When We Talk About God

In 2011, Rob Bell wrote a book entitled Love Wins. In this book (I have not yet read it) Bell discusses hell and the afterlife and asks the question, “Would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever?” Due to his views on this topic the evangelical Christian community all but wrote him off.  Prior to his writing of this book, Bell was lauded, oft quoted, and his teaching resources were regular utilized.

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There is no one on earth that I would agree with, all viewpoints, on all topics, completely.  The same with Rob Bell, I do not agree with all of his viewpoints, however, there are many that I do agree with.  His explanations and descriptive writing can provide additional insight and clarity into the spiritual things of God.

I recently read his book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. I grew up in a religious culture that felt the need to provide an explanation for all things spiritual, including the existence of God.  However, some things cannot be scientifically or physically explained. After all, if God and the existence of God and soul could be tangibly proven or explained, would God really be God? God and faith are matters of the soul, the soul exists, but cannot be physically or scientifically pointed to. There are other ways of knowing than those of the intellect. Bell succinctly describes this in his book.

“When we talk about God, then, we’re talking about something very real and yet beyond our conventional means of analysis and description.”

Bell explains,

 

“Because often people have a hard time believing there’s a God because we can’t see God, we don’t have hard evidence for the existence of God, and we don’t have any proof we can study or analyze or evaluate in any scientific, tangible way.

The twist on all of this is that we all agree you exist. You, your elbows and pancreas and sternum are tangible and able to be measured and evaluated in very straightforward ways, but your soul? That’s a bit more difficult to capture. Let alone measure or study.

And yet we all agree that there’s more to you than your physical body.

It’s been said that the soul is naked of all things that bear names.

A bit like God, because when I’m talking about God, I’m talking about a reality known, felt, and experienced, but one that cannot be located in any specific physical space in any tangible way.”

There is no word in the English language to describe this, however, the German language does have a word for this.  The word grenzbegrifflich means, that which is very real but is beyond analysis and description.  This is a word that would be used to confront “those things that you absolutely, positively know to be true but would be hard-pressed to produce evidence for if asked.” Such as, “explaining how that particular song moves you or articulating why you fell in love with that person.”

 

Watch a full length presentation by Rob Bell on this topic –>  https://youtu.be/xNo6ZyiglAY?t=15m18s

 

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How to Live a Life of No Regrets

In his book, In the Eye of the Storm, Max Lucado tells the story of the famous Winchester house in San Jose.

Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune, was rich, well known, powerful, and miserable. Her only daughter had died at five weeks of age. Then her husband had passed away. She was left alone with her name, her money, her memories,…and her guilt. Her yesterdays imprisoned her todays, and she yearned for freedom.

She bought an eight-room farmhouse plus one hundred sixty adjoining acres. She hired sixteen carpenters and put them to work. For the next thirty-eight years, craftsmen labored every day, twenty-four hours a day, to build a mansion.

The design had a macabre touch. Each window was to have thirteen panes, each wall thirteen panels, each closet thirteen hooks, and each chandelier thirteen globes. Corridors snaked randomly, some leading nowhere. One door opened to a blank wall, another to a fifty-foot drop. One set of stairs led to a ceiling that had no door. Trap doors. Secret passageways. Tunnels. This was no retirement home for Sarah’s future; it was a castle for her past.

When Sarah died, her estate sprawled over six acres and had six kitchens, thirteen bathrooms, forty stairways, forty-seven fireplaces, fifty-two skylights, four hundred sixty-seven doors, ten thousand windows, one hundred sixty rooms, and a bell tower.

Though Sarah lived alone,  legend has it that every evening at midnight, a servant would ring the bell…to summon the spirits. Sarah would then enter the “blue room,” a room reserved for her and her nocturnal guests. Together they would linger until 2:00 a.m., when the bell would be rung again. Sarah would return to her quarters; the ghosts would return to their graves.

Who comprised this legion of phantoms?

Indians and soldiers killed on the U.S. frontier. They had all been killed by bullets from the most popular rifle in America the Winchester. What had brought millions of dollars to Sarah Winchester had brought death to them.

So she spent her remaining years in a castle of regret, providing a home for the dead.

 

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Sarah Winchester lived a life imprisoned by guilt and regret.  They may not be eccentric or live as lavishly as Sarah, but daily, we are surrounded by people who are haunted by failure and plagued by pitfalls.

Many of times we come into contact with people who want to share stories of “what could have been”, or “what they should have done”, or “wish would have happened”. These people have reached a stage late in life, and looking back,  are full of regret.

The Apostle Paul wrote of  a “worldly sorrow” that “brings death.” A guilt that kills. A sorrow that’s fatal. A venomous regret that’s deadly.

How can we live a life full of joy and passion, and free of regrets? There are three principles from scripture that, if followed, will lead to a ‘no regrets’ lifestyle.

Meet God early.  

Ecclesiastes 12:1, “So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the years approach when you will say, “I have no delight in them”.

2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”

Play by the rules.

Matthew 7:12, “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them.” (the Golden rule)

Family first.

1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Ephesians 5:25,33, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…each one of you is to love his wife as himself…”

Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren…”

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Grooming Guide for Tough Guys

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What do men know about grooming and skin care?  The “tough” ones, the “real men” don’t know anything about it (to be read with heavy sarcasm). Manmade: The Essential Skincare & Grooming Reference for Every Man is written to change that.  This is a grooming book written for the “real man”, the tough guy.

This book is written to read, but created to be put on display.  The cover is made of a soft, smooth material with text that pops-out and begs for you to pick this volume up. The interior design continues in the artistic manner that you would have judged it to have from the cover. Each page is full color, heavy, glossy stock.  Sections of text are broken up and complimented by beautiful graphics and full page art.

