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Idols

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

THIS IS NOT A REVIEW! So please don’t look away just yet! 🙂

I’ve just started reading a new book of mine: Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney.

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The subtitle is “Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols.” I’ve had to read several sections over and over-not because I dozed off while reading, but because I have struggled with grasping what he is saying as it applies to me. The following is an excerpt:

“God is not our Sugar Daddy in the sky. He’s not some cosmic Santa Claus looking for ways to make us more comfortable. He is look for ways to make us more like Christ, so He wants to show how you respond when you don’t get your way…Think about it. When do you grow the most-when you’ve got a husband (wife) who’s just the way you want him (her)? When do you become more like Christ, and cry out to Him in desperate prayer as you search the Scriptures-when your whole world is ordered just the way you want it? No. It’s when your husband (wife) isn’t what you want him (her) to be; it’s when the job isn’t that you had dreamed of, when your health fails, when your children rebel. That’s when God meets you and conforms you to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.” (p.23)

Those words made me pause and think and pause and think some more. Easy road? Not on His watch! Any thoughts?

Pain

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I reiterate my previous post’s statement: One of my nominees for Book-of-the-Year is this one:

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I’ve lost both my grandparents. I’ve lost my father-in-law (whom I loved and respected dearly) in 1998 while having heart surgery. I’ve lost my mother-in-law in 2001 to heart failure. I’ve lost my mother to cancer in 2004. I’ve lost countless friends in the churches I have served.

But I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child…of any age. King Theodan (from Fellowship of the Ring) could understand because he expressed it: “No father should bury his son.” My best male friend buried his youngest son in 2006 after an accident.

The pain of that loss has to be like a hot iron left on the skin…only this one goes deep into the heart. This book is Levi’s (and his wife, Jennie) adventure through this minefield of losing their five year old daughter, Lenya. I’ve reviewed the book here. And wrote two other posts here and here. This is my final post…I think. I’d like to encourage you to get the book yourself and read it.  I’d like to leave you with something Levi wrote and Jennie said:

Pain is a microphone. And the more it hurts, the louder you get. Suffering isn’t an obstacle to being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before. Levi (p.108)

God isn’t scared of what you’re scared of. Levi. (p.165)

God wants to turn

your mess into a message,

your misery into a ministry,

your pain into a platform

and your chaos into a crown.

-Jennie Lusko (via Diana’s research)

I’m not sure I can say much to add “good” to that. They are the ones who have lived through the “hell” of losing their child. If you have, maybe you can relate.

There you have it.

AnAnchor

Monday, April 4th, 2016

I will be right up front with you. One of my nominees (not that they will listen to me) for Book of the Year is this one:

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short review of it here and then wrote a post about it here. I said I would post further thoughts but life happened-tragedy happened– and further posts were pushed to the side. I want to use a couple posts this week to give some attention to thoughts from Levi’s book…and thanks to my office manager, Diana, some other thoughts Levi has shared in various venues.

First from the book:

“Hope is a powerful thing. The evangelist Billy Graham said, ‘What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to our survival in the world.’ In The Hunger Games, President Snow said hope is the only thing more powerful than fear. I’ve heard it said that in Air Force survival training courses, instructors teach something called ‘Rule of Threes’: In a survival situation you can last three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter in extreme conditions, and three minutes without air. But you can’t make it three seconds without hope.’ ” (p.97)

Hopelessness often leads people to do desperate things-things they normally wouldn’t do. Even the most stoic person can react adversely if hope is taken away. Tell a hospital patient there is no hope and you may as well sign their death warrant.

Hope is a confident expectation. It is an anchor of the soul. And one of the cool things about an anchor is it comes with a heavy-duty chain. Our hope is a solid anchor which never comes loose from its chain. No matter what hits.

Healing

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Before you get your undies in a bunch, this will not be a “Is he for it or is he against it?” post.

Sorry.

Over the weekend I finished #Struggles by Craig Groeschel. (Thanks to Sunday afternoon’s snow) I’ve written some posts based on it recently. His conclusive remarks made me stop and take notice. I am not a social media “freak.” I don’t do FB, Tweet, Pin, Snap (except to occasionally say it), or any of the other myriad options. I blog. When I am home I check my mail on my phone (since I don’t have a computer at home). I listen to YouTube, where I have a playlist of my favorite artists, when I do my puzzles or ride my bike inside.

