Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Submission – A Delight (Part 3 of 3)

Submission – A Delight
Submission is not a sword to be wielded by the powerful or a burden to carried by the weak, rather it is a virtue and practice that every Christian is called to day after day in a variety of settings and within a variety of relationships.  No doubt authority has been abused and this principle of submission has been used to hold people hostage, but the misuse of a principle does not cancel the legitimate place of that principle.  Furthermore we must remember and teach that no one is exempt from the demand of submission by the Lord.  Instead of looking for excuses to get out of submission, let us look for reasons to submit.  Submission can become for us a place of refuge and a delight  as it is evidence of the work of God within us and it becomes part of our witness to the world (Titus 3:1-11).  Submission is also a way that we can minister to our leaders (Hebrews 13:17: Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.  Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you).  Leadership carries burdens, but the people of God aid leaders when they act on submission, rather than in pride, gossip, back-biting, slander, or rebellion.
We also model Christ for one another when we follow His own practice of submission to the Lord.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to God to take away the cup of wrath (Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42), but Jesus knew He must submit himself to God’s will.  Thank God that He did.  Jesus’ submission is seen in his devotion to the work and will of God – I think of the Gospel of John as showing this repeatedly.  When we offer our submission to God and one another we display Christ likeness and there is no better delight for the Christian.
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Submission – Defied (Part 2 of 3)

3 part post on Biblical submission.  Read part one here.

Submission – Defied
Why do we struggle so much with submission, and why is it so hard for us to see and acknowledge the struggle?  Our struggle with submission is primarily rooted in our sins of pride and arrogance.  Submission runs counter to our self-sufficiency and the place that we feel we occupy in our church or work or community or family.  Furthermore, in our mind, we need not submit to authority or to one another when we are right.  Admit it:  you’re right more than you’re wrong, a whole lot more!  At least I am.  But we can’t all be right all the time. Also, submission finds its fullest expression when we believe we are right but choose to submit to one another anyway.  Our pride, unfortunately won’t let us submit, readily or easily.  There is a fight within us and our pride seems to be on the winning side more often than not.  Pride is only one reason we have dispensed with submission, of course.  It is also our unbelief in what God has instituted.  We have installed our own values in place of God’s values.  We don’t believe that God would have our best at heart, that submission is best for us, for our relationships, or for our church.  We also fear giving up control and authority to others.  We have trampled on submission and authority and we reap what we have sown within our churches, our families and our communities
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Submission – Defined (Part 1 of 3)

For a variety of reasons, I have not been able to blog much original material recently.  This is original, although originally published in our church newsletter in 2006.  I am posting this article in three parts over the next three days:  Submission: Defined, Defied, & A Delight.

Submission – the lost Christian virtue.  Okay, I don’t know if it’s been lost or not, but I do know that I find little written, hear little spoken, and see little practiced, which makes me wonder.  I also wonder if we haven’t lost sight of the concept of submission within the church.  When was the last time that you heard about this topic?  Quite likely at a wedding where the admonishment to submission was mostly or completely directed at one particular gender.  But submission is more than a wife’s submission to her husband. We have done the church and women a disservice when we only speak about submission  in the context of the marriage relationship.  I suppose that we might also occasionally speak about submission in relation to our government, but it is still a truncated view if we allow submission to only be about these things.  We seem to be looking for ways to be let off the hook.   In reality, submission, or the opportunity for submission, is an aspect of most, if not all, of our relationships at some level.  There are times when we submit and times when others submit to us.  There are also times when there is no clear authority and there is an opportunity for both parties to show submission.  Opportunities abound, I just wonder if we are aware of what is before us and how we tend to react.

Submission – Defined

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Sermon on Romans 13:1-7

There are two things we are not suppose to talk about…politics and religion.  In this sermon, I got to talk about both on the Sunday after our national elections.  This is a part of our preaching series through Romans at Calvary and we were not intentional about this passage falling on this particular date (all things in God’s providence).   Anyway, here is the sermon information:

Passage & Title:  Romans 13:1-7…Submitting to God’s Servants

Theme:  How should submission to governing authorities characterize the lives of Christians?

