Summer in the Psalms: A Psalm of Praise and Social Justice

August 21, 2012

over the summer, Nancy and i have been speaking from the Book of Psalms on Sunday mornings during worship.

the Book of Psalms contains some wonderful literature and language; the poetry and prayers are beautiful for reflection and reading. the Psalms are great for several reasons.

1. they’re complete passages/thoughts. when a pastor/teacher/anyone speaks from sections of a book or letter, it’s impossible to truly get the vibe and tone of the whole text; there is something lost. not so with the Psalms.

2. excellent prayers, poetry, songs. this is the prayer book of the Old Testament. these are the praise and worship choruses of the Old Testament.

3. they speak eloquently of the character and nature of God.

it’s my turn to speak this coming Sunday and i’m speaking from Psalm 146.

first and foremost, Psalm 146 is a praise Psalm. it has the classic structure of a Psalm of praise.

an introduction, verses 1 and 2, which is a call to praise: “Praise the LORD! Let all that I am praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.” (New Living Translation).

the body of the Psalm gives the reasons for praising the LORD. verses 3 through 9 in the case of Psalm 146.

and a conclusion, verse 1o, which is a renewed call to praise: “The LORD will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the LORD!” (New Living Translation).

on another level, this Psalm has significant implications for social justice.

verse 7: “…[the LORD] gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry.” (New Living Translation)

verse 9: “The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows…” (New Living Translation)

Psalm 146 ties praise and worship and acts of social justice together. could it be that God is just as pleased with acts of service and social justice as he is with singing songs of praise? could it be that social justice and acts of service to others are acts of praise?

the political, social, and Kingdom implications are clear.

do we have ears to listen?


The Mormonizing of America

August 21, 2012

The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture is written by Stephen Mansfield and published by Worthy Publishing.

the book is great. it’s exceptionally written. it’s timely. it’s an important read, especially for Americans.

i’m at somewhat of a disadvantage reviewing this book: i’m Canadian and i live in Canada. i do, however, like to think i’ve got enough of a handle on a few things to review this book and comment on few of its implications.

like Mansfield, i’m not passing judgment on Mormonism. i’m simply reviewing a book, stating the facts reported and recorded in said book, and reflecting on a few of the topics. Mansfield’s work is excellent. his other books, including spiritual biographies of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, are wonderful. anything he’s written is worth reading.

Mansfield immersed himself in the history and culture of Mormonism. he interviewed and spoke with scholars and historians, both apologists and critics of the LDS. he presents the facts and stories and allows readers to come to their own conclusions.

the Mormon faith is a home-grown, American religion. it has spread to other countries around the world. but if there were no US of A, there would be no Mormonism. Mormonism, in the hands of its founder Joseph Smith, made American divine and reshaped elements of Christianity in America’s image.

included in the book is a timeline of significant LDS dates. as well as a section entitled “Mormon Beliefs in Plain Language.” these two sections are very helpful.

this book will be helpful to people who want a clear, honest picture of Mormonism.

The Mormonizing of America is an excellent book. i highly recommend it.

Note: Worthy Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book for review on my blog. For more information on this or other books see their website, www.worthypublishing.com.


The Flowers of War

August 21, 2012


Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?

August 10, 2012

the new book from Brian McLaren, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity In A Multi-Faith World is excellent. it’s being released in September (September 11) and i was lucky enough to track down an advanced copy for review on my blog.

McLaren is the author of several wonderful books. his writing is a great challenge to the Church; prophetic even. his books ask questions, point out hypocrisy, and provoke thought.

Why Did Jesus, Moses… is timely. there are events all around us in the world and in the news that represent the clash of faiths.

if you don’t like Brian McLaren and his work, this book will only add fuel to your fire.

if you do like Brian McLaren and his work, you’ll love Why Did Jesus, Moses…

there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground when it comes to Brian McLaren and his books. people either hate him and think he’s a heretic. or they love him and his books.

there are four main sections in Why Did Jesus, Moses… that tackle, as the subtitle suggests, Christian identity if a multi-faith world.

Part 1: The Crisis of Christian Identity

Part 2: The Doctrinal Challenge

Part 3: The Liturgical Challenge

Part 4: The Missional Challenge

each chapter in each sections deals with the implications of our multi-faith world.

at no point is McLaren suggesting an all-inclusive, relativistic, tossed salad of world religions. he does not suggest watering down or losing our Christian faith or identity. the book is simply challenging Christians to live and act with Christlike grace in welcoming and befriending other people, regardless of their religious affiliation and beliefs.

this will be too much for some. that’s not judging; simply stating a fact. i may not be “all in.” but i can see where i agree and where i may disagree with things McLaren has written.

Why Did Jesus, Moses… is well-written. it’s a must read for the Church. also, people of other faiths would get something out of it, too. it’s a great, great book.

NOTE: Thanks to Kelly Hughes and the good folks at JERICHO BOOKS for providing me with a free copy of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? for review on my blog.


“I speak for the trees.”

August 10, 2012


Shine God’s Light

August 9, 2012

last week we had a two-day VBS here at the church building. it was great. we had kids attend from our church family and kids from the community attend.

the theme statement for the VBS was “Shine God’s Light.”

reflecting on these three simple words i was drawn to three profound sources of God’s light mentioned in Scripture.

1. God’s Word – the Bible

2. God’s Son/Word made flesh – Jesus Christ

3. God’s followers – the Church

Psalm 119:105 states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” the Bible is such a wonderful book/collection of books/writings. we can read the Bible for information; we can read the Bible for transformation. we Christians see so many things differently when it comes to tradition and doctrine and theology. what we can all agree on, though, is the importance of the Bible. the Bible is a source of God’s light.

in John 9 Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world.” and in John 12 says, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” Jesus is a source of God’s light; the ultimate source of God’s light.

at our best, the Church is a source of God’s light, too. the first three words of this paragraph are the most important: at, our, best. the whole Chick-Fil-A thing in the States: not the Church’s finest moment. the Crusades: ditto. the way we treat each other sometimes: also, not our finest moments. at our best, the Church is a source of God’s light. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said in Matthew 5. “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

let your light shine.

Shine God’s light.


The Bourne Legacy

August 9, 2012