Monday, December 29, 2008

Book Review: Field of Blood by Eric Wilson

Book ReviewRecently, I won an autographed copy of Eric Wilson's Field of Blood from Christian Manifesto. I have just finished reading this first in the planned Jerusalem's Undead trilogy.

Before my review, enjoy this video trailer for the book:


Direct video link.

What Dean Koontz did for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein franchise, Eric Wilson has done for vampires. In an unbelievable attempt to present the good versus evil battle of the Nazarene versus Jerusalem's undead, resurrected in the bodies of the ancient dead, including Barabbas, the very man who was released by Pontius Pilate while Jesus Christ was held over for crucifixion, Wilson weaves an intriguing and thought-provoking tale of what if.

What if the death of Judas Iscariot didn't end his betrayal of Jesus Christ? What if his tainted blood seeped into burial caves deep within the earth, causing a counterfeit resurrection of the dead? What if those who had risen answered only to the master collector himself, Lucifer? What if their sole purpose as they walk this earth was to put an end to the human race as we know it? And what if they had to defeat a select group of thirty-six righteous, immortal people in order to do so?

Wilson weaves an imaginative version of the classic vampire tale, a traditional story of good versus evil, all while incorporating dimensions of Judaism and Christianity into the story. Don't believe that a vampire story can be considered Christian fiction? You haven't read Field of Blood. I was skeptical myself before cracking the covers on this book, but found myself unable to put it down in the final chapters.

This book deserves a read, and you deserve the experience of reading it. I highly recommend this tale, and can't wait for book two in the trilogy to come out in August.

Your comments?

Joe

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from God!

ChristmasChristmas is upon us. Once each year across the world this day is set aside as a day of celebration. For many throughout the world, today is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
The Birth of Jesus {Matt 1:18-25 [MSG]}

18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn't know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—'God saves'—because he will save his people from their sins." This would bring the prophet's embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for "God is with us").


24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
The every day miracle of child birth took on a whole new meaning on this day, over two-thousand years ago, when the miracle of childbirth delivered the miracle baby -- the God-baby. Even the wisest among men of that time recognized the event for what it was.
An Event for Everyone {Luke 2:9-20 [MSG]}

8-12 There 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."

13-14 At 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.


15-18 As 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.

19-20 Mary 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!
Exactly the way they had been told! The miracle of God coming to earth in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, happened exactly as God had planned. Exactly as it had been foretold by prophets centuries earlier.
{Isaiah 53:1-10 [MSG] (emphasis mine)}

1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.

7-9He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.

10 Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
The story of the greatest gift of all is not complete with the birth of Jesus Christ, for that gift receives it's greatness through the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.

Jesus Christ died for our sins, and arose, so that there might be no doubt that he was God in the flesh, here to save us from our sins, so that we might spend an eternity with Him.

Merry Christmas, world! May we never forget the meaning of this day.

Your comments?

Joe

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas Eve Traditions

After spending two hours of my Christmas Eve off at work to deal with a customer who made a false claim about product damage, I finally made it home to spend some time with the family. Our Christmas traditions got under way after a late lunch from Panera Bread.

We loaded up the kids and headed to church for a Christmas Eve service. The service was a somewhat traditional Christmas service with contemporary music performed by the Aaron Pelsue Band (including Aaron's brother, Dave). I enjoyed the service quite a bit, and my son was (for the first time in church) very well behaved. He was actually singing along with the music.

After church, we drove through several neighborhoods on the way home to look at Christmas lights. Maybe it's because Indianapolis is so much larger than Terre Haute, but it just doesn't seem that there are as many light displays in Indy as there were in Terre Haute last year (and years prior).

After topping off the car with gas for the trip to Terre Haute tomorrow, it was time to head home. We still had several things to do before Santa arrives, starting with a birthday party for Jesus, complete with cake and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, as well as reading my Christmas story to the kids. My son especially enjoyed the opening references to all of his favorite Christmas television specials.

After the birthday party, we carried on a tradition that was started by my father when I was a boy: each child is allowed to open one Christmas gift on Christmas Eve. When I was a boy, my father would give us clues to the contents of one of our gifts, and we would have to guess what the item was in order to open it. Of course, there were never any losers, because the clues would keep coming until we couldn't possibly guess wrong. My kids aren't old enough yet for the guessing game, so my wife chose two gifts for each of them from under the tree and let them each pick one.

