Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Woodcarver Giveaway! -- WINNER:

And the winner is:

Who said:

Please send me your mailing address and I will get it to the publisher as soon as possible!

Thanks and enjoy.

Opening the Gates of Heaven by Perry Stone

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Charisma House (March 6, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***


Perry Stone directs one of America's fastest-growing ministries, The Voice of
Evangelism, striving to reach the world with the gospel of Christ through
regional conferences, television, CD/DVD resources, printed material, and
missionary sponsorship. An author and international evangelist, Stone is
recognized worldwide as an authoritative teacher of Bible prophecy. He continued
his education through Lee College extended studies and holds a BA in theology
from Covenant Life Christian College. He lives in Cleveland, Tennessee, with his
wife of twenty-seven years, Pam, and their two children.

Visit the author's website.


Walking in and under the favor of God
Do your prayers, praise, and worship sometimes feel like a routine? Weeks or
months may pass with no demonstration of any financial, spiritual, or personal

In Opening the Gates of Heaven, Perry Stone shows you how to release the flow of
heaven's blessing through both God's revelation and the intervention of angelic
messengers. With powerful examples from the lives of biblical characters and
current examples from his own life, he reveals:

* Twelve truths he learned from the greatest prayer warrior
* The keys to recognizing the gates of heaven
* What you should do when God says no or delays answers
* Seven spiritual laws you must follow for answered prayer
* How to pray through the battle of the firstborn

You do not have to be bound by the frustration of empty prayers and miracle-less
living. God's desire to meet your needs—and to pour out an overflow of
blessing—is a part of His covenant with you.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (March 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386533
ISBN-13: 978-1616386535




1 The Man Who Saw the Gate of Heaven 5

2 The Five Gates of the Holy Spirit 17

3 Prayer Types and Secrets 29

4 Seven Spiritual Laws for Answered Prayer 41

5 Who Closed the Heavens Over My Head? 57

6 Praying Through the Battle of the Firstborn 73

7 Miracle Prayers—Making the Impossible Possible 89

8 Praying in Whose Name—Jesus or Yeshua? 107

9 What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Pray 117

10 Twelve Significant and Effective Insights

My Dad Taught Me About Prayer 137

11 The Power of Meditating Upon the Lord 153

12 Releasing the Angel of Blessing 161

13 When the Joseph Ring Is Placed on Your Finger 183

14 The Power of a Spoken Word 201

15 Using the Power of the Seed 211

16 The Principles of Harvest 223

17 Offering God Something He Doesn’t Want 235

Conclusion: Important Principles for Opening Heaven’s Gates 243

Notes 253


The Man Who Saw the Gate of Heaven

And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.

—Genesis 35:15

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was in serious trouble. He had deceived his brother, Esau, and his father, and he had taken the blessing intended for the firstborn son from Esau (Gen. 27:41). Fearing physical reprisal, Jacob went into exile, traveling far from

home, and eventually arrived at a location near a place called Luz (Gen. 28:19). One evening as the sun was setting, Jacob stopped for the night and, using stones as a pillow, lay down to sleep. Late that night as he drifted off to sleep, he experienced a mysterious and wonderful dream. In his dream Jacob saw a ladder whose base was setting on the earth, but the top of the ladder reached into heaven. When we think of a ladder, we picture a stepladder with steps that one climbs to reach the roof of his house. The Hebrew word ladder is cullam and is actually a staircase. This is evident, as Jacob saw angels going up and coming down the ladder. This supernatural ladder may have been in the form of a spiral, a common heavenly design. Through the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have observed that in the galaxy in which we live, and in other galaxy forms, a “majestic disk of stars and dust lanes” can be seen in the form of spirals. When Solomon constructed his temple in Jerusalem, there was a winding (spiral) staircase that wound from the ground floor to the second tier chamber, and a second winding staircase led from the middle to the third story of the sacred building (1 Kings 6:8, kjv).

