When I chose “Love and Respect” as my next book to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There are literally thousands of books written on the subject of marital intimacy and struggles relating thereto. However, I was blown away by the content contained within “Love and Respect”. Emerson Eggerichs and his wife Sarah take an in-depth look at the REAL issue behind the struggles that couples face, and how to counteract it. Emerson refers to this as “the crazy cycle”, stating that “without love, she reacts without respect, without respect, he reacts without love”, thus causing the Crazy Cycle to spin. “Love and Respect” points out many of the common relational problems that men and women share, and shows how to look through the eyes of one’s spouse to see the real issue. Emerson gives one classic example of a communication issue: “When a woman says ‘I have nothing to wear’, it means she has nothing NEW. When a man says ‘I have nothing to wear’, it means he has nothing CLEAN.” This humorous anecdote shows a very small way in which men and women can miscommunicate, while saying the same phrase.
However, if there’s one thing that I would most highly recommend about this book, it’s that it gives the reader an insight into not only the opposite sex, but also into themselves and how their brain works. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it should be read by EVERYONE, married or unmarried, who looks to have a genuine Christ-like relationship with spouse, parents, siblings, and friends. No, this is not “Just another counseling book”, and it WILL change your life.
“Imagine your life wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, and doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, absent the dread of failure, rejection, and calamity. Can you imagine a life with no fear?” Thus begins the most recent work from nationally acclaimed writer Max Lucado, entitled “Fearless”. In this midsized 218 page book, Max details exactly how we can indeed be free from fear. In “Fearless”, Max dedicates thirteen chapters to different common fears that plague everyone in the human race. Fear of not mattering. Fear of Disappointing God. Fear of Life’s FInal Moments. Each common fear is pointed out, counterattacked, and disposed of. The Bible tells us again and again not to fear…and God has reasons why. Near the end of the book, Max gives a quote from one of his close friends: “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”
Fearless is a book that everyone should own a copy of. Whether your fears are open and obvious, hidden, or dormant and waiting to appear, this book will cater to all audiences, as it shows us how to live a life free from fear.
In “Christianity in Crisis”, Hank Hanegraaff does an excellent job of showing scripturally why the current “faith healing movement” is – for the most part – a sham.
In this 427-page exposé, Hanegraaff discusses the various beliefs and teachings of some of the “great faith leaders”, and showing how their teachings are no more than pure, unadulterated heresy. He points out many erroneous and doctrinally unsupported (and often heretical) statements such as “any of us could have redeemed the world, had we known what Jesus knew”, “God was the greatest failure of all time”, and a shocking statement from Benny Hinn that “Don’t tell me you have Jesus. You are everything He was and everything He is and ever He shall be…”, and Creflo Dollar “Because you came from God you are gods — you’re not just human.”
Hanegraaff points out how these fallacies cause insurmountable harm, and problems in the Christian church. The book is well rounded, and fully documented with Biblical verses and facts, not just opinions. Although the book is well rounded, it is also over long, and repetitive. Although he documents well each of the faith teachers and their theology, one doesn’t have to read about each one for Hanegraaf to make his point. Many of them hold to similar theologies, and therefore it becomes difficult to not repeat what was said about another. However, the sum of the book is great reading, and highly recommended for anyone looking on defending the Truth of the gospel against the heretical teachings of the faith movement.
Here’s some more pictures I have taken recently…these include pictures from the Brandon Heath/Third Day concert I went to, as well as a few from the Lakeside Bible Camp father/son retreat.
About a month ago, I took my sister out and did her graduation photos. I got quite a few good ones…I just wish that I had had my new Nikon D90 to take them…but it didn’t show up until the day AFTER that.
But these pictures still turned out great, so I’ll post a few of the good ones.
Here’s our most recent family photo, taken at Yuen Lui, as always.
Click on the picture for full size!
Well, I had fun with my nice new Nikon D90 Digital SLR camera over the weekend! I have 2 lenses for the camera…a Nikkor 18mm-55mm zoom, and a Nikkor 55mm-200mm zoom lens. Nice coverage.
Anyway…enjoy the photos! Due to upload time, and since these were all taken at high quality 12.3MP…I have downsized them LOTS.
And as always, if you want to see the image larger, click on it!
