Month: September 2014


    I'm getting this list from the always terrific and wonderfully nifty "saintvi".  If you want to see her post just click on the link:'

    or rather cut and paste since this isn't the much better XANGA 1.0 version.  Since Xanga has gone to 2.0 I started quoting one of Dorothy's lines from the Wizard of OZ.   The language in the Wizard of OZ is incredibly dated, so I've decided someone should bring her language skills up to 21st Century cool, urban, hip-hop standards...Just like the standards for XANGA 2.0 are set so much higher than Xanga 1.0!  :-0

    What Dorothy said, in the original language of Frank Baum:

    Dorothy:  "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." 


    The improved quote:

    "Toto, dis don't be da hood no mo!!"

    ~Hip, cool, and urban DJ "Emerald City D."

    I decided to start this post in this way because it is a literary list of 10 books which have stuck with me and why they've made a lasting impact on my life.

    Thanks "saintvi" I enjoyed your list of books and we even share a couple of literary loves.

    1. A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine L'Engle. Wrinkle in Time original

    It's the first book I ever read from cover to cover.  I came fairly late to the love of reading, but this wonderful little novel for young people is a great gem.  It seemed like it took me forever to read it the first time.   I reread it in college and I flew through it in one day.  I'm sad to say that the book lost a great deal of its literary magic, for me, somewhere between  the first read at age 9, and the last read at about 19.  I still love the characters, plot, and premise.  For some reason I can remember more details about this book than I can novels I've read within the last 2 months.

    2.  THE HARDY BOYS, under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.   Hardy boys

    All of the books were ghost written by various authors, all working for the Straitmeyer  Syndicate, a book packaging company.   The original cannon are the first 58 titles, and they were written from 1927-1979.  In 1959 the first books in the series were heavily rewritten, due mostly to negative racial stereotypes.   Whoda thunk a series of fictional mystery stories written by a fictional person could be so successful?  I mean you've got to admit it's quite the novel idea!!  :-}

    The plots and characters are fairly thin, but I really enjoyed reading the Hardy Boy's original cannon.  I started reading them when I was 10 and continued reading them for several years after that.   The Hardy Boy's stories helped me gain speed when reading, and became a refuge for me when Television and, seemingly everything else, became boring.   Of course after I read 2 or 3 in a row I was bored of the Hardy Boy's, as well.  Still more than any other series of books the Hardy Boys captured my young mind, and they contributed greatly in helping me become the avid reader I am today.   The Hardy Boys were also the first books I purchased with the money I earned from a paper route I worked from ages 11 to 16.

    "saintvi" doesn't have the Hardy Boys on her list, but she does have Nancy Drew.  The Drew stories are similar and follow the same pattern of ghost written books under the pseudonym Caroline Keene.   All the book's outlines came from the same book packaging company which produced the Hardy Boy's series The Stratemeyer Syndicate.   Depending on how you look at it, "saintvi" either read the female version of the Hardy Boys or I read the male version of Nancy Drew.   Just remember the Hardy Boys books came out 3 years before Nancy Drew.

    3.  THE HOBBIT, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Hobbit

    The Hobbit is also on "saintvi's" list.

     This was the first novel I read which was written for adults.   Like the first youth oriented book I read, A Wrinkle In Time, this book seemed to go on forever, the first time I read it.   The Hobbit is one of the most beloved of all the books I've read.  I was so enthralled with The Hobbit that I read it even while walking home from a friend's house.   Part of where I had to walk had no sidewalk.  There wasn't even much of a shoulder, so there was the narrow little path that ran between highway and a steep sided ditch.   Perhaps you've guessed already?    I was so wrapped up in reading The Hobbit that I walked off the path and rolled into ditch!  Klutzo the reading clown never fails to entertain!   I haven't read it in about two decades, but I've got it on my Kindle reader.

    4.  THE XANTH SERIES, by Piers Anthony.   Xanth

    Xanth is also on "saintvi's" list.

