Thursday, April 29, 2010

By Terri McCormick, M.A.

OVERVIEW: What Sex Is a Republican ? takes a look at the political game from behind the curtain with one intention: to call on each of us to serve in our local, state and federal governments. The principles of republican government have been lost on the money changers in our state and national capitols. There is only one way to change that. We the people must take responsibility for what our government has become while we weren't looking. As he left Liberty Hall upon signing the Constitution of the Untied States, Benjamin Franklin was asked, "What kind of government did you give us?" Franklin replied, "A republic, if you can keep it!"

AUTHOR: Terri McCormick, is a former legislator and congressional candidate who is a woman. According to her friends and foes alike, "Terri has been battle tested in state and federal politics." An advocate for political and government reform and change, former Representative Terri McCormick has proven time and again that "ideas" trump "career politicians" and their trysts and turns. She is a public and leadership innovator. She is the President of the McCormick Dawson CPG, Ltd, a marketing and public relations firm. Terri McCormick was a state Representative to the Wisconsin Legislature from 2000 to 2006. She is a Wisconsin Truman Scholar.

MY REVIEW:  The sub-title of the book is: Stories from the Front Lines in American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are. The thrust of this book is that it is a call to service for each of us. If I was trying to sum it up in a crude way, I would say, "Politically things are in a mess and it is not going to get any better until we do something about it." Immediately a question comes to mind, "What can we do?" Terri McCormick points out what needs to be done and how to do it as plainly as she can. You may not agree with what she says--or you may, but you will need to read the book to form your own opinion.

I agree with most of what she says. And I strongly agree with what she says is the three major changes that must take place. First, there should be term limits for all legislators to stop the pursuit of power for power's sake. Second, we the people need to study and engage in our government through the U.S. Constitution. Third, we must ensure that the checks and balances of ur three branches of government are working, as the U.S. Constitution intended.

Radio personality, Jeanne Anthony said: "This book should be required reading for every government and politics class in the country." I'm not in a position to know what should be required reading for these classes but I do recommend the book and I know it certainly wouldn't hurt them to read it and it would do them a lot of good.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I hope she is right. I want her to be.

Our friend said, "Your home is an oasis. We seem to always be visiting after a death in our family or problems back home."

This time they were coming from Texas where they had gone for a memorial service for a dear relative. They stopped off in Arizona on their way back to California.

So if you have come to my blog and wondered where I was or if you have missed me visiting your blog, it is because we have been busy enjoying the company of dear friends.

I don't see our home as an oasis but we do try to offer genuine hospitality: (1) We drop our routine and try to create a schedule more encouraging to our friends. (2) We alter our eating schedule, style and choice of food. (3)We don't watch our favorite sports, news, etc. on T.V. unless everybody wants to watch. And we don't force our wonderful family DVD's on them. Although we would dearly love to. The bottom line is we try not to do anything to annoy the daylights out of them and make them never want to come back  but to provide a place of refuge and rest where they know they are loved and cared for.

Charlotte and I find joy in being able to open our home to our friends and loved ones. It gets us out of a rut and onto the open road of new adventures. But it does take us away from the daily and the usual---which is good. But that's where we have been. We hope you missed us. We missed you!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

(One of my favorite books of all time is Ken Gire's Windows of the Soul. The following words are from that book.)

"Man shall not live by bread alone," Jesus said, "but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." If this is true, our very lives depend on those words. They are, in fact, the daily bread of our soul. But what are those words? And where do we find them?

Through the prophet Isaiah, God provides a clue. "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Many have understood this passage as a reference to the Scriptures, thinking if a verse is quoted in conversation, or if a pamphlet of verses is put in a sack lunch for the homeless, or if a Bible is put into the hands of a skeptic, fruit will come from it. Often, though, our experience proves otherwise. The passage, in fact suggest otherwise.

Look deeper into the analogy. It compares the word that goes out of God's mouth to the rain and snow that go out of the sky. When rain or snow falls to the ground, it trickles into streams, pools into lakes, filters into subterranean wells. Dip your hand in a lake, and there is rain channeled from the mountains and snow melted from its peaks. Dig a well, and there also is something of the rain. Peer into the stem of a honeysuckle, and there a nectared tear wept by rain. Crush it and out comes a drop of what was once rain. Bite into a peach, and there is something of the winter snow mingled with spring showers in its succulent juices. Even in the desert, where there seems no trace of moisture, you can cut open a saguaro cactus and find something of the rain reservoired inside.

Like rain and snow, the word of God permeates the earth. To say God's word can be found only in certain places, like the Bible, for example, is to say, in effect, that rain water can be found only in lakes where it is most visible. But everywhere we look there are traces of His word. In history. In the circumstances of our lives. In every nook of humanity and every crannied flower of creation.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

(If you come to my blog on a regular basis, you know that I like Barbara Brown Taylor's book, An Altar in the World. I am quoting from it again today.)

