Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: Real Church by Larry Crabb

Book ReviewAt a time when I and my family have finally settled down with a new church home, putting an end to a year and a half of church shopping, Dr. Larry Crabb digs deep into the issue of just what a real church is in his thought-provoking Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it?

By guiding us through his own struggle with the lack of desire to even attend church -- his quest to find a real church -- Dr. Crabb exposes many of today's megachurches (though not by name) for what they really are: entertainers more than churches. In the words of Dr. Crabb, "Gatherings that mobilize resources to do good deeds do not, by doing so, become churches."

It seems today -- and I certainly experienced it in my own quest for a new church home after moving to Indianapolis -- that the churches Paul wrote to in Revelation 2:1-27 are still very much in existence in towns and cities across America today. Churches that are either lukewarm or that have lost their focus entirely. Churches that preach of prosperity and abundance, as if God promised us wealth and power just for following Him. So many of us attend church not for the reasons we should, but for our own selfish purpose. We're there to be entertained, to be made to feel good, to do our duty and stay in God's good grace, when we should be going to church to worship and celebrate our Lord.
God is a party happening. ... Church was designed by God to be the dance studio. ... A gathering becomes a church when a group of Christians together hear the music of Heaven's party and the laughter of God enjoying Himself and begin awkwardly dancing with the Trinity into the relationship and circumstances of life in order to bring Heaven's way of doing things to earth.
It can be so easy to go to church on Sunday so that we appear to be doing the right thing. To go because God wants us to go. To go because we want to go to Heaven. But can we go because we truly want to celebrate our Risen Savior? Is there even a church in your city that understands what the party is really all about?

As Dr. Crabb struggles to identify what a real church is, I find myself revisiting in my mind the many churches I have "shopped" over the past eighteen months, and comparing them to the real church that Dr. Crabb speaks about. There are real churches out there, but there are also real pretenders. In an enlightening and informative way, Dr. Crabb exposes the way of the pretenders, so that we might become part of the party.

This is a must read for every Christian (and non-Christian) who is struggling on his or her way down the path that God has set for us, wondering just what "religion" is all about, and whether the church is really doing the work of the Lord, or just trying to bring in more people and more money into the offering plate. A five-star commentary on the state of Christianity in America if ever there was one.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Average Joe Audio Blog

Average Joe Audio Blog

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The month of July has been a hectic time -- chaotic at work and at home. Visits from multiple corporate executives that resulted in the firing of my immediate supervisor and an extended stay in the market by the Divisional Vice President. Prepping for a Walt Disney World vacation. It's been nuts. But it's finally coming to what I hope will be a nice, relaxing close.

Posted: 30 Jul 2009 09:40 AM PDT
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

SOAP: God Speaks


SOAP {Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer}:

Scripture: Isaiah 47:10-11

Observation: Humble yourself. Your wisdom and knowledge, your arrogance, create a false sense of security. Quit riding the wave and buckle down. Get to work.

Application: My former boss was a fourteen-year veteran with our company. When I started, he worked for me. He was quite a corporate politician and rose through the ranks quite suddenly in the past three years. He had connections. He felt confident and sure of himself. He was a maverick who got away with doing things his way and bucking company methods. He had those to whom he would "delegate" tasks in order to make his job easier and make him seem more efficient. I was one of those.

I was good at my job, followed policy, achieved results. Until I started working for him. I took on some of his responsibility and felt important, valued. In return, he left me alone to do my own thing.

Doing our own things didn't pay off. It was good for a while, feeling honored and valued, almost beyond accountability. That all ended abruptly two days ago when my boss was fired for not achieving the results expected of him. Fourteen years: over. A wife, kids, and a child support obligation; house payment and other bills. He is in my prayers now.

Last night, as I do every night, I asked God to speak to me and blindly opened the Word. To Isaiah 47. I read. God spoke.
You felt secure in your wickedness. "No one sees me," you said. But your wisdom and knowledge have led you astray, and you said, "I am the only one, and there is no other."

So disaster will overtake you, and you won't be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won't be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.
He told me to quit riding down easy street; to quit doing things my own way; to quit feeling honored and important. He told me to get to work. He said He'll tell me when His plans for me change. He rocked my world, and humbled me, and woke me up all at once. He blessed me, and today I feel at great peace.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for answering prayer, for opening my eyes, for showing me the light! I have heard, and I will obey.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Balloonist

Patriot HumorFound this in The Patriot Post:

The balloonist

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Movie Review: Knowing

Movie ReviewThe greatest mystery of our time is "Why?" Why do we exist. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What happens when our time on Earth is over? There are nearly as many answers to the questions as there are people asking them. But only one answer can be correct.

