Thursday, December 31, 2009
Title: When Heaven Comes Down
Author: Ché Ahn
Publisher: Chosen, November 2009, paperback, 191 pages
Using easy-to-understand language Ché Anh unpacks one of the most mysterious and hard-to-comprehend qualities of God – His glory. But not only does he help us get a head comprehension of God’s glory; in When Heaven Comes Down he also guides us into how we can experience more of that glory in our lives.
In the first chapter of fourteen, Anh arrives at a working definition of God’s glory. He explains that though God is eternally glorious, i.e. glory makes up His very essence, what we experience is His manifest glory. Using the sun as an illustration, he explains it thus:
“…The eternal glory of God is like the sun itself, far too fiery and brilliant for us to encounter directly or even to look at. But the sun’s light manifests itself to us in a variety of ways. It illuminates darkness, revealing the objects around us. It gives us spectacular light displays in beautiful sunrises and brilliant sunsets. It warms us and even tans our skin. Everywhere the sun goes, the sun’s light goes. But the sun’s light is not the sun itself. Rather, the light we experience from the sun is a manifestation of the sun.
“This distinction is helpful in understanding God’s glory. His eternal glory is like the sun: it is His very essence, beyond our comprehension or ability to encounter. Yet His manifest glory is like the sun’s light: a reflection of Him we can encounter in ways we are able to perceive, whether through physical healing, a peaceful presence in our spirit or an angelic visitation.” p. 26
The chapters that follow are a delving into God’s manifest glory as we experience it in His presence, His nature and character, and His power. The book also has chapters that talk about what people need to do to stay and increase in the flow of God’s glory. It concludes with a section on the purpose of God’s glory, i.e. the transformation of us and our society to ultimately bring about the answer to Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Anh’s writing style is warm, encouraging and understandable. His teaching is peppered with scripture, stories from history, and illustrations from his own life. He uses lists and subheadings to break up the text and make it easy to read.
Ché Anh is a well-known minister in Charismatic circles. (His endorsers include Jack W. Hayford, C. Peter Wagner, and Bill Johnson. He is closely associated with Lou Engle and is the pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California.) Though he describes what some might think of as unusual and dramatic evidences of God’s glory (angel sightings, miraculous healing, the mysterious appearances of gold or gems in connection with the ministry of some of his colleagues), he doesn’t dwell on these or make them out to be signs that someone has arrived spiritually. Instead he stresses the need for discipline, personal holiness and a commitment to God that lasts for a lifetime.
I appreciate the way he stays away from negativity. In the book he talks about unity among Christians as one of the evidences of God’s glory. Nowhere does he sully that ideal by dwelling on controversy or criticizing other Christians of any stripe.
When Heaven Comes Down is a book that will not only help you understand God better, but motivate you to seek Him more. It would be a worthwhile addition to the library of any twenty-first century disciple.
Read an excerpt (pdf file)
Table of Contents (pdf file)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I am seriously behind in posting book reviews. (I put them up at Blogcritics first because they want initial publication due to Google rankings or some such - and then forget to add them here.) But if you think I've forsaken my beloved books - you'd be mistaken.
I'll be catching up in the next few days. We'll start with the captivating 2nd novel by Christa Parrish - Watch Over Me, which I finished reading in early November.
I rate this book * * * * *
Title: Watch Over Me
Author: Christa Parrish
Publisher: Bethany House, October 2009, paperback, 352 pages.
Abbi works a regular shift at the local grocery. Her husband Benjamin Patil is a member of the local police force. But Ben’s tour of duty in Afghanistan has changed things between them. They’re no longer the easy-going newlyweds they were when they first came to Beck County, South Dakota.
The day Ben finds a newborn girl abandoned in a grocery bag beside a dried-out stream near town starts a chain of events that alters their lives forever. When Ben can’t find out who the baby belongs to, he and Abbi agree to foster it. They call the little girl Silvia, and over time looking after her draws them together. Abbi stops stalking the laxative aisle, and Ben begins sleeping at home again instead of at the station. The crowd at church, oblivious to their problems, welcomes them back as the happy family they are becoming.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Matthew Savoie wonders what his medical condition will take from him next. The brilliant but deaf math whiz lives with his aunt and her four daughters. In an attempt to raise money to visit his father – maybe, just maybe he’ll agree to give Matt the kidney he so desperately needs – he gets a job helping Abbi and Ben cut the grass and look after Silvia. His involvement with them leads to the uncovering of a tangled web of relationships, emotions and coping strategies. Watch Over Me is a tour de force of a second novel by Christa Parrish.