I.  The Motivation of our Submission

A.  God’s Sovereignty
B.  God’s Servant
C.  God’s Spirit

II.  The Movement of our Submission

A. Towards Prayer
B.  Towards Repentance
C.  Towards The Kingdom of God

October Books

As of writing, I need to complete seven more books to reach my goal for completing 52 books this year.  Here are the books that I completed reading during the month of October.

  • What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
  • When gods Die by C.S. Harris:  These are the first and second books in a new series of a mystery series centering around Sebastian St. Cyr.  These books are set during the Regency period of England and so have an interesting historical/societal/political element that helps to frame the mysteries.  These are well-told stories and each book asks a philosophical question in the midst – these questions from the title of each book.
  • Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Brashears:  Excellent book that seeks to answer twelve critical questions about Jesus.  The book follows Driscoll style that sometimes offends but I think he uses his wit and cutting edge effectively to communicate the Biblical teaching about Jesus and His importance to those who trust Him for salvation.  This would be a very good resource for helping someone who is wrestling with various questions regarding Christ including the Virgin Birth and His Resurrection.
  • Half-Life/Die Already by Mark Steele:  I really liked this book.  I cannot remember where I had heard about it, but I started reading it during a trip to Barnes & Noble.  I ended up spending most of time there sitting in a big comfy chair reading this book…I decided I ought to buy it.  This is a laugh-out-loud memoir of a couple of years of his life that really helped me think through some of my frustrations and wrestle with my jaundiced perspective.  Steele is a Christian and writes as one, but the book is not didactic in nature.  I hope to read Steele’s first book, Flashbang, soon – I found it the used bookstore!
  • Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis:  Great book that really challenged me in several areas about the way I think about church and how church is done.  While I didn’t agree with everything or some thoughts gave me pause, I found the authors to be incredibly humble, Gospel-centered, and biblical.  The subtitle of this book is “A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community”.  After arguing for both from Scripture, Chester and Timmis show how these apply to various areas of ministry and practices of the church.  Very helpful and persuasive and I am inclined to believe that when we miss on one area (gospel or community) we will miss out on the fullness of both – ultimately they are intertwined.  Just found this (Audio/Video from a Total Church Conference), but have no idea when I might be able to listen to some of it.
  • Watchman by Ian Rankin:  I started reading Rankin a few years ago with the Inspector Rebus series books, which tend to be dark in content and feel.  This is a stand alone book, was actually Rankin’s second book to write and this is the American publication of that work.  The writing is not as strong as Rankin’s other works, I think partially due to his attempting to build suspense.  Watchman is essentially a spy novel but the main character is more of an everyday spy than a Jason Bourne type.  Anyway, decent and entertaining read.

A Journey Worth Taking: The Fall (part 2 of 2)

You can read more about what I am doing and see a schedule for reading/posting here.  First post is here.  Second post is here.  Third is here.  The fourth is here.

In chapters 10 and 11, Charles Drew in A Journey Worth Taking, concludes his probing of the effects of the sin of man on the way that we approach work, purpose, and life in general.  Chapter ten describes some of the symptoms of how our calling and sense of that calling has gone wrong;

  • Delusions of grandeur or innocence
  • Delusions of worthlessness
  • Ingratitude masquerading as modesty
  • Isolation brought on by competition
  • Envy

As I reflect upon these symptoms, I find that it isn’t just one of them that is a problem, but that all of them can operate in our hearts and lives depending on the situation.  The end result is the same: frustration at best and at worst what we really want…to be the center the cosmos rather than God.  These themes show up in our work (including school) where we “tend either to devalue work or make it too important.”  Towards the end of chapter eleven, Drew makes this statement that stood out for me:  “When we give our lives away to any created thing – however good that thing is – we begin to die on the inside.”  This goes back to the topic of idolatry and I wonder how many of us are really dying because we have done this?

A Journey Worth Taking: Creation (part 2 of 2)

You can read more about what I am doing and see a schedule for reading/posting here.  First post is here.  Second post is here.

