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Monday, January 28, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot- Matthew 6:26



Hard to read, I know...still working on the whole adding text to pictures thing.  Anyway, the verse is Matthew 6:26. 
Look at the birds of the air, how they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth more than they?

Every year, the robins stop by our house on the migration to their winter homes and back again.  They love the camphor berries.  God provides tasty food for them...but they had to leave all that was familiar behind to find this new blessing in a far off land.  It's a good reminder of how much God provides for us, but that sometimes we have to take that first step in faith, knowing that He will provide because He has promised He will.  You are worth MUCH more to Him than the birds!



Scripture and Snapshot

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Really, really random

I have a million blog posts going through my head right now, and somehow the ones I need to write most are the ones I find myself always putting off.  Sometimes I have to laugh that I am so rebellious that I even rebel against myself--and usually to my detriment.  And in typing that, I have to say that I have a child who is EXACTLY the same way, and I wonder at the choices she makes sometimes that cause her to miss out on the good things she might otherwise receive...but here I am admitting to the world I do the same thing.  Note to self:  work on being as gracious to said child in her failings as God is with me in mine!

I've had sick kids lately, and lots of sore throats, so we've been making lots of Jello Jigglers.  I think I need a support group...Hello, I'm One Blessed Mamma, and I love Jello Jigglers...I dream about them...I sneak to the fridge to eat them...and I don't even have a sore throat.  I also love Spaghettios and Kraft Mac and Cheese.  THERE, now I've confessed.

I have a bunch of friends who are overhauling their eating habits right now.  Several are doing this Whole30 thing, others Paleo, others GAPS, others...well, I don't even know.  Honestly, being the rebellious person I am, every time I read one of their posts, I want to go eat chocolate...a LOT of it.  Yet as they post about how they've lost 12 pounds in half a month and I just had to go buy new jeans because I'm getting fat the old ones shrank, I think they may be on to something.  But I can't loose too much weight because being fat is currently my only advantage over my teenage son who left me behind in height several months and a few inches ago.

For a few months now, I've been getting spam pop ups whenever I am on Blogger.  So then I had to put a serious pop up blocker on my computer...but do you know how many websites you visit open a new window for things you click on?  And then I have to approve each one, the webpage has to reload, I have to click on the thing again, and finally I can view whatever it is I really want to see.  Sadly, the things I want blocked still seem to get through, but all my intentional web surfing is made much more inconvenient.  OY!  Is anyone else have pop-up problems related to Blogger? 

There is some young adult in our "neighborhood" who just got a new play toy.  It's a teeny tiny motorcycle.  Seriously, it looks like something the Shriners would ride in their circus.  Apparently, these things are called "pocket rockets".  I found this picture on a site that sells them, and you can click the picture to read more:
Anyway, this dude near us is tall, and looks even more ridiculous.  I can't imagine for a second this is comfortable, but I can tell you that it is profoundly annoying.  The noise it makes is like a chainsaw mating with a gas powered model airplane, with a little bit of weed eater/edger thrown in for good measure.  And he like to ride it up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up and down (you get the idea) the hill in front of our house.  (Right at my nap time to boot!) I thought it might just be me, and I might just be old and a fuddy-duddy, but today even my kids complained about the noise.  Upon some investigation, it seems that it is likely not "street" legal, and we live in city limits, so the question is...which will expire first, the novelty of the new toy, or my patience?  I don't want to be one of "those people" but I really, truly cannot describe in words how annoying this noise is.  (And for the record, I'd just go talk to him, but I don't even know who he is or where he hails from.  I think he just rides over from where ever he live for the sheer purpose of making me batty thrill of riding down that hill.)  Y'all can pray for me that my patience wins out :-).

What else, what else?  Actually, the list is probably endless there, but I'll sign off for now.  My computer is unplugged and the battery is about to die, so I should quit before it shuts down on me. 

Welcome to all my new followers, and be sure to enter my giveaway for Abel's Field in my post just before this one!

OBM



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Friday, January 25, 2013

Abel's Field Review


 
Recently, I had the chance to review Abel's Field-- a new movie which was released to DVD earlier this week.
 
