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Book Review: “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund

Book Review: “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund

My friend Rich Crosby was the first one that told me about this book. We were talking at the local playground one morning and he told me how much it blessed him. He wanted me to read it.

Then, over the next few months it kept popping up in conversation, as different friends who were pastors had read it and had been moved and blessed by it.

Here’s the thing though, they were all Calvinists. And, this book was published by Crossway, which to my knowledge only publishes from that theological position. I’m not a Calvinist.

So, I don’t remember how I got a copy of this book. I may have grabbed it at the same time that I snatched “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas out of the lending library at Tennessee River Baptist Church a couple of months ago.

Anyway, I finished it a couple of days ago.

And…

Every Calvinist should read it! It provides a necessary correction to their view of God. I could see this being cold water to a heart that has been imbibing the neo-Calvinist idea of God.

If you don’t feel close to God, or have never experienced the love of God, or have listened to a lot of John MacArthur, John Piper and so forth (why are they all “Johns?”), may I encourage you to read this book?

A great way to do it, is to take a chapter a day, as a devotional and read it and meditate on it. Another idea would be to take a chapter a week, and read that chapter every day so you can meditate on it. There’s some wonderful truths about God, that God says of himself that have been neglected.

The title comes from Jesus’s autobiographical statement… “I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls.

Sadly, this book didn’t strike me as profoundly as it did my Calvinist friends. I’m happy for them, don’t get me wrong. But, I find that these books by Calvinist authors are more difficult for me to connect with.

For this topic, I was much more blessed and encouraged by “Love – The More Excellent Way” by Chuck Smith. That book was excellent. It’s the distillation of his teaching and meditating on the love of God over fifty years. It’s far more accessible, far more practical and exponentially deeper.

Have you read either of those? What do you think? I want to know.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson

Book Review: “The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson

So… there I was, sitting at Craft Kafe with my friend Tim Wolter, discussing one of our favourite topics, church. He had been reading this book and was about 3/4 of the way through it and asked if I would read it as well and comment on it. He graciously let me borrow it, and as soon as I finish writing this, I’ll return it to him.

The book is divided into three sections, based off of Psalm 78:72 which reads:

“He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with his skillful hands.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭78:72‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/1713/psa.78.72.CSB

The first section is about “The Shepherd,” the second is “Integrity of Heart,” and the third is “Skillful Hands.”

One of the themes that runs through the book is transforming the reader, who is a pastor, into someone that thinks not only about Sunday, but about Monday, specifically about the work situations of the congregants and equipping them to be an effective witness for Jesus in those environments.

I found this book tough slogging through the first two sections. I wanted to put it down. That part felt forced, like maybe the editor or the publisher wanted it in there. Pastor Nelson, hit his stride in the third section, where he got into the “skillful hands” and it was obvious to me that he had some things he wanted to say and thought they were helpful.

And they were for me. Let me give you a couple of excerpts that appealed to me, and may prove to make some wholesale changes in my life.

First, on pages 154-155, he starts by quoting psychiatrist Curt Thompson. Pastor Nelson writes:

“Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson makes the point that our brains are actually altered in storytelling. ‘People change not just their experiences, but also their brains — through the process of telling their stories to an empathic listener. When a person tells her story and is truly heard and understood, both she and the listener undergo actual changes in their brain circuitry.’ If congregations are to flourish, shepherding leaders must realize that everyone has a story to tell and everyone needs someone to whom they can tell their story. Every person who is entrusted to us within the congregation needs to know others and be known by others. Storytelling is a primary way that deep relationships are formed and sustained and that joy is released. As shepherding pastors, we must grasp the importance of encouraging and equipping our congregational members not only to share their stories with one another, but to share their unique story with others who may not yet know Jesus.”

“The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson, pages 154-155

I think this is clutch, especially in our cultural context. That practice we did of breaking into groups of 3 and 4 people to share testimonies and what we were grateful for at Calvary was profound in forming relationships. On top of that, and not only equally important, but maybe more important was taking a few minutes at the close of our Sunday morning gatherings to break into groups of 2 and 3 to pray for each other. I felt affirmed in that practice after reading this.