I love how Drew is directing us in chapter six to make God the priority of our lives – that that will be the most meaningful way for us to “find ourselves”.  This, again, is counter to the current notion of self-discovery that pushes us out to the edges instead of to the center of all life.  Or the notion that I (and I alone) am the definitive voice for all notions, whether they be about who I am or what I will do.  In discussion Psalm 34:3 (“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exult his name together.” – KJV), I loved the following statement:

How strange this language is when you think about it.  Isn’t God already big – isn’t he already infinite?  Indeed he is.  The problem lies with us.  For multiple reasons we have difficulty seeing his greatness and therefore must train our vision.  We also have difficulty giving God center stage and therefore must train our hearts.”

This then leads to Drew coming back to the notion of all work being sacred and therefore we can “worship while we work…Our pursuit of calling unfolds in God’s world, not ours.”  And finally there is this thought:

Our calling…is ‘missional’ – not in the narrow sense of going into foreign missions (though it might include this), but in the much broader sense of finding and promoting him in everything we do.”

How rare I imagine that this is in our lives and how often we miss the opportunities to see God, let alone promote God in everything we do.

This article (an interview really) on byfaithonline fits nicely with the topic of this book.

(I will probably post separately on the topic of chapter seven, “Finding Ourselves in Community”)

A Journey Worth Taking: Creation (part 1 of 2)

You can read more about what I am doing and see a schedule for reading/posting here.  First post is here.

In A Journey Worth Taking, Charles Drew is using a reformed framework for looking at the story of Scripture with a big lens:  Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation.  Drew calles this a “theology map” to take us the right way when appliedEach is a reality that we know or will know and each becomes a helpful means for thinking through the big picture of our lives before the Living God.  Naturally, we start with Creation and from this place I think Drew offers some very encouraging thoughts to engage us as we think about our purpose in this world (that is the subtitle after all).  We’ll consider this section in two parts, starting with chapters three through five (six and seven next Wednesday).

Creation matters.  My creation matters – that is, Who made me and how I was made goes down to the core of who I am.  We don’t often think like this, but Drew directs us to Psalm 139 to be reminded of this beautiful truth:  “If I matter simply because I am God’s creature (and I do) how much more significant must I be because I am made in God’s image.” And at the end of chapter three, Drew pronounces this:  “We matter, in other words, even when we are completely clueless as to what we have been placed to do on this earth to do.”

In chapter four, Drew introduces the concept of lifework:  “By lifework I mean the entire business of living out my existence in the presence of God.” For many, this will include our employment, but more so “it inludes the whole man’s engagement with the fullness of the life that God had set before him – large things and small things, social things and intellectual things, noted things and ignored things.” This, to me, is a decidedly different way to look at life and work – bringing them together, presenting a much bigger and whole picture of our lives.  This then, allows Drew to challenge the traditional notions of what is a “good work” or even a “good job”.  This does not lead to devaluing legitimate work, but actually enlarges the idea of work and that our work (whatever it might be, paid or unpaid, fulfilling or frustrating) matters.  In this way, we model the Creator God who made us in His image.

Drew then, in chapter five, challenges the sacred/secular divide that we have become comfortable with in the church.  From Drew’s perspective, “all work is sacred…God shows up everywhere”, stemming from the doctrine of creation that is the content of this part of the book.   Admittedly, this can make people (both Christian and non-Christian) uncomfortable.  Both might prefer God to stick to the “known” arenas of life (like at church on Sunday) and not spill into other areas (like vocation or music or lifework).

What encouraged or perplexed you?  What ideas are new to you?

