MOVIES---OLD BUT GOOD

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last night there were four movies on that I really like: Top Gun, You've Got Mail, On Golden Pond,and Father of The Bride.

I have lost track of how many times I have watched each of these movies.

Do you say, "Nope." "Not for me." "I have seen that. I am not going to watch it again!"

I guess I'm a slow learner. I have no problem watching a movie that I like, again and again.

Last night I settled in on You've Got Mail.

It's a girl's movie? Hey, what can I say? I like it!

What do you think? Should I get a life? Maybe this is just what seventy-seven year old men do? I certainly don't know. This my first time to be seventy-seven.

I can just hear my Christian friends saying, "You should be reading your Bible, praying, visiting the hospitals and prisons, feeding the poor............ "

Maybe I will---just as soon as I get through watching On Golden Pond.

But then again---maybe not!





NEIL DIAMOND---HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Neil Diamond was one of five people who was honored last night by the Kennedy Center.

I have been a Neil Diamond fan for many years.

One day while living in Southern California I was at my brother's home visiting with my nephew. He was excited about Neil Diamond and wanted me to listen to one of his songs---"I Am I Said."

I didn't really understand the song but I liked it immediately.

That was over five decades ago and I have been listening to Neil belt out his songs ever since.

One night while living in Northern California friends took Charlotte and me to San Francisco to a Neil Diamond concert. It was a wonderful evening. We loved every minute of it and it has lived in our memory.

Last night when he was honored with popular artists performing his songs, I felt a tug on my heart and moisture in the corner of my eyes.

I don't worship Neil---not even close to it, but I do love to hear him sing!

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined to believe
They never would.......


GIVE IT YOUR ALL

Monday, December 26, 2011

                                                                  

In the New testament, the apostle Paul encouraged his young coworker Timothy to "fan the flame and stir up the gift that is within you" (2 Timothy 1:6). Paul was reminding his understudy to live with enthusiasm. Give it your all.Don't settle for mediocrity. Stir yourself up; rekindle that fire.

You may have to live or work around people who are prone to being negative, who tend to drag you down. But don't let their lack of enthusiasm squelch your passion. If you live with a deadbeat spouse, make a decision that you're going to be happy and enthusiastic anyway. If your parents are always negative, try to overcome that negativity by being positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Fan your flame more than usual to make sure the fire doesn't go out.

(From Joel Osteen's devotional Your Best Life Begins Each Morning--Devotions to Start Every Day of the Year)

AN EVENT FOR EVERYONE

Friday, December 23, 2011

Luke 2:8-20 (The Message)

AN EVENT FOR EVERYONE
 8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."  13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

   Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
   Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
 15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
 19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
**************************************

I love the fact that the sheepherders didn't just talk, they took action. They got over to Bethlehem as fast as they could. And then when they returned the Scripture (The Message) says they "let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen."

That's my prayer for every human being. I want them to hear the Word and then not just talk about it, but check it out. And then I believe every sincere heart will let loose glorifying and praising God."

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


CHRISTMAS---SEVENTY-SEVEN AND COUNTING

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In so many ways, music expresses the feelings of the heart.

Growing up in Oklahoma, "I'm Dreaming of A White Christmas" was always on my mind during the Christmas season.

I can't remember if it ever snowed at Christmas time but it must not have or I think I would have remembered.

I liked "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley but it didn't express my feelings. I never had a blue Christmas.

I've celebrated Christmas in Oklahoma, California and now Arizona. They all have been great---all seventy-seven. Of course I don't remember the first few. In fact, the first time I remember Christmas or getting a Christmas present I must have been about five. We lived in the very small town of Fletcher, Oklahoma. My mother took me and my brothers to a Baptist Church where they had a huge Christmas tree. Years later I realized the "pearl" handled gun I received was not from Santa but from my mother.

Most of my Christmases have been spent with Charlotte. They have all been wonderful.

When you're seventy-seven you can't completely block out the thought, "How many more will there be?"

I'm comforted by the thought---when it's over here, it won't be over there.

At once the angel was joined by a huge
angelic choir singing God's praises...
            Luke 2:13
Wow! I don't have the words to communicate what that huge angelic choir must have looked and sounded like when Jesus was born.

If we think our Christmas celebrations are great, what must it be like in the angelic realm.

