Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Look-It-Up Book of Presidents

The Look-It-Up Book of PresidentsThe Look-It-Up Book of Presidents by Wyatt Blassingame
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to read book about the Presidents. This book is written for a younger age group (upper elementary) but I still enjoyed it.  We (USA) have the greatest nation in the world. I believe our form of government is one of many reasons. By the way, our form of government is a Constitutional Republic. The way our government is supposed to work is representatives are elected (in Congress and President) and they are to make and enforce laws based on the Constitution. The third branch of government the Supreme Court is nominated by the President and voted on by the Congress. The Supreme Court is to use the Constitution to make sure the other two branches are not making or enforcing laws that go against the Constitution. Well, enough of my rant. The quotes below are from the first few pages of this book and are titled “The Presidents At A Glance.” The three columns for each President are Name, Served, and Achievements.  Enjoy!

1. George Washington  (1789-1797)  The first President, he determined in large measure what the job of President should be. Held the country together during its early days and gave it a chance to grow. Ranked by historians as a “great” President.

2. John Adams  (1797-1801)  Saved his country from an unnecessary war. Ranked by historians as a “near great” President.

3. Thomas Jefferson  (1801-1809)  Bought the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the country. Made sure the government stayed in the hands of the people. Ranked by historians as a “great” or “near great” President.

4. James Madison  (1809-1817)  Allowed the country to get into an unnecessary war, but made peace as quickly as possible. Ranked by historians as an “average” President.

5. James Monroe  (1817-1825)  Took Florida from Spain. Created the Monroe Doctrine. Signed the Missouri Compromise. Ranked as one of the best of the “average” Presidents.

6. John Quincy Adams  (1825-1829)  Rated by some historians as a failure because little was done during his term. Some historians rank him as average.

7. Andrew Jackson  (1829-1837)  Did more to show how great the powers of the office were than any President after Washington. Used these powers to help make laws. Ranked by historians as a “great” or “near great” President.

8. Martin Van Buren  (1837-1841)  Was caught in one of the nation’s worst financial depressions. This was unfairly blamed on him. Ranked by historians as an “average” President.

9. William Henry Harrison (1841)  Was President for only one month.

10. John Tyler 1841-1845  Made clear that on the death of a President the Vice President became President with all the powers of the office. Served as President without a party. Ranked by most historians as “below average.”

11. James Knox Polk (1845-1849)  Bullied a small, weak nation (Mexico) into fighting a war it did not want, but added California and much of the Southwest to the United States. Settled the Canadian border without war. Ranked by historians as “near great” President.

12. Zachary Taylor  (1849-1850)  Knew little about the duties of a President, but faced his problems honestly though with little political talent. Served only two years. Ranked by many historians as “below average.”

13. Millard Fillmore  (1850-1853) Sent the U.S. fleet to open trade with Japan. Helped pass the Great Compromise of 1850. Ranked by historians as “below average.”

14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)  Put through the Gadsden Purchase, acquiring what is now southern Arizona and New Mexico. Favored the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the door to the Civil War. Ranked by historians as “below average.”

15. James Buchanan (1857-1861)  Faced the final breakup of the nation over slavery. Tried hard to prevent war, but made matters worse instead of better. Ranked by historians as “below average.”

16. Abraham Lincoln  (1861-1865)  Held the nation together in its most difficult time. In a speech at the Gettysburg battlefield he said it was the people’s duty to make sure “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” More than any other one man, he helped make these words come true. Ranked by historians as a truly “great” President.

17. Andrew Johnson  (1865-1869)  Took office in a time of great trouble. Fought for what he believed was right, but did not have the power to persuade and led men. Was impeached by Congress and came within one vote of being removed from office. Ranked by historians from “near great” to “below average.”

18. Ulysses Simpson Grant  (1869-1877)  Was personally honest, but many men around him were crooks. His administration was one of the most dishonest in American history. One of the two Presidents rated as a “failure.”

19. Rutherford Birchard Hayes  (1877-1881)  Ended the period of Reconstruction. Tried to reform the federal government after the Grant administration. Tried to improve the civil service system, but met with little success. Ranked by historians as “average.”

20. James Abram Garfield  (1881)  Was killed only a few months after taking office. Yet his death may have done more to improve honesty in government than he could have done had he lived.

21. Chester  Alan Arthur (1881-1885)  Helped pass the first effective civil service laws and administered them honestly. Helped develop a modern navy. Ranked by historians as “average.”

22. Grover Cleveland  (1885-1889)  Made needed reforms in the federal government. Helped restore the confidence of the people in their government. His intentions were always good, but his methods sometimes failed. Ranked by historians as “near great.”

23. Benjamin Harrison  (1889-1893)  Favored a strong foreign policy. Enlarged the navy. Wanted a better civil service, but Congress continually opposed him. Ranked by historians as “average.”

24. Grover Cleveland   (1893-1897)  See # 22

25. William McKinley  (1897-1901)  Allowed the United States to be pushed into war with Spain, but made the United States a world power. Acquired the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico as United States possessions. Ranked by historians as “average.”

26. Theodore Roosevelt  (1901-1909) Brought tremendous energy and vitality to the office of President. Used the powers of his office to control the power of huge business concerns. Worked to establish national parks and forests and build the Panama Canal. Ranked by historians as one of the  “near great” Presidents.

27. William Howard Taft  (1909-1913)  Worked hard for conservation of natural resources Helped improve the Post Office System. Fought to break the power of the trusts. Ranked by historians as “average.”

28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) Reformed the banking laws. Worked to improve the antitrust laws, to help the American worker, and to lower the tariff. Tried to stay out of World War I, then tried hard to make it a “war to end all wars.” Worked for a League of Nations to keep the world at peace. Failed, but left an ideal of which people still dream. Ranked by historians as a “great ” President.

29. Warren Gamaliel Harding  (1921-1923)  In large measure let Congress and his Cabinet run the nation. Was more loyal to his friends than to his country. His was probably the most dishonest administration in United States history. Ranked by historians as a “failure.”

30. Calvin Coolidge  (1923-1929)  Believed the powers of the President should be very limited and that government should leave business alone. Took very little action, but restored honesty and dignity to the presidency. Ranked by historians as “below average.”

31. Herbert Hoover  (1929-1933)  saw the country plunge into its worst financial depression and was unfairly blamed for it. Tried to improve business, but his efforts were not enough. Ranked by historians as “average.”

