Thursday, July 24, 2008


This post is a little different. Instead of weighing in on a topic, I want to direct you to a youtube site. This represents my first feeble attempt to add images to one of my favorite songs, "Every Heart That is Breaking Tonight" by Twila Paris. I woke up one morning about two weeks ago with that song going through my mind. I had never tried to use the program Windows Movie Maker, but I accessed it and figured out how to build a music video or make a movie, then I posted it on you tube. This is my first you tube posting - yeah! So I'd like for you to watch it. You can cut and paste the url below into your browser and watch it. (update: Or just click the link directly below...I'm learning new stuff all the time!)

and let me know what you think.


Monday, July 14, 2008

BACK TO "THE SHACK": now #1 bestseller

The controversial Christian novel, THE SHACK, is now the #1 bestseller on the New York Times Paperback Trade Fiction list. It is the overall #2 bestselling book of ANY book on (I blogged about THE SHACK on April 15, if you care to scroll down to read my earlier comments.)

Since my earlier blog, readers continue to be sharply divided about its value. Most readers rave about how the book empowered their understanding and love for God. However, some notable Christian leaders continue to take THE SHACK to the woodshed and decry that it is full of heresy.

I deeply respect the intellect and integrity of Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary (where I earned two degrees), but I humbly disagree with his evaluation of THE SHACK. He devoted an entire weekly radio show to the book calling it “deeply subversive,” “scripturally incorrect” and downright “dangerous.”

The main character in the story, Mack, was a seminary graduate who at one point says that he now understands that everything he learned at seminary was basically all wrong. Understandably, that kind of statement would put ANY Seminary President on the defensive!

The controversy has even touched Lifeway Christian Resources, the retail giant that supplies books and literature to churches in America – but primarily to the 45,000 Southern Baptist Churches. After some complaints from a few influential pastors (probably some seminary presidents and a few Lifeway trustees), The Shack was briefly pulled from the shelves of Lifeway Bookstores. However, I commend the Lifeway leadership for reconsidering that knee-jerk reaction. The book is once again for sale with a “Reader Discretion Advised” sticker on it. (Go figure! I've always thought we should use discretion when we read ANY book except the Bible!)

Let me share with you one of the main criticisms of the book (don’t read this next line if you haven’t read the book and plan to – it might spoil it). During part of Mack’s “interaction” with God, the Father is portrayed as a kindly, humorous, African-American woman who goes by the name “Papa.” This image is what gives the 21st Century Pharisees apoplexy! Is God really an African-American woman? Is that what the author is saying? Of course not! No more than Jesus is really a powerful, noble lion named Aslan! But you don’t hear many (although there are some) who are criticizing the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

Again, my love for the The Shack is based upon my appreciation of it as a wonderful Christian allegory. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the easy, loving interaction between the members of the Trinity, and I was drawn to the God of grace who is portrayed in the theme of the book.

William P. Young, the author, wrote the book for his two children. Only after it was picked up by a couple of West Coast pastors was it published to a larger audience (and the audience continues to grow). How does William P. Young (who goes by his middle name, Paul) respond to this overwhelming barrage of theological smart-bombs? In a recent interview ( Young observed that in America, where only about 3 in 10 people attend weekly worship services and millions are ignorant of the Bible, his readers struggle to find a good God amid their pain.

He says, “I don't want to enter the Ultimate Fighting ring and duke it out in a cage-match with dogmatists. I have no need to knock churches down or pull people out,” he says. “I have a lot of freedom by knowing that you really experience God in relationships, wherever you are. It's fluid and dynamic, not cemented into an institution with a concrete foundation.”

So while some uptight theologians condemn their perceived jots and tittles of spiritual error in The Shack, it will continue to reach an audience of people who have been turned off by the "God" who has been neatly packaged and confined by the traditional church. So what do you think will happen if Oprah chooses to endorse it – heaven forbid!

In my previous blog, I asked for your impressions. I didn’t receive a single negative response, and here are a couple of the comments I received:

I found The Shack to be a fascinating piece of work. I loved it too. I've already given away two copies. I really appreciated Young's images of things like forgiveness (letting go of another person's throat), the Father (Papa, first a woman, then a man), the unique relationship of the members of the Trinity. I too was reminded that the Lord Jesus lives in the present more than the past or future, and that's good for me today. That the Father would also have scars on his wrists was an interesting twist for fiction and allegory----- It was good to be reminded of Papa's desire: "I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day." "Rules and principles are simpler than relationships" was a great reminder, too, of how easily we slip into legalism, judgments. I too loved Sophia!
Anyway, I'm impressed with Young's abilities with words, and I'd highly recommend this little volume to anyone who asked.God bless,-- Jerry

Bro. David- I read The Shack a couple of months ago, and am still contemplating and experiencing the implications of it in my life. If I had to pinpoint the over-arching effect it's had on my life, I'd say that my admiration of Papa has been heightened, my love for my Savior has grown deeper, and my legalistic tendencies have been diminished. I've recommended it to just about everyone I know, and most have responded in a similar fashion. The depiction of the Trinity is so profound, and so "different" from what most people have come to think. This really is a paradigm-shifting book! --David

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Sunday, July 6, 2008


As I was researching how America has forsaken the foundation of faith that made us a great nation, I came across a new discovery for me. On June 6, 1944, the evening of the Normandy Invasion, Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on national radio and led the nation in a six-minute prayer. He didn’t simply ASK Americans to pray, which many presidents do; he prayed this prayer over the airwaves.

So on the day in which the Greatest Generation stormed the beaches of France to liberate Western Europe, our President was leading our nation in prayer.

What struck me with sadness is that 64 years later, if our President led us in prayer on television or the radio, there would be immediate threats of lawsuits from the ACLU. And the American Atheist Association would be crying “foul!”. Oh, how far we have fallen.

Whoever, he or she may be, wouldn’t it be wonderful to elect a President this year who would do more than ask us to pray for healing in our nation, but would LEAD us in prayer?

Here’s the entire text of FDR’s prayer:

My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

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