Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Trial for Following Christ

His name is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and he is awaiting his sentence after being found guilty in an Iranian court.  His charge?  Apostasy in a religion he's never been part of. 

Pastor Nadarkhani was first sentenced to death in November 2010 and in order to avoid the death penalty, he is being asked to recant his beliefs and convert to Islam. Yes, you read that right.  The Iranian officials who have convicted this man for following Jesus Christ wants him to renounce Christ and follow a religion he's never been a part of.

There is a chance that Pastor Nadarkhani could be sentenced to death and executed by Iran as early as tomorrow.  Please keep this Shepherd of Christ in your prayers and pray with me that Iran will stop this madness and release Pastor Nadarkhani.  If they do execute him, then pray that God uses his martydom in a way that glorifies God and brings more followers to Christ.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Review of Ascent From Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior by Michael Leehan

Spiritual warfare.  Satanism. 

What do you think of when you hear these phrases?  Do you roll your eyes, or shake your head in disbelief that anyone would believe in that sort of stuff?  Sadly, many people, including a good percentage of those professing faith in Jesus Christ do exactly that when they hear the term spiritual warfare, or Satanism, or anything dealing with the unseen spirit world.

Michael Leehan's book, Ascent From Darkness: How Satan's Soldier Became God's Warrior is a book that most people will unfortunately dismiss as delusional or worse and it is very unfortunate that this will be the majority opinion.  In reading Mr. Leehan's book, which he tells upfront is the true story of his life the reader is presented with a no-nonsense, truthful  look into the real world of spiritual darkness. 

Mr. Leehan begins by telling the reader of his early years, then how he started his descent into Satanism by rejecting God outright and offering his services to Satan.  Throughout Mr. Leehan's book he speaks of his experiences, from how he was called by Satan to disrupt Christ's work on earth, from attempting to disrupt entire churches, small groups as well as  individual believers.  Mr. Leehan pulls no punches in his writing and I firmly believe that every Christian, or everyone professing Christ should read this book.  The book is a very fast paced read and will grip the reader.  The ending of the book should bring everyone who read this book to their feet, cheering God and His Grace.

To those professing Christ, be forewarned; one of the main themes I encountered from reading this book was Mr. Leehan's view of most Christians he encountered.  He viewed most he encountered as lukewarm believers, who cared more for the world than for their faith.  I had to take a very long hard look at my spiritual life and ask forgiveness after reading this book.  I believe most readers will too.

I am highly recommending this book and give it five stars. 

Please note that this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.  I did not promise nor guarantee in any way a positive review.   This review is mine and mine alone and was not influenced by any outside party.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Review: Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free From the Four Emotions that Control You by Andy Stanley

This is the first book by Andy Stanley that I have read and after finishing it, I don't believe it will be the last.    Enemies of the Heart opens up with a very simple and basic question that most everyone never really asks themselves:  How is your heart?  Not the physical heart but the spiritual heart.  I have to admit that it was a question that I never asked myself until I started reading this book.

Andy Stanley presents to his audience the fact that out of all of the troubles we experience in life, those troubles boil down to four basic emotions, or "Monsters' as Mr. Stanley calls them: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  Mr. Stanley further shows how these emotions inflict their damage on us as he shows how they interact in our lives.  Guilt makes a person feel "I owe You", Anger says "You owe Me",  Greed says that "I owe Me" and finally Jealousy states that "God owes Me".  I have to admit that the further I read the more intrigued I was.

It is in part two of the book that Mr. Stanley discusses, demonstrates and delivers his point to the reader.  It was in this section that I started feeling very uncomfortable as most of what he was speaking about hit home in more than one way.  My expectations is that when you read it, you will feel the same way as I did.  In Section three of the book, Mr. Stanley shows the reader how these emotional demons can be overcome with more positive, God given ones and as a reader, I began to see how these could be had more of in my personal life. 

In Section four of the book, Mr. Stanley confronts the readers who have children in their lives, in whatever way, but specifically to parents, how to positively emphasize and encourage children to unburden their hearts of the four bad emotions and utilize the good ones explained in section three.  Also in this section is a small chapter on Lust, specifically sexual lust that I feel is a must read for both sexes.