My daughter opened an Only Hearts Club Doll. These dolls are much better than Barbie or Bratz, in my opinion, as they do not depict women in a manner that is entirely too "adult" for little girls. My son opened a DVD of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring the inimitable Johnny Depp. My son was thrilled, and spent the next thirty minutes learning the Oompa-Loompa dance. It was quite entertaining for me, watching my wife and children perform the Oompa-Loompa dances (sorry, no actual video of the wife dancing) for me.


We even let our dog Maddy open a gift -- a squeaky toy that my son picked out for her.

My children both had letters for Santa and cookies they made earlier today that they left by the fireplace for Santa, after dropping the cookies on the floor several times. My son chose this year to leave Santa candy buckeyes, chocolate chip cookies, and apple juice. Yes, apple juice instead of milk! I guess Santa won't be able to dip his cookies when he stops by our place tonight.

After a quick check of Norad Tracks Santa, my son decided it was time to get to bed so he could be asleep before Santa arrives.

The kids are now safely tucked into bed, and my son is already fast asleep. My daughter will hopefully be sleeping soon, as well, because it appears that Santa is in Uruguay right now and rapidly closing on Indianapolis.

Norad Santa

Sunday, December 21, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: The Chronicles of Narnia 1 & 2

This Christmas season, thanks to ABC Family Channel's 25 Days of Christmas, my family discovered the joys of the epic Chronicles of Narnia.

We first watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on ABC Family Channel -- which lasted an unbelievably long three and a half hours, thanks to commercials nearly every five minutes -- and loved it. My wife and I, especially, enjoyed the movie.

Author C.S. Lewis claimed to have had no Christian theme in mind as he wrote The Chronicles, but there is clearly a Christian undertone to the story. Okay, maybe it's a little more blatant than that. As a group of four children stumble into a hidden world while playing hide-and-seek in a wardrobe, they find themselves in the midst of a battle of good versus evil, as they help Aslan (the Lion) defeat the White Witch. SPOILER ALERT: We see Aslan surrender his life to save a young boy, then later we witness him resurrected. The children go on to defeat the White Witch and to become kings and queens of Narnia, only to later find themselves stumbling back through the wardrobe into reality.

The first movie in what promises to be a trilogy (there were seven books, but reportedly only three movies planned) is well done, from the screenplay to the special effects, all the way to the performances delivered by the cast. So enjoyable, in fact, that we just had to see the second movie.

When Prince Caspian was released on DVD, my wife picked up a copy at RedBox, and we watched the movie together last night after putting the kids to bed.

My wife felt that Prince Caspian started a bit slowly, as the story opens with the birth of a baby in Narnia and a man fleeing his people. SPOILER ALERT: We then see the same four children from the first movie stumble back into Narnia -- this time through a subway or train terminal -- in response to a call for help from the man who had fled after the birth of the baby.

Again, the battle of good versus evil takes place, as the "Kings and Queens of Old" battle to help the fleeing man -- who turns out to be a Prince -- and the people of Narnia fight for their freedom from a tyrant ruler. Aslan makes a return to the action as an epic battle ensues. I literally found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, rooting for the Narnians.

Again, the screenplay, the effects, the acting -- everything about the story -- is incredible. Reports are that the third episode in this trilogy won't be released until May 2010. I can't imagine waiting so long. I couldn't recommend The Chronicles any more enthusiastically. In fact, I'm considering reading all of C.S. Lewis's saga.

Your comments?

Joe

Peace

PeaceAt church today, the topic of the sermon was Peace. We're in the advent season, and over the past four weeks, the sermon topics have been Hope, Love, Joy and (today) Peace.

During today's sermon, Pastor Derek Duncan talked about, of course, Peace. There was one passage that I felt was a major take away:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 [NIV]

In this day when we are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting terrorism and drugs, and concerned about the future plans of North Korea, Iran, and Russia, the word Peace has become quite a buzzword. Whether you call it "troop withdrawal," or "draw down," or some other term that refers to ending hostilities, the meaning is the same: Peace. Politicians often run on a platform of Peace (either obtained through withdrawal or victory). But can they truly bring us peace?

