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Book Review – “Globequake” by Wallace Henley

“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”  (Matthew 24:6-7)

For as long as I can remember there have been folks who have fretted and fussed over nearly every catastrophic event that has played havoc with our world, believing it to be a warning of the nearing Apocalypse. I will be the first to admit that whenever we our world gets hammered with things of a life altering nature, such as the political upheaval and economic despair that is going on daily all over the world, it is difficult not to think that Christ must be coming soon. Though it may appear that Jesus is indeed be coming soon, we must remind ourselves of the fact that no one knows the day or hour at which Christ shall return.

So then how is it that we are to live in the face of a world gone crazy until such a time that the Father decides it time to send Jesus back to get us… how do we live in a world that’s falling apart? To that question there is no simple all-encompassing answer, but in his latest book, “Globe Quake” Wallace Henley shares with us that there are indeed things that can be done, in our lives as individuals, in the life of our family, the life of our church, and in the life of our nation to help us navigate on our journey through a world that seems headed toward utter destruction.

It’s a proven fact that change, especially that of the intense, life altering variety has the ability to shakes up society, culture and even our longstanding beliefs, as individuals and society as a whole. Henley compares these changes to the movement of the tectonic plates deep within the earth, as they move the earth literally tears itself apart and reshapes itself. For most anyone this type of action would be cause for alarm, but contrary to being an alarmist, Henley goes to the one place we should go first for answers, and yet seldom do… Scripture!  He reminds us that while there is always change, there is also always God! This book brings us back to our proper moorings, reminding us that indeed God is in control.

Now as an admitted OCD perfectionist who loves order over chaos I very much appreciated the logical, easy to follow format of the book, its content is well conceived and well presented as evidenced by the simple, yet effective layout of the book, which flows in an ascending order of spheres

The Sphere of person

The Sphere of church

The Sphere of family

The Sphere of education

The Sphere of governance

The Sphere of business-marketplace

It’s obvious from the onset that Henley is an experienced author with the ability to relate his points to everyday life, and though it took me a while to get into the book, buy the time I was a few pages in I was hooked. He writes not as a preacher, nor as a journalist, or politician, he writes as a concise mixture of all three, in a fashion that is very This book was my first experience with Wallace Henley, and I must say that I will be checking out his other offerings in the near future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishersas part of their “booksneeze program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Giving at Christmas

As you open your pockets this Christmas season, to give to those in need, keep these facts in mind when giving…

Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross… Salary for year ending 06/30/03 was $651,957 plus expenses. (That’s $74.42 an hour for EVERY hour of EVERY day.)

Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way receives a $375,000 base salary, plus numerous expense benefits. (That’s $42.80 an hour for EVERY hour of EVERY day.)

UNICEF CEO receives $1,200,000 per year plus all expenses and a ROLLS ROYCE car where ever he goes and only cents of your dollar goes to the cause. (That’s $1369.86 an hour for EVERY hour of EVERY day.)

The Salvation Army‘s Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.

No further comment necessary except listen for the bells outside stores this Christmas.

Please pass this on to your friends and family…

Merry Christmas!

Book Review – “Venom and Song” by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christoper Hopper

Elves, Gnomes, Drefids, and lots of Spiders; the things that all “good” fantasy books should have in them. If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia then this book may be something that you would enjoy. I’m a big fan of the previous and though the storyline doesn’t come close to reaching the caliber of Tolkien and Lewis, Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper did a great job of holding my attention, which is something that is difficult for any novel to do. Though I typically only review non-fiction books of a theological nature, the tile of the book caught my attention, so I thought that I would give it a whirl, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

When I got the book I discovered, much to my frustration that it was the second in a series. (The Berinfell Prophecies) Having not read the first one, I was at a great disadvantage when jumping into the book. Though I didn’t have the good fortune of the information and story line from the first book, I was able to get the primary gist of what this series was doing and where the storyline was going, this was accomplished in no small part by the character list that was provided at the beginning of the book. (Kudos to whoever suggested that one!)

The book was the typical morality tale of “good vs. evil,” and though this genre has been covered extensively in novels over the years, this book does a good job of presenting it on an elementary level. The book opens with the Seven teenage Lords (13 yrs. Old) arriving on Allyra through a portal from Earth. The events that they experience are what can only be described as “life-changing,” and we as the readers get a front seat view as they prepare themselves and eventually bring war against the Spider King, the despot of the story, who is bent of destroying the peaceful elves that also inhabit the planet Allyra.     

