Saturday, February 28, 2015

We Can Still Learn from the Church Fathers

The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today by John Michael Talbot, with Mike Aquilina (Image, 2015) is an invitation to join Talbot on a journey: a spiritual journey with the Church Fathers as his guides.
         In an age when people often seem to go to church to be entertained rather than to learn about Jesus; in an age when people want to learn about Jesus from the latest theological ‘superstar’ (usually the pastor of the newest megachurch or the most popular circuit speaker, someone who claims to have discovered something that finally explains the mystery of the gospel) it’s refreshing to read of Talbot’s experience with the ancient Fathers. Much of what is written about leaders of the church in time gone by, leaders from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries is as dry as the desert in which they lived, but Talbot’s book is an exception. The Fathers come to life, and teach the lessons that are as important today, (even as they are being forgotten) as they were centuries ago.  
       The book would be worth its price if only for the description and explanation of the Didache, one of the earliest guides to living a Christian life.
    This is the story of someone who sensed that there was something more to being a follower of Jesus than just going to church. He set out to find the answer and in the process found himself. Through the lessons from the Church Fathers, Talbot seems to have found an answer, or perhaps the answer: we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

For more info click  here

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

A solid "A"

Friday, February 27, 2015

believe in the power of prayer - and act like you believe it

The other day I had to change my windshield wipers. We haven’t had a lot of rain lately, but the windshield gets dirty so I use the washers a lot, and that involves the wipers. One of them shredded when I turned it on the other evening.
While visiting with the folks at the garage (if you’re local I highly recommend ROY 66) we were talking about praying for rain, but it didn't seem to matter who was praying, we still didn't have much precipitation.  Eventually I said something about needing to get the wiper situation taken care of because the weather forecast included rain or snow, and one of the guys said that since I got the windshield wipers, the weather would probably be warm and sunny for the near future. That reminded me of a story I once heard about prayer:
                The land was dry. There had been no rain for months, there was little water to drink and forget about watering your lawns or gardens. There was no water for irrigation or caring for livestock. The rivers were low, and the creeks and streams had dried up and were little more than mud puddles. The people were at their wit’s end.
                A pastor suggested that the town come together to pray for rain. To pray for rain not quite like in the days of Noah, but certainly enough to fill the reservoirs, and to bring the streams, creeks, rivers and the lake back up to normal levels. That they pray for water for their crops and their cattle.
                They set a time for everyone to gather in the town square, and as the time approached, so did the people. Finally it was time for the prayer meeting to start, and the preacher came to the podium, looked out at the crowd, shook his head, and said, “You all might as well go home; this isn't going to work”.
                The crowd was understandably upset, they were sure that this was going to be the answer to the drought problem. Finally someone asked the preacher why he was sending them home instead of leading them as they lifted their voices in prayer as they had planned.
                “Well”, said the preacher, “obviously you don’t think this is going to work. We came here to pray for rain, lots of rain, and not a single one of you brought an umbrella”.

                Don’t just say you believe in the power of prayer. Act like it!
                (By the way, it did rain a little bit yesterday.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Drink Water to Give Water

It started on Wednesday of last week and I'm still drinking only water.  You can help provide clean drinking water to people around the world...I chose India.  The concept is simple: 1) pick a period of time. 2) only drink tap water during that time [a week 2 weeks, a month or other]. 3) the money you would have spent on coffee, tea, soda, juice, beer, wine, whatever gets donated to Living Water international and 4) they use it to dig wells and install purification systems where none exist. drink water to give water.
You can donate to my campaign for India here

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In the near future, I'll be getting a book called "Year of Living Prayerfully"  The author, Jay Brock, has done this youtube video. watch it here  Even more excited to get the book.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On Mar 1, CNN will premiere a 6 part series from NUTOPIA Productions  called 'Finding Jesus'  (you can watch the trailer here). The subtitle is simple: FAITH - FACT- FORGERY, and explains what they are trying to decide as they look religious relics including the Shroud of Turin, a piece of wood said to be from the cross, the gospel of Judas,  relics presumed to be part of John the Baptist, the burial box of James the brother of Jesus, and the gospel of Mary.
I had the opportunity to watch the first episode, and think this is a show that should appeal to Christians and also to those non-Christians who happen to be interested in history and the use of science to try to prove or disprove widely accepted  information.
The first episode concerns  the Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth that since its appearance in a small town in France in the 13th century has been recognized as the burial cloth that Joseph of  Arimathea  used to wrap Jesus after the crucifixion .  Several decades later, carbon dating showed that the cloth was a clever forgery, dating by the way, from the 13th century. But there are many who refuse to believe science and continue to venerate the cloth as the one that held the body of our Lord.
That might be the end of the story except for the face that another cloth what was tested and dates 700 years earlier, also seems to have been used for the burial of Jesus. And remember that the Gospel of John mentions a burial cloth that was put around Jesus' head, and was separate from the linen cloth used on his body.
Because of the graphic depiction of the flogging and scourging, you might want to think twice about letting children watch it with you.  The information presented is interesting and it's brought to life with gospel characters and stories connected with the artifacts.  Guest commentators include academics, theologians and pastors.