In Knowing, starring Nicholas Cage, we see what some confused souls likely believe to be the answer. It's hard to talk in great detail here about Knowing without too many spoilers. Perhaps a quick look at the theatrical trailer will give you an overview of the movie without spoiling it for you. Then I'll add my thoughts.

Direct video link.

First, let me begin by saying that Knowing is great entertainment. The story line is well thought out and presented well, and is, frankly, quite compelling. The acting, for the most part, is quite convincing (with the exception of one of the child actors, which I somehow find it easy to overlook). The effects, at times, are top notch, while at others (one scene in particular, toward the end of the movie) leave something to be desired.

If you enjoy science fiction, and you aren't easily influenced by Hollywood fiction, then you should see this movie. If you are solidly grounded in your faith -- whatever that faith might be -- then you might want to see this movie. If you are uncertain of what you believe, and frequently find yourself in doubt or asking the questions mentioned above, then you should probably steer clear of this movie. It is pure entertainment and not in any way grounded in fact, but too many people when presented with any kind of fictional account of what the End Times might be like, find themselves considering such fiction as a real possibility. This, I assure you, is not a possible portrayal of what the End Times will be like.

As Knowing rolls into the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie, the story takes a rather sharp turn from mere fiction to outright fantasy, and SPOILER ALERT (sorry), the closing scene of the movie might easily be mistaken by the gullible as the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, where a new Adam and Eve (in this case, Caleb and Abby) find themselves in a beautiful garden and take off running across the field toward what could be the Tree of Life (or, perhaps, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bearing the Forbidden Fruit). END OF SPOILER.

Maybe it is best advised, for those who find themselves uncertain after watching Knowing, to crack open The Word and read the book of Revelation, specifically Revelation 21:1-22:21. There, you will find a factual account of what we can expect in the End Times. In the meantime, if you can watch this movie and separate fact from fiction, fantasy from reality, enjoy Knowing. It just might get you thinking about The Word. Just remember, this is Hollywood, not prophecy!

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Review: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Book ReviewIf, like me, you are an avid reader, then you have likely found yourself lost so deeply in the pages of a book as to feel that you were, indeed, a part of the story. But have you ever found yourself living the story because it jumped out of the pages into your world?

In Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, that is exactly what happens, when an old bookbinder stumbles upon an astonishing discovery. While reading aloud from a book to his wife and daughter, Mortimer Folchart discovers his uncanny ability to literally bring the story to life, as three wretched characters from the book he is reading stand suddenly before him in his own home. Feeling astonished and threatened, Mo jumps to the defense of his wife and daughter and bravely chases the evil intruders off with their own weapons, a sword dropped by one of them, only to discover afterward that his wife is nowhere to be found.

Throughout the pages of Inkheart, Mo, his daughter Meggie, and his wife's aunt Elinor find themselves in the midst of a battle of good and evil as the three book characters -- the vicious leader Capricorn, his trusty servant Basta, and the traitorous Dustfinger -- clash with Mo for the book that delivered them into this world -- each for his own reasons.

In grand fashion, author Cornelia Funke weaves a tale of suspense and intrigue that will keep you turning the pages in a quest to discover what happens next. With as many twists, turns, and unexpected detours as a stretch of mountain highway, Inkheart will leave you eagerly anticipating the sequels: Inkspell (Inkheart) and Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy). Like Harry Potter, this is young adult fiction that will be enjoyed by all ages.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Monday, July 13, 2009

A One World Currency?

New World Currency?Many End Times scholars believe that a World Currency will be adopted in the Last Days.
He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. Revelation 13:16-17
The belief stems from the fact that the Antichrist will rise above other world leaders to assume leadership of a unified government. In his thirst for the ultimate power that got Satan ejected from Heaven, the Bible teaches us that the Antichrist will implement a payment system (the mark of the beast) that will require everyone to use the same currency to buy or sell. Whether that currency will be a physical currency -- as Russian President Medvedev recently presented a potential example of -- or a digital currency of some type is yet to be seen. From the Future World Currency proponents:
We are presenting the peoples of nations, governments, institutions, intellectuals, ordinary people, pragmatists and idealists, scholars and, above all, young people - the real protagonists of the future - with a simple, ingenuous yet determined long-term vision for building an ideal bridge with tomorrow and interpreting a dream to transform into reality. [emphasis added]
Of course, especially young people, as they are the most susceptible in our society to this type of manipulation. I have always felt that the Euro is possibly an early precursor of some type of one world currency. I can honestly say that I don't feel any better about a currency proposed by the Russian government. Especially when Medvedev's puppet-government is actually under control of the Vladimir Putin (whom my wife says is the Antichrist).