One of my ministry partners, when hearing me speak about this ladder, made an interesting observation. She noted that the double-strand molecules of nucleic acids such as DNA were in the form of what is called a double helix. The double helix appears as a twisted ladder that is held together by base pairs that are like steps from the top to the bottom of the helix.2 While the DNA ladder is found in the blood molecules of all humans linked to life itself, Jacob’s ladder was a ladder of life, linking and connecting the heavenly to the earthly, or the world of men with the world of angels and the supernatural. Since the galaxies of the universe are spiral, perhaps this heavenly staircase

was in the form of a spiral, linking to the DNA spiral of life that God implanted in the first Adam at the beginning of Creation!

The dream of this ladder stunned Jacob. We read his reaction after he awoke:

And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

—Genesis 28:17

Two important points are noted in his statement. The term “this place” identified the land on which Jacob had slept that night. For years I pondered on the exact location of the place Jacob was speaking of where the dream occurred. The Bible says he called the name of the place Bethel, which in Hebrew means “house of God” (Gen. 28:19).

He identified the land where he laid his head as the “gate of heaven.” At the time of the dream, no physical “house of God” had been set aside for the Hebrews (Jewish people) in the land, as the Hebrew family only consisted of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob. It would be centuries later, after Israel expanded to six hundred thousand men (Exod. 12:37), that Moses constructed the traveling wilderness tent called the tabernacle (Exod. 25:9). Generations later David’s chosen son, Solomon, built the sacred temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 3). However, centuries earlier than the building of either the tabernacle or the temple, Jacob had identified the site where he had the dream—this place—as the “gate of heaven.” The holy Mountain of the Gate of heaven.

There was only one location on earth set apart from ages past where God placed His name (Deut. 12:5, 11, 21). That place was Jerusalem (Salem), which was also the place where Melchizedek, the first king and priest of righteousness, lived (Gen. 14:18–24). In Jacob’s time there was no holy temple set aside for worshiping God that we know of, just altars that were built by Abraham from natural stones, where special sacrifices were offered (Gen. 8:20; 12:7; 13:18; 22:9).

The man Melchizedek was personally known to Abraham. According to Jewish tradition recorded in a religious Jewish writing called the Book of Jasher (mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18), Melchizedek was still alive in the time of Isaac and during the early years of Jacob’s life (Jasher 26:5, 10; 28:18).3 In the city of Jerusalem (called “Salem” in Genesis 14:18 and Psalm 76:2), there was a sacred mountain called Mount Moriah. It was this mountain to which God Himself led Abraham to test him by commanding him to offer his covenant son, Isaac, on an altar (Gen. 22:2). It was upon this same mountain, Mount Moriah, that Solomon constructed the elaborate and expensive temple, one of the most expensive buildings in world history (2 Chron. 3:1).

For many years I believed that Jacob was at or near Mount Moriah when he experienced his dream, for he called the place the “gate of heaven.” From Jacob’s family history, he understood that Moriah was the place where his grandfather Abraham had paid tithes to

Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:9). He was also aware that his own father, Isaac, had been placed upon a stone altar by Abraham and that a ram had taken his place (Gen. 22:13). Thus the land of Moriah (Jerusalem) was not a strange or new territory for Jacob. It had been designated as the location for the future house of God—the temple, where future offerings, sacrifices, and holy incense would be offered and the holy smoke would ascend toward the gate of heaven for generations!

In the early 1990s I was in Jerusalem in an office near the famedWestern Wall discussing the vision of Jacob’s ladder with Yehuda Getz, the head rabbi. He was asked by a young minister, ScottThomas, where Jacob had the vision of the ladder reaching fromheaven to earth recorded in Genesis 28. The rabbi replied, “Jacobwas sleeping somewhere on the Mount of Olives, and the ladder wassitting on the Temple Mount, on Mount Moriah.” Personally I hadalways believed this, but I knew that in the biblical narrative therewere no specifics as to the name of the place, other than it was calledLuz (Gen. 28:19). The word Luz refers to some type of a nut tree—perhaps an almond tree. In Moses’s day, the almond was consideredas a holy fruit. The rod of Aaron was made from the branch of analmond tree (Num. 17:8).

