Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: The Strategically Small Church by Brandon J. O'Brien


There are many people in the world today, especially in America, who believe that bigger is better. In fact, bigger often equates to being the most successful. If you wanted to sell something, would you rather have that something sold in a store like Walmart, or in some mom and pop store on main street in small town USA?

But bigger is not always better, nor is it more successful when it comes to the church in Christianity and that is the premise of Brandon J. O'Brien's book The Strategically Small Church. What Mr. O'Brien does is show how smaller churches are not only biblical, but are better suited more times than not than large churches to minister to the needs of the people around them. This is not to say that the larger churches, or mega-churches do not have a place, but simply put, there are more smaller churches than larger ones.

Mr. O'Brien starts off his book by pointing out that the size of the church should not be an indicator of a ministry's success, then proceeds to show how several large churches have seen that downgrading in size has actually been a benefit to their ministries. Mr. O'Brien then goes on to point out the benefits of a smaller church: becoming inter-generational, becoming a training church, being a nimble church and becoming an equipping church to name a few.

The Strategically Small Church is a well written and well researched book, and Mr. O'Brien knows his subject well, but I have to admit that this was a book that took some time for me to read in that I am not a church leader nor a pastor. However, I did learn quite a bit from this book about more of the inner workings of these positions.

If you are a pastor, or a church leader, then this book should be one that you read. For the rest of us, if you are interested in how the church works, then read it. If not, then this isn't the book for you.


Please note that Bethany House Publishers has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review: Which None Can Shut by Reema Goode



There are many times when I have wondered what it would be like, to be a missionary in a Muslim country.  After reading Reema Goode's Which None Can Shut: Remarkable True Stories Of God's Miraculous Work in the Muslim World  I feel that I have an idea of what that life might be like.  Writing under a pseudonym to protect not only her and her family, but those who have been led to Christ by them, Mrs. Goode shows us the world that she, her husband and her two children live in.

This book is not a book that instructs people how to evangelize the Muslim world, nor, is this a book that tells the world the statistics of those who were Muslim and have now come to faith in Jesus Christ.  What this book is, is a wonderful collection of experiences that Mrs. Goode and her family have lived through while sharing the love of, and the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This book is a very easy read and was one that I had a hard time putting down.  As I read this book, I felt as though I was having a cup of coffee with Mrs. Goode in my living room, listening to her tell her stories to me.

This book will encourage as well as challenge you.  If you are even remotely interested in the lives of missionaries in Muslim countries, then this book is a must read.

Please note that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Short Letter To My Daughters

I've often wondered why God decided that I should be a dad to the two of you.  There are times when I feel so ill equipped to to deal with the issues you two have to go through on a daily basis.  I still can't braid hair, nor put hair up in a decent ponytail, and me trying to coordinate clothing?  Jeans and t-shirts are the way to go and yes, I see how your eyes roll when I suggest them to you. 

You're both growing up so fast, I simply don't know what to do.  I turn around one day and Chloe, you have developed into a beautiful young lady who is getting noticed by boys.  Morgan, you've just turned eight and I still remember holding you after you left the hospital for the first time.  Where does the time go?

We've gone from "Daddy play Barbie with me?" to "Daddy, help me with my homework." 

Chloe, you are my artist, my poet, my writer.  You are one who will change the world and leave a legacy that will be looked upon by many.  Morgan, you are my athlete, my explorer, my inquisitive one.  You are the one that will excel at whatever you do, no matter what.  You will leave a legacy of your own that will shine as bright as the stars we have looked at at night.

There is an unselfish, innocent love about you both that gives me such hope for this world.  I know that one day that innocence will be gone and you will understand the ways of this world, but I know your love will help make it a better place.  I look into both of your eyes and know that to be true.

There is much much more I can write to you both, but I think I will save those for later.  For right now, I want to end this letter this way.

When I started this first letter to you both, I asked the question, "Why did God give me two daughters to help raise?".  Earlier today, while driving home from the store with Morgan, the sunlight fell on her, outlining her blond hair and bringing her freckles out on her face.  Morgan, you had such a smile on your face the it rivaled the sun for its brilliance.  And earlier in the week, Chloe, you plopped onto my lap and put your head on my shoulder and just stayed there, telling me you loved me.  Both of those moments, and many, many like them answer that.  He gave me both of you as a blessing to me.  I am blessed, privileged and honored to be the dad to the two of you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: A Leader's Heart 365-Day Devotional Journal By John Maxwell



At first glance, A Leader's Heart 365 Devotional Journal by John Maxwell appears to be a book that belongs in a library of vintage books, as the book itself is quite lovely to look at and hold in your hands.  After reading through this devotional however, the book deserves a place on your desk, or nightstand, or wherever you may read and meditate on what you read.

For anyone having a leadership role in life, this book dispenses 365 days of thought provoking words of wisdom that are intricately tied into that day's particular choice of Biblical scripture located at the top of each page. Each day's devotion is written so that it can be read quickly, and with the space at the bottom of the page, designed to be used as a journal to think on what was written and how it can, or does apply to the reader's life.

Classified as a gift book, whether you would purchase this as a gift for a leader you know, or for yourself, this is a book that should not just sit on a shelf, but needs to be read and written in.  This is a book that will be enjoyed, one day at a time.

Please note that Thomas Nelson Publishing has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Love of A Child On Her Birthday

Yesterday was my youngest daughter's eighth birthday and what a birthday it was!  It started off with a private family only get together that happened in the morning.  We did a present unwrapping for the family.

If you are wondering about the theme here, she wanted items to help her become a magician.  The party theme however had to be Scooby Doo.

Later on that day her Papaw took her to Six Flags Over Texas where she rode as many of the rides as she could squeeze in.

Then we went to Shogun for her birthday dinner.  The Chef who gave us quite a show actually allow Morgan to try her hand at the grill!


Then we did presents again.  The roll of one dollar bills had to be one of her favorites.


Although the pillow pet came in very close.


All in all she had a great day and I was very happy for her.

