Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is God's Favorite word "YES"?

Is God's favorite word ‘YES’? Mike Glenn thinks so, and he explains why in his book The Gospel of Yes (WaterBrook Press, 2012).

It’s easy to get wrapped up in religion and religiosity, both of which seem determined to tell us ‘no’. No you can’t do that; no you’re not good enough; no God won’t tolerate that; no God can’t use you like you are. But that happens to be a big lie that all too many people are willing to believe. God can and does use us, just like we are, warts and all.

Having said that, it was difficult for me to review this book. It’s not a book that ‘I couldn’t put down’; there’s a lot of what I would call ‘fluff’ included; and at times I got bogged down by the writing style rather than focusing on the message. BUT, the message of this book is exciting. I was forced to look at how I respond to God's call on my life, and also to look more deeply at that call. We’re invited to learn that when we say ‘yes’ to one thing that by default we’re saying ‘no’ to something else, but beyond that, when God tells us ‘no’ (as he frequently does in my case) there is usually a yes involved also.

I don’t think there’s enough here upon which to base a whole theology, but I found myself drawn again and again to the exciting realization that God isn’t waiting for a total transformation before I can be of service to Him, but that He uses me as I am, and as I respond to His yeses, the transformation continues and I can be of even more use to God.

God has not spent all His time saying ‘no’. His message is more along the lines of: I have something bigger and better in store for you, come closer and let me tell you about it. And that reinforces the idea that since the beginning, God has been inviting us to draw near to him, and even though we don’t do a very good job of living up to His expectations, He continues to invite us to accept his loving kindness.

This book would be useful in a discipling program, where discussion would lead to a deeper understanding of what Pastor Glenn is saying. A mature Christian could definitely use this book to walk a newcomer to the faith through the process of learning more about God's call on our lives and how He has said ‘yes’ in the past to demonstrate His love for us.

Pastors and small group leaders might like to use this book as a basis for a study on responding to God's call on our lives.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Download the first chapter here:

Watch a promotional video here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FEARLESS : God at work in the life of Navy Seal Adam Brown

If you’ve spent much time reading the Old Testament, you’ll remember that it’s a story of a people who are chosen by God, who promise to be faithful to God, who forget their promises, and eventually return to the God who never gave up on them. You might also remember that there are a lot of things in the Old Testament that just couldn’t have happened. That is, they couldn’t have happened without help – a lot of help. Maybe a better way of putting it would be that God orchestrated some of these situations so that it would be obvious that He was in charge, that this wasn't something that human beings could do on their own.

Reading “FEARLESS” ( Eric Blehm, WaterBrook Press, 2012) reminded me a lot of the flow of the Old Testament, along with some similarities to the parable of the Prodigal Son. Promises made, promises broken, things that couldn’t have happened without God's help, but God was there, helping, and waiting patiently for the prodigal to come home. And Adam Brown did return.

This is the story of Adam Brown’s journey to become a member of an elite team: SEAL Team SIX. Along the way there were lots of obstacles; as his faith and family, along with a lot of prayer, helped him to overcome those obstacles, God was at work doing the humanly impossible.

A history of drugs and arrests didn’t keep him from his goal, even though the military has a very low tolerance for that sort of thing -God at work. (The publisher assured me that the accounts of drug abuse and arrests had been verified.)A couple of physical injuries should have kept him from meeting his goal; they didn’t – God at work, again.

Although most of us will never be called upon to be the type of hero that Adam Brown was, if more people could learn to face challenges like he did, the world would be a far better place.

This is not just a story about the rigors of becoming and serving as a SEAL, it’s a story of how one man was strengthened by his faith and the love of and for his family. It’s a story of overcoming obstacles, pursuing a vision and becoming the person that God wants you become.

And it’s a reminder that sometimes things happen in ways that make it clear that this could have only happened with God's help.

Adam Brown made the ultimate sacrifice for his country when he lost his life on a mission in Afghanistan. This book could have been told from the perspective of honoring a hero, but Adam himself wanted the story to include his life before Christ, so that in perspective the reader would have to see that this is a story about honoring God.

Wondering about how to live a Christian lifestyle and move along in your Christian walk? Is drug abuse a part of your history? Are you in the military and scared about this deployment or the next one? (Yeah, scared, deep down even though you don’t want to admit it to your friends) FEARLESS may be the book that helps you face those issues head on!

Here are some links provided by the publisher that you can check out

NBC coverage:

Book trailer

WaterBrook News:
Read the first chapter:

And My Favorite (big smile):

Thanks to the publisher for providing me an advance review copy of this book.(I was not required to write a positive review). Thanks also to the publisher, author and family, for several copies of the book which were donated to the Chapel at the Air Force base in my community.