32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt  (1933-1945)  Saw the United States through two grave crises: the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. Promoted laws that changed the course of American government. Ranked by historians as a “great” President.

33. Harry S. Truman  (1945-1953)  Was faced with important decisions and made most of them correctly. Established the Truman Doctrine, by which the United States would help other nations trying to stay free of Communist control. Worked for social welfare and civil rights laws. Ranked by historians as a “near great” President.

34. Dwight David Eisenhower  (1953-1961)  Ended the in Korea. Tried to lesson troubles with the Soviet Union. Sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school integration. Ranked by historians as “average.”

35. John Fitzgerald Kennedy  (1961-1963)  Worked for equal rights for all citizens. Established the Peace Corps. Forced the Soviet Union to withdraw its missiles from Cuba.

36. Lyndon Baines Johnson  (1963-1969)  Pushed more important laws through Congress than any President since Franklin Roosevelt, including civil rights and antipoverty measures. Tried unsuccessfully to make peace in Vietnam.

37. Richard Milhous Nixon  (1969-1974)   Ended U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Opened relations with Communist China. His administration was caught in one of the worst political scandals in American history.

38. Gerald Rudolph Ford  (1974-1977)  His fair and open administration helped to heal the wounds of Watergate. Improved relations with China. Was the first person to occupy the White House without having been elected either President or Vice President.

39. Jimmy (James Earl) Carter  (1977-1981)  Helped bring about a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Improved relations with Latin America by giving control of the Panama Canal to Panama. Worked to improve human rights throughout the world.

40. Ronald Wilson Reagan  (1981-1989) Built up U.S. military power. Worked to reduce inflation and led the fight to reduce taxes. The national debt increased massively during his administration. In his second term, he began arms-limitation talks with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

41. George Herbert Walker Bush  (1989-1993)  His election marked the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Presidency. Presided during the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. In the Persian Gulf War, led a coalition of nations in driving the Iragi army out of Kuwait.

42. Bill (William Jefferson Blythe) Clinton  (1993-2001)  The first President born after World War II, he took office at the end of the Cold War. Shifted American priorities from maintaining military power to strengthening U.S. economic clout. Second President to be impeached (for lying under oath about a sexual affair and then trying to hamper an investigation). Presided over the longest period of economic prosperity in the nation’s history.

43. George Walker Bush  (2001-2009) The fourth President in American history to take office after losing the popular vote, he defined his Presidency by launching a war on terror, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. He cut taxes at home and significantly increased aid to Africa. After he had won a second term, the situation in Iraq turned more dire, and he committed American troops there through the end of his tenure.

43. Barack Hussein Obama II  (2009-2016)  The country’s first African American president made his name quickly, first at Harvard Law School and then in Illinois politics. After a nearly two-year campaign, he was elected decisively on a platform of change to America’s policies at home and its image abroad.

Please understand that I do not agree 100% with all the author says about the Presidents. The book has a couple of pages devoted to each President from the earlier years and five or six pages for the most recent Presidents. The book also has a page discussing things like: who can be President, what does a President do, how is the President elected, how long is the President in office, and when does the President take office. It also has several pages at the end of the book discussing the 2000 election.

If you enjoy learning about the Presidents or if you have an elementary child I highly recommend this book!

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Walking on Water

Walking on Water (The Walk, #5)Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finish Book #5 in the Walk series a few days ago! Wow, what a great read! If you enjoy keeping caught up in a book, where you feel you are walking along with the character then you will love this series. Evans is a great author and I plan to read many more of his books. Already have purchased others and have some on my Amazon wish list. Most of the quotes below are from the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Some will not make sense until you read the book. I know this book has made me want to take a walk across the country. Many interesting people “Alan” converses with along the way and learns much from their lives. Hope you enjoy some of the quotes.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time. ~T. S. Eliot

It’s our memories that make us who we are. Without them, we’re nothing. If that means we have to hurt sometimes, it’s worth it.

Every life can be learned from, as either a flame of hope or a cautionary flare.

Sometimes our arms are so full with the burdens we carry that it hinders our view of the load those around us are staggering beneath.

As happy as I am to see Nicole again, we’re living in denial, ignoring the fact that the last time we saw each other I broke her heart. I wonder how long our fiction will last. It’s like repairing a leak with duct tape and wondering how long it will hold.

It is an inevitable and frightening moment in our lives – the day we realize our parents might be as flawed as we are.

The further along we get on our life journey the more we wonder about those who traveled before us and paved the road.

Wherever you are, wherever you go. I love you and I always will.

My father has more women, waiting outside his door than a Nordstrom’s before a sale. I wonder why he’s never been caught.

The doctor has informed me that what my father has suffered is sometimes called “the widow maker.” In my father’s case the term is irrelevant.

Over dinner Nicole asked about Falene, which spoiled my meal as effectively as if she had poured the entire shaker of salt on it.

The roots of a family tree are oftentimes more twisted than what we see above ground.

I now remember why I stopped playing chess with my father. I feel less like a sparring partner than a punching bag.

My father is wiser than I’ve ever dared give him credit for.

He lifted one of the bishops he’d taken from me. “The past makes a good bishop but a poor king.” What does that mean?” I said. “It means that it’s good to take counsel from the past but not to be ruled by it. Otherwise we end up using today to fight yesterday’s battles and miss tomorrow’s promise.”

It’s a shame that hearts don’t come with manual overrides.

It’s hard to believe that my mild-mannered accountant father was a warrior action figure.

Wandering through just one paragraph of my father’s history has changed Key West for me more than walking a few thousand miles.

What I read in my father’s book tonight was difficult. It was like watching a rerun of a show I hated the first time.

I suppose that to be a parent is to be misunderstood. Perhaps this is the greatest evidence of parental love.

It is the heroic spirits in flawed men of flesh – not the whitewashed, heroic-sized renditions society fabricates – that deserve our adulation.

The last line to my past has snapped. My father is gone.

While flailing about in an ocean of grief we must be mindful not to drown those trying to rescue us.

Déjà vu. Again. (I know that’s redundant. I suppose that’s my point.)

I have found Falene only to discover that I have less of an idea of where she is now than I had before.

Kailamai is back. Fortunately she brought her jokes with her.

Today I said goodbye to two people I love.

Two million steps forward, three million back.

When you’ve got nowhere to go, walk.

Having a place to go is a home.
Having someone to love is family.
Having both is a true blessing.

Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark ~Tagore

Usually the most interesting stories are written not on paper but hearts.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of death is why it’s a mystery.

Some people spend so much time hunting treasure that they fail to see it all around them. It’s like sifting through gold to find the silt.

What was true three thousand years ago is true today: the end of the siren’s song is death.

Humanity is always looking for the next great world, the next frontier. I wonder how different this world would be if we were content with where we were.

To deny our pasts is to burn the bridge we must cross to self-understanding.

I’ve wondered why the famous congregate with each other. Perhaps it’s to assure each other that they really are as important as they think they are.

It’s been said that every new beginning in some other beginning’s end.

Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But on the road, desperation is not always so quiet.

Americans are much more American than they are Northerners, Southerners, Westerners, or Easterners … California Chinese, Boston Irish, Wisconsin German, yes, Alabama Negroes, have more in common than they have apart … The American identity is an exact and provable thing. ~John Steinbeck

I see people getting so caught up in celebrating diversity that they are neglecting their commonality. I don’t see this as a good thing. The Chinese culture has survived for more than five thousand years in part because the Chinese have embraced the same language and culture. I hope I am wrong about this, and that the flame is still on beneath the great American melting pot. Americans need each other, and a house divided, no matter the color of its occupants, is still divided. And divided we all fall.

If God came to save the world, why are so many of His professed followers intent on damning it?

I have entered the Florida Keys. If I listen carefully, I can hear the first musical strains of the movie credits beginning to roll.

Man has left footprints on the moon but still hasn’t walked on the ocean floor.

Today I crossed one of the longest bridges in the world – a fitting, though trite, metaphor for the completion of my walk.

Nicole and Kailamai have arrived in Key West. I realize that I have compartmentalized my life, as it’s peculiar having them here. It’s like daddy-daughter day at the office.

Things that seem bad at the time are really blessings.

Last night I had a dream that I reached Key West. I walked all the way to the southernmost point of the island. When I stepped into the water it was as hard as concrete. So I just kept on walking.

I dream of a day when a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned.

There are few precious moments in life that we can look up to the universe and say “it is done.” This is one such moment. My walk is over.

I made it to Key West. I have walked as far as I could. I have reached the end of my journey only to realize that it is just the beginning.

Visit Evans Facebook page and website.

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When the Healing Doesn't Come

When the Healing Doesn't ComeWhen the Healing Doesn't Come by Lori Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend from my church youth group wrote this book. She was also a classmate of mine at Jonesboro Senior High School in Georgia. We both came to know Jesus through what we called Youth Ranch, which was an informal teenage Bible study that met every Thursday evening. Youth Ranch was a ministry of Clayton Community Church which now is Community Bible Church. What Lori writes in her book is her life story and the lessons she has learned through her life and from having several family members/friends die of cancer.

I did not know how much Lori went through from her childhood through her early adult life. Many people would have given up on life had they endured the hardships that she endured. However, Lori has become a strong Christian believer and a very sweet lady. She has allowed the Lord to use the hardships of life to shape her into a person that is a mighty servant of God. I saw her a few weeks ago at a Youth Group Reunion. She is doing very well.

If you have had love ones go through cancer, know of people that have had a difficult childhood, or enjoy reading about the trials of life you will enjoy this book. I am so glad I know Lori and I'm glad I read her book. She is a precious lady!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Step of Faith

A Step of Faith (The Walk, #4)A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #4 in the Walk series. It is my least favorite of the five books. A good portion of the book deals with an occult that Alan encounters. The entire scenario seems unlikely and the way Alan accepts the offer to go to the compound seems out of character for him. I wish Evans would have spent more time describing the towns he walked through especially sense he had enter my region of the country. With all of that said the book is a good read. The quotes below are mostly the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and may not make sense until you read the book.

Maybe, if we just accepted our deaths, we might finally start to live.

The strength of a friendship can be measured by the weight of the burden it’s willing to share. (If you want to test this just ask someone to help you move.)

“Wait and see” is no easier now than it was as a child.

I’m going home. Wherever that is these days.

I’ve never before realized that it’s a privilege to be allowed to make up for the hurt we’ve done in our lives. This is most evident to me now that I have broken a heart and not been allowed to pick up the pieces.

Roses can grow in slums just as weeds can grow around mansions.

I’ve returned to my childhood home. Little has changed, including my father. I don’t mean this derogatively. In a tumultuous sea a small anchor goes a long way.

Sometimes it seems as if my life has been more intermission than show.

Looking at someone’s brain is a little like looking at the outside of a movie theater.

I have become an expert at chasing those I love out of my life.

We have found Falene’s brother. I hope he knows where she is almost as much as I hope she doesn’t know where he is.

I’ve read that there are specific, predictable stages of grief. But there must be as many manifestations of those stages as there are bereft.

You should always be careful of what you say in parting.

I an back in St. Louis. I was so intent on resisting my father’s attempts to abort my walk that I ignored my own body’s warnings.

Everybody needs love. Everybody. Those who don’t believe that frighten me a little.

I have been taken in by a Pentecostal pastor who speaks openly of miracles and the “fruits of the spirit.” I don’t know if there are fewer miracles today or if, in times past, all unexplained phenomena was just ascribed to divine providence. It seems today that we see less spiritual fruit than religious nuts.

Everyone has suffered more than you know.

People can become so blinded by their own perceived victimhood that they make victims of everyone around them.

As Americans stopped building town squares and piazzas, Walmarts took their place.

We cannot enslave others without enslaving a part of ourselves.

I have so often compared my life to a whirlwind that I should not be surprised to find myself facing a real one.

Is it possible for those on the other side to intervene on our behalf? Millions of dollars have been spent on this very hope.

The storm has passed. As usual, the world looks deceivingly safe.

Our culture’s quest to hide behind a façade of denial has made fools and pretended immortals of us all. Perhaps it would be more helpful and liberating to begin each day by repeating the words of Crazy Horse, “Today is a good day to die.”

You can tell as much about a culture from their diet as from their literature. Sometimes, perhaps, more.

Missouri calls itself the “Show Me” state. I’m not sure if they’re claiming skepticism or voyeurism.

To challenge the rules of conventionality is to open ourselves to an entirely new universe. One cannot pioneer new worlds from old trails.

For centuries the spiritually seeking have asked God for a sign. Perhaps that’s why there’s so many of them planted out front of southern churches.

Elvis may have left the building, but some of the audience have kept their seats.