This book's audience is geared primarily to believers in Jesus Christ, but I believe that everyone could benefit from this book if they will read it and give it a chance.  It is a short read at only 157 pages, and Mr. Stanley's style of writing is very down to earth and folksy, with sprinkles of humor intertwined.  If you feel that you or a loved one have problems in your life and those problems may be stemming from one of the four emotions Mr. Stanley writes about, then I suggest you read this book or give it to that person.

The book includes at the end helpful discussion questions, which is excellent for personal application, and small group discussion.

So, how is your heart?


 Please note that this book was presented to me by Waterbrook Press in exchange for a review.  I did not promise, nor in any way indicate a positive or negative review to the publisher.  The review as presented is mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Review of "Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission" by Pastor Ronnie Floyd

In Matthew 28: 16 – 20, Jesus outlines the Great Commission. 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

For most Christians today, the Great Commission represents a thing of the past, something that was fulfilled by those great men and women in the early church.  In the book Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission by Pastor Ronnie Floyd, Pastor Floyd takes this modern perception and shatters it, showing that the Great Commission is as relevant today as it was back in the days of the apostles it was charged to.  He does this in chapter three, where he lays out the urgency of the Great Commission in aspects ranging from the spiritual, to the physical, to the personal.

While reading  Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission, I was constantly impressed with Pastor Floyd’s passion for the Great Commission, as well as his practical advice, both for individuals and churches in helping to fulfill this call on our lives.  Pastor Floyd maintains that this charge laid on the apostles is laid on us as followers of Christ today and it is not just a duty, but a command from Jesus to us.  I have to be blunt and admit that parts of this book took me by surprise as well as provided an avenue of conviction.  I have not looked at the world in terms of living and dead as Pastor Floyd has and does, but now I see that I need to.

The advice he gives in his book is both practical and applicable in our lives.  Pastor Floyd starts off in chapter four with transforming your family, then moving on to the immediate, local, state, country and world communities.  Showing the reader how to use the resources they have available, Pastor Floyd encourages the reader to prioritize, pray, position yourself for the future, place your trust in the Lord and use your monetary resources to the best of your ability.

This is not a book for everyone; let me warn you now.  There are people who will be offended as well as disagree, but I will tell you who I believe should read this book: every living, breathing person who claims to be a Christian.  As the movie line goes: “I see dead people all the time.”  When you finish this book so will you, but you will be further equipped to help them come to life.

(Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for review.  I did not promise nor was I expected to give a positive review of this book.  The review is mine in its entirety and reflects my opinion only.  The disclaimer is given in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - Thomas G. Crotty

As the tenth year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is my hope that we take a moment no matter where you are at to stop and remember that yes the world changed that day, but the lives of 2,996 families changed even more.  2,996 families lost loved ones that day and it is the purpose of the 2996 project to make sure we never forget them.

As part of the 2996 project in 2006, I the priviledge and honor to write about and pay tribute to Thomas G. Crotty.  When I went to the project website to see who needed writing about I noticed that Thomas had not been chosen to be written about.  I want to make sure his story is not forgotten.  Even though this post is a re-post of what I wrote back in 2006, please note that I am reposting it because I don't want ANYONE to be forgotten from that day.  now please keep reading and let's not forget Thomas G. Crotty, one of the 2,996 persons who died September 11, 2001

To be quite honest, I wasn't sure just what to write. There have been several memorials not only to Thomas, but to all of the 2996 that died that day. The more I read, the more I realized that even though this was a shock to the nation, I want to emphasize that Thomas is more than a statistic, more than just one of the number of people who died that day.

Thomas was a husband to Joanne and a father to his two little girls Catherine and Caroline. He was a family man who loved to be with his family. He was an athletic man who was to compete in a marathon with his brother a week after 9/11. He was a caring man towards all of his family as his brother James told Newsday reporter Lawrence Striegel how he was living in Michigan in 1996 when his wife, Fran, became very ill. Tom helped get Fran admitted to a special private room at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan during six months of treatment for Wegener's granulomatosis, an autoimmune disease, and then visited her often while James was back in the Midwest. "He said, 'Put her in there and we'll worry about the money later,"' James said.

