Saturday, June 28, 2008

Night - Elie Wiesel

This book was a long time coming for me. I have wanted to read it for a while, picked it up about a year ago, and it finally went on the summer reading list. I started it this morning in the housing office and finished it at Cherokee Park this afternoon.
So many emotions went through my mind as I read this today. There were tears as I read about the emotions and torments that this then teenager went through at the hands of Hitler and his puppets. One can understand why Elie and other were mad at God as they tried to figure out why they should still praise the One who is allowing all of this to happen - how He he isn't there for His people, He's not the Messiah during WW2. How are Jews still supposed to praise the One who allowing this slaughter of His people to occur.
The last main emotion was near the end of the story, after all his family had died, he tells of the Americans coming in and stopping the torture. I was so proud to be an American. If we have the resources - shouldn't we protect the ones who are being slaughtered or tortured by those in control over them? Shouldn't we fight on their behalf - whether they are "Americans" or not - because all men and women are created in the image of God - we are all equal in worth.
Anyway, this is a great read - and a fast one - just because you really don't want to put it down. If you have any interest in WW2, Hitler's regime, the story of pain in another person - read this book. No wonder Oprah had it on her "list".

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jill McCloghry - Amazing Girl and Song/video

This girl - and song - is amazing. I've known Jill since she was in 7th grade - have watched her grow, sing, struggle, grow, lean on Jesus, learn about Jesus, grow in Jesus, grow, struggle, keep growing and loving Jesus - she is great.
She is now way too far away from her "home" - living in Australia with her husband Matt.
This story of this song took place this February.
I love Psalms 34.1-3. My worship leader at the Summit embed it in our memories, quoting it often. This girl is a living breathing testimony of it. I pray as you watch this video - that you will look at the hard times in your life the same way. She sings truth! She is an amazing girl and someone I love (and miss) dearly. She exudes Jesus and devotion to Him when she sings/plays. Love you Jilly. Thanks for being an example of someone who loves Jesus and praises Him even in the crying times.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Passion for God - Dorsett

This is a quick read biography of the preacher and author Aiden Wilson Tozer (otherwise known as A.W.). Dorsett does a great job of not only showing the many facets of what A.W. was about - but also showing his weaknesses - so as not to put A.W. up on a pedestal - but to point his readers to the God whom A.W. served.
Before reading this book, I knew (give or take) two things about Tozer. One was that he wrote The Pursuit of God. Two was that he wrote The Knowledge of the Holy. Great books. You need to read them if you haven't. But, after reading this book this week - I now know 3 more important things about this man who knew his God intimately.
1. He loved college students. This is important to me because I love college students. He preached several years at a church in Chicago. The Sunday night sermons were well-attended to overflowing the sanctuary by nearby college students from MBI and Wheaton. He poured his life into many of them, mentoring them, encouraging them to read and study, and also to be engaged in world missions and church planting. (Does that sound familiar - I think the Summit does a great job with their college staff).
2. He loved to read. He dropped out of school at 14 never to return, but has 2 honorary doctorates and probably has more knowledge about subjects than people with two real doctorates have. He spent so much time learning and reading and studying - and pouring that information and that desire to other people. Definitely one that would agree with Piper and Lewis on the idea of chronological snobbery when it comes to reading.
3. He wasn't a husband of great intimacy, nor a father of the same. He was faithful with never any worries as to affairs - but Ada (his wife of 45 years) scarcely knew intimacy with him - to the contrary - they had 7 kids. Those kids, minus the youngest and only daughter - hardly knew intimacy with their father. So sad that a man who knew his God so well and knew books and knew the children in the church's nursery - couldn't show intimacy with his only wife and several kids. One thing I do know for sure - if A.W. Tozer had written a book on marriage - I wouldn't be reading it.
But, even knowing that he wasn't a doting husband or father - doesn't negate his writings, sermons, or life. I am grateful for Dorsett who didn't cover up Tozer's weaknesses - but expressed them us his readers in this book. One doesn't negate all of a person's teaching just because they are not adequate in all areas.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel"

This is a Piper quote that I found today on They've been running a series, mostly for young families (though not designed that way) on summer fun, food, family activities, learning activities, etc. This was today's.
I really like this quote - even though I'm probably not doing too great it right now.
I am reading two books: A Passion for God - a biography on A.W. Tozer - so far it is great. I love biographies. And A Godly Man's Picture is the book I'm using the supplement my Psalms reading in the Word for my quiet time - this is a great book - thanks to Mike Hall for recommending it.
I'm still in the search for a church as well - that hasn't helped my soul all year since moving here - maybe by fall I'll have a better idea. This weekend I'll be at Clifton near campus.
One practical discipline I am engaging in this summer is hospitality. I am trying to plan my schedule so I can have one friend or couple over for dinner each week. This allows me to keep practicing my cooking, but also do better at engaging people, getting to know them, give them grace as they have shown me, etc. This week I am making dinner for a new prof and his family and having lunch with a girl from GA and then ending the week with dinner with Ali - a new friend who is dating an old friend.
So, what are you doing this summer to "not let your soul shrivel"?

