familiar with the author, Scott Todd, I was very familiar with Compassion.  My wife and I have sponsored children via Compassion since 2001 and we love the organization and the work they do.

So, with that out of the way, I wasn't sure what to expect from Hope Rising.  What I found was a book that definitely fits the title.  I found that hope truly was rising within me.  The basic premise is that EXTREME poverty can be eradicated.  Scott Todd speaks about our low expectations that extreme poverty can dealt with and then goes about showing how much has truly changed even in the last 20 years.  I did not know so many inroads have been made in the war of poverty.  I found myself encouraged to do my part.

I really enjoyed Scott Todd's look at Matthew 26:11.  This oft-quoted verse on poverty has just as often been misquoted and Scott looks at the entire passage in context.  If anything else, this chapter should be required reading for anyone who feels nothing can be done re. poverty!

I highly recommend this book for every believer who believes God can make the impossible possible and wants to do their part in seeing lives forever changed!

-----
I received a free copy of this book via the Booksneeze review program

4/18/14

He Is Risen!


But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:5-6)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." (Matthew 28:1-10)

This is a week of celebration.

Yes Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He also came back from the dead, left an empty tomb behind and completed the victory achieved on the cross!

We have the opportunity to reconnect with the Father through the death and resurrection of His Son!

He Has Risen!

He Has Risen Indeed!

4/7/14

Eyes to See


"As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him."  (Matthew 20:29-34)

This was the passage of Scripture I was reading as part of my devotion time this past week.  I had to go back and read it a few times because it really resonated with me.  Though unplanned, it made it's way into my sermon on Sunday. It became an appropriate reference in conversation today with someone needing encouragement.

I think God was trying to get my attention.

Jesus certainly got the attention of the 2 blind men.

These guys were not about to let Jesus pass by without making some noise.  I can just picture a large crowd, the normal crowd noise, and 2 guys shouting to be heard!  "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

They were obviously loud because the crowd told them to shush!

Obviously they were not to be deterred because they cried out all the more.  They had no way of knowing if Jesus heard them but they were going to give it their best shot.

Jesus stops and asks what they want Him to do for them.  I like what they ask for....they asked for their eyes to be opened.  Think about that for a moment.  Let it sink in.  They asked for their eyes to be opened and Jesus touched their eyes.

It says they regained their site AND followed Him.

I believe their eyes were opened literally and also spiritually.  They saw Jesus and they SAW Jesus.  Jesus healed people but not everyone followed Him.  However these 2 guys FOLLOWED Jesus.  They had eyes to see, not just the world around them, but the King of Kings. 

I want to see what God wants me to see, who He wants me to see and how He wants me to see!

After reading this passage, my prayer is Lord, I want my eyes to be opened!

3/30/14

I Will Draw Near - Take 2

Earlier this month I posted the words to Sarah's new worship song, I Will Draw Near.

Today as she sat down to play it, our daughter Hanna joined her in singing what I feel is a beautiful song. I was able to record it with the words so you can follow along.


Song and Words are ©Sarah Apperson, 2014

3/25/14

The Pleasure of His Company


I have never read a book by Dutch Sheets before I received a copy of The Pleasure of His Company.  I was intrigued by the description of the book though and decided to give it a whirl.  My family is really glad I did.

When the book arrived I saw that on the back cover it said you could use it as a daily devotional.  I decided to do just that.  My wife had been asking me to read out loud to her like I did at various times in our marriage so I chose to read this devotional.  Soon my daughter began sitting in and it became an after breakfast family devotional time.

Dutch Sheets is a very engaging author in this book.  He mixes humorous personal stories with intriguing Biblical insights.  The more I have read from the book the more my family has said how much they like this particular book.  My 15 year old is asking me to read it every day and said we should buy all of our friends a copy! 

I wouldn't go that far but i will say that this is a book that challenges you to think outside the box at times and to re-evaluate your relationship with God.  Do you enjoy the pleasure of His company?  Yes or no you will enjoy this book and hopefully fall in love with God all over again.

