Sunday, December 20, 2009

Primal gets down to what really matters: Book review

Mark Batterson just keeps getting better.

Primal is his latest effort and he doesn't disappoint. I always learn something when I read his books. Especially in the areas of science and history. Mark cultivates my passion for learning because he is such a learner himself.

But I also am challenged to live my faith more authentically and passionately. In this his fourth book, I am specifically challenged to love God more thoroughly: with my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Mark takes the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) and breaks it down. After all, it's the summary verse on how to follow Christ! He ends the book calling for another reformation for Christ-followers to simply be "great" at loving God with all that we are.

Mark is so real and humble in his writing. I feel like I know Mark better after reading one of his books. Mark writes from a life well lived, as well. It's one thing to write stories from your life. But it's another to live so fully. His stories teach directly and indirectly. He isn't wasting time. He's living fully for Christ and taking his family with him. Mark, you inspire me!

For example, I learned about parenting in this book and it wasn't about that. (Relevant to parenting, sure. But reading between the lines I was thoroughly challenged as a dad)

So thanks, Mark, for sharing your journey with Christ with me. And thanks for investing in pastors like me by giving away free copies of your book. That's so cool! Great blog too. www.Evotional.com

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.


Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment. 

40 Loaves: Book Review

I was hooked from the beginning. Baker asks great questions in this daily devotional style book. Questions like:

* Why don't I have more faith?

* Why am I so bored with Jesus?

* Why are Christians so hard for me to like?"

He asks the questions that everybody is thinking but afraid to ask. And he wrestles with them out loud with authenticity. 

Baker doesn't preach in this book. He shares his insights (which are great) and he challenges you to live rightly. But he does so with humility. 

Each day is about 3 pages (more than manageable for those who aren't big readers). He writes in an easy prose that is filled with stories but not without meaty morsels of truth.

Each day also has some thought-provoking questions that encourage you to personalize that day's reading. Then he follows that with a prayer. Some are from history and some are his.

I personally find myself being challenged in my walk with Christ in many of these chapters. I am already recommending this book to others. If you're finding your walk with Christ dry, I recommend you supplementing your time in the Bible with this little gem. It's a great way to jump-start your reading through the Bible.

Note: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Here’s a summary:

“Why don’t I have more faith?”
“Why am I so bored with Jesus?”
“Why are Christians so hard for me to like?” 

There are many questions we’re not 
supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some of them himself? What is it that you’re afraid to ask God? It’s a risky prospect to begin asking–but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C. D. Baker asked himself 40 soul-searching questions which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than He ever expected. 

Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says He really is at the same time? Come
 indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God’s unconditional love.

Search me, O God … and know my anxious thoughts.
–Psalm 139:23 NIV

Thursday, December 17, 2009

iShine: Because He lit me up!

It's not just Christmas trees or houses getting lit up this season. People are too!

Recently we heard from 8 yr old Megan Coker boldly share her faith in front of her church family. She's ready to get baptized because she's not ashamed to follow Christ publicly. That's what I call shining brightly!

Megan doesn't have a seminary degree or years of experience following Christ. And nobody is shining for her. She is shining. It's really that simple.

She told his disciples, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)

"Let your light shine" not make your light shine. We don't actually shine. God shines through us. He is light and it's supernatural. Let it happen this Christmas season. Let your friends, family and neighbors see your light. Then they will see your good deeds and praise God. Isn't that what we live for?

Let the light out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Does God recognize your voice when...

This just off my twitter.com feed:

@lnobles Sign I should call home more often. When I called Mom this AM to wish her Happy Bday she asked who was calling. Um, your favorite daughter.