Movies and Theology

This weekend I was housesitting, so I spent the time watching movies and playing fetch with the dog, Palmer. Movies are a great way for me to do nothing - I love it. But, as I was watching them (as I usually do), I try to think critically about them (Bruce Ashford taught me this and then Jason Wilson taught a really good Life class on this very subject at FBCOC).
So, here are some of my thoughts:
Italian Job: I love this movie. Why? Who knows? As I talked with my friend Lindsay - we both love "stealing" movies. Why is this? of the lines that both Donald Sutherland and Charlize Theron use is: "I trust everyone, just not the devil inside them". What does this say about the doctrine of original sin? This would presume that men are basically good and that we "give in to the dark side" of Satan and his schemes - and that's what makes us bad. This goes against Romans in this way: (Romans 5.12 - Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.)
Also in this movie...we cheer on the bad guys. We want them to succeed in sinning. They steal the bricks of gold and we cheer for them. Then they have to steal it back from the guy who stole it from them. Handsome Rob sleeps with the cable lady to get her key. They hire hit men to finish their job at the train station. We laugh when Napster buys the speakers he really wants that "blows women's clothes right off". Why do we laugh and cheer on the sin that people do in these movies.
I mean think about some of your fave movies: the couple that sleeps together before they get married (we think its so sweet, ok the girls do at least), we more than likely want the affair to really last because her husband wasn't as nice to her as the new guy. Get my point...
Another serious thought and another of my fave movies: Minority Report. The question of predestination. DC creates "Pre-Crime" - those murders or other crimes seen by the pre-cogs and so they get stopped right before they happen. Did they happen? No. Were they going to? Yes? What about the ball that was going drop but got caught - then it didn't drop, so was it really ever going to drop? This provides good food for thought: Is God's preknowledge (predestination, foreknowledge) causal? I'll let you ponder that for a while. Also, in the simulation shop where the guy meets Agatha - he bows to her like she is a god because she can foresee the future. Yet, when some people think of God's Absolute and real foreknowledge - they don't like it because it restricts them in some way? Do you see where I'm going with this "thinking and engaging"?
So where should our line be in watching movies/tv shoes? To engage the culture what are we willing to watch. This thought was on as they were discussing Sex in the City. Why would Christian reviewers even need to worry about this movie: we know what it is about and we know what we are going to see. So, do I even need to watch it? I would say no.
My main point in this blog is to hopefully encourage you to engage your mind while watching movies, tv shoes, reading books. Engage the Culture!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Welcoming Hearth - Skoglund

Contemplating Hospitality - this book has made that easier.
This is an older book (1993) I found at a used bookstore for 3$. It was worth it - even if just to give me ideas and help me think about what I need to be doing.
She peppered (no pun intended) the book with recipes and cooking/hostessing tips. She also shared much of her heritage and growing up tales with her readers as well. It was a very personable book - to fit in with the topic of hospitality.
"In contrast, true hospitality has the feeling of the hearth. It stands in opposition to the coldness and depersonalization of the world outside. It provides a temporary respite that remains in the memory and refurbishes long after it is past." (4) When I read these sentences, I thought back to the Robshaw home. I remember sitting in a chair in front of her fire place sipping green tea. Also, many times sitting at her counter in the kitchen or her dining room table. What treats they were for me. First time that I remember was months after meeting them, they invited me back to spend VBS week with them at their house - and I was asked to eat Jill's b-day with them as a family. This is true hospitality.
"The sense of hospitality has to start from within. The act of hospitality is the outgrowth of an attitude." (9) If you want to use this gift more - ask the Spirit to cultivate it within you - as it is a gift of the Spirit.
"We are to offer hospitality under the direction of him who has become the Lord of our lives in this area of service as well as every other." (31) We can not effectively share hospitality with others without having Jesus be Lord of our lives. It is not about impressing others, it is not about showing off skills (this is tough for me - an area of pride). But, live under the Spirit who has made us free from the bondage of sin.

eHarmony Radio Commercial

Disclaimer: This is not a blog about my thoughts pertaining to online dating as a whole - just a commercial I heard yesterday on the radio.
Online dating - our tvs are bombarded with commercials and now so are our radio stations. eHarmony is supposedly the "Christian" online dating service. As I was driving out to my friends' house yesterday to do some babysitting - I heard this and really just laughed at it.
The "commentator" came on and said life is so busy, we work, come home, walk the dog, eat something, watch a little television, and go to bed. Who has time do think about dating and finding the right person to date. That's where eHarmony comes in - we take all the guess work, hard work out of it.
Of course I am paraphrasing some, but that was the basic of it. Let me tell is hard. A friend of mine said "your dating time should be the easiest because it only gets harder." In some ways I agree with that. But, that is not to say that dating isn't tough.
Dating is tough because both people are sinners - both people want their own way. It is tough because we daily fight the battle of sin for purity in a filthy world when it comes to sexual temptations. It is tough because you are trying to discern from God if this is the person you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with - while not trying to put too much pressure on the relationship.
One of the first dating books I read was Josh Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye. How do we fit those principles (accountability, the male leadership in every aspect of the relationship, the community of family and the church) in with easy online dating?
Dating - which should lead to marriage - and marriage is a grace gift of God (our loving heavenly Father) to refine us and make us more into the image of His Son. That isn't easy. Not at least while we live in the flesh.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Presidential Voting Come November