The song that expresses the feelings of my heart now is: "O happy day that fixed my choice On Thee my Savior and my God! Well may this glowing heart rejoice, And tell its raptures all abroad.....He taught me how to watch and pray, And live rejoicing every day."

O HAPPY DAY!



THE ONE THING THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING

Monday, December 19, 2011


(The following is from Stephen M.R. Covey's excellent book THE SPEED OF TRUST.)

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world---one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business,  the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.

On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

That one thing is trust.

GOD'S WORD

Saturday, December 17, 2011


 (The following is from Jon Walker's excellent book, IN VISIBLE FELLOWSHIP--A Contemporary View Of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work, LIFE TOGETHER.)


(Holy Scripture) is God's revealed Word for all men, for all
times. Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it
is a unit and is intended to be used as such.
                                                            ---Dietrich Bonhoffer

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching
the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving 
instruction for right living, so that the person who serves
God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of
                                        good deed.
                                                                                      ---2 Timothy 3:17-17

Seeing what God has done through history and knowing what he has done for us develops our faith. In fact, Bonhoeffer says knowing what God did for Israel and what he did for us through Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, is more important than seeking what God intends for us today.

The God-adventure is a sweeping dance of redemption showing how he moves through history coordinating circumstances and events in order to bring us home to him. God's story is a tear-filled romance where he chases after those he loves, regardless of whether they love him back. It's a nail-biting drama where he launches a rescue mission for his children, who are held in captivity, and he arrives in his perfectly planned nick of time.

In God's story, his children follow him in faith, yet even the most faithful stumble and fail. But the story doesn't end there! God redeems even the worst mistakes, making all things work together for the good of those he calls his own.


BLOWIN' YOUR TOP---BLOWIN' IN THE WIND

Friday, December 16, 2011

 And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you.
Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry.
          Ephesians 4:26


"Sally Jo I have been here since 9:00 (that meant an hour) and this guy just now walked in and your are taking him before me."

"I'm sorry but he checked in on the computer and his name got here before his body. He's next. I'm sorry that's just the way it is."

"Ok, good-bye. You will never see me again."

Out the door he went!

Charlotte and I were waiting for hair cuts. We have been married 53 years and this was the first time we had ever gone into the same place at the same time to get our hair cut. A big adventure!

No more than a minute later the door opened and back in walked Mr. Angry. He had calmed down and wanted to get his haircut. Smart move. After all, he had been waiting an hour and he was next in line.

Years ago when I was a young preacher. A deacon became upset at a meeting we were having. He jumped up said he was resigning as a deacon and walked out closing the door behind him.

No more than a minute later the door opened. He slipped back in and sat down. Nothing was said.

It's bad to "blow your top." It's good to get over it quickly.

Oh yes, Charlotte and I got our hair cuts. And it's a good thing too. It's a windy day in our area and what little hair we have left is "blowin' in the wind."

"THE MAIL MUST GO THROUGH"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SURE.
HA. HA. HA. HA. HA. HA. HA.
SURE.

ALWAYS CORRECTING SOMEBODY

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you think that you can reprove words,
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
                            Job 6:26

If you talk all the time---like politicians do, you say many things you shouldn't.

Even if you're not a politician, preacher or mother, you still talk a lot and say things you wish you hadn't said.

"Oh my, I wish I hadn't said that." "I could bite my tongue off."

We all do it!

So why then are we always trying to reprove the words of others?

"Newt shouldn't have said what he did about Paul Ryan."

"Mitt shouldn't have tried to make a $10,000 bet."

On and on it goes. It never ends. We are always correcting somebody.

Am I saying nothing ever needs to be corrected? Absolutely not.

What I am saying is that we are just making ourselves miserable and everybody around us when we are constantly reproving words.

Words can be dumb,hurtful and uncalled for but they soon pass away. Like dead leaves on a tree.

GONE WITH THE WIND!






A RAINEY DAY IN THE DESERT

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes. It rains in the desert.

Phoenix gets about 8 inches of rain a year. This is not much compared to other major cities. Los Angeles  gets about twice that much and Seattle gets four times that much rain.

But it does rain here. In fact it's raining right now. It was raining when we went to bed last night and it was raining when we got up this morning.