Now the part I wanted to come to, the reason for this blog post.  My wife has been sick lately and has been putting off going to the doctor.  My youngest daughter looks at her mommy and says, if you go to the doctor now, I'll pay for it, and hands over her roll of one dollar bills. 

Unconditional, unselfish and true agape love as demonstrated by my eight year old daughter.  Did I mention how very proud I am of her?

Eric

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I remember 9/11

We had said our wedding vows two days earlier in Las Vegas.  My wife's parents were still there.  We woke up to a day that was sunny and bright, and I settled in to work from home, and my wife was heading out to work.  I turned on the television to CNN like I always did and saw that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers.  I thought to myself  wow!  As I worked, I looked up and saw the second plane crash into the other tower.

At that point I thought "What the hell?".  Hell was what it was to become as I watched the events of 9/11 unfold from my living room in Dallas, TX.  After the Pentagon was hit, I called my wife and she said she was coming home.  The area she worked in was being evacuated as a precaution.

The hardest thing to watch, and I still remember the images as clear as day nine years later, were of people jumping off of the Trade Center Towers to their deaths below on live television.  The other image I will never forget was seeing clear skies over Dallas.  No airplanes in the sky at all.  My wife and I knew the world had changed forever.

On this day, I ask you to take a moment and pause and reflect, and then offer a prayer to God.  Pray for those who lost loved ones on that day, many of whom still need some sort of closure.  Pray for the situation in New York over the proposed mosque near ground zero.  Pray for those who would commit an offense like this again, that they would meet Jesus and renounce those radical ways.  And pray for our country an the leaders of this country.  Most of all just pray.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado


When you die, will what you have done in life outlive you?  Are the things you are doing in life right now going to make a difference when you are gone?  If you want to make a difference in life, even if it is just in the life of a single person then the newest book by Max Lucado, Out Live Your Life   You Were Made To Make A Difference is the book that you will want to read.

Taking his cue from the Book of Acts from the Bible, Mr. Lucado, using both fictional and real life anecdotes illustrates many ways to make life count.  From simple hospitality and inviting friends and neighbors over for dinner in your home, to making eye contact and actually listening to a homeless person on the street that will come up to you for a handout, you will be shown how doing these and other actions not only emulates Jesus and his teachings, but that you are actually serving Jesus when you do them.

Reading this book is not the only thing to do with it however.  In the back of the book is a section dedicated to discussion and action.  Each chapter comes with discussion questions to be talked about, and action items to be used as a starting point to go out and simply do.  This is not only a great book to go through individually, but will be a wonderful book to use for group study.

If you want to make a difference in life and are not sure how to, then I recommend this book to you.

Please note that Thomas Nelson Publishing has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Praying Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- The Last Day

This is the last day of Ramadan. Thank you for praying with me during this. I urge you to please keep our brothers and sisters in Christ in continued prayer, even as this month ends.

For Indonesia

Sept 9 | Indonesia
With the world’s
largest Muslim population, Islamists incite violence against Christians and use legal means to oppress the church. Pray that God would grow and sustain His church as they stand firm in the faith.

“Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps 5:11)

Eric

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 29

For those in Bahrain

Sept 8 | Bahrain
Without restrictions on religious choice, converts from Islam are often shunned by society. Pray for Christians to share their faith boldly and for God to protect and sustain new believers through His Word.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He…who will sustain you.” (Isa 46:4)

Eric

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It is not Un-American It is Free Speech

In an earlier post I stated that the church in Gainesville, Florida should not burn the Quran, but instead if they wanted to make a statement, that statement should be one of the entire church, as a corporate body on its collective knees in prayer.  I still stand by that. 

However, I heard something today that chilled me. 
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the administration hoped that more Americans would stand up and condemn the church's plan.
"We think that these are provocative acts," Crowley said. "We would like to see more Americans stand up and say that this is inconsistent with our American values; in fact, these actions themselves are un-American."(emphasis mine)
Since when is exercising your first amendment right to Free Speech and Freedom of Expression un-American? I agree that what they are doing is not the best way to protest, as I have indicated above and in my previous post, but seriously?  Un-American?

Washington needs to suck it up here and take a giant step back.  The church, in my opinion, is doing the wrong thing here by planning on holding the Burn the Quran day, but it is their right to do so in this country.

Eric

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 28

If there is one area on earth that needs pray this is it.


Sept 7 | Palestine
On the West Bank there is no official opposition, but secret believers experience pressure from family and community. Pray for strength for those trapped in the political crossfire in Gaza.

“Strengthen me according to Your word.”
(Psalm 119:28)

Eric

Monday, September 06, 2010

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 27

Praying for those in Ethiopia.

Sept 6 | Ethiopia
Persecution comes from Muslim extremists and the Ethiopian Orthodox church in the form of social ostracism, threats and physical abuse. Pray that believers would be equipped and restored through seminars.

“God places the lonely in families… He leads forth the prisoners with singing” (Psalm 68:6)
Eric

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Thoughts on Psalm 23 Part 2

 In part one of my thoughts on Psalm 23, I talked about verses 1, 2 and 3.  In part two, I would like to finish discussing the rest of the psalm.

I know that in part one I talked about the fact that to me this psalm spoke about the calming influence of personally knowing God and His Son, Jesus in your life.  That when you are stressed, when you feel the chaos of the world closing in on you so much that you are apprehensive and afraid, that God calms you, restores your soul and allows you rest.  I still believe that this is part of what is said from this psalm.  But there is another part of this that speaks to me as well, and I wanted to share that with you, with the remaining verses.

Verse four is perhaps one of the most quoted verses of the Bible.  If you have ever been to a funeral, or seen one on T.V., or have read about one in a book, chances are you have read or heard the following:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa 23:4)

We will all die someday.  It is a fact that one day, we will cast off these bodies of flesh and depart from this world into the next.  To most people, this is a frightening thought, a day looked upon with dread and fear.  Not so for the person who has that personal relationship with Christ.  For a true follower of Christ, one who has trusted his life, his eternal salvation to Jesus, that day is looked upon with longing and joy.  As Paul said, "to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord"!

