Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surprised by Oxford not surprising

I recently completed Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber.  The memoir tells the story of one woman's search for faith amid the academic and social circles of Oxford University.  Weber, affectionately known as "Caro" throughout the work, moves from a hardened position of unbelief to a reborn, reawakened Christian by story's end.

The book moves along briskly through the opening chapters following Oxford's unique term schedule as a guide for the story.  About the time of Weber's conversion, however, the work begins to drag a bit.  While I understand that a memoir has to work within the confines of the facts, Weber seemed to convert too early in the story.  The male figure "TDH" is memorable (and we later find a major influence on Weber spiritually and otherwise) and the supporting characters are all very real.  The main conflict does not seem to be between Weber and God but rather between Weber and reason, family and ambition.

Overall, the book was good if predictable.  Not everyone who pursues God will find as much support as Weber does from her motley crew of classmates and professors.  For others the process of conversion will be similiar.

Two aspects I loved about the book: the length of the individual chapters and the quotes/poems/epigrams that appeared constantly in the work.  As a student of literature, it was good to be reminded of Donne, Hopkins, Coleridge, Blake, Milton and others.

I would recommend the book to people who enjoy academics and questions of faith.  I think the average Christian reader might find some of the material a little too deep for an enjoyable read.

Overall, I give the book 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Often the darkest things within ourselves become the keys by which we open ourselves to God, to His healing, and to a better comprehension of grace."
-Surprised by Oxford

Friday, August 26, 2011

Prodigal son story from the father's perspective






Well, I woke one morning, found you staring down at me
You said "I'll take my share now, father please"
And you took your money and you took your leave
You drilled my heart and turned your back on me

And you hit the town and you hit the bottle hard
You race 'round in your fancy cars and you blow all your money
On brothels, beds, and bars
Before you know your broken times get hard

I still stand here waiting with my eyes fixed on the road
And I fight back tears and I wonder if you're ever coming home
Don't you know son that I love you
And I don't care where you've been, so please come home

And now you've hit bottom, all those open doors have shut
And you're hungry stomach's tied in knots
But I know what you're thinking, that you troubled me enough
Nothing could ever separate you from my love

I still stand here waiting, with my eyes fixed on the road
And I fight back tears and I wonder if you're ever coming home
Don't you know son that I love you
And I don't care where you've been
Yes and I'll be right here waiting, 'til you come around the bend

And I run to you and hold you close, won't let go again
So please come home, please come home
Don't you know son that I love you?
And I don't care where you've been, so please come home

Happy 24th!

Happy 24th birthday to my sister, Sarah Beth! 
I am so proud of my sister and the person she is. 
Looking forward to celebrating tonight with our family. 
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult; and left untried."
-G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When I am doing well, let me thank God.
When I am living in doubt, let me ask God.
When I am confident, let me find humility before God.
When I make a mistake, let me trust God.
When I am in need of love, let me turn to God.
When I am lonely, let me know the presence of God.
When I want to give up, let me remember God.
When I think it will never get better, let me choose God.
In all things let me simply know God.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I went through Amarillo about 1:00 AM on my way to a missionary conference in Lubbock. We drove all day straight from Tennessee in a crowded church bus. One of the greatest trips I ever took with college friends. Here is a little George Strait for all those pulling long nights tonight.

Muppets!

"I'd rather have friends than money, provided my friends have money."
-Marshall Keeble

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is that a Razorback?


Saw this on Facebook and had to repost.  Great omen for Arkansas fans.
"Some days it's ok for things to not be rationally true."
-Hank Green

I find myself often believing in things that are not rationally true. 
A great number of things I believe to be true are not rational. 
My belief in an unseen spiritual realm. 
My belief in my glorified, resurrected body spending eternity in the presence of an unseen, all-powerful Deity. 
Even my belief that the Cardinals might still catch the Brewers in the NL Central race.

Just because something seems irrational is no reason to stop believing. 
Flying machines once seemed irrational and yet da Vinci sketched them 400 years before they were built.  And they were built and now have traveled even beyond our solar system. 
Mass produced books once seemed a pipe dream and now we not only got them (eventually millions of titles available for mere pennies apiece) we have replaced them with Kindles, iPads and smart tablets. 
Personal computers?  Once thought entirely to be the stuff of science fiction.
We can talk on phones that aren't connected to any visible conveying agent to people in space.

Whenever someone tells you your beliefs or goals are irrational, simply smile and remember that with enough faith and determination, anything is possible.

Prayers for Pat

As someone who has met Coach Summitt on a couple of occassions and who shares mutual friends, I was upset to hear of Pat's illness.  She says it plainly and honestly like she always has.  Our prayers are with Pat, her family, her friends and Volunteer Nation.

http://espn.go.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/6888321/tennessee-lady-vols-pat-summitt-early-onset-dementia
"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"
-Benjamin Franklin

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Secret Sisters again...

Great article about Lydia and Laura...so glad to see these young women having success!

Opportunities to help

Each trip to my mailbox these days has brought more letters and requests for help on various projects.  It seems the phrase "one-time donation" did not convince these faithful organizations that I was, in fact, only going to help out one time. 