The next excerpt is much longer and for me was more personal. It’s from pages 113-114 in the second section “Integrity of Heart” in a chapter called “Pursuing Wholeness.” Pastor Nelson writes:

“I will never forget the advice a wise executive gave me when I was a seminarian… ‘love where you go home to at night.’… He simply reminded me that our homes are a place of refuge from the world, a place of rest and renewal. These wise words have guided me over the years, and my wife, Liz, and I have invested time and treasure in making the place we live a place of rest and beauty, one conducive to hospitality. As pastoral leaders we don’t have to have elaborate homes, but within our budgetary capacity we are wise to invest resources in making our homes a refuge, a place of beauty and serenity. Creating beautiful, warm and inviting spaces in our homes enhances the flourishing and joy of others who share with us times of celebration, laughter, and fun. Surrounding our lives with beauty is not only a way to minimize the corrosive effects of evil, it is also a way to bring joy and well-being to our lives and relationships. We were created to flourish in a beautiful garden, and even though we live in a fallen world, we are renewed when we encounter beauty.

“The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson, pages 113-114

That struck me. I’ve thought of that idea over the years, but it’s been quite some time since Gen and I have invested time and treasure into the furnishings and decorations of our home. Part of that is because we had growing children and between the pace of life and how hard that season of life is on our effects, we were just surviving! A few days later, these words from Proverbs jumped off the page:

“A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:3-4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/1713/pro.24.3-4.CSB

We have recently emptied out our storage unit and brought everything to the condo we are temporarily living it. It’s time to do some cleaning! So, with the encouragement of Pastor Nelson, and the criteria of “precious and beautiful” we have some work to do. And, yes, we will say “thank-you” to stuff like Marie Kondo.

Overall, I found the book helpful. Frankly, it must be said, that I usually find myself out of step with most of what is produced by people associated with The Gospel Coalition (TGC). There are exceptions, of course. And, that’s what I struggled with through the first two sections of the book.

Here’s the questions I had after finishing the book: I wonder if my colleagues that have swallowed Calvinism, or like one person said: “invited John Calvin, or John Piper into their hearts,” are struggling with the intimacy and integrity part of their personal relationship with the Lord? Is that why the first two sections were included?

Or, was it a publishing decision to have a larger book, a little more comprehensive, and not just be a technical, practical encouragement in the skill part of pastoring?

But, like I said, overall, I found that third section helpful and helpful enough to recommend the book to others.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review “Kill the Noise” by Ryan Ries

Book Review “Kill the Noise” by Ryan Ries

So there I was, a few months ago, stopping by CCF, and I don’t remember why, but I was there near lunchtime, and saw my new friend Jairus Hodges, and somehow, a few minutes later, I was in his car with Ryan Ries and his buddy Daniel on our way to lunch. Ryan was in town to speak at CCF, do some stuff with Zeal, and I think they were doing an event in St. Pete as well. After lunch, Ryan gave me a copy of his book.

I had met Ryan a few months before at the Pastor’s Conference in Diamond Bar, California. He was friends with Chris Waldrop and we were introduced. I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t remember me, only because of the sheer scale of people that he meets on a regular basis.

I knew him because many years ago, I was at a Pastor’s Conference in Murrieta Hot Springs and Raul Ries, Ryan’s dad, introduced him. Ryan shared how he had been a prodigal for many years, and how the Lord got a hold of him after an overdose in a hotel room in Panama on a skate tour. It was a powerful story, and Ryan was introducing the new ministry he was a part of called “The Whosoevers.”

The original idea for “The Whosoevers” came from Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. It was born through a conversation in Las Vegas over dinner. Sonny invited his friend Brian “Head” Welch of Korn, and Ryan invited Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf and the four of them partnered together and have been sharing the gospel with a part of our culture that not many people have been effective in.

The book is Ryan’s story. What’s refreshing about it, is that it’s not heavy. It doesn’t mince the realities of a life with sin, but, there’s huge sections where Ryan is explaining from the New Living Translation of the Bible what was happening in his life both before Christ and then his journey as a Christian.

