Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being in the Presence of Jesus

As John begins his letter, he shares that what he is discussing is not merely theology. It comes from his life experiences. It represents what he has heard, seen, and touched. It represents his life – not his intellectual knowledge.

John uses words that each go beyond the simple use of our senses. He uses words that indicate that the “seeing” is not just watching from the sidelines, but understanding and experiencing Jesus in ways that go beyond the simple act of watching Him. To hear is to understand. To touch is to find out its texture, to discover what it is made of – to get to its core. What John is left with is not just head knowledge, but a life changing interaction with the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the creator, God Almighty.

What about my preaching? Am I merely trying to share what is in my head or am I willing to share the life that God has allowed me to experience with Him. If all I share is merely head knowledge, then I may as well be only a member of the crowds that followed Jesus – a spectator. May I share what I have experienced – what I have seen, heard, and understood. May I share, not from my head, but from my heart – a heart touched by the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the creator, God Almighty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Reflection On I John 1:1

Some thoughts from I John 1:1 ==

John has three voices as he writes. At one level he speaks for himself. He takes time to explain what he has seen, heard, and touched. He speaks about and from experiences that only he can have.

But John also speaks for the church. Five times in this first verse he uses 1st person plural pronouns to describe what he is about to say. Though John had many personal experiences with Jesus (he was the disciple that Jesus loved), he also shared many experiences with the other disciples. History tells us that John was the only original apostle alive as he wrote these words exiled to the island of Patmos, thus his words are the last words spoken for the apostles as the church enters the patristic age.

Finally, John spoke for God. As he wrote I John, he was inspired – so that the very words he wrote were the words God intended for him to put to paper.

As a pastor, I also speak with three voices: my own, the church, and God. I pray that the three voices will be in harmony. My prayer is that I may say nothing that does not reflect well on the church and on Almighty God as seen in all three persons of the Trinity.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Son of Hamas

A Book Review

Occasionally a book seems so uninteresting that the reader does not want to finish reading to the end. Son of Hamas was such a book – I was about halfway through and I came real close to putting it down and writing the review that is beginning to sound like.

I am glad I did not do it. Here is the real story of man who lived inside one of the sources of terror in the Middle East – yet was sensitive enough to see inconsistencies in the faith he had been given as a child. The second half of the book details the author's conflict as he struggles to understand his Islamic background, the Israeli security police and their need to keep Israeli population safe, and the Christian students whom he had joined for Bible Study. It was not an easy journey, but one that left the author fully in the hands of Jesus Christ.

Confused by the events in the Middle East, the author takes time to explain the political, military, cultural, and religious issues that dominate the region. From the earliest beginnings of Hamas (as started by seven men, including the author's father) through the events of 9/11 to his eventual move to the United States and request for political asylum – granted in June 2010.

The book is as thrilling as any mystery on the best sellers list – except this story is true. It provides background that I have not seen elsewhere and explains events that were simply recorded in the evening's news. It is worth the time spent time reading – both for the casual reader and for the committed believer.

This review is based on a free copy of the book supplied by the Tyndale Blog Network.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

first things first
Kurt and Brenda Warner

A Review

“first things first” is my second book this month about the people of football. As I said earlier, I am not a football fan, but enjoy reading about people who have made a lasting impact on others. Kurt and Brenda Warner have done this.

Beginning with their first meeting, the books gives a glimpse into their family of seven and “rules” that allowed it to work. Though the “rules” have not been written down – other than a lopsided summary given by the kids as transcribed by a New York Times reporter – the family has allowed life to work for them.

Though Kurt Warner took his time understanding what faith was all about, his decision came, not so much of the testimony of his future wife, as the patient teaching he received from his teammates. But once the decision to follow Jesus was made, it obviously became the core of his life: before his team, before his family, and before his wife. Not to diminish the role of his team, family, and wife – but he had to place first things first.

But the book is not just Kurt's story, it is also his wife's. Each chapter address similar issues of life – first from Kurt's perspective and then from Brenda's. As they lay out the day, Kurt discusses the pattern that defines each day as the kids get ready for school – both in and out of football season. Brenda follows up with an acknowledgment that, with a large family, the pattern that works for Kurt, can, in real life, become quite hectic. The book is an attempt to get a real look at a very real family.