What should be the determining factor on why we should vote for a President?
I heard David Horner, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, say "its all about me - what can you do for me" as the question most people use to mark their ballot. Is that why we should vote?
With Obama winning the Democratic nominee (whatever that means) last night, I have seen many blogs that state how that is such a great news. All based on the fact that he is African-American (along with many other backgrounds) and that he is now running for president. On a purely racial standpoint - I think that is great. I don't think it should be a matter of skin color if you get in Office or not. But - is that a reason to vote for a president?
Now, if an African American is running and he is better qualified than the other candidates - I'll vote for him. But, I'm not going to vote for him primarily on skin color. That is what I fear many will do come November. And based on Obama's age.
Is McCain older - yes. That is a given fact. But, he has years more experience than Obama. I'm not arguing that his experience is great - but he has more of it. .
It seems like we want a president who can be our pal and do things we want - even while killing babies and raising taxes.
What should the goal of the president be? Some, but not all, should be: to make America better (both now and in the future), to allow Americans to make an impact on the world, to lead a people who is diverse and multi-cultural/racial/religious, etc.
I know there will always be taxes, issues with health care, problems with wars in the world - it is all part of the world we live in.
I want to know 2 main things when I go to the voting precinct in November: who will allow babies to be born - is there a candidate who will put an end - or head in that direction - to abortion. And who has the better character? Character is not told in their tax history, their income, their stance on war...
And this year - those two questions might not be able to be answered. This is honestly the first year I remember where I do not believe we have a good candidate running for President.
But, what does that mean I do.
It means:
1. Vote anyway - make the most educated decision I can.
2. Pray for whoever wins. Romans 13 and Psalm 2 say that God is Sovereign even over the kings (our President) and has placed all government in place.
3. Do not "bad-mouth" whoever wins. I can not poke fun at, join in on jokes, slander, or anything on whoever is my next president. That is questioning the Sovereignty of God.
4. I must remember that God is ultimately in charge of this country and world. I obey Him.
Start thinking now as to how God would have you vote in November. This is going to be an election for the history books.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Want of Wonder

I have this quote on my fb page:
"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder."
G K Chesterton
This weekend was no exception to that.
Getting out on the river (Suwannee) on Friday morning was great. It was beautiful weather all weekend. Couldn't have asked for more pleasant weather. We played boggle, Phase 10, Mexican Train dominoes. We watched a movie Alan made on his Margaritaville Tour in Charlie. I swam in Manatee Springs - gorgeous although cold. We watched turtles, were surprised at sturgeons jumping in the water, lazied down the river, went hiking in a state park, grilled great food, swatted yellow flies and little moths and noseeums (gnats), laid out, watched the lightning flash across the calm river, slept....anything else...
The Psalmist says tons of it in a psalm I read aloud on the top deck on Saturday morning right as the sun was peeking over the trees on the bank up river from Manatee Springs:
Ps 136.4-9
to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights,for his steadfast love endures forever; 8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Here are some highlight:
1. The calm still river in the early morning or the late night.
2. The sparkling clear water in the Springs that was 72 degrees and beautiful.
3. Fish and all the different ones out there.
4. Lightning and how amazingly it can light up a night sky (I think of the Tomlin song).
5. Cumulous (sp?) clouds that loom so high
6. Sunsets from a plane that illustrate that God is indeed an SEC fan (all in one shot: UT orange, UF orange, UF blue, dots of UGA red). It was marvelous! Then it went to periwinkle, charcoal, with yellow rims from the sun. Then the sun came out more and sent rays down - you know those ones that shine in your house that pick up the dust. These looked like you could just ride them like a slide all the way to the ground.
7. Clouds - that even though they seem like air - they pack a punch when a plane goes through it and tosses a huge piece of metal around like a feather, but we can waft right through the middle of them.
8. Twinkling lights. Ty and I sat for a long time on the front of the boat on Friday night watching the stars come on - literally. It seemed like they would twinkle for a bit then stay on. Almost like God would flip a switch and another one would come on. Made me want to sing "twinkle twinkle little star" but I refrained. It was an amazingly beautiful night.
I am so glad I serve a creative and unique and brilliant Creator.
I come out of this weekend knowing awe, wonder, and loneliness. And unsatisfied that my time by the water has come to an end - oh, how I miss it! :)
Thankful for both my parents who we were celebrating this weekend: Mom (60) and Dad (67). Thanks to A for grilling. Thanks to Ty for playing games and hiking with me (especially the spider web that was being made into a perfect circle!
Pictures to come later this week!