It’s very Southern California, and beyond that, lots of skateboard culture and Latin culture. I found the way he relates the Scriptural truths to not only be accurate and engaging but like I said earlier, “refreshing.” It’s a fresh voice, some new words, some fresh expressions, and the trustworthy truths are hopefully heard by a new group of people.

My teenage son read it and enjoyed it too. We would recommend it.

Ryan’s not the only long time prodigal that we have seen come to Christ through praying parents. And, not just come to Christ, but blaze a new trail into areas of our culture that desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus. If you’re a parent of a prodigal, you’ll be encouraged reading this book.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Family Update – Spring 2022

We are due for an update. Actually, when I go for coffee with people, or when I have phone conversations with all of you, this is the topic that comes up the most, and usually first. What are you guys up to? Where is the Lord leading you, etc…

When we went for family debriefing one of the counselors shared how going through a transition like this was like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. When you start it’s rare that you can see the end of the bridge because there’s usually fog in the middle. We are in that fog. There will be an end to the bridge, we just don’t know yet what it will look like.

So, in the meantime, the kids are plugging away at school. Olivia has been thriving at a small Christian School in St. Petersburg that runs the A.C.E. curriculum. Thaddeus and Sarah are doing a superb job at keeping up with Calvary Preparatory Academy online. We get to see Isabelle regularly even though she’s plugged into the Zeal School of Ministryen at Calvary Chapel Fellowship of St. Petersburg.

Gen has had the opportunity to do some music recently. She’s led worship for a few churches, and has been slowly making some connections with other musicians and song-writers here.

And, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a few times at various churches. For the next couple of months I’ve been asked to do “pulpit supply” at Azalea Baptist Church in St. Petersburg while they search for a new pastor.

We are both continuing some individual counselling that was provided for us after the family debriefing. I feel like I’m in the locker room at halftime. I have almost 20 years of ministry (great ministry!) behind me and it’s good to take some time to pause and reflect. I’m doing some reading, lots of talking and praying and considering what kinds of changes I’d like to make in preparation for the next 20 years.

I’m encouraged by two things. First, that when the gardener comes through and prunes, it’s in order that there might be “much more fruit.” Second, I’m encouraged because I felt the Lord make Psalm 32:8-11 personal to me recently.

“I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel. Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you. Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the Lord will have faithful love surrounding him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:8-10‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/1713/psa.32.8-10.CSB

We are still living temporarily in a 2 bedroom condo in South Tampa. It’s like an overgrown hotel room and the pool is really, really nice. We are still doing lots of paperwork from our move, it’s incredible how many details still need attention.

Because it looks like we will be in this transition for the rest of the calendar year, and because a handful of people wanted to support us financially through it, I’ve registered as a missionary with Axia International. They can receive donations on our behalf in any currency and will help us with the paperwork associated with it. As you might imagine, the honorariums from pulpit supply and guest speaking and worship leading are a tremendous blessing but don’t quite cover all our expenses. We would like to stay available for ministry and make good use of this “halftime.”

So, that’s the update!

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2022 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

There’s always a story to how I get a book and why I read it in the first place. You might find this story interesting.

Earlier this year, I reconnected with my friend Don here in Tampa. He’s the one that introduced me to the people at “County Citizens Defending Freedom” and introduced me to “Kingstone Comics.” In all of my conversations with him, he’s been urging me to read this book. Because I currently don’t have an income, I wasn’t looking to purchase anything extra. It’s on hold at the local library with a bunch of people in line waiting for it.

Olivia had spring break a couple of weeks ago, and my friend Gary asked me if I would be willing to drive a car from Illinois down to Tampa for him. Olivia and I took a flight and drove his car down (and that’s a story for another time) stopping along the way to visit my family that I don’t get to see that often. We had a ball.

When we visited my cousin, Jeremy in Tennessee, he took us to his work and we got to see and sit in the fire trucks and visit the rescue squad equipment depot and also tour his church. They had a lending library and I took a couple of minutes to peruse their selection, and there near the top of a pile of books to be sorted, in this Baptist church, in a small town called Camden, was this book. They let me take it.