September Books

September has been a good month for reading, as I completed seven books this month.  This brings me to 37 books completed in 2008 and a little closer to my goal of 52 for the year.  Here are the books I completed reading in September:

  • Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly:  I have been reading Connelly off and on this year and find his series featuring Detective Harry Bosch to be very well written and often thought provoking.  This was a non-Bosch novel and I didn’t find it to be as enjoyable as some of Connelly’s other books – just not up to the usual standard.
  • World Made By Hand by James Kunstler:  I wrote my reflections on this book and The Road here.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Running Scared by Edward Welch:  This was a “blogging the book”/book of the quarter selection, so I have already written extensively on this book throughout this blog.  Great book.
  • Humility:  True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney:  Very good book broken into two main parts.  The first explores the biblical teaching on humility and the danger pride presents to us.  The second part was primarily practical ways that we can cultivate humility in our lives.  This is one of those books that you keep thinking about and will be a good resource both for its teaching and the application.  Thanks Ken.
  • Lost Light by Michael Connelly:  this was a Detective Harry Bosch novel and was more like what I expect from Connelly.
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller:  This is one of the best books I have read in quite awhile.  I read this over the course of several months as we have used it as a basis of discussion in our community group.  Keller provides both an apologetic for Christianity, but also models a winsome approach to apologetics.  The first part of this book addresses common objectives against Christianity and in the second part Keller argues for Christianity.  Well worth reading, regardless of faith background or commitment.

Football & the Gospel…

In seminary, I discovered I had a problem (among many):  I took college football way too seriously.  I suppose I can blame my dad’s side of the family for this condition, as it is hard to not become indoctrinated in this Saturday religion while attending games at one of the largest football worship centers in the nation:  Neyland Stadium at The University of Tennessee.  My commitment to worship of the pigskin was furthered by attending the University of Georgia.  Football, of course, is best in the Southeast.

Anyway, back to self-discovery…In 2002 UGA had an awesome team and were poised to make a run at the National Championship.  That was, until, they lost one solitary game toward the end of the season.  Once again, UGA lost to the University of Florida – even though UGA should have won.  Or at least were suppose to that year.  We were so depressed that we dreamt about the game that night and then skipped church due to our morosity.  That’s not such a big deal, unless what you are training to do for a living largely centers on a different type of worship held on a different weekend day!  That was a turning point for me…no more could my passion for college football consume my passion for worship of the Triune God and my Savior.

I still care greatly about college football.  I am still as big a fan as one could be, but I won’t let it occupy the supreme place in my heart.  So, this past Saturday, when UGA got absolutely demolished by the University of Alabama I allowed myself to be bummed about the game while it was unfolding, but once it was over – it was over.  The next morning, I had the joy of preaching God’s Word to those gathered in worship and one of the things that I got to talk about was the Gospel.  In fact, I told the congregation that one of the most powerful ways that we can respond to those who reject the Gospel is by our growing more in love with and in awe of the Gospel.  And though I did not say it, the message I was preaching to myself is that the football game is just that.  It is not the Gospel.  It is not the Gospel!  Wall Street might collapse and economic hell ensue, but it is not the Gospel.  Our cars may/will break down again, but it is not the Gospel!  This is the perspective that I was preaching to myself Saturday night as I busied myself, hoping for an epic comeback that did not materialize.  And it is the message I taught our congregation.

What crowds the Gospel out of your life?  And what are you preaching to your heart to counter the false worship that comes so naturally?

Nature vs. Nurture in Christian Discipleship

Here is what I have been thinking about recently:

I have been thinking about the nature vs. nurture debate/discussion/dichotomy that has been applied to any number of societal conditions, norms, or problems.  Well, actually I was thinking about applying that idea to what I sense has happened in some regard in my own heart and in the church, and I wonder…

As Christians, we recognize that our nature is a sin nature.  Naturally, we reject God and war against his commands.  Naturally, we fight for the supreme place with God.  Naturally, we think of ourselves first and then we might get around to thinking about others.  You get the picture.  We also know that Christ brings a change of heart/nature by His work on the Cross (2 Cor 5:17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”).  Finally, as Christians, we are placed in a new environment (the church) for our new life to be nurtured.