The silver-lining to this cloud? Every Biblical prophesy come true is one step closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Honor of SFC John Beale

VideoAs thousands turned out in Georgia to honor a true fallen Super Star, SFC John Beale, ask yourself: were you mourning the wrong person this week?

If this video doesn't move you, then maybe you should move.....

Direct video link.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Offworld (by Robin Parrish) Contest Winner!

Just received the notification that I am a winner in The Christian Manifesto Offworld book giveaway contest.

I cannot wait to dig into this awesome book. Check back soon for a review.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tim Blane's new EP for FREE!

Tim Blane - Trace Side A

Download Tim Blane's new EP absolutely FREE!

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Maddy's Cancer Battle

Monday, July 6, 2009

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs by Stephen Elkins Ill. by Tim O'Connor

Book ReviewLooking for a good children's book of Bible stories can be quite a task. From books that shoot over the head of small children to over-simplified, dumbed-down story books that stray so far from Biblical fact as to be more fiction than anything, it can be much easier to find worthless story books than to find children's books that are actually based in Biblical fact.

100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs is one of the very few children's Bible story books I have found to actually present God's Word in such a way that my children understand and enjoy it, but actually receive the message that God intended when He first inspired His divine Word. 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs presents the favorite stories of my own childhood in a way that my five and three year old children can enjoy and understand while at the same time recognizing that they're learning about God, and developing their own Bible story favorites.

The beautiful, full-color graphic illustrations make the characters come alive on the page with kid-friendly images that help to grab the attention of even the youngest children, who learn to match the words of the story with the images of the picture to get the full impact of God's Word. The included two CD set of children's Bible songs is a highlight that makes 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs a well-rounded, interactive experience for my children, who love to dance and sing-along to what are quickly becoming their favorite songs.

100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs is one of the best children's Bible story books I've ever shared with my children, opening up the door for meaningful nightly devotions with my children that help to bring them closer to an understanding of Word of God.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Success In Our Church Shopping Endeavor?

ChurchIt has been just over eighteen months since our move to Indianapolis, and we have been searching for a church where we could feel at home ever since. At times, we thought we had found just the right church, only to later question whether God was calling us to that particular church or not.

Today, we made our first visit to Heartland Church in Fishers, Indiana. Usually, when I write about our "church shopping" experiences here, I don't actually share the name of the church. That's because usually my wife and I have not felt that we were moved to attend the particular church I was writing about, and I wouldn't want to say anything that might discourage anyone from attending any specific church that is trying to do the work of the Lord.

Today, our visit to Heartland Church (@HeartlandIndy on Twitter) was a very positive experience for the entire family. When we first pulled into the parking lot for the 11AM service, the lot was virtually empty. We began wondering what kind of turn out there might be. From the moment we walked into the church and approached a man standing by an information desk, we all felt right at home. We first met Ed, who introduced himself as a full-time volunteer staff member who works with small groups. We introduced ourselves to Ed, who then introduced us to another staff-member who helped us to get our kids checked into Adventureland, where they would attend their own age-tailored church services.

My wife and I then made our way to the sanctuary, where we had our choice of nearly any seat in the house. We picked comfortable seats on the aisle in the fourth row and waited for the service to begin as people slowly made their way in (there turned out to be many more people there when the service was over than we had thought there were).

The worship band was led by Rick Stump, and they played popular contemporary Christian tunes that made my wife and I feel right at home. Best of all, they didn't seem to be performing, as we have felt that many bands at the churches we've attended were doing -- they seemed to be worshiping the Lord.

The sermon was delivered by Rick's father (I believe his name is Gary), and was delivered in such a way that anyone listening could feel a part of the discussion. He did not teach down to us, did not teach at us, did not speak over our heads. It was a very informative, very enjoyable sermon.

After the service, the most important test of all: the kids' reaction to their individual services. When I asked my son if he liked it, he said, "Did you love it?" When I said yes, he said, "Me, too."

Enough said, so far. They didn't observe Communion today, but many churches don't observe Communion more than once a month, or every other week. We'll see how that goes down when the time comes, but based on the rest of the experience, we are both more likely to be flexible with the Communion service. Most churches we've visited observe Communion by dipping the Communion bread into the cup. We have always preferred taking the bread and the cup separately. I guess we will learn in time what method Heartland Church employs. In the meantime, we'll be returning to Heartland quite regularly, I believe.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Declaration of Independence

American FlagThis is what it's all about. Thanks to the HoosierPundit....


Sent to you by Average Joe American via Google Reader:


via The Hoosierpundit by Scott on 7/4/09

1337 words that changed the world.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislaton:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and



Happy Birthday, America!

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!


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