Here's the official release about Abel's Field:
Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER’S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.
 
Here are some places you can find out more about the movie, depending on which social media site you prefer:
Website: http://www.abelsfield.com                        Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbelsField                        Twitter: https://twitter.com/AbelsField

OBM says:  I thought this movie was great.  While it is definitely Christian, it was not over the top, unbelievably so.  This is not one of those movies where everyone makes the right choices and they all live happily ever after.  Seth's life is hard, and he's trying to do the right thing, even when the adults around him don't.  And Abel befriends him, and speaks to him of God, but then we find out that maybe he's not trusting the Lord fully either.  Seth calls him out on it, and both find themselves on the brink of making bad choices.  Right prevails in both cases, but for Abel, that "right" may involve some serious consequences for a past wrong.  It's a totally believable story, that is at times both heartbreaking and uplifting.  It's rated PG, although I can't remember anything that I found objectionable.  It does feature some bullying and an actual fight, but that violence is brief and not at all glorified.  I'm thrilled to have been able to review it, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.  In fact, I even get to give away a copy!  So if you'd like to win your own copy of Abel's Field, just enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Friday, January 18, 2013

The 5 Money Personalities- a Review and Giveaway

 
 
I'm going to confess something I've only told a handful of people up until now...about 7 years into married life, my marriage almost ended.  I had gotten a statement from an investment account that had been started for us when we got married.  The $10,000 that should have been there was gone.  Entirely.  I thought there was a mistake, but upon calling them, it turned out that all the withdrawals had been made by my husband.  You can imagine the conversation that night was a little...heated.  And it got worse.  Not only had he drained our savings, he had used private credit cards and gone tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  We had an almost 2 year old, I was due to give birth to our second child in a few months, and we were $50,000 in debt with no savings.  It was NOT pretty.
 
It was literally only our mutual commitment to the idea that divorce is Biblical wrong that held our marriage together at a time when I felt like I could not trust my husband at all.  God is strong in our weakness, and I learned that firsthand through that trial.  But I also learned that my husband and I have very, VERY different ideas about money.  I only wish The 5 Money Personalities had been written back then--it might have saved us from a lot of strife.
 
The 5 Money Personalities was written by Scott and Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, who are both financial planners and regulars on national TV and radio speaking about the topic of "love and money".  They have dedicated their lives to helping couples use the 5 Money Personalities to bring their love and their money personalities together in a way that makes the relationship better, stronger, and healthier.
 
The 5 Money Personalities opens with a 90 day challenge...read this book and "make it happen" by working with your spouse for 90 days on your money relationship.  They talk about how marriage relationships are deeply affected by each party's money personality.  After all, what couple do you know that has never argued about money?  They describe it this way:

Every couple argues about money. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for 40 years or dating for 4 months, money touches every decision you make as a couple—from the $5 cup of coffee to the $50,000 car. And when the two of you don’t see eye-to-eye on how much to spend or how much to save, that’s when arguments turn into ugly toxic fights that leave both persons feeling hurt and angry. It’s why money has become the #1 cause of divorce in the U.S. Obviously, something needs to change. The reason this crisis has not been addressed is because it has never been identified, defined, or given a name. Scott and Bethany Palmer, aka “The Money Couple,” have identified and defined this problem and offer concrete solutions to fix it.
Once you know your Money Personality, you can get to the root of money arguments and start really working together. You’ll discover what has an impact on your loved one’s money decisions, and you’ll learn how to talk about money in a way that’s actually fun! You’ll figure out how to put an end to money secrets and lies once and for all.
It’s not just about money management, and it’s definitely not just about overcoming debt. It is a whole new way of living that will change everything in your relationship. Tens of thousands have already been transformed. Are you ready? 

This book isn't about how to create a balanced budget or reduce your mortgage--they contend that there are plenty of other resources out there to teach that.  This book teaches you how to understand your relationship with money, your "money personality", and then how to reconcile your spouse's money personality with your own for the betterment of your marriage and your mutual money management. 
 
