Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Touching His Robe, by Leslie Nelson

As someone who has had to counsel many people who are struggling with early childhood abuse, either sexual, verbal or physical, I found this book to be a refreshing short read that gave many good thoughts regarding healing. Leslie Nelson speaking from her own past has thought the topic through and sought out counseling, therapy, and religious answers to the hurt and pain that she has experienced.

One main point that she makes several times is that healing is a process and takes time. There is no a simple quick fix for your pain. Often times it can take years to come to a point where you feel total release of the past.

She offers many insights into the topic, but maybe the best insight ties right back to her title. If you are feeling pain, shame, distrust, guilt or whatever you may need to take the courageous step of walking after Christ and taking an opportunity to simply reach out and touch the hem of His garment with the desire to be healed.

As the woman in the Gospel of Luke who had the bleeding disorder for twelve years, she took a courageous step of making the Teacher unclean by touching his garment. Imagine her fear when Jesus stopped and asked, "Who touched me?" She was afraid that her boldness would come back to just bring her more ridicule as she had received for the last twelve years. But she took another bold step and came forward and said, "It was I." Jesus did not condemn her for her actions, but instead gave her a gracious loving response and told her that her faith had made her well. Jesus desires to bring healing to all of us no matter the horror or pain of our past. We need though to approach Him seeking forgiveness and healing.

There were a few things that Leslie mentioned about how to deal with Anger that I didn't quite agree, but you as a discerning reader will know what you are comfortable with or not.

I did appreciate her comments about forgiveness and her desire to remind us that forgiveness has a different definition for all of us. She was very assured in her thoughts though that forgiveness does not mean that the abuser is absolved of their actions. She rightfully reminds us that the abuser still has to face the consequences for their action. Her chapter on this subject is very well articulated.

As a lay person herself I think you will find that Leslie's thoughtful process and writing will bring a breath of healing to your soul as you deal with your past.

I know that I am going to recommend this book to many of those that I have counseled with.

I prayerfully consider you take and carefully read and ponder Leslie's words.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Yes or No, How your Everyday Decisions Will Forever Shape Your Life, by Jeff Shinabarger

In a world where we are faced with decisions that need to be made daily it sometimes appears that we can get stuck in the mud of indecision.  Now, the simple decisions are fine, such as Chocolate or Vanilla? Coke or Pepsi? A hamburger or soup? Those are the decisions that we don't usually flinch at.

But I counsel lots of people who have difficulty making decisions regarding larger issues.  Such as, should I buy this house or not? Should I drive a 10 year old car or get a new one? Should I stay at this job or take a different one that appears to have more potential?

Or maybe you are college student and you have to decide which major you want to pursue.  Believe it or not the average College Student changes major's four times.  Why do they do that?  Mainly because they haven't learned how to make a decision.

Jeff Shinabarger is giving us basic down-home common sense principles about how to make a decision. His chapters are well articulated and well thought out.  He has also put them in good order.  Three of my favorite chapters were;
     1. THIS OR THAT: What do you Do When you Don't Know What to Do?
     5. Problem Solvers; what will you be known for?
     6. Decision making styles; how do you naturally make choices?
     9. Welcome to the Table; invite others to advise you
    11. The Quiet in the Storm; Make time for solitude

The principles that he will lay out for you are solid and useful and should be taken to heart and put into action.  Jeff also provides a chapter on His Story so that you know what brought him to the point of writing this book.

You will find that his writing is from his experience and from his observations of life and people.  He hits the nail on the head and gives you great confidence to be able to make decisions.

Read, Think, Ponder, Enjoy!

Tea Beyond, tea pot and organic flowering tea plants

What a wonderful teapot. I was asked by Tea Beyond if I would be willing to sample their tea and their tea pot in exchange for a review. I must say that I am very happy that I agreed to their offer.

The teapot and three packages of Blooming Tea (4 tea blooms per package -- ten cups of tea per bloom) came in one box from Amazon. The glass pot was very well protected with plenty of bubble wrap for the pot, the tea canister and the butterfly lid. There was no damage.