Mr. Metaxas is a great writer. A few years ago, I read his Bonhoeffer biography and “7 Men.” My first exposure to him, however, was a speech he gave in Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast. He talked about abortion. That was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. I don’t know how Justin Trudeau survived it. He was sitting nearby. As a writer, he makes the rest of us look like we are in kindergarten. His use of a variety of words and interesting turns of phrase I find to be beautiful. His subject matter was engaging.

The basic premise is that the foundation of our country has been forgotten. He was Yale educated and never exposed to the wealth of the thoughts, ideas and even art that produced the United States. In this book, he takes the time to tell some stories that used to be told and haven’t been lately. He also exposes how the founders and their society thought about the US and why it was in their words… “exceptional.” He also gives some historical context that helps us to understand why the US was founded in the first place.

I know now why my friend Don was urging me to read it. It’s needed and necessary and very accessible.

Mr. Metaxas starts with a story of Benjamin Franklin in conversation with a citizen at the close of the Continental Congress. It’s where the line “if you can keep it” comes from. He closes with an incredible story about the Statue of Liberty from his own family’s experience. Within the book is the backstory of Paul Revere, told afresh in the midst of the backstory of Longfellow and his poem, cast in the meilleur of our educational and cultural moment. All of these stories propelled me along, causing me to finish the book faster than I anticipated.

I read the backstory of Squanto to the family over dinner. It’s too good not to tell.

But, the chapter that will leave a lasting impression on me was his recounting of the influence of George Whitfield. He argues that the US would not exist, and would have no national identity without him. I’ve read Whitefield’s biography, I’m familiar with the story. But, this was a story about the US and Whitefield was a character in that story, and to consider the impact he made is quite revelatory.

The other thing I’ll walk away with from this book is another viewing of “Amazing Grace” and the story of William Wilberforce. I haven’t read his biography yet.

Maybe, when I come across that one, I’ll have another interesting story to share. And, hopefully, by that time, my writing skills will improve!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “The Man Behind the Curtain – Inside the Secret Network of George Soros” by Matt Palumbo

Book Review: “The Man Behind the Curtain – Inside the Secret Network of George Soros” by Matt Palumbo

There’s always an interesting story behind every book. And, this one doesn’t disappoint. I’m actually hesitant to share these details publicly because our society is so divided at the moment about some very important issues. Because of the animosity, the impulse is to protect, but that comes at the expense of sharing helpful information.

Because of my experience in Canada, I’ve been awakened to the need to be more involved in the political process. It’s part of being a fully functioning adult in our society and a mature Christian. Our ancestors gave us the privilege of self-government through a representational democracy (or republic) and not only do we have the right to vote, but to also run for office, lobby, petition and even protest. In the transition back to Florida, I knew I wanted to get involved.

In reconnecting with a long time friend, he introduced me to another friend of his who has joined CCDF-USA in Hillsborough County. She’s an almost retired attorney in Tampa and is now devoting most of her time to assisting a group of volunteers engage at the county level. I was fascinated to hear how they have been helping parents and concerned grandparents express themselves effectively with local officials and decision makers.

A week later, I had the joy of meeting the man who is working on getting a local county level organization going in more places around the country. He’s a local business man, who in the last half of his life was inspired by the work that the Alliance for Defending Freedom has been doing, and saw that there was a need for an organization that could help citizens engage at the county level. He shared some stories from some work that that they had been part of, and I recognized them because I had read about them in the regular news. They had been a part of making a good, positive difference.

He’s the one that gave me a copy of this book. He wants to assist citizens in their desire to “defend freedom.” He was alarmed to discover the role and amount of money that was being inserted into local, county level officials from international sources, specifically organizations and foundations that are funded by George Soros. I’ve heard the name, but like J. Edgar Hoover, didn’t know much about the guy.

This book is new. It’s only a few months old. The author, Matt Palumbo, has taken an enormous amount of time to research and footnote the myriad trails of money that originated in the fortune of George Soros. It’s a difficult book to read because of the amount of just raw data and figures.

He opens by giving a biography of Mr. Soros. Born in Hungary, raised during the Nazi occupation, and sharing significant experiences that must have shaped his worldview. He also gave an explanation of the influence of philosopher Karl Popper on his ideas of how the world should function. It’s where the name “Open Society” came from and why it’s used as a name on many of his endeavours.

