Monday, December 26, 2011
A Marriage Carol
Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman
Jacob and Marlee’s marriage was at an end. They both knew it. They had not yet told the kids, but today was to be the end. They were due at the lawyer’s office to sign the papers for a no-fault divorce. It was time, but the weather would not cooperate. To save time they take a shortcut that leads to the accident.
In the hours that follow as Marlee finds help and looks for her husband, she is also faced with her own life - her life as it was, her life as it is, and her life as it might be. It was a long night - a night that did not end the way she had expected. On the other hand … well, you will need to read the book to find out about that other hand.
As Marlee writes, in the first person, “... it is a dangerous thing to have your eyes opened. It is dangerous to see. It is dangerous to love … There is no barren place on earth that love cannot grow a garden. Not even your heart.”
The Marriage Carol may be written as fiction, but it is not fiction. It is my story, it is my wife’s story. But not ours alone - it is many stories of people who have found themselves hurt, lost, and confused. And, just as my wife and I discovered, it is a story that offers hope. It was hope that Dickens offered in 1843 when he wrote the original; it still offers hope for us today.
This review is based
a free electronic copy of the book
supplied by the publisher
for the purpose of creating this review.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Big Book of American Trivia
J. Stephen Lang
Fun, Fun, Fun.
While I have collected trivia books for several years, most of them have focused on Biblical or church history. I was excited to discover this 360 page book of American History trivia. However, the book was not quite what I expected - but I was not disappointed.
As I picked up the book, I expected to find a series of anecdotes - brief essays - giving trivial facts from American history. Rather, the book is a series of 3,000 questions (and answers). Topics include -
- National, Regional, and Local history
- Well-known monuments (National, Regional, and Local)
- American Personalities (Presidents, song writers, comedians, etc.)
- The arts
- In what year’s World Series was “The Star-Spangled Banner” played at a sports event for the first time? (The answer can be found on page 239)
- What major East Coast city has a Cherry Blossom Festival every April? (The answer can be found on page 145)
- What outdoorsy president was the first president to ride in an automobile? (The answer can be found on page 205)
- What 20th century president was the first to be born in a hospital? (The answer can be found on page 259)
These questions, taken from the back cover of the book, demonstrate that the book can be as much fun as it is educational.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Each of the four stories has it’s roots in the stories we grew up with, but then they are expanded beyond the historic tales passed down to us from our parents and grandparents through story and song. Paul Bunyan is given credit for creating the Golden Plains of Kansas, the Grand Canyon, the greatest of the Great Lakes, the Smoky Mountains, and the bayous of the American South, and the Land of 10,000 Lakes (hey, I remember that one).
Take a trip down memory lane - and share that journey with the children of today. Remember the fantasy that became the folk lore of a previous generation and don’t let it get lost in this one. Tall:Great American Folktales is a wonderful way to carry on those stories.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Between trying two cases, including the man accused of her mother’s murder, her life is shaken to the core. She learns that people are not always who they seem - the ones she trusts are not all trustworthy; those she distrusts are not what she feared.
The Last Plea Bargain is fun journey through the legal system. Randy Singer’s writing can be compared favorably to that of Robert Whitlow (author of Water’s Edge, Greater Love, and Life Everlasting, et al) an accomplished author and lawyer. Jamie Brock and we, the readers, will learn to look at people with grace filled eyes, rather than the boxes that are so easy to build around them. And when we do, good things are bound to happen.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
John MacArthur’s At The Throne of Grace proves that point. His prayers, if truely said from the Sunday pulpit as the book claims, is as much about teaching as it is about speaking to God.
Each prayer begins with a brief scripture reading and a devotional - then comes the sample prayer. The prayers are well-written - a pleasure to read; though, as a pastor, I would feel uncomfortable using them in a worship service. Here is a portion of a prayer following a devotional on I John 2:1-19:
Dear Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow,
we confess that You alone are the giver of every good and perfect gift,1
and You have given us so many things,
richly supplying us with things to enjoy.2
And we are reminded by the passage we have just read that
the greatest gift of all is Your Son, Jesus Christ,
who sacriﬁced His very life in order that
we might be freed from sin’s bondage.
Fill our hearts with gratitude, and may our lives
reﬂect overﬂowing thankfulness
so that all who see may honor You.
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
1.James 1:17 2.I Timothy 6:17
The most helpful part of the book is how it has directed my attention to other books on prayer:
Alexander MacLaren, Pulpit Prayers
C H Spurgeon, The Pastor In Prayer
Richard Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer
Stormie Omartian, Powerful Prayers For Troubled Times
Richard Kriegbaum, Leadership Prayers
Those of the ones that I added to my reading list as a result of starting MacArthur’s book of prayers. Each reader will want to add their own selection as they continue to think about the role prayer will play in their own life.
Do you want to learn to pray? Begin by praying. Then read the prayers of those who have gone before - let them teach us.
Though I reside firmly in the Wesleyan/Arminian camp, I did attended a Calvinist leaning seminary and taught at a Reformed Church of America college during my career. I have heard and studied the arguments from both sides and have come to some conclusions on my own. Taking the time to read Horten and Olson has allowed me to revisit decisions that I made some 35 or more years ago. Those decisions have not changed, but these two books did allow me to rewalk a path that I traveled years ago.
Olson’s book is not so much a defense of a Wesleyan/Arminian faith, but a reflection of the problems presented by those who follow the teachings of John Piper or R C Sproul. Though I, as indicated above, did find myself immersed in their teaching, I have never read their writings. I found Horton’s and Olson’s books helpful in understanding the Calvinist position as it is being expounded in the first decade of the 21st century. Both draw on the writing of current propounders of Calvinism, but also draw heavily from those in both its early history and the more recent past of the 17th - 20th centuries.
Olson’s book is not merely a restatement of non-biblical writers, he also reflects on both the obvious and the more difficult passages of scripture - which one would expect from a well-written theology text.
Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism is recommended reading for those both in and out and on the fence as they relate to Calvinism. Reading Michael Horton and Roger Olson together is the best solution in studying and understanding the current issues involved in this five century old debate.