(Please note that if you order the tea pot you have to then order the fab Blooming tea packages separately)

Upon unwrapping the pot I was a little bit disappointed because I thought that the glass blown pot would have a decorative flower on it as it seemed to show on the advertisement. But my disappointment did not last long.

I started to heat some water and opened one of the shrink wrapped foil containers with a Blooming Tea ball inside. Once I had the water to the right temperature I placed the tea ball in the canister insert and then poured the water.

Oh my gosh, what a surprise, as the water encircled the tea ball the magic started to happen. The ball started to open up and behold a beautiful flower came to life in the tea pot canister. Now, I understood the picture of the pot. The flower is not part of the glass pot, the flower is real and is the tea leaf product. My wife and I were amazed to watch it bloom and become a beautiful flower.

Then we waited for the tea to steep. After waiting the water started to turn a light shade of color, it became a bit darker, and then we poured ourselves a cup of tea. We were very pleased with the flavor and completely happy with the entire experience.

I couldn't wait to get up this morning to make another pot of tea so that I can watch the flower bloom. I have already gone out and order some more tea so that I can continue to have this great experience.

We are having guests over for dinner and they are very picky organic eaters, I think they are going to be completely pleased when I brew them a pot of tea on the dinner table for their enjoyment.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thoughts on Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

I have been pretty silent on the issue of Mars Hill Church and the turmoil that Mark Driscoll finds himself in. Many have asked about my thoughts and I have told them but have not put anything in writing.

Warren Throckmorton at Patheos.com has given very good coverage to the issues of Mars Hill and all that is happening. Some pundits find it satisfying that Mark Driscoll has stepped down as the Lead Pastor at Mars Hill.  But, we need to read the announcement carefully.  He has only taken a six-week leave of absence while the Elders review the charges against him.

What has brought this action about?  Well, the releasing of twenty plus pastors from their association and the resigning of many others has not been helpful. They were also charges of plagiarism (with documentation) in the recent past. Then the disclosure of the effort to manipulate the Book selling marketplace to get Driscoll’s book on the New York Times top 10 list.  Along with this are Mark’s own comments in sermons about certain pastors and leadership style.

These things bring to light what can only be thought of in my mind as Pride and Arrogance on the part of a Mega Church Senior Pastor. He believes he is above the bar when it comes to Christian Ethics and moral attitudes.  His attitudes as well as those of his Executive committee regarding ignoring the Orange County Commissioners and Zoning Planners is one example.  The Executive Committee told the local pastor to ignore the orders to vacate the property the church was using because it was not zoned properly.  They told the pastor, let them come after us and we will mount a campaign of religious persecution to shame them into relenting.  That is not what a Christian Ministry should do.

I believe that the Pride and Arrogance that we see in Pastor Driscoll is similar to the Pride and Arrogance that King David showed in his relationship with Bathsheba.  He refused to acknowledge his sin.  Thus God had to bring judgment on him and it cost the life of the child that was born to Bathsheba.  Even King David, a man after God’s own heart, could not avoid the sin of Pride and Arrogance in this situation.

Pastor Driscoll should acknowledge that his style of leadership is not that of a Shepherd Leader and not following Christian Ethics or Biblical principles.  He needs to face the music, accept the punishment that God sets forth and then realize that God will allow him to then be restored to ministry and allowed to again serve and serve faithfully.

We need to hold our mega church media favored Pastors to the same standard of any Pastor as Paul express to Timothy.  They need to be above reproach with not even a hint of scandal.

I pray that Mark Driscoll can come to see the error of his way.  I pray that those if us in Pastoral work can heed the examples of sin that are so straight forward in this case and repent of our evil ways and seek to serve God as good Shepherds of the Flocks that He has place under our care.

Let us remember that none of us are without sin.  God is merciful and righteous and forgives our sins when we confess them. He also loves to use sinful but repentant people to further His Kingdom.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frivolous Lawsuit filed against the Ferguson Police Department

When you hear about the $40 million dollar lawsuit being filed against the Ferguson Police Department you think that the family is trying to get some compensation for the death of their son Michael Brown.