    A Spell for Chameleon was the first book I read in the Xanth series.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into!   I started reading Piers Anthony's books around age 15.   I can't tell you what prompted me to pick the first one up, but once I read the first one, I was as hooked as a fat boy with a Lay's 'tater chip addiction.   I could never read just one.   I believe Piers Anthony may be the punniest and cleverest of all the fantasy authors I've ever read.   Love him or hate him, he is too clever by half!   But it wasn't simply the yarns he spun that drew me in, it was Anthony himself who drew me in.  At the end of all his books he writes fairly lengthy author's notes.   Sometimes his author's notes were better than the novel itself.   Of the ones I read there weren't too many clunkers, but good or bad the author's notes were always good.   Anthony would write very personal things about his private life, struggles with his health, and he would also address fans who'd written notes to him.   Sometimes Anthony would get pulled into the drama of a fan's life.   I always liked Anthony's novels, but his author's notes were solid gems all by themselves.   It has been years since I looked into the world of Xanth.  I wonder what's been happening since I moved far away from the magical boundary??

    If you've never heard of Xanth and would like to know what it looks like, simply take a map of the United States, find Florida and you will know precisely what the magical kingdom of Xanth looks like.   Never mind that Anthony lives in the state of Florida.   Did I say Anthony was too clever by half??   Okay, maybe he's too clever by the 1,000th.   At least he didn't call his magical land Flo Rida!  :-D

    5. THE PARTNER: A NOVEL, by John Grisham.  Grisham

    My sister joined a book club and the first book she received was The Partner.  By the time I read my first John Grisham novel at least 5 of his books were already made into movies or were in production.   I knew the name Grisham, knew he was a famous author.   So popular was Grisham, that he was both literary gold and cinematic gold.

    Before I was halfway through The Partner I knew Grisham was a Christian.   He didn't write an overtly religious book; he didn't thump the Bible so hard the novel was lost to heavy handed religious moralizing.  I've often offered Grisham as proof that being a Christ follower doesn't mean you have to write a novel, paint a canvas, or choreograph a dance which beats people over the head with the Bible or a blatant religious message.   Grisham is subtle, but I had no trouble finding the evidence in his novels of a Christ centered outlook.   I have been the most avid reader and ardent fan of John Grisham, since that first book.   When I was packing up my books to move from South Carolina Grisham, alone, filled 2 boxes.

    6. THE COLOR PURPLE, by Alice Walker.  color_purple

    The first book that made me actually weep, and I don't mean cry.  I WEPT!  Deep wracking, shake the whole body, blow snot and tears everywhere, weeping.   When I saw the movie I wept as well.  Few  books have moved me as much as The Color Purple.   Walker wrote one of the most incredible journey's any person, real or imagined ever had.  It could have been a book which pushed people away with its harsh word pictures of the treatment of women of African decent, in the early 20th Century, Southern United States.   Some truth's are simply too harsh for some people.   Walker grabbed me up with the hands of little, ugly, oppressed, raped, used, misused, cussed out, beat down, Celie.  Celie, had her way with me, and I let her.  She didn't treat me like she had been treated, she just dragged me along behind like an old laundry bag.   I could not escape the little nothing who lived a life so tragic that you couldn't help but want to see her life change.  And when Celie started changing herself, and she started rising up out of the abuse and oppression, finds success with her own business, and finally is reunited with her little sister and the two children, Celie was forced to give up in her youth!!...LOOK OUT HERE COME THE TEARS, Y'ALL!!

    7.  THE HOLY BIBLE, (but only in the company of the Holy Spirit, who breathed the Scriptures).  Bible meme

    I am a Christian, and perhaps the Bible is simply a given, and perhaps I make too much by bringing it up, or maybe I'm in danger of looking holier than thou, or self-righteous, by including the Bible??

    Actually including the Bible in a list of books which have had a great impact on my life, to my way of thinking, is simply a no brainer.  But I don't simply throw the title of the book around.  The Bible all by itself is actually useless and dangerous and quite frankly has been the excuse many people have used to do the most despicable things to their fellow humans.   If the Holy Spirit doesn't come with the Bible then we'd do better just to toss the Bible in the trash can.  Without the Holy Spirit who is the author and authority of the Bible it is much to dangerous in merely human hands.   The Bible in the company of the Holy Spirit is life, joy, peace, and freedom eternally.   The Bible with the author is good, but the Bible without the Holy Spirit is just another rule book, and just another weapon in the arsenal of people who do not love or serve the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

    The Bible teaches, "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me."   When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, and take the Bible into dead hands merely human hands, (figuratively speaking) we allow Christ Jesus to  make us alive because He is the resurrection from the dead!

    8.  SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY CHURCH, by Dean Merrill Angry Church

    The title says it all.  The biggest problem for God isn't the sinners outside His Church.  God's biggest problem is that before He can reach the lost in the world He has to deal with the sins of His own children.  When the Church condemns we condemn only OURSELVES!!   "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:17.  "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass (condemning) judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." -- "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"  Romans 2:1 and 4.  (Bold print, italics, and underlining are my additions).

