Monday, May 31, 2010

Virtual Retreat Starts Tomorrow............

Reminder friends that our 30 Day Virtual Online Retreat starts tomorrow. Hopefully you will find these next thirty days to be thoughtful and reflective as we follow Jesus for the next 30 days.

You will need a copy of my book, a Bible, and a few minutes every day.

Spread the word to family, friends, neighbors, anyone whom you think would be interested in this retreat.

See you tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quote For Today

It's a hot and humid Friday, those dog days of summer are upon us, at least here in the Southeast US where I live. I enjoy the Spring, but when it gets past 90 I slow down a lot, WAY DOWN........

Came upon this inspiring quote today, not sure who said it or whatever, but wanted to pass it on to you, some food for thought for the days and weeks to come:

"The only leaders worthy to lead are those who first learn to serve."

Remember, June 1-30 is our 30 day virtual online retreat. Pass the word around to friends, family, or whoever you think needs to follow Jesus for 30 days!!!!!!!!!

Have a good Memorial Day Weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blog review of A 30 Day Retreat..............

Well it seems like we had a short Spring this year, summer is in full swing, temps supposed to be in low 90's today..................oh well, people will be complaining of the heat now as they do with the cold in the winter time. Some things never change!

A nice review on Brandon Vogt's blog The Thin Veil today which you can read. Several more blog reviews will be coming soon, one from the UK, one from New Zealand and a few from across the United States.

If you would like to review my book on your own blog let me know and I can arrange to have a book sent to you.

Also, I know of one parish that might be using my book as their "adult study" resource for the summer. A 30 Day Retreat would be a good way to introduce parishioners to the Bible in an easy to read format.


Have a great Memorial Day weekend and be safe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Anthony S. Abbott New Selected Poems 1989-2009

I haven't read much poetry lately, well, I guess "real poetry." The closest I've come to poetry is "Jack and Jill went up the hill......" or my favorite, "Bah, bah black sheep have you any wool...." hey, I have two children under 6 yrs, what do you expect? Most of my reading has either been in the areas of Scripture, Theology, Memoir/Biography, mostly academic work or Winnie the Pooh and Piglet Too, Cinderella, and of course Snow White. But not too much least until now.

While browsing in the local Barnes and Noble bookstore I came across this slender unassuming book with a stark cover. The name was familiar, a friend of mine suggested that I read Abbott's poetry and I have seen his name in the local paper a few times, actually more than a few times. So I decided to purchase this book. Well, I am glad I did.

You see, good poetry is universal, poets reveal human nature at its best. I can't remember where I heard this but recently I heard that poets, all artists (musicians, painters, photographers, potters, etc..) are the foundation of a culture, they make us all more human(e). I agree.

Abbott's poetry is moving to say the least. He is what I call an incarnational poet, his poetry is comprised of the stuff of everyday life, a girl in a yellow raincoat waiting for a bus or a car to pick her up, the fresh blooms of spring flowers, reflections on Holy Friday, and one of my favorite "Growing Up" which I actually read to my daughters last night and they loved it!

Because of my graduate training I tend to read fast, my eye surveying the page like a lightning fast laser skimming over to find the "essentials" or "the facts" or "the point of this story or article." Poetry makes the reader slow down, way down. Several times I caught myself stopping, having to re-read the previous sentence or even read it again. This is good, to slow down, take everything in, savor the words on the page. Abbott is a master of language. Yet he is not one of those poets who sound so erudite that you need a dictionary to understand every other word. No, Abbott has one eye on humanity and the other on God, he is a mystic with two feet on the ground I guess.

I liked this volume so much that I went online and purchased his other collections too, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat and The Search For Wonder in the Cradle of the World. I will savor these collections in the weeks and months to come. I know that I will draw from Tony's poetry for future preaching and teaching, using examples from a life well lived.

Do yourself a favor, buy this book and drink deep from the well of Tony's writing you won't be disappointed.

Blood Red of Late October (p. 8)

Blood red of late October in the South
and from the cemetery to the college campus
on the hill, the leaves bathe my eyes. I turn each corner into dazzling suprise.