When David was speaking of the "shadow of death,", what exactly was he speaking of?  In the original Hebrew, the term "shadow of death" was  צלמות (tsalmâveth pronounced tsal-maw'-veth) which meant
shade of death, that is, the grave (figuratively calamity): - shadow of death.
So I believe David meant the grave here.  David was not afraid to die, as he knew his God was with him, and not only that but God protected David as well. "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."  Imagine the sheep that a shepherd took care of.  The rod and staff of the shepherd was what was there normally to provide protection to the flock as well as help lead a wayward sheep or lamb back on the path with a gentle nudge.  This is what David is conveying here, I believe.

Then we come to verse five, which again I believe to have more than one meaning here, both in this life and the next.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. (Psa 23:5)
In biblical times when you were invited into a camp or house, you were the honored guest and as such you were afforded certain rules of hospitality.  One was that you were anointed with sweet smelling oil, as well as offered water to wash off the dust with.  Another was that even if you had enemies pursuing you, you would be protected and given food and drink.  Here we see that as David knew that God would provide for him, and believed that with all his heart, so should we believe that God will provide for us as well in this life.  And God provides for us in the next life as well, and this is even in the presence of our spiritual enemies, Satan and his demons.  Jesus himself said:
Joh 14:2-3 NASB  "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  (3)  "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
So if we are having places prepared for us, then doesn't it stand to reason that we will have tables, oil and cups prepared for us as well?  To be honest, I am both thrilled and overjoyed at this prospect!

Finally David ends his psalm with verse six.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.(Psa 23:6)
What a great message to us, especially in this chaotic day and age.   The word "surely" to me acts as a promise from God.  In all the days we live, from the happy, joyful days, to those days that are the blackest and darkest, God's goodness and lovingkindness (mercy in the King James Version) are there with us.  You can count on that.  And knowing that you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, well, what more could you say. 

David's 23rd psalm is one of the most recognized and quoted from the Bible.  But when you hear it or read it, don't just think of it as mere words to be spoken or read; think of it as God's promise to David.  And to you.


Eric

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 26

Please continue your prayers.

Sept 5 | Jordan & Syria

Uphold Iraqi Christians who have fled to Jordan and Syria. Pray that isolated Christians will find other brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them as they walk with the Lord together.

“The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow….” (Psalm 146:9)

Eric

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 25

Morroco

Sept 4 | Morocco
Openness to the gospel of Christ is increasing even while government restrictions continue on Christian activities. Pray for needed Bibles and Christian literature.

“I urge that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…” (1 Tim 2:1)

Eric

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thoughts on Psalm 23 Part 1

Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most well known parts of the Bible, as it, or at least a part of it is said at almost every funeral I have attended, seen, heard, or have talked about.  It is also the subject of last weeks sermon at my Church and the topic of discussion at our community group meeting we had this week.

There were several things said about this Psalm, and I wanted to convey some of them here.  I am using the NASB translation.

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.(Psa 23:1)
The first thing that was looked at, was not the fact that the Lord was being compared to just any shepherd, but this was an intimate, personal saying.  The Lord is my shepherd.  Not just any shepherd on the block, or not just anybody's old shepherd, but mine.  This reveals a very personable relationship that goes beyond friendship.

You might wonder why a shepherd?  Well, if you look at a shepherd, you would see a few things that make a shepherd stand out.  In biblical times, a shepherd was usually not the best profession around.  A shepherd was looked down upon by most people.  They spent time among the sheep they tended, probably didn't bathe very regularly, and well, you get the picture.  However, the shepherd protected the sheep they looked after, fighting off wild animals, looking for them if one or more became lost, and carrying one if it were injured and could not walk.

A shepherd also was around the sheep so much that the sheep knew the shepherd's voice and would come if called.  There was much trust there, between sheep and shepherd.

So David calls the Lord, his shepherd, his personal shepherd, as we all should.


He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.(Psa 23:2)
The second verse of this Psalm caused a little bit of an animated discussion among our community group.  One person wanted to know, why wold God make anyone do anything, as David says, makes me lie down.  Now the Hebrew word here is רבץ (râbats pronounced raw-bats') and means the following:
A primitive root; to crouch (on all four legs folded, like a recumbent animal); by implication to recline, repose, brood, lurk, imbed: - crouch (down), fall down, make a fold, lay (cause to, make to) lie (down), make to rest, sit.
 So the question posed was, "why would God make us (or David) lie down as a sheep in a green pasture?".  Personally I think that there is a couple of reasons. One, there is that matter of trust.  Do we trust God to know us better than we know ourselves, and two, sometimes we may not know when we need a rest.  Have you ever gone on doing something, say, like working, to the point of exhaustion simply because something needed to be completed on time?  I believe that this would be the case of God knowing when we needed a rest and therefore would make us lie down to rest.  Do we follow the doctor's orders if we are placed on bed rest?  Well, then if the greatest physician of all tells us to rest, who are we to argue?

In this particular verse,  I believe that we are God's sheep and as such we must trust the shepherd to know what is best for us.  David did.  Now before you decide to take offense at being called a sheep of God, please remember a couple of things about Sheep in biblical times.  One, sheep were considered a very valuable possession and as such sheep were bought at a great price.  Two, a person's or a family's wealth would sometimes be measured in how much livestock was owned.  And yes, that included sheep.  So God would value you as a prized possession, purchased with the greatest cost imagined.  I don't mind being thought of as one of God's sheep.  I am glad he purchased me!

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.(Psa 23:3)

Let me ask you a couple of questions.  Have you ever experienced stress?  Have you ever taken a path in life that you regretted as it perhaps made you do things you thought you never would or could?  Most stress in life, at least the way I perceive it, is self induced, and usually brought on by walking down paths you really shouldn't have.  Having stress brought on by financial problems?  Was it perhaps because you decided to purchase things you didn't need, or you were living above your means?  That is but one example.  In verse 3, the Shepherd of David's psalm, the Lord God, does two things to David.  He restores David's soul, and He guides David in the righteous pathways for His (God's) own sake.  So what exactly does this mean?