So, here is the question that has been rattling in my brain:  what happens when our Christian nurture (what I think of as discipleship) is actually contrary to our new nature in Chirst?  What wins, so to speak?  Maybe an example of what I am thinking would be helpful…

I hate politics, though I believe they are an important part of our system of government.  I hate politics because so little of the words, claims, or accusations are helpful or about anything meaningful.  But more than that, I hate my reactions (and the reactions of others).  A good friend, who does like politics, has been given the finger and menancing stares recently driving around and the only reason he can figure is because of the political stickers on his work van.  This is disheartening to me, but even more than that, my own gut-level reactions toward political parties, entities, and supporters is disheartening.  To bring it back around to the original question:  has my attitude of self-righteousness been nurtured in the church (as a pastor, what I have taught others)?  And more importantly, am I willing to react first in compassion toward those whom I disagree or even dislike instead of some political or “Christian” compulsion? Is my identity a color (red or blue) or a Person and do others know it?

This is my prayer: that compassion and love borne out of relationship with the King would be my guide as I see, react, and respond to our politicized culture.  And, that I would nurture in others the same, rather than a political identity that becomes too closely identified with the Christ’s Church.

So that is what I am thinking and my thought may not be fully formed (that’s my disclaimer!).  Am I onto something or am I off-base?  Hey, I’m just starting a conversation…

Visions of a Post-Apocalyptic America

For some reason, I just finished reading two different books set in America after a cataclysmic event of some sort.  Both books were engaging and caused me to think about the world we live in and the future that I foresee.  First, my reflections on the books themselves, in the order I read them:

World Made By Hand by James Kunstler:  I was captured by the very first chapter of this book and honestly, the title caught my attention at the library.  I read this in about five days – pretty quick, given my more recent reading pace.  The story centers around the characters of a small upstate New York town trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America.  One of the strengths about the book is that the story does not focus on what has happened (that is, the cause of the apocalypse), but where the main characters are now and how they deal with an uncertain present and future.  Similarly, there is not a lot of politisizing on the cause of the destruction/apocalypse – which is only alluded to in the narrative.  I was concerned that we would get a rant or several about oil/global warming/overpopulation/radical religions/etc…somewhere in these pages.  Therein making the story a cautionary tale.  This is surprising especially given the authors others books, particularly his non-fiction work (although I have not read any of it).  In many ways, this absence, is why I found the story so compelling.  I was able to imagine the world that the characters inhabited and consider the reality of their day to day struggles.  Unfortunately, at the end of the book, I was left wondering what the point of the story was or even what the main thrust of the story-arc.  There was suspense, romance, redemption, etc…and religion/Christianity played a large role in the story, but there seemed to be several storylines that were presented and then dropped.  And then the book just kind of ends.  Still, I really enjoyed reading this book and found an engaging story, even without a larger story being told.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy:  I have been interested in reading this story after watching the Cohen Brothers adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country For Old MenThe Road also has been made into a movie with Viggo Mortenson playing the lead and will be released Thanksgving week.  In terms of writing and story-telling, McCarthy’s work is far superior.  As with World Made by Hand, something has happened, most likely a nuclear holocaust that results in a nuclear winter.  Again, there is no direct mention of the cause of this event or even any inkling of the reasons.  It is about a father and son on the road simply surviving day by day and the various things they encounter on their way headed south.  The landscape is bleak and sparse and the dialogue and writing reflect that, establishing the mood of the entire book.  A friend called it dark and sobering and he is right.  And yet, there was a light that shone forth from the charred landscape, depraved survivors, and a seemingly hopeless situation.  The father’s love for his son is nothing less than heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.  In the coldness of nuclear winter is the warmth of this love that drives the story to its conclusion.

My reactions as a Christian to these books:

  • My faith causes (or should cause) me to look at the future without fear of what might happen or might become of us.  This does not mean that nuclear holocaust will not happer, nor worldwide economic collapse, but I have the promise of Romans 8 firmly implanted in my heart:
  • 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
    36 As it is written,
    For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
    39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    These promises do not guarantee health & wealth or the absence of nuclear holocaust or whatever might come.  The above passage actually recognizes that there are some circumstances that we might face that might be described as quite bleak.  And so, as a Christian, I have to recognize the potentiality (not probability) of the visions presented in these books, even while hoping in the goodness of God’s will.  This is not something you would ever hear Joel Osteen say, as there is a huge difference between holding onto the promise of God to “never leave, nor forsake us” and the message that God wants you to prosper, period.  In this way, these books are closer to a truly Christian position than some who read the bible in parts and misrepresent the purposes of God.