Allow me to admit that I don’t understand this philosophy. It wouldn’t be appropriate to fault the author’s explanation. It’s quite possible that I don’t understand, because it’s not understandable. It may exist outside of rational thought. Soros seems to be the only one that purports it, yet, as the author argues, he’s often operating in contradiction to it.

The most powerful chapter of the book for me was the one describing the donations that Soros funded organizations and foundations have made in local politics. It’s mostly the story of District Attorney’s and how they have shifted their approach to a much softer view of petty crimes, attributed poverty to the cause of crimes, and chosen to not prosecute some categories of crimes, or crimes committed by certain segments of the population. It’s been very difficult on communities and we’ve seen that in the news recently.

The main argument of the book is that Soros is funding all of this, and it all comes from his worldview and what’s implied is that our society would be better off without him meddling in not only our affairs, but those of other countries around the world.

I was also interested in the chapter devoted to Soros’s involvement in the Ukraine, because the Ukraine is dominating our news these days. We know the Biden’s had some business there. And, now, I can see all the involvement Soros has had there. Soros was a hero there. It’s difficult to refute any arguments that they aren’t completely and hopelessly corrupt and it isn’t their fault.

Here’s the bottom line for me. I’m grateful to read this. I needed to know how pervasive Soros’s money is. However, I’m not convinced that he’s getting what he wants all the time, as much as people are getting money from him and doing all kinds of crazy things with it. The guy is 91 after all. And, there’s no way for him to control the size and scale of the operation he’s funding. Anyone that will lie and manipulate others can be sure to lie to himself. Money doesn’t cure that problem.

Leaving the topic of Soros, we don’t have a CCDF organization here in Pinellas County. It would be good to get one going. I would think that citizens here would be interested to know if and when one of our officials has betrayed their oath of office. It would also be good to know which County Commissioners, School Board Trustees, or if the Sheriff, or District Attorney, or Supervisor of Elections has been on staff at one of these foundations or organizations that Soros funds, or has received funds from them. That doesn’t make them guilty of anything. It’s just good to know what we might expect from them.

What about you? How involved in the political process are you? How involved do you want to be? Feel free to comment (publicly!) or send me a message (privately!).

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “Puppetmaster – The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” by Richard Hack

Book Review: “Puppetmaster – The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” by Richard Hack

If we went for a coffee today, I might bring this up. I had no idea how corrupt the U.S. Government was back in the day. This was an eye-opening book, again, in a topic that I don’t know anything about. It’s not that I have never heard of J. Edgar Hoover, I have heard lots of people talking about how significant Hoover was, but I didn’t know anything about him.

Well…

What a character!

Hoover was basically an only child growing up, and excelled at everything he did. He was a loner, and may have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum if he was around today. His accomplishments as a youth were really incredible. He had what we would consider an ideal upbringing when it came to church and church attendance and participation as well. Sadly, he didn’t maintain that.

He really only had one job, working his way up from mail clerk while he was going to law school at night, all the way to the top job of the F.B.I. He was there when it was created, and was the driving force behind it’s genesis. He worked very hard, days, nights and weekends and was a diligent, meticulous government employee in his younger years.

When he finally rose to power, he kept his power, essentially by collecting people’s secrets and doing quite a bit of spying on fellow citizens without legal authorization. He was drawn to the salacious, and kept a private stash of pornographic material that had been collected by agents. Incredibly, there doesn’t seem to be any record of him personally acting on that pornographic material even though he never married. He died an old man, full of stress and years of spoiling himself. His faithful and long time secretary discretely destroyed all the sensitive, secret and illegal files that he kept.

Not only was he adept at discovering and keeping people’s private information, he was also skilled at public relations and had a well-crafted image in the media of himself and his department. Paranoia seemed to be the stimulus for that fastidious pursuit.

This was a well written book. For someone like me with no background information about Hoover, it served my purposes well.

The big takeaway for me, however, was the realization of how corrupt the U.S. Government has been. Hoover’s story started with President Harding and I was reading voraciously having no idea that this is how politics has worked for a very long time. As Hoover’s story continued through Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, over and over the corruption stood out to me. I suppose this is just how things actually get done, or not done. Incredible. May God have mercy on America.

