Archive for November 2009

“The White Horse King – The Life of Alfred the Great” by Benjamin Merkle

November 30, 2009

Having never heard of King Alfred the Great, or the author, I was not sure what to expect from this book. What I found was a compelling page turner. It was not only well written, it was also very informative.

King Alfred lived and reigned in the 800’s and is responsible for the development of legal code, design of towns and warfare. We are given a short history of the Viking assaults on the Anglo Saxon people and countryside and the efforts of a Godly king who believed in protecting his people and standing with them against adversity.

He is not a man without fault however, and the author points that out for us as well.

As one who has never been a student of that era of England’s history, I found it refreshing the author took time to explain customs and practices without becoming boring or making the book read like a text book.

“The White Horse King” is a fascinating book and would make a great gift, but make sure to buy a copy for yourself as well.

I post these reviews as a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger Program J

Thankful for A Heart Attack

November 26, 2009

I was reading Lifeway.com’s Wellness Connection Newsletter by Branda Polk which started me thinking about my thankfulness.

Of course I am thankful for my family, friends, church family, my work and material blessings, and so forth. But, she asks, “Do you consider struggles, difficulties, and loss opportunities for gratitude? Gratitude is so much more than a warm-fuzzy emotion we call up during happy times.”

I am well aware of the admonition in scripture to be thankful “in” things, and being thankful “for” all things is quite another thing altogether. Yet, there are so many opportunities for gratitude we overlook because they come our way in more of an “undercover” capacity.

I think of my own struggle this year with a heart attack and the aftermath of it. How could that be a blessing? Yes, it didn’t kill or cripple me, but beyond that, what is there to give thanks for?

Let me list just a few things.

– It prodded me to get back into shape in a healthy fashion. There are numerous folks who have taught and encouraged me to exercise and make healthy choices in eating.
– I met some great people through the rehab process who inspired me and hopefully, have been a blessing to them.
– Indeed I was given a second chance and am reminded everyday, I am here for a reason (this is true for all of us).
– I got some great sermon illustrations out of the whole thing (that may seem small, but you preachers know how it is!)

I want pass this challenge along today. Look beyond the outward appearance of your life experiences and find thankfulness in the challenges, struggles and difficult parts of your life. Some of the greatest blessings show up in some of the oddest ways.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2009

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18
 
In law enforcement, after every major event we did an “after action report.” We look at the event, what went right and what we might be able to do better next time.
 
I’d like to do that for a moment with Thanksgivings past. Think about Thanksgiving in general or maybe one specific Thanksgiving.
 
As you do, no doubt, there will be memories of food. Maybe some time in front of the TV watching football. Maybe it was one of those 3 AM shopping trips the day after. (I am much more inclined to be out at 3 PM on Christmas Eve).
 
As you think about these days, do you recall a Thanksgiving which stands out because you were truly THANKFUL?
 
That was the whole point of the day – remember? It’s easy to forget sometimes.
 
But, our thankfulness is a reflection of how we are doing in so many other ways. In fact, our thankfulness is a good thermometer of our spiritual health. In the verses above, our gratitude is linked closely with rejoicing and prayer. 

Our thankfulness is reflective of our spiritual health.  
 
So, as we make those last minute trip(s) to the grocery store, as we stuff the turkey and ladle the grave, let’s pause for a moment and remember it’s not all bout the food, football, family and friends – it’s about being Thankful.
 
My prayer for you this week is that you will be overwhelmed with an attitude of gratitude.

The Power of Respect

November 18, 2009

I was not really sure what to expect when I began reading “The Power of Respect” – except the discussion is one which is desperately needed in our culture today. Deborah Norville’s approach is not the “tolerance at any cost” message we so often hear under the banner of respect today. Rather, respect begins with self and is best earned when given. She goes on to discuss the setting of expectations and demonstrating leadership in helping other meet those expectations. Respect is earned, but it can also be learned.

There are plenty of examples of the “Power of Respect” implemented and the results are encouraging. Most everyone will be able to identify with someone in the book. I would imagine people who take the time to read the book will be ones who already practice respect, but if every reader is able to inspire one other person to learn and practice respect – it will make a profound difference.

I did not find “The Power of Respect” to be an easy read, I’m not sure if it was the meat of the subject or the style – but I do believe it is worth it. I would recommend every parent, teacher, business owner and anyone else is a leadership role read this book.

(These book reviews are posted as a part of the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger Program – J

Are ready to give an account?

November 12, 2009

“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” – Romans 14:12

I remember one day, while assigned to Professional Standards, I was standing at the records window and then Chief of Police, Roger Halbert, walked up and looked at me and said “justify your existence.” I guess he could tell by my dumfounded look I either couldn’t or didn’t understand. In either case, he said, why should I keep you here? What have you been doing?

Fortunately, as the initial shock wore off, I was able to mumble something about accreditation and he was satisfied he should keep me around.

Now, let me say, I thought the world of Chief Halbert and he was an extremely fair man, but I was scared of him. I got to know him better over the years and I was still scared of him. So, his question, which he meant as lighthearted still struck a fearful chord in me.

In the verse above, we are told we are going to stand before One stronger and more fearful than any Chief of Police, Sheriff, Governor or any worldly leader. And, when we do, we will be told to give an account for what we have done with all He has given us. That justification begins with what we have done with His Son, Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, all of our good works are worth nothing.

I never expected that question from Chief Halbert on that day, so I was caught off guard. When we stand before God, we know the question is coming so, don’t be caught off guard!

Walking By Faith

November 5, 2009

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Hebrews 11:13

As many of you know, my wife, Eileen, and I enjoy hiking in the mountains. It is often challenging physically and sometimes mentally, when you just have to set your mind to going on – even if you don’t know how far it might be until you get to “the end”.

One of the things I have discovered is when you get to the top of the mountain there is much reward. Sure, there is the satisfaction of having accomplished the task, but often there is a great view. Sometimes you can even see the trail you hiked to get where you are.

Such was the case this summer. As we stopped to rest on the way up the mountain, we looked back and saw the trail – a very long trial, I might add – which got us there. It wove up and over several smaller mountain tops and disappeared through some other places which were all but overgrown.

Often our spiritual “walk” is just like that. We can’t see where we are going and it often seems to be uphill at a steady climb. But, when we stop and look back we can see the path we have come and rest in the fact that even the hard times have been a part of getting us to where we are now.

Also, while we may not be able to see where the journey ends, or how rough it may get along the way, we do know there is One Who knows every step of the way. Trusting Him allows us to take every step in confidence.

The verse above follows a long list of Old Testament saints Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah among them, who took God at His word and believed His promises – even when the journey got tough. My prayer for you this week is that you will have just that kind of faith.