Earlier I posted on Facebook that we were going to the health club and that I would be riding the bike, walking on the treadmill, lifting weights and looking out the huge windows past the palm trees to the beautiful purple mountains soaked in rain.

By the time we got to the club the rain had stopped the sun was shining and I looked out at purple mountains shrouded in billowy,white clouds. Beautiful!

After lunch we went shopping at Kierland Commons. With all the beautiful decorations, a light mist falling and many, many people scurrying around---it looked a lot like Christmas. Or at least it was beginning to.

We are now home again. Charlotte is bustling around wrapping presents. I'm upstairs posting this on my blog as the rain splatters gently against the windows.

I'm going downstairs and curl up with a book---a good book, in front of the fireplace.

Sunday afternoon following a memorial service I was chatting with a Doctor friend of mine who will be retiring next year. He was wondering if he would like retirement.

I SAID, "YES!"

TOO MUCH GRACE? I DON'T THINK SO!

Monday, December 12, 2011

When Job's three friends...heard about all the troubles that had
come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together
by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
                                      Job 2:11

We all need a little help from our friends.

I especially like two words that leap out to me from this Scripture: sympathize and comfort.

Job needed both sympathy and comfort.

Did his friends succeed in giving it to him? NO!

ELIPHAZ put great faith in TRADITION (15:18-19).

BILDAD was a  LEGALIST (8:4).

ZOPHAR was the MOST DOGMATIC of the three (11:6).

Job needed mercy. He needed grace. He didn't get it from his friends.

I am pleased our preacher has preached on the theme of grace all year. Too much grace? I don't think so!

I have known many like these three men. Right or wrong I have always looked upon them as just good ol boys.

Good ol boys with some good points but too narrow to be of any help. 

They talk a good game but nothing helps. They offer no hope. Grace would have brought some of the comfort they wanted to give.

Want to be a good friend? Want to offer sympathy? Do you want to comfort?

Try showing a little grace.



LOOK TO JESUS

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One of my favorite devotional books of all time is Tim Hansel's Keep Dancin'---Daily Readings to Celebrate Life. 

The following is the first devotional from that book.

But Jesus came and touched them. "get up," he said.
"Don't be afraid." When they looked up they
saw no one except Jesus.
                     Matthew 17:7,8

I can vividly remember a series of Bible studies with a group of high-school students from San Francisco. We examined the basic theology and doctrine of the church. We explored the philosophical and theological positions of the church through history, debating the relevance of each to today's problems of hunger, nuclear weapons, and other ultra-complex situations. We explored how their subjects at school wove together with all the subtleties of Scripture.

Finally one morning a student raised her hand and said, "I'm really getting confused. Is it okay when I get lost in all of this stuff---if I just look at Jesus?"

__________________________________________
I look to You, Jesus, because You alone hold the keys to life.




THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Friday, December 09, 2011

Scottsdale has become a study in contrasts, where residents and visitors can ride horseback through pristine Arizona desert in the morning and visit one of the country’s best contemporary art museums in the afternoon. It is now counted among the largest cities in the nation, but retains its connection to its small-town, Western heritage. 

The Phoenix area is big---really big! It spreads out in every direction.

But for some reason it still has that small town feel for me. Maybe not for everybody. But for me it does and I like it.

I grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma. Graduated from High School and went to two years of college there.

I felt like I knew almost everybody in town. I didn't of course, and had sense enough to know it. But still I knew a lot of people.

A few days ago pushing a cart around in Fry's Market I met a man I know. We met and became friends at a health club.

Today while pushing a cart around in Costco I heard a cheery "Hi, how are you?" It was a Doctor who lived next door to us at one time but now has moved away. 

A few months back we were at Oregano's Italian restaurant waiting to be seated when a family we knew walked in. I had known the lady and her family when she was just a young girl in California. I married her and her husband in Phoenix. I preached her mother's funeral. We hadn't seen her and her husband in many months. They were moving the next week to Colorado. 

Will I see somebody I know tomorrow when I am out and about? Maybe. I don't know.

This is a big place. There are a lot of people here. But to me---it's getting "smaller" all the time. It feels like home.

I like it!






LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder's butt must so hot right now he can hardly sit down.

Why the fire department hasn't been called I'll never know.

It's about time those questioning him about Fast And Furious called him what he is----a liar!

There is absolutely no other way to look at it.

It's no longer, he may be lying. He is lying!