Made me ask the question, "Does God ask who's calling when I call on Him?" Just saying...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Big Story

I love this visual, post-modern way to share the story of God. It's simple but comprehensive. It doesn't give you all the answers. But it gives you more than you might think just listening to it once. Check out his great book True Story through IVP. Great read!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"God is at work!" -Jimmy Reeves

If you're not aware, Jimmy Reeves is one of our pastor/elders at Grace. Okay, he is the founding pastor/elder of Grace. It's always good to be reminded that even when it isn't obvious that God is at work around us, that He still is at work. Darien

Dear Grace Family:
            Last Sunday, just as the service was beginning, a cab pulled up in front of the Senior Center and a young (I should say “very young”) sailor in the Navy got out.  His name is JJ Anderson, and I bet he only has to shave once a week, if that much.  He graduated from high school in June, joined the Navy, went to boot camp, and has been at the Naval Weapons Station for the last four weeks.  He is scheduled to be stationed here for the next two years studying nuclear engineering, so he can help run a nuclear power plant on board one of our country’s nuclear powered ships.  He cannot leave the base during the week, and his days usually go from 5 in the morning until 10 at night.  He is one of seven children, is from outside of San Francisco,California, and has only been outside of his state twice – once to Nevada and another time toArizona.  He said he didn’t understand the concept of humidity until he came here!  He found out about Grace on the internet and thought it sounded like his home church.
            I was so impressed with his courage in hiring a cab to bring him all the way from the Weapons Station (that couldn’t have been cheap) to go to a church where he knew no one. However, you could tell he knows the Lord, not just with an intellectual knowledge, but like you know a friend.  He knows the Lord well enough to want to be with other brothers and sisters in Christ, and to want to worship Him when he could have been justifiably catching up on some sleep, or doing something other than studying math and science. He knows Him well enough that even when placed on the other side of the country in unfamiliar surroundings, he heard and obeyed that familiar call from God to be with Him and His other children.
My family had the privilege of eating lunch with him and taking him back to his base.  I told him he could call our church anytime, and we would come get him.  He asked if he could call me Friday or Saturday, so I am hoping and praying he will come back.  Even if he decides to find a church closer to his base, I was so clearly reminded that God is at work.  He cares for us all and knows all about us.  It does not matter where we are from or what stage of life we are in -- we all are loved and intimately known and valued by God, the very creator of the universe.
I believe God brought JJ to Grace last Sunday.  I hope he received a blessing and maybe felt just a little like he was back in his home church.  But regardless of whether we see or hear from JJ Anderson ever again, God used the courage of a young sailor to remind me again of His presence and that He is still at work!  Isn’t it good to be a child of God!!   
Your brother in Christ
James E. Reeves, PA, 400 North Cedar Street, Summerville, SC 29483
Phone (843) 832-7337

Friday, October 30, 2009

Does reading the Bible 4x/week really make a difference?

Here's a quote from a fantastic article I hope you'll read in full. I'm going to preach on this someday soon:

My beef with self-esteem is how it’s invaded America’s churches.  In a well-intentioned effort to encourage and motivate people, we’ve created a “theology-lite” where we rarely refer to scripture, never discuss the hard truths of the Bible, and avoid words like “sin” because they might turn-off visitors.  
The famous REVEAL study from Willow Creek is a powerful confirmation that programs don’t create disciples.  In fact, The Center for Bible Engagement in Lincoln, Nebraska has just completed a landmark research study that reveals regular church attendance has little to no effect at all on behaviors like marital infidelity, drug dependency, financial crisis, emotional sickness, or other undesirable behaviors.  They discovered the real “tipping point” of spiritual maturity happens when we encounter the Bible at least four times a week.  
Reading the Bible four or more times a week.  Who would have thought?

Full Article

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Would you worship in a bar? Coffee shop? Cafe? Nursing home?

I really like this post as it relates to church venues. I don't think it's for everybody but I think it's for more than are doing it. I'm thinking there are a lot of people who'd attend a worship service in a cafe or coffee shop that wouldn't go to a church building. Public places feel more, well, public. I think the early church did some of that along with the house church gatherings.

Would you worship in any of these places?