So what are my thoughts on The 5 Money Personalities?  I wish this book had been around when my husband and I were married 20 years ago, but it's never too late to make your relationship better.  I have not had this book in my possession for anywhere close to 90 days, but I can tell already it is life changing.  I just have to convince my husband that this is a journey he wants to take with me :-).  I think young people considering marriage should have to read this before they get married so that they can begin on solid financial ground.  I can't wait to be able to work through this with my husband, and I fully intend for my children to use it in the future!  If you've ever disagreed with your spouse over how to manage or spend money, you need this book.
 
So where can you get more information?  Check out the links below.
Website: http://themoneycouple.com   --includes a FREE Money Personality Profile                       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheMoneyCouple                        Twitter: https://twitter.com/themoneycouple                        YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/themoneycouple
 
The book is just being released, but is currently available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD.  The full retail is $15.99, but it's roughly $11 on Amazon.  But one lucky reader can win a copy for FREE, just enter my giveaway below!
 
 
 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".
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Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 in Review- December

At the beginning of December, the girls and I had a rare "girls day" at Disney.  Sari really wanted to see the lights at the Studios.




We also finally got around to celebrating TJ's 11th birthday with a few friends.  We went to one of those wall-to-wall trampoline places.  The boys had a blast.




And we got dinner and dessert at Chick-fil-a.  Gotta love that.  They were some happy, tired boys.

We took one night to drive around and look at lights.  We also stopped at Chick-fil-a for Peppermint milkshakes along the way.  We *might* have a small Chick-fil-a addiction going on, LOL.




We did our annual gingerbread house making at the local library.  We just happened to run into our friends when we got there.




Christmas Eve we went to our old church, which is also Nana and Pop Pop's current church.  They have two services, and the "family" on is at 6.   Would you believe it had NO music.  NONE.  At the family service.  At an Episcopal church.  Well, actually, I guess if you count the acapella Silent Night, there was one song, but still,  it was very disappointing!  They've always had music at the early service in the past.  But they have a new rector, and apparently he missed the memo.  Believe me, he has it now.  We weren't the only family there, and certainly not the only ones who missed singing all those Christmas hymns!  The kids looked nice in their Christmas clothes though, and of course Sari's had a matching dress for Kanani.




After church was Nana and Pop Pop's traditional Christmas Eve gathering with beef stew.  Luckily we got a picture of the kids all dressed up nicely there, so they didn't have to dress up again the next morning.  The only picture I have has my nephew in it too because Sari threw the biggest fit OF HER LIFE right after this picture.  There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, and a liberal amount of spanking.  The cause of the fit?  Pop Pop's Polar Express train.  She was concerned Seth would run it while I took pictures of just my kids, so she behaved like a child possessed.  End result?  Seth got to run the train all night, and she wasn't allowed to touch it...or her present from Aunt Laurie and Uncle Ernie.  Some lessons you have to learn by doing once, I guess.

It was late when we got home, and so we did our traditional one present Christmas Eve (always new pajamas) and hit the hay.  Well, they hit the hay...you KNOW the mamma's work is never done.

Christmas morning was actually a WAY later event than it has been in some years past.  Here are the kids waiting patiently for me to be ready so they could open their stockings (the only part of their Christmas that comes from "Santa"--and only one of them even remotely believes that).

Present time: 
Sari got a Disney Princess fleece pillow, and pink fleece blanket.  She also got an new skirt and top outfit, and a ladybug that shines lights up on the ceiling at night.  (We only do 3 presents per child.)

Daddy is always a challenge because he is in the tech business, and so he gets new "toys" all year round.  So Christmas brought some exciting new jeans, sweat pants, a belt, and t-shirts to go with the new bottoms.

TJ got this Ninjago kit with a DS game, and a Ninjago book.  He also got an Angry Birds hoodie and a nice soccer goal.

Scott's favorite gift was this new CD player.  His had long since died and the kid was costing us a TON of money burning through batteries just to be able to play CDs and listen to his iPod via portable speakers.  This new "boombox" is a radio, CD player, and has a line in for USB and AUX and even a plug in for memory cards.  So he can plug in pretty much anything and it will play.  He's loving it.  He also got pajamas (he LOVES long fleece pants) with some AXE "smelly stuff" and a ton of new books.

