Falling Leaves

Fallen leaves begging to be crunched.

Let me first say that I enjoy every season. There is something about living in the season that the calendar reflects and making the post of those days. I think if you try to rush your days, you end up missing out on the things God is doing right now because you are more focused on the future. This post is not about living in the present though. That is for another time. This post is about how Fall (or Autumn if you call it that) is right around the corner. 

I first noticed the weather hinting at the change a couple of weeks ago while mowing the lawn. While there were not many and it did not cause me to break out a rake, it did ensure I would pause to check the date on my phone. 

The second time I realized the seasonal change was upon us was when I was walking in the front door after driving home from the office. When I got rose out of my car, I immediately felt the wind whipping against my back and it felt cooler. Later that evening Leighann and I took our daughter and dog on a walk through the neighborhood and I noticed the wind kept blowing. By the time we had made it home it was noticeably cooler than it had been in the evenings prior to this day. 

I can tell when the seasons are changing when I notice specific landmarks changing. There is a large tree that I pass on an almost daily basis as I drive up the interstate on my commute. Earlier this week it began to show signs of orange and yellow. This is the first tree that changes before Summer ends. I know that regardless of whether or not I wanted it to end, Summer is fleeting and there is nothing I can do to stop it. 

These are just three of the signs that I have noticed that Fall is nearing its arrival. That does not include the sounds of the bugs I hear at night or other guideposts that mark the way towards the end of the summer. I know that the calendar gives us another month or so before Fall begins, but in a blink it will be here. 

Have you noticed any signs of the seasons changing where you live? Do you get to experience all four seasons? What is one last thing you want to do before the summer officially ends?

Review: HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible

First off, let me say I am not an artist. I doodle and can barely create anything worth even a mention; however, I believe this Bible is for people like me. Sure, it can be used by those with more artistic skill and they would do a lovely job, but it is also simple enough for people like me to use. Why is that?

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Well, despite being labeled as a Bible for Illustrators, there is still ample room for notes. Down one edge or the other, you will find lines that are begging to be filled with notes as you do your own study or listen to your pastor. There is enough spacing to allow writing that could easily be read later, but also enough room to get plenty of ideas down on the paper. Speaking of the paper, it does feel a little thicker than most Bibles, but it still seems like it could have been slightly thicker. It does a good job of keeping bleeding to a minimal (as that mainly depends upon your pen), but I recognize the fact that with thicker paper comes a thicker Bible.

I also like how each time you turn the page there is a new illustration on the page that is ready for you to add the color. That is a nice touch for those of us that should not be forced to rely upon our God-given abilities. I would have liked it better if the illustrations were not as gender biased. It seems as if every illustration is geared towards the female gender. It could just be my interpretation, but I still stand by it. The outer cover seems nice and should allow for a long life. And let’s not even get me started on how much I like the translation.

Overall, if you like to add color to illustrations that are already available and would prefer to have plenty of space in the margins of your Bible to take notes, this is one for you. It appears to be able to withstand years of use and allow you to capture your thoughts like never before.

I received this Bible for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words written here are my own and have not been influenced by the publisher in any manner.

Book Review: Unreasonable Hope

Life is not always going to make sense. If someone told you that when you became a Christian, life would always be about puppies and roses, they lied. To follow Jesus does not mean that life is without pain and suffering, but rather  you have a hope that helps you get through the pain. It is a hope that allows you to process things differently than everyone else. I do not want to make life out to be gloom and doom, but rather express the truth that life often has moments where you ask where God was or why He would allow something to happen. That is exactly where Chad Veach and his wife found their life early on in their daughters existence.

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The Veach’s daughter was born with a rare condition called lissencephaly where the brain does not develop like it should. Rather than continuing to progress, it quits developing at an early stage and causes a living nightmare. Instead of seeing your child enjoy life and learn new things, you constantly have to worry if they are going to get strangled on something and if they will make it through the next seizure. From the way he describes it, it is a horrendous condition that would be difficult to make it through without the hope of Jesus.