ERIC HOLDER IS A LIAR!

I'LL NEVER FORGET---FROM SEVEN TO SEVENTY-SEVEN

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"READ ALL ABOUT IT!" "READ ALL ABOUT IT!"

It was Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941.

"What's all that yelling about?" "I don't know."

My mother and I were just coming out of the Palace Theater in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Looking around we could see young boys on every corner with arms full of newspapers.

Small crowds were gathered around them buying papers, gesturing wildly and terribly upset.

My mother bought a paper.

THE HEADLINE SCREAMED THE NEWS: PEARL HARBOR HAD BEEN BOMBED!! WE WERE AT WAR!

Home was only a few blocks away. We walked fast but it seemed like it took much longer to get home than usual. HOME. It felt good to be there.

Mother looked sad, worried. I felt sorry for her. I really didn't know how to feel.

I was seven then. I am seventy-seven now.

I have revisited that day many times in my mind on many different occasions and for many different reasons.

I WILL NEVER FORGET!

I LOVE AMERICA!

OVERFLOWING WITH HOPE

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

So I pray that God, who gives you hope,
will keep you happy and full of peace
as you believe in him. May you over-
flow with hope through the power of the
Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

 It has always been easy for me to get mental pictures of things.

But for the life of me I can't get a mental picture of overflowing with hope.

I have tried. But nothing that comes to mind is good enough.

"Overflowing with hope" is beyond my mental capacity.

Read this passage, Romans 15:13 again. Read it slowly and deliberately. Think about what it means. 

Isn't it wonderful? Absolutely wonderful!

I want to say with the Apostle Paul: "May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD

Monday, December 05, 2011

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me;
but God meant it unto good,..."
Genesis 50:20

Genesis 50:20 comes close to being my favorite passage of Scripture.

But it's not! My favorite is Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."

A great truth written large in both the Old and New Testaments is that God means everything for our good.

It just doesn't get any better than that!

But how can it be that all things work together for our good?

Taken separately "stuff"  that happens can be bad.

Taken together it can be good.

Whatever the circumstances yesterday or today they can be good as long as our hearts are right with God and others.

Maybe you can't say it right now, but in time you can say like Joseph, "But God meant it unto good."

WHY? I KNOW NOT, BUT GOD KNOWS

Friday, December 02, 2011

BUT GOD
I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear.
Each anxious, puzzled "why?"
From doubt or dread that grows,
Finds answer in this thought:
I know not, but He knows.

I cannot, but God can;
Oh, balm for all mycare!
the burden that I drop
His hand will lift and bear.
Though eagle pinions tire,
I walk where once I ran,
This is my strength to know 
I cannot, but He can.

I see not, But God sees; 
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and peering eyes
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees.
             ---Annie Johnson Flint


      

FOLLOWING CHARLOTTE AROUND THE FESTIVALS

She has a bum knee and has had surgery on it ---but you wouldn't know it.

She can walk for miles (maybe it just seems like miles to me) at an Arizona festival.

Last month we went to the one at beautiful Fountain Hills. I like to watch the fountain and rest and eat at the food court.

Today we enjoyed the one at Tempe. 

It never fails to amaze me how many talented people there are. I'm not good at crafts. Not at all.

These "crafty" people come from all over the country. And they make and sell a little bit of everything.

I'm not all that crazy about art and craft festivals but I do enjoy being with Charlotte and watching her "have fun."

And I have learned that festivals can be fun if you just relax and enjoy being out and about.

Out and about in beautiful, sunny Arizona!

I'M COMIN' HOME---BEEN GONE TOO LONG

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I'm comin' home, I've done my time
Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine
If you received my letter tellin' you I'd soon be free
Then you'll know just what to do if you still want me
If you still want me

Ok! Ok! I'm not Tony Orlando. But I have been away from "regular" blogging and I am comin' home.

Some of you have been kind enough to let me know that you miss me. In the words of one blogger---Kathy Barr, "I just wanted to let you know that, although I think your book reviews are well done and thorough and informative, I miss your personal writing -- your stories and anecdotes."

For a long period of time I wrote a blog post every day. I felt obligated to do it and less than I should be if I didn't. One day I "woke up" and said to myself, "I'm taking a break from blogging except for book reviews." And so I did!