In my mind's eye, she walks toward me.
I show her my favorite tree. I pluck three
leaves for her and watch as she carries them away.
This is new found grace,

and in the space where sadness once lay
the small white flower of hope grows.
In the South, October lingers, the gold
sun glances off the trees. November will

come with its cold rain soon enough,
I know. I turn the dazzle inward
and down. It courses through the veins
and lofts me toward the breathless light.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feast of Pentecost

This coming Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. You can read more about this feast in the Book of Acts chapter 2.

I always liked this particular festal celebration. The Church changes colors from white to green, leaving behind the Easter season and re-entering back into Ordinary time as they say. Pentecost has been called the birthday of the Church because it is the beginning of the great evangelization project that we read about in the Book of Acts.

Below is the troparion or major hymn that is sung in the Eastern Church on this feast:

Blessed are you O Christ our God
Who has made the fishermen as most wise
By sending down upon them the Holy Spirit
You have drawn the whole world into your net
O giver of life glory to you

The background of Pentecost is the Jewish feast of Shavout, the feast of the spring harvest. Last May I was in Israel the wheat fields were ripe for harvest, some farmers were already gathering in their first crop of Spring wheat to sell and to use for flour and other products.

Pentecost has many themes associated with it; fire, wind, harvest, beginnings, as well as proclamation and power.

I wish everyone a blessed Pentecost.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is there anyone out there??????????

Most writers like myself wonder "who is reading my work, if at all?" I mean most journalists know that their editorials or reporting is read daily, but authors who write books or bloggers who blog, what about us? I often sit here at my desk and say to myself, "who is out there in blogland? Who is reading my blog? Is it worth it? Should I continue?

So today I ask:




Coming Attractions:

1. A review of Andrew Purves The Resurrection of Ministry

2. A review of Anthony S. Abbott New and Selected Poems 1989-1999

3. Some thoughts on Pentecost (this coming Sunday is the feast of Pentecost, more information can be found in the Book of Acts chapter 2)

Wishing everyone a good Tuesday

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Interesting Review of my book

Well, A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal is now out for review to print magazines, blogs, and some Christian radio stations. It is a very exciting time right now. I came across one interesting review on a blog by a lady from Oklahoma. Rather than writing a simple review she wanted to "experience" the full sense of the 30 Day Retreat in 30 actual days, so she is writing one personal reflection based on each chapter of my book, wow, what a great concept.

Reminder that June 1-30 I will be leading my own 30 day virtual retreat based on my book. All you need is my book, a Bible for personal reference, and a few minutes every day. Pass the word on to friends, family, and parishioners.

The virtual retreat will be on my blog so bookmark this page for future reference and reading.

Click here to learn more about A 30 Day Retreat

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Ascension!

Today we celebrate an often overlooked feast day celebration in the Church, it is called Ascension. Most of know the "biggies" like Christmas, Pentecost, Easter, but not Ascension. We know from the Book of Acts chapter 1 and the gospel of Luke chapter 24 that for 40 days after his resurrection Jesus spent time with his disciples encouraging their faith, teaching them, and spending time with them. Then he took his followers to the Mount of Olives which is near Bethany and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. Ascension completes the Easter season and points forward to the next big celebration which is Pentecost.

Well, it is almost Friday but I thought I would wish everyone a blessed Ascension feast day!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: Heaven by Lisa Miller

Do dogs go to heaven? What about cats? Your next door neighbor? Is heaven up or down? These are just some of the most commonly asked questions regarding heaven and the afterlife. If you are even somewhat interested in heaven you need to read Lisa Miller's new book Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife (NY: Harper, 2010).

Lisa Miller is the religion editor at Newsweek and writes a regular column on spirituality, belief, ethics, and society. I never heard of Lisa Miller or her work, but after hearing her interview on NPR a few months ago I knew I had to read Heaven. And boy I am glad that I did! Lisa Miller has a fine writing style that keeps the story going and peppers her research with personal anecdotes and some backstory to set the stage for her discussion about heaven.

Heaven is organized into nine chapters:

What is heaven?

The Miracle

The Kingdom is Near

Green, Green Pastures





Is Heaven Boring?