No. Absolutely not. Only one person can bring us Peace: Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. Our lives will be filled with trouble, but in the arms of Christ, we find true peace. Even in the hardest of times, we have peace in Christ.

There was something that Pastor Duncan said that I had never considered before. Today, the term "god" can mean many different things to many different people. While I might refer to God as the Creator of all, another might think of their "god," whomever that might be. As Christians, as followers of God through His Son Jesus Christ, we need to shift our focus on the One and Only source of peace and salvation: Jesus Christ. There can be no confusion whom we serve when we serve the Son.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Send feedback to Joe by email, or by calling 317-644-6129.


Your comments?

Joe


Recommended Article By Average Joe American: Simplify In 2009 Giveaway

Hi Average Joe Readers,
Your friend, Average Joe American, has recommended this article entitled 'Simplify In 2009 Giveaway' to you.

Here is his/her remark:
What will YOU do to simplify your life (and your marriage) in 2009?

Simplify In 2009 Giveaway
Posted By Corey On December 21, 2008 (12:44 pm) In About Simple Marriage

For this past year, my wife and I have been on a simplification kick. The goal has been to make life simple as possible. While we’ve succeeded in some areas, there’s still work to be done. Our plan is to continue this work in 2009.

With that in mind, what are some of your goals in 2009?

Our marriage has been helped a great deal because of the shared goals we’ve created over the years and there are a few things we’ve come across that aided in the creation of these goals. That’s what is included in this giveaway.

The Simple Marriage Project is offering a special giveaway to help one lucky reader simplify in 2009!

Here’s what you could win:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Dream List

My wife recently made a Christmas Wish Dream List -- a list of what she would want most for Christmas if she could have anything. I'm not one who is wanting of much, but she challenged me to come up with my own Dream List. She said it would be fun. So, here it is:

2010 CHEVROLET CAMARO
Chevy Camaro

First on my list would be a brand new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. I don't often find new cars that I like, but come on, how can anyone not like this Camaro?

Pictured here is a Camaro Convertible concept car, but I have to admit that the 2010 Camaro Coupe is a sweet ride. Either one would do.

GOOGLE ANDROID PHONE
Google Phone

If I was in the market right now for a new cell phone, I can think of none other that I would want more than the new Google Phone.

Now I'm not just a Google fan-boy (though it could probably be argued that I am), but I think this has got to be the greatest design in cell phone technology in years -- dwarfing even the iPhone.


DEAN KOONTZ'S FRANKENSTEIN BOOK 3
Dean Koontz Frankenstein

If you haven't heard, author Dean Koontz has penned an incredible adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic horror tale, Frankenstein, and while book 3 of the trilogy is reportedly available in Europe, it is not available yet in the U.S.

I am among many fans not only of Dean Koontz, but of the
Frankenstein tale that eagerly awaits the release of this much anticipated volume in the U.S.


FAMILY VACATION TO AUSTRIA
Austria

Most of all, I think, I would love to take my family on a vacation to Austria.

During my time in Europe while in the military, Austria is a country that I wish I would have found some time to visit extensively. The home of
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it can almost be said that Austria is the home of classical music (in my opinion, Beethoven was great, but Mozart was king).

The country is full of culture and history -- one of the most beautiful places in the world.

So has making this Dream List been fun, like my wife said it would be? Sure, a little, but most fun of all is thinking of all of the fun I could have with the wonderful gifts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas Story for My Children

You've no doubt heard the story of Santa Claus and his flying reindeer; the story of Frosty the Snowman, or the Grinch who stole Christmas. You've probably seen Snow Miser, Heat Miser, and the Abominable Snow Monster on television. I bet you can't even imagine Christmas without a visit from the spirits and Mister Scrooge.

But have you ever heard the most wonderful Christmas story of all?

Over two thousand years ago, long before you, or Mommy, or Daddy were even born, there was a very special birth of a very special baby.

Long, long ago, in a little village in a land called Nazareth, there lived a man named Joseph, and a woman named Mary, the woman he loved. Joseph and Mary were making plans to be married, when one day, Gabriel, God's chief angel, made a special visit to Mary.

"Good morning, Mary," the angel said, "Do not be afraid." Mary was shaking at the unexpected visit. "Don't be afraid, Mary. God has sent me to tell you that He has a wonderful surprise for you. You are soon to be the mother of a special baby boy."