    God is full of loving kindness toward sinners, because God's loving kindness leads; draws; compels us to repentance.   Anger and condemnation are not God's intent, God's intent is salvation.  Condemnation comes from ourselves.

    9.  THE CAUSE WITHIN YOU, by Matthew Barnett; and GENEROUS JUSTICE: HOW GOD'S GRACE MAKES US JUST, by Timothy Keller.

    Generous Justice The Cause

    I read them at the same time, because for the last couple of years I've been reading books together.  Both books are phenomenal resources, but reading them at the same time brought a greater understanding of both.   I can't explain how the Holy Spirit them work together so well, for me, but He did it!!   Currently I'm reading THE TRUEST THING ABOUT YOU, by David Lomas, while at the same time I'm reading NEVER GO BACK; 10 THINGS YOU'LL NEVER DO AGAIN, by Dr. Henry Cloud.  David Lomas' book focuses directly on what God says are the truest things about us, as believers/followers of Christ.   Dr. Cloud's book is about 10 things every believer should abandon right now, and for ever more.  The Chapters in NEVER AGAIN, look like this:  "1. Never Again...Return to What Hasn't Worked:  2. Never Again...Do Anything That Requires You to Be Someone You're Not: 3. Never Again...Try to Change Another Person," and so on.   Reading the two books together looks like the Holy Spirit is multitasking.  Humans can't multitask, but God can, and when I'm reading two books that lead me deeper into God then God works things faster and His power seems to be greater, and His insights are so much greater and more powerful to change me.

    In any case...GENEROUS JUSTICE and THE CAUSE WITHIN YOU, made very good bedfellows as it were.   In the Introduction, of GENEROUS JUSTICE, Timothy Keller has a section titled: Who Is This Book For?  

    "There are four kinds of people who I hope will read this book.  There is a host of young Christian believers who respond with joy to the call to care for the needy.  Volunteerism is the distinguishing mark of an entire generation of American college students and recent graduates.  The NonProfit Times reports that teens and young adults are leading "enormous spikes in applications to volunteer programs."  

    And from THE CAUSE WITHIN YOU, comes a little something about the founder and leader, Matthew Barnett, of The Dream Center, in Los Angeles, California.

    "Matthew is the most giving person I know. Not only is he free with his encouragement, on a practical level he can't carry much cash on him because by the time he gets to wherever he's going, he's given it all away to people in need."

    I didn't pick favorite quotes from either book, I chose to show passages which would explain the central focus of both books.  Read the two passages from the two books, and you'll get an idea of why they might be good choice to be read together.  Add the presence and involvement of the Holy Spirit and I can guarantee there will be powerful insights, great wisdom, and dynamic drive to join God in the work He always does with the needy, oppressed, disaffected, and downtrodden.

    Give it a shot; pick up two Christian books by different authors, writing about the same subject, and see what God will open up in your heart, mind, and life.

    10.  HARRY POTTER series, by J.K.Rowling.  harry-potter-series

    I'm with "saintvi" on this one as well.

    And like "saintvi", had my fellow Christians not made such a terrible fuss about Harry Potter, I'd never have read the novels.   I read the first one, and loved it.  What my fellow Christians were condemning was stuff and nonsense.   The majority of criticisms, from Christians, had no basis in fact at all.  Since when have lying, slander, and defamation, been virtues modeled by Jesus Christ??!!   Are there some people who will take their fantasy life too far, and thus their involvement will become unhealthy?   People obsessing and taking things too far was a problem long before Harry Potter strolled out of J.K. Rowling's pen.

    Ahem! Any Christians remember Hal Lindsey and his, supposedly, prophetic books?   You know, books like The Late Great Planet Earth??   How many of the obsessed religious took Lindsey's fantasies WAY TO FAR??  And what's truly sad are there are still religious people riding his "end times" bandwagon!!   At least Rowling never claimed her books were ever anything but fiction!

    That's what I'm talkin' bout Y'all!!

    Keepin' it REAL

  • "Feely" Post-Evangelicals Are The Fallout From The Evangelicals They Follow


    I've mentioned a new book written by Matthew Vines called, God And The Gay Christian.  My heart honestly goes out to this young man, and any who've come from the loud mouthed, Bible thumping, "do nothing" evangelicals of my day and before my day.   I've also written about "Revangelical"  the blog sight of Brandan Robertson.   He's another of the new evangelicals I call "feely" post-evangelicals.

