Archive for August, 2010

The Confirmation by Ralph Reed

August 30, 2010

West Wing is my all-time favorite television show.  In fact, I am still mourning the passing of the series.

When I saw “The Confirmation” in my mail, I was really excited.  I hoped to enjoy this book as much as West Wing.

In this book, Bob Long is the new president of the United States.  Soon after his inauguration, a Supreme Court judge seat becomes vacant.  This book is about the politics and race to the finish over that open seat.

If you love political intrigue, Ralph does a great job of describing every titillating move and counter move as the Democrats, Republican and political analysts plot for control over the process.

In fact, I would have really loved this book except that there is an overtone of cynicism.  I believe, want to believe that at least some of the people in public service aren’t must in it for themselves – that they really want the greater good.

In The Confirmation, hope is missing.  Everyone has an angle.  Everyone looks out for themselves.  I believe that part of the purpose of this book is to detail the haranguing that Supreme Court judge appointees face in the confirmation process.  As long as the President tries to stick to his guns and appoint a moderate, both sides tear his nominees apart.  When he finally gives into the Republican viewpoint, the process continues to the next level, and the nominee is torn apart in the media.

Here is my analysis: the political play was fun, and it was delightful to listen to an insider.  The book overall, however, does not get more than a three because of the cynical voice and lack of redemptive narrative.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Publisher’s site and Amazon.com.

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You are not alone!

August 12, 2010

Your brain seems to turn off.  Reality begins and ends with wave after wave of defeat and hopelessness.

Millions of negative possibilities cling to the air like a thick marine layer fog, hiding the blue skies and sun that are just out of reach.

Worse, when other people bring bits of joy, it feels like shards of glass, cutting deep and revealing even more deficiencies.

Believe it or not, everyone passes through this very deep valley once in a while.

You aren’t on earth to just ride the waves.  The One who made you has you here for a purpose.  Jesus said that when we are going about doing His business – the purpose we were created for – then anything we need is ours for the asking.

What do you need when the clouds of despair descend?

  1. You need a comforter.  Remind God that the Holy Spirit is a comforter, and ask Him to send you His comfort.  God never leaves us – He is always there.  Sometimes we need Him to make Himself very visible.
  2. You need perspective.  The God of the Universe lives inside of you.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to teach, guide and correct.  Ask God to show you His perspective.
  3. You need encouragement.  Renew your mind with scripture, music and good friends.

The best part of a bad day is that it ends.  Even the most complex problems seem to right themselves in three days.  So, when in doubt, wait three days while listening to godly music, reading the Word, and hanging out with friends who love God as much or more than you do.   God really is at work.

What is sin?

August 8, 2010

Sin is living without letting God into the equation.

Ever since the Fall, (Genesis 3, not the season with colored leaves and Indian summers), humans live without the concept of God.  We consider ourselves to be the beginning and the end – we live by what we feel and see instead of a deeper reality based on the Spirit.

To err truly is human – but the definition of “err” isn’t really ‘to make a mistake’.  It is to try to do things without God.

Paul wrote, in Ephesians 2, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.”  We are designed to live in communion with God.  When we don’t live as we were designed, we live like dead people – living like there is nothing more to life than what we see and feel.

However, God made us to live in communion with Him.  When the original design was messed up by sin, God sent Jesus to pay the price and open the doorway so that He could walk with us again.  Just like God raised Jesus from the dead, He makes us alive in Him.  This means that we don’t have to live by what we see and feel.  We can live with God in our equation.

What are addictions?  What are jealousy and anger?  They are us, responding to fill a need.  When we sin, we are trying to fix the world as we see and feel it.  If we are to overcome sin, we must live as Paul describes – we must know that we are seated in the heavenly realms with God.

Whatever you need, as you are being and doing what God has called you to, is yours.  (John 14:12-14)

You were created for great things.  If you are living without adversity, you aren’t being strengthened.  You aren’t growing.  When people are cranky to us, we have a choice – let God into the equation, or try to do it on our own.  These new brain pathways are developed by repeating the same adversity over and over until we learn to let God be in the equation.  When we learn to let God into the equation, then we have overcome the adversity.

The temptation to rely on our own understanding will be there as long as we are in our bodies as they now are.  The ability to trust God comes through training ourselves to rely on Him instead of us.  Thankfully, Jesus made another promise.  We don’t have to train ourselves alone.  He sends us the Holy Spirit to walk with us – to teach, guide and comfort us.  To turn our focus on God’s perspective.

How are you doing in this process?  Some days, I think I’m doing great – and then a bad attitude creeps in…

Trained for what?

August 3, 2010

A quick look through the bible finds that the word “train” is used most often in the context of training for war.

Trained soldiers, trained men, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

Wow!  In my little world, this seems pretty harsh.  However, here are some things that come to mind:

  • Without training, the uninitiated lose in battle.
  • We can choose to not engage in the battle – we live life being ineffective.  Kind of like a people under domination.
  • God wants us to free.  Jesus came so that we might have life, and life to the full.

Freedom means that we don’t live under domination.  What is dominating you?  Do you need God to train your hands for war and your fingers for battle?

The Snowflake by Jamie Carie

August 3, 2010

I discovered the fix for allowing my oldest to drive.  (She is  a good driver, I’m a mom.)  I took this book on our trip to Oregon this last weekend, and read the whole book in the times while I was in the passenger seat.  Great trip!  Fun little book.

A couple of years ago, I reviewed a Christmas book by Jerry Camery-Hoggett.  That book was delightful, and I was curious to see if we could repeat the experience.

The Snowflake is a historical romance, built during the time of the Alaskan gold rush.  The author is part of the new breed of Christian writers who allow their characters to be real, honest, and authentic – with flaws, real life circumstances, and not always the pristine answers.

I really enjoyed this little book, and had a great trip to Oregon.  Want to know more about this book?  Check it out on Amazon.com.