"But how," Mary asked, "Joseph and I have not yet married?"

"God chose you, Mary, for a very special purpose. You will be the mother of His Son. You will name Him Jesus."

"I am ready to serve my God," Mary said. "Let it be so."

The angel, Gabriel, left.

Mary rushed out into town and told her cousin Elizabeth, who was also going to have a baby. Mary stayed with her cousin for three months. While Mary was with her cousin, the angel Gabriel visited Joseph in a dream.

"Joseph," Gabriel said, "it is okay for you and Mary to be married. The baby she is expecting is the Son of God. You will name him Jesus, which means 'God Saves'." When Joseph woke up from his dream, he rushed off to Mary, and they became husband and wife.

The king at that time was a man named Caesar, and he wanted to know how many people lived in his kingdom. King Caesar ordered every man to travel to his family's home town, families and all. Joseph took his new wife Mary and left for Nazareth, where they could be counted as members of the family of David.

While they were there, Mary told Joseph, "It's time. The baby is ready." Joseph took Mary to every hotel in town looking for a room, but they were all full because of the people who had come to town to be counted. With no place else to stay, Joseph and Mary stopped at a stable where they were given a place to sleep with the animals.

As they stayed in the stable, Joseph comforted Mary as her baby, Jesus, was born. Mary wrapped her baby in a blanket and laid him in a manger in the stable.

There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood, watching over their sheep, when the angel Gabriel came to them, and they were afraid. "Don't be afraid," Gabriel said. "God sent me to tell you of a wonderful event, a very special event for everyone in the world." The shepherds watched in wonder as the angel Gabriel continued. "A Savior has been born -- the Son of God. You will find him, the baby, wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger in a stable."

When Gabriel finished, thousands of angels from Heaven joined him, singing, "Glory to God, and peace to everyone on earth." 

As Gabriel and the other angels left them and returned to Heaven, the shepherds talked it over and decided that they wanted to go see the baby Jesus. They started running and didn't stop until they found Joseph and Mary and their new born baby lying in the manger in the stable.

Others also came to see the new baby Jesus -- the Son of God -- bringing gifts to give to Him. A young boy who had no gifts to bring came to see the baby with his drum, and played music for the baby. They found their way to the baby by following a star in the sky -- the brightest, highest star in the sky, shone right over the stable where Jesus was born.

Today, over two thousand years later, we still celebrate that wonderful night -- the night that Jesus was born -- by throwing the biggest birthday party of all: Christmas. Like the angels did so long ago, we sing songs for Jesus, called Christmas Carols. Like the men who visited the baby bringing gifts, we give gifts to those we love, in honor of Jesus' birthday.

Happy birthday, Jesus. And Merry Christmas, to all.

Your comments?

Joe

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Birth Certificate Controversy

This is the document Mr. Obama presented as "proof" of his status as a natural born American citizen:

birth certification

This is what the state of Hawaii issues when a child is born in the state of Hawaii:

birth certificate
As should be readily apparent, the Certification (which Obama supplied) and the Certificate (which Obama has thus far refused to release) are very different documents. The Certification of Live Birth—also called a "short form"—contains limited information and is typically printed when an individual makes a requests it.

The Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth—on the other hand—contains information that can be easily and readily investigated—information that could immediately answer one of the main questions surrounding Obama's constitutional eligibility.

We would know the name of the hospital or facility (we presently do not), where Obama was born and the name of the attending physician or midwife. Following-up on that kind of clear-cut information could put the controversy to rest.

Then again, changes to the original certificate would also be apparent. And, if that were the case, it could be a problem for Obama. Reasonable people would first ask WHY changes were made and IF the changes were legitimate.

Discrepancies between an individual's original birth certificate and the certification of live birth could exist for a variety of reasons—legitimate, erroneous or even fraudulent.

If President-elect Obama is unwilling or unable to prove that he is constitutionally qualified to hold the office of President of the United States then every action he takes as President is open to legal challenge.


--From WorldNet Daily and the United States Justice Foundation
It is not jumping to conclusions or smearing Mr. Obama to ask for proof that he is eligible to serve in the office to which he was elected. I personally don't care if he serves as President (we will survive, I'm sure), as long as he is legally eligible to serve. If he is not legally eligible and is inaugurated on January 20, the Constitutional crisis that follows will dwarf anything this country has faced in its 232 year history.