Rabbi Getz referred to the religious and sacred history found in the Book of Jasher:

And Jacob went forth continuing his road to Haran, and he came as far as mount Moriah, and he tarried there all night near the city of Luz; and the Lord appeared there unto Jacob on that night, and he said unto him, I am the Lord God of Abraham and the God of Isaac thy father.

—Jasher 30:1

The fact that Luz is linked to Jerusalem can be discovered by carefully reading Genesis 35:6:

So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.

The name Luz was identified with Bethel, a Hebrew word meaning “house of God.” This story reveals that while at Luz, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under an oak tree (v. 8). God later revealed Himself again to Jacob, and Jacob built a pillar and called the place Bethel (the house of God). The following verse reveals a clue:

Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor.

—Genesis 35:16

The area of Ephrath is today Bethlehem. In fact, Bethlehem is called Bethlehem Ephrath (Ephrathah) (Mic. 5:2). Today near the entrance to modern Bethlehem is the traditional grave of Rebekah, who died while giving birth to Benjamin (Gen. 35:19). Genesis 35:16

says “there was but a little distance” from Bethel to Ephrath. If the Bethel in Jacob’s dream was Jerusalem, and Bethel was a “little distance” to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem, then the distance of about eight miles between Jerusalem and Bethlehem would be considered a “little distance.”

The rabbinical traditions and the textual evidence indicates that Luz was an early city near Mount Moriah, later called the “house of God” by Jacob. It is interesting that after Jacob saw the angels, knowing he was headed into Syria for an unspecified time, he vowed to God that if He would bring him back safely to the land of his fathers, he would

offer God the tenth (Gen. 28:22). This word tenth in Hebrew is the word ‘asar, which is a word linked to the tithe (ma’aser) and refers to the tenth offered to God (Lev. 27:30, 32).

Twenty years passed, and the angel appeared to Jacob instructing him to return home to Canaan (Gen 31:13, 18). Notice the words of the angel:

Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, “Jacob.” And I said, “Here I am.” And He said...“I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.”

—Genesis 31:11–13

God recalled the angelic visitation twenty years prior, reminding Jacob of Bethel and of his vow when he anointed the stone pillar. In the Old Covenant, when altars were built and anointed, the spot became sacred and was marked by God Himself. By reminding Jacob of his vow and the anointing of the pillar, He was recalling Jacob’s prayers, promises, and covenants made at these altars.

When Jacob returned from Syria twenty years later, there still was not a physical house of God in Jerusalem or anywhere else in Canaan. However, generations later it would be one of Jacob’s sons, Levi, who was selected to lead the holy priesthood, and the children of Jacob (called the children of Israel) would present tithes and offerings in the same area when Melchizedek ministered and where Abraham offered Isaac and Jacob saw the ladder. This location was a gate, a portal into the spirit world, and an opening in the atmosphere enabling angels to ascend and descend to carry the tithe and offerings before God and to release the blessing back to earth.

In reality, this gate of heaven was positioned over the Temple Mount itself. The base of the stairway sat on the solid rock of the Temple Mount platform, and when ascending upward, it led to the entrance of the temple of God in heaven. Thus the city of Jerusalem became known as the “city of God” (Ps. 46:4) and the city of the “great King” (Ps. 48:2). The mountain where the temple was constructed is called the “holy mountain” in sixteen Old Testament passages, including Isaiah 11:9; 56:7; and 57:13. The blessings released to the high priest, Levites, and Israelites on the mountain and at the temple were the result of an open heaven, a spiritual ladder reaching from the holy of holies to the throne room of the Almighty in the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2; Rev. 4:1–2). This stairway to heaven enabled God’s chosen people to have access to reach up to God, and in return, God had access to reach down to man.

