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Archive for June, 2010

This past weekend, I was humbled to be asked by the leadership of the Church of the Cove in our favorite town of Townsend, TN to preach at it’s two services. On most weekends, it would be close to impossible to be able to go with short notice but God made it happen through the awesome acts of others. On the way home, I started to make a list in my head of all the blessings that came together to be able to go this past weekend (as well as a few extras for good measure).

– The elders of the Church of the Cove being kind enough to invite me
– My wife being quick to being open to the trip and sharing it with me
– My wife is currently using vacation days to take Mondays off which gave us freedom to go
– A massive outreach event we had planned for last saturday was moved a few weeks ago that would have kept me home
– Amber just came home from a three-week trip and was able to play bass in my place at a concert we were doing in Marion on Saturday
– Katie agreed to share a message on Sunday at The Shepherd’s Fellowship even though she was getting ready for the fair which is a HUGE time consumer for her family
– The elders from The Shepherd’s Fellowship being on the same page as me to minister to a sister church
– Well wishes and prayers from people here at home
– A couple from the Church of the Cove let us stay in one of their cabins for free
– Prayer over me by those at the church
– Kind, kind words by those who were there
– A family from the church bought our lunch without our knowledge until after they left the restaurant
– An offer from one local business owner for a day of horse riding and zip line usage (which we weren’t able to do but appreciated)
– Another offer to join a family for lunch at Subway that we weren’t able to do
– Able to be at the renewing of vows of a couple we care about and are still praying for
– Getting to see several friends who I usually have to settle for Facebook contact with
– and to top it all off, God let us finally see a bear up close and personal at Cades Cove as it got a little rest and water

I am sure I am forgetting other blessings as this weekend played out and I apologize if I am. I mostly wanted to take a moment and thank God and those who were willing to be used by Him that made this past weekend so special for us…. Still praying for Church of the Cove…….

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OK, let me cut to the chase of it….. if you’re looking for a devotional… buy this book! Now! Stop reading, go to your local Christian bookstore, and buy this book!

I am very picky when it comes to devotionals. For the most part, I just don’t like them. They are either new, trendy and shallow or they were written 100 years ago and have great but hard to read content. We make it a practice to do devotions as a family in the morning and half the time, it is more about spending time together and showing Emily (our 4-year-old) that quiet time is important than having impactful experiences. Am I depressing you yet?

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OK, with my normal book reviews I have to do the whole legal thing of saying I got this book for free in exchange for a review. Not so this time, I had the get the book all on my own (what’s up with that Mr. Kluck?) and then I decided to do a review.

Kinda Christianity is a tongue in cheek, sarcastic little book that is a play off of Brain Mclaren’s book “A New Kind of Christianity”. If you are looking for a book that debates the points Mr. Mclaren made in his book, this is not it. If you’re looking for a book that digs into the theology of Emergent verses the traditional Christian standard, keep looking (Maybe towards “Why We’re Not Emergent by the same author). If you’re looking for a funny take on the stereotypes with Emergent’s loudest voices that bust through the smoke screen of defenses to deflect from the errors with the Emergent movement….. one that will make you laugh and say “That’s not right….” at the same time….. BINGO! You found it!

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My daughter (4 years old) stresses a lot when we are driving places because she wants to be in control but doesn’t know anything about driving. This morning, I was driving her to grandma’s house and she got all bent out of shape because she felt I missed the road she thought we should turn on. She couldn’t see ahead that we hadn’t gotten to it yet. I asked her to trust me but she continued to stress until we turned on the road and she saw everything was ok. It was a big waste of stress and fussing on her part if she had just trusted me. Made me wonder how many times I do that to God….. the turn in the road is just ahead…..

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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If you are looking for a great book with loads of detailed information on the life of and surrounding Billy Graham, this is a great one for your library. If you want more of the heart, humor, and wisdom of Billy Graham, pick up  the books of interviews between Rev. Graham and David Frost. Between the two (add in Billy Graham’s “Just as I Am”) and you’ll have a good picture of the man, at least as much as you can from a distance.

Now, back to this book. Like I said before, if you want information, this is the book. I knew before I read the book that the author used to be a correspondent for Time magazine but if I did not know, I would have known by the end of the second chapter. While the first chapter really drew me in and got me excited exploring deeper into this great man’s life, the rest read more like a great college thesis paper. Don’t get me wrong, it is so worth it but it’s not my normal style of reading.

The chapter topics are chosen well to organize the topics that cover his life from ministry to relationships with presidents over the years. The details of the information go back and forth over the pages which are hard to follow at times but comprehensive. It details a day and age that was tailored made for the impact of the Billy Graham legacy. It leaves me realizing that Billy Graham would not be able to have the same impact he has had in today’s enviroment. The message is the same but the enviroment was ripe for his rise as one of God’s instruments.