Your comments?

Joe

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: Sweet Dreams by Aaron Patterson

Book Review
UPDATE: The book is available now at Amazon
and the author will be doing a book signing on December 13. I'll post the location soon.

To enter for a chance to WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY, tell me why you're a big reader, and what you like to read. The best entry (picked by Aaron Patterson and Average Joe) will win an autographed copy of Sweet Dreams.
When the CIA and the FBI won't help; when Homeland Security can't protect you; when you feel that justice will never be served, there is only one place left to turn: the World Justice Agency. Under the guidance of the mysterious Solomon, the agents of the WJA mete out justice in a way that only they can.

Somewhere between Stephen King's Johnny Smith and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, there is one man whose organization will stand up for what is right -- stand up for justice, and his most powerful agent is about to be unleashed upon the world's most insidious villains.

In his first novel, Sweet Dreams, freshman author Aaron Patterson introduces the world to Mark Appleton, the WJA's newest, most unsuspecting agent, with a very unexpected ability. But then unexpected ability is what the WJA is all about. Unexpected ability and defending the vicitmized.

Patterson's Appleton never ceases to amaze the reader as every turn of the page presents a new twist. Through the first two-thirds of Sweet Dreams, we follow Mark Appleton on his quest for justice in the wake of a very personal crime. While Appleton seeks vengeance, we also meet Kirk Weston and his trusty sidekick, Geoff Martin -- three men who take the reader on a high-speed journey of suspense and intrigue.

I don't want to spoil this incredible first work by revealing too much of the story. Author Patterson weaves a tale that is at the same time both unrealistic and completely believable. His characters will win your support and encouragement while they each ride their own runaway train down different tracks to the same destination. And just when you start to question your loyalties, the story takes a shocking turn that sends the reader on a collision course with the possibility of a frightening reality cut fresh from tomorrow's headlines.

New authors come and go every day. Very few come on the scene with the ability to weave a tale that will make you sad to reach the end, longing for more. At at time when the world needs a real hero, Patterson delivers with the WJA's Mark Appleton -- an unlikely hero for the 21st century.

Patterson shows promise. Patterson shows talent. Patterson shows the world what justice was meant to be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Patterson is the product of Home Schooling and Bible College, with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He works in construction with fire sprinklers and his hobbies include reading, writing, and photography. Aaron reads a book a week, including those of his favorite authors Ted Dekker and James Patterson. "In high school I read one hundred books on my summer break. It gave me a headache!"

Aaron lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two children (and a third on the way).

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY!

You can register to win an autographed copy of Aaron's debut novel, Sweet Dreams (expected available date December 1, 2008). Simply subscribe for updates on how you can win an autographed copy of this incredible first novel. Details coming soon.

Your comments?

Joe

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Day The Constitution Died

You've no doubt heard of The Day The Music Died. Well, today could very well become known as The Day The Constitution Died.

Supreme Court turns down case challenging Obama's citizenship
New Jersey man claimed Obama was not a 'natural born citizen' and could not be president

 Tribune Washington bureau
10:36 AM EST, December 8, 2008

The Supreme Court today turned down an emergency appeal asking the justices to consider whether President-elect Barack Obama is a "natural born citizen," and thereby, eligible to become president.

Read the full story here .

I'm just discouraged that the Supreme Court would ignore this issue, rather than hearing it and putting the matter to rest one way or the other.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Joe Show Christmas Giveaway 2008


utterli-image
Enter for your chance to win one of several music CDs, free music downloads, or an autographed copy of Sweet Dreams by Aaron Patterson.

Mobile post sent by averagejoe using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

His Love Never Fails

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
FOR TODAY'S FULL READING, CLICK THE TITLE LINK ABOVE.
Money

SCRIPTURE:
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 [MSG]
OBSERVATION: When times get tough, turn to God.

APPLICATION:
It is not news that our nation -- the world, even -- is in the midst of tough economic times. My wife has been quite stressed lately about money, and the task of buying Christmas gifts for two toddlers surely doesn't help. I tried this morning to calm her concerns, reminding her that God has always provided for us, seeing us through tougher times than this.