We absolutely have to return to a moral society that prizes truth-telling, character and right-ness instead of expediency.

Let’s close this post on a high note…

I found this book in a thrift store that U-Turn for Christ runs in Crystal River, the same one that I found “Born Fighting” in. Two great reads, and a heavy dose of American History for almost no money! Love it!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible” by Kingstone Comics

Book Review: “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible” by Kingstone Comics

If we went for a coffee today, I’d be gushing about Kingstone Comics. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of these guys. I feel like I’ve been in and around Christian books all of my life and I feel like I’m an early adapter of Christian comics. Somehow we ended up with a copy of the Bible in comic strip when I was a kid in the late ‘70’s. I read it through twice and still remember some of the pictures that went along with specific stories.

A few years ago, Sergio Carriello did the graphics for “The Action Bible” which all my kids have read or at least had access to. It’s a beautiful update to the old “Picture Bible” that I had.

But, these are not the complete Bible, they are abridged and sanitized versions of the stories in the Bible. They are also “books.”

Enter Kingstone Comics. Years ago, Art Ayris was volunteering with the bus ministry at his church, First Baptist of Leesburg, Florida, and because of all of his interactions with unchurched kids, he was always looking for great materials to get to them.

Eventually, he wrote his own comic book. And, to make a long, beautiful, amazing, miraculous story short, I saw the warehouse and distribution center last week for well over 100 different comic books, compilation books, regular books and even a couple of movies that they have done.

They have had a lot of help, between investors, key Board Members, supportive church leadership, superb staff, excellent writers and over 60 artists, including Sergio Cariello and others who have drawn for Marvel/DC. Their product is beautiful and engaging, inspiring and they were busy. One good problem they have is keeping up with translation opportunities for other languages.

When I was there, the most popular comic book was the story of “Vladimir – The Prince of Russia.” It’s the story of someone the Lord used to bring Christianity to Russia. As I’m writing this post, I’m about halfway through it. Yes, it’s quite the story, and it is told well. They have a whole series fo comic books on significant people in Christian history including the Martyrs.

While I was there, I was astounded to see a comic book for each book of the Bible. Revelation is a popular one, and I loved seeing what these artists did with the descriptions there.

Another series that caught my eye was the “101 Questions.” It is almost complete. It’s a series of comic books that answer tough questions (think apologetics) about Christianity. I have read the 4th book in the series and it was refreshing for me to see how these timeless truths are being conveyed in a beautiful and engaging way.

But, as the title says… this post is a book review of “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible.” This was the first product that I opened and read. It is by Ben Avery and Javier Saltares and consisted of four parts and an epilogue all about the Bible. It covers the production, process preservation and proof of the Bible. You have to understand what a difficult task it is to tell this story. It could be really, really dry, with dates and technical terms and stories from ancient history with cultures that we are completely ignorant of.

But, this was so well done. Seriously, the content is college level. But, the delivery is kid level. I’ve read several resources on this topic, and there were things in this comic book that were not only new to me, but effortlessly communicated in a clear and understandable way.

I was further impressed by the artwork and overall outline and strategy for this book. This is a needed and desireable resource for Christians of all ages. I wish I knew about this when I was purchasing resources to stock “The Upper Room at Calvary.” This would have been very, very popular.

If not, check it out.. and buy at least one of them to enjoy yourself. And, then, join the hundreds of people that have been buying them for their churches, schools, friends, kids and grandkids. While I was there, they told me about a woman in her 80’s that has been purchasing and reading them for herself.

For me, I’m intrigued by the Martyr’s, that’s an area I’d like to know more about, and I’m enthused about learning about them through the genre of graphic novel.

If you already knew about Kingstone, would you let me know how and why and what your experience has been in the comments?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “Born Fighting – How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” by Jim Webb

Book Review: “Born Fighting – How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” by Jim Webb

So, a few weeks ago, I was invited to meet a couple of pastors for lunch and fellowship at Calvary Chapel Crystal River in Florida. While we were there, we toured the U-Turn Ranch they have established, and the nearby Thrift Store that is part of that ministry.