Friday, May 11, 2012

your thorn -- or His Cross

I saw this cartoon  in the most recent “Christianity Today” and for some reason got thinking about the difference between “a thorn in the flesh”, and “picking up your cross”. The sponge in this cartoon could be replaced by a purple dinosaur (anybody remember Barney?), a spouse, child, co-worker, in-law, a bad back, or a yapping dog that the neighbors leave out in the yard. That person, thing, annoyance is a thorn, not a cross.

We’ve all heard someone say that we all have our cross to bear, but the tendency seems to be to apply the term to things that are really pretty minor compared to what Jesus meant when he said to pick up a cross and follow. The cross in Jesus’ time was a symbol of torture, it was reserved for notorious criminals, and when Jesus said to pick up a cross and follow, he was basically saying if you’re going to follow me, you have to understand that this cross might be your destiny…you’re going to have to buck the system, and in my name you’re going to make some people unhappy. There is going to be suffering, and it will be because you’re one of my disciples.  Think Peter being crucified upside down, or James being beheaded.

The thorn in the flesh, on the other hand, has more of a sense of annoyances, inconveniences, things that distract us, get in the way of carrying out the mission that Jesus has given us. Paul asked god to remove the thorn, and God said that His grace was sufficient, Paul managed to continue working on the things that Christ Jesus had given him to do.

When we confuse the thorn and the cross, we magnify our part in the story at the expense of the Cross and Jesus’ part in God’s plan for all of us.

I’m wondering what I’m confusing for my cross.

 How about you? Is there a thorn in your side that you want to call the cross that you’re carrying for Jesus?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

review: The Jesus Mission

Steven K. Scott, in The Jesus Mission (Waterbrook Press, 2011) talks a lot about the missions that Jesus accomplished, and the ones that have been left for us . He walks us through what he calls the four missions that Jesus assigned us: intimacy with God; accelerated personal growth; empowering other believers; and impacting the lives of non-believers.

To be honest, if I had gotten this book from the library, I probably would have returned it mostly unread, but I had agreed to read the book for the purpose of writing a review, so I stuck it out, and I’m actually glad I did since there are some interesting nuggets buried within the pages.

Although the book is full of scripture references to back up the author’s points, it’s not written by a theologian, and at times it seemed disjointed to me. At times I felt like I was at a men’s conference since many sections end with ‘action points’. Other parts of the book seem like a ‘how to’. Part theology, part theory, part self-help, and a little bit of the author’s personal opinion.

Opinion is good, but even as he writes “He [Jesus] does not give people the option of recasting Him to suit their agenda,” and states that Jesus is a favorite subject of people who want to rewrite history and refashion it to suit their own purposes, Scott spends part of a chapter showing how liberal thinkers such as then Senator Obama were totally off target when they wanted to “spread the wealth around.” That probably wouldn’t have caught my attention except for the fact that Scott’s bio on the dust jacket lists him as an “entrepreneur whose start-up companies have achieved billions of dollars in sales”. No wonder he thinks Jesus wouldn’t be in favor of redistribution of wealth.

There is some good stuff in this book, but it could have all been said in a much shorter book.

I’ll give this book a 3/5.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

OTC meds

as i was going from point A to point B this morning, the radio in the car was on. My kid likes one station, I like another, but the news channel i like is generally pretty repetitive, so we listen to his choice a lot, and when i'm in the car alone, it's news.

a big story today is that many people think that certain meds, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, to name a few should be over the counter. There are 2 pharmacists where i get my prescriptions filled and i would trust either of them to advise me (THANKS, ERIC and STEVE at the Clinton Macy's) but....
we used to get a presecription for some kind of allergy medecine for my son.  The insurance covered the doctors visit (with a small co -pay) and there was a $3.00 co pay for a month's worth of pills. One day i went to get a refill, only to find that that medecine was now over-the-counter, so instead of a co-pay, i was allowed the privilege of buying it retail for $22.95 for the same 30 days worth of pills.

so now that everyone is forced to pay for insurance, a lot of meds will no longer be covered....something just doesn't sound right.

it should also concern us that people will avoid going to the doctor because the pharmacist at the local bigbox store is so much more convenient. Like i said, i trust the guys at the pharmacy i use, but i would rather them be filling my prescriptions than spending an hour with someone who doesn't want to or can't afford to pay to see a doctor.  and if i go ask about blood pressure medecine, the doc might actually look and find out that it's something else, while the pharmacist will probably just talk BP pills.

just sayin'