Then God led me to the epiphany of His Word. Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. At a time when many are concerned about jobs, mortgages, even just making ends meet, the Father still reaches out to us through His Word to let us know that He is there to provide for us. Does God still speak to us in the 21st century? The timeliness of this passage is no coincidence.
PRAYER:
Thank You, Father, for directing me to Your Word, for reminding me that You are in control. Your love never fails, Lord.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Will You Give For Christmas

Book ReviewChristmas shopping this week? Take a moment to remember what the season is all about, with this little short from Jeff Caylor.



Hear more from Jeff Caylor in The Joe Show and in Soapy Joe.

Your comments?

Joe

Loving As He Loves Me

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
FOR TODAY'S FULL READING, CLICK THE TITLE LINK ABOVE.
Wedding Rings

SCRIPTURE:
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage. Ephesians 5:25-28 [MSG]
OBSERVATION: 
I am not only to provide for and protect my wife, but to love her so must as to almost elevate her above myself.
APPLICATION:
Christ showed His love for the church -- for His followers -- by serving them. He didn't put Himself first, but rather put us above Him. He washed the feet of those who followed Him. He broke bread for them and served them. He even died for them -- for us.

What kind of love do I show to my wife? Do I serve her, or expect her to serve me? After a long day at work I come home and expect to be able to relax. But my wife has worked all day, too. Do I give her a chance to relax? Why does it have to be a special occasion for me to whisk the kids away and give her a break?

I could do a much better job of loving my wife the way Christ loves me.
PRAYER:
Father, help me to learn from the example You provided some two thousand years ago. I want to love her like You love me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Love Without Tolerance

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
FOR TODAY'S FULL READING, CLICK THE TITLE LINK ABOVE.
0 Tolerance

SCRIPTURE:
And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. Ephesians 4:17-19 [MSG]
OBSERVATION: We do not need to be accepting to be loving.

APPLICATION:
I've been thinking a lot lately about tolerance, as it seems more and more that we're told that we should accept the differences of others. Not racial or ethnic differences, or gender differences, or differences in abilities, but differences in lifestyle choices. I could create an exhaustive list of Biblically inappropriate lifestyle choices that some today say we should be tolerant of. I won't.

The Bible, we're told, teaches that we should love everyone. That's the argument often used by those who would call for tolerance. But can we love a person without accepting his / her lifestyle choices? I do.

Just as God loves each and every one of us, but hates our sins, so can we love a person without being forced to accept his / her choice of lifestyle. The Bible says that we should not go along with the crowd. Don't settle for the sin that we know to be wrong. Love others, but be strong in our support for God and His Word. Tolerance is not the way to achieve harmony or peace. Tolerance will lead only to more tolerance, until we are in fact intolerant of those who are trying to follow Christ's teaching. I can love you without being tolerant of your sins. Christ showed me how.
PRAYER:
Father, help me to show Your love to all, without regard to anything. At the same time, help me to following the crowd and avoid falling in with the calls for tolerance of that which you teach is wrong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mincing the Word

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
FOR TODAY'S FULL READING, CLICK THE TITLE LINK ABOVE.
The Word

SCRIPTURE:
One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They're only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren't above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents. Romans 16:17-18 [MSG]
OBSERVATION: God has presented us with His inspired Word in sixty-six books.

APPLICATION:
Written by God through those He selected to pen the Word, The Bible is a guide to the life God wants us to live. It is the owner's manual meant to accompany us through this earthly walk we call life. But just as any work can be quoted, paraphrased, snipped, altered, and used in ways that were never intended for purposes that have never been approved, The Bible has been, can be, and will probably always be misused by those who find justification for their selfish pursuits within a verse or two of it's pages.

It's an easy thing to pull out one verse and say that it is permission from God to do something that the full context makes clear was never what God intended. As our world rockets toward increased depravity and immorality, we will surely see the Word of God misused in ways we could never have imagined. Keep a sharp eye out and don't fall victim to those who would fictionalize the Word to meet their needs. They're only in this for what they can get out of it.
PRAYER:
Father, open my eyes to the ways of the world around me. Help me to see through the smoke and mirrors of those who would inappropriately invoke Your Name for their own sinful causes. Use me as a beacon, Lord, to share the Message as You have intended, to dispel the lies and illuminate the Truth. Your Words through me, Lord, not my own.

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