Jacob revealed that the house of God was the gate of heaven, meaning there was a portal or spiritual opening above the sacred mountain. When the apostle John was on the island of Patmos, he heard a voice saying, “Come up here,” and he saw “a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1). The Greek word for “door” is the same word for “door” used throughout the New Testament—thura, meaning a portal or an opening. John actually saw the other side of the “ladder,” or the “gate” side (entrance) of God’s heavenly temple. When he entered through the door, he was “in the Spirit,” meaning caught up in the ecstasy or visionary gift of spiritual vision through the influence of the Holy Spirit (v. 2).

John then described “the other side of the ladder” as he entered the open portal door and was standing upon a massive floor of crystal, called a “sea of glass” (v. 6). When light strikes a cut diamond, there are sharp colors of blue, green, orange, and red that actually flash from the sparkling cut stone. A crystal prism catches light and produces the same colors of a rainbow. The floor of the heavenly temple radiates the light of the Eternal One, sitting upon the throne in the center of the heavenly temple. The Almighty dwells in a glorious light that no man can approach (1 Tim. 6:16). As the light radiates throughout the temple, the reflection on the crystal floor flashes beautiful colors.

In Revelation 6 John can actually see under the clear floor and observe the souls of martyred saints under the golden altar, clothed in white robes (Rev. 6:9). Later, in Revelation 15:2, the glass floor has the appearance of being mingled with fire, which has a reddish and orange glow when burning.

John also saw a throne and described the one sitting on the throne to be like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance. The throne was and is the central feature in the heavenly temple. John said:

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

—Revelation 4:3

On the breastplate of the high priest of the earthly tabernacle there were twelve individual precious gemstones—three stones positioned in four rows in a golden breastplate (Exod. 28:15–21). The first stone was a sardius (v. 17), the stone representing Jacob’s first son, Reuben. The jasper was the last stone on the breastplate (v. 20) and was the stone for Jacob’s last son, Benjamin. The fact that these two stones are the first and last stones on the breastplate of the high priest reveal that the

Almighty is the first and the last. It is written, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 1:8).

These two stones also hold a clue concerning Christ Himself. The Hebrew name Reuben means, “Behold a son,” and the name Benjamin means, “Son of the right hand.” Christ was introduced at His baptism as God’s Son (Matt. 3:17). After His resurrection He ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). Thus, the first and last sons of Jacob represent Christ’s earthly ministry and His heavenly ministry.

John described a rainbow that was like an emerald (Rev. 4:3). The emerald is sea green and, according to some, was the stone used to identify the tribe of Judah in ancient Israel.4 The emerald was also considered a wedding stone. The rainbow is mentioned as a covenant sign given after the flood of Noah, indicating that God would never again destroy the earth by water. On earth when we see a rainbow, we only witness half of the bow—as the other half remains in the heavens, around about the throne.

When Ezekiel saw the throne of God, he wrote:

And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.

—Ezekiel 1:26

The appearance of a sapphire is interesting, as this beautiful royal blue stone is referred to in several places where God revealed Himself to Moses and the elders. In Exodus 24:10, when Moses and the elders saw the Lord, the pavement under His feet was paved with sapphire. The same occurred in Ezekiel’s vision above, where he describes the firmament above the heads of the cherubim as the appearance of a sapphire. There is a Jewish tradition that when God wrote the original commandments with the fiery finger of His hands, they were inscribed on stone tablets of sapphire.5

This may seem more of a tradition. However, I have a man on my ministry board of directors who is a specialist in laser research and development. Years ago he shared with me how it would be theoretically possible for the original stones of the Ten Commandments to actually be sapphire. He explained how a percentage of the earth’s

crust contains aluminum oxide, and sapphires can form in rocks poor in silica and rich in aluminum. When aluminum oxide is heated to a high temperature, it forms sapphire crystals. Thus, when God wrote with the fiery finger of His hand (Exod. 31:18; Deut. 33:2), the fire from God’s finger could have caused the stone tablets to form some  type of sapphire crystals.

In Ezekiel’s vision, the prophet continued describing the interior of God’s throne as the color of amber, with fire moving inside the throne (Ezek. 1:27). Later Ezekiel described the one on the throne with the appearance of fire from the waist up and fire from the waist downward (Ezek. 8:2). This may have been what the writer to the Hebrews alluded to when he wrote, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The Hebrew word for “amber” is chashmal, and it probably means, “a bronze-type color.” This is likely, since in John’s vision the feet of Christ appeared as brass that had been polished through a fire (Rev. 1:15).