For me the book was an enjoyable read, and as with many books of this genre it got better as it progressed. The first chapters were a little slow off the launch pad, but by the time I got to the end of the book I was really getting into it (which is hard for me to do) I appreciated how well crafted the story was and how seamlessly it flowed from page to page. It was extremely easy to follow. (now if only some of those theological books I’m always reading were able to do the same thing) I also appreciated how the authors effectively dealt with the issue of strengths and weaknesses of the characters, on both an individual basis, and as a group working together for a common cause, which is something that is of vital importance to young people today. It isn’t hard to see the “spiritual” aspect in this book, for its present from beginning to end, yet not in some direct, hard hitting theological fashion. This isn’t a book that makes you feel like you’re sitting back listening to some sermon, rather the reader gets to see how the characters learn to have faith in something greater than themselves.    

Fantasy is and can be a dangerous genre for one to read, especially when it’s written from a Christian perspective. There is appropriate fantasy and inappropriate fantasy, and it takes a discerning reader to tell the difference. I can recommend this book with few reservations, but as with any from this genre, it should be read by the parents first, for they are and should be the judge of its appropriateness.   

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their “book review bloggers program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fasting From Facebook

Well I’m down to my last three days… On the 31st of December I signed off of my Facebook account and I haven’t been back on since that time. During this time I’ve still used email, and I’ve talked with friends and colleagues on the phone, but for the past few weeks my social networking done specifically via Facebook has been on hold.  You may ask why I have made this decision; the answer is really quite simple. Every year during the month of January I fast from something for an entire month. Every year is different, and some are more challenging than others. For example, last year I gave up coffee; which was without a doubt the most challenging fast I’ve ever done.  In fact when I gave up the coffee I had friends tell me that I was insane, and by the end of that month I was beginning to wonder if they were indeed correct. This year when I announced that I was going to fast from Facebook one of my friends, who shall remain nameless, asked me why I didn’t give up something that was a little easier to live without. My response to that question was this; “giving up something easy is pointless.” I’ve always figured that for the absence of something to have any effect on me it must be something of value. Making the decision I did this year was difficult because Facebook has always been my connection to those whom I’m geographically separated from.

As hard as it was  for me to do, I’ve always seen giving up something in January as my as a way for me to get back to my spiritual basics, which is something that has been so necessary for me at the moment, being that right now I’m feeling completely burned out, both physically and spiritually. My goal for the time that I would normally spend doing the social networking thing was to not only ask, but more importantly answer this question; how can I engage more deeply with God during this time? In asking this question over the last three weeks I’ve found that the answers are as varying as the times that I ask it. Here about a year ago I came to the conclusion that having 3 social networking accounts was more of a hindrance than a benefit. So I looked at the situation and decided that 2 of them had to go. Being that Facebook was the one that I used the most it was the one I kept, and the other two got the boot.

I thought it would be a hard thing to do, but truly it wasn’t… it was actually a breath of fresh air to my soul. What I thought I would miss, I didn’t. The fact that I didn’t miss Xanga or MySpace somewhat surprised me at first. But when I thought about it I rediscovered something about myself, something  that I had known all along but chose to ignore; that I’ve always been a person that prefers actual face to face communication. I would much rather meet for coffee and visit with a person than send an email or talk on the phone. As a society we, and those in ministry are no exception, try to cram so much in our lives that we end up abbreviating when and how we communicate with people.

I find that I get so tired of electronic forms of communication; did I mention the fact that I hate my cell phone?  Anne Jackson is absolutely correct when she says that “the web creates connection, but not community.” Connections are good, and many times necessary, but the fact remains that God created us for community, first with Him and secondly with others. Social networking can be a positive thing, but that which can be used for good can also take a form that is anything but good; we must never forget that a genuine relationship requires genuine face to face contact with another person. For me the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this whole experience is that I’ve found that fasting from not only social networking, but technology in general strips away the clutter of modern life. I’ve come to the conclusion that unplugging yourself, for awhile anyway, from our multitasking obsessed world is a healthy thing to do, for both our physical and spiritual wellbeing.