Some towns, like people, seem to attract history. I suppose this is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

Today I walked through Tupelo, Elvis’s birthplace. Those who wish a magnified life should remember that no one is born great. No one. Every entertainer began in the audience. This is encouraging. Elvis began life in a sharecropper’s shack. Lincoln, a log cabin. Jesus a manger.

Those willing to trade freedom for certainty are certain to find the cure worse than the ailment.

The shackles of belief, when reinforced by fear, are difficult to break free from and rarely done.

Sometimes we can only find ourselves by first losing ourselves.

I’m beginning to pick up the language down here. “Jeet?” means, “Have you eaten?” A “far truck” is useful in putting out “fars.” “Bard” is past tense of borrow. There are four “tars” on a truck and “did” is the opposite of alive. Shopping carts are “buggies,” and “Wal-Mart’n” is a pleasant pastime.

I’m not a fan of boiled peanuts. Just because you can boil something doesn’t mean you should.

Some so fear the future that they suffocate the present. It’s like committing suicide to avoid being murdered.

Why did the man cross America? To see what was on the other side of himself.

A good read should introduce new drama in each chapter. But that’s just in books. What may be enjoyable in literature is not so in real life.

Again, my world is in commotion. The only thing that hasn’t changed in my life is the uncertainly of it all.

In the beginning, I had considered these stops on my journey as interruptions – but I’m coming to understand that perhaps these detours are my journey.

Life is not a sprint. It was never meant to be. It is just a step of faith after another.

The depth of love is revealed in its departure.

If you enjoy a good read you will love this series!

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the ChurchSearching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rachel Held Evans and I have several things we disagree. She believes same sex marriage is Biblically acceptable, she believes women can be pastors; I disagree with both of these issues. By thw way, Rachel is happily married to a man. She is not a lesbian. However, Rachel does make me think and for that I am grateful. She grew up believing the same things I believe. She went to Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Her Dad taught on the staff of that college. I read this book because I enjoy reading this author (see her other book I reviewed, Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions) and I am trying to understand the reasoning of those Christians that accept same-sex marriage as Biblical. The quotes I’ve listed below are very good and should be a challenge and/or an encouragement to all believers.

I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security … More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which makes us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, “Give them something to eat.” ~Pope Francis

We need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people.

Contrary to popular belief, we (millennials) can’t be won back with hipper worship bands, fancy coffee shops, or pastors who wear skinny jeans.

The church is the last place we want to be sold another product, the last place we want to be entertained.

Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity.

We’re (millennials) looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity.

Like every generation before ours (millennials’) and every generation after, wer’re (millennials’) looking for Jesus – the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places He’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.

No coffee shops or fog machines required.

Christianity isn’t meant to simply be believed; it’s meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the presence of other people.

I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need a community. I need the church.

In an age of information overload … the last thing any of us needs is more information about God. We need the practice of incarnation, by which God saves the lives of those whose intellectual assent has turned them dry as dust, who have run frighteningly low on the Bread of Life, who are dying to know more God in their bodies. Not more about God. More God.

The church tells us we are beloved (baptism).
The church tells us we are broken (confession).
The church tells us we are commissioned (holy orders).
The church feeds us (communion).
The church welcomes us (confirmation).
The church anoints us (anointing of the sick).
The church unites us (marriage).

Of course, the church can also lie, injure, damage, and exclude, and this book explores its dark corners as well as its stained-glass splendors.

We religious types are really good at building walls and retreating to temples. We’re good at making mountains out of our ideologies, obstructions out of our theologies, and hills out of our screwed-up notions of who’s in and who’s out, who’s worthy and who’s unworthy. We’re good at getting in the way. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we move, God might use people and methods we don’t approve of, that rules will be broken and theologies questioned. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we get out of the way, this grace thing might get out of hand. Well, guess what? It already has. Grace got out of hand the moment the God of the universe hung on a Roman cross and with outstretched hands looked out upon those who had hung Him there and declared, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We could not become like God, so God became like us. God showed us how to heal instead of kill, how to mend instead of destroy, how to love instead of hate, how to live instead of long for more. When we nailed God to a tree, God forgave. And when we buried God in the ground. God got up.

We are not spared death, but the power of death has been defeated. The grip of sin has been loosed. We are invited to share the victory, to follow the path of God back to life.

I’m a Christian because Christianity names and addresses sin. It acknowledges the reality that the evil we observe in the world is also present within ourselves. It tells the truth about the human condition – that we’re not okay.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed,” instructed James, the brother of Jesus (James 5:16). At its best, the church functions much like a recovery group, a safe place where a bunch of struggling, imperfect people come together to speak difficult truths to one another.

Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Image if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.

It wasn’t shared social status or ethnicity that brought Jesus’ followers together either, nor was it total agreement on exactly who this Jesus character was – a prophet? The Messiah? The Son of God? No, there is one thing that connected all these dissimilar people together it was a shared sense of need: a hunger, a thirst, a longing.
It was the certainty that, when Jesus said He came for the sick, this meant Jesus came for me.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love. ~Billy Graham

Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure id made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us.

The Holy Trinity doesn’t need our permission to carry on in their endlessly resourceful work of making all things new. That we are invited to catch even a glimpse of the splendor is grace. All of it, every breath and every second is grace.

Whenever we show others the goodness of God, whenever we follow our Teacher by imitating His posture of humble and ready service, our actions are sacred and ministerial. To be called into the priesthood, as all of us are, is to be called to a life of presence, of kindness.

“To be a priest is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are. ~Barbara Brown Taylor

With all the conceptual truths in the universe at His disposal [Jesus] did not give them something to think about together when He was gone. Instead, He gave them concrete things to do – specific ways of being together in their bodies – that would go on teaching them what they needed to know when He was no longer around to teach them Himself … “Do this” He said – not believe this but do this – “in remembrance of me. ~Barbara Brown Taylor

When [Jesus] wanted fully to explain what his forthcoming death was all about He didn’t give a theory. He didn’t even give them a set of Scriptural texts. He gave them a meal.

This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there’s always room for more.

But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.

Scripture doesn’t speak of people who found God. Scripture speaks of people who walked with God.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. ~Henri Nouwen

Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route. But the modern-day church doesn’t like to wander or wait. The modern-day church likes results. Convinced the gospel is a product we’ve got to sell to an increasingly shrinking market, we like our people to function as walking advertisements: happy, put-together, finished – proof that this Jesus stuff WORKS!

But if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation.

