Sunday, July 31, 2011

Humble Pie Notes

My notes from today's message at Westside Family Church Online Campus

Life Apps - Week 4
Humble Pie - Jimmy Nickelsen
James 4:1-11

Big Idea for the series:  God offers the wisdom you need, download it, use it.

Pastry filled with the entrails and organs of slaughtered animals ... basically hot dogs.  :)

Jimmy telling his story ... being his own boss as a plummer.

Make sure you can fulfill the promises that your making ... the little voice in the back of his head. 

Relationships stretched to the breaking point ... heading for a train wreck.

He was cracking under the pressure, he cracked, it was crushed, end of dream. 

James 4.6 - opposes the proud, grace to the humble

Today’s Big Idea:  “God’s plan A: humility   God’s plan B: humiliation"

1. God loves you