Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

This brief look into the practice of communion is insightful and helpful for anyone wanting to better understand the “practice” of communion. Nora Gallagher explores communion in light of her own story, her own journey as part of The Ancient Practices Series published by Thomas Nelson. One will not find a detailed history or theology of communion but rather a modern understanding of how such an important Christian practice impacts our daily lives. Gallagher is an Episcopalian, so she writes out of her own context of experience communion (and helping to serve communion as Lay Minister). Her gift for words is evident as she blows the dust off of the church-worn words of this ancient discipline and breathes new life into this means of grace for Christians the world over.

I especially found it to be enriching as I read it during the week of Thanksgiving and as I was preparing to celebrate communion with my own church on the first Sunday of Advent. While I disagree with some of Gallagher’s musings that are too far to the left for my own theology, many in mainline or liturgical churches will find this book extremely valuable for re-imagining the role that communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper plays in the life of Christians.

For more information about the book or to order a copy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do Hard Things

I don't usually like most books written for teens because they usually are full of sub-par expectations that lead to below average teenagers! Enter Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. I was skeptical at first because of some of the endorsements, but I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it's among the best books written for teens that I have come across in the last decade. Note, this book isn't for parents or youth workers although reading it would be helpful for those two groups, rather this is a book that seeks to challenge the status quo of teen culture by challenging teens to rebel against the cultural norm of low expectations for teens.

One of the strengths of the book is that it isn't just a hard-core Christian manifesto to "Do Hard Things", it is a challenge for teens regardless of faith or beliefs to rise above the conventional norms that society has placed on them. At the end of the book the twin brother, clearly present the gospel and challenge their readers to search their own hearts about their relationship with God.

I usually don't endorse many teen books from a Christian perspective because I believe that teens should be reading the same books as adults when it comes to faith. Teenagers aren't the future of the church, they are the church! Nevertheless, this would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who has teenagers in their lives.

For more information about the book and the movement check out

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Few More Fall Pictures

All of us "working" on our laptops!

Playing dress-up

Girl cousins on Halloween

Take one more picture of me and I will sting you!

Fall Cookies

More Fall Pictures

Ms. Patty and Ms. Wendy

Fair Parade got rained out

Halloween Party at School

Class Field Trip

Sisters! Eating popcorn and watching a movie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: From Peanuts To The Pressbox

For any die hard Crimson Tide fan (is there any other kind?) or NASCAR lover, Eli Gold’s new book, From Peanuts to the Pressbox is a wonderful peek behind the curtain to see how the magic happens. Gold has more stories to tell from his days as a sports broadcaster than most Baptist preachers. The color and candor with which he relays his fondest and at times funniest memories of his childhood and his ascent up the ladder to the pressbox are priceless!

I lived in Alabama for about four years while doing graduate work, so I was familiar with the personality and of course the voice of Eli Gold. His name is almost synonymous with Bear Bryant in Alabama, I said almost. Gold’s stories almost sound as if you were sitting at a coffee shop and catching up with an old friend. He has the ability to take you to the moment and the person so that you feel as if you were experiencing his memory for yourself. I guess that’s why he’s so good at what he does by calling games, races, and nearly everything in between.

At times the choppiness of the chapters made it feel repetitive. Not sure if perhaps a bit more editing would help that or not…regardless this book would make a great Christmas gift for any University of Alabama fan or any sports fan for that matter.

Fall Festival Pictures from FBC

Riding the train was lots of fun!

Haystack photo shoot

What Halloween picture isn't complete without a black cat?!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Frontier Between Science and Theology

I will readily admit my ignorance to most things scientific. I believe I have a decent grasp on major theological themes but the convergence of the two is another story. Enter John Polkinghorne. Polkinghorne is a former particle physicist who helped advance the study of quarks and gluons (the things that make up atoms) he knows his science! However he is also an Anglican Priest, so he knows theology as well. He has written extensively on the frontier land of science and theology. I picked up a brief book entitled, Traffic in Truth: Exchanges between Science and Theology this weekend. It's in simple layman's terms but well worth a read.

In answering the question of how these two disciplines relate to one another, Polkinghorne states, "Science cannot tell theology how to answer theological questions, and theology cannot tell science how to answer scientific questions, but the two sets of answers will have to fit in with each other if they are really describing the one world of God's creation"(10).

In another section he discusses miracles and the resurrection of Jesus being the hinge of belief in miracles, even in God. Alone among the great religious leaders of world history, Jesus dies, not in honored old age surrounded by disciples resolved to continue the work of the master, but painfully and shamefully executed in mid-life, deserted by his followers. It seems like an ending in total failure. In fact, I believe that if that had been the end of the Jesus story, we would never have heard of him. He wrote no book and he would just have disappeared from history. But we all have heard of him, and so something must have happened to continue the story of Jesus beyond his death. I believe the Christian claim that that "something" was God's raising Jesus the first Easter Day (46-47).