I loved the book though it was hard to follow here and there. If you have any interest in the man and his ministry, it’s a must have.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Yesterday, while studying for the message for Sunday, the song “While I’m Waiting” from John Weller came on. This song has been following me for a long time and got me to thinking about the road I have been on for the last year and a half.

See, back in September of 2008, I was at a convention in Nashville for Christian booksellers and they were previewing the movie “Fireproof” for us before it came out in theaters. When I came in, they had already started with different people involved in the project were talking. I found a place just inside the door to stand and listen before trying to find a seat in the 200 person auditorium. Beside me stood a man who stood out to me for no particular reason and I was trying to figure if I knew him or not. About that time, they called him to the stage to perform the one of the songs from the movie, “While I’m Waiting”. I had never heard of John Weller at that point and still don’t know why he stood out to me. (I wrote more about this night on another blog back then which you can find here.)

From that blog, this is how that song hit me that night….

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First, an apology…. I received this book from Thomas Nelson for free in exchange for a legit review. The only thing they asked is that the review go out on Memorial Day. Sadly, I missed that date and apologize for being tardy.

 Now, to the review….

In an effort for full disclosure, I did not think I was going to be real fond of this book due to my past experience of reading “Pagan” by Frank Viola and some of the things I had heard on Leonard Sweet. Then I read the “Introduction” and thought “Wow!” My expectations went up as I highly agreed with the authors that the modern church is struggling when it comes to Christ. That in the past, the church had a problem with understanding the human side of Chris but that it now embraces the human side while losing touch with the Divine. That’s been a dynamic switch in just the last 10-15 years. We need a healthy understanding of both as Christ was 100% both.

Then, I got into the book and it became what I thought it would be and I was disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many wonderful points, concepts and truths about Christ in the writings but you have to bring a balanced outlook to it. They have a position that everything is about Christ, everything is to be seen through Christ,  and drive that point home over, over, and over. It comes off like a college professor telling you any other way of looking at things is ignorant and a lessor understanding. I had the same problem with “Pagan” (which was a book I was excited to get until I read). It’s very much, “this is my take on things and everyone else is off base”.

So what is wrong with everything being about Jesus? There was no balance of the importance of the Trinity. Through the book, it kept referring that they would talk more about the Trinity in chapter 10. Chapter 10 was seriously lacking. Even Jesus said he does nothing of His own accord but only does what His Father is doing. It’s cool if they were saying, “Here’s an interesting way of reading the Bible. Read it from the beginning to end through the lens of Jesus and you’ll be amazed.” I say the same thing to others about reading the Bible from beginning to end through the lens of seeing God’s redemptive plan of bringing people back to Him. But to say it’s the only way and all else is wrong….. it’s pretty unbalanced.

I also struggle when things are twisted a tad to make the point the author wants to make. For instance, chapter 6 is started by quoting a tweet that said “There is no greater cause that you can give your life to than the cause of Jesus Christ.” The author then puts “Hmmm….so now Jesus Christ is a cause”. They start saying that this mentality reduces Jesus to nothing more than any other cause page on Facebook. Now, do you see what they did? The person who sent the tweet never said Jesus was a cause. They twisted it to the point they wanted to make and that drives me crazy! The cause of Jesus Christ seems to be the Great Commission. That doesn’t just sound like a great cause, it seems like the only one that encompasses all else!

At another point, they list names of Christian Living books that make it all about the individual and they want to turn those points that focus to you and correct them by turning them back to Jesus. Come on, guys. There is a place for all of these books (even the ones I don’t like personally) and we don’t need to tear other resources down by name to make a point. It’s one thing if they were heretical but it’s another if it’s just another point of view or talking about another area of Christian living you are not passionate about.

Another thing that bugs me is when people “count” how many times they hear a word and make big deductions about it. Let me explain. At one point, they say they have each gotten into the habit of counting how often they hear preachers say the name “Jesus Christ” and since they don’t hear the name as often as they like, it’s a sign of the bigger problem. Can we judge content on content please? I remember in the late 80’s (yes I remember the late 80’s) when a local pastor wrote a critical review of a Michael W. Smith CD saying Smith was of Satan because none of the songs on the CD said “Jesus” in them. I wrote back the list of songs I could put on a classic hymns CD (then cassette) that don’t mention Jesus in them as well but are very God centered. Stop using small observations to make big points.

That said, there is a great section on “Bethany” that I am going to use as a catalyst to study more. But for the most part, you can go to your local Christian bookstore (the only place you should buy your books as you support local ministry unless if you don’t have one), pick up the book, turn to page 22. read the full paragraph under the title “The Person-Driven Life” (which I assume is a twist on “Purpose Driven Life” that ironically starts with the phrase “It’s not about you!”), and then put the book down. You will get from that paragraph what the rest of the book is trying to say.

Again, can be an interesting read for many but don’t get as militant as the authors on it. Please.

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