The scene unfolds a little over two thousand years ago. Three wooden crosses stand upright on a hill, holding three men worthy of death. The ones on the left and right are both criminals, finally caught and brought to justice by the Roman government. But the one in the middle…he is the object of the discussion. Nobody debates the fact that the two criminals deserve to die, but the crowd has differing opinions on the one in between. Most were once followers, or at the least people who had had family members restored to health by this man. They had at one time gathered over 7000 strong to sit and listen to his teaching for hours on end, drinking in his wisdom and his parables. The evidence would lead one to think that this man was in place to become the next ruler of Israel! Yet…despite all this acclaim and following he received, there remained a problem.
The religious leaders of Israel hold great power over the people. At one time, this had been a good thing. They would shepherd the people in the ways of God, and intermediate between the people and God. However, over time, the religious elite became corrupt…maintaining a facade of Godliness, but denying the power thereof. To the people, they were like holy guardians…but on the inside they were full of rotten filth, having slid so far from the role they were supposed to play.
Now the problem was thus: the religious leaders, who were called “Pharisees”, had worked themselves into a nice little position. Since they were the “mediators” between the people and God, they inflated their positions, and used their power to increase their financial gain. Now this man…this Jesus…is claiming to be God in the flesh, and he unnerves the Pharisees. He seems to read their thoughts, and points out their every flaw to the people.
Flash back to the start of Jesus’ ministry. He is now riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Nobody understands his true purpose. Both his disciples, and the crowd of people surrounding him, all believe he has come to finally overthrow the Roman rule, and bring peace to Israel. He plans to bring peace, this is undeniable, but the way in which he does it is unlike what anyone is expecting. As he rides down the city street into Jerusalem, the crowd lines the streets in anticipation, and honor him highly by waving palm branches in the air. The disciples are excited…FINALLY their master is doing what he was born to do! He is preparing to defeat the Romans and rule Israel!
However, not everything is as well as it appears. During the passover supper, Jesus tells one of his twelve disciples that they will betray him that night. All are shocked! Betray their master?? Surely it wasn’t them! Shortly thereafter, Jesus tells one of his disciples to do what he has to do. The disciple, named Judas, gets up and leaves. The fact that he is keeper of the moneybags works conveniently in his favor, and none of the other disciples suspect that he is really going to betray the one he has followed.
Several hours later, the time has arrived for the master plan that is as of yet unknown to the world, and the demonic forces that occupy it. However, the man is under a pressure that no other man in the history of the earth has ever known. He sits by a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane, heart pounding at the thought of what lies before him. He has known all along what his entire purpose in this life was. It was not the lot of an ordinary man, to be born and live life…no, this man was called to die.
He lays his head on the rock, and begins to weep. What is about to occur is breaking his heart. He cries out to his Father for another way to accomplish the plan, but he knows there is no other way…and one thing is holding him back from abandoning his purpose. Love.
As he lies by the rock, he begins to pray to his Father. The intense pressure and stress falls on him like a load of bricks, and he begins to sweat blood from his pores. The blood splashes on the rock by his head, staining it red. Finally, after several hours of praying, he rises from his place by the bloodstained ground. The time has come.
As he walks back into the open, the man finds his disciples sleeping on the ground. Not even his closest friends could sit up with him and comfort him in his hour of grief. He had tried to tell them what his plan was, but they would not listen. Now, as he awakes his slumbering disciples from their resting place, the sound of shouts and clanking armor arises from around the bend. Judas has fulfilled his mission, and has betrayed Jesus to the pharisees. As the disciples rise, and see the scene unfolding, panic strikes. They scatter in all directions, as they flee to escape the Roman guards. The man, however, stands his ground resolutely. He knows what the task is before him, and despite the unimaginable cost, he continues.
His arms are tied roughly behind his back, and he is marched before the Sanhedrin; the council of the Pharisees. The air is tense…they’ve waited for this moment for what seems like an eternity. FINALLY the enemy of their “righteous facade” is captured! The man’s captors throw questions at him right and left, in an attempt to snare him, but he refuses to answer. Finally, the High Priest shouts out “I command you under oath of the Most High God! Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” “It is as you say”. replies the man. All hell breaks loose, and the high priest tears his robes. Blasphemy! This man actually claimed to be God’s son!
The Sanhedrin ends in disarray, and the guards are instructed to drag the man before Pontius Pilate, a governor in that region. The crowd, which just several days earlier had heralded his arrival into the city with honor, now incited by the pharisees, begins to scream for his crucifixion. The man’s head bows with sorrow. They don’t realize what his plan is. If they did, they would shrink back in shame. Pilate, not wishing to kill Jesus, attempts to appease the crowd by subjecting this man to a roman beating.