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. ~Helen Keller

When the people of God abandoned the covenant of love and fidelity, drawn as we are by the appeal of shallow, empty pleasures, God removed every possible obstruction to the covenant by being faithful for us, by becoming like us and subjecting Himself to the very worst within us, loving us all the way to the cross and all the way out of the grave.

What each of us longs for the most is to be both fully known and fully loved. Miraculously, God feels the same way about us. God, too, wants to be fully known and fully loved. God wants this so much that He has promised to knock down every obstacle in the way, enduring even His own death, to be with us, to consummate this love.

What makes our marriage holy, what makes it “set apart” and sacramental, isn’t the marriage certificate filed away in the basement or the degree to which we follow a list of rules and roles, it’s the way God shows up in those everyday moments – loading the dishwasher, sharing a joke, hosting a meal, enduring an illness, working through a disagreement – and gives us the chance to notice, to pay attention to the divine. It’s the way the God of resurrection makes all things new.

This is the church. Here she is. Lovely, irregular, sometimes sick and sometimes well. This is the body-like-no-other that God has shaped and placed in the world. Jesus lives here; this is His soul’s address. There is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered. She has taken a beating, the church. Every day she meets the gates of hell and she prevails. Every day she serves, stumbles, injures, and repairs. That she has healed is an underrated miracle. That she gives birth is beyond reckoning. Maybe it’s time to make peace with her. Maybe it’s time to embrace her, flawed as she is.

This kingdom knows no geographic boundaries, no political parties, no single language or culture. It advances not through power and might, but through acts of love and joy and peace, missions of mercy and kindness and humility. This kingdom has arrived, not with a trumpet’s sound but with a baby’s cries, not with the vanquishing of enemies but with the forgiving of them, not on the back of a warhorse but on the back of a donkey, not with triumph and a conquest but with a death and a resurrection.

So church is, essentially, a gathering of kingdom citizens, called out – from their individuality, from their sins, from their old ways of doing things, from the world’s way of doing things – into participation in this new kingdom and community with one another.

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door. ~Emily Dickinson

If you like to be challenged to think I would recommend this book for you!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Miles to Go

Miles to Go (The Walk, #2)Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Richard Paul Evans continues his wonderful Walk series in book 2.  This book is so enjoyable. Once you start reading it you do not want to put it down. The stories seem so real to life. The characters make you want to love them. I have included several quotes and I understand the quotes from this book will not do them justice until you read them in the book and see them in context. But, the quotes are to good to be left out of my blog. So here they are:

We plan our lives in long, unbroken stretches that intersect our dreams the way highways connect the city dots on a road map. But in the end we learn that life is lived in the side roads, alleys, and detours.

We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.  ~Steinbeck

Life is what happens to us while we’re planning something else.

Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam formamus ideam. Translated means “Emotion, which is suffering, stops … no … ceases to be suffering when a clear and distinct idea is formed.

Psychologists tested the story of the Good Samaritan. What they learned gives us reason to pause. The greatest determinant of who stopped to help the stranger in need was not compassion, morality, or religious creed. It was those who had the time. Makes me wonder if I have time to do good.

There are people who come into our lives as welcome a a cool breeze in summer – and last about as long.

People aren’t wired to be alone. Even in the stressful population of prison, solitary confinement is still considered a cruel punishment.

We humans are born egocentric. The sky thunders and children believe that God is mad at them for something they’ve done – parents divorce and children believe it’s their fault for not being good enough. Growing up means putting aside our egocentricity for truth. Still, some people cling to this childish mind-set. As painful as their self-flagellation may be, they’d rather believe their crises are their fault so they can believe they have control. In doing so they make fools and false gods of themselves.

The first step of a journey is always the longest.

There can be no joy without gratitude.

Developing a friendship is like feeding squirrels at the park. At first it’s all grab and go. But with gentle motion, time and consistency, soon they’re eating from your hand.

There are two kinds of people. Those who climb mountains and those who sit in the shadow of the mountains and critique the climbers.

When a man loses his vision of the future he dies.

Old friends are memories personified.

Forgiveness is the key to the heart’s shackles.

I don’t think it is as much a human foible as it is a human curse that we cannot understand the beauty of a thing until it is gone.

There are two kinds of suffering in this life. That which pursues us and that which we doggedly pursue.

It’s almost as difficult to believe that someone with so many trials could harbor such hope, as that there are those with so much advantage who harbor such hopelessness.

There’s no problem so big that whining won’t make it worse.

Everyone has problems. It’s how you choose to deal with them. Some people choose to be whiners some choose to be winners. Some choose to be victims some choose to be victors.

There are times when the great Cosmic Architect gives us brief glimpses of the blueprint so we can do our part.

Some men see mountains as obstacles. Others as a canvas.

We are all in motion. Always. Those who are not climbing toward something are descending toward nothing.

Without great mountains we cannot reach great heights.

If you will read this book you will be encouraged in your daily life!

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The Walk

The Walk (The Walk, #1)The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book in “The Walk” series. I actually read the third one first and thought it was a true story of someone walking across the country.  This book explains why Alan decides to walk from Washington State to Key West, FL. His one true love his wife has an untimely death, his partner steals his clients and Alan loses everything. This is why he starts his walk. This is the best book series I have ever read. I have now read the first three books in the series. If you enjoy a short read you will enjoy this book. I highly encourage everyone to read this book! The second book in the series, “Miles To Go,” I will include lots of quotes.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

The Common Sense of an Uncommon Man: The Wit, Wisdom, and Eternal Optimism of Ronald Reagan

The Common Sense of an Uncommon Man: The Wit, Wisdom, and Eternal Optimism of Ronald ReaganThe Common Sense of an Uncommon Man: The Wit, Wisdom, and Eternal Optimism of Ronald Reagan by Ronald Reagan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ronald Reagan is my favorite President of all time. His adopted son, Michael, put this book together. It is mostly quotes (just a little commentary from Michael) from the President. The quotes are divided by categories. There are 62 categories. Most of the quotes have the places and dates of where and when Reagan said them. If you know President Reagan you know he was a fantastic communicator. His quotes are well-known and inspiring. His quotes also are just as true today as they were the day he said them. I have listed just a few of the quotes below:

Someone told my old boss Jack Warner that I'd announced for governor. And Jack thought about it for just a second, and then he said, "No, Jimmy Stewart for governor, Ronald Reagan for best friend.

If I'm ever in need of any transplants, I've got parts they don't make anymore.