I stopped blogging every day and I stopped writing every weekend for my wife's blog, Spiritual Sundays." When writing for Spiritual Sundays I was also reading every post and leaving comments. That made for a very busy weekend.

Well, so much for all that. I'm comin' home--if you still want me. No need to tie any yellow ribbons around trees I wouldn't see them anyway. And I'm not on a bus.

What I would like is for you to leave a comment on my blog and also subscribe as a friend.


I will be coming around again visiting your blogs and leaving comments.


I'M COMIN' HOME!

THINK, FEEL, LIVE BETTER

Monday, November 21, 2011

40 Days To Better Living
DEPRESSION

OVERVIEW: You want to feel better― and this book provides clear, manageable steps to get you there, through life-changing attitudes and actions.

If you're ready to really live better, select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living: Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, Nutrition, and follow this 40-Day plan to improve your life ―just a bit― day by day.

With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who've taken the same journey, 40 Days to Better Living ― Depression may be the most important book you read this year.
(From The Back of The Book)

AUTHOR: This book is produced by the staff of  Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Scott Morris wrote the introduction. The book is small and has the feel of a magazine. The church has produced several books about healthy living. This one is about depression.

MY REVIEW: This is a good book, easy to read and helpful. It will help you manage stressors, get moving, work with your doctor, enjoy family and friends and connect with God. The part I like best is that it is filled with stories of real people and how they discovered healing. Each day is divided into Morning Reflection and Evening Wrap-up. Morning Reflection includes: Faith Life, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends and Nutrition. Evening Wrap-up is just that ― wrap-up! I personally believe that the best part of the book is the part that helps you connect with God.

I believe there should be a better way to state the fact that this book is about depression and yet I do not know how to do it. The title now is: 40 Days To Better Living  with Better Living in large letters on one line and the word depression in capitol letters but smaller letters on another line. It all seems to run together and the word depression doesn't stand out. Maybe 40 Days To Better Living as the title and Overcoming Depression as a subtitle would be better. Regardless, this is a book about how to overcome depression ―and a good one. I recommend it to all those suffering from depression.

(I want to thank The B & B Media Group, Inc. for giving me this book for review.)

IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR ME?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

HEALING IS A CHOICE
Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life
Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them
By Stephen Arterburn

MY REVIEW: I'm not a psychologist but I strongly believe that reading this book can transform your life  if it needs to be transformed. The pain in his own life is what led Stephen Arterburn to write this book. The book has produced study groups around the world. Many have been "healed" and found hope for a future they had lost hope for.

Arterburn tells the story from the fifth chapter of the book of John about Jesus healing a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. We think the strange part of the story is that before Jesus healed the man he asked him if he wanted to get well. The man had a choice to be healed or not. He may have wanted to remain unhealed so he could just lie around, or he may have grown accustomed to begging and knew begging was easier if he had a health problem. He may have used his illness to disconnect from the world and the other pressures of life. There are many reasons that he may not have wanted to be healed. So this is not a bizarre question. 

Healing is a choice. If you are struggling or know someone who is--get this book and read it. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, said: "Steve Arterburn has written a classic on personal healing. If you make these choices your life will be transformed." I agree.  Like many books I read, this one has some things I disagree with but nothing that takes away from the books value. I recommend it to all those that want to be healed.

OVERVIEW:  This book was originally published in 2005, and there have been many changes, developments, and new insights since its publication. Arterburn is a strong advocate for marriage even after suffering a divorce. He is convinced that when there are marital problems and even betrayal, the first response needs to be steps toward reconciliation and saving the marriage.

The book deals with far more that marital problems and divorce. It's about the deep hurts of life and how to heal them. It's about God's presence, unconditional love, and provision in your life. It helps you to know that no matter what you have lost or been through, you can be healed.

AUTHOR: Stephen Arterburn is the host of New Life Live!, a radio and television program distributed across the country. He is a best-selling author with more than eight million books in print. He is also the founder of Women of Faith, a conference attended by more than four million women since its inception. Steve also serves as the teaching pastor of Heartland Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you have a question or a comment for Steve, you can contact him at SArterburn@newlife.com.

(I am thankful to Thomas Nelson Publishing Company for providing this book for review.)