In this work of art disguised as a book, Chris Salgardo, style guru and President of Kiehl’s, “shares the skincare wisdom and grooming expertise he’s earned through years of helping guys become their best selves.” The book is written in 3 sections:

  1.  Back to Basics
  2. Real Men in Their Real Words
  3. For Your Quick Reference

Section I provides a grooming primer, essential tools every man must have, and key answers and tips for common questions and problems.  Section II addresses the practical matters of how to be a gentleman, instilling confidence, tattoo care and maintenance, travel grooming essentials, and grooming of the mind and soul.  Section III ties the book together and serves as a quick reference guide for any skin and grooming needs encountered.

Manmade is the essential tough guide to grooming for “real” men.

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Minecrafter’s Bible

If I was a Minecraft fanatic like my 10-year old this would quickly become THE book. This would be the book I carried everywhere, wrote in, and underlined.  This is the exact crowd that the Minecrafters Bible was written for.

This hardback Bible has an attractive full-color Minecraft styled cover that instantly grabs your attention.  The easy-to-read text is written in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). The Minecrafters Bible features 24 full color pages of additional content.  This content contains additional information to key passages of scripture.  Each of these sections also includes instructions to build a related structure in the Minecraft game.

This is a guaranteed hit gift for any kid that has a love for scripture, Bible stories, and Minecraft. I can also see that this would be a great gift or give-away item for church ministries to children.

 

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I thought this Minecraft themed youth Bible study from Nailscars.com was pretty cool –> http://www.nailscars.com/2014/04/08/faithcraft-a-minecraft-bible-study-series/

 

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Chronological Study Bible

The Chronological Study Bible, written in New King James Version, provides a way to read and study scriptures in the order that their events took place. The main study focus of this resource is on timelines, culture, and traditions.

This Bible is printed in full color with complete notes, charts, maps, and timelines.  The layout is clear and the historical timeline – and location for the reader – is easy to understand.

This resource provides a whole new way to experience the lives and times of the Bible. For the casual Bible reader, this volume provides continuity, background, and context in line with the reading.  It can eliminate the use of multiple references and flipping back and forth through various scriptural texts.  A chronological volume of this sort is a must-have for any one who enjoys in-depth study of scripture.

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Understanding Theology

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Often times theology, or its presentation, can seem confusing or complex. Tim Challies and Josh Byers book, Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God, changes that.  Utilizing a mixture of text and infographics, Visual Theology provides clear and concise theological education.

The book is divided into four sections:

  1. Grow Close to Christ
  2. Understand the Work of Christ
  3. Become Like Christ
  4. Live for Christ

Each of these sections deal with core concepts of Christianity, God, and our relationship with Him.  It starts at the beginning – where all good books start – with entering into, and developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The book then moves into the ‘facts’ of the Christian faith. These facts – creation, fall, redemption, new creation – and doctrine provide an understanding of what God has done, and is doing.  It is through the knowledge of these facts that we are encouraged to grow in our knowledge of Him and be partakers with Him in what He is doing in our world.

To know God is to be transformed to His image. Visual Theology contrasts the behaviors, thinking, and ways that we need to put off with the habits, patterns, and passions that Christians are to put on.

The final sections of the book provide practical guidance and direction for daily living. The authors address three critical components of life – vocation, relationships, and stewardship.

This book provides a clarity and visual presentation of theology. Scattered throughout the books pages are suggestion and references for deeper reading and understanding of the concepts being presented.  This is a great resource for the new believer to learn the tenets of the faith.

It’s sections and content layout could serve as a valuable teaching and resource guide. This is a book that should be re-read periodically and referenced often. Visual Theology is a book that should be on every believers bookshelf.

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Real Tacos w/Alex Stupak

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Alex Stupak is an award winning chef and owner of three New York City  taquiera’s – Empellon Cocina, Empellon Taqueria, and Empellon al Pastor.  This perfectly positions him as the authority on Taco’s.  He is sharing his experience and flavor in his book, Tacos: Recipes and Provocations.

The first thing that you will notice about this book is its high production quality evidenced in its textured cover, heavy pages, and beautiful imagery.  The food pictures provide the reader with a profound sense of anticipated style, taste, and place.

The book is a single resource for all things taquiera. Stupak includes recipes for tortillas, salsas, and tacos. These are each broken down by ingredient type.  There are recipes for corn, flour, and neo-traditional tortillas. Salsa recipes include those made from fresh chile, dry chile, tomato, tomatillo, and nuts and seeds.  Taco recipes by meat choice are chicken, beef, pork, offal, and seafood.  Special taco sections include dessert tacos, egg tacos, and veggie tacos.

The book opens with an explanation and description of essential items for the Mexican pantry.  A list of the chiles used throughout the book is provided. The back of the book includes a list of suppliers for hard-to-find ingredient items.

These recipes are all delicious, however, this book is not for the beginning cook.  Thought must be taken prior to engaging in the creation of these delicacies.  The recipes included require advanced planning and preparation. Each recipe clearly outlines the items to be prepared in advance, this is incredibly helpful in the planning of these meals and entrees.

One of my favorite parts of the book, is the inclusion of cochinita pibil. This recipe includes a whole section on how to create a back yard under-earth fire pit for the cooking of a whole pig.  Stupak goes into great detail to describe the pit building process, and how to properly select, prepare, cook, and serve the suckling pig.

This book should be on the shelf of any serious cook that enjoys the many flavors that Central American food and culture has to offer.

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