I believe this blessed land was set apart in a very special way, a country created by men and women who came here not in search of gold but in search of God. They would be free people, living under the law, with faith in their Maker and their future.

When White House aid Lyn Nofziger told Reagan [after Reagan had been shot in the assassination attempt], "You'll be happy to know that the government is running normally while you're in the hospital." Reagan instantly quipped: What makes you think I'd be happy about that?

Bureaucrats favor cutting red tape - lengthwise.

You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.

I'm just a citizen temporarily in public service.

The Marxist vision of man without God must eventually be seen as an empty and a false faith - the second oldest in the world - first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with whispered words of temptation: "Ye shall be as gods."

I have one question for those rulers: If communism is the wave of the future, why do you still need walls to keep people in and armies of secret police to keep them quiet?

Conservatives were brought up to hate deficits and justifiably so. We've long thought there are two things in Washington that are unbalanced - the budget and the liberals.

I don't think that making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain guns will lower the crime rate - not when criminals will always find a way to get them.

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

The great rediscovery of the 1980s has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government: Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive.

My whole family were Democrats. As a matter of fact, I had an uncle who won a medal once for never having missed voting in an election for fifteen years ... and he'd been dead for fourteen.

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him.

A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.

Yours is a sacred mission. In the words of Henry Adams, "A teacher affects eternity." Each of you, as tiring and routine as your daily duties may sometimes seem, is a keeper of the American dream, the American future. By informing and exercising young minds, by transmitting learning and values, you are the vital link between all that is most precious in our national heritage and our children and grandchildren, who will some day take up the burdens of guiding the greatest, freest society on Earth.

What America needs is spiritual renewal and reconciliation - first, man with God, and then man with man.

Whatever happens now, I owe my life to God and will try to serve Him in every way I can. Diary entry after being released from the hospital following the 1981 assassination attempt

Freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted.
When the liberals say "family" they mean "Big Brother in Washington." When we say "family" we mean "honor thy father and mother."

The right of parents and the rights of family take precedence over those of Washington-based bureaucrats and social engineers.

Man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics" As government expands, liberty contracts.

For two hundred years we've lived in the future, believing that tomorrow would be better than today and today would be better than yesterday. I still believe that.

Let us be frank. Evil still stalks the planet. Its ideology may be nothing more than bloodlust; no program more complex than economic plunder or military aggrandizement. But it is evil all the same. And wherever there are forces that would destroy the human spirit and diminish human potential, they must be recognized, and they must be countered.

Government is like a baby - an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

Nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program.

Either you will control your government, or government will control you.

If you want to make sure crime doesn't pay, let the government run it.

Once upon a time, the only contact you had with government was when you went to buy a stamp.

My young friends, history is a river that may take us as it will. But we have the power to navigate, to choose direction, and make our passage together.

There's nothing as good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.

[Once, as governor of California, someone suggested to Reagan that he might build rapport with the young people if he rode a motorcycle. His reply:]I'll have to stick to horseback. You see, there is the matter of security. When I go anyplace, I'm one of a group. We might look like Hell's Angels with all of us there on motorcycles.

A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough.

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.

All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn't do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. Arlington Cemetery, May 25, 1986

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the rear of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the sixth of June 1944, two-hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers - at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two-hundred and twenty-five came here. Another two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Point du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war. You can listen to this speech, The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger. honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God." This speech can also be watched online. You can watch the takeoff and explosion here!

Die-hard conservatives thought that I couldn't get everything I asked for, I would jump off the cliff with the flag flying - go down in flames. No, if I can get seventy or eighty percent of what it is I'm trying to get ... I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future.

We intend to keep the peace - we will also keep our freedom.

Professional politicians like to talk about the value of experience in government. Nuts! The only experience you gain in politics is how to be political.

Free enterprise has done more to reduce poverty than all the government programs dreamed up by Democrats.

My friends, some years ago the federal government declared war on poverty - and poverty won.

I'll confess that I've been a little afraid to suggest what I'm going to suggest, what I'm going to say. But I'm more afraid not to. Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer? [The audience rises, with heads bowed, for a few silent moments, after which Ronald Reagan concludes:] God bless America! ~Republican National Convention, Detroit, Michigan, July 17, 1980

We don't lump people by groups or special interests. And let me add, in the party of Lincoln there is no room for intolerance and not even a small corner for anti-Semitism or bigotry of any kind. Many people are welcome in our house, but not the bigots.

I, too, have always believed that God's greatest gift is human life and that we have a duty to protect the life of an unborn child. Until someone can prove the unborn child is not a life, shouldn't we give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is?

I know that some believe that voluntary prayer in schools should be restricted to a moment of silence. We already have the right to remain silent - we can take our Fifth Amendment.

Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15.

Anyone who seeks success or greatness should first forget about both and seek only the truth. The rest will follow.

We didn't discover our values in a poll taken a week before the convention.

The doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients.

I think the best possible social program is a job.

We don't celebrate dependence day on the Fourth of July. We celebrate Independence Day.

Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys history!

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The Wisdom of Faith

The Wisdom of FaithThe Wisdom of Faith by Bobby Bowden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FSU's Bobby Bowden is the coach that lead UGA's coach Mark Richt to the Lord. Coach Bowden has always been upfront with his love of Jesus Christ. From all I can tell he has lived his life reflecting his love for the Savior. This book is not about football although he does share some illiustrations from his playing and coaching days. This book is about how to live the victorious Christian life. Below are the chapter titles:

The Wisdom of Faith
The Wisdom of Fear
The Wisdom of Trust
The Wisdom of Courage
The Wisdom of Responsibility
The Wisdom of Humility
The Wisdom of Patience
The Wisdom of Discipline
The Wisdom of Contentment
The Wisdom of Suffering
The Wisdom of Love

He finished the book using a great illustration emphasizing all is in vain without first Christ as your personal Savior. I'm including just a few quotes from the book:

We cannot help make the world more as our Creator intended until we first learn to see it through our Creator’s eyes.

Waiting well requires us to wait for God and trust His timing. To put it differently, waiting well means to remind ourselves time and again – especially when troubles mount up – that God is in control. Such waiting gives us confidence. We gain strength. Our endurance grows. Hope burns brighter. And those encumbrances that once dragged us down slowly lose their grip. (Is. 40:31)

Great joy can be found by those who have little and need less. Great joy can also be found by those who have much and give more. Contentment is available to us whatever our circumstance in life, if our eyes are set first and constantly on the Living God.

