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Showing posts from November, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: THE GRACE OF GOD

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I remember the lights going on twenty years ago when I read Brennan Manning's 'Ragamuffin Gospel'.  I have lived in the light of that book ever since.

Today I finished reading Andy Stanley's latest and had a few more lights go on in darkened corners.

From Genesis until today Andy shines a flashlight on the foundational truth of God's grace.  This is the kind of teaching that reminds me why I chose to follow Jesus in the first place.


This one will fit well on your Christmas list for the person who has everything and the one who has nothing.



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Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.  Available now at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

BASHFUL

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Bashful— I feel that way more often than I want to.
Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with someone I had not seen for several months and found myself being consumed by unwelcomed feelings of bashfulness.Shy, awkward and questioning my choice of words as we spoke.
Private hesitations-- inner thoughts I think no-one else can hear.Did my friend know I was squirming and unsure of myself in that moment?
All of his kind questions focused on how things were going at the church.There is no reason for me to be shuffle-tongued.On a performance scale we are in a boom year at the church with an abundance of vision-charged activity.So why am I suddenly feeling awkward to tell stories?Why is the fearless innovator shyly sputtering for words?
Thoughts ran through my mind as we spoke.“Don’t talk too much about yourself.Ask him about his life.Don’t brag.I don’t want him to think that I am larger than life.Why am I feeling uncomfortable?”
Childhood’s gravity still tugs at my ability to attach to oth…

INSUFFERABLE LOSS

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Matthew 5:
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
Mourning and grief will visit you.The intensity and affect varies, but it is inescapable.

I have known Christians whose grief was inconsolable and ended in taking their own life.Still, Jesus described God’s heart toward mourners and grievers.They will be comforted.



Is it fair to say that God’s comfort and human comforting are available, but not always embraced?I would not want to assign blame on sufferers who appear inconsolable or suffer from a mood disorder that robs them of the possibility of feeling better.The Kingdom of God is eternal and there is a past-present-future reality to Jesus wiping the tears from our eyes.Some tears will not dry until we are face-to-face with Jesus.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross[i]defined 5 stages of grief and loss.When faced with great tragedy and loss people progress through:
·        -  Denial·         - Anger·         - Bargaining·         - Depression·         - Acceptance
Kubler-Ross has cer…

SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY

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Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
To be 'poor in spirit' is to come to grips with a crucial, yet disturbing fact. It is the very painful recognition of my spiritual condition before God. I might have been made for a garden but I’m living in a desert! Of my own making!"[i]
No-one wants to go through bankruptcy.It is considered by some to be an admission of failure – you were not smart enough or took too many risks and now you have lost your credit rating.You can no longer hold on to the accumulation of wealth you were working on.
Bankruptcy is actually an act of mercy.It is a cancellation of debt and opportunity to start again to live within your means.Once declared bankrupt, angry creditors have no hold on the debtor.No matter how angry and forceful a creditor may be, they cannot get anything further from the one who owes them.Bankruptcy is a protection from un-payable debt.
Is that not a picture of our sin and unrighteousness …

O BLISSFUL ICELAND

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If geography has any bearing on one’s level of happiness, where would you go to be happier?
Vacationers and snowbirds[i]often head south looking for sunshine, beaches and a relaxed lifestyle.But according to the World Database of Happiness, Iceland is the happiest place on earth.



With all its ice, snow and darkness during winter months, it ranked highest.Why there?
Eric Weiner, Author of ‘The Geography of Bliss’, traveled to Iceland to find out. After interviewing a number of Icelanders, Weiner discovered that their culture doesn’t stigmatize failure. Icelanders aren’t afraid to fail — or to be imperfect — and so they’re more willing to pursue what they enjoy. That’s one reason Iceland has more artists per capita than any other nation. “There’s no one on the island telling them they’re not good enough, so they just go ahead and sing and paint and write,” Weiner writes.This makes them incredibly productive. They don’t just sit around thinking they’d like to do something. They do it. Accor…

BOOK REVIEW: YHWH

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On her website Paula K. Parker wrote:
“I know many young people and adults who don’t read the Bible simply because they don’t think the language is understandable,” states co-writer, Paula K. Parker. “YHWH: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant is a contemporary adaptation of those ancient stories that bring the three major world faiths together, but rewritten for the Harry Potter Generation.”
G.P. Taylor is an Anglican vicar who has written several works of fiction and fantasy to communicate the great messages of Scripture in entertaining ways. In the tradition of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others he brings the ancient worlds to life.  
When books are co-written, I often wonder which author made what contribution.  Not having read Parker or Taylor, I read it as if written by one.  I found the writing to be consistent, compelling and true to the Bible stories being revisited.  
Poetic license can sometimes be an excuse to re-frame the message to fit an agenda.  While the Scriptures used…

RITUAL FOOD

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Throughout history, food has been used ritually to remind us of important truths.Wherever culture and religion occur, someone is working in the kitchen.
A cake on your birthday is an act of celebration for your life.
Cookies and milk left out on Christmas Eve show hospitality to Santa Claus.  Is it any wonder the man in red is overweight?
In Haitian voodoo, Mademoiselle Charlotte is ritually offered the tender meat of young chickens.She is an intermediary for the distant god.She is offered special foods and drinks in hope that she will take a fancy to you and present your needs to the god.
In Hinduism, there is a group known as Ayyavazhi.They have a ritual mean known as Palvaippu, the serving of a gruel boiled in milk.The poor and rich of all castes partake without discrimination.
Ritual foods and meals bring people together in honor of what they most value.
The Passover meal reminded Israel that God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt.This meal of wine, bread, lamb and bitter herbs wa…