As John’s eyes continued to view the magnificent heavenly scene, he observed three phenomena occurring in connection with the throne of God.

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

—Revelation 4:5

Thunder, lightning, and rainbows are associated on earth with storms and rain. In John’s vision, the thunder and lightning indicated the coming upheavals and judgment to be initiated on earth shortly. The voice of God, however, was also identified with a sound like thunder when it was heard upon the earth (John 12:28–30). Lightning is one of nature’s most powerful and, at times, dangerous forces. In Psalm 144:5–6, lightning demonstrates this great power of God as it is released through a manifestation.

The rainbow is the symbol of God’s covenant to man (Gen. 9:13). The voices heard coming out of the throne may be the voices of praise and worship that ascend up the ladder, arriving at the throne of God. We read that God inhabits the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3), giving us a picture of God as He sits enthroned on the praises of His people. Isaiah saw the Lord “high and lifted up” and described the seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord” (Isa. 6:1–3). We could say that God is sitting upon His throne and riding upon our praises!

John was the last of the biblical prophets to see a vision of the temple of God in heaven, recorded in the Book of Revelation. This is the same temple where Ezekiel revealed that the anointed cherub, Satan, once worshiped on the holy mountain and walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire (Ezek. 28:14). This is the same temple where Moses stood on Mount Sinai, piercing the veil and catching a glimpse of the sacred furniture, which he then constructed for the tabernacle, using the pattern of the furniture he saw (Exod. 34:2). It was the same heavenly temple that David tapped into when he drew the building plans for the temple Solomon would build, including the ark of the covenant, called the pattern of the chariot of the cherubim (1 Chron. 28:18). In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah looked upward and saw the seraphim with six wings, flying through the heavenly halls of the temple of God in heaven, crying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord” (Isa. 6:1–3). From this same holy mountain, Ezekiel viewed four “living creatures” carrying the throne of God from the northern part of the universe upon their shoulders, moving it like a chariot (Ezek. 1). While in Babylonian captivity, the prophet Daniel tapped into the realm of the spirit and witnessed the Ancient of Days sitting upon His throne surrounded by thrones (Dan. 7:9–10). It would be the apostle John, six hundred or more years later, who would describe those sitting upon the thrones as twenty-four in number and identifying them as elders (Rev. 4:4).

One day, at the great gathering together and the resurrection of the dead in Christ, a multitude that no man can number will be thrust instantly through this supernal portal, entering the temple of God, standing on the crystal sea, and viewing the other side of the ladder (1 Thess. 4:16–17; Rev. 5:11). However, we need not wait to have access to the literal presence of God! By understanding the process of opening the heavenly gate, we can access the divine counsel and presence of the Creator through our prayer life. This process is accomplished through the ability of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Four Letter Words: Conversations on Faith's Beauty and Logic by Bill Giovannetti

When we think of "four letter words," we often think of the words the world uses in curses and frustrations.  These are not the "four letter words" that Giovannetti is referring to.  In Four Letter Words: Conversations on faith's beauty and logic, Bill Giovannetti approaches many hard questions that Christian's face in today's society of political correctness and tolerance.

Some of the questions/situations he deals with are :

* "In today's global village, isn't it unreasonable to suggest the Bible has a monopoly on truth?"
* "Who says your truth has to my my truth too? Can't we both be right? What is truth and where can I find it?
* "How do we know what we know?  Is faith a weak link in the Christian's chain of knowing? Doesn't science contradict the Bible?"
* "Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Why does my life hurt? When will God stop the pain?"
* "Is suffering real or just an illusion?  Does Jesus care? Is he strong enough to heal my wounds?"
* "Do good and evil really exist? How do I tell the difference? Should Christian's be juudgemental? Who's to say what's right and wrong?"
* What makes the Bible so special? Isn't it just one among many valid options? Isn't all truth God's truth?
* "Is hell real? Will God send people there? Why? How can hell be consistent with God's love? Doesn't love win in the end?"
* "Sexuatlity is a normal part of life, so, if we love each other, why wait?  Wasn't the Bible written for a different time and place? Why should we enforce it's ancient values today?"
* "No philosophy or religion has ever given the world as much hope as biblical Christianity. A beautiful story of interlocking truths, revealing the heart of a Father who loves you. Why not try Jesus?"