IN VISIBLE FELLOWSHIP

Monday, November 14, 2011

IN VISIBLE FELLOWSHIP
A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work
LIFE TOGETHER
by Jon Walker

OVERVIEW: Jon Walker engages Bonhoeffer's classic work on Christian life in community, presenting its rich and vital themes for Christians in the twenty-first century. Christians were never meant to live life alone. Only "in visible fellowship" do we learn to love one another and to live like Jesus is real.

Walker brings a clear voice and powerful teaching to Bonhoeffer's classic work on the church enabling you to understand the great importance of the Body of Christ. Through life together we grow into authentic spiritual maturity. As we live out the life of faith together, the love, forgiveness, and power of Christ literally and visibly comes alive for the world.

AUTHOR: Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer/editor at Pastors.com. later as vice president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church. He's also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. he is the author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. His articles have appeared in publications and websites around the world. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about his ministry at www.gracecreates.com.

MY REVIEW: When I picked up Jon Walker's first book, Costly Grace I did so not because I knew Jon Walker, but because the book was about Bonhoeffer and his book, The Cost of Discipleship. Costly Grace is a wonderful book. One of my favorites! 

I wanted to read more from Walker and subscribed to his daily devotions on the internet. When I heard that he had written this new book--In Visible Fellowship, I was excited. Now that I have read it I can report that I was not disappointed. I agree with Harold Harper who wrote: "In Visible Fellowship will help you understand the necessity of staying focused on Jesus throughout the day and compel  you to make a deep commitment to the people in your small group."

This book shows how Christian community is not a theory or an ideal, but an everyday practical reality. It is a practical, biblical treatment of the church as the Body of Christ. It includes discussion questions which makes it excellent for small group discussions.There are thirty-six chapters and the thing I like best about the book is that every chapter is brief and to the point. I recommend this little book to all Christians.

(Thanks to Leafwood Publishers for providing this book for review.)

THE LATCH ON THE SCREEN DOOR

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

As a boy growing up in Oklahoma I didn't know anything about security doors or screens. Today, we have security screens on three doors of our home.

The Oklahoma summers were hot and we left the front and back doors open to cause a draft through the house. The windows were also up or open. At night we always checked to see if the screens were "latched". Although I don't know why. If anybody wanted in all they had to do was pull real hard and the screen would come unlatched.

I never felt afraid! Dumb Okie? Maybe. But I was happy and at peace with myself and others.

At Halloween I went all over town with one or two other boys. No adults. We wouldn't have even considered it.

Last night here in Scottsdale. A few children were out. Their parents were only a few feet away. And for good reason.

Did I grow up in the "good old days"? I think so. There were a lot of things in those days that were not so good and many "good" things have come into being over the years. But generally speaking, if I had to make a choice I would go back to the days gone by.

Yes, I would miss the "good" things that have come to pass and the "progress" that has been made. Like this computer I am using right now.

But mercy me, I would love to pillow my head at night knowing that generally speaking all is well in Scottsdale and all points beyond. That women and little children are not being molested. And that all that "crappy stuff" I value so highly will still be there in the morning.

FINALLY .....

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's early morning in Scottsdale. The sun is shining brightly as it does most mornings in this part of Arizona. In a few hours Charlotte and I will drive a few minutes to our son's home, pick him up and then drive down through Scottsdale to Green Acres Cemetery to attend the memorial service for our friend Ruth Noland.

About two or three years ago I was contacted to be ready to deliver the message at Ruth's service. She wasn't expected to live but just a few days. "Ok, we were planning to do some traveling out of town but I will postpone that and stand by." After several months I asked the family to release me from my obligation. They graciously agreed to do so and we all went on waiting for God to call Ruth home.

For some reason, I don't know why, maybe it's because we live in uneasy times---I have been reading a lot of books along with the Bible about the end times. Also, as I grow older I find I have a greater interest in the life hereafter. Especially heaven, but also hell.

The Scriptures teach that we all have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27). So the end for all of us will come---someday. It may be soon. It may be later. But it will come!

Ruth got ready "to go." She was ready had the Lord summoned her a few years ago when I was first contacted. She was ready a few days ago when He did wink at her and say, "Ok, Ruth come on home." 

I won't be speaking at Ruth's service today. The family needed to have someone prepared, ready and the important thing--standing by. I am happy that I am in town and able to attend her service today. I will be there to honor the great Christian lady that she was.