A guard grabs the man’s wrists and ties them to a rough wooden pole that sticks out of the center of a small courtyard. He cinches the knot tight, so that there’s no room for escape. Another guard stands behind the man, holding a cat o’ nine tails. They would give thirty nine lashes with this whip, totaling over 350 hits. The whip went back in the Roman’s’ fist, and cracked in the air as it returned to land it’s first blow on the man’s back. The nine barbed tongues of the whip bite into his back and side, ripping flesh and burning like fire. The man screams as blood begins to pour from his back and sides. The whip rises and falls again. Arching his back in pain as the sharp tips of the whip dig into his flesh opening new wounds and deepening the old, the man screams yet again, but does not beg for mercy. The plan must continue. Thirty seven more times the whip rises and falls, emaciating the man beyond recognition as his back, sides, chest and stomach are disfigured beyond repair. Blood soaks the courtyard beneath the scene, and the roman soldier finally lowers the whip.
The man is hauled to his feet by two guards on either side. He is brought before the crowd, along with a notorious criminal named Barabbas, in a last ditch effort by Pilate to appease the people without killing him. “Whom would you rather me release to you?” Pilate cries out. “Jesus, who is called Christ, or Barabbas?” Then, the unimaginable happens. The people, so frenzied in their thirst for blood, demand that Jesus be given to them for crucifixion, and Barabbas be released.
The man is lying on the ground, barely able to move. His nerves are spasming due to the overload of excessive pain and blood loss. He coughs up blood.
A group of soldiers grabs him and hauls him into a chair. They want their fun before he dies, so they dress him in a purple robe, mocking his claimed royalty, and shove a wreath of thorns on his head. One of the soldiers digs this painful crown into his skull. They then proceed to spit on him, and hit him with their hands. A tear slips from one of his eyes as pain and sorrow wash over him.
Done with their fun, the soldiers bring him to his feet. A massive wooden cross over 14 feet long and weighing over a hundred pounds is laid on his back to carry. As they place it on his back, the rough wood further chafes his raw back, and splinters embed themselves in the rifts caused by the whip. Remarkably, despite his blood loss and quivering limbs, he manages to begin to walk with the cross, the long end trailing behind him and gouging the soil. The tears begin to fall faster now, wetting his cheeks. Blood mingles with sweat on the several mile trek to the hill called Golgotha.
Suddenly, he can go no further. His battered legs give way beneath him, and he crumples to the ground; the cross falling on top of him. A man from the crowd, Simon by name, is called upon to bear the cross the rest of the way. He picks up the wooden cross, which is by now slick with blood and sweat, and continues the journey.
Finally, the entourage reaches the top of the hill, where several other soldiers have been working diligently to dig three large holes in the ground.
The guards now take the cross, and lay it flat on the ground. Four soldiers take the man – one to each limb – and stretch him out on the wooden crosspieces. His chest heaves with the awful knowledge of what is about to occur. Massive metal spikes, almost three quarters of an inch in diameter are brought, and laid by one of his hands. A burly solder walks up with a hammer, and raises it high. One of the other soldiers positions the nail about an inch below the palm of the man’s hands, and holds it steady while the large soldier swings the sledgehammer. As the hammer strikes the nail, the fire hardened tip pierces straight through the wrist and digs into the wood. Screaming with pain, the man is held down by the guards as he writhes on the cross in bitter agony. The pain of the beating is nothing compared to this type of torture. One by one, each of his limbs is nailed to the piece of wood. By the time the guards are finished, he is nearly unconscious from the pain.
Three crosses. Three men. Three lives. I hang from this cross, my body broken, my entire being screaming with pain. But the worst has not yet come. As I hang here, clouds roll over the sky. Suddenly, my body jerks and I’m overwhelmed with more sorrow and guilt than any normal person could bear. I do not deserve the punishment I am recieving…I have lived my whole life in accordance with the will of my Father. I have never sinned, not even once. And it is for this very reason that I am doing what I am. As I hang here, my Father God places on me the sins of the entire world. I can see every sin of every person who ever lived or will live, and it is now my own. Greed, envy, anger, slander, lust, murder, idolatry, vanity, unforgiveness, and more are all placed on me. If I was completely human, I would have died from just a fraction of what I now bear. The weight of the sorrow that I feel from the sins I have now taken threatens to cause my heart to implode on itself. But I hold on to life.
