Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

I have rarely read a book that evoked such conflicting emotions as Stearns’ work. In 279 pages, the CEO of World Vision brings before the church the needs of the poverty stricken portions of the world in graphic form. He drives home the point that as believers, we have a responsibility, not just an opportunity, to help these people.
    The author spends a lot of time sharing his own personal story of how he went from apathetic Christian (and CEO of a high end tableware company) to being torn apart by the needs found around the globe. Stearns makes some very good points in his criticisms of present day Christianity, and argues that from our faith should flow a host of good works towards those less fortunate than ourselves. With this sentiment, I could not agree more. For too long the church has made do with “benevolence offerings” and gifts for missionaries, while failing to address more pressing needs around the world.  However, while Stearns makes a very valid point, his book raises a lot of red flags.
    Stearns calls the voices of today’s leaders in the anti-poverty movement “prophetic.” Within this group he includes Bono, a rock star, Mother Theresa, and a bishop in the Catholic Church. These alliances raise questions that cannot be addressed here. Stearns also has a very strong Post-Millennial theology, and uses “kingdom building” and “kingdom ushering” language quite frequently. This leads to such an emphasis on social reform that he flirts at times with a works salvation (something that he vehemently denies).  He also seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth with his definition of the Gospel. He equates the salvation aspect with the social aspect as two sides of the same coin, while in other places listing the social aspect as that which flows out of salvation.
    Overall, this is a work that is worth reading for those who need to be shaken out of their American apathy.  As with all works written by fallen men, it must also be read with discernment and discretion. I would highly recommend it for use with mature believers who know enough to glean the wheat from among the tares. -B-
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: the untold story of Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: the untold story of Nonna Bannister is a startling account of a woman who observed and endured incredible hardship.  Though from a wealthy family, she was not immune to the atrocities endured during the Holocaust.  The intriguing part of her story is the fact that she kept it's haunting truth from all those she held dear, including her own husband, until the last years of her life.
The story is recounted with remarkable detail and sometimes even gets tedious to read with all the names and places to remember.  But it is hard to criticize the work of such a courageous woman especially sensing how difficult it was for her to even share her story.  Admittedly, I read just about anything about the Holocaust, so that may have influenced my opinion of this account.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.  4 out of 5 stars.


Finally doing some work on the front yard and now my hands are black from all the "colorguard" mulch.  I hope it eventually comes off because I have been scrubbing and scrubbing.  But I guess it is worth it to have some colorful flowers out front and mulch to cut down on how much weeding I have been doing.  I still need a few more plants - like some filler grasses or something.  I just haven't found quite what I am looking for - and I DO NOT want to buy the kind that our next door neighbor has (AKA the jungle - yeah, they even have this bird that makes very loud screeching noises but that is a whole other story). 

I have been organizing Ian's closest recently and came across a few things that he never wore, but will be too big to wear them soon.  One was this adorable bath robe - so I decided to give him a bath and let him wear the robe long enough for some pictures.

 He sat still for, hmm, a second, and then started tearing his room apart - as usual.

Trust me it was a whole lot worse, but I cleaned it up for the pics.

For anyone who does not see us on a regular basis - you missed out on Ian's "run into every wall, door, and piece of furniture" stage.  Thankfully it appears that he has decided to stop using his head as a battering ram - at least for now.  This picture is from when he was almost all healed, believe it or not.

We enjoyed our 4th of July holiday at Blue Marsh Lake - we all loved the water and I wish I had some pics of Brian on that inner tube flying around the lake while being towed by our pastor's boat.

And lastly we are training for a 5K which will take place in September. . .

we have a looooooooooooooooooooong way to go :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Birthday Cake in the Making

So I am trying to get started early on Ian's birthday cake, because he'll be 1 before we know it. (sniff, sniff)  My hubby's idea was to do a Toy Story themed birthday party and how easy is that with the movie coming out and every other little kid out there going nuts over Toy Story stuff. 
So I did a search of potential cake ideas online and this is what I came up with. I narrowed it down to the top 2 cakes and here is the first one. . .

and the second one

So I like the second one the best, but I think the first one might be easier.   I want to sort of change the first one a bit by making some toy blocks to put out front and then spell out Ian's name (I'm thinking rice treats covered with fondant and then decorated - hey I watch Cake Boss).  And then I would like to find some plastic cake toppers - like maybe a slightly larger Woody to sit on the end of the bed.  I just want it to be a bit more Toy Storyish than that cake is.  At first glance, it just looks like a bed. 
So, soon I should post some pics because I think I am going to do a trial run.  But I am still researching some fondant ideas (I found a recipe for marshmallow fondant) and potential cake toppers on the cheap.

Summer reading