Many times, these topics seem way over my head.  I am not an "intellectual" witness for Christ. (That's not the same as intelligent!).  I can't "argue" my faith as well as some.... I believe what I believe and know what I know... but getting that across can be hard for me, so quite often I just don't say anything.  This book may change that for others like me!  Giovannetti approaches these subjects in a way that laymen (and laywomen) can understand.  While it may not answer every question that you come across, it will answer many of them.  For more check out his website: Four Letter Words.


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Endurant Press (September 26, 2011)

***Special thanks to
Bill Giovannetti  for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Bill Giovannetti is a professor at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and the senior pastor of Neighborhood Church of Redding. A native Chicagoan transplanted to California, Bill speaks to the mind in ways that ignite the heart. This is Bill’s second book.

Visit the author's website.


From seasoned professor and pastor, Bill Giovannetti, Four Letter Words shines a fresh light on the Bible's most troubling topics. Whether you're a pastor, layperson, student, parent or grandparent, this book is equips you to defend your faith in an increasingly intolerant culture. You'll know WHAT you believe. You'll know WHY you believe. And you'll know what to say when you don't know what to say. The book's message is specially important for younger Christians in (or going into) college. A discussion/study guide (included) makes Four Letter Words especially helpful for small groups and personal reflection. A companion website offers even more resources.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Endurant Press (September 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983681260
ISBN-13: 978-0983681267



When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.

Mark Twain

If many of our friends had their way, Christ’s followers would be walking around with a bar of soap stuck in their mouths. When a graduation prayer becomes a federal case, and major department stores censor a festive “Merry Christmas,” you might suspect new standards for verbal vulgarity.

The core beliefs of the Christian faith have become today’s four letter words. Annoyed by the Christ-follower’s “narrow-mindedness,” our politically correct culture enforces a highly selective tolerance: fist-bumping any philosophical fad and moral deviation as long as it’s not in harmony with Grandma’s leather Bible.

Endorsing her old-fashioned religion might get you sent to your room without any supper.

Take, for example, my recent unwitting obscenity against a friend. I didn’t mean to be a jerk, and I certainly didn’t plan to get on her nerves. But my friend rolled her eyes and our conversation dropped off a cliff. My only crime was to say that I belonged to God because I had Jesus. “Jesus” got me the dreaded eye-roll. My friend didn’t object to my belief as much as to my confidence.

To her, it smelled like arrogance.

Our conversation turned testy. We changed subjects. I still tiptoe around God when she’s around.

When did Jesus-talk become dirty? If I had cursed my friend like Blackbeard’s parrot, she would have been less offended. Talking about faith in general might be cool, but in many quarters, to express that faith in terms of traditional Christian values­­—concerning sex, truth, hell, and salvation—is to smash a cultural taboo.

Talk like that too much and you’ll get your mouth washed out with soap.

This book is about struggle. Not between good and evil or right and wrong. Not the clash of religions. Not some kind of cosmic warfare between God and Satan. It is about the very personal struggle each of us faces as we grapple with faith, reality, sexuality, life, and death.

I’m not trying to win any wars with this book. I’m just offering my confession of how I wrestled with my inner contradictions and arrived at a certain level of peace.

In 2008, Christians cheered when American Idol contestants performed the worship song, “Shout to the Lord.” Many viewers didn’t notice that they sang the song two days in a row and not the same way each time.