I don't think the church makes enough use of great venues. This photo is from Joe Thorn's theology pub. It's a second story room in an Irish pub. And that's Joe drinking water by the way. =)
Just a thought here.
What if the church didn't multiply by way of big boxes and satellite-fed LED screens. But rather through reasonably-sized congregations led by capable men and women in interesting places.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Peanuts to Pressbox by Eli Gold Book Review

I love football! And a good game on TV becomes a great game when you get the best announcers. I got to learn about one of the greats in Eli Gold's From Peanuts to Pressbox.

This autobiography is like a fairy tale come true. Throughout the book, Eli is gushing over what great opportunities he's gotten and how he's tried not to  take it for granted. After the tales of his childhood days listening to his transistor radio under the covers every night, he shares tales of his announcing adventures through minor and major league baseball, minor league and NHL hockey, college and NFL football, as well as truck racing and NASCAR.

You also get some great stories about sports heroes and celebraties who've crossed Eli's path like Kenny Stabler, Bobby Allison, and Lou Saban. Lots of stories you haven't heard as they come first-hand. This is a real sports fan's find!

I think the book would have been stronger, if Eli had weaved in some life lessons. I think he attempted this at times when he would express his gratitude for his opportunities. But he showed very little depth beyond that. Maybe that's not a fair critique but if, for example, you have faith, it should show up in your autobiography. None of that here.

I expected more about faith and life in this book from a publisher like Thomas Nelson. It's not enough to be a nice guy. There should be depth of character and conviction that challenges someone who takes the time to read this book. Just because it's about sports doesn't mean it can't have great value for faith and life.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to avid sports fans. Otherwise, it's a little long in parts and, like I wrote above, lacking in the faith and life department.

"...Around the world."

Our (GCF)Mission: To lead people to love God and to love people in Jesus' name around the corner and around the world.

"Around the world" is how we describe someone who lives, well, around the world. They speak different languages than we do. They eat funny foods. They take baths less often and many live on less than $2/day. They travel on a donkey instead of in a Toyota. Many do not have clean drinking water. 143 million of them are orphans. Millions of others are slaves. 

Most of them live in countries that end in "-stan" or "-esia". Some of them are in the US on a student VISA but will be going back. Some study at CSU...

They are the people of our world that Jesus is trying to wake us up to. Many don't have the Bible in their own language yet. They don't have a local church in their city. Anywhere. Many don't know who Jesus is.

I personally feel like God is calling us beyond Curacao (not instead of) to the unreached peoples of our world. Those who don't have a clue who God really is--much less Jesus. I believe he wants us to send people there. I believe he wants us to go too. Can you say "Kazakhstan?"

It's our mission. That makes it your mission.

This week pray that God will help us all break through our callousness toward people's of other cultures. Maybe pray that this week God will connect you with an international student or a migrant worker to make it more personal. Careful. God will answer that prayer in a heartbeat!

Love God. Love People...internationally,

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Weekend Away with your Sweetheart?

Been thinking about a marriage conference? Let me recommend a Weekend To Remember by the folks at FamilyLife.com.

We had a blast last year when Anita and I celebrated our 21st anniversary. And we want to go back this year with at least 5 more couples. If we do this, everyone gets like $80 off per couple. So it costs about $80/couple for the conference. Your hotel room for 2 nights in beautiful downtown Charleston, SC is extra, but not bad-especially for the Marriott ($105/night).

It's your marriage. How do you expect it to be all it could be if you don't ever work on it. You live in it 24/7. When was the last time you both worked ON it? This is too precious a relationship to take for granted. Don't wait for problems. Invest a weekend in your husband/wife. They are worth it!

So let me hear from you. Are you doing it as a surprise trip for your husband or wife? Just want to get out of town without the kids? Give us a call. Drop an email. Or just sign-up. The details are all right here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Extraordinary by John Bevere

Any book that challenges the status quo in our life is a good book. I encourage you to read this summary and consider this new release. dg


There’s a question that troubles many believers: “Why am I not experiencing more joy, more hope, more satisfaction, more intimacy, more power, moreeverything in my Christian life--didn’t Jesus promise that?”