It's not the amount of our possessions, but the value we give them, that distinguishes the wise from fools.

It is not miracles that produce faith but faith that produces miracles.  ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

I would recommend this book to college football fans, Bobby Bowden fans, and Christians who want to walk the talk!

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Monday, July 6, 2015

I Am Loved at Community Bible Church

97815006932829781500693282 by Sandi Adams Hutcheson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was written by the daughter of the Pastor of the church where I became a believer. So, it was an excellent read for me. The book of course, was a little bais since it was written by the pastor's daughter. It also was more about the pastor of the church then just the church. The pastor, Buford Adams, had a profound influence on many people either to trust Christ as their Savior or to further their walk with the Lord and it most cases both. If you enjoy reading about churches, pastors, leadership then you will enjoy this book. Some of the personal relationships Buford enjoyed are well known people in Christian circles. One example is Paul Van Gorder (Radio Bible Class). Buford attended Van Gorder's church (Colonial Hills Baptist) in his early years.

I owe much of my Christian growth to Buford Adams, his pastoral staff, and Clayton Community Church. The church changed locations from Clayton County to Henry County and changed its name to Community Bible Church. Buford's son, Beau, is now the senior pastor.

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Maestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by Listening

Maestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by ListeningMaestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by Listening by Roger Nierenberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful book on leadership. I have never heard of the author of the book, but saw it in a second hand store and the title looked interesting. The book it an easy read but has many good principles that apply to leadership and life. The book is written in story form. A business man learns many business principles from watching and talking with a conductor of an orchestra. I have shared serval below. I know those that enjoy music will especially enjoy this book.

A maestro doesn't micromanage. Instead of demanding mindless obedience, he communicates a larger vision, inviting people to draw upon the full range of their talents.

A maestro enables people to feel ownership of the whole piece, not just their individual parts.

A maestro leads by listening. When people sense an open and receptive ear, they offer more of their full potential. If not, they get defensive and hold back their best ideas.

It is a wonderful thing to project confidence and authority. But your main channel of influence with an orchestra is your listening. Every time you come to the podium, ask yourself," Am I really hearing what's going on in this room? Am I being affected by what I'm hearing?" If not. then you must take some of your attention away from what you yourself are doing, and focus it on the people you're here to lead.

As the conductor says, "Eventually I realized that a great performance would happen only when the motivation sprang as much from them as from me. I learned to see my job as simply creating an environment where that could happen. Once I learned to engage their artistry, everything felt so much easier."

If a leader wants his people to truly own the work, then he has to be willing to let go of some control.

You can force compliance with your directions, you can require obedience, but you can't mandate enthusiasm, creativity, fresh thinking, or inspiration. If you value that, then people need to feel ownership of the work, and the leader must cede some control to them.

Everything I do is aimed at creating a feeling of community and shared responsibility.

The conductor's job is to create success. It really falls upon him to stretch his reality until it encompasses that of the players, too.

The conductor needs to understand the reality from the chairs as well.

If a conductor wants them to play with unity then he must stretch his imagination to embrace their reality. That's what elicits the kind of cooperation and trust that invites them to get interested in the unique perspective the podium offers.

My (podium) position allowed me to see what each part contributed to the whole. The members of the team, however, were surprisingly unaware of the support they received from others, but hyperaware of any threat posed by the invisible activity in another building or wing.

Certain problems can be solved most easily from the chair, but others require the podium view.

One's first task is not to stamp one's own personality on everything, at whatever cost, but to listen.

It is a wonderful thing to project confidence and authority. But your main channel of influence with an orchestra is your listening.

Every time you come to the podium, ask yourself, "Am I really hearing what's going on in this room? Am I being affected by what I'm hearing? If not, then you must take some of your attention away from what you yourself are doing, and focus it on the people you're here to lead. [This quote I listed twice on purpose]

It's important to make a distinction between problems that are the musicians can best solve themselves, and problems that involve collaboration and teamwork. When your baton undertakes to solve every problem that might arise, you actually decrease the orchestra's listening ability.

I want to acquaint you with how to lead when the orchestra already knows the music and doesn't need to be taught. That is the most difficult type of leadership to learn. They still need direction if they're ever to perform to their potential, but the direction must be more visionary and strategic and less about helping them manage the details.

As leaders we should strive to exert the minimum necessary intervention.

A leader must commit to that which has not happened.

It is only in anticipating, and committing to what will happen next, that any leadership can take place.

When you have a group that's well disciplined in teamwork, it liberates you to do your best.

It doesn't matter how good you sound if you don't match the others who are playing with you.

Leadership doesn't make a small difference, it makes all the difference in the world.

If you're a leader you can elevate your team to heights beyond their wildest imagination.

Here is a website for more information about this type of leadership music paradigm

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The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God

The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward GodThe Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God by Lee Strobel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As most of you know Lee Strobel has written several "The Case for ..." books. This one is very good. I don't necessaryly like his writing style but the information in is books are great. It takes me a little bit longer to read his books than most books I read but it is worth it. You will get a great taste for the book from the quotes below. I trust they will either encorage you or challenge your belief. Enjoy!

William Provine of Cornell University said, “If Darwinism is true, then there are five inescapable conclusions:
• there’s no evidence for God
• there’s no life after death
• there’s no absolute foundation for right and wrong
• there’s no ultimate meaning for life
• and people don’t really have free will.”

It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in numbers, has been rather carefully thought out. … The seemingly miraculous concurrence of these numerical values must remain the most compelling evidence for cosmic design. ~Physicist Paul Davies

Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose? ~Sir John Templeton

… all the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common – these are precisely the values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life. ~Patrick Glynn

In his book God: The Evidence, [Patrick] Glynn credits the absolutely incredible fine-tuning of the cosmos as being among the key reasons why he concluded that the universe must have been the handiwork of a master designer.

A universe aiming at the production of man implies a mind directing it. Though man is not at the physical center of the universe, he appears to be at the center of its purpose. ~Robert Augros

When scientists talk about the fine-tuning of the universe they’re generally referring to the extraordinary balancing of the fundamental laws and parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe. Our minds can’t comprehend the precision of some of them. The result is a universe that has just the right conditions to sustain life. The coincidences are simply too amazing to have been the result of happenstance. ~Robin Collins … as Paul Davies said, “the impression of design is overwhelming.”

