Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley

 

I was not sure what I was going to get with this book because I was not extremely familiar with the author. However, after reading it, I am extremely glad that I picked it up. The Blessing is a book that I would highly recommend for any parent, child, husband, wife, brother, sister, etc., etc. The front cover states this in regard to what the book is all about: Giving the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. That is truly what this book is all about.

John Trent and Gary Smalley do a great job of unpacking and presenting the idea of the “blessing” and how people today can use this idea in any of their relationships. As I read this book, my eyes were opened as to why some things in my family are the way they are. It helped me have a greater understanding for some of my shortcomings. But, most importantly, The Blessing helped strengthen my desire to be a better husband and father and that is what truly blessed me about this book.

It is hard for me to truly state everything about this book in a review. The main thing I can say is to actually go get the book and read it. Pray that God would give you an open heart as you read it. Pray that God would allow you to see where you might be able to make some changes in your life that might help bless those around you.

The only other thing I want to mention about this book comes from its own pages. In the first chapter, the authors are giving reasons for why the blessing is important and the one that really stood out to me is this one: “the blessing fights back against a toxic culture.” The culture is slowly but surely eating away at the idea behind the family. Everywhere you look in the media, there are attacks against what we know as the family. Personally, I know that these attacks are being set forth by Satan but if you were to look more closely, you would probably see that the people attacking the family the most are those who in some way or another have been directly hurt by a family member or something happened in their past to turn them this way. So if the church wants to be able to combat this move, one way is to help families understand how to love each other unconditionally and how to live in light of the gospel.

I do not want to say anything else about the book because I do not want to give too much away. I do want to say though that if you have read this review, you should get the book.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Vomit and a New Perspective on Grace, Love and Sanctification

Parents will appreciate this post. The other night, as I am coming home from work, my wife calls me with some anxiousness in her voice. It turned out that our daughter, only 10 months old, had thrown up in her crib. And this was not just the milk spit up after eating. This was for real spit up, you could even call it projectile vomit. Well, my wife waited until I got home for me to help her clean it up because it was quite a bit. She had gone in after hearing Ellie make a strange sound and that is when she discovered that it was throw up. It was going to take both of us to clean it up because it was everywhere. When I got home I walked into the room to start taking the clothes off my little girl so we could clean her up. She was laying on her stomach asleep, clutching her little bear that she sleeps with and completely soaked on the front with spit up. It was amazing she was able to sleep. So I rolled her over and started to take her clothes off so Marcie could give her a bath and I could clean up the crib. At first, Ellie had no idea what was going on. She didn’t even wake up until I had everything off except her shirt and diaper. Finally, we got her clothes off and Marcie took her to shower. I turned on the light in her room and surveyed the scene. There were pieces of food outside of her crib, on the side of her crib and all over her crib sheet. I once again wondered how she was able to sleep.

After everything was cleaned up and Marcie had given her a bath and got her ready for bed again, Marcie put her back in her crib to sleep and I went about my normal routine when I come home from work, which consists of unwinding for a few minutes and then a shower. While I was showering, God revealed a new picture of His grace towards me. He gave me a new perspective on what had just happened. My daughter could not clean herself up. She needed my help. There was no possible way that she was ever going to get clean without my wife and I stepping in to help. The same goes for my walk with the Lord. There is no way I could ever clean myself up enough to deserve God’s grace.

God, in His mercy, while we were still sinners, dead in our sins, sent His Son to die for me so that I could live. He came and got me while I was still in my mess, washed me in His blood and then clothed me with His righteousness. In the situation with my daughter, she was only asleep; she would have eventually woken up. In our case as humans, we would never wake up if not for God’s love. So God gives us life and washes us clean and then clothes us with His righteousness, not in the filthy rags we once wore. After Marcie bathed Ellie, we gave her new clothes to put on so she could go back to sleep. God gives us new clothes so that we can live for Him and shine for Him. He does not just take old people and make them new. He takes dead people and gives them life. So while what happened with my daughter is a small picture of God’s grace, it pales in comparison with what God has done for us.

Lastly, this whole situation reminded me of the process of sanctification. We can never wash ourselves clean on our own accord. We can NOT sanctify ourselves. Once again, it is completely and fully God’s work in us, through us and for us. (For more on this, I recommend you read My Utmost for His Highest for today, July 23rd. You can find it Here.) Just as my daughter would have continued to sleep and remain in her mess, so we would do the same if not for God stepping in and beginning the whole process.

I will forever remember the events of this night because of what God was able to teach me through the whole situation. I know there will be many more instances like this because that is what parents do, which is why I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be a parent. I don’t deserve the chance but I am so looking forward to what God reveals to me about Himself through everything.

A couple passages that touch on the same topic as this blog are Romans 5 and Ephesians 2. Check them out.

