A Poem – Based on Psalm 42

Oh, life was full of light and then
The Clouds became my smokey lens
Images became silhouettes
And hope, a lost memory
When all that is, is but despair
I doubt the very truth of prayer
Images become silhouettes
And hope, a lost memory
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
You once were soaring high enough
But now I’m calling on your bluff
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
I try to think on blessed times
On grace shown then, despite my crimes
On love displayed for all to see
Of hearts filled with great empathy
But now my heart has turned to cold
My apathy becomes more bold
And I am left down on my knees
With folded hands and desperate plees
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
You once were soaring high enough
But now I’m calling on your bluff
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
I will recall those blessed times
And thirst for Truth, wade past the lies
For I will again find the light
For this I am willing to fight
Awake!
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
Hope in God for I shall sing
Praises to the blessed King
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
——————————-
The Psalms are full of the ups and downs of life and faith, and sometimes life is so full of apathy, and anguish.  The Scriptures tell us that expressing ourselves with these feelings is okay, and in fact, it is in scripture where we find comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our turmoil.
Christ calls us to follow him, but sometimes we lack the strength to stand. It is then that we are perplexed by our own slumbering Soul that seems to lack the passion it once contained.  We need help that extends past what we can accomplish ourselves because the fight of faith and life is worth fighting.
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Book Review: Blurry – Bringing Clarity to the Bible

*The following is my review of “Blurry – Bringing clarity to the Bible” by Ryan Lokkesmoe published by CLC publications.*

Context of the Review

I am a Youth and Young Adult Minister by vocation so reading this type of material is truly a part of my ministry to the local church so that I can suggest reading material to those under my care, and also to fellow members of the church I am at if they would be interested.  In the subject of reading the bible, based on what I have observed through the different churches I have been a part of, one of the main reasons that teens, college students, young adults, and even adults do not read the bible often is because they are intimidated by its length, formality, and overall complexity.  People may desire to read the bible, but they do not know where to start, how what their reading at the moment fits into the broader story, and they were likely never taught about the different “genres” of the bible – Historical, Law, Poetic, Prophetic, Gospels, Epistles, Wisdom Literature.

In bible college, I remember reading a book that provided a fantastic summary of the bible, its story, and it included a historical telling of the inter-testimonial period.  That book impacted how I came to the Bible in a drastic way – No longer did I fear the Old Testament; I understood its importance, and had a desire to read from it more. But that book is probably a little too “meaty” to pass around to a wide age group that includes teenagers.

I wanted to find a shorter book that was easier to understand, but still provided the same basic overview, the same great historical telling of the inter-testimonial period, and the same great message about the different genres of the bible.

I found that book in “Blurry: Bringing clarity to the Bible” by Ryan Lokkesmoe.

Summary

“Blurry” is a book that takes on the task to provide an overview of the Bible, including its various genres, to everyday Christians.

Lokkesmoe decided to complete this task by taking 4 books of the bible from different genres of scripture, and taking you through them to provide examples on how one should read certain passages.

Review

Ryan Lokkesmoe did an awesome job ensuring that his book was written in a way where it was clearly meant for any person who desires to learn more about the Bible; readers do not need a formal Christian education to understand what he is saying.  To me, that is one of the biggest assets of having this book in my ministry library.

I really liked the author’s approach to the subject by going through different books of the bible to teach the difference in genres through example.  He also did a great job explaining the narrative of the Old Testament, Inter-Testimonial period, and an overview of the New Testament.

I believe that the book is very good at not only providing an overview to help understand the Bible, but also to give the reader some valuable commentary of specific passages that Lokkesmoe highlighted to give examples.  This book would really give someone a valuable foundation to grow upon as they seek out the Bible on their own.

Pros:

  • Everyday language is used
  • Excellent Overview
  • Great Examples
  • “Blurry Points” were scattered throughout the book and were practical tips on how to read the bible
  • Great and helpful lists in the back of the book for further understanding and study
  • Brief in length, but thorough in content
  • The physical quality of the book is also something to be mentioned: This paperback book’s cover is thick and high-gloss, the binding is solid, and the paper is thick enough to make under-liners, and highlighters like me happy.

Cons:

  • The only thing I would say is that there was at least one point where I felt that the author took a theological position that didn’t need to be made in the context of what he was writing about.  And while this did not bother me, others may read it, and decide not to read further depending on how seriously they take that issue.

Favorite Quotations

  • “To acknowledge that the Bible is like an anthology [a collection of many books bound together] is to acknowledge that God used variety to communicate His truth: a variety of people, in a variety of places and circumstances, through a variety of literary genres.  This is the starting point for bringing the bible into focus.  When we understand that, we understand that not everything in the Bible can be read in the same way or with the same expectations.” – Pg. 23
  • “God created everything in the world out of nothing, and it was all good.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden by eating the forbidden fruit.  Because of this disobedience, sin came into the world and put distance between God and humanity.  The relationship was broken.  God was not OK with that, so he began to intentionally pursue humanity” – Pg. 41
  • “I believe the church is in need of a Josiah moment.  We need to rediscover God’s Word.  We need to find it, dust it off, and return it to its rightful place in our lives.  We need to recommit ourselves to knowing and following God’s Word, and we need to remove all other competition-because make no mistake, there is competition all around us.” – Pg. 134

Recommendation:

Yes/No:  Yes – it is a book of great wisdom that is easily communicated.

For who:  I would recommend this book to anyone who does not already have a basic understanding of the bible, and its genres.  I would feel comfortable recommending this book to anyone aged 15 years old, to an adult who simply desires a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, but doesn’t know where to start.

Ranking: 10/10

This book does a very good job at presenting its stated case to its intended audience.  It is a book that any Minister could keep on hand to provide to their flock.

Links:

Purchase the book Here from the publisher

Purchase the book Here from the author, via amazon

Follow the author on Twitter Here

Learn more about the Publisher Here

Never Forget – 9.11.01

Today is September 11, 2015. 14 years ago, a major act of terrorism struck our country, and the whole nation mourned over the tragedy of the lives lost.

I am sure that those of us who are old enough to remember, even if we were very young, are thinking of the fear and disbelief that fell upon us as we kept seeing those horrible repeated scenes on our TVs as we sought an answer to why this was happening.

A lot of us will feel anger and pain when we think back on this time for the years to come. But it is in these times that we must remember something else:

The pain of the terrorism that struck us is experienced throughout the world on a more frequent basis. There are communities and families who fear EVERYDAY of being killed, bombed, or crashed into.

This is not to minimize in any way the pain that we experienced from this event, but it is to say that Anger and Prejudice are worldwide afflictions. Normal people can become so angry towards a particular person, or group of people, that they start creating stereotypes, start dehumanizing them, and they start to see everything they do as inherently evil. Eventually, this hatred can breed evil action.

As Christians, the Gospel calls us to Love others, to forgive others, and to not harbor hate in our hearts towards anyone. Each one of us has the potential to become a hateful and evil person if we let anger take hold of our hearts and vision. Germany was once taken out of poverty by a leader they trusted and admired, and then that leader led the whole nation into evil, prejudice, and racism. Normal people became supporters of an evil reign because of fear, anger, and frustration.

So on this September 11th, as we mourn those lost, as we reflect on where we were 14 years ago, as we are still completely confused how the terrorists could be so angry and hateful against us, let us remember to continually fight against anger and hate in our own lives, and in our communities in which we call home.

Never Forget – September 11, 2001

9.11.15