The first performance dropped the name of Jesus, singing, “My Shepherd, my Savior, Lord there is none like you...” Perhaps due to an avalanche of complaints, or perhaps due to a change of conscience—the producers haven’t explained why—the second performance reverted to the original lyrics: “My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you...” [click to view the first performance]

“Shout to the Lord” was one of the great worship songs of its generation. I was happy to see it performed. But the way Christians over-responded was a bit embarrassing. Churches celebrated, bloggers gushed, and Christians lit up the FOX switchboards in appreciation. You would have thought we had just won the Superbowl—all because Jesus got a mention on the secular media.

I’m all for that, but... aren’t we behaving like the team’s scrawny benchwarmer—giddy to take the field for the last minute, even though game is just about over? Do we now imagine that the rest of the team respects us because we got sixty seconds of playing time?

They don’t.

It’s The End of the World As We Know It

Some experts suggest we’re living at the tail end of Christendom—the period when Christianity captained the cultural team. We live in a “post-Christian era,” they say. The Bible-centered worldview that shaped Western civilization since the Magna Carta (1215) has fizzled in the face of an ultra-tolerant diversity that remains perpetually ticked off at Christians.

“Shout to the Lord” on American Idol has as much meaning as “Amazing Grace” at a drug-dealer’s funeral.

Yes, we’re glad when Jesus is honored. But we recognize that authentic Christ-followers are a shrinking minority among neighbors who might grab onto Jesus in an emergency, but otherwise don’t want him “crammed down their throats.”

There has never been a culture more desperate for answers to life’s big questions, and never a culture more convinced no answers exist.

This makes following Jesus really tough, especially for younger Christians. It’s painful to watch our culture, and many of our friends, first value, then ignore, and finally turn against a Christian worldview.

Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian’s. Today’s postmodern “prime directive” leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn’t it unreasonable—and even dangerous—to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth?

The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today’s touchy ideas—the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible’s worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love.

What if the only reason Christ’s message offends is that it wounds our misplaced pride in ourselves?

And what if it’s exactly that wound that launches our quest for healing?

No religion has ever offered as plausible or beautiful a worldview as historic, biblical Christianity. Let’s say so.

Four Letter Words shows how. I wrote it to teach Christ’s followers to cuss boldly—to speak faith’s four letter words—without backing down, yet without coming across as a religious inquisitor either. I want to help you talk about your faith. And I want to strengthen that faith and convince you deep inside that Jesus is a treasure worth sharing.

When Jesus spotlighted himself as ultimate truth, the Religious Establishment painted a bullseye on his back.

When he highlighted their hypocrisy, they picked up stones to kill him.

When he stood silent, showing up the insanity of their rage, they nailed him to the cross.

When he prayed, “Father forgive them,” they played games with his shredded robe, making it a hideous souvenir.

There was nothing Jesus could say or do­—short of redefining himself to suit their preconceptions­—to make everybody like him. So he stood strong, kept the faith, spoke the truth, loved the world, and let God handle the outcomes.

Such a life was interpreted by most as a long string of four letter words. It always will be.

But one man, standing at the foot of the cross, heard it differently. He was a Roman centurion, part of the squad that crucified Jesus.

He said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God” (Mark 13:39).

He was only the first of countless seekers who saw the cross, not as a lunatic’s curse, but as heaven’s blessing.

May your life story speak forth that blessing for countless seekers more.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Woodcarver & a Giveaway!


Matthew Stevenson is a troubled teen from a home that is facing divorce.  He's upset at God, so takes his anger out on the local church, destroying windows and beautiful woodcarvings.  To repay his debt and avoid criminal charges, he has to repair the damage to the church. While working at the church, Matthew meets Ernest, the man who made all the intricate woodcarvings.  After his wife's death, Ernest has become a hermit, but comes out of reclusion to help with the repairs at the church.  Ernest and Matthew must work to repair the church's beauty and find some healing along the way.

If you are looking for a good clean family movie, then this is a good choice for you!  It is a film with faith, family and hope.   For more information check out this link:

If you are interested in winning a copy of this movie, leave me a comment below.  The giveaway will end Friday, March 16th, and I will pick a winner on March 17th using 

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