I pray God is able to use this blog to bless you or encourage you in some way or another. If it did, you can feel free to subscribe from the main page and have new blogs sent right to your email.

God bless.


A Few Thoughts On Worship

 

Friday, July 8th I went took the youth from Journey Church to King’s Fest at King’s Dominion. This is a yearly Christian music festival featuring many top artists, bands and speakers. It is a fun time to enjoy all the rides the park has to offer and also attend mini-concerts. I just want to share something that struck me from this year’s trip.

The day started out great with the rain staying away and everyone was able to enjoy the rides without any problem. Then came 4 PM when the concerts were starting to swing into high gear and along with it came the rain. It started raining pretty hard causing us to consider just heading home since it did not seem it was going to let up and when it rains like it did, they close the rides for obvious safety reasons. But my story picks up with what happened right before we left. We had just ridden the Flight of Fear coaster, which is an indoor roller coaster, a couple times and as we were heading back to the van, the rain began letting up and we passed the amphitheater where the concerts were taking place. It appeared as though they were still allowing people in and thus the youth from my group wanted to go see what was going on. It turns out the Newsboys were about to continue the festival with a concert. So after begging me a little bit, I conceded to allow us to stay for their performance and then head back. It had been a long day, most everyone was soaked and we still had at least a 3 hour drive ahead of us. I was reluctant because I was considering the fact that the adults are the ones who have to drive back and we were the ones most tired but let me say that I am glad we stayed. I was able to get a glimpse of something that was truly amazing.

Let me attempt to set the stage. Something has been bothering me for a while concerning the church here in America and what we consider to be worship and what worship is even all about. We attend church on Sunday mornings, sometimes Sunday evenings and then maybe attend a small group throughout the week. For many Christians, Sunday morning worship is more of a duty. They stand up and sing but with begrudging attitudes and hardly any joy being expressed in their faces. I truly believe this saddens the heart of God when His followers cannot muster up any kind of facial expressions of joy while singing about our Great God and King, OUR Savior, the One who Redeemed us, paid the price that we owed out of love for us. How anyone can sing to Him and not allow their hearts and minds to be moved to the point that it is expressed in a change of outward expression is beyond me. It is a pet peeve of mine to see people singing about How great our God is with a blank expression on their face. It is NOT A SIN to show emotion in the church. In fact, I feel that God receives more glory from people who can actually sing to Him and actually show some emotion and allow their hearts, minds and souls to be moved by what they are singing. It is NOT A SIN to show true joy. If we show more joy at ANYTHING other than our God and Savior, then we have a heart problem.

But anyways, back to my point, it just saddens me to see it happen in churches. I know many people who attend are not believers and thus they will not show any emotion so I am not talking about them. I am speaking to followers of Christ who profess Christ and teach Christ. I know many people are not huge on outward expression, as I am not really one of them either but God has been working in my heart in this regard in that how can I get excited about anything and not allow myself to get excited with Worshiping the God of this universe? It is beyond me.

So, with that in mind, I come back to Friday evening and listening to the Newsboys. It was getting dark by the time they began and most of their concert took place in the dark, except for the lights and stage and spot lights. Facing the stage were two spotlights where when you looked at their beam, you could see the rain falling. It was not a hard rain except at a couple points but it was enough to have already deterred some from attending. As part of their performance, the Newsboys added in a couple worship songs which everyone knew and were able to sing along with. Well, as we were singing, I just looked across the number of people who were there enjoying this time and singing along and it moved me. To see people singing to God in spite of the rain and completely undeterred by it was an awesome experience. It was not comfortable being wet at the moment but this time had me more caught up in who God was than how wet I was. I felt it was a small glimpse at what worship must truly be about and what kind of worship brings a smile to the face of God.

We have allowed ourselves in the church to become too comfortable. We want to worship in air conditioned buildings where we can control the environment. We are more concerned with our comfort and our environment and how comfortable I am than in who God IS. I also understand there are some physical limitations of people who keep them from being able to stand for longer periods of time. But once again, that is not my point.

My point is that when we are involved in true worship and allowing our hearts to be completely open to “Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13), we become less concerned with our environment, our circumstances and our comfort. We become more and more consumed with who God is and when this happens, worship happens. Worship should move us to think more about God than about our comfort and about our environment and about our circumstances. It should move us to worship God for who He IS and who we profess Him to BE.

Does your worship do that? All I know is that I long for my worship to do that. Worship is NOT about music and how great a band sounds or making sure that things go off without a glitch.  Worship IS about God and how great and amazing and powerful and loving and just and merciful and gracious HE IS. Allow yourself to be caught up in that and see if your attitude does not change in regards to your circumstances.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Feel free to subscribe to the blog on the main page and be updated whenever a new blog is posted.