Once again, I would like to go back to the original Hebrew.
The word restores in the original Hebrew is שׁוּב (shûb pronounced shoob) and one of the meanings of this word is:
A primitive root; ... recall, recompense, recover, refresh, relieve, render (again).
Now, I have to be honest is saying that I am not sure as to what period of David's life that the 23rd Psalm was written in, though I will find out if I can.  But two things come to my mind that would make David's soul need restoring, or refreshing.  Those times would have been when David was being pursued by King Saul, and when David sinned greatly with Bathsheeba. Both of those times surely must have caused David much stress in his life, to the point that his soul was probably restless and troubled.  Yet both times, David's soul was restored at the time God deemed it ready to be restored.

Now the other part of this verse is that God leads David (and us) in the path of righteousness, for His (God's) name's sake.  I want to highlight the word "sake" here.

Sake in the Hebrew is  שׁם (shêm pronounced shame) and means
A primitive word (perhaps rather from H7760 through the idea of definite and conspicuous position; compare H8064); an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character: -  + base, [in-] fame [-ous], name (-d), renown, report.
What I take out of this is that God leads us on this path because one, this is his character and his character is one of perfect righteousness, and two, he does it to bring glory to himself.  If his people (including me) are living lives of righteousness, then we bring glory to God.  I know that I want to live a life of righteousness, but there are times in which I do stray, just like a wayward sheep.  God, as my shepherd, leads me back on that path of righteousness that I should not have strayed off of.

As for the rest of the verses of this psalm, I will continue this discussion in a second post a little later as it is late and I am ready to retire for the evening.

Eric

Pray Through Ramadan With Open Doors -- Day 24

As I am posting these, I really am ashamed that I have to look up a good number of these countries.

Today is for Djibouti

Sept 3 | Djibouti
Much of the pressure on Christians comes from communities and families. Pray for the encouragement and protection of secret believers and for an extraordinary revelation of God.

“For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:4)

Eric

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 23

Praying for those Brothers and Sisters in Turkey


Sept 2 | Turkey
Despite constitutional religious freedom, government restrictions on religious groups persist. Pray that church leaders will stand strong as they endure persecution and for the protection of Turkish believers who speak out boldly for their faith.

“…we rise up and stand firm.” (Psalm 20:8)

Eric

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 22

For Zanzibar, also part of Tanzania

Sept 1 | Zanzibar Islands
Pray for God’s hand in helping to register churches, get property, pursue education, and find employment. Pray for boldness among Christian foreign workers and fellowship for indigenous believers.

“May my cry come before You, O LORD; give me understanding according to Your word.” (Ps 119:169)

Eric

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 21

This day is for Tajikstan.  Please pray.

Aug 31 | Tajikstan

To be Tajik is to be Muslim. Christians face persecution from relatives, neighbors and local authorities. A new law increases restrictions on the import of religious literature. Pray for the translation of Christian materials into Tajik.

“But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” (Acts 12:24)

Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 20

I missed this day.  Work called unfortunately.


Aug 30 | Kuwait & UAE
A majority of Christians are foreign workers. Pray for effectiveness in their witness and for the gospel message sent through radio and satellite television.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
(1 Cor 16:13)

Eric

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 19

Oman and Brunei

Aug 29 | Oman & Brunei
Pray for indigenous people to hear the gospel message and come to know the love
of Christ.


“Then I saw another angel…and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.” (Rev14:6)

Eric

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Review: Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World: What on Earth Should We Do Now?



In today's world everyone has been affected in one way or another by stress.  Whether losing a job, or not having enough money to pay bills, or watching in horror as another terrorist attack is portrayed on the television, everyone must choose how they deal with this stress.  In Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World, Dr. David Jeremiah shows his readers the biblical way to handle the stress of living in today's world.

I have to be honest in the fact that this is the first book by Dr. Jeremiah that I have read but it will not be the last.  I found this book to be full of practical, truthful advice on how to deal with the pressures of the world we live in with the main truth presented being grounded and centered in Jesus Christ.  This is a book that is well researched and timely and will present the reader with many opportunities to take notes in the margin.  Be warned, you will want to have a pen and a highlighter or two out as you read this book.

In this book the reader is challenged to stay compassionate, constructive, centered, and confident; living life with the guidance of God’s Word. This is a book that I will read again, and this time, I will have the highlighters and pen out to take notes.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who has issues dealing with stress in today’s world.

Eric

Please note that Thomas Nelson Publishing has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review. 
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Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 18

Nigeria and Sudan...Both of these countries need lots of prayer!

Aug 28 | Nigeria & Sudan
Uphold in prayer those who live in fear of attack following the violence in Jos, Nigeria and for mounting tension in Northern Sudan. Pray for encouragement and discipling of Muslim background believers.

“He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them...” (Psalm 97:10)

Eric

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 17

Over halfway there!

Aug 27 | Azerbaijan
With recent growth of the church the government has increased pressure on Christians. Pray for favor with the government and for the Azerbaijani Bible to turn many hearts to Christ.

“But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” (Job 16:5)

Eric

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Brief Vacation

While my oldest daughter went to space camp with her girl scout troop this past weekend, my wife, youngest daughter and I made the trip into a mini vacation.  It was fun, it was relaxing, mostly, and it was brief!  But I wouldn't trade the time I had with them for anything else in the world.  It is very rare that I get to go on vacation with them because of work, so this was a real treat.  Enjoy!



Statue of Sam Houston

Head of Sam Houston

Galveston!

My Daughters and Oldest Daughter's BFF

Sheer Joy!

The Leaders of the Trip

Back up against the wave

Wave 1 Daughter 0

Daughter 1 Wave 0


From the Kemah Boardwalk

Bliss on a Sunday Morning

Ready for Take Off!

My Daughter is in one of those.

Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 16

Stay on those Knees!

Aug 26 | Libya & Algeria
Muslim background believers experience great pressure to return to Islam. Pray for access to the Word of God and for fellowship opportunities for believers.