    Brandan Robertson, has a recent post up about being called a heretic by fellow Christians, and frankly it's just disgusting, but what can we expect?   Brandan doesn't fit the mold of the evangelicals who came before.    I take issue with Brandan, but the issues with Brandan are different, because I understand what post-evangelicals have been handed by us evangelicals.

    You can find Brandan Robertsons blog post here :

    The first two bullet points Brandan gives, to explain why he's vilified as a heretic, would have brought me to the same conclusion about Robertson, about 5 years ago.    Robertson says:

    • The Bible is not clear on the issue of homosexuality and those who affirm and are gay Christians are still none the less Christians (even if they turn out to be wrong)
    • No one has a fully reliable interpretation of the Bible.

    I had to bite my tongue, top lip, and bottom lip to keep from expressing my first thought which was something like: "Well, DUH kid!"   "Of course, dipstick,  if you say heretical things then you're going to get pasted with the epithet."    I held my peace, and thought about it for a little while, (something I would not have done, just 5 short years ago,) and this is what I came up with:

    Brandan isn't operating from a  long experience with obeying Jesus Christ, and that realization opened a new can of worms for me.   Robertson doesn't have any experience with evangelicals that have the cure for homosexuality.  The only thing conservative Christians, of the evangelical flavor, have been offering in the past is harsh condemnation.   Condemnation hasn't set anyone free from homosexuality.  So if condemnation doesn't heal, and evangelicals won't approach it some other way, then honestly, what do we expect from people like Brandon Robertson.   Everyone can call Robertson and his crowed heretics, but when the only other option is condemnation then Robertson is already dealing with heretics.  God has given the answer through Jesus Christ and since Jesus states clearly, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him," then too many traditional evangelicals started the heretical ball rolling by offering condemnation instead of sticking to what Jesus CLEARLY teaches!   Those disagreeing with him can call Robertson a heretic all they want, but what current evangelicals need to do is own responsibility for our own heresy, disobedience, and hypocrisy!    Jesus can and does overcome every sin, and that includes the sin of homosexuality.   The trouble with old line evangelicals is it's easier to condemn than it is to listen, engage, and reach relationally to relationally/sexually broken people.   Those of us who come before the post-evangelicals have proved what G.K. Chesterton said in the late 1800's:  "Christianity has not been tried and found lacking. Christianity has been found difficult and left untried."

    Evangelical heal thy self:  We must repent of misrepresenting Christ,  misusing his name for selfish ends which have not served or promoted God's eternal kingdom, and set out to learn how God overcomes homosexuality through Jesus Christ.


    There I've said it, and I'm sticking to it!!



    Working, but still no job


    I've been out of  a job for an entire month, but I've got lots to do.  I was terribly sick all last week.  All the cleaning and dealing with dust and dust mites, not to mention the mold.  I think my old place was secretly the kingdom of mold.   I also hadn't really had any proper time off since April.  I am one tired out little dog, let me tell you.  I have no doubt I became sick largely due to exhaustion.   This is the second time in two months I've had to take a round of antibiotics.

    I'm much better now, but I'm behind in my work at the church.  I have this week to pull everything off, and that includes a sermon for this Sunday.  That's why this is 'writing day'.  I've got to get a list of sources and Bible verses I'll be using, plus an outline to my pastor, who is in Brazil visiting with his wife's family.  So here we are on "writing day".

    I would be remiss if I didn't write something here as well, since I've already promised to do so.  I like Iowa, it's a beautiful little place.  They can't make up their mind if it's going to be warm or cold, Related Thought: Perhaps this is why so many in the North are such rude jerks, the weather is such a rude jerk?  But, I digress...

    Iowa is not unlike the place I've visited in my mother's home state of Wisconsin.   If I didn't know better I'd honestly think I was living somewhere in Wisconsin.  There are gently rolling hills, lots of farming, and small communities which have come together to create the large community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  I'm hoping it doesn't mean I'll be getting a complete Wisconsin winter.  Since I've been living in South Carolina any winter threatens to be psychologically overwhelming, and potentially physically overwhelming as well.   I'll have to remember to get a space heater soon.   I like to keep the thermostat low, and use a little space heater to offset.   Iowans, so far are very nice and warm people.   It could be people are warm because they come from anyplace else but Iowa.  So far I think I've met more non-Iowans than actual native born.   Most of the outsiders I've met have lived here for decades.  I don't know if all these people are trapped here by jobs, or if they really like Iowa.  My suspicion is that Iowa is one of those places that is a fantastic secret most people never find.