Thomas started off his business career at Merrill Lynch as a trainee. He had spent his last seven years at Sandler O'Neill Partners, where he was a managing director for equities. His work ethic was reflected in a comment that one of Thomas' clients mad to Thomas' mother "Even though I wasn't a large investor, he always made me feel so important. ... He never brushed me off." He was at work on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks.

To Joanne, Catherine and Caroline, please know that the man to whom you gave all your love to as wife and daughters didn't die in vain. He is NOT some statistic that will be placed in some history book. He is a man who loved life and the three of you and is an inspiration to all of us. You see, I have two daughters as well; my oldest is twelve and my youngest turns 9 in two weeks. And after reading about this wonderful man I want to make sure that I show as much love to my family as he did to you for life is very precious and too short.

My heart goes out to the three of you this day, to all of Thomas' family, and to all of the family of the remaining 2995 persons who perished this day. May we all NEVER FORGET!

A Song For All Of Us

I don't know about you, but I happen to like all kinds of music.  One of my favorite groups is the southern rocking Christian band Third Day.  If you've never heard of them, I would like to start you off with one of my favorite tracks they do simply called "Thief".  This song means a lot to me for reasons most wouldn't understand, but I hope it lifts you up.


Dad To 2

Monday, September 05, 2011

Adventure Landing Labor Day 2011

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day!  Here in tinder dry Texas, we woke up to temperatures in the upper 50's and lower 60's for the first time in over six months!  After 2 straight months of 100+ degree days and 85+ degree nights, it was a wonderful change of pace.

Just had a few mundane items I had to take care of today that I hadn't had a chance to do because of the heat, things like clean the garage, make sure the yard was taken care of, things like that, and then it was off to Adventure Landing in Dallas with the girls!

Adventure Landing is quite the experience and if you have not been there, I do recommend going there and having fun.  Three putt putt courses, a go-kart race track, bumper boats, laser tag, batting cages, and a nice arcade really will fit the all day fun bill for those needing an all day place.  As for us, we had Groupons to burn (Thank you Connie!) and the kids wanted to get out in the cooler air.
We started off on the first putt putt course and finished it, with my nine year old (well, she'll be nine later on this month) finishing first.  It was Morgan shooting a 47, me shooting a 51 and Chloe shooting a 53.  After that is was on to the Kart racing.  Now I have to admit a couple of things here.  One, Morgan wanted to do this by herself and two, would I actually fit in one of these little things!?

Disclaimer:  This in NOT me in the picture!
I actually did fit in one, the shortest one they had, and the seat belt actually fit, well barely but it fit.  However, it was a scary moment when I hit the gas pedal full throttle and it didn't move....for about 6 seconds.  Then my little Kart moved and it was off to the races!  Morgan was doing fine in her Kart, and I didn't see Chloe at all.  I later found out she was at the front passing everything in sight!  Morgan lapped me once and I lapped her once.  It was easy lapping me as I was the slowest thing on the track.  (have I mentioned I am fat and probably exceeded the weight limit?)

But then came the really scary moment.  We were pulling into the pit for the end when I looked over to my right and saw Morgan coming in fast and could not stop in time as she hit a wall of tires head on at full speed!  After they let us out of the Karts I found her crying, saying her neck and chest hurt and she wanted to go home.  Well, she had, and still has a nice scrape on the left side of her neck and she's going to have a very nice bruise on her neck and chest, but she shook it off like a big girl.  That and the large size cherry slush drink helped out.

Chloe and I played a second round of putt putt while Morgan rested and kept score and I beat Chloe by two strokes.  Then we played a third round with all of us playing.  We decided not to keep score that round as all three of us were getting tired and after a call from my wife, we had to rush to finish as Chloe had Girl Scouts that evening!

But such as the life I lead and this Labor Day was a good one.  Hope yours was too.

Dad To 2