He did promise an abundant life, but too many people are trapped by the curse of “the ordinary.” They have accepted the wrong idea that following God means losing individuality, creativity, and a passion for achieving lofty goals.

Nothing could be further from the truth! John Bevere builds a convincing case, straight from Scripture, for a way of living marked by extraordinary experiences and accomplishments—the life God always intended for his children.

Here is a guide to understanding God’s incredible plans, and how to enjoy a life where he adds the “extra” to “ordinary.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"...Around the corner..."

Our (GCF) Mission: To lead people to love God and to love people in Jesus' name around the corner and around the world.

"Around the corner" is how we describe someone who lives close by. They are our neighbors. Those we carpool with and see in the grocery store. Our kids play on the same YMCA teams and dance in the same studios.

We cross paths at the Flowertown festival and at Pizza Inn. We work together, go to school together and have cookouts together. We are strangers and dear friends.

They are the people of our community that Jesus has placed in our path. Part of our mission is to love them as Jesus would if he were in your shoes.

It's our mission. That makes it your mission.

This week pray that God will help you see each person who crosses your path as someone he wants you to love. Then be the answer to your own prayer and love them in a practical way.

Love God. Love People...in practical ways,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wild Goose Chase song by Micah Hasty FREE

DarienGabrielCheck out this FREE music from The Great Rescue @NoiseTrade! http://tinyurl.com/44nbf9


by Micah Hasty

F, C, G
There’s so much to discover when it comes to knowing You

There’s so much to uncover, my God I’m chasing You

F, C, G

Feel like I’m on a wild goose chase

Every decisions has me turning another way

And when I feel like You’re just within my reach

There’s something more of You for me to see

F, C, G

Sometimes it takes all I am, just to believe

More often than not in this life, I find myself looking for the holes in Your hands

F, C, G

Feel like I’m on a wild goose chase

Every decisions has me turning another way

And when I feel like You’re just within my reach

There’s something more of You for me to see

Break, F, C

F, C, G

Feel like I’m on a wild goose chase

Every decisions has me turning another way

And when I feel like You’re just within my reach

There’s something more of You for me to see

F, C, G

Feel like I’m on a wild goose chase

Every decisions has me turning another way

And when I feel like You’re just within my reach

There’s something more of You for me to see

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"In Jesus' Name"

Our Mission: To lead people to love God and to love people in Jesus' name around the corner and around the world.

"In Jesus' name" reminds us who we're following: Jesus Christ. The Church is here because of Him. We want to keep that front and center. "Apart from Him we can do nothing."

In our pluralistic culture, it's easy to talk about God without even believing Jesus is in the mix. So we want to be very clear by including Jesus in our mission statement.

"Jesus is Lord" was probably the earliest "creed", if you will, in the Church. And it says a lot. He rules. He's in control. We follow Him. We love Him.

So to say we do all this "in Jesus' name" is to say that we live for this mission as a church. We follow Jesus because it's His mission and we love Him. We just get to be in on it.

Free e-Magazine

Gospel for Asia is excited to announce a new, interactive version of our SEND!magazine, and you can see it right now by clicking this link!

As you'll see, the online SEND! allows you to explore its high-resolution pages and read incredible stories of what God is doing on the mission fields of Asia. You can also take a closer look at the photos, have access to additional content and soon even watch videos!

We hope you find GFA's online SEND! a blessing to you personally and a great help as you pray for your Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. And be sure to watch your inbox each quarter as we notify you of your next issue ofSEND!, the voice of native missions.

Yours for the lost of Asia,

K.P. Yohannan
Executive Editor
SEND! Magazine

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If God is Good by Randy Alcorn

I love everything I've ever read by Randy Alcorn. I can't wait to read this one too! I'll post my review after I do. Darien


Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkerson

His New York Times phenomenon The Prayer of Jabez changed how millions pray. Now Bruce Wilkinson wants to change what they do next.

Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by a direct intervention from God. Around the world these acts are called miracles—not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn the “protocol of heaven.”

In the straightforward, story-driven, highly motivating style for which he is known, Wilkinson describes how anyone can be a “Delivery Guy” from heaven in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose, and spiritual growth.

Happy Grandparents Day

From GCF Newsletter 9/13/09. Subscribe to email at info@gracetoday.net

I can still remember Grandma Johnson at the table whenever we'd pray before eating. No matter who was praying, she prayed too. Not too loud, but loud enough that everyone at the table knew it. Kind of a wispy, under-your-breath prayer.

I remember thinking a couple of things whenever that would happen. First, how it annoyed me that she wasn't listening to the person praying. And second, that she seemed to cover a lot more territory than we did. I'll admit, I was more than a little curious as to what she was praying.

Today I wonder if she just got tired of our shallow, rote prayers. Prayers without much faith. She lived by faith. She had little to no income at all. She had no home to call her own. You could put everything she owned in a suitcase and hangup bag. She lived with one of her 4 daughters at any given time, unless she was visiting her sisters.

Today, I am inspired by her legacy. Mostly by how she lived in my presence. I believe that she incarnated (fleshed-out) the Gospel when she stayed with us. She displayed God's love as a humble grandmother to my brother and me. So today I thank God for grandparents and the power of presence they can bring to the lives of their grandchildren. They are the grace of God to us.

Happy Grandparents Day,


...Love People...

Our Mission at Grace Christian Fellowship: To lead people to love God and to love people in Jesus' name around the corner and around the world.

It's a little dangerous to try and separate loving God and people. The two really are inseparable.

Loving God really can't happen apart from loving people. And to truly love people you must love God so his love flows through you.

I think in the church today we think we've loved God if we show up for a church service on Sun. and give ten bucks. Loving God requires a relationship. Otherwise, all you have is religion. It was a religion of hate that brought down the World Trade Center.

What does loving people look like? John said it well when he wrote,

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." -1 John 3:16-18

Loving people = Loving God so much that you treat people he created like he would if he were in your place

So are you loving people throughout the week? Neighbors? Co-workers? Classmates? Family? Strangers? What grade would you give yourself for how you loved people last week? (write it down)

"Father, help us as a church family learn to truly love people motivated by our love for You which is motivated by your incredible love for us. Move us to act selflessly, generously and lovingly this week. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."

Friday, September 11, 2009

NYC as seen from space on 9/11 2001

NYC as seen from space on 9/11 2001http://bit.ly/3u4Lba (via @NASA)

As I look at this image and reflect on that day 8 years ago, I am reminded that many lives were not only lost but radically changed that day. For some, the change was one that impacted eternity.

As a result of this terrorist attacks, I have a greater view of what evil really looks like. It destroys. It deceives. It opposes all that is good. It is deadly. It is real. And people are still capable of such evil acts, words and thoughts today.

At the same time, I see the grace and mercy of God in the countless acts of courage, compassion and kindness portrayed by Americans great and small.

Many lives are stronger today as a result of a healthy response to the attacks. The future of many adults, children and grandchildren has been eternally changed. There was a high price to pay to get our attention. Too high a price? It probably depends on who you ask.

God the Father paid a great price too. He sent his Son Jesus to die a death he didn't deserve. He did it to make it possible for us to be forgiven and freed from sin and death. Jesus suffered torture for most of the day before--and then on--the cross. He went obediently and willingly out of love--for God his Father first, and then, for us.

Too high a price? Depends on who you ask. But as for me--definitely too high a price to pay. I wasn't worth it--at least in my eyes.

But I'm so grateful that God sees things differently. That while I was a traitor and enemy of God (terrorist?), God paid the ultimate price to demonstrate his great love for me and that "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8)

I am grateful that Jesus died on the cross in my place for my sins so that I could live in his place. You are great, Lord!