    Of course I could be anywhere, and I would have to find something workable about it.  I'm here not for Iowa, but in the service of Christ.  If God had called me to Mexico, I'd find something to like about it.  It doesn't matter where I am, so long is it's where God is calling me to be.  I have sense this will be a short stop off before God moves me to the next place.  I couldn't tell you why, but I've had this sense before and I've never been led wrong yet, but we shall see.

    Since coming to this church, two weeks ago, I've accomplished a lot of cleaning and organizing.  There are so many things this church needs, and most of them are little things I can do.  No one should ever confuse me with a person who is handy.  I am not a handy person.  I have none of those things most American males may boast of, i.e. the ability to build, repair, patch, or 'fix' engines, plumbing, electrical appliances, putting up walls, and etc.   If you want to see my older brother, who is himself a handy man phenom, double over in laughter, all you need do is put a hammer in my hand.    I must have a serious talk with God when we meet face to face, because it is clearly unfair to be left without what the majority of men hold as simply a common ability.  Sure some men have more or less ability to work with their hands, but I'm left absolutely in the cold.

    I could tell you horror stories, well not horror exactly, more like hilarious stories about my handy man exploits.   I've been horrified at the results of my work, but none of them have truly risen to the level of horror.   My older brother, the handy man phenom, once told me I could replace my own burnt out headlight.   He was right, I successfully got a new headlamp into the housing, and even got it plugged in, but the result was still completely unsatisfactory.   With one headlamp I could see the road in front of me, and with other I could see all the tree leaves and power lines above me as I drove.  With my walleyed headlight no squirrel, opossum, or raccoon could ever execute a surprise attack on my car at night.   Never you mind that I'd never been thus attacked, previously, before I replaced the headlight.   Please don't confuse me with the facts!

    In any case here I am, my second week, as a functioning human, working at the church to prepare my sermon for Sunday.  The sermon is based in Romans 8:1-3.  "Therefore there is now no condemnation..."  I'll take the various uses and meanings for the word 'condemnation' and show how Christians have a tendency to live not very Christ centered and therefore free lives.   The first of 'condemn' from, is, "to express unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of, censure."   Wow!  The definition could be made a footnote to Romans 8:1!  If there ever was a message Christians need today it's that God is not speaking to us with angry words; isn't offering adverse judgment; and isn't giving us words of censure.   The problem is that we do not recognize the work God has done for us through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   "Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Messiah) Jesus."   The problem with Christians, as I see it, is that we keep condemning ourselves and we heap it upon everyone around us.   When we bring our thinking into line with what the Bible actually teaches, and ditch what we've been thinking all along, our "merely human" way of thinking, then we'll know that God does not condemn us.   Too many of us think, and say about ourselves, "I'm ugly, worthless, and hopeless, while I might be a 'Christian' I am still ugly, worthless and hopeless."   Now we may not say, literally, "I'm ugly..." we'll compare ourselves to others around us, and once we've found what WE think is better we'll once again put OURSELVES into the "I'm ugly" SELF-concept prison, that WE've always had for OURSELVES.   Notice please that I've capitalized all of the self pronouns, because ME, MYSELF, and I are the greatest problem in the world for ME.   When I come to Romans 8 it is GOD who become huge, and it is i who am made nothing.  What GOD says about me is that HE is conforming me to the IMAGE and LIKENESS OF JESUS CHRIST!!   Romans 8:29 "For those GOD foreknew HE also predestined to be conformed to the image of HIS SON."   Whether you are supremely gorgeous or butt ugly physically is irrelevant.   If you truly belong to CHRIST then GOD is conforming you to the image and likeness of JESUS.  Even the ugliest of us in Christ are beautiful, and that is GOD'S truth!!

    Anyway, that's what I'm writing about on WRITING DAY!!


    I am in Cedar Rapids, Iowa!  I always said, "I don't think anyone lives in Iowa.  I think they go in to work there, lock up the state for the night, and go home!"

    It's turned cold here...34 degrees is the expected temp tonight.   After South Carolina I'm actually enjoying the cool.

    I've got a great many wonderful things to write about, but that will have to wait until  Sunday or Monday.