Mimi got some perfume (which it turns out she hates, but which was one of the few scents I can tolerate), 3 new aerial silk outfits, and her heart's desire...a box of underwear.  Well, obviously, there was more in the box than that, but to be clever, I had put the present on the bottom, and piled a bunch of new undies on top so she would be totally like, "What in the world?" and then realize there was more to it...except the way she ripped into the box, she actually got right to the main present, and then couldn't figure out what the undies had to do with the price of tea in China.  The best laid plans...Anyway, here's her scream...
 And her true desire:
 It turns out, for some crazy reason, Percy Jackson was not merchandiced well at all, so most devoted fans just make their own stuff.  She really, REALLY wanted a Camp Half Blood T-shirt.  So I made one for her online.  Other than the fact that true Camp Half Blood t-shirts should be orange (ummm, like $20 more expensive for a place that does design your own t's and offers orange as an option, so no to the orange), it turned out quite well, and she was obviously thrilled.

The kids also give each other gifts, and this was what "the sibs" picked out for Scott.  TOO FUNNY because it's so true of him most of the time. 

Since we are church shopping, and the church we visited the Sunday before Christmas is near the local u-pick strawberry place, so we went to pick berries so I could make these to take Christmas morning.  Cute, right?  I totally got the idea off Pinterest.

Sari got a camera for Christmas.  A real, honest to goodness camera.  A nicer point and shoot than I have camera.    She's just a little excited.

TJ got this huge Ninjago dragon and serpent thing.  He's equally thrilled, as you can see.

Both boys got Angry Birds hoodie blanket things that they love.

TJ, Nana, and Pop Pop posing for Sari.

Grandpa Ross posing for Sari.

Sari, with her new camera and new case proudly hanging from her neck.

This year for our Christmas gathering, we all got together at Gram and Tom's.  My brother and sister both were with their in-laws, and the Hubs's sister was sick, so it was a smaller than usual gathering.  We made up for it by getting together again for New Year's day, but you'll have to wait on those pictures.

I'll leave you with this:
Our family Christmas picture compliments of my friend Cindy, whose church we visited the Sunday before Christmas.
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Questions of Life? by Nicky Gumbel- A FIRST Wildcard Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Alpha Books; 0002-Revised edition (June 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Nicky Gumbel is the pioneer of the Alpha Course. He studied law at Cambridge and theology at Oxford, practiced as a lawyer, and is now senior pastor of Holy Trinity Brompton church in Landon, one of England's fastest growing churches.

He is the author of many international bestselling books about the Christian faith including The Jesus Lifestyle, Searching Issues, A Life Worth Living, The Heart of Revival, 30 Days: A Practical Introduction to Reading the Bible, Why Jesus?, Why Easter? and Why Christmas?.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A clear, thorough and well-reasoned presentation of the Christian faith in 15 chapters. Packed with humor, anecdotes, wisdom and profound teaching, this international bestseller introduces the person of Jesus Christ and invites the reader to discover the Man who has fascinated us for 2,000 years! The content of this book comes directly from the Alpha course which has seen more than 18 million people attend globally. Questions of life features basic Christian teachings which transcend all denominational differences and penetrate the deepest areas of all hearts.


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 213 pages
Publisher: Alpha Books; 0002-Revised edition (June 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934564664
ISBN-13: 978-1934564660



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Is there More to Life than this?



For many years I had three objections to the Christian faith. First, I thought it was boring. I went to chapel at school and found it very dull. I had sympathy with the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who once entered in his diary, as if recording an extraordinary phenomenon, “I have been to church today, and am not depressed.” My impression of the Christian faith was that it was dreary and uninspiring.



Secondly, it seemed to me to be untrue. I had intellectual objections to the Christian faith and described myself as an atheist. In fact, I rather pretentiously called myself a logical determinist. When I was fourteen I wrote an essay for religious studies in which I tried to destroy the whole of Christianity and disprove the existence of God. Rather surprisingly, it was nominated for a prize! I had knock-down arguments against the Christian faith and rather enjoyed arguing with Christians, on each occasion thinking I had won some great victory.