“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty….” (Isaiah 55:11)

Eric

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 15

Join me in praying for those in Egypt.

Aug 25 | Egypt
Pray for the influence of Christian satellite TV and Arabic websites. Pray for revival among Coptic Christians and boldness in sharing the gospel as well as perseverance for Muslim background believers under pressure to return to Islam.


“…I will write on him the name of my God…”
(Rev 3:12)

Eric

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jack Horkheimer (1938 - 2010)

"Greetings, greetings, fellow stargazers" was one of my favorite phrases to hear in the mid to late 80's.  I already had a love of astronomy from the age of 12, but Jack Horkheimer cemented that love with his short episodes on PBS.

His episodes were short, lasting about a minute, but some shows that the local channel showed were the five minute episodes.  It really didn't matter the length of time; you became mesmerized by the cheesy special effects that showed you what you could see with your naked eye.  No telescope was necessary with his tutelage. So after each one I would go outside and try to see what he showed.  Many an eye besides  mine were opened by him.

Jack Horkheimer died this past Friday, August 20, 2010 but he leaves a legacy of his love of astronomy that he passed on to me and countless others.

Thank you Jack.  We'll "keep looking up" because of you.

Jack Horkheimer (1938 - 2010)


Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 14

For Chechnya

Aug 24 | Chechnya
Pray for Christians in Chechnya who persevere in the face of suffering and pray for God to open doors for those seeking to bring the light of God’s Word to Chechnya.

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers…are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9)

Eric

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't Burn the Quran. Pray!

On September 11th of this year, to mark the ninth anniversary of the attack on this country by radical Muslims, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida are doing some irresponsible and to me, reprehensible.  They are holding a Quran burning. 

My first question is simply "Why?"  Why must they inflame things even more so than they are already?  This act, this selfish, irresponsible act will cause more harm than good.  This will put our Christian Brothers and Sisters into even more harms way than they already are.  This will put American citizens traveling in Muslim countries at risk.  This is an act that borders on the same kind of fanaticism that we are accusing the Muslim extremist with!

The best way to handle this is not with a book burning that can inflame the Islamic world but on your knees in prayer.  To those who would do this thing, publically burn the Quran, I offer the to you:

Tit 3:2-3 NASB  to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.  (3)  For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
2Ti 2:22-26 NASB  Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  (23)  But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.  (24)  The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,  (25)  with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,  (26)  and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (emphasis mine)
 Lead on your knees and do what God has commanded us to do!  Burning the Quran is not what he commanded us to do!



Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 13

Praying for Believers in Qatar.

Aug 23 | Qatar
Most believers in Qatar are immigrants or converted while studying abroad. Pray these
converts would return with the gospel and increase access to Christian fellowship among the few Qatari believers.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.” (Psalm 119:114)


Eric

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 12

Today's prayer schedule is for Iraq.  We now have the last combat troops out of Iraq and the government there is not exactly stable, but functioning.  Pray for the Christians there and for those of non-Christian beliefs as well as for the country in general.

Aug 22 | Iraq

Pray that the church will survive and grow despite violent persecution. Pray for internally displaced Christians, especially those assisted by Open Doors with emergency aid, Bibles and essential items.

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth…He burns the shields with fire.” (Psalm 46:9)

Eric

Friday, August 20, 2010

The New Joseph McCarthy -- I mean Nancy Pelosi

The other day at a news conference in San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi was asked about the Mosque that certain individuals wish to build two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan. 

In her answer she said ( and you can actually listen to the audio below the quote):

"There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how ... this opposition to the mosque is being funded," she said. "How is this being ginned up that here we are talking about Treasure Island, something we've been working on for decades, something of great interest to our community, as we go forward to an election about the future of our country and two of the first three questions are about a zoning issue in New York City?"(emphases mine)





Is she serious?  Considering that a good majority of Americans are against the building of this mosque at this location, it would seem that the Department of Justice, or whoever she would unleash would be very busy for the next few years.  I believe that she could start with me.  I am not opposed to a mosque being built as yes, the constitution guarantees the right to build one.  I am opposed to where it is being built as I consider that a slap in the face of America.  So Ms. Speaker of the House, here I am.  You may start with me.

I studied Senator Joseph McCarthy in school and I believed him to be wrong then and I believe that the call Nancy Pelosi is making here is wrong as well.  I dare say un-American as well.  This is the leadership in Washington we have today.  I hope you will join me in praying for that leadership.  The Lord knows we need it!


Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 11

Shamefully to say this is another country I had to look up online.  If you want to know more about this country, click the name of the country below.  Keep Praying!

Aug 21 | Comoros
While there is freedom of religion, conversion from Islam is prohibited. The
underground church is small, but Bible study groups meet in homes.
Pray that they will remain strong and unified in Christ.

“Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
(Rev 3:11)
Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 10

Today is for those in Turkmenistan. Keep praying!

Aug 20 | Turkmenistan
Constitutional freedom of religion is controlled and all unregistered religious activity is banned. Give thanks that the church has grown and pray that
Christians would find opportunities to meet together for worship.

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
(Ps 133:1)

Eric

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 9

Pray for Pakistan!  Not only for the Christians there, but for all of the Pakistanis, especially with the flooding occurring there.

Aug 19 | Pakistan
Attacks on Christians have increased. Pray for endurance for Pakistani Christians as they
endure discrimination in
education, housing, and accessing permits to build churches.

“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry.”
(Psalm 10:17)

Eric

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 8

Keep on Praying!

Aug 18 | Uzbekistan
Christians’ homes are raided and church leaders are interrogated and harassed. Pray for church leaders as they seek to obtain registration to worship legally.

“For I hear the slander of many… they conspire against me…. But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’”
(Psalm 31:13-14)

Eric

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Best Buy Has Permanently Lost My Business

Father Luke Strand of the Holy Family Parish in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, had an interesting idea a couple of years ago.  Take a black Volkswagen Beetle  and put a logo featuring the phrase "God Squad" on it.  Now that logo and the vehicle itself bear a striking similarity to the mobile service vehicles of Best Buy's service team, the Geek Squad but there is no mistaking the difference between the two.


