Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do you know St. Francis?

What came to your mind when you read the title of this post? Do you know anything about St. Francis other than the oft-quoted prayer? I confess I did not until recently. What prompted me to learn more about a man who lived over eight hundred years ago? Answer: an enticement to read a new novel by Ian Morgan Cron, "Chasing Francis". I participate in the Blogger Review program at NavPress Publishers and this particular book was on their list. The brief introduction to the book was enough to whet my appetite. It was definitely a good choice!

Chapter One introduced me to Chase Falson, founding pastor of a mega church in New England. Though successful in the eyes of his church members, his peers, and the town where he lives Chase found himself at a crossroads of faith. Disillusioned with the typical American church culture, he even begins to wonder if his faith is really any kind of faith at all. When this leads to a breakdown of sorts in front of his congregation, he is asked by church leaders to take a leave of absence to 'get his head together.' And so begins his journey back to the roots of his faith. As Cron lead me through Chase's investigation of the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, I was surprised to learn that the culture that St. Francis attempted to serve and teach in was similar to post modern America. Granted, some of his theories and practices were radical then and would still be considered radical today. However, in a society where the church has more often than not blended into the culture instead of standing out from it I believe we have much to learn from the life of St. Francis. Not into history books and dry, textbook-like reading? Then grab a copy of "Chasing Francis". I promise you it will keep you enthralled from the first page to the last with surprises tucked away in unexpected places.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

If you decide to read this book, I would love to hear your stories. Just come back to this post and leave your comments.

Hugs and happy reading,

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Responsibility of Freedom

Yesterday was a day of great celebration through out our country and rightfully so. We celebrated the day that marks our declaration of independence from British rule and the founding of a new country, one founded on Christian principles by God fearing men. Listening to the vocal minority in today's United States, we hear a vastly different message. Guess they don't read history books? It is evident that their message blatantly leaves out the written evidence of our founding fathers' belief in and trust in our God as they determined what would be our governing documents.

Looking at where we are now, one has to wonder how long we will remain a free and thriving nation. In his sermon yesterday, Bro. Greg talked about the sin against America's God. He pointed out that, as a nation, we no longer fear the God we say we trust. For too many in this land, there is no moral compass. Government has gotten too big because we have come to expect our government to fix everything so that we can maintain our comfortable standard of living. Success has become determined by how much money you have, what kind of car you drive, where you live, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, this manner of living and thinking extends into the American church. I confess that I too am guilty of having fallen into the trap of the American dream. Just as our country has drifted away from God, we have drifted into and adapted to the culture around us. If I say I will go wherever God calls me to go, yet I pray that He won't ask me to leave my grandchildren have I really surrendered? I say I care about the poor but I continue to spend on items that most people in the world would consider luxuries instead of giving that money to help someone. I want to be willing to be uncomfortable but my lifestyle speaks otherwise.

God first started stirring my heart about this a few months ago when I read Jen Hatmaker's book, "Interrupted". He is now piercing my heart through the book "Radical" by David Platt. I highly recommend both of these books. I believe it is no coincidence that God placed these books into my hands. For quite sometime now I have had a deep conviction that God is calling His people to throw off the shackles of this world and to be totally committed to serving Him, to telling others about Him, and to be living as He commands us to. We, as His church, must stop thinking the immoral, unsaved masses are the enemy and admit we are the enemy when we have become blinded to God's ways, adapting so closely to the culture that we no longer bear the image of Christ.

As Bro. Greg ended the service yesterday he asked us to gather at the altar to pray for our nation. I prayed that God would be merciful to us, His church. That He will grant us one more opportunity to repent and forsake our sinful ways. Whether He will stay His hand of judgment on our nation is only known to Him. But I believe it is imperative that we who proclaim to be followers of Christ to be about His business. May God have mercy on us all.

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