Thirdly, I thought that Christianity was irrelevant to my life. I could not see how something that happened 2,000 years ago and 2,000 miles away in the Middle East could have any relevance to my life today. At school we often used to sing that much-loved hymn “Jerusalem,” which asks, “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountains green?” We all knew that the answer was, “No, they did not.” Jesus never came anywhere near England!



With hindsight, I realize that it was partly my fault as I never really listened and so did not know very much about the Christian faith. There are many people today who don’t know much about Jesus Christ, or what He did, or anything else about Christianity.



One hospital chaplain listed some of the replies he was given to the question, “Would you like Holy Communion?” These are some of the answers:



“No thanks, I’m Church of England.”

“No thanks, I asked for Cornflakes.”

“No thanks, I’ve never been circumcised.”



Not only was I ignorant about the Christian faith but, looking back, my experience was that something was missing. In his book The Audacity of Hope, President Barack Obama, commenting on his own conversion to Christianity, writes of the hunger in every human heart:



Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds—dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets—and coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness are not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them—that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness.



Men and women were created to live in a relationship with God. Without that relationship there will always be a hunger; an emptiness, a feeling that something is missing. Bernard Levin, perhaps the greatest columnist of his generation, once wrote an article called “Life’s Great Riddle, and No Time to Find its Meaning.” In it he said that in spite of his great success he feared he might have “wasted reality in the chase of a dream.”



To put it bluntly, have I time to discover why I was born before I die? . . . I have not managed to answer the question yet, and however many years I have before me they are certainly not as many as there are behind. There is an obvious danger in leaving it too late . . . why do I have to know why I was born? Because, of course, I am unable to believe that it was an accident; and if it wasn’t one, it must have a meaning.



He was not religious, writing on one occasion, “For the fourteen thousandth time, I am not a

Christian.” Yet he seemed only too aware of the inadequate answers to the meaning of life. He wrote some years earlier:



Countries like ours are full of people who have all the material comforts they desire, together with such non-material blessings as a happy family, and yet lead lives of quiet, and at times noisy, desperation, understanding nothing but the fact that there is a hole inside them and that however much food and drink they pour into it, however many motor cars and television sets they stuff it with, however many well balanced children and loyal friends they parade around the edges of it . . . it aches.



Jesus Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John14:6). The implications of His claim were as startling in the first century as they are in the twenty-first. So what are we to make of it?



Direction for a lost world

First, Jesus said, “I am the way.” When their children were younger, some friends of mine had a Swedish nanny. She was struggling to learn the English language, and still hadn’t quite mastered all the English idioms. On one occasion, an argument broke out between the children in their bedroom. The nanny rushed upstairs to sort it out, and what she meant to say was, “What on earth are you doing?” What she actually said was, “What are you doing on earth?” This is a very good question, “What are we doing on earth?”



Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, wrote a book called A Confession in 1879, in which he tells the story of his search for meaning and purpose in life. He had rejected Christianity as a child. When he left university he sought to get as much pleasure out of life as he could. He threw himself into the social worlds of Moscow and St. Petersburg drinking heavily, sleeping around, gambling, and leading a wild life. But he found it did not satisfy him.



Then he became ambitious for money. He had inherited an estate and made a large amount of money on his books. Yet that did not satisfy him either. He sought success, fame, and importance. These he also achieved. He wrote what the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes as “one of the two or three greatest novels in world literature.” But he was left asking the question, “Well fine . . . so what?” to which he had no answer.



Then he became ambitious for his family—to give them the best possible life. He married in 1862 and had a kind, loving wife and thirteen children (which, he said, distracted him from any search for the overall meaning of life!). He had achieved all his ambitions and was surrounded by what appeared to be complete happiness. And yet one question brought him to the verge of suicide: “Is there any meaning in my life which will not be annihilated by the inevitability of death which awaits me?”



He searched for the answer in every field of science and philosophy. The only answer he could find to the question “Why do I live?” was that “in the infinity of space and the infinity of time infinitely small particles mutate with infinite complexity.” Not finding that answer hugely satisfying, he looked round at his contemporaries and found that many of them were simply avoiding the issue. Eventually he found among Russia’s peasants the answer he had been looking for: their faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote after his conversion that he was “led inescapably by experience to the conviction that only . . . faith give[s] life a meaning.”