The God Squad Car



The Geek Squad car.

Why did Father Luke do this?  To promote God, and hopefully get people engaged in conversation that would eventually lead to Christ.  A great idea that was not harming anyone, in my opinion.  Said Fellow priest Dan Janasik  in an interview with local news outlet the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"It's obviously not a Best Buy vehicle. When people see the car in public they usually laugh, and then it leads into lots of great conversations with strangers about faith and God."

So what did Best Buy do?  They had their corporate lawyers send a Cease-and-Desist letter to the priest threatening to sue him for copyright infringement.  Once again, the big corporation beats up and on the little people; in this case a Roman Catholic priest!

Was this really necessary?  Was Father Luke attempting in any way to portray himself as some sort of geek and attempting to take away business from Best Buy?  I personally don't think so.  This is the way Best Buy PR senior manager Paula Baldwin attempted to explain it: 
"This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it's bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others."
So the people at Best Buy appreciated what Father Strand was trying to accomplish.  Get people interested in God and hopefully into a saving relationship with Christ!  But money won out and in the end Best Buy did what it set out to do.  It intimidated a Catholic priest into compliance with their  Cease-and-Desist letter and threats of a lawsuit. 

Best Buy may have won this battle, but they at least have one casualty from it in me.  I will never purchase anything from them again. 

Great job Best Buy.  Maybe now you can go after some high school kid's business of repairing neighborhood computers too!

Eric




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Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 7

Praying for Mauritania, though I have to admit I had to look this particular country up as I had never heard of it.

Aug 17 | Mauritania
The situation for Christians has deteriorated as Al-Qaeda terrorists have grown in influence. Pray for the tiny church to grow in this hostile environment and for Christians to remain steadfast in faith.

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon….” (Ps 92:12)

Eric

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 6

Praying for those persecuted in Yemen.

Aug 16 | Yemen
Muslim background believers face the death penalty if they are discovered. Pray that they will stand strong in their faith and their testimony will reach many for Christ.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I…will have sufficient courage so that…Christ will be exalted…whether by life or by death.” (Phil 1:20)
Eric

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 5

Continuing to pray through Ramadan with my Christian Brothers and Sisters.

Aug 15 | Afghanistan
Pray for strength for secret believers as pressure from the Taliban has increased. Pray for encouragement in the midst of isolation from other believers.

“But Christ is faithful…over God’s house. And we are His house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

Eric

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 4

Here is day four.  Please join with me in praying.
Aug 14 | Maldives
Pray for indigenous believers who live out their faith in secrecy. Pray that God would reveal
Himself in miraculous ways and establish His church on these islands.

“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel…according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past.” (Romans 16:25)


Eric

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Miss Universe Pageant-- The Wrong Image It Now Portrays

When you think of the Miss Universe Pageant, what do you think of?

If you are a male and breathing, you are probably thinking of women in heels and bikinis, or smiling women walking the runway in evening gowns. If you are a female, well, I'm not quite sure just what you might be thinking of. I am still trying to figure that out after almost 10 years of marriage!

And then I wonder what young girls might be thinking. You see I am the dad of two daughters.

Now you are probably wondering, "where is this going anyway?". I am getting to my points, trust me.

I came across an article from Fox News online about how they have added something new to the pageant this year. They have added a nude, well, topless and body painted photo shoot that the contestants can participate in.

Now, that will probably make a lot of men and young boys happy, but to me, I am not one of them.  You see I always thought that pageants like this showcased the whole person, not just their body.  That is why they asked them questions, and they had talent portions, right?  But now it seems that this is just another exploitation of women, and a way for Donald Trump to boost ratings.

More importantly, how does this affect the thinking of young women around the world?  Will this make them think that to get ahead in the world, beauty is all that matters?  Brains and talent are just there, "just in case"? Will they think that the way to win is to show your breast off, pasties or not?   Why is Donald Trump turning this into more of a Playboy spread than what it originally was meant to be, a showcase of the whole woman?

It is my understanding that posing topless was not mandatory, and some of the contestants posed in swimsuits and allowed body paint to be applied.  Some, including the reigning Miss USA did pose topless, although with her back to the camera.  All in all, I have to ask myself why was it necessary in the first place.

I will be curious to see who the top 10 finishers are for this year's pageant.  Did they pose topless?  I will not watch, but I will be looking for the scorecard to be posted in the media to see.


Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 3

Continuing to pray with the Brothers and Sisters around the world and with those from Open Doors USA for the month of Ramadan.

Aug 13 | Somalia
The few secret believers are heavily persecuted. Pray for comfort for the families of those killed for their faith and that God would break the cycle of violence and instability.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Thank you for praying.
Eric

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Amazing 10 Year Old!

I normally do not watch America's Got Talent on NBC, but I think I may make an exception this year.  There is an amazing 10 year old girl with a voice that is so mature some people are thinking this is a hoax, but I don't believe it.  She is amazing! 

Watch and enjoy!




Eric

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA -- Day 2

In keeping with the Praying through Ramadan Calendar here is day 2

Aug 12 | Saudi Arabia
Pray for believers in Saudi Arabia living in isolation from other Christians and for protection against honor killing when relatives discover their conversion to Christianity.
“In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’ Yet You heard my cry for mercy....” (Psalm 31:22)

Please pray for those in spiritual darkness and for the Brothers and Sisters living in oppression.

Eric

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pray through Ramadan With Open Doors USA

Today starts Ramadan for millions of Muslims worldwide and runs through September 9.  During this time, most Muslims will fast from dawn until dusk, seeking to rid themselves of their sins through acts of restraint. They believe this is a time of purification accomplished through good deeds and self control.

I mention this to you for a couple of reasons.  One is that I blog at times for and about the persecuted church, and two, Open Doors USA has published a calendar for 2010 to help you pray for the Muslim people of the world during this time especially to encounter Christ during this time.  So for this month, I will be posting everyday from that calendar specifically what it is asking us to pray for.  If you wish to download the calendar, the link is here.