Thankfully, that is where the Veach family has kept their faith. Despite tough conditions and often a lot of doubts and questions, the Veach family continues to hope in Jesus. Chad explains how they are able to view their daughter differently because of their faith. In a world where it is easy to give up and make an excuse, they decide to continue on their journey. Admitting that they do not know how long they will have their daughter, they have used it as an opportunity to minister and share the hope of Christ with many. I admire their tenacity. As a father of a daughter who recently surpassed the one month mark, I often wonder if I would react the same way. I pray that I would, but I do not know.

If you are going through a trying season right now where things seem to be falling apart, you need to read this book. If things are going splendid and cannot seem to be better, you also need to read this book. Some day there will be something happen that will catch you off guard if you do not prepare yourself. If you find the faith that Chad Veach did, you will endure the season.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words written are my own and have not been influenced by the author or publisher in any way.

“Go And Make Disciples” – Jesus

One of the last things Jesus told his followers before he returned to Heaven was to go and make disciples. While that is a clear command, most people can also find it vague. How exactly do I make disciples? I know what I am supposed to do, but I am not sure how to accomplish the goal. If you are one of those people that is not sure exactly what Jesus meant, there is a book for you.

Discipling

Discipling by Mark Dever was written to guide people in the process of making disciples. So often we think of disciples as converts and Dever (while he does not mention it specifically) wants us to know that there is a difference. Making a disciple requires commitment and an intentional process instead of a quick, hasty decision. The book is divided in three sections with each one given a question. What is discipling? Where should we disciple? How should we disciple? These are the questions that lay the foundation of the book and that are hashed out throughout the pages.

Dever starts with a clear definition of what discipling is to him. While he is a proponent of discipling people as you go about your daily life, he strongly presses on the issue that the best method must be rooted in the local church. While the meetings and life change does not solely have to happen at a permanent building, it is best rooted in the church people. Finally, he wraps up his book with ideas and examples of how you can disciple those around you. The examples are ones that you can take today and implement in your life this afternoon.

If you are looking for a book on discipleship and the process of seeing people change, I would highly recommend this book. Dever even answers the question of who you should try to disciple in this book. While it is a short book, it is one that need not be rushed through. Instead, you should take your time and jot notes as to how to disciple others better.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. These words are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or publisher.

Shipwrecked

I admit, I am not a sailor. In fact, I believe I can count on my fingers the number of times I have been on a boat. I am not one that ever really wanted to get my sea legs. I suppose it was the time in a canoe (a really little boat, right?) that caused me to never connect with the waters. Of course, there are times where I want a boat and then I am promptly reminded I do not need a boat. Such is life. This post is not about boats though. It’s about what happens when the boat goes down. The boat here is a situation or circumstance in my life that I have valued. We have all been there. There has been a job, a friendship, or a inanimate object we have relied on and then found ourselves scrambling after it has let us down.

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Jonathan Martin has written a new book entitled How To Survive A Shipwreck that is perfectly titled. While a rising star in his part of the church world, he saw everything come unraveled. While Martin does not dive in to a lot of depth regarding his church and marriage, we do not need to know the intimate details in order to grasp the principles he outlines.

I admire the heart wrenching and soul bearing honesty of Martin. This is a deeply personal book and one that relays just how much Martin cares for those around him. While I have never had the privilege of meeting him, while I was reading these words I felt like he was sitting in the chair next to me encouraging me to take heart and that relief will come. He conveyed his words in an almost poetic way that kept my eyes captivated.

Throughout the book Martin wants us to know that we may very well end up losing things that we think we could not live without, but ultimately God is the one responsible for our health and life. We may lose everything around us just so God is able to prove He is the only one we should rely on for our livelihood. No matter how grim the outlook and how intimidating the monsters may look, God is in control. We are not immune to the ramifications of our choices, but we know that God will be there through it all. The simple truths outlined by Martin may be the hardest to recognize while the ship is going down and we would be wise to hear them now.