I am thankful for all the great organizations I have been able to be a part of over the last few years.  I am even thankful that they send me requests for more funds.  This allows me to know that they are serious about whatever cause they represent.  We have so much in the world that needs doing and we are the ones to do it.

One organization that I am particularly proud to partner with is Compassion International (see banner in sidebar).  For only $38 a month, I am able to help Compassion raise a child out of poverty.  I enjoy receiving letters from Oswaldo, my 12-year-old sponsored child from Ecuador.  I am able to send him notes, cards and letters and we talk about many things (with the help of translators).  In his last letter he asked me, "Did Jesus have children?"  His innocence and sense of wonder is astounding.  I am so glad I get to be a part of his life.

Whatever way you choose to help others know that people do appreciate your efforts.  From putting change in a jar at the checkout line to writing a large check to volunteering your time, we all need to find ways to make a difference.

Have a blessed day helping others!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choices

George Jones lays out the fact that life revolves the choices we make.  While we might not all struggle with the issues that Jones sings about, it is true that we are all "livin' and dyin' with the choices" we make.  Remember that in every situation you have a choice.  Doing the right thing may be difficult, but our choices will determine our destiny.



Friday, August 19, 2011

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."
-Hudson Taylor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School starts back

When I was a child, one of my favorite experiences each year was the return of school in August.  I always enjoyed school and school activities and never dreaded the prospect of returning to the classroom.  August meant the start of preseason football, being assigned new teachers and seeing which friends were in each class.

When college arrived, I continued to look forward to the start of school.  After my freshman year, I always arrived back on campus early to help the new students move into the dorms.  It was always exciting to learn what everyone had done over the summer and to start the year together.

Best wishes to those, young and old, who are starting a new school year.  May you learn much and enjoy your experiences!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sharing troubles

It has been said that troubles or worries kept to one's self will only multiply while trouble shared is divided and therefore easier to bear.  I am not sure what I think about that sentiment, but I was able to mutually share some troubles and worries with a couple of great friends this week.
My two friends are very different from each other, but all of us have experienced ups and downs since college.  Both of my friends are in graduate programs and hearing their insights about romance, education, politics and religion was refreshing.  I am seldom around people my own age especially people struggling with some of the same questions I wrestle with.  This week proved very positive as I was able to look back over the last decade and see how my life has grown and changed. 
Having old friends is a blessing and seeing them is even better.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"It requires less character to discover the faults of others, than to tolerate them."
-J. Petit Senn


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Link to Secret Sisters

Here is a link to the previously posted video:

http://www.yallwire.com/player/thesecretsistersinterview.html?1=1&detect_bitrate=_2000

Had to removed embeding for some reason.  Enjoy!

Blog malfunction

Forgive me if sme of you get several e-mail updates of test posts.  I have had a malfunction on the blog and it is acting strangely.

-Will

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Music travels the same path our hearts travel. Heaven will be the end of that path."
-Anonymous comment left on "Music of Eternity" post

Thanks for reading and sharing!
"The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Music of Eternity

Music is one of the most profound ways human beings connect to one another.  Melodies and lyrics can transport us to different places and remind us of a higher purpose.  Singing is something that we all do as children to learn and to have fun.  Many of us as adults have favorite songs and artists and spend a good deal of time involved in music.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Gospel singing tonight at the congregation where I grew up. Many old, familiar faces were there including several, like me, who have gone on to worship at other places. The singing was wonderful with many different styles, voices and eras of songs represented. Many young children were there along with many senior citizen saints. We sang for over an hour and a half and then enjoyed refreshments.
It was a lovely evening.
The only thing bad about a night described above is that it has to end. People must rest, return to work or school and do other activities. What a blessing to know that in Heaven the praise will never end. The Scriptures describe the saints of all the ages gathered in the throne room of God singing the songs of Moses and the Lamb. We will sing with the apostles, the prophets and our saved loved ones who have gone before us. We will sing the songs of redemption. The songs of liberation. The songs that only the redeemed can sing.  All of those millions upon millions of voices will blend in perfect harmony to praise the Voice that spoke worlds into existence.
Next time you hear a favorite song remember that as a person of faith you have a future filled with music.
 
"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 4, 2011

College friends

Next week I am planning on seeing a couple of college friends I have not seen in several years.  Much of my college experience was social and I miss having close friends of my same age and background.  Both of these friends have been busy with graduate school and I love hearing about all their adventures.  Friendship is a great feeling and being able to relate to other people is a blessing.  Looking forward to reunions, big and small.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New sister in Christ

This evening I was privileged to be able to baptize my friend, Rachel.  Over the past seven years of knowing Rachel and her family, I have seen her make great strides to become the person God would have her to be.  Like with many of us, Rachel's spiritual path has not always been clear and smooth, but seeds planted many years ago and watered by the love of friends and family have brought her to this point.  I am proud to have played some small part in her growth and I hope to continue to be a help to her on her Christian journey.

God, bless Rachel as she begins a new phase of spiritual life.  Keep her always focused on You and Your will for her life.  Bless her husband, parents, brothers and sisters as they aid her in this journey.  May You be glorified in her life always.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name."
-Psalm 100