Unless you become like a child…

Jesus loves us thoroughly in all of our complexities…but He loves simply.  What you see is what you get with Jesus.  Kids get that.  Because they’re pretty simple, too.  They receive freely.  They give freely.  They rarely dance (making you think they’re one thing when they’re really another.)  I love it.  I want it.  To love simply.  To obey simply. To keep Love, Joy, and Peace flowing at their most basic common denominator: Jesus is in me, and I am in Him.

There’s a book that God is using in Kathy’s and my life these days.  It’s called “The Jesus Storybook Bible”, by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  It’s the book we give to kids when they go through Baby D at our church.  Months ago a mommy who’s kids had received the book was saying that she had started reading it herself because it was one of the clearest portrayals of Jesus and of God’s plans and purposes that she had ever seen.  The Holy Spirit gave me a nudge as if to say, “that’s what you need, too.”  So I bought one and started reading.

It’s a great book for your kids and grandkids…but it may make an even higher impact on you.  The Truth of all Truths, simply directed at simple hearts.

Like God says in Psalms, “He lifted me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a Rock…”  Sound appealing?  Maybe you should check this book out, too.

“The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones.





A Couple of Good Books…

As  I’ve said before, the reason I use our Caleb Zone blog sometimes to make book recommendations is to encourage all of us to keep growing.  I’m convinced that God still has LOTS to teach us, and reading is a great way to learn and grow.

So with that in mind, let me tell you briefly about 2 books I’ve read recently which I would recommend to you:

1.    Creating An Intimate Marriage, by Jim Burns:  Kathy and I have been married for 35 years.  Some of you have been married lots longer than that.  We’ve got a GREAT marriage…and I want it to keep getting greater and greater as the years go by.  This book has some really good observations and suggestions about communication, handling conflict, meeting physical, emotional and spiritual needs of your spouse…some I have heard before and some I had never thought of before.  I have to admit that I got bogged down a few times as I read along, but it was WELL worth pressing through.  Lord willing, I’ll be a better spouse in the days and years to come.  Maybe you will, too.  Give the book a shot!   (And while we’re on the subject of marriage, if you haven’t yet gone through the Love & Respect class at ACC, you really should consider it.  The next class will begin on January 29 at 10:15 and will run for 6 weeks…more info coming!)

2.   UNBROKEN: a World War II story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,  by Laura Hillenbrand:           Wow.  This is some book.  It is not a Christian book, per se.  In fact, I hesitated to even recommend it because of it’s graphic description of Japanese POW camps, the occasional profanities used by the military men.  It’s definitely not for everybody.  But this true story about the life of Louie Zamperini…his wild youth, his experience as part of the 1936 US Olympic team, his weeks spent floating on a life raft in the Pacific after his plane went down, and his years in Japanese POW camps…is inspiring in that God clearly had his hand on Louie.  After the war, his encounter with Jesus through a Billy Graham crusade TOTALLY changed his life.  I sort of got the feeling that the author didn’t know exactly how to describe his conversion experience, but she did a good job of revealing the completely new life that Louie (now in his 90’s) continues to live.  For me at least, this was a very faith-building book…reassuring us that God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do!

OK…that’s about it for today.  HUGE blessings on you all, and remember, keep moving forward and growing in Jesus!


Are you up for a growth spurt?

I saw a movie once in which the leading character kept saying, “When you stop learning, you’re dead!”.  Now, that might be an extreme way of putting it, but there’s really some truth to it.  I might rather say, “Life stops moving forward the minute I stop growing.”  Obviously, I’m not talking about PHYSICAL growth here (I think I’ve done WAY enough of that!)…but rather PERSONAL growth…spiritual, emotional, relational…

So maybe you’ve already guessed that I just finished another book which I’d like to recommend to you.  Yup.  I have to say that this book is one of the most insightful and helpful books I’ve read in a good while.  And it’s about…you guessed it….GROWING. 

The book is called, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero.  Peter is a pastor in New York City, and his basic premise is this…many people come to know the Lord and grow like crazy spiritually.  But often times they neglect continuing to grow emotionally…creating people who can love God and minister to people and serve the church, all with some  effectiveness…but never “grow up” in their own emotions.  They continue to be plagued with anger issues, easily hurt feelings, selfish ambition, poor communication habits with family and loved ones…the list goes on and on.  And so many times the older we get, the harder it is to admit to ourselves or to anyone else that there are unhealthy, immature thoughts and feelings going on inside us.  The interesting thing is, other folks usually already know.

I’m going to go back and re-read this book slowly, letting God speak to me about areas where my flesh (emotional life) still needs a good upbringing.  And I already know that there are plenty.  Peter Scazzero does a great job of helping us to see where growth might be needed, and then gives lots of good, practical tools which can help us to get  in position to be changed by God.