Over one hundred years later, nothing has changed. Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock group Queen, who died at the end of 1991, wrote in one of his last songs on The Miracle album, “Does anybody know what we are living for?” In spite of the fact that he had amassed a huge fortune and had attracted thousands of fans, he admitted in an interview shortly before his death that he was desperately lonely. He said, “You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man, and that is the most bitter type of loneliness. Success has brought me world idolization and millions of pounds, but it’s prevented me from having the one thing we all need—a loving, ongoing relationship.”



Freddie Mercury was right to speak of an “ongoing relationship” as the one thing we all need. Ultimately there is only one relationship that is completely loving and totally ongoing: a relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the way.” He is the only One who can bring us into that relationship with God that goes on into eternity.



When I was a child our family had an old black and white television set. We could never get a very good picture: on one occasion, during the World Cup final in 1966, just as England was about to score a goal, the screen went fuzzy, disintegrating into lines. We were quite happy with it since we did not know anything different. We tried to improve the picture by walking on certain floorboards and standing in certain places near it. Then we discovered that what the television needed was an outside antenna! Suddenly we could get clear and distinct pictures. Our enjoyment was transformed. Life without a relationship with Jesus Christ is like the television without the antenna. Some people seem quite happy, because they don’t realize that there is something better. Once we have experienced a relationship with God, the purpose and meaning of life become clearer. We see things that we have never seen and we understand why we were made.



Reality in a confused world

Secondly, Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Sometimes people say, “It does not matter what you believe so long as you are sincere.” But it is possible to be sincerely wrong. Adolf Hitler was sincerely wrong. His beliefs destroyed the lives of millions of people. The Yorkshire Ripper believed that he was doing God’s will when he killed prostitutes. He too was sincerely wrong. His beliefs affected his behavior. These are extreme examples, but they make the point that it matters a great deal what we believe, because what we believe will dictate how we live.



Other people’s response to a Christian may be, “It’s great for you, but it is not for me.” This is not a logical position. If Christianity is true, it is of vital importance to every one of us. If it is not true, it is not “great for us”—it is very sad, and it means that Christians are deluded. As the writer and scholar C. S. Lewis put it, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”



Is it true? Is there any evidence to support Jesus’ claim to be “the truth”? These are some of the questions we will be looking at later in the book. The linchpin of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and for that there is ample evidence, which we will look at in the following chapter.



I don’t think I ever realized how much the course of history has been shaped by people who believed that Jesus really is “the truth.” Lord Denning, widely thought of as one of the greatest legal minds in the twentieth century, was for nearly forty years President of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship. He had applied his legendary powers of analysis to the historical evidence for Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection and concluded that Christianity was true.



I had not appreciated either that some of the most sophisticated philosophers the West has ever produced—Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Pascal, Leibniz, Kant—were all committed Christians. In fact, two of the most influential philosophers living today, Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre, have both built a great deal of their work on a deep commitment to Jesus Christ.



Nor had I realized how many of the pioneers of modern science were Christian believers: Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Mendel, Pasteur, and Maxwell. This is still true of leading scientists today. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project and one of the most respected geneticists in the world, tells of a mountain walk during which he was so overwhelmed by the beauty of creation that, in his words, “I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and surrendered to Jesus Christ.”



These words highlight the fact that when Jesus said, “I am the truth,” He meant more than just intellectual truth. He means a personal knowledge of someone who fully embodies that truth. The Hebrew understanding of truth is one of experienced reality. It’s the difference between knowing something in your head and knowing it in your heart.



Suppose that before I met my wife Pippa I had read a book about her. Then, after I had finished reading the book I thought, “She sounds like an amazing woman. This is the person I want to marry.” There would be a big difference in my state of mind then—intellectually convinced that she was a wonderful person—and my state of mind now after the experience of many years of marriage from which I can say, “I know she is a wonderful person.” When a Christian says, in relation to his faith, “I know Jesus is the truth,” he does not mean only that he knows intellectually that He is the truth, but that he has experienced Jesus as the truth.