Here is the first day:
Aug 11 | Iran
Growth in number of believers from Muslim background has resulted in church monitoring and closures.
Pray for Christians in Iran to walk without fear and have peace of heart through Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me...He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” (Luke 4:18)

Please join me in praying this month for this specifically.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Battle For the Homeless in Plano, TX -- Updated

The battle is over and the homeless have lost.

I just read a post on the Plano blog for the Dallas Morning News that the Samaritan Inn, the only homeless shelter for Collin County in Texas has sent a letter to the Plano city council formally withdrawing its zoning request for the site the facility would have been built on but will continue to pursue the funding to purchase land elsewhere for a second homeless shelter for families. 

I was not able to make it to the meeting last night, but I have not only read about what was said at the meeting but the city of Plano actually puts video of the council meetings online in their entirety.  I was proud of the turnout last night, as the vast majority of the people in attendance were there to support the proposed shelter.  Only one person, one, spoke against and that was against the location only, not against the proposed shelter itself.

The city council's decision?  Table the proposal for the time being.  Apparently the council felt there were zoning issues to be dealt with.  Were there any zoning issues?  I personally do not know, but I do believe that the council made the wrong decision here.  There was community support, both at the meeting and elsewhere.  There was land available at a fraction of the price for the proposed facility, but the decision made, to me at least, was a political one.  Do the "right" thing that will allow you to be re-elected.

It was a wrong decision.

Yes, the battle to protect the neighborhood from the big bad homeless families was won last night by the businesses and neighborhood associations as well as the Plano city council.  They will no longer have to worry about the homeless six year old, the homeless moms and dads bringing down their real estate values, nor any dips in their profit margins.

And apparently they no longer have to worry about their humanity either.

Eric

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Battle For the Homeless in Plano, TX

I live near the city of Plano, TX and I came across a story in the Dallas Morning News online about a homeless shelter being proposed to be built in the eastern part of the city of Plano.  Now, this is not in my neighborhood, but I am not too far from it. 

The area in question is on the edge of a technology park, almost in a lower income neighborhood. There are a number of agencies in this area as well as a public transportation stop that will quickly help the homeless but there is much opposition to this.  There are several businesses who are worried about what having a homeless shelter will do to this area.  Will it drop the property value?  Will it bring an increase of crime?  Will it be a detriment to businesses in the immediate area? 

Already one business, a self-storage place is complaining that two of their clients have said that they would pack their storage and leave to find another place to store their belongings as they are afraid their items in storage would be stolen.  It is a sad fact of humanity that this perception exists.


What price do we place on a human life?  When do we stop worrying about property values and start worrying about people who are in dire straits?  We are talking about human beings who do not have a roof over their heads, who do not have an air-conditioned place to relax in.  We are talking about not just individuals, but whole families who are homeless.  Moms, dads and their children who have to worry about where they are going to sleep and what they will eat.  It seems that all people can care about is "How will this affect the value of my home/business?"


What if it were them?  What if something horrible happened to them and they became homeless?  What would they think then?  I know what I would think.  You see, I've been homeless before.  It's not fun.


The Plano City Council will be meeting tomorrow, Monday, August 9th to decide whether or not to spend 700,000 dollars of federal money to purchase the land to build this shelter on.  I plan on being there to offer my support for this.  I hope that if you live in this area, you'll show up as well to offer your support for those who are not as fortunate and don't have a place to sleep tonight.  Perhaps in the future they will.

Eric 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Vacation in New Mexico

I am at work right now, so as I post this I am just a bit jealous as it is my wife and daughters, along with my Mother-in-Law who are on vacation in New Mexico at the moment and then later on will be in Colorado.  I wanted to share a couple of photos and a quick video of them and what they are seeing.  Enjoy!

Sledding down the sand dunes at White Sands National Monument!

video

Welcome to New Mexico.


The UFO Museum in Roswell, NM...My oldest daughter contemplates the possibilities.


My youngest daughter posing inside the museum.


Eric

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My Thoughts on Anne Rice Leaving Christianity

From Anne Rice's Facebook postings dated July 28, 2010:
For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
When I first read the headlines regarding Ms. Rice and her leaving Christianity, I was shocked, then puzzled until I clicked over to her facebook page and read her postings for myself.

 I realize that Ms. Rice went from being an atheist to a believer, and I hope and pray that her conversion was genuine.  That is not up to me to decide, but for the One who knows our hearts.  However, some of her reasons for leaving Christianity but not leaving Christ are still puzzling to me.

 For instance, "I refuse to be anti-gay" is the first thing she sites as a reason.  Now, I do not claim to be an expert on all things biblical, nor am I a biblical scholar, but I do know that homosexual behavior is neither condoned, nor tolerated by God. Jesus did indeed eat with, drink with and associate with sinners, but he did so to tell them that the Kingdom of God was near, and to repent and follow Him.  There are numerous passages in the Bible that say Homosexual behavior and those that practice homosexuality will not get you into heaven.  Instead they are condemned for that behavior.  So if the Word of God says this, and Jesus is God as He claims He is, then Jesus condemns this as well.  Ms. Rice, It is not anti-gay when you tell them to stop their behavior and repent.  That is instead love.  A love that says I do not want to see you go to hell but go to heaven.

"I refuse to be anti-feminist."  Now here I am not really sure what Ms. Rice means and I have no problem saying I do not know. Since Ms. Rice comes from a Catholic background where women are not allowed as clergy, perhaps that is what she means. I do know that there are many examples of women in the Bible who are in places of authority as well as ordinary places and are used by God in numerous ways. Esther is one, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Lydia from Thyatira, and many, many more. These are powerful women, yet humble and willing to do God's will. That speaks volumes to me.

"I refuse to be anti-secular humanism." This reason and the next also left me puzzled.  I want to be fair and have pulled four definitions from the web for secular-humanism.  Here they are:
After looking at these four definitions, I can only wonder how Ms. Rice can say she is for Jesus Christ and also for secular-humanism?  You can't.  You can only be for one and against the other.  So if she is not anti secular-humanism, she cannot be for Jesus no matter what she says.