  • Neither book painted a kind picture of “fallen” humanity.  Both stories contained truly depraved characters and actions (for this reason, these books may not be appropriate reading for all audiences.  As with any type of media, discernment must be exercised).  Either this does not comport with the prevailing notion of the universality of benign humanity or humanity is solely conditioned by its environment (e.g. desperate times call for desperate measures).  I do not know if this reflects “postmodernism”, whatever that means,  but it is not that far from the biblical notion of total depravity.
  • I found it intersting that in both stories, God is not “dead”.  He may not figure prominently at all times, questioned at others, but He is not written out of either story.
  • While I do not think that McCarthy intended to write a “Christian” novel, in many ways he has.  At one particular point when the father wonders if he could kill his son to save him from the horrors of what others could do to him, I thought of Abraham & Isaac, but primarily the Father who gave us His Son for us (Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?).  The context and purpose are different, but the heart of love out of which the actions and thoughts of that father echo the Father’s love for sinful humanity.

New Blogging the Book: A Journey Worth Taking

As we wrap up our reading of Running Scared next week, I wanted to throw out the reading schedule for the next blogging the book.  This quarter, I will be reading through Charles Drew’s book A Journey Worth Taking:  Finding Your Purpose in This World.  Drew is pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Manhattan and at Calvary we used his book An Ancient Love Song: Finding Christ in the Old Testament in Sunday School a few years ago.    Table of contents for this book can be found here (pdf file).  Feel free to join me, whether you read along or not.

Here is the reading/blogging schedule:Blog posting schedule for book (Wednesdays) & Sections covered; chapters in parentheses:
October 1st – Part 1:  Staging Points (Chapters 1-2)
October 9th  – Part 2:  Creation:  A Quest with a Built-in Purpose (3-5)
October 15th – Part 2 continued (6-7)
October 22nd – Part 3: The Fall:  Something Wrong with Every Step (8-9)

dont judge a book by its cover

don't judge a book by it's cover

October 29th – Part 3 continued (10-11)
November 5th  – Part 4:  Redemption: Help along the Way (12-13)
November 12th  – Part 4 continued (14)
November 19th – Part 5:  Consummation:  The View from the Top (15-17)
December 3rd – Part 5 continued (18-20)
December 10th – Part 5 continued (21 & Appendix)

Here is a book review written by one of the ruling elders at Calvary:

Jesus said:  “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). God has called us to purposeful and “abundant” lives. In our quest for purpose and meaning in life, we so often look for the extraordinary. In this book, Charles Drew leads us through an exploration of our “calling” to help us discover something of the wonder and awe of this abundance, but in unexpected places – the mundane matters of everyday life.  He weaves his exploration of calling around “four great ideas:
•    Human life comes with built-in purpose.
•    Something goes wrong with how we express our purpose.
•    What gets ugly and destructive can be remade beautiful and right.
•    What we do matters, because we are going somewhere.”
Drew spotlights the good news of Jesus and how it saturates our everyday lives (however mundane much of life seems to us) with purpose and meaning. Especially intriguing is the final section of the book.  It focuses on the fourth of the above ideas, showing us with how the prospect of heaven bears on our earthly journey.  Encouraging us to patient yet expectant looking for the consummation, he writes: The prospect of a perfect and endless eternity with nothing but harp lessons and clouds had no appeal.”  But he goes on to describe his change of mind about heaven through the teachings of C. S. Lewis and others, concluding, “How could the God who gave us sex, Michael Jordan, Rembrandt and the Grand Canyon–all in our present fallen world–give us something less interesting in the next?!”  Drew then adds, “With that vision of greater fullness came a peace of mind about the limitations of my experience and the limitations in my own present makeup.” Ever ponder the richness of heavenly life?

Drew infuses his unpacking of calling with helpful real life stories and anecdotes and adds challenging questions at the end of each chapter for personal consideration or group discussion. A refreshing read!