As scientific knowledge grew, dreams of finding lunar civilizations dissipated. Everyone came to agree that the moon cannot support life. Yet surprising discoveries in recent years have shown the opposite to be true: the moon really does support life – ours! Scientific evidence confirms how this parched, airless satellite actually contributes in unexpected ways to creating a lush and stable environment a quarter of a million miles away on Earth. ~Lee Strobel

There was a remarkable finding that the moon actually stabilizes the tilt of the earth’s axis. The tilt is responsible for our seasons. During the summer, in the northern hemisphere the north pole axis is pointed more toward the sun. Six months later, when the Earth is on the other side of the sun, then the south pole is more pointed toward the sun. While the Earth’s tilt at 23.5 degrees, this gives us very mild seasons. So in a very real way, the stability of our climate is attributable to the moon. ~Guillermo Gonzalez

What would happen if the moon were not there? Then our tilt could swing wildly over a large range, resulting in major temperature swings. If our tilt were more like ninety degrees, the north pole would be exposed to the sun for six months, while the south pole would be in darkness, then vice-versa. Instead, it varies by only about one and a half degrees – just a tiny variation, because the gravity from the moon’s orbit keeps it stabilized. ~Guillermo Gonzalez

We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cossetted, cherished group of creatures; our Darwinian claim to have done it all ourselves is as ridiculous and as charming as a baby’s brave efforts to stand on its own feet and refuse his mother’s hand. If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in. ~John A. O’Keefe

If God so precisely and carefully and lovingly and amazingly constructed a mind-boggling habitat for his creatures, then it would be natural for Him to want them to explore it, to measure it, to investigate it, to appreciate it, to be inspired by it – and ultimately, and most importantly, to find Him through it. ~Lee Strobel

We have always underestimated the cell. … The entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. … Why do we call [them] machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts. ~Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences

We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity; but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations. ~Biochemist Franklin M. Harold

One scientist described a singled-celled organism as a high-tech factory, complete with artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction … [and] a capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. ~Lee Strobel

Today we buy information, we sell it, we regard it as commodity, we value it, we send it down wires and bounce it off satellites – and we know it invariably comes from intelligent agents. So what do we make of the fact that DNA stores far more information in a smaller space than the most advanced supercomputer on the planet? ~Lee Strobel

Wilder Penfield, the renowned father of modern neurosurgery, has encountered concrete evidence that the brain and mind are actually distant from each other, although they clearly interact.

At this point, having considered J.P. Moreland’s critique of physicalism. I wanted to hear his affirmative case that consciousness and the souls are immaterial entities. “What positive evidence is there that consciousness and the self are not merely a physical process of the brain?” I [Lee Strobel] asked.

“We have experimental data, for one thing,” he replied. “For example, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield electrically stimulated the brains of epilepsy patients and found he could cause them to move their arms or legs, turn their heads or eyes, talk, or swallow. Invariably the patient would respond by saying, ‘I didn’t do that. You did.’ According to Penfield, ‘the patient thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.’

“No matter how much Penfield probed the cerebral cortex, he said, ‘There is no place … whose electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.’ That’s because those functions originate in the conscious self, not the brain.

“A lot of subsequent research has validated this. When Roger Sperry and his team studied the differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, they discovered the mind has a causal power independent of the brain’s activities. This led Sperry to conclude materialism was false.”

The portrait of the Creator that emerges from the scientific data is uncannily consistent with the description of the God whose identity is spelled out in the pages of the Bible.
• Creator? “In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”
• Unique? “You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides Him there is no other.”
• Uncaused and timeless? “Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
• Immaterial? “God is spirit.”
• Personal? “I am God Almighty.”
• Freedom of will? “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
• Intelligent and rational? “How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.”
• Enormously powerful? “This Lord is … great in power.”
• Creative? “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
• Caring? “The earth is full of His unfailing love.”
• Omnipresent? “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You.”
• Has given humankind purpose? “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, … everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.”
• Provides for life after death? “He will sallow up death forever.”
As the apostle Paul wrote two millennia ago: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made [that is, His creation], so that men are without excuse.” ~ Lee Strobel

James Tour of Rice University said, “Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.” Astrophysicist and priest George Coyne put it this way, “Nothing we learn about the universe threatens our faith. It only enriches it.”

Polkinghome, who achieved acclaim as a mathematical physicist at Cambridge before becoming a full-time minister, the same kind of thinking he uses in science has helped him draw life-changing conclusions about God: “ No one has ever seen a quark, and we believe that no one ever will. They are so tightly bound to each other inside the protons and neutrons that nothing can make them break out on their own. Why, then, do I believe in these invisible quarks? … In summary, it’s because quarks make sense of a lot of direct physical evidence. … I wish to engage in a similar strategy with regard to the unseen reality of God. His existence makes sense of many aspects of our knowledge and experience: the order and fruitfulness of the physical world; the multilayered character of reality; the almost universal human experiences of worship and hope; the phenomenon of Jesus Christ (including His resurrection). I think that very similar thought processes are involved in both cases. I do not believe that I shift in some strange intellectual way when I move from science to religion. … In their search for the truth science and faith are intellectual cousins under the skin.”

Religious knowledge is more demanding than scientific knowledge. While it requires scrupulous attention to matters of truth, it also calls for the response of commitment to the truth discovered. ~ Polkinghome

Many have found that the awesome sight of the star-studded heavens evoke a sense of wonder, an awareness of transcendence, which is charged with spiritual significance. Yet the distant shimmering of stars does not itself create this sense of longing; it merely exposes what is already there. They are catalysts for our spiritual insights, revealing our emptiness and compelling us to ask whether and how this void might be filled.

Might our true origins and destiny somehow lie beyond these stars? Might there not be a homeland, from which we are presently exiled and to which we secretly long to return? Might not our accumulation of discontentment and disillusionment with our present existence be a pointer to another land where our true destiny lies and which is able to make its presence felt now in this haunting way?

Suppose that this is not where we are meant to be but that a better land is at hand? We don’t belong here. We have somehow lost our way. Would not this make our present existence both strange and splendid? Strange, because it is not where our true destiny lies; splendid, because it points ahead to where that real hope might be found. The beauty of the night skies or a glorious sunset are important pointers to the origins and the ultimate fulfillment of our heart’s deepest desires. But if we mistake the signpost for what is signposted, we will attach our hopes and longings to lesser goals, which cannot finally quench our thirst for meaning. ~Alister McGrath

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