Deep suffering makes theologians of us all. The questions people ask about God in Sunday school rarely compare with the questions we ask while we are in the hospital. This goes for those stuck in the waiting room as well as those in actual beds. ...To spend one night in real pain is to discover depths of reality that are roped off while everything is going fine. Why me? Why now? Why this?

These are natural questions to ask when you are in pain, but they are just as relevant when you are in pleasure. Who deserves the way a warm bath feels on a cold night after a hard day's work? Who has earned the smell of a loved one, embracing you on your first night back home? To hold a sleeping child in your arms can teach you more about the meaning of life than any ten books on the subject. To lie in the yard at night looking up at the stars can grant you entrance into divine mysteries that elude you inside the house.

The daily practice of incarnation--of being in the body with full confidence that God speaks the language of flesh--is to discover a pedagogy that is as old as the gospels. Why else did Jesus spend his last night on earth teaching his disciples to wash feet and share supper? With all the conceptual truths in the universe at his disposal, he did not give them something to think about together when he was gone. Instead, he gave them concrete things to do--specific ways of being together in their bodies--that would go on teaching them what they needed to know when he was no longer around to teach them himself.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I love the following passage from 2 Corinthians 1:4

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 

Isn't that good?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It looks like this is my week for getting "stuff" fixed. Some weeks are like that.

We've had the thing for almost seven years. I'm amazed it worked so long, so well. We bought it just before we retired. Unlike most preachers I watch a lot of television. Or maybe I should say, unlike most preachers I tell the truth about how much television I watch. So we bought a big screen television. It's wonderful for watching sports. Hey, it's wonderful for watching just about anything you want to watch.

Yesterday we had to have a fan replaced. The fan only cost 39.00 but they charged $240.00 to put it in. Oh well, it's worth it. I've got a lot of watchin' to do.

Went to the dentist today to have my teeth cleaned. I should have suspected something when the hygienist kept complimenting my teeth and gums. The dentist came in and told me I needed to replace a small piece of gold on one of my crowns. Oh well, it's worth it. I have a lot of chewing to do. Except ice cream is what I like most and that doesn't require much chewing.

When I set out to write this post I thought I had several things to write about. But it's only two. I can hardly believe it. It sure seemed like more when I first thought about it. Oh well, it's only Tuesday. Who knows what Wednesday will bring.


Friday, April 16, 2010

One of my favorite Scriptures in all of the Bible is Genesis 50:20

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." NIV

Have you ever been falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned, ignored and maligned.

Have any or all of these things happened to you?

I have been falsely accused, ignored and maligned. And I didn't like it one bit!

When bad "stuff" is happening to us we feel sorry for ourselves and wonder where God is and why He is allowing this to happen to us.

When I am "down in the dumps" or "have the blues" this Scripture always helps.

Yes, there's no getting around it, this is bad. BUT God.....


And when I look back--- and I have had a lot of time to look back, every time IT has been for my good.

Thank you God!


As through the land at eve we went,
  And pluck'd the ripen'd ears,
We fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out I know not why,
  And kiss'd again with tears.
And blessing on the falling out
  That all the more endears,
When we fall out with those we love,
  and kiss again with tears!
For when we came where lies the child
  We lost in other years,
There above the little grave,
O there above the little grave,
  We kiss'd again with tears.
                                 From "The Princess"
                              By Alfred Lord Tennyson


Thursday, April 15, 2010

(I love these wise words from Barbara Brown Taylor)

The next time you go to the grocery store, try engaging the cashier. You do not have to invite her home for lunch or anything, but take a look at her face while she is trying to find "arugula" on her laminated list of produce.

Here is someone who exists even when she is not ringing up your groceries, as hard as that may be for you to imagine. She is someone's daughter, maybe someone's mother as well. She has a home she returns to when she hangs up her apron here, a kitchen that smells of last night's supper, a bed where she occasionally lies awake at night wresting with her own demons and angels. Do not go too far with this or your risk turning her into a character in your own novel, which is a large part of her problem already. It is enough for you to acknowledge her when she hands you your change.