My Father and I have always been close. We think the same on everything, because he and I are one. Our love for each other knows no limits. But this day is different. I and my Father were both holy. Pure, set apart from the world, and perfect. But as I on the cross take upon myself the sins of the world, our connection is suddenly severed. Everything in me screams to save myself from this, to heal myself, throw myself off the cross, and be free of this pain. But there is one reason and one reason only that I hang, bleeding from every part of my body, writhing in pain, on this cross.
As I watch from heaven with the angels I have created, my heart wrenches with pain. I have sent my only Son to earth to live among the humans as a man, to die. Grief and anger washes over me as I watch what they do to him. Every time the whip lashes him, every nail pounded in…I feel it as if it were me; and it drives a stake into my heart as I watch him hang in agony on the cross. I want to speak a word, and destroy every human alive on the earth for what they have done! But one thing holds me back. My son is following My plans that I laid out for him…and I have to hold my end of it…which is to not destroy the earth while this is in play. If only these humans could see the activity in the spiritual realm, they would shrink back. My angels do not even fully understand what is happening. They beg me to allow them to annhilate the humans, for this mistreatment of their master…and although I want to allow them, I hold them back. The demons are having their heyday…they have been trying for thousands of years to overthrow my Son so that their leader Satan could have the throne, and they are within moments of realizing their dream. I watch as my son takes on himself the sins of the world…and at that moment, something changes. My heart snaps with grief, and I can no longer look at my Son, who is no longer perfect. I cannot allow imperfection to enter Me, so I turn my face away from my son. Tears fall from my cheeks as my heart strains to grab my son and rescue him, but I tear my face away and close my ears to his cries.
When my Father turns his face away from me, I weep with bitter agony. I am beaten beyond recognition, friendless, filled with sin, and hanging from a cross, and now, Fatherless. To most, it would appear that I should have lost the will to live a long time ago, but I still hang on to life. My heart filled with anguish, I cry out to my Father. “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” The salty tears mix with the blood on my chest as I hear no reply from the heavens. My Father has turned His back. I am utterly forsaken. My throat is parched from my screams and weeping. I cry out for something to drink. My time has come…the plan that I have been living out is ready to be fulfilled. I have left my glorious home in heaven, as a king, and given up my royal garments to come to earth as a lowly human peasant. I have been mocked as a fool, beaten near death, my skin is shredded, and I am hanging by metal spikes driven through my arms and feet into wooden crosspieces, been forsaken by my friends, and ultimately, my Father…for one purpose alone.
As tears stream down my face, the one thing that keeps me nailed to this cross is the fact that I desperately love these humans who are mistreating me. I created them with my own hands from the dust of the ground, and even though they mock and despise me, my love for them is undiminished. Since they are sinners, they can never dwell with me in the heavenly places, because my Father and I are perfect, and cannot have imperfection. Therefore, I have agreed to give up my life to take all their sins upon me. My one wish is that they will one day come to love me as desperately as I love them.
A soldier arrives with a sponge of wine on the end, for me to drink. As soon as I have tasted this, my time comes. Using the last of my strength, I cry out “It…is…FINISHED!”
Three days. the man’s body was removed from the cross by a man named Joseph of Aramathea, wrapped, and spiced. Joseph donated his own tomb that he had worked long and hard on for himself, and placed the body of the man inside. That was three days ago. Today, several women travel to the tomb to finish the burial process with a few more spices and aloes. As they arrive at the tomb, however, they stop quickly in shock. The massive stone that had covered the entrance to the tomb opening, which had been guarded by some of Rome’s finest guards, was rolled back from the door, and the entrance lay unhindered, like the maw of a giant beast. Trembling, the women enter into the tomb. The body is gone! Someone has stolen the body! As they turn around to leave and tell the others, two shining beings appear, bathing the cave with light from their radiance. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” one asks. “He is not here, he is risen!”
That day was the most joyful day of my life. When I rose from the dead, I defeated death, sin, and the grave! When I rose, the demonic forces were having one of the largest parties ever seen in the spiritual realm…preparing to go into battle to overthrow my Father. But then that moment…oh, the joy! I entered right into the middle of their celebration…every last one of them froze. It was quiet as a tomb, as they all stared with wide eyes and gaping mouths. Slowly, I held up my nail-scarred wrists, and clutched in my right hand were the keys to death and hell. “Satan!” I cried out. “The human race is mine! I claim them for myself! I have bought them with my own blood, and if they choose to accept my free gift of salvation, they will be FREE from your grasp!” At that moment, all of heaven exploded with joy and excitement.