I could say more about it but I will let my daughter's words end this review:  "This book is really enjoyable, well written and interesting!"

Hey, it hooked a 15 year old!

I received  a review copy of this book via Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications.

3/20/14

A Bubble Wrapped Life! - Just A Thought #60


I love bubble wrap.  I think most people do.  It seems to bring out the child in us.  Popping those little bubbles over and over can be relaxing and fun.

Recently, I had many suggestions that I put my head in bubble wrap.  After receiving yet another concussion...I stopped counting after 6...my well meaning friends thought it might be the safest option for me.

I thought about it...

Seriously though, bubble wrap is used to protect fragile things in shipping and storage and people trust that if they wrap it, it will be safe.  I wish life was like that.  It would be nice if we could wrap our life in bubble wrap wouldn't it?  Nothing would get through...no sickness, no pain, no hurt.  A safe and secure life.

We would be immune from all the cares of this world...sure we might get a few bubbles popped but nothing would truly touch us.

Life isn't that easy.

So we learn to trust!

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

I could live in fear of another head injury but that won't stop it from happening.  I could try to protect myself in numerous ways but all that will do is cause me untold stress, fear and misery.  It wouldn't be much of a life.  

No, I prefer to trust in the Lord.  Not just when it comes to my noggin, but in all areas of my life.  

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? (Luke 12:25)

The answer is no one!  

God knows what I need day in and day out.  He knows what my life will be like today, tomorrow and until I breathe my last.  I choose to trust in the God of the universe, the creator of everything.  If I trust in the Lord I will be firmly planted and secure.  I will have peace even in the midst of hardship.  That is better than bubble wrap. 

3/12/14

Compassion International's iPad Magazine

Compassion International is broadening its impact.

You can now access Compassion Magazine via your ipad.

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Being able to have more content and to write your sponsored child via your Compassion iPad magazine is pretty cool.

If you have an ipad, make sure you add this to your device.

Compassion Magazine for iPad is free and currently available three times per year in winter (February), summer (June) and fall (October) and the latest edition is now available. To receive the iPad version of Compassion Magazine, go to:

MyAccount –> Magazine Preferences –> Check the box that says “Compassion Magazine iPad Version.”

Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/expand-your-world-with-our-new-ipad-magazine/#ixzz2vnhmy5JP

If you are not sponsoring a child through Compassion, what are you waiting for?

Just follow the link and change a life today:

http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm

3/1/14

I Wil Draw Near

My beautiful wife never ceases to amaze me.  She wrote this worship song last week for our upcoming Sunday service. Preceding the song will be Scriptures that contributed to her thought process.  I include those passages here and encourage you to spend time looking them up.

Here are the words to her song:

I Will Draw Near
 
Fountain of Life, flow over me
'till I'm filled with Your glory

Spirit renew the fire that once drew
me into the Holy of Holies

And I will draw near, as I wait here
I will return to my Father
My heart of stone, I lay at Your throne
That I may know You and be known

The sound of Your voice, fills me with joy
You turn sorrow to gladness

You don't disappoint, You never leave
and I am changed in Your presence

So I will draw near, as I wait here
I will return to my Father
My heart of stone, I lay at Your throne
That I may know You and be known

Only in You are justice and truth
and mercy binds me to You

How high are Your thoughts, How great are Your ways
Your covenant is my peace

Bridge:
You satisfy my soul with good
You bought my freedom with Your blood
Your fire consumes my sin
You captivate my heart

So, I will draw near, as I wait here
I will return to my Father
My heart of stone, I lay at Your throne
That I may know you and be known

© Sarah Apperson, 2014

Psalms 94:14; 107:9; 111:9-11 
Isaiah 31:3; 40:31; 54:10; 55:6-8
Jeremiah 2:13; 3:12; 3:19; 31:13
Ezekiel 36:25-27; 43:5
John 4:14 
Acts 2:2-4 
Ephesians 1:7-8
Titus 3:4-7
Hebrews 12:29