Polkinghorne's writing is worthy of careful study as he integrates the two worlds of science and theology as he attempts to answer the questions of How? and Why? to the existence of life in this grand universe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sesame Street, The Berlin Wall, and Jesus

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street.
That wonderful creation that has helped educate scores of children through the years. I must admit I don't really remember watching Sesame Street growing up as a kid. I preferred things like Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Jabber Jaws, Yogi Bear, and of course The Three Stooges. As a parent I have grown very fond of Sesame Street for the way that it has helped my girls learn and develop. I know that the experts say children shouldn't watch TV until after age 2, but seriously what parents who aren't Amish do this? In fact there are some shows on PBS that I can't stand not because I'm the reincarnation of Jerry Falwell and his disdain for they just plain get on my nerves. Sesame Street and Curious George are among the ones I can tolerate the best! Although every time I catch an episode of Curious George it happens to be one I've seen like five times. There's a lot to be said with the lack of response from churches to incorporate the media in all of it's forms in reaching the new generations for the sake of the gospel. I don't mean broadcasting Miss Pattycake or The Old Time Gospel Hour...I mean embracing the changing climate of technology in order to facilitate the methodology of sharing theology with a lost and dying world.

On a different note, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. What a milestone for Capitalism and freedom! I was listening to the Rick and Bubba show this morning in the car and they were talking about how for people my age and younger the Berlin Wall is "an obscure thing that happened somewhere over there." I think there's a lot of truth to that statement. The Wall of course represented everything that Americans stood against. The Wall was a visual reminder of the Cold War and the effects that it had on us as a nation and the rest of the world. I confess that my knowledge of Communism, at least of the U.S.S.R. variety is less shaped by history and reality and more shaped by epic films of the 1980s, like Rocky IV (you know, the one where he fights the Russian and defeats not only the Russian but in a small way Soviet Socialism) and Red Dawn (the one staring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen that recounts the fictional invasion of America by Communist countries, specifically Cuba and Russia).

I guess ultimately, though the Berlin Wall for me represents throwing off the shackles of whatever it is that holds you down. For many that could be a crooked government, God knows we have had plenty of those in the last 100 years. For some it is the burden of illiteracy, literally millions of Americans are illiterate, that's not just something that keeps you from getting a PhD. That impacts your everyday life of going to the store, reading the newspaper, checking people's Facebook updates. Still for others the Wall represents things like alcoholism, drug addiction, materialism, abuse of various kinds. For Christ followers, it represents anything including some of the things mentioned above that are tied so tight around our necks they are squeezing the life out of us. True freedom is available though, if indeed that is truly what we want.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ecumenical Evangelical

One of my core values in ministry and in my personal theology is a commitment to ecumenism. Not the everyone's going to heaven regardless of what you say, do, or believe, but a genuine respect and willingness to work together with brothers and sisters in Christ who are a part of other Christian traditions than my own. I saw this post at Internet Monk that reminded me that even though some are drawing the circle tighter and tighter, that many are willing to find commonality in "one faith, one Lord, and one baptism.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Philip Yancey on Prayer

I finished Prayer:Does It Make Any Difference? today. Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors. I like reading Yancey for a number of reasons, like the fact that he is staunchly evangelical and still finds encouragement and comfort in many of the different traditions within the larger Christian world. Yancey has a way of taking something that you know, something familiar, something worn in so well that it has a natural fit and completely dusting it off, breathing new life into it. His journalistic mindset takes the mundane and makes it holy. I tell people all the time that there is no book or author that I agree with 100% of the time, but Yancey probably comes close. I have enjoyed every book I have read by him, usually they are easy to really engage and draw a lot of nourishment from.

Prayer was a more difficult book for me to initially engage, but it was well worth trudging through parts in order to gain so much wisdom and insight into such an important subject. Yancey is a master at weaving in his story and his own thoughts into his books with just the right amount of help and insight from other Christians, both dead and alive.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fleeing Sin

Last night I had the opportunity to teach on the subject of "Dating, Relationships, and Sexuality". Always a hot topic for teenagers! As I had been preparing I was more burdened than ever for students (past and present) who are wrestling with issues of purity in the context of relationships. I relied heavily on some great input from former students and many parents to help navigate my way through this topic while allowing scripture to speak clearly and plainly. One of the resources I looked at was Mark Driscoll's newest book. In one of the chapters he says that when it comes to purity so many people ask where is the line of how far I can his opinion that's not the point at all, he even considers asking that question a sin. I'm not sure I could go that far, but he is correct in saying that as Christians we should be running as hard and fast as possible away from sin instead of seeing how close we can get to it without getting sucked in. Are you fleeing from sin in your life?