For me there have always been days that my computer doesn’t even get turned on, but it happens more now than it used to.  If we’re accessible to others 24-7 the potential exists for us to put ourselves and others, rather than God, at the center of our lives. Intentionally unplugging, even for brief periods, really does help us realign a healthy balance in our lives. So am I going to shut down my Facebook account after this fast is over? No, I’m not planning on it, but there’s a part of me that wants to. This whole process has impressed upon me the importance of valuing my time with God and others more than I was accustomed to doing. If you’ve never done a fast from social networking or technology in some form or another, I encourage you to consider doing so… it may be hard at first but I guarantee that you’ll reap true benefits in the end.

Thoughts On Turning 30

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In our culture it seems that turning 30 is an important milestone, much like turning 18, or 21. But unlike those who dread the idea of beginning one’s third decade of life, I personally experienced no such feeling. I have discovered that there is nothing magical or dreadful about turning another decade older. When I woke up on June 20, I felt no different than I did the night before. However, by the standards of the kids in our youth group I am no longer a “young guy,” or so they tell me.  I guess getting older means that I’m no longer cool, though the jury’s still out on whether I was truly ever “cool” or not.  I guess one could say that I’ve reached the age where I’m officially an “adult,” if that is indeed something that any person can ultimately achieve. It’s no big secret that our culture worships youth, the advertising tools aimed at our consumer culture and supermarket tabloids are constantly reminding us of this fact.  So here it is… I’m no longer a 20-something, I’m no longer part of the target audience; I hope that doesn’t mean I’m no longer relevant. 

Here are just a few random things that I have learned over the past three decades of life….

I’ve learned that I can be comfortable being me. I don’t have to pretend to be someone or something I’m not. The world gets to see me for who I am “warts and all” (though I don’t really have any warts.”) 

I’ve learned that doing the right thing, means doing the right thing according to God’s standards, not the world’s standards.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to settle for the mediocre or mundane… but that I can live an abundant life!

I’ve learned that following Jesus won’t make your life perfect, but it’s the craziest most awesome adventure on the planet.

I’ve learned that the people who have had the deepest impact on my life are all older than me, and several of them are no longer with me.

I’ve learned that with God’s guidance I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to, even if it seems impossible at the onset.  

I’ve learned that trust is the most significant aspect of any relationship.

I’ve learned that God is always there, even when it doesn’t seem like He is. 

I’ve learned that “faith,” and “religion” aren’t the same thing.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect.

I’ve learned that I shouldn’t live in the past but that I should learn from it.

I’ve learned that God moves mountains and that prayer moves God!

I’ve learned that “blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.” (Thank you Bob Stacy)

I’ve learned that I am capable of independence, but that I’m also capable of working with a team

I’ve learned that people need you to understand them more than they need you to agree with them.

I’ve learned that lack of preparation on another person’s part doesn’t necessitate an emergency on my part.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to (and can’t) make everyone happy.

I’ve learned that being a good friend is just as important as having a good friend.

I’ve learned that people I love will hurt me and that I can be at peace with it and move on.

From a ministry perspective…

I’ve learned that in order to communicate the Gospel effectively I must properly prepare myself… no flying by the seat of my pants on Sunday morning.

I’ve learned that preaching without notes is not only possible but preferred

I’ve learned that a supportive leadership is the second best gift a pastor can have; the first is having a congregation that prays for you. (I’m lucky I have both!)

I’ve learned how to compromise without compromising my values.

I’ve learned that I can associate with people with whom I disagree.

I’ve learned that people who are Christians don’t always act like Christians and that they “can” and often “do” some pretty “unchristian,” things. 

I’ve learned that we are all pilgrims traveling down the road trying our best to live daily for God, and that we’re going to make mistakes, and that my mistakes are no worse or better than those of another who travels this road.

Most of all…  

I’ve learned that my family…  my wife, my son, my mom and dad, and my brothers and sisters are totally invaluable, the greatest most rewarding gifts I have in life!

I’m sure that there is more that I stumbled upon throughout the last 30 years of my life, but I’m not conceited enough to think I have all the answers. Maybe when I am 31 I will have all the answers…, now there’s a pipe dream for ya! What I do know is that I am very content with myself and my life thus far. God is great…life is good…  I’ve turned 30… So what about the future… Bring it on… Carpe Diem!