Now, I see you, my son, my daughter. For your entire life you’ve fled from what I’ve done…but look at my hands. Look at my feet. I was beaten for you, mocked, scorned, took your sins and punishment, and died in your place. I stood in your place in front of My Father, who would have given you what you deserved…an eternity in torment for your sins, and have redeemed you with my blood. Will you believe? I desperately long every day to be with you…but the only way is if you accept my gift. I give it freely, paid with my own life. Your debts are paid in full. My hands and feet tell you that I love you. If you were the only person on this earth, I would endure the cross and the suffering all over again.
I did it for you.
Click below to hear a powerful song that goes along with this narrative.
“The Power of the Cross”
In “BoneMan’s Daughters”, Ted Dekker again weaves a masterful tale of intrigue and suspense. The BoneMan, a sadistic killer roams free, looking for true love in a daughter, and killing those girls who do not match up with his standards. However, the way he finds it is quite different than he is expecting. Ryan Evans has an apathetic family life, until his world is forever changed on the battlefield. When his daughter becomes BoneMan’s next victim however…he must make an important choice. This book is one of Ted’s finest works, and he intertwines the stories of evil, sin, repentance, and most of all, true love, in order to create an unforgettable book that should be a part of any serious reader’s library.
The topic was brought up recently about “laid back” worship. Here’s a small portion with an example of what this looks like:
“He first said that there are two things he loves mainly, the first being the way they worship, since that is basically what their service in centered around. He said also that young people, teens, love to come there because they can come as they are, jeans, t-shirts, anything! He said people show up in Mohawks, tattoos, people scream, people kneel on the floor, people just sit with their heads down and hands folded, people raise their arms, and everyone is ok with it!”
So…this topic of the “come as you are” church is rather interesting. I happen to disagree.
We are certainly called to worship wherever we are at, and worship does not have to be done in an edifice that is specifically ordained for that sort of thing. It can be done at work, at home, etc.
HOWEVER, I disagree on the meaning of “come as you are”, as referenced in a church setting. I do not think that means we should all show up to church in holey jeans and muscle shirts, etc. God wants us to bring
our HEARTS to him as they are…no barriers. We are to come to Him as we are…with all
of our gunk and filth exposed to Him, asking for His forgiveness and mercy. While we can
definitely worship God in our day to day lives, church is special for several reasons. First of all, it’s special because it’s a day set aside as a day of rest and worship…and it’s also a day when the rest of the world specifically sees us. If we come dressed like work, it sends a negative message about Christianity. One of the reasons that we (men) remove hats when praying, wear “sunday clothes”, and close our eyes when praying, is to show a deep respect for the God we are worshipping. We are NOT equals with God! We are His creation, and we owe him respect and Worship. By our show of this, we show the world we are different.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried witnessing to people, and I have them say “One of the reasons I don’t like Christianity is because of all the hypocrites…nobody’s really any different.”
I personally have heard this a LOT, and it’s very true. One of the reasons is because we are revering God less and less, with such doctrines as “God is my buddy”, “He’s my right hand man”, and “God is my copilot”. None of these are true statements. He is our Savior, Lord, and Master. He is Ruler over all, not “OUR right hand man”, or the theologically incorrect statement that he is our “copilot”.
Doctrines such as these lose the reverence that we feel for God, consequently allowing us to believe we can wear what we want, say what we want, look like we want, etc. in church. However, we are told to be “in the world but not of it”, MANY times in the Bible. Often, this means staying away from the latest fashions, which may be immodest, or downright unchristian looking.
Paul Washer has an excellent series of sermons discussing this…and he makes a good point. We begin to be so caught up in the latest fashions that we look, talk, and think just like the world, except for the fact that we call ourselves Christians. This isn’t true Christianity. People should be able to KNOW we are Christians!
So while part of the reason that people are turned off from Christianity is because of hypocritical lifestyles, I believe the other part of the hypocricy comes from a dereverence of our Lord and Savior. I believe a large part of this is how we act in church as well.
Church has become more of a place for comfort rather than conviction! We’re told that we can “come as we are” physically, so we don’t have to make any effort. The sermons are almost always the “feel good” type, taking special care not to offend anyone. They usually involve the “promises” of the Bible, but neglect the “warnings”, just in case it might offend someone, or there might be an unbeliever attending who might be “turned off” by the warnings.
So, all of this to say, I disagree completely with the idea that we should be able to wear what we want and talk like we want etc. in church…it is a means of glorifying God and showing our respect for him. Do I think it is a sin? I don’t know. I haven’t come to a solid conclusion on that yet. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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