Thursday, June 30, 2011

Billy Graham in Quotes: A Review

I recently received a complimentary copy of Thomas Nelson's new book, Billy Graham in Quotes in exchange for an unbiased review.  The book is edited by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney.  It has an attractive cover and is well laid out and easy to maneuver through.
I must confess I absorbed the book and carried it from room to room reading large portions at one sitting.  I would wager that this is not how the book is meant to be digested, but I took some good lessons away from it nonetheless.  I see this book, which is almost 400 pages long, as a reference tool.  What does the most famous preacher of our time say about angels? Sin? Christianity? War?  The book gives over 100 topics in alphabetical order and each topic contains several quotes from Graham. 
I personally found the majority of the quotes on each topic quite generic.  To me, Graham's message is very plain and not nearly as inspiring as his life.  Those looking for deep theology, life-changing testimony or a biography of Graham will need to search out other sources.  This book would be a good resource for those preparing church newsletters or bulletins that need a brief quote to begin an article.
Overall, I give the layout and style a 4/5 stars, but the content 2/5.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My favorite Kenny Chesney song...

I have been in a nostalgic country music mood the last week or so.  I liked Kenny before he went to the beach...

"God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through."

Belonging

One of the greatest desires any of us face as human beings is a desire to belong.  Thousands of houses of worship, thousands more clubs and fraternities, millions of marriages...all bear out the fact that part of the human experience is to want to share that experience with others.

I must confess this has always been difficult for me; belonging that is.  I never seem to stay satisfied to be placed in one particular group and therefore excluded from others.  I consider myself to be an intensely private person although in my life I have always held very public jobs and positions.  I often don't feel capable of belonging (at least totally).  It is not so much that I desire to stand apart, in fact the opposite is true, but I don't feel able to give myself totally to a cause, a club, a community, a family, a friend group.  I am probably too suspicious of "joiners," but it has never been a role I am comfortable in.

Hopefully my fear of being truly known will be overcome by the desire to belong and I will begin to build relationships that are more positive and lasting.

I believe God made us to live in community, but I guess every community needs a loner or two.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"The tragedy of modern Christianity is that, even in the church, we have lost a sense of the holiness of God." -Leonard Ravenhill

Friday, June 24, 2011

"An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy." -Spanish proverb
"God is of an essence and substance the like of which nothing else exists in the universe." -A.W. Tozer

Thursday, June 23, 2011

St. Patrick of Ireland: Book Review for Thomas Nelson

I actually read this book several months ago but, due to some health challenges, am just now writing a review.  Jonathan Rogers' slim biography of the famous saint is part of the Christian Encounters Series, a series of biographies of well-known (and lesser know) Christians from Thomas Nelson Publishers.   The book is easy to read and and has a good overall layout.  The book, however, seems more like an introduction to Patrick rather than a detailed account of his life.  Part of this is due, of course, to the fact so little is actually known about the patron saint of Ireland.

As a young man, he was stolen from his native Scotland by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland.  During six years as a shepherd slave, he always longed for freedom.  Eventually he escaped and returned to Britain, but God's hand lead him back to the land of his captors.  Credited with baptizing thousands and converting the pagan Irish, he eventually came to be known as St. Patrick.

The book takes the reader beyond the many myths of Patrick's life while still admitting much of its story is conjecture.  The reader is certainly left with a better understanding of where Patrick came from and the faith that made his journey possible.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of an unbiased review.

The Athanasian Creed on the Trinity

I was in a Bible class last evening in which the topic of the Trinity was briefly discussed.  I have recently been doing some personal study on the characteristics of God.  During the course of this study I came across the Athanasian Creed.  While not as famous or widely used as the Apostles' or Nicene creeds, it explains the perplexing doctrine of the Trinity as thus:

"...That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity."

Now that is well-written and a great explanation of something that is not easily explained.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?  -Leonard Ravenhill
"Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic." -W.H. Auden

Monday, June 20, 2011

Foolish?

What would you say if someone called you foolish?  We think of the title of being a fool as an insulting thing.  Jesus even taught that someone who uses the word fool in an attack against another person is in danger of hell (Matthew 5:22).  Yet the apostle Paul describes the message of the Gospel as foolishness in 1 Corinthians 1.  What is the difference and how can we reconcile these messages?

I believe Jesus is saying that to pass judgment on another person puts one in danger of eternal punishment.  After all, when you call someone a fool you are assuming that you are more wise than they.  This wisdom might be called worldly wisdom or the wisdom of men.  When we judge by this standard, we are in grave danger.

Paul teaches that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise.  He speaks of the message of the Gospel as foolishness to Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews.  What I believe Paul is saying is that there is nothing rational about the Gospel message.  Many Christians today try to prove with apologetics and empirical facts the truth of the Gospel.  This is simply not possible nor is it necessary.  Christian faith requires that the believer agree to things that, from the perspective of worldly wisdom, seem quite foolish.  While faith can be supported by evidence, we cannot require evidence for every aspect of our faith.  We are blessed who have not seen and yet believe.

If we are to be fools, let us be fools for Christ and not the foolish followers of earthly wisdom.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Boulder to Birmingham

As the crow flies there are 1,120 miles between Boulder and Birmingham.  Talk about a desire to see someone...enjoy EmmyLou and we miss you Gram.



This is the best audio I could find from a live show...sorry no video.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Music


Music is a medium that reaches each of us in different ways. Some people love hymns and spirituals while other people prefer secular music. Music has the potential to build us up, but it can also cause us to have negative thoughts and a poor self-image. Explicit music (like movies) is rated and descibed and can only be purchased by adults.

What if positive music had ratings? Ratings like "Will Lift Your Spirits" or "Will Give You Better Self-Esteem." Obviously, positive music doesn't have to be rated: we just feel better when we hear it. Whether it is good, uplifting lyrics or a great beat and tempo, music can move us and make us better. I am amazed when I visit the nursing and retirement homes. Men and women who sometimes cannot remember their own names remember the words to "Amazing Grace" and "When We All Get to Heaven." These songs are more than words; they are the embodiment of sentiments that cannot be expressed in merely spoken language.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Civil Wars



Haunting song...and, yes, that is Joy Williams the Christian Contemporary artist now part of this awesome duo, The Civil Wars.