Parrish’s very real and flawed characters make this book interesting and delightful. She draws her people with a particularity that brings them to life and makes them feel like folks one has met.
Abbi is especially convincing with her hippie outlook, her anti-establishment views and her veganism (she’s even true to the latter in her bulimia, binging on bags of baby carrots).
War-shocked Ben is often unpredictable, though one can’t miss his sterling qualities especially as little Silvia brings them out.
The cultural tension between Abbi and Ben’s immigrant parents feels believable.
Matthew the brilliant is the most sympathetic of the three. Who couldn’t like a kid who looks after his little cousins like a mother and takes comfort during hours of dialysis with thoughts of how God is like his favorite math concept:
“In pi he saw the reflection of God. Pi was constant, always the same – today, tomorrow, and forever. It was irrational, like the cross, foolishness to those who didn’t believe. It was transcendental; no finite sequence of operations on integers could ever create it.
It never ended.” pp. 50, 51.
Parrish’s writing is also a treat – brisk, gritty. specific and poetic. Note, for example, how this description of eating cereal rings true:
“The cereal, a store brand that came in a huge plastic bag, lost its crunch before Matthew sucked the first bite off the spoon. Still, he finished it, the soggy flakes filling the pits in his molars. He dug the mush out with his tongue, a silvery pain shooting through his jaw as he brushed the cavity he needed to have filled.” p. 21
In another poetic passage she brings together the setting with the emotional state of Abbi and Ben:
“He heard Abbi come out of the bedroom, the swollen door opening with a sticky pop. Everything swelled in the heat. Problems. Fears. Sins. All puffed with humidity and ready to rain out with the slightest change in air pressure.” p. 27
In telling the story Parrish alternates between Abbi, Ben and Matthew’s viewpoints (all third person) – giving us a rich experience of the workings of three very different personalities. The dialogue rings true. Deaf-and-dumb Matthew’s notepad contributions, rendered within the book in a hand-printed-type font, deliver an unexpected but effective layer of realism.
The book takes on some heavy issues. Parrish weighs in on things like love, marriage, family, the church, forgiveness, and redemption. Though the story has many bleak moments, it left me feeling hopeful about my very flawed self and the ability of God to redeem the most unlikely situation.
Read an excerpt.
Watch Over Me Q&A (pdf)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Christmas is over again. How did that happen so fast?
Was yours good? Ours was FABULOUS!!
The weather was clear, roads were good and our whole family was here from Christmas Eve till the 27th.
Of course the babies were the stars of the show.
Here is little David (born mid-September 09).
Liam will be two in March. What a fun age. He took a shine to my music box, which has a little bear that skates on a magnetic pond while the music plays. It was entertainment every time he had his own snack time at the table.
He also loves coloring, cars, animals, helicopters, his talking Handy Manny doll, getting into Mommy's bag (Vaselined hair anyone?) and her suitcase.
On Monday morning when the kids were getting ready to leave, daughter called me upstairs. There was Liam. He had just come from spending a few very quiet moments in the closet and was wearing all her freshly laundered unmentionables around his neck.
And now I have the pleasure of reliving all these moments and many others over and over, courtesy my sweet hubby, who gave me an S-Frame (digital photo frame) for Christmas. Love it!!
Friday, December 25, 2009
To all who read here - may you and yours have a wonderful, blessed, safe and healthy Christmas!
My gift to you - this beautiful song which is a poem by Christina Rossetti, put to music. (Musical arrangement is from the Our Daily Bread Christmas CD series #4)
Love Came Down at Christmas
Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token
Love shall be yours and love be mine
Love to God and to all men
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Christina Rossetti - 1885
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I can't believe that Christmas is one day away. This has been a fabulous week - getting ready for the big day and for family to come. By tonight we'll have babies in the house. YES!!
I have so enjoyed the run-up to Christmas this year. Somehow all the stuff got done and I've still had time to relax and enjoy the beautiful lights and the music.
With my Mom's stuff I inherited a couple of Christmas CDs put out by Our Daily Bread. Some of the songs on those have become favorites.
Here is one I just love - only sung here by the boys of the St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir. (I've included the lyrics because these angelic kids sing with an accent and are just a tad hard to understand.)
How Far is it to Bethlehem?
How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?
Can we see the little child?
Is he within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?
May we stroke the creatures there
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
If we touch his tiny hand
Will he awake?
Will he know we've come so far
Just for his sake?
Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.
For all weary children
Mary must weep
Here, on his bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.
God in his mother's arms
Babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
If one of your New Year's Resolutions in 2010 is to have a daily quiet time, Other Food: daily devo's may be just the place for you.