But upon listening to the lawyer who has brought the lawsuit that is not the case. On national news this lawyer states, “If the Ferguson Police won’t police themselves then we will sue them and bankrupt them so that they can no longer function.”

Now, that is just downright stupid. You are angry that the police did something wrong and that the investigation seems to be dragging along.  So, now, let’s sue them, bankrupt them and get rid of law and order in the city of Ferguson.  I’m sorry but the citizens of Ferguson deserve police protection.  Yes, sometimes that goes wrong and there are consequences, but overall the department provides stability to a community.

If we use the same logic this lawyer is using then why don’t we sue the Federal Government, President Obama and the Attorney General’s office, along with the FBI.  They have all come in and declared that they will get to the bottom of the issue and as of today they have not finalized any investigation or brought any charges. 

So, if we use the same logic we ought to be bringing a lawsuit against the Federal Government!  How crazy does that sound.  But everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, so now, the court should throw out this lawsuit as frivolous.

I may be just an ignorant citizen, but I can see a problem when it presents itself clearly and this lawsuit is a problem.

Do I think that the family of Michael Brown should be able to file a lawsuit?  Yes, if that is what they want. But it should be for compensation for loss of income, loss of companionship, loss of a loved one.  It should not be with the intent to bankrupt a police force to shut them down.  Really, it won’t shut them down, it will if upheld just cause an insurance company to loose a bunch of money.

Really people, let’s be smarter than this and not allow outsiders to come in and raise up more trouble in the North Part of St. Louis.

What do you think?  Let me know?  If I am off base then speak up.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Further Thoughts on ISIS and the prophet Jonah!

Would you go to ISIS and declare God’s judgment if He asked you to?

The Prophet’s of the Old Testament were a rare breed of character.  They usually were shunned by society and appeared often to be outcasts.  I believe the main reason for this is the message that God asked them to bring.  Israel had been rebelling against God for a long time and the Prophet’s brought God’s message of repent or be destroyed.

Jonah was no exception to this.  He was asked by God to go to Nineveh and express God’s outrage to the people and inform them that He had seen their evil and thus He was going to destroy them.

We all know that Jonah went the other way.  He ignored God, but then God gave him a second chance to go and deliver the message.  When he delivered it the people repented and God relented, satisfied that they had turned from their evil ways.

In our Community Group the other night one of our members, a former Marine, said, “You know, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is like Nineveh, I wonder how we would react if God asked us to go the ISIS and call them out about their sin and tell them to repent or be destroyed by God.” It was an interesting thought given that ISIS is in the same area that Nineveh had been.

It also gave a good reminder about how I would feel regarding going to ISIS territory and declaring God’s judgment, it gave me a reference point to know how Jonah must have felt.  If I set foot in ISIS territory and declared their demise I’m pretty confident that I would lose my head at the hands of these criminals.

Jonah felt the same fear, the Ninevites were not a people to be trifled with.  They took great pleasure in killing Jews.  ISIS takes great pleasure in killing Christians, as well as non-violent Muslims.

So, how would you respond if God called you to go to the Middle East and deliver His message of repent or die to the men of ISIS?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Know The Heretics, by Justin Holcomb

What a wonderful short book about the main Heresies that arose in the early times of the developing Christian Church. I have read many different books on this subject over the years but found that this was one that I could quickly devour and then recommend to the many students and congregation members that I know would love to learn about this subject.

I think the "Know" series of books is a great way for small groups to go through a topic together and learn. After having read through this I'm going to get 10 copies for our small group and we are going to make this as our first study this fall. Some of the heresies that he writes about are well known and some not so much. But what is interesting is that all of these heresies started long ago but if you start to understand them you can see that they are still present in our culture today. Many people are being swayed away from the Bible and the true Gospel Message because they at times feel God is harsh. They just don't fully understand His nature.

But when you think God is harsh or cruel or mean then you have a tendency to try and soften the message or the text of scripture and that leads to false teaching and leading people astray.

If you have never read anything about the Heretics that confused the early church members then this wonderful little book is perfect for your primer on the topic.