Reading the book has given me an increased appreciation for my wife – and all that she contributes to mine. Though our kids are all out of the house, I learned much of what it means to be a husband in a modern family. If you love football, if you love your family, if you are struggling to make your family work, “first things first” will better prepare you for the job.

This review is based on a free copy received from for use on its PC Kindle app.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remember Why You Play:
Faith, Football, and A Season to Believe
David Thomas

A Review

I am not normally a football fan – but when I first heard the story of Faith Christian High School a year ago, tears came to my eyes. More recently, the story was refreshed when I watched a YouTube video about the school and how it reached out to the Texas state school for boys.

I was excited to read the story of Coach Hogan, the school, and football team that left a lasting impression on the lives of 14 boys from the state school. Actually, the book follows the team from its pre-season planning, through early two-a-days, through the final game of the year – the year before the school was asked to play, for the first time, the Texas state school.

I found the first third of the book, as the coaches and team prepared for the season, of interest. It caught my attention and kept drawing me back into the book. However, much of the book is a week-by-week, game-by-game, analysis of the lives, decision, attitudes, and plays made on the field. As I said, I am not a football fan, and weekly recaps became less and less interesting. The comments on players, coaches, and others, which introduced each chapter, were uplifting, but the play-play recap of what happened on the field was less so. By the time I reached week three or four, I felt like I was rereading the same game over and over. A football fan may have enjoyed the on-field experience, I did not.

I do recommend the book. If you are like me, you might want to skim the parts of each chapter that focus on the game itself. However, do skim (and not skip) even these parts, because there are occasionally thoughtful insights on living life and sportsmanship – like when it might be appropriate for a quarterback to take a knee on the final play of a game. And when the book is over, you can be glad that a team of 40 and a team of 14 were able to change each other’s lives.

This review is based on a free copy provided by on its Kindle e-reader.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Code Triage - A Review

Code Triage


Candace Calvert

A Review

“Nothing is forever and ever.” That is what her mother had told her and now Dr. Leigh Stathos believed it. It would take a remarkable set of events and the Grace of God to convince her that her mother was wrong.

When Tyndale first offered a review copy of this book, they called it a “Medical Thriller” - so I asked for the privilege of reading it. They agreed to let me review it; but before my free review copy arrived, I read a second description of the book - “... a Christian romance.” Now I was not sure I wanted to read it. However, when the book arrived a week ago, I decided to give it a try – and it held my interest.

With too very different villains and the others that God put across her path, Dr. Stathos would discover that some things can last “forever and ever.” Like most things in life, it would not be easy, but with her new found faith and the support of her friends and her pet horse, Frisco, she would find a path that for some is too easy to miss.

Though this book is the third of a series, it does stand alone – with new characters in a new city at a new hospital. Only in the epilog does the author bring the characters from all three books together. And, except that I had read the discussion questions found at the back of the book, I would not have known about the crossover between the three books

In spite of my earlier reservations, I would recommend this book for anyone with a sensitive heart. Perhaps, like Dr. Leigh Stathos, they could find that some things are “forever and ever.”

Friday, September 10, 2010

Philippians 2:15 "... you shine as lights in the world."

I look up at the stars at night, I am impressed by the number of them, the designs they make in the sky, knowing that each one is like our own sun. But along with those dots of light is a great deal of darkness. Paul sees the darkness as the world, an evil, bleak space, that thoroughly rejects God and all he has to offer. But in the midst of that dark space there are dots of light.

We live among people who do not know God. But here we are - like "stars in the universe" as one translation puts it. We, as believers, will stand out in a dark and depressive world that has rejected Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I finally finished "Rooms: A Novel" by James L. Rubart. If you liked "Shack" or "Pilgrims Progress" you will like "Rooms". Themes that it addresses for those of us who are Christians are choices and their consequences, God's grace, trusting God, and spiritual warfare.

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher to read on my Kindle app for the PC. Thank you B & H Books.

Friday, August 13, 2010

SHAME says that I am not good enough.
God says, "I love you just the way you are."

ENVY says I do not have enough.
God says, "I will give you all you need."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bring the Rain

I was listening to Mercy Me's Bring the Rain earlier today. It seems to me that rain can signify three things:

  1. The storms of life that God uses to shape us
  2. The showers of blessing that can cleanse us when we have strayed
  3. The cool nourishment that we need to sustain us

May I experience all three today.