I say I have other things which give me enough trouble without adding more time-consuming playthings to my already full time schedule. Craig reminded me of the #struggles we all have, but he didn’t leave me hanging. I’d like to share three thoughts with you which come from his book. He takes his thoughts from John 5:1-15. Here they are:

  1. The longer a problem persists, the more discouraged you become. Any addict will tell you this. I’ve read enough and known enough people who want to break the chain of addiction (to anything) that discouragement becomes a very real issue.
  2. The longer a problem persists, the more excuses you make. Gotcha on that one Craig. Excuses become our “go to” mechanism. The way I see it excuses also become harder and harder to come up with. We start wondering, “Have I used that one before?”
  3. The longer a problem persists, the more you learn to compensate. When I was a sophomore in college I came back to school during the Christmas break on crutches. A badly sprained ankle, which probably included some ligament damage, made it impossible to walk, let alone play. Yet, 2 weeks later I was limping up and down the court, shooting off one foot, rebounding off one leg…then I visited the chiropractor that summer when I couldn’t bend over. (And I still visit one to this day). Compensation hurt me big time.

I like what Craig writes: “You cannot change what you are willing to tolerate.” (p.198).  Is it time for you to clean some house? I’m going to get my Shop-vac. That sucks it up nice and strong.

War

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Several years ago the church’s peace, calm and “settled-for existence” was shattered by a war.  It was a war of such magnitude the stained glass windows of traditional pipe-organ churches were rattled; the foundations of many of the “tried-and-true” denominations were shaken; it brought out the pundits to condemn and criticize endlessly; and it brought about both cries for help and also cries of revival.

The war?

It was given the title “Worship Wars.”

For those of us involved in the church sides were taken. “How dare they bring that new music into the church?” vs. “We heard this new song and it has excellent lyrics. Here listen!” The new music was either embraced or rejected. Depending on which one determined which side of the “worship war” you were on.

I will say it up front. I like the new music. I like music that moves my heart and moves me. (I don’t dance so that is not what I’m talking about). I like music with a beat. I also like music that slows down some.

What I don’t like is sameness. Same order. Same songs. Same beat/rhythm. Same 4 verses & chorus arrangement. I’m not a pipe organ fan by any stretch. I’m not a hymn person and singing songs in worship which are not worship songs at all (Beyond the Sunset, When the Roll is Call Up Yonder, In the Garden, etc).

What I really dislike in sameness is doing the same thing each week. It is so ingrained in some churches that you would think Lucifer appeared if the order is changed.

Only two prerequisites were required to worship and they are straight from Jesus’ mouth: “Those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth.” Worship must be from the heart and centered around God’s revealed truth. That can happen with hymns or it can happen singing Chris Tomlin.

The only thing worth “fighting” for is for the fame of God’s Name. That is to be the purpose of worship anyway. The style of music and the order of worship can be varied. Just don’t mess with giving glory to Him.

Your thoughts?

This is part of my ongoing and random posts on this book:

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Stone23

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Incubation.

Such a not-so-nice-sounding word. It congers up pictures of babies in shell-like containers, often with wires and tubes everywhere.

This past Sunday we had a son, Owen Franklin, born to a family in the church. He has had trouble breathing so only mom has been able to hold him and that has only been in the Special Care Unit of the hospital. Two sisters and a brother (especially the younger sister) have not been able to hold him or get close to him. And yes it is killing them.

I was able to see him through the window Monday. Not hooked up to tubes and not encased in a shell, but still receiving excellent care as he gets stronger. I won’t call it complete incubation…just partial.

My grandson just got a tortoise for his birthday. It is supposed to get to be 100 pounds and live 65 years. Oh…WOW! Right now it is like he is living in an incubator. Two different kinds of lights (day and night). The right food. The right environment.

Randy contends in Stone 23 that “each church is to be an incubator.” No church is to be an end in itself.  There are far too many people who think that is all there is. The purpose of a church is to reproduce. It is not to keep people down or strapped to tubes (legalism). Every church is to be an incubator, being used to lead people to Jesus, not make decisions on our own.

This is a random post based on this book.

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Stone22

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Without a doubt, cultures are different.  What works in one culture won’t work in another. We might hear something like, “If we would copy the New Testament church and do things the way they did we would be able to say we have ‘gone back to the Bible.'” One word: unrealistic. I know. I said it.

As Bob Dylan sang: “The times they are a changing.”

What works in one church doesn’t work in another. What worked several years ago is now passe’.

What hasn’t changed down through the years, though, has been the constant attempt (translated: sometimes forcing a guilt trip on people) trying to get people more involved. It is laudable. It is important. No, make that essential. But it appears many churches are facing or have accepted that it is a losing battle.