 You'll want to be in front of your TV when "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery", a CNN original series premiers on  March 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trusting God's Plans - VeggieTale Style

Bob and Larry are at it again as they tell the story of Noah's Ark - Veggies Style.   As the movie starts Noah's son Shem (voiced by Wayne Brady) and his new bride are returning  from their honeymoon  - yeah, there is a little artistic license here.  They're talking about their plans as they start their new life together. The plans call for building a new house, but when they get home, there is a surprise waiting for them. Right where they were planning on building their house there is another kind of construction going on.  Noah is building an Ark.
                They live in a desert, it's not raining, and Noah is building a huge boat.  Instead  of the neighbors wondering what's going on, it's Shem, but we get the picture.  The Animals arrive and come on to the ark, Noah gives the 'crew' their assignments, but Shem has plans of his own that he wants to put into play; he's bound and determined, but then it starts to rain, and suddenly the Ark doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
                So Noah's family and their floating zoo endure the flood, and as you might expect, the  being cooped up for so long leads to tensions, but the ever present  lesson is that God has a plan, and that we should learn to trust Him even when our plans are, well, our plans and we want to make them happen.
                Kids of all ages will Love Bob and Larry and other favorite Veggies in this timeless story told in a way that only the VeggieTales team could tell it.  Be ready to gasp for breath, and then sigh with relief as the Ark survives mammoth waves. Laugh at the antics of the animals, and nod knowingly when the Ark lands on the mountain, the birds go out, finally a dove returns with an olive branch, everyone leaves the ark, and finally we see the rainbow - God's promise to his people.  An eternal promise that means that we can and should trust God,  even when his plans don't match ours.
                Fun new songs,  and Larry nails it again with his silly song

I received a copy of the DVD in exchange for the review. My friends  at Grace Hill Media also sent me a copy to give away to a reader of the blog. First person (in the Continental 48) to comment here with why they like VeggieTales gets it for his/her collection.

thoughts on Maxwell's 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs

                I thought that when I asked to review The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs (John Maxwell, Nelson Books, 2015) that I was going to get some new stuff. Wrong! This book was published previously  (2008) as Leadership Gold .    And now that I've voiced my disappointment there, let's proceed.
                Maxwell may be well regarded as a leadership guru, but this collection of tips and anecdotes falls short of what might be expected from the guru. From my perspective the best thing about many of the chapters was the title. Some of them are quite catchy, and I wanted to read those chapters (i.e. Don't end your ducks to eagle school)  and skip over some of the one with more prosaic titles.
                A lot of his tips seemed familiar rather than new, and then I realized that since the book was originally published several years ago, I've probably heard all the ideas since, probably at conferences  where others who may have incorporated some of these ideas, were sharing them as their own
                The 'Mentoring Moments' at the end of each chapter were helpful, as were some of the 'Application Exercises', but the anecdotal accounts were more than I wanted to read through.
NOTE TO PUBLISHER: Like at least one other reviewer has mentioned, I'm annoyed when I get a book and it seems familiar because I have already read it.  Have as many updates and new editions as you want, but please don't just change the name without making it very plain from looking at the cover.  There are so many books I want to read, that it's painful to spend time and/or money on something that I've read before (and probably wasn't impressed with or it would still be on my shelf.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review . The opinions expressed are my own.


Do you recognize Lent?

One objective for a Christian observance of Lent is to get closer to God,  That looks different for everyone, as perhaps it should since we're individuals.
Whether you wear ashes on your forehead all day long or nor is not what defines Lent. I like the symbolism, and so the Ash Wednesday service is something I look forward to, but what about the next 46 days (40 if you don't count the Sundays) leading up to Easter?
I encourage people to give up something. Preferably something that will be difficult to go without. It might be a meal, or a favorite soap-opera, something that is meaningful to the individual. But there's more. If you give up something and in doing so save some time, devote that time to serving the people in your community who need help. If it saves money, donate it to a church or a charity.  Its just that simple.
And if your at a loss for where to donate, you can go to this site  and donate to my efforts to raise funds to provide clean water in India.  Lack of clean drinking water results in way too many unnecessary deaths each year.
I decided to drink only (tap)water during Lent. For me the hard part will be going without coffee but it can be done