Starting January 1, 2010, Other Food will feature a new meditation every morning. Based on Bible readings from the Canadian Bible Society, these devotionals will link a Scripture passage, focus on one idea from the text, lead in a brief prayer, and supplement the idea with inspiration in quotes, songs, links to check out, etc.
I'm really excited about writing these daily meditations - and would love for you to join me January 1st!
Monday, December 21, 2009
100 Huntley Street has put together a wonderful little series of videos on the origins of some of our most popular Christmas tradition and symbols.
Here, for example, is a little bit about bells.
View more of these here (they include origins of the candy cane, holly, the Christmas tree).
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- 40 soda crackers (1 sleeve from an approximately 250-gram box)
- 1 cup butter (or margarine)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups chocolate chips (or more if you want a thicker chocolate topping)
- Other optional toppings: salted peanuts, candy sprinkles, coconut, dried fruit, granola; I used 1 cup salted peanuts)
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Line a 17 x 12 pan with parchment paper or tin foil (if using tin foil, spray with non-stick coating - like Pam - or butter/margarine).
3. Arrange crackers in pan, flat side up and set aside.
4. Combine butter and sugar in heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.
5. Increase heat to medium high and boil 3 minutes without stirring.
6. Pour mixture evenly over crackers; spread to cover.
7. Bake 5-7 minutes.
8. Take out of oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crackers. Let stand for about 1 minute to soften. (If you're using additional toppings and want them covered with chocolate, spread them over the softened chocolate chips at this point). Spread the softened chocolate to cover base (and other toppings if used).
9. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 2 hours to cool thoroughly.
10. Break apart and package.
Original recipe from The Savvy Shopper blog
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Still working on Christmas baking? Try these quick, easy, sinfully rich squares!
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1 - 6 oz. package chocolate chips
1 - 6 oz. package butterscotch chips
1 can Eagle Brand milk
(this is sweetened condensed milk; 1 can=300 ml.)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts or peanuts)
In 9 x 13 pan melt margarine.
Sprinkle graham crumbs evenly over melted margarine.
Sprinkle coconut over crumbs.
Sprinkle chocolate chips, then butterscotch chips over coconut.
Dribble condensed milk over all.
Sprinkle with nuts.
DO NOT MIX!
Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes. While barely warm cut in narrow bars. Yields 32.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Author: Jim Burns
Publisher: Bethany House, Hardcover, 48 pages, October, 2009
One of the characteristics of six to nine-year-olds is curiosity. If your youngster this age hasn’t asked about sex, you can be sure he or she has questions. How God Makes Babies is a resource designed to help you bring up the topic with your youngster. Author Jim Burns has written this book about the family, sex and how babies develop from conception to birth with six- to nine-year-olds in mind. It is part of the Pure Foundations series of resources that teaches about sex from a Christian perspective.
Burns begins by introducing the idea of pregnancy and the belief that it belongs within marriage. He goes on to detail the differences between boys and girls using anatomically accurate body part names and line drawings. He then tells the story of human development from conception to birth, touching on some of the miraculous things that occur during gestation. He uses understandable comparisons to make the ideas kid-relatable – e.g., “After one month the baby has grown to about the size of a Cheerio.” He concludes by talking about the birth process, and the helplessness and needs of newborn babies.
The physical book is attractive and sturdy with a colorful hard cover and color photo illustrations printed on heavy glossy paper.
Burns’ tone is upbeat, warm, and affirming. Though the vocabulary is simple enough for the capable reader to read God Makes Babies for him- or herself, it would be a shame for parents to miss out on the discussion that could arise out of reading the book with youngsters. As Burns states in his Special Note to Parents, “One of the greatest benefits of teaching them at this age is establishing a healthy trust, demonstrating that you are willing to bring up the issues and that they can come to you for more dialogues.”
I’m impressed with how much information is packed into this slim volume. It certainly covers the basics, and follows nicely on the heels of God Made Your Body, the Pure Foundations book for three to five-year-olds. Burns’ directness about topics that can be touchy to introduce will certainly open the door to all kinds of discussion between you and your youngsters. I wish I’d had this book when my kids were six to nine.
I received this book from Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review. I highly recommend it and will make sure my copy doesn’t molder on the shelf but gets passed along to a family with some curious little people.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
On our Vancouver Island holiday last fall (2008), we stumbled across the Campbell River Driftwood Carving Competition with the carvings still on display on the lawn of the arts center. This carving, done by Vinay Chafekar, won first place in the Amateur Division
Next Week: WRITING (Pens, Paper, Words, Signs, Graffiti, Books, Magazines,...)