Today I lift up those who still hurt for the lives lost during the attacks on 9/11/01 and the rescue and recovery efforts that followed. I pray for those families that will forever have to deal with the void left because the loss of a loved one.

Today I pray for the nation--for the Way, the Truth and the Life to become clear to us. For the love of God to be fleshed out in our nation through God's people.

Today I pray for our leaders. That they would be humble, honest and wise. That they would truly love and serve their nation.

"Jesus said, 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News." (Mark 1:16)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Thousand Questions

Powerfully moving short film about where we've come from and whether there's any hope.

Twitter feeds

Check out our new twitter feeds at Grace Christian Fellowship:

www.twitter.com/gracetwitt - Latest news, thoughts and questions.

www.twitter.com/graceprays - Church-wide prayer requests.

Facebook Group Page at www.facebook.com

Search "Grace Christian Fellowship Summerville"

Friday, September 04, 2009

Giving the Ability to Give

When we give, we bless others because we are giving them the ability to give. And "It's more blessed to give than to receive." (Jesus said that last part)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"Green" The Debate is on!

I can't wait to read this pre-quel/sequel. Book 0. Green. Darien

Green is now on shelves everywhere. This story is truly a first of its kind--a pre-quel and a sequel, a beginning and an end, all at the same. If the early reviews are any indication, Green will not only capture the imaginations of existing fans, but will pull new readers into the world of Thomas Hunter. If you've ever wanted to introduce Ted's stories to a friend, now's a good time to start.

“Green takes readers on an epic adventure of two worlds connected by one man named Thomas Hunter. … Moving at breakneck speeds...the resulting saga is one that draws readers deep into another realm, causing them to forget they’re actually reading a book.” —CBA Retailers + Resources

“[Green] is an apocalyptic, spellbinding thriller...Verdict: Dekker continues to write shocking stories that revolve around the war between good and evil in our hearts. His myriad fans will want this suspenseful, larger-than-life visionary novel, which will also appeal to readers who enjoy Dean Koontz and Stephen King.” -Library Journal



By: Ted Dekker

Asking readers what they think about reading a novel that both begins and ends a series, such as Green, is a bit like asking someone what they think about being thrown out of an airplane with a parachute strapped on.

Until you’ve done it, you can only guess.

Those who've read the Circle Series thus far will likely say it's not wise to start with Green. But then, they have never done that, so can’t really know.

It’s also a bit like the Star Wars Saga. Many debate whether it’s better to start with the ending of Star Wars movies, as they were released, or to start with Phantom Menace. Do you start at the beginning or at the end? For new viewers, most agree that it's better to start with the end of Star Wars even though it spoils how the series ends.

Still, it's up for debate. Just remember that if you've read Black, Red and White, you are debating what someone else will experience, not you. You are guessing that certain spoilers will create less of an impulse to discover or that they will ruin the experience of those discoveries.

This was at the forefront of my mind as I wrote. So, having finished the first draft, I gave the manuscript to a whole cast of readers who'd read the series and another whole cast who hadn't read anything. We gave them all an extensive questionnaire and then poured over the responses.

The result was exactly as I had hoped. All who had read Black, Red and White thought Green made for a strong conclusion. Yet they weren't sure it would make for a strong beginning. How could they know, being forever stamped by their own experience?

And all, to a person, who read Green without any prior knowledge of the series thought it made a perfect beginning and would immediately pick up Black. I quizzed them in great detail and made some small adjustments. Nowhere did they feel lost for lack of knowing, and instead were eager to learn more about the backstory alluded to throughout. All of those things you think of as spoilers, were story questions for the virgin reader. Indeed, many things you think are spoilers actually aren't apparent UNLESS you've read the other books. Knowing the dot is on the wall, you see it every time you enter the room, even though others do not.

I gave all of this much thought as I crafted this most unusual novel. You really have to ask someone who reads the series starting with Green and ending with White how the experience was if you want to know.