Life in a dark world

Thirdly, Jesus said, “I am the life.” The Christian view has always been that people are made in the image of God. As a result there is something noble about every human being. This conviction has been the driving force behind many of the great social reformers, from William Wilberforce to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Desmond Tutu. But there is also another side to the coin.



Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, converted to Christianity when in exile from the Soviet Union, said, “The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor through classes, nor between political parties . . . but right through every human heart and through all human hearts.”



I used to think I was a “nice” person—because I didn’t rob banks or commit other serious crimes. Only when I began to see my life alongside the life of Jesus Christ did I realize how much was wrong.



We all need forgiveness and it can only be found in Christ. Marghanita Laski, a humanist, made an amazing confession during a TV debate with a Christian. She said, “What I envy about you Christians is your forgiveness.” Then she added rather wistfully, “I have no one to forgive me.”



What Jesus did when He was crucified for us was to pay the penalty for all the things that we have done wrong. We will look at this subject in more detail in chapter 3. We will see that He died to remove our guilt and to set us free from addictions, fear, and death.



Jesus not only died for us, He was also raised from the dead for us. In this act He defeated death. Jesus came to bring us “eternal life.” Eternal life is a quality of life which comes from living in a relationship with God (John 17:3). Jesus never promised anyone an easy life, but He promised fullness of life (John 10:10).



Alice Cooper, the veteran rock musician, once gave an interview to The Sunday Times headlined: “Alice Cooper has a dark secret—the 53-year-old rocker is a Christian.” In this interview, he describes his conversion to Christianity. “It hasn’t been easy combining religion and rock. It’s the most rebellious thing I’ve ever done. Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion.”



The theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich described the human condition as one that always involves three fears: fear of guilt, fear of meaninglessness, and fear of death. Jesus Christ meets each of these fears head on, because He is “the way and the truth and the life.”










OBM says: Years ago, my husband and I attended Alpha- the video lecture series that contains the material covered in this book. We enjoyed it very, very much, and learned a ton. Aimed toward the unbeliever, the new believer, or those who just want ot know more about Christianity, Questions of Life? provides solid information with scriptural back-up in a very conversational way. For believers, it's great to read and be reminded of how great our God is. For those who are curious or even those who are sure there is no God, it's a wonderful introduction to what Christians believe and why. For those with teenaged children who are struggling to develop a faith that is theirs and not their parents, it's a priceless tool...not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything, ;-). I'd highly recommend Questions of Life? by Nicky Gumbel!
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Review- November

November began with the Renaissance Faire.  We had not gone last year, so the kids were quite keen to go this year.
 



I loved that they added to the usual quest (a Clue-style mystery that you have to speak to the reenactors to get clues for) and added another quest to collect the stamps of all the "village" merchants.  Each one told the kids a little about what they did.  It was a nice addition.



Of course, there was the usual soccer, piano, and silk.

Aunt Sheila and Uncle Craig came for Thanksgiving.  We had several days to visit with them.  They came to Mimi's ballet class, and Miss Kate let her do a bit of silk at the end to show them.  Sheila even tried the silk at our house.




On Thanksgiving day, we got together at Nana and Pop Pop's- my family, the Hubs's sister and her family, my sister and her family, my brother and his wife, my mom, her fiance, and my ex-step-father.  And Plum.  And HE was the most popular person there.  Especially with the kiddos.



Of course, Sheila's always a big hit too ;-).


The Hubs decided we needed some games to play, so he brought a homemade charades, which was very popular with my nephew Ben.

I got a good picture of Ben alone...

And one of him with TJ...

and Mimi...

The Hubs never takes a serious photo.

Mimi and Sheila

The Hubs's other game contribution was Corn Hole.  We played it in Ohio when we visited, and so the Hubs wanted to make his own for us to use.  It made for some fun, even with the wayward bean bags.

Sari and I made a contribution too--we made the bean bags.  Or are they corn bags?  Either way, Mimi thought they made interesting headwear.

I had a photo shoot with a friend's family, and got a few pictures of fall in FL.


 
What a fun family :-)

The girls and I saw the tree lighting and Luminescence at the Gaylord.

Sari really enjoyed the rotating doors.

The Egde Effect.

Miss Christy




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