We are not producing worshipers in this country. Rather, we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, any memory of a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave. (Prodigal Church-p.1-3-204)

Randy would certainly agree. That is what Stone22 is about-accepting church is just an audience. I might add: a spectator sport. A body best functions when all its parts are working together, supporting each other. When riding my bike, a cranky right knee which has caused some atrophy (and loss of strength), is causing the left leg and thigh to pick up the slack.

Church is to be the same. Not a spectator sport where we all stand around while a few do the job, but an involvement where everyone pitches in.

If you attend a church, I do hope you are pitching in and “pulling your weight.”

This post is based on a series of random posts based on this book.

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Stone21

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Physical discipline is the only form of punishment.

So says some legalists. So says Stone 21 which Randy is refuting.

Don’t believe it? Ask Westboro. They flaunt those stupid signs which say, “God Hates Fags” and protest veterans’ funerals who die in combat. Why? Because they believe their death is the result of God meting out His vengeance and punishment upon American soldiers for America’s drift to okay homosexuality. While I have my personal belief about the morality of homosexuality (which is not the point of this post), I TOTALLY DISAGREE with Westboro that a soldier dies as punishment. In fact, I will go on record and say, “That is a bunch of crock!”

David committed sin with Bathsheba. The ramifications of that were felt down through the years. His loss of joy (not physical). The rape of his daughter by a heathen. The subsequent killing of that man by Absalom. The revolt of Absalom against his father. The eventual death of Absalom and David’s mourning. Chastisement and judgment comes in many and varied ways.

A wayward father who loses the love of his family. The drug-addled teen who loses his mind. The late night computer visits by a mom who decides to leave her family in the lurch. The devastation brought on by sin is ravenous but also different. No size fits all. Consequences of foolish choices happen.

The reality is this: no matter how discipline or chastisement happens it is a sobering thing.

This is one of my random posts from this book. What do you think?

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Stone 20

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

I wanted to call this External but decided to stay with my “Stone” heading as I make my way through this book with random posts.

Randy begins this Stone with two stories-one personal and one which made me want to upchuck. His personal example was from when they moved to Oslo to serve as missionary church planters. They were young and legalistic and made their narrow views known when introduced to men with long hair and women wearing slacks.

His “upchuck” story came from a church event where a young couple walked into the church- she wearing sandals, snug fitting jeans and a pullover blouse which revealed a bit of a midriff; he with shoulder-length hair, wearing black leather pants, and sporting tattoos all over his upper arm. The pastor’s topic was “Carnality” and to emphasize his point he used them as a reference to his topic. They never attended again. (Neither would I).

“Judgments-based on externals-like the two samples above are often skewed and misappropriated, not to mention destructive.” (p.111)

It is within us to render judgments based on externals. We have ALL done it. Colored hair. Freaky makeup. Short skirts. Long flowing hair (on men). Tats up the arms (either sex). The list goes on and on.

The point: just because we all do it DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT! I, least of all, have nothing to brag about. True: I don’t have long hair (no comment)…but I wish. I don’t have any tats (I honor my wife with that). I wear jeans and t-shirt/buttoned shirt to preach in. Gasp! You mean no tie? E-X-A-C-T-L-Y!! I wear one to marry and bury.

I’m going to be totally honest with you. I have better things to do than care about externals. I’m glad they are sitting in one of our chairs! I’m going to agree with Randy with his final words: “Again, maybe we should look harder and closer at people’s lives before we categorize, name call, and pronounce judgment simply because of what is seen on the outside.”  (p.114)

‘Nuff said.

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Stone19

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Life has happened so I have been somewhat invisible the past few days. That means, of course, very little interactivity here or anywhere else.

I remember as a teenager I had an almost every Sunday ritual. At the invitation during church, I would walk forward to “rededicate” my life. I was convicted over the fact I was not living the way I perceived a Christian was supposed to live so I did the only thing I knew to do: walk forward and “rededicate.” I look back now at the foolishness of that, but partly blame the folks around me for those actions.

Why? Because I like to blame others?

No.

Because no one took me aside and said, “Bill, everyone is going to struggle. Everyone is going to sin. You don’t need to “walk the aisle” every Sunday. Confess your sin on a daily basis. Use the Communion time to refresh your heart.”

I didn’t know any better. I was just a hormone-filled teenager struggling with a whole bunch of junk and being told “God only uses clean vessels.” Say what? If that is the case, I’m still in trouble. Even Isaiah recognized the sinfulness within and pleaded for the cleansing touch of God.

Frankly, if God only uses clean or “righteous” vessels, we are all in trouble. The only vessels I know are chipped and marred, smudged and filthy. But still usable. I call that GRACE.

Any thoughts?

This is part of my random posts based on this book.

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