As I think about Ruth today, here is what is on my mind: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Someday, for all of us, the last word will be FINALLY!

THE WORLD ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER

Monday, October 24, 2011

THE TEHRAN INITIATIVE
A Novel by Joel C. Rosenberg

OVERVIEW: In Joel Rosenberg's new novel, Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah―known as the Twelfth Imam―has arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam's spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second Holocaust and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a massive preemptive attack against Iran's nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran's nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike. But will they be too late?

AUTHOR: Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 2 million copies in print. A communications strategist based in Washington, DC, he has worked with some of the world's most influential and provocative leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, Natan Sharansky, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Once a political columnist for World magazine, he now writes commentaries for National Review as well as Flash Traffic, a weekly e-mail update for business and political leaders.

MY REVIEW: Because of my interest in what is happening in the Middle East today and what the Bible says about the end times, I found this book fascinating. This is an exhilarating political thriller―a pulse pounding tale of international intrigue that will keep you on the edge of your seat and wondering...what if this worst-case scenario comes true? I read and review many books but not many novels. I wanted to read this novel because Rosenberg is such a great writer. I hope many will read this book and take an interest in what is happening in our world today. Christians need to be thinking about what is happening in the world around us and praying about it everyday. I agree with Rush Limbaugh who said, "Rosenberg has become one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking novelists of our day. Regardless of your political views, you've got to read his stuff."

(I want to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me this book for review.)

LETTING GO OF WORRY

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

LETTING GO OF WORRY
God's Plan for Finding Peace and Contentment
By Dr. Linda Mintle

OVERVIEW: Does worry have you in its grip? Respected author, speaker, and counselor Dr. Linda Mintle comes to the rescue with basic, practical ideas drawn from longtime professional experience and her personal qualifications as a veteran worrier, with Dr. Linda's help, you can rethink your core beliefs and surrender worry to God as you discover
    
     *the spiritual roots of worry
     *what to do when anxious thoughts
      arise
     *how to have peace about health, job,
      money, and relationships
     *practical ways to cultivate a truly worry-free life
     *the biblical secret to lasting contentment

AUTHOR: Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of over 15 books. She appears regularly on national broadcasts and is a network news contributor. A licensed clinical social worker, she specializes in marriage and family therapy and eating disorders. She holds a PhD in urban health and clinical psychology.

MY REVIEW: Because I come from a family of worriers and spent almost fifty years as a pastor--I know a lot about worry. I have felt the need to educate myself on the subject and therefore have read about and studied the subject as much as possible. Dr. Mintle's book is one of the best I have read. She covers the subject from every possible angle.

The best part of the book is that Dr. Mintle is not only presenting her common sense advice gained from years of experience, she is presenting God's plan for finding peace and contentment. She does an excellent job of pointing readers to God and His Word. I smiled when I read what Ruth Graham wrote in her introduction: "My friend Dr. Linda Mintle has written a valuable book--it could be titled All You Wanted to Know About Worry but Were Too Anxious to Ask!" I recommend you read this book if you are worried and anxious. It will help!

(Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for giving me this book for review.)

HOW THE CHURCH WILL END EXTREME POVERTY

Monday, October 10, 2011

FAST LIVING
How The church Will End Extreme Poverty
By Scott C. Todd, PhD

OVERVIEW: Fast Living is unapologetically hopeful. Riveted with eye-opening economic progress. And firmly rooted in God's words. Scott Todd's keen biblical insights and on-the-ground experience will change forever how we live the "true fast" of Isaiah 58. And in dramatic fashion, he reveals the truth: Jesus never said the poor will always be with "us." For a generation of Christians tired of cliches or messages of guilt, Fast Living lifts our expectations to live our noble callings and demonstrate the Good News in a history-making way. Skeptical? Bring your questions and your doubts. Take a personal journey with Dr Scott Todd into Fast Living and join a movement that will end abject poverty on a global scale.

AUTHOR: Dr. Scott Todd is the Senior Ministry Advisor for compassion International and one of the chief architects of 58: Combining his analytical background in academic research and immunology with his passion for the cause of Christ, he speaks plainly about what is possible when the church bands together in strategic actions fueled with compassion. He is a champion for the poor. An encourager of the Church. And a voice speaking to a new generation of Christians eager to make a difference.

MY REVIEW: Wow! What a book! What a challenge!