Bottom line: Don't assume that the KNOWLEDGE others acquire in Green will lessen rather than add to the EXPERIENCE of reading the other novels. Take a new reader's word for it. That's what I did, and that's why I called Green Book Zero.

Now debate away ;-)


Post a review on your favorite book site then let us know where we can read it. Good, bad, ugly, we want to know what you think of it. You can send the web address of your review to fanmail@teddekker.com or by dropping us a line HERE.

Thanks for reading. Dive deep.

Kevin Kaiser | Creative Trust | Www | Fb | Tw

Monday, August 31, 2009

It only takes a little

I don't know about you but my tendency is to ask God for more faith when I fail. Apparently, that's pretty normal. At least that's what I see the disciples doing.

Jesus is teaching his disciples things like the woes of leading people to sin, the importance of confronting a brother in Christ who sins against you, and forgiving people over and over...and over again when they sin against you. Tough stuff.

Apparently the disciples agree. In exasperation, they respond to Jesus by saying, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5)

Sounds like a great request, right? I've prayed that many times myself. But Jesus sets us straight in just one verse (albeit a long one).

(Jesus) replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.' (17:6)

Now that would be impressive!

But Jesus uses this to make a huge point. It's not the size of our faith that makes the difference--it's the object of our faith. (Object = Jesus, here)

Notice that in his example, Jesus says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed." His point is that faith in Jesus is powerful not because of how much you have but in whom you have it. When we exercise faith in Jesus, we can move heaven and earth because he is Lord of all creation. He's huge!

Why does God do it this way? Good question!

To have faith to tell a tree to move and it happen really is impressive! Again, my tendency is to think that the person who can do that has a lot of or big faith. They are impressive! But therein lies my problem.

Did you catch it? In my response I exalted the one who demonstrated the faith instead of the object of their faith (Jesus). When it's about how much faith I have, I get the glory. When it's about my little faith moving mountains, it becomes about my great God. And since I exist for his glory, this makes much more sense. It exalts the One who is the object and source of our great faith!

So maybe I need to adjust my prayer. Maybe instead of, "Lord, increase my faith" I need to pray, "Lord, increase my awareness of how big and good you really are." When I see my problems beside my massive God, they take on their proper perspective and I find I have an easier time trusting God.

What's your prayer today?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cargo Bikes

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Clutter-free Christianity book review

This book was like bad cold--I couldn't shake it.

Dealing with the heart of the matter in following Christ, there wasn't a lot of new information for me. Which is why I kept trying to put it down...but every time I'd read a little I found I wanted to keep going.

Jeffress is witty, real and smart in his writing. I felt like I got to know him in this book. Like a great mentor, he gently and compellingly kept encouraging me to do what I already knew I needed to be doing to strengthen my walk with Christ.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flock Browser

I'm checking out this new browser tonight that is designed to make social networking more seamless. So far I'm impressed! www.Flock.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So Beautiful book review

Len Sweet offers his MRI church as a picture of what could be a church (and therefore Christ-followers) that is "So Beautiful."




From book jacket, "Sweet calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary strands of the Christian life. Far from a novel idea, Sweet shows how this structure is God's original intent and shares the simply beautiful design for His church."

I "read" this book as an mp3 on my ipod. I like reading better since I like to re-read sentences I don't get the first time. It's just such a rich read that you can't just blow through it and expect to get the full impact. Maybe I'll listen to it again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seven Faith Tribes book review

This book was better than I expected.

Barna does a great job outlining the 7 basic faith tribes in America and then helping us get a better picture of what they're like. I thought he'd stop there but he doesn't.

Barna then outlines his ideas for how we can impact America by focusing on the "Shared values" of these groups (which includes everyone from atheists to Muslims).

His premise is that it's going to take all of us to turn America around.

I learned a lot about the adult population of America from this book. While I'm not sure how on board I am with his premise and reason for writing the book, I appreciate his passion and vision for a better America and how the church (and I) can be a part of loving people

Monday, August 24, 2009

Confessions of another pastor...

By Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Wash, DC and popular author. I love this guy. Check this out:

If you asked me: what is the best decision you made this year? The answer is easy. The hands-down best decision was the decision to read through a one-year Bible.

Let me come clean. I didn’t read the Bible nearly as much as I could have or should have last year. This is embarrassing to admit, but Bible reading had become synonymous with sermon prep. I was reading it professionally instead of devotionally. I was reading it for what God wanted to say through me instead of reading it for what God wanted to say to me. And it took its toll.

Then at the end of last year I stumbled across an interview with J.I. Packer, the renowned author and theologian. He said, “Any Christian worth his salt ought to read the Bible from cover-to-cover every year.” It stung at first. But it made sense, so much sense that I decided to do it. And it has proved to be the best decision I made this year. Long story short, I’ve fallen in love with the Bible all over again.

If you want to grow spiritually, you need a consistent diet of Scripture. In fact, you will never outgrow your consumption of Scripture. There is no substitute. There is no supplement. The poet, T.S. Eliot, once observed: “Everything we eat has some effect upon us. It affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe exactly the same is true of anything we read.” In other words, you are what you read.

I have a saying that I repeat to our congregation frequently: reading without meditating is like eating without digesting. If you want to absorb the nutrients, you can’t just read it. You’ve got to chew on it. You’ve got to digest it. Meditation is the way we metabolize Scripture. Finish Article
RePost: Bible Reading Plans

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Becoming the Answer to our prayers review

"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do." -from introduction

The authors hit a home run here.

Written not by theologians (although great theology & biblical insights) but by activists who know from personal experience why prayer isn't just a good idea but essential in following Christ. They guys live it out daily in urban settings by choice. They could be in high-paying jobs or ministries. Instead, they are working with the least, the last and the lost to make a real difference in the poorest neighborhoods in Philly and Durham, NC.

At only 120 pages (and with great end notes), this won't take you long to read. But it will stay with you for quite a while.

They basically show how prayer and action go together. While that sounds like a no-brainer, ask yourself this question: how are you doing putting your actions and your prayers together?

"If we hope to see God change society, we must be ordinary radicals who pray--and then are ready to become the answers to our own prayers." Classic. A must-read.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Simple Spirituality

Simple Spirituality is Chris Heuertz's attempt to do just that: Follow Christ simply.

Chris just believes that it's not complicated.

He breaks following Christ into 4 areas and go into depth in each one with stories and truth that inspire and inform. He starts with humility and then moves through community, simplicity, submission and ends with brokenness.

It's nothing fancy. Reading it on the heals of Becoming the Answer to our Prayers was probably a God-thing as they dovetailed nicely. I can't recommend this book enough. Only a 152 pages, it's short, sweet and delightful to eat (plenty of salt in this one).

Family Driven Faith book online FREE!

For those who'd like to read Voddie Baucham's latest book Family Driven Faith online (thanks to Google Books & generosity of Voddie), here's the link:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John Piper rocks! FREE stuff!

Free Resources for Hungry Students

If you're a student, or you know a student, then you probably know how expensive going back to school can be. You have to buy books, pay tuition, cover housing, and then get enough together to buy something to eat (Ramen noodles anyone?). At Desiring God, we want a student's "spiritual food" to always remain affordable.

That's why, in this back-to-school season, we simply want to remind you of the wealth of free resources on the DG website. Currently we have

And remember that these resources come in multiple formats, such as text, audio, video, or some combination of these.

Take for example our 2006 National Conference The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. As with most of our content, you have several options for how to get it:

  1. Download the book and then watch or listen to the messages online.
  2. Purchase the conference DVD, audio, or book in our online store at regular price.
  3. Order them by phone, email, or letter, and simply pay Whatever You Can Afford.

So don't let your student go hungry this year. We want to make it easy for them to feast on the truth of God's word.

For free resources, visit our website: DesiringGod.org.

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