To be honest with you, I  don’t know if I have 2 years or 40 years left on this earth.  And neither do you.  I want to make the most of the time I DO have left, and that means I need to continue to let God change me, grow me up, inside and out.  I need all the tools God makes available, and as far as I can tell, this book is such a tool.




Basic Is Beautiful!!!

BOOK RECOMMENDATION:   “3:16” by Max Lucado

Some people like to read books which challenge their intellect.  Some like stories which are adventurous and thrilling.  Others favor books which are jam-packed with information which they can add to their personal cerebral encyclopedia of facts.  And most of us love books which make us laugh out loud.

I’ve just finished a book which doesn’t necessarily have any of the above characteristics…it only re-awakens and reinforces the awareness of the incredible foundation I’m standing on.  “3:16”, as you might have guessed, is the examination/illumination of John 3:16.  Now before you respond as I did when I first saw this book and say, “Yeah, I already know about that…” please let me finish.  Whether you are unsaved, newly saved, or way-back-when saved, this book is for you.  I sound like a salesman, I know, but I told you guys that I was going to occasionally share with you about books which I think all of us would benefit greatly from.  This is such a book.

Max Lucado, whom I once thought was probably just a shallow, book-producing machine (by the way, I thought this before I actually READ one of his books!), takes an extremely basic yet insightful approach to remind us of Who Jesus is and who we really are.  Every time I picked it up to read (which wasn’t very many times…the actual book portion is only 100 pages long), my heart was filled with HUGE GRATITUDE for Jesus and the salvation He has given me/us!  It’s bigger than we think.  It’s deeper than we think.  And it is so simple and basic.

Yes, basic is beautiful.  Thank you, Max.  And thank YOU, Jesus!

Just Checking In!!!

Well, since it’s been a few weeks since I updated our blog, I’ve got some catching up to do.  Hope you’re enjoying the pleasant Springtime weather and that you’re praying for rain daily!

Plans for our Caleb Zone Japan Mission trip are moving along fast and furious.  What incredible timing, our team of four will be sort of like a small commando unit, going in for 10 days for some high-intensity discipling of Japanese believers, and joining with them to comfort lots of folks in shelters for folks from the earthquake/tsunami zone.  Here’s our team:  Sherry Robinson, Carolyn McEachern, Dennis Johnston, and yours truly.  So would you please pray for the Lord to work out every detail and to make us as fruitful as we  can possibly be?  Thanks a ton!  By the way, the dates of the trip are May 10-30.

OK, shifting gears here a little bit…I want to periodically recommend books that I’ve been reading.  There are SO MANY books out there, and if you’re like me, it’s easy to wonder which ones are worth reading and which ones aren’t.  I read a good bit anyway, but these days I’m trying to read books which I think could be beneficial to you and other folks in our zone.  

Let me mention two books today which have been REALLY beneficial to me in the past few months.  These are “Walking With God” by John Eldridge, and “Present Perfect” by Gregory Boyd.  I think that both of these are available in our ACC bookstore.  These books deal with the issue of living in the Presence of God, but each book tackles this issue from a different perspective.  John Eldridge focuses on maintaining a very real and open communication with God, learning to hear His voice as He directs our steps.  Greg Boyd takes a look at how to grow in our awareness of God’s presence, 24/7.  Both have had a positive effect on my Godward focus and on my approach to God in prayer.  Bottom line… I highly recommed both books!

OK, that’s about it for today.  HUGE blessings on you and your family, and we’ll stay in touch!  Oh, and by the way, I want to include in these blog postings some photos of our LifeGroups.  So if you have any digital LifeGroup photos, and folks don’t mind their pictures being posted, send them my way, OK?

Book Recommendation: “When They Turn Away” by Rob Rienow

How many people do you know who have at least one adult child who is not walking with the Lord?  Lots, right?  We’ve been there.  Maybe you have, too.  You may have noticed that a great percentage of our Lifegroup prayer times are primarily devoted to praying for each other’s grown kids.  It’s one of the biggest issues we face!

This book, “When They Turn Away”, offers some real hope.  It takes a realistic look at lots of scenarios and offers some practical and DO-ABLE steps that we can take in drawing our kids back to the Lord.  I had never heard of Rob Rienow before I read this book, but since then I’ve watched his teaching on an on-line seminar and am considering ordering his DVD series called “Never Too Late” for our zone.  The book is VERY easy to read, by the way.  I just think it is well worth the effort.

Bottom line here…I would HIGHLY recommend this book to virtually anyone who has kids who have turned away from the Lord…or even for those who have FRIENDS whose kids are in that place.  I’m going to see if we can order some for our church bookstore, but in the mean time you probably can order it on-line from most booksellers.

Let’s keep praying for our kids!  It could be that the breakthrough is just around the corner!