When I first read the words: "How The Church Will End Extreme Poverty," I was skeptical--very skeptical. I almost laughed. And I thought to myself, "Oh yeah. And just how do you expect that to happen?" Well, it took awhile for Dr. Todd to give me a satisfactory answer. In fact, I had to read the entire book. Oh, I started thinking differently a few chapters in. But I have known all my life about extreme poverty and I truly did believe Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. What an eye opener to read Jesus' statement in context and to see the true meaning of what He did say. 

Do I think, as Dr. Todd does, that we will end pandemic poverty by 2035? I don't know if we will, but I do now think that it is possible. I have come a long way in my thinking on this subject just by reading this book. I think you will too. I encourage you to buy a copy of this book soon. Let's be a part of the answer to world hunger.

(I want to thank CGrant & Company for giving me this book for review.)

FREEDOM FROM ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS

Thursday, October 06, 2011

HOW TO DEFEAT HARMFUL HABITS
Freedom from Six Addictive Behaviors
By June Hunt

OVERVIEW: In How to Defeat Harmful Habits, beloved biblical counselor June Hunt offers expert direction through the complex world of addictions. With heartfelt compassion, June combines wisdom from God's Word with the latest in science and research to answer questions such as:
*What are the underlying causes of addiction?
*How can you genuinely help strugglers without enabling destructive behaviors?
*When trying to defeat a harmful habit, what works and what doesn't?
*How can those who struggle experience complete freedom--permanently?

AUTHOR: June Hunt is the founder of Hope for the Heart, a worldwide biblical counseling ministry that provides numerous resources for people seeking help. She hosts a live, two-hour call-in-counseling program called Hope in the Night, and is the author of Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook, How to Handle Your Emotions, How to Rise Above Abuse, and Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes.

MY REVIEW: There are hurting people all around us, in our churches and schools, in our offices and homes. Most of them do not have the willpower to overcome strong addictions and so they go on struggling through life. Many times these people find ways to hide their addictions and they struggle alone.

If you find yourself struggling with one of the addictive behaviors found in this book, June Hunt can help you. She offers great help for: alcohol and drug abuse, anorexia and bulimia, gambling, overeating, and sexual addiction.

One of the things I liked best about the book was the gripping real-life stories of former strugglers. These stories provide proof that with God, all things really are possible, including lasting freedom from even the most destructive addictions. You may not need the information in this book for yourself but you may need it to help others you love and care about.

(Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with this copy for review.)

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK IF YOU KNEW GOD WAS LISTENING?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

GOD, I'VE GOT A QUESTION
Biblical Truth for Our Deepest Concerns
by James Merritt

OVERVIEW: We all have a list of questions we'd like to ask God if we could bend His ear. Popular pastor and author James Merritt reminds us that God is neither surprised nor offended by our concerns. In this book, he wrestles with some of the most frequently asked questions about faith, life, and the world around us--questions that perhaps you've been hesitant to ask the only One who can answer them:
*God, why do You allow innocent people to suffer?
*Are people of other faiths with You in heaven?
*Did You use evolution to create the universe?
*Is the bible really Your Word?
*Do You really have a plan for my life?

AUTHOR: Dr. James Merritt is a pastor, author, and host of the television program Touching lives, seen nationwide and in 122 countries weekly. Known for the ability to communicate timeless wisdom in down-to-earth language he's been featured on 60 Minutes, Fox News, and MSNBC.

MY REVIEW: This book contains Bible answers to ten questions that claw at us. For example: "If You're So Good, Why Do You Allow Innocents to Suffer?. As a pastor for almost fifty years I was confronted with this question about human suffering, more than any other. James Merritt does a good job of taking the Bible and answering that question. Will you agree with the answers he gives to all of the questions in the book? Maybe not. But you may, because he goes directly to the Scriptures for his answers and then he gives wonderful stories and illustrations of the truths he finds there. Merritt writes in a way that holds your attention and makes you keep turning the pages. I believe this is a book that will be of benefit to most Christians and one that you will want to share with others. Do I agree with every answer Dr. Merritt gives? There may be a few points we differ on--but not many. Read the book for yourself and see what you think about his answers to questions like, "How Can You Be One God in Three Persons?", "Did You Use Evolution to Create the Universe?"

(Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for giving me this book for review.)