26 July 2017

Anniversary Poem # 3

Seven thousand, three hundred five
days since we said "yes" for life
we stood before God
and all who looked on
committing to be man and wife.

Anniversary Poem # 2

Summer morning's joy:
warm embrace and radiant
she is heaven's queen. 

Anniversary Poem #1

Twenty years ago, I married my bride. Not one day have I questioned that choice. In celebration, I have written a few poems to her that I will share throughout the day. Here is the first.

Nineteen years and one,
     we've only just begun.
Eighteen years and two,
     since we said "I do."
Seventeen years and three,
     since you married me.
Sixteen years and four,
     You I still I adore.
Fifteen years and five,
     our love remains alive.
Fourteen years and six,
     our bond is firmly fixed.
Thirteen years and seven,
     God's love has been our leaven.
Twelve years and eight,
     since that magical date.
Eleven years and nine,
     since you said "you're mine."
Ten years and ten,
     I'd do it all over again.
Nine years and eleven,
     life with you is heaven.
Eight years and twelve,
     with you I gladly dwell.
Seven years and thirteen,
     your'e my regal queen.
Six years and fourteen,
     on one another we lean.
Five years and fifteen,
     we've lived in this godly scene.
Four years and sixteen,
     with us nothing comes between.
Three years and seventeen,
     it's astounding where we've been.
Two years and eighteen,
     we've kept our marriage bed serene.
One year and nineteen,
     such bliss unforeseen.
Zero years and twenty,
     we've had love aplenty.

21 July 2017

Growing in Christlikeness--a book list.

A few days ago, I texted my friend Mark--a fellow bibliophile--and I said to him, "Today's mental gymnastics have to do with coming up with a list of books [outside of the Bible] that would help one grow in Christlikeness. If you had 12 books, say one per month, what would you include? Thinking about it, I would want enough breadth to cover a variety of topics, but enough depth to promote growth."

Mark was the first to construct his list, which he sent with the clarification that these are in no particular order:

1) Inside Out--Larry Crabb
2) Ragamuffin Gospel--Brennan Manning
3) Abba's Child--Brennan Manning
4) Sacred Romance--Brent Curtis and John Eldridge
5) Transforming Grace--Jerry Bridges
6) The Last Addiction--Sharon Hersh
7) Brokenness--Nancy Leigh DeMoss
8) So, You Want to be Like Christ?--Chuck Swindoll
9) Descending into Greatness--Bill Hybels
10) The Life You Always Wanted--John Ortberg
11) Knowing God--JI Packer
12) Disciplines of a Godly Man--Kent Hughes

He must have also had some conversation at home, because his insightful wife Peggy added three more:
1) Soul Talk--Larry Crabb
2) Crucial Conversations--Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny
3) Emotionally Healthy Spirituality--Pete Scazzero

I've read half of these books and they are an excellent list. In fact, Ortberg's book is one of my favorites.

After realizing Mark decided to actually put a list together, I realized that I probably needed to as well. I looked through my Goodreads profile where I have logged over 600 books since late 2011.

Here was my list, also in no particular order.

1) Confessions--St Augustine
2) Renovation of the Heart--Dallas Willard
3) Conformed to His Image--Ken Boa
4) Soul Keeping--John Ortberg
5) A Different Kind of Happiness--Larry Crabb
6) Life Together--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
7) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction--Eugene Peterson
8) True Spirituality--Francis Schaeffer
9) A Loving Life--Paul Miller
10) Practice Resurrection--Eugene Peterson
11) Abba's Child--Brennan Manning
12) The Letters of John Newton

I was a bit surprised about how little we overlapped; indeed, only one book.

Readers, I am curious what you would include? What did Mark, Peggy, and I miss?

18 July 2017

Book Review: Spiritual Maturity

I first encountered J. Oswald Sanders when a good friend of mine recommended the book Enjoying Intimacy with God. It seemed to have a rather profound effect upon him. I read it as well, and was able to see where the effect came from. When I encountered the three book series from Moody by Sanders--including Spiritual Maturity, Spiritual Discipleship, and Spiritual Leadership--I was eager to jump in. 

The first one that I ordered was Spiritual Maturity: Practices of Spiritual Growth for Every Believer, which was first published in 1962. The book is divided into 21 chapters, with seven each devoted to maturity in The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Each of the chapters is deeply biblical and also makes use of spiritual wisdom from individuals throughout the history of the church. As an aspiring poet, I particularly enjoyed his inclusion of both his own rhymes as well as those of others, such as George Hebert. 

Although they were all excellent, two chapters in particular stood out as exceptional. Chapter 6, entitled "the moral antipathy of God" dealt quite effectively with the pervasive issue of pride. Also chapter 11, "Christ's ideal of character" examined the blessed life through the eyes of the beatitudes. Chapter 11 contained one of the sentences that may be amongst the most glorious sentences outside of the Bible I've read: "Many Christians bring unnecessary opprobrium upon themselves and the cause of Christ by their aggressive tactlessness" (Page 138). 