"You saved eleven dollars and six cents by shopping at Winn Dixie today," she says, looking right at you. All that is required of you is to look back. Just meet her eyes for a moment when you say, "Thanks." Sometimes that is all another person needs to know that she has been seen--not the cashier but the person--but even if she does not seem to notice, the encounter has occurred. You noticed, and because you did, neither of you will ever be quite the same.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Most of the books I receive I am given in return for an honest review. But some of the books come to me free with no requirements. I am free to tell you about them but cannot quote from them because they are advance reader's copies and are uncorrected and not for sale. Here are a few I would like to tell you about:

KEEPER by Kathi Appelt
Kathi Appelt follows up her Newberry Honor Book bestseller,The Underneath with a tale that will pull right at your very core. Ten year old Keeper knows who can make things right: Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother who swam away when Keeper was just three. A blue moon calls the mermaids to gather at the sandbar, and that's exactly where Keeper is headed--in a small boat, in the middle of the night, with only her dog BD (Best Dog), and a seagull named Captain. When the riptide pulls at the boat tugging her away from the shore and deep into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in, and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the blue moon isn't magic and maybe the sandbar won't sparkle with mermaids and maybe--Oh, no..."Maybe" is just too difficult to bear.

The New York Times calls Dave Barry "The funniest man in America." I'm not sure that is true, but he is funny and this is a funny book. As with most comedians, Dave uses some words that are not a part of my daily vocabulary. In spite of that, I find his stories hilarious. Of the eighteen stories I laughed the most at: The Elephant and the Dandelion (A Defense of Men), If You Will Just Shut Up, I Can Explain: A Man Answers Questions from Women, Dance Recital, and Colonoscopy. If you tend to the prudish side--don't buy this book. Don't forget. I warned you! But if you need some laughter in your life, run out and get this one.

THE LOST SUMMER of LOUISA MAY ALCOTT a novel by Kelly O' Connor McNees
Readers across generations have laughed and cried with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women. And there has never been a more beloved heroine in the history of American letters than Jo March, Louisa's alter ego and an iconic figure of independent spirit and big dreams. But as Louisa knew all too well, big dreams often come at a cost. In her debut novel, Kelly O'Connor McNees deftly mixes fact and fiction as she imagines a summer lost to history, carefully purged from Louisa's letters and journals, a summer that would change the course of Louisa's writing career--and inspire the story of love and heartbreak between Jo and Laurie, Jo's kindred spirit.

I agree with author Terry Gamble who said, "A superb, thoughtful and deliciously paced book that will hook lovers of history and Alcott alike.I enjoyed it tremendously."


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I have long been convinced that pain brings out the best in people along with the worst.

In years of counseling,the one topic I discussed with people of all ages, was pain.

Barbara Brown Taylor said, "Pain makes theologians of us all."

Those words have stuck with me. I can't get them out of my head.


I could go on to tell you what she says about pain and why she thinks it makes theologians of us all.
But I'm not going to. If I did you would just think about it for a while. You would either agree with it or the debate would begin. Her words would give you something to debate.

This way you have only yourself to reason with and that's what I want you to do.

Pain is nonnegotiable. You can try to avoid it. You can deny it. You can numb it and fight it. Or you can engage it and give it your full attention.

Where is God in all of this?

Any ideas?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Please listen to the following message and encourage your friends to listen also. I don't usually ask people to do this. Most of the time I feel like intelligent people will do what they feel in their heart they want to do and do what is right without being told or that they just don't care. So either way, I don't ask them to forward messages or copy messages. I just put it out there and let them do what they want. But this time I feel so strongly about this message that I am asking, please help get the message out that we need to pray for our nation. PLEASE!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

I do some picking and choosing when I go to my holy book for proof that the world is holy too, but the evidence is there. People encounter God under shady oak trees, on riverbanks, at the tops of mountains, and in long stretches of barren wilderness. God shows up in whirlwinds, starry skies burning bushes, and perfect strangers. When people want to know more about God, the son of God tells them to pay attention to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, to women kneading bread and workers lining up for their pay.

This is wonderful news. I do not have to choose between the Sermon on the Mount and the magnolia trees.

(The above words are not mine. I wish they were but they are not. They are the words of Barbara Brown Taylor from her book, An Altar in the World)


Friday, April 09, 2010

Exercise has never been "my thing."

Some people love it. They step out with purpose. Their eyes sparkle. They whistle as they walk.

Not me! No stepping out with purpose, no sparkle--definitely no whistling. I barely breath.

Until one day, "out of the blue," I started singing along with Kenny Rogers and Dottie West.

"Your back in my arms back where you belong, the love that I knew, is living again and nothing else matters girl, we're together again...... "

I smiled, stepped out with purpose, and even did a little dance step.

But then "out of the blue" in my minds eye I saw an image of Buzz Aldrin on Dancing With The Stars.

I knocked off the dancing immediately. But I hummed along with Kenny and Dottie all the way home.

I'm sitting here this morning half awake trying to get up enough moxie to get ready for Tai Chi class.

Hey, I wonder if my instructor would let me listen to Kenny and Dottie? I wear earphones.