I’m a sucker for the book section at Thrift Stores and that’s where I spotted this book.

It was fascinating. The author charts the history of the Scots-Irish people from Scotland at the time of the Roman Empire when they built Hadrian’s wall all the way to the present day. What I didn’t know is that all of that redneck, hillbilly, good-ol’boy, mountain people, country people can be traced back to these Scots-Irish people and their culture.

The author’s premise, is that it’s this culture, shaped by the events starting with the Romans, through the English kings, through the migration to Ireland and the Ulster plantation and eventually to the Appalachian Mountains is the dominant culture that shaped the United States.

When he gets to the American Revolution, his argument begins to take shape, how it was this culture, patriotic, independent, yet able to organize into effective fighters was the main driver of the revolution. It was the soft, aristocratic, educated, plantation owners on the coasts that gave the intellectual reasoning, but these guys got the job done.

Andrew Jackson was the quintessential product of this culture and made the biggest impact as president. He stands in the same line as William Wallace.

I appreciated the time the author took to describe the Civil War from the perspective of families and people from this culture. That story is not often told.

And, then the author finished the book by describing his own parents and grandparents. These are incredible stories and represent many of the experiences of many Americans.

A more recent, and more emotional rendering of this culture is “Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance. They made a movie of that book that in my opinion doesn’t capture the full story. I think every pastor in America should read that book.

If you’re short on American history, and like me, weren’t paying attention at all in high school, this book will help you get up to speed pretty quickly, no matter what part of the country you are in.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2022 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You”

Book Review “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You”

How I get a book is a story I like telling. In this case, when we did “family debriefing” with Compass Ministries last month, I met Roni Lacuesta the Executive Director. He gave me a couple of strong recommendations, and one of them was to read this book.

So, even though I’m currently unemployed, and have no income, I decided to buy the book anyway. Proverbs says to “Buy the truth and don’t sell it,” and “in all your getting, get wisdom” and how wisdom and insight and understanding should be the chief pursuits in life.

The book lists 5 authors: James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepcke, and Maribeth Poole. It’s a book written by a group of psychologists and mental health workers from an organization called Shepherd’s House in California. It’s part of a group of resources they call “Life Model.”

The authors are trying to present a vision of how Christian community, specifically churches, can be a indispensable contribution to the recovery of trauma.

In the beginning of the book, they talk about the two major kinds of trauma, bad events happening to someone, and good experiences withheld from someone, and how each uniquely cripples a person’s development. They describe what attributes a person should exhibit in the various stages of maturity and what it looks like when their body grows beyond their maturity.

They also take the time to describe how the two major different types of trauma affect that process of maturity and how expensive and time-consuming it is to bring healing to someone through individual counselling. I appreciated how honest they were in discussing the shortcomings of that model of therapy. It’s not to be discarded, it’s just not sufficient to the task. They plainly state that what’s needed is the power of God and the involvement of key roles in the community, namely spiritual fathers, mothers and brothers and sisters.

It’s compelling. I could see how this would be appealing to all kinds of people, those who are suffering the affects of trauma, and those who have a soft heart. Certainly, it’s obvious, our expectation that involvement in church to be a healing and life-giving experience should go without saying.

Sadly, it’s not common. And, the authors faithfully point out that often our leaders exhibit immaturity themselves. It’s impossible to model maturity if you’re not mature. And, it’s hard to give what you haven’t received.

One of the most helpful things I did early on in ministry was attend the “Rapid Response Chaplain Training” offered by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It gave me some tools and insight into trauma, shock and how to be the hands and feet and presence of Jesus in those situations. I found it very helpful and adopted that posture often in my interactions with people as a pastor over the years.

If you haven’t done something like that, this book would be a great resource to you, as it does a good job of introducing the broad outlines of what to expect. What I found valuable is the explanation of trauma and the time given to detailing the attributes of maturity. It gave me yet another lens of compassionately viewing myself and the people around me.

I’m curious if you have read this book? Or, been to a church that tried to implement it? Or, been involved with Shepherd’s House. If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences either through the comments or a direct message.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2022 in Book Review

 

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