One final thought. Though I typically prefer hardbacks, the construction of this little volume is exceptional. There are two color pages throughout, bright clean paper, and a sturdy cover. 

I suspect this book I will revisit, and certainly chapters 6 and 11. I also think that for most believers, it would be a worthwhile resource as well. 

I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions presented here on my own.

15 July 2017

Books & Crannies

In my favorite fictional book series, the Wingfeather Saga, there is a character who is very much my kindred spirit--Oskar N. Reteep. Oskar is a bumbling, balding, overweight lover of books. Indeed, his slogan is "appreciator of the strange, neat, and / or yummy." He is the owner of Books and Crannies, a bookstore in Glipwood Township, a store which contains many strange and usual things.

In updating my library with new shelves and a new layout (I think we are now at 24 shelves in a 20 x 24 room), my children and I have been excitedly pondering how we could add some storybook charisma. Together, we have brainstormed many ideas about what to include, but we are drawn most Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Aerwiar. We faced the question how to incorporate bits from each of these tales and yesterday, I settled on Books and Crannies.

Because Reteep is a bookstore owner and an "appreciator of the strange, neat, and/or tasty," Books & Crannies seems to be the perfect setting for collecting the unusual. Also, because Reteep is willing to look far and wide in search of the interesting, it would not be surprising that he might have obtained things from other lands. Also, we know from ND Wilson's contribution to the Wingfeather Tales, Andrew Peterson is not opposed to story crossover. However, if you are new to Wingfeather, start with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

And so my library is on the way. Books are re-shelved, though I need to make sure they are in proper order. There are many things I yet want to do, but for now, its a start. Some additions will be small, but nonetheless fun. Others will involve a Herculean search--I continue to look for a hardcover edition of Pembrick's Creaturepedia.

Here are a few updated pictures.

Of course, I made a sign for Books and Crannies--it is just missing a Zouzab. 

We still have a sitting area. 

I also have a sitting area.
The shelf on the right of the chair is commentaries
and Bible dictionaries.

The fiction section, which once seemed so full, has room to grow.

I tried to get most of the non-fiction in one shot. 

This is just for decoration--books from Middle Earth, Narnia, Aerwiar, and Hogwarts

Notice the "publisher marks" 

I love The Annieriad. 

Those familiar with these stories will recognize the titles. 

Sitting on the carpet

Laying on the floor

More shelves on the sitting side. 

14 July 2017

A Kingdom Prayer

O Lord,
Redeemer and Sustainer,
I commend this day to you.
You are higher than the heavens
yet, by your Spirit, you dwell
with me and in me.

You are glorious above all created things.
Turn my eyes from all that gleams and glitters
to your throne
where true satisfaction is found.

Let me live today in the truth
of your indwelling Spirit,
an ambassador of your kingdom
wherever my feet land.

Sustain me today.
Give me what is needful for worshiping you fully,
but not so much that my eyes turn from you.

The world you created is beautiful
but has been tainted by sin;
keep me from desiring counterfeit treasures
that promise satisfaction
but provide nothing.

When evil surrounds me,
hold me fast and usher me away
back into the safety of your embrace.

Forgive me when I fail you.
May your mercy be an ever flowing stream,
washing out my self-inflicted wounds
and teach me to live
with abundant patience, grace, mercy, and forgiveness
toward those who have sinned against me.

Everything belongs to you.
May everything I do and say and think and feel
bring glory to you.

02 July 2017


Brokenness, sin, and suffering
fill the world
     and my heart.
I look around
     and see sin's scars
     harming God's image bearers
     masterpieces marred
sharp edged debris
     remnants of creation's disintegration
     slice deeply
     coupled with self-inflicted
     wanton sin
breaking beauty.

The blood of Christ
can heal the injuries of the suffering
     and the self-inflicted
     wounds of sin
      restoring once again to wholeness
      his beauty planted within.

Poems and Prayers

Poems and prayers breathe the same air. They leave the oppressive smog of a closed mind and ascend into the rarefied air of the heavens. Each value words, sometimes even when they are inexpressible, which happens so often in prayer. But even in those times when we are mute, struck dumb by circumstance, we have the Word himself, by his Spirit, who intercedes for us. It seems we try to live life using the Bible as an instruction manual rather than a picture God's larger story.

Father, expand my senses
so that I might experience more of you.
Expand my mind
that I might know more of you,
expand my hear that I might love you more,
expand my awareness
that I might see your providence in all things.

Consider the Birds

I awake once again, 
the sounds of birds  
greeting the morning.  

For them, every day  
is the Lord's day.  
They make no distinction  
between Sunday  
and any other day,  
worshipping continuously.  

I expect birds will be in heaven,  
but here on earth,  
they teach us about  
the presence of God.  

If we attend to them,  
they instruct us in worship.  
Robins and sparrows  
teach us songs of joyous praise.  
Doves sing lament psalms.  

What would life be like 
If Christians took their cues 
From the birds? 

-July 2017