Nah, we exercise in front of a big mirror. Not even Kenny and Dottie can overcome that sight!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

(I love Barbara Brown Taylor's book An Altar in the World the following excerpts are from that book)

The artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who became famous for her sensuous paintings of flowers, explained her success by saying, "In a way, nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small, we haven't time--and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

The practice of paying attention really does take time. Most of us move so quickly that our surroundings become no more than the blurred scenery we fly post on our way to somewhere else.

What made Moses was his willingness to turn aside.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Driving home from taking Charlotte to the Dr. for an annual exam, we stopped in for brunch.

Butterfields is an all day breakfast place. They have other food too, but people go there mainly for breakfast.

It was packed out! I mean packed out! When we were leaving there were people waiting to be seated.

Butterfields is just a few blocks from where we attend church on Sundays. There are always people waiting inside and outside--summer and winter.

Charlotte loves their Swedish pancakes.

I prefer eggs over medium, crisp, thick, bacon, hash browns and a biscuit.

And coffee, of course.

There will be no lunch today at our home.

But I will cook on the grill for dinner. I will be hungry again by that time.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

 To live with pain on a daily basis is to be involved in a high-maintenance relationship. To make peace with the pain can require as much energy as fighting it. Things you once did without thinking--rising, dressing, eating, walking--now take concerted effort, if not paid help. Who is this person who cannot help anyone, not even herself?

One night of real pain is enough to strip away your illusions about how strong you are, how brave, how patient and faithful. Who would have thought that a torn cornea could hurt all the way down to the heels of your feet? Who would have imagined that a really bad case of food poisoning could make you doubt the mercy of God? You do not need a torturer standing over you to recognize the direct link between pain and truth. Pain is so real that less-real things like who you thought you were and how you  meant to act can vanish like drops of water flung on a hot stove. Your virtues can become as abstract as algebra, your beliefs as porous as clouds.

(The above words are from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. She has much more to say about living with pain. I have left this open ended because I want you to think about what she said in these two paragraphs. I am impressed with the fact that living with pain causes us to erase most of what we thought we knew about ourselves.)


Monday, April 05, 2010

ON GUARD--Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision
By William Lane Craig 

OVERVIEW: On Guard simplifies Dr. Craig's vast work in apologetics yet is not simplistic. It provides easy to memorize arguments for God's existence and the resurrection of Jesus, along with answers to the objections that one will likely encounter in sharing these arguments with others. On Guard is a one-stop guidebook to learn how to defend your faith. Combining the four core arguments for God's existence with a case for the historicity of Jesus, this readable book also addresses difficult issues such as the problems of suffering and religious relativism.

THE AUTHOR: William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology. With earned doctorates in philosophy and theology, he has established  a reputation as one of the most prominent Christian philosophers of our day. His publications, debates and internet presence have made him a highly visible champion of Christian faith.

MY REVIEW: Over the years I have read many books on defending the faith. This is one of the best! Today we are being called upon to stand against those who bash the Bible and attack Christianity from every side. There is a rising anti-evangelical bias in the media and a growing number of internet infidels. This book is not only a guidebook to learn how to defend your faith it is filled with real life experiences that illustrate the themes of our current culture. I especially liked the fact that Dr. Craig relates his own winding path to faith and tells the story of how God saved him and equipped him to become one of the world's leading Christian apologists.


Friday, April 02, 2010

(My favorite book of the many Max Lucado has written, and he has written many, is No Wonder They Call Him The Savior. The following thoughts are from that wonderful book.)

Think about these words from Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.

"First importance" he says.

Read on:

That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that 
he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

There it is. Almost too simple. Jesus was killed, buried, and resurrected. Surprised? The part that matters is the cross. No more and no less. THE CROSS.

No wonder Paul called it "the core of the gospel." Its bottom line is sobering: if the account is true, it is history's hinge. Period. If not, it is history's hoax.

No wonder they call him the Savior.

(The above words are from Max Lucado. Now I want to emphasize these words he quoted from 1 Corinthians: "...that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures."


Thursday, April 01, 2010

In Jesus' day it was clear what the various Greek, Aramaic, etc. words for resurrection did not mean. Resurrection did not mean life after death in some disembodied form, it did not mean the immortality of the soul in either torment or paradise, and it did not mean reincarnation. It meant the reversal of death, restoration to some kind of bodily immortality. Many pagans believed in disembodied life after death, but they considered resurrection impossible. Some (not all) Jews expected resurrection for the righteous at the end of days--but not for anybody before then. A resurrected body might differ from our bodies, but it had to be a body. Neither a ghost nor a disembodied soul nor a spirit on a higher plane of consciousness would have been called "resurrected."

(From William Lane Craig's book, ON GUARD--Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision)