Saturday, July 30, 2005


This weekend, we have a visitor at our church who might become our new pastor of worship. He gave the choir three psalms and a chapter from Ephesians to read as "homework" for preparation. In the light of what's happening at LAC (see post below) which he couldn't have known about when he selected these readings, the following excerpts stood out to me the most:

Psalm 9:10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 24
3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Through everything, let's trust God. Let's find out and admit what our problems are and solve them together. Let's not put an idol before us that may distract us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sad news

Lake Avenue Church pastor resigns - Gordon Kirk, senior pastor of Lake Avenue Church, shocked members of his huge congregation when he resigned last weekend, citing "personal character attacks" and disrespect for his leadership from a vocal minority in the church.

We, the congregation got a little glimps of it during the congregational meeting just a couple of months ago. But I didn't think that the problem was that big. It seemed that things could be worked out or at least that everyone in some kind of leadership position, such as the members of the ministry council, were just as reasonable as he was in working things out when disagreements arose. I guess I must have been wrong. It must have been just the tip of the iceberg.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Review: Unlock the Prison Doors

Disclaimer: "Unlock the Prison Doors" by Terry C. Barber was given to me through Mind & Media as a gift from the Publisher who donated the books for reviewers.

The book is based on the theme of "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" mentioned in Matthew 6:13-19. The author explores several of these keys.

I like the informal, casual style of this book. In his Bible citations, the author uses mostly the NKJV, though, which doesn't fit with his otherwise casual writing style.
In addition, there are tons of spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes that distract from the content. They could have easily been avoided by giving the manuscript to someone for basic editing. It appears like he submitted a late draft of the book instead of the final version.

What intrigued me most about the book before reading it was the subtitle "Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin". Even though the keys he explores are important elements, unfortunately, the author doesn't go into enough detail. I had hoped that some of the fictional examples that are introduced early in the book would be expanded on later, but unfortunately, that doesn't happen. The way they are, they illustrate some of the common habitual sins, but don't really help breaking the chain of these habitual sins. For example, the only advice on overeating is "Not until Uncle Ebee submits himself to some simple dietary laws, like don't over-eat and eat a balanced diet with regular exercise, will he begin to lose weight." Everybody knows that that's basically the solution in a nutshell, but figuring out how to do this and how to stick with the plan is where most people fail. This is not addressed by the author at all, though.

Perhaps a second printing of a revised and condensed version as a booklet that's a basic overview including relevant Bible passages would be more useful.

Other reviews

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Harry Potter

I've never had a problem with the Harry Potter books. In fact, I've loved reading them all.

John Granger says he knows why people love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books:
Finding Christianity -- in Harry Potter.

Here's another article that makes a good point, many people who are critical of the books haven't even read them, so they don't really know what they are talking about!

A quote from Christianity Today - The Return of Harry Potter:
The Bible clearly condemns witchcraft and tells Christians to "avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). But for the most part, Christian experts agree that the world of wizards and spells created by Rowling is not the same as the occult-type practices Scripture condemns. "The magic in these books is purely mechanical," says Charles Colson, Christianity Today magazine columnist and head of Breakpoint ministries. "Harry and his friends don't make contact with the supernatural world." The magic serves as a framework for the story, a technique used by writers as far back as Shakespeare, Tolkien and de Troyes (the creator of the King Arthur tales).

According to Italian theologian Massimo Intovigne, "Magic is the main metaphor for life in fairy tales. If one should ban Harry Potter, one should also ban Peter Pan, Cinderella and Pinocchio. Harry Potter, unlike a number of cartoon superheroes, doesn't win because he's more proficient at magic than the bad guys. He wins because he's intelligent and brave, and more human than his opponents. What the bad guys utterly lack is human feelings and basic human values."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dad's Empty Chair

A friend forwarded this story to me today. It reminds me of my own experience of not knowing how to pray and then realizing what it's about:

A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father.

When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

"I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, who are you?" said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked, "I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

"I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.

I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day four years ago. My best friend said to me, "Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest."

"Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised, 'I will be with you always.' Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now."

"So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon. "Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house about two o'clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek."

"When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

Author Unknown

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A conference blog

Sven Koenig at ASAMAS
Sven Koenig at ASAMAS,
originally uploaded by aaai05blog.
That's the first time I've seen that a conference has its own blog. My husband told me about it, because he's at the conference. The screen they have there is huge as you can see from the picture. Go to AAAI blog if you want to learn a bit more about what's going on at the conference.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No end to God's Love

This post at Robin Lee Hatcher's blog "words, words, words" reminds me of something we sang at church a couple of months ago.

She cites from a psalm:
Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD,
who have no confidence in the proud,
or in those who worship idols.
O LORD my God, you have done many miracles for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

(Psalm 40:4-5, NLT)

Especially the third verse of the song expresses this as well:

Frederick M Lehman
The Love of God
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.