Heaven is written for a general lay readership. Miller admits that she is neither a scholar of religion nor a theologian, yet she did her research by interviewing well known teachers and writers such as Martin Marty, Stephen Prothero, Alan Segal, N.T Wright, James Martin, SJ, and others. I was actually excited when I saw the endorsements for her book came from such authors as Marty and Prothero whose writing I enjoy very much. Miller also includes a highly detailed bibliography for readers who want to go deeper and delve into the complex history of heaven and the afterlife. Heaven makes a good complimentary book to Wright's latest book, Suprised by Hope (NY: Harper, 2009) which is a book about heaven from a Christian Biblical perspective.

Miller shows her readers the common everyday ideas about heaven: that heaven is like a garden or that heaven is boring and there is nothing but darkness, or that we get to see God face to face. She then contrasts these common cultural misconceptions (or perhaps conceptions?) with the scholarly or more nuanced view of heaven from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theologians. Miller admits that her book is not the last say on the topic nor is it comprehensive, and I agree on that point. However, where Miller shines is how she manages to digest the common understandings of death and the afterlife with the more scholarly understandings and share this with her readers.

I certainly would recommend this book for a Bible study group or reading club interested in the topic.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day and Misc.........

Happy Mother's Day tomorrow to all of our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers and spiritual mothers------where would we be without you? Lost probably!

We also remember our departed mothers, grandmothers, and godmothers, who have gone to rest-----may their memory be eternal!

Coming soon.................

A review of Andrew Purves The Resurrection of Ministry

A review of Heaven by Lisa Miller

An author interview with Judith Couchman, the author of The Mystery of the Cross (great book, you gotta read it soon!!!)

Plus more reflections and spiritual tidbits and musings

Have a good weekend everyone!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Review Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

I came across the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer several years ago when several of my parishioners wanted to start a monthly prayer group. We wanted to begin our prayer group with some outside reading in order to create our "mission statement" of why we were doing what we were doing. One woman suggested that we read Bonhoeffer's little book Life Together, a book exploring the basic foundations of community life in a Christian context. Since then I have been reading Bonhoeffer's essays, sermons, and writings and have used Bonhoeffer's work in college classes on Contemporary Christian Spirituality. Bonhoeffer's writing is lucid, inspiring, and prophetic. When I first started reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010) I knew that I was in for a treat.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, and Spy is a big book. Coming in at nearly 550 pages it is not a quick read. However the reader will not be disappointed. Metaxas has poured over hundreds of documents such as Bonhoeffer's own writings, letters, essays, sermons, and interviews of people who knew Bonhoeffer personally. Metaxas has managed to digest this material and show us the many sided aspects of Bonhoeffer's life, as the subtitle says: pastor, martyr, prophet, and spy.

A blog is not the proper forum for a full review of this book, however, needlesss to say the book is full of background information on Bonhoeffer's domestic life and upbringing, his friends and teachers at seminary and graduate school, and his work as a pastor and leader in the Church. Metaxas also includes numerous photographs of Bonhoeffer's home and family as well as the prison where he died in 1945.

While reading the biography I was drawn to Bonhoeffer's bouts with depression and melancholy. Numerous times Metaxas mentions that Bonhoeffer confessed this part of his personality to his long-time friend and companion Eberhard Bethge who later on would write his own biography of Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer suffered in this earthly life, yet somehow he managed to use this suffering for the building up of the Church and the courage to speak truth to power. Many leaders have long-term bouts with isolation and lonliness. This suffering was transfigured into courage as Bonhoeffer never ran away from the eventual fear of being arrested and imprisoned for plotting to kill Adolf Hitler.

Of course I can go on and on about this book. Rather than do that, I encourage you to read this wonderful biography for yourself. Savor its pages as you would savor a fine wine. Finishing this book I was inspired to go back to Bonhoeffer's own writing agains, especially his Letters and Papers from Prison as well as his sermons. Those of us who work in Church ministry need inspiration, and I can find no other writer who inspires me as does Bonfhoeffer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coming Soon.................Online Retreat!!!!

From June 1-30 I will be leading a virtual "online retreat" based on my new book A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal which is now available on and other online vendors. Each day I will post a short reflection based on a chapter of the book and then hopefully those of you in cyberspace can chime in and comment.

My goal is to create a virtual Christian community as a way to share our common faith experiences, stories, and insights. We all need a little inspiration once in a while.

Come and join me beginning June 1.

Pass the word around to your pastor, parishioners, friends, family.............