“BALL!”

March 25, 2010


The Jesus Wars Continue

March 21, 2010

people have been taking shots at Jesus since his birth. read through the stories and letters of the New Testament and we can see King Herod take out a contract on his life that makes Vito Corleone look like Elmo. the religious leaders and scholars of his day hated him and conspired to kill him. even one of his disciples, his students, his closest friends and followers on earth, agreed to betray him to his face with a kiss.

the Jesus wars have been going on for over two thousand years; they’ll continue.

timing in comedy, they say, is everything. the same is true when taking shots at Jesus. there have been several magazine cover stories, books, documentaries, and other forms of media released around Christmas, Lent, and Easter through the years. so i wasn’t surprised when i recived the March 29th issue of Maclean’s and saw Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns on his head under the heading “Resurrecting Jesus.” i was surprised, however, to read an article, by Brian Bethune, that was’t taking the same old shots at Jesus. in fact, Bethune writes about the new book Jesus: A Biography From a Believer by Paul Johnson. Bethune reviews and critiques the book (somewhat) and reviews some of the issues and points that have been raised through the years from the likes of Michael Baigent, Tom Harpur, and even Dan “Da Vinci Code” Brown. check this article out. it makes for good conversation and thought. Bethune may not be a believer, but he ends the article: “Given such alternative portraits of Christ, [referring to the same old shots being taken and about to be taken at Jesus with the release of new books and documentaries] Jesus: A Biography From a Believer – angels, demons, miracles and all – may not be history, but it’s a model of sober scholarship.”


KISS ME I’M IRISH…

March 17, 2010

…today; everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. in honor of the man and the day, below is St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer.

I bind unto myself today

The strong Name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.

By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan river;

His death on Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;

His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power

Of the great love of the cherubim;

The sweet ‘well done’ in judgment hour,

The service of the seraphim,

Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,

The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea,

Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay,

His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, His shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,

The vice that gives temptation force,

The natural lusts that war within,

The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,

In every place and in all hours,

Against their fierce hostility,

I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,

Against false words of heresy,

Against the knowledge that defiles,

Against the heart’s idolatry,

Against the wizard’s evil craft,

Against the death wound and the burning,

The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,

Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,

The strong Name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of Whom all nature hath creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

Salvation is of Christ the Lord.


Christian Encounters: WINSTON CHURCHILL

March 16, 2010

John Perry wrote Christian Encounters: WINSTON CHURCHILL. he’s appeared on C-SPAN Book TV, The Janet Parshall Show, The G. Gordon Liddy Show, and several other syndicated broadcast television programs. he’s published biographies of Charles Colson, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Sgt. York.

Winston Churchill is one of the key characters in the story of the 20th century. Churchill was a great statesman, he was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and was, and still is today, considered one of the greatest speakers of all time. he was a historian, a writer, and an artist. he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was recognized as an Honary Citizen of the United States of America.

Churchill, like all of us, had ups and downs throughout his life. he was a husband and father; he served in the military; and he had an exciting life in politics.

Churchill is best known as the legendary and larger than life Prime Minister of England and as one of the biggest players in World War II. he helped, in a significant way, bring that battle to an end.

Churchill did not have the loudest Christian faith. however, i believe his Christian faith, from the Anglican tradition, guided and inspired him throughout his life. he helped attain victory over one of the greatest evils the world as ever seen, heard, or experienced. if we cannot see God working here, simply because we wouldn’t call Winston Churchill one of the most evangelical of folks, we need to remove the forest from our eyes. 

Winston Churchill is relatively short, compared to other biographies and books about Churchill, but it covers the main events in his life and their meanings. if you want more information and in depth analysis of these main events, and the rest of his life, you will need other books and biographies.

John Perry’s addition to the Christian Encounters series is well worth reading. i’ve also read the John Bunyan biography by Kevin Belmonte from Thomas Nelson. these books, these two anyway, are easy and fun to read. that in no way diminishes the skill of the writers and their work, research, or intelligence; it’s top shelf. i get the sense that the goal of these books is conversational. reading them feels like having an interesting and informing conversation about interesting and informing people.

*Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson through “Book Sneeze.” They give free books to bloggers for honest reviews.*


Battle Studies

March 15, 2010

the latest album from John Mayer is Battle Studies. it’s great. Mayer is a great singer/songwriter and one of the best musicians we have right now. his musical abilities seem to be getting better and better with each new release and he’s matruing with each new release. i think he was, and still is, considered second rate because of his “boy band looks” and the fact that his concerts seem to be 90% women. don’t let that fool you. John Mayer, in generations to come, will be thought of as highly as James Taylor and Neil Young, maybe even Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, are today. Mayer is a postmodern poet. his lyrics ask important questions and have very real emotional and spiritual aspects to them. Battle Studies is a great listen for all music lovers and an essential disc for fans of John Mayer.


Christian Encounters: JOHN BUNYAN

March 11, 2010

the literary classic The Pilgrim’s Progress has, over the years since it’s publication in 1678, developed a life of its own. so much so that it deserves a biography of its own. enter Kevin Belmonte and his addition to the Thomas Nelson Christian Encounters series John Bunyan. the text is as much a biography of The Pilgrim’s Progress as it is of John Bunyan; their stories, Bunyan’s and his book’s, are so closely knit. 

Belmonte served as the lead historical consultant for the film Amazing Grace and his biography of William Wilberforce won the John Pollock Award for Christian Biography.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is considered one of the most influential and significant works of English literature. it has been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print.

Belmonte states his goal for John Bunyan early, clearly and consicely: “…this is the crux of the matter: how did such a great book [The Pilgrim’s Progress] come to be written by a man of such modest origins? The answers to that not insignificant question have given rise to the pages that follow” (Kevin Belmonte, John Bunyan, xx).

in John Bunyan the book, Kevin Belmonte tells John Bunyan’s story and the story behind The Pilgrim’s Progress beautifully.

we read of his early life as a child and teenagaer. Bunyan was born in Harowden, 1628. he was the son of a tinker; his father, Thomas, worked with brass. little is known of his mother, Margaret. however, she was a woman of great faith and had to be very compassionate. Bunyan was 16 when she died and took her death, and his father’s re-marrying soon after, hard, as most young people would.

Bunyan married in 1649. an unexpedted dowry of two books made a lasting impression and it’s safe to say contributed to his faith and life’s work.

Bunyan served in the military, served time in prision, and served as a preacher. he was popular to some. notorius to others.

John Bunyan is light and an easy read. ordinarily that may sound belittleing. however, Belmonte focuses on vital details and elements of Bunyan’s life and The Pilgrim’s Progress and the result is 21 chapters spread out over 139 pages that inform and entertain. if you want minute details and extensive information on Bunyan, his life, and work, you’ll need other resources.

Belmonte is a great historian and a great story-teller. his training, education, and skill with prose make him an ideal member of the Christian Encounters team.

i highly recommend John Bunyan. it’s a great read for biography lovers and it’s an essential companion to Bunyan’s classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress.

*Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson through “Book Sneeze.” They give free books to bloggers for honest reviews.*


Own THE TOP of The Podium

March 1, 2010