"I refuse to be anti-life."  My first reaction to this was "HUH?".  If nothing else being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ is to be for life.  Ever hear of abortion?  That is anti-life and that is a view that the world says is a woman's right, the right to kill her baby.  Those Christians who protest this, or stand on a corner and pray for the stoppage of this practice, are ridiculed and spat upon.  They are pro-life, not anti-life.  I am still unsure of what she is talking about here, but it is her opinion and she has the right to her opinion.

"I refuse to be anti-Democrat."  Once again, I am not sure why she thinks that being a Christian is being anti-democrat.  Now, I do believe that there are many ideals that democrats have that do not agree with biblical principles.  Same sex marriage, abortion, and others and perhaps that is what Ms. Rice is referring to.  In all seriousness though, it does not matter what the party affiliation is. If the party platform does not match what God tells us from His Word, then, yes, I suppose you could say that a true follower of Christ would be anti-whatever party.

"I refuse to be anti-science." The only reason a Christian would be anti-science would be when people use science to say that God does not exist, or something similar.  Evolution is an example.  Evolution says that ultimately, everything was born of nothing.  Everything was created by chance.  I personally do not believe in evolution, but I am not anti-science.  Indeed science continues to show that God must exist and indeed that creation happened.

There is a part of me that grieves for Ms. Rice, especially when she says that she has felt like an outsider.  I do agree that there are many Christians and many churches that are quarrelsome,  and give Christianity and Christians a very bad name.  Those are the exceptions, not the rule.  I am extending an open invitation to Ms. Rice.  Come to my church for a while.  Listen to the sermons that are offered online as MP3 files.  Please remember that the Church is not a building, nor any one denomination.  The Church is comprised of the believers of Christ, the bride of Christ he will eventually come for. 

Search your heart Ms. Rice.  And pray.  I will be praying for you.

Eric

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Today is the last day of Vacation Bible School for our church and tonight was the big celebration for it.  This is where parents, kids and all of the volunteers get together to talk, sing, worship and find out how things were for everyone involved.

This week my youngest daughter was attending while my oldest daughter and my wife were volunteering.  It was a big time commitment, but you can see it in their eyes that it was worth it.  I am hoping that next year I will be able to volunteer.  So here are some of the images and videos from tonight.  I hope you enjoy the sheer joy of the kids in worship!

Things started off with a food drive, the boys vs. the girls in which group could bring in the most.

Then we did some worship and praise with the kids and adults!

video

Just watching the sheer joy of my daughter singing and worshiping is my joy.

video

And I will end it with this.  The guitarist is one of the church musicians and is really good!

video

Have a blessed evening!


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Did I Become My Parents?

  I enjoy watching my kids as they grow, but it is with a joy tempered with sadness.  My little girls are not so little anymore and I sometimes step outside myself as I look at my interaction with them.  Especially with my oldest.  She is in that tween state between child and teenager and I can see how she is growing and maturing into her own person. 

 And in growing into her own person, she has developed her own taste in music.  Loud music.  Obnoxious music.  At least to me.  To her it is exciting and new and cool.

Sound familiar?  How many times did your parents or grandparents tell you to turn down your music?  Or as you how you could listen to that stuff?  Or wish that you would listen to music that made sense?

So now I tell her to turn it down and wish she would listen to something that made sense and wasn't obnoxious.

So the vicious cycle has come true.  "You'll understand when you have kids!"  Remember that statement?  I do.  And yes, now I understand.

In this small way I have become my parents.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Potluck with the Junior High Ministry

I am making this a short one tonight as it is late and I want to get some reading in before bed.  I went to the potluck dinner held by the Junior High Ministry of our church Sunday evening and there was a lot of people...not a lot of food!  But that was okay.  As I was one of the last ones in line, I thought about a couple of things.  One, I can stand to lose a LOT of weight, so eating lightly was a good thing.  The second thing is that what I had on my plate was a lot more than a lot of people get in a single day to eat.  So I was and am grateful for what I did eat.

My wife and I listened to the Junior High Pastor, Mike, talk about all of the things that will be going on this year and I am excited for all of the kids.  In a way I envy them as I did not have this opportunity growing up. 


But the one thing that I was really thankful for, that made my evening and really my day, was when my oldest daughter got up and came over to where we were sitting (she was sitting with her friends at another table.) and hugged me from behind, rested her chin on my head and said hi to me, then that she loved me. 

So for tonight I wanted to thank God for my wife and my two girls.  I love all three of them and I could not imagine life without them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Persecution

A state in India has thousands of people murdered and displaced. Homes and buildings are burned to the ground and the people burned out are herded into refuge camps. There they are still bullied by those that persecute them.

In China thousands are persecuted for meeting together. Their leaders are jailed for years without trial, or in some cases, tried in a kangaroo court, their guilt predetermined. They are kept from their families and sometimes, they never make it out.

In North Korea, these people are used in unspeakable ways when they are caught. Subjected to torture as subjects to chemical and biological warfare experimentation.

Yet, you never really hear about this in the main stream media.

Why?

Because they are Christians.

Since the main stream media will not report, it is up to the lesser known media to get this out and yes, this includes bloggers. I will be writing more on the Persecuted church in the days ahead, but I wanted to simply point out to you that this is happening now and in our world. You may not have heard, but it is there.

My next post on the persecuted church will focus on how you can help. For now, pray. Pray for those who are persecuted for strength and boldness. But pray.

Eric

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Becoming A Book Reviewer

I have to admit that I am excited at the opportunity that has presented itself to me.  I am now signed up with a couple of companies to receive, read and review books!  I am ecstatic about this!  The first book I will be reviewing is Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World written by Dr. David Jeremiah.  I will post the review here first as soon as I receive and read the book.



Have a great day!
Eric

Monday, July 19, 2010

Far Far Too Long

I have missed blogging more than I realized.  I decided to take a long break to concentrate on other aspects of my life and now it's time to start blogging again.  I missed you.  I hope you missed me!

Eric