This is a great book for those who are going through a struggle or a shipwreck right now. It would be a great resource to keep on hand when those times come. If you have not experienced some sort of shipwreck in your life, I guarantee you will. If you end up making it all the way to death without having your spirits crushed and it feel like life has been ripped out of you, send me an email. I would love to talk.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. These words are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or publisher.

Inspiration Clarification

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Who inspires you?

Yes, that was a serious question. Throughout my life I can say that there have been few people that inspire me. You may be quick to say that is a lie, but I promise, it isn’t. Why? Because although many people have influenced me, very few have inspired me. Those that have managed to inspire exhibit common characteristics. Let us spend a few minutes diving into those characteristics.

First, they have a desire to change something. It could be that they want to change a country, a community, a corporation, a church, or a child. Regardless of how big or small the group is that they want to change, they have the desire to better the group. They either want to lead this group of people into a better way of life, better profits, or better behavior. The change could also be simply how others perceive the group. Whatever their trait is they want to change, they have identified it and are willing to sacrifice to see it happen.

Second, they have tenacity. It is easy to give up when things take a little longer or you encounter a set-back. Inspirational people do not give up the first, second, or third time they fail. Instead, they continue to get back out there and continue to work towards change. This may be the fourth presentation they have given on a particular organizational change, or the second time they have tried to rally their community behind the idea of a park, or the one hundredth time they have corrected their child for punching another kid in the throat. Regardless of the circumstances that have surrounded them, the most inspirational people in my life have continued to get back out there and make a difference.

Finally, they invite others into their tribe. This looks a little different for each and every person. They may have to invite others into their circle to show the behavior of their children or invite coworkers to champion the cause of realigning the corporate values. Why do they do this? These people recognize that in order to create this change, it is going to take more than one person. Although the idea may come from one person and they may make an impact that lasts, they know that real change occurs when there are many people believing the same thing and working towards the same goal.

Why all of this talk about inspirational people? Because the people who have been influenced by Downs Syndrome and continue to live out their passions and pursue their dreams are an inspiration to me. They and those that are their support system acknowledge the three traits above and are out to change the world.

Tomorrow (July 26th) a new season of Born This Way premiers on A&E Network. This series is all about people who have been born with Downs Syndrome and have decided to confront the challenges society places on them. This show follows these individuals and their families through their daily life to show just how determined and gifted they are.

Don’t forget to tune in or set your DVR for tomorrow evening. Check out the clip of Rachel (one of the cast members) below:

Are You Rooted?

Most of us are rooted to something. Some are rooted to family, rooted in tradition, or rooted in our stubborn ways. Whatever it is that we find ourselves rooted in, we did not just happen there by chance. In the same way, our faith in God is not something that just happens. We must strive to play an active role in it.

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Banning Liebscher has a new book called Rooted which is all about three areas of your life that God can help deepen your roots. Through the soils of intimacy, serving, and community God can graft a root system that will allow you to not only withstand the storms of life, but allow you to flourish. As Liebscher is quick to point out, these are hidden areas for the most part. These are things that people will not see.

In fact, he believes that this waiting period and these times you are waiting to sprout forth are the times that you need. These are times that God is protecting you from the spotlight in order to help you root your life so deep in Him that you will not be swayed.

Throughout my own life I have seen the lack of roots uproot many Christians and many leaders. Rather than waiting, they want to be in the spotlight too early. Rather than wanting to take the time to invest in hardening their root system and spreading it as far as the eye can see, they would rather be the first to push through the soil.

Banning uses examples of his own life to show how important these things are to the life of a believer. He believes that every person has a calling on their life and is one that can be known. He does believe it should be something that we wake every day trying to set right in the world, but just because God has called us to it does not mean that we are immediately ready to act. Like King David, Banning encourages us to allow God to work in our lives through these three areas before we take our role.

I would recommend this book to anyone who feels a call to a position of leadership, but is not sure of the next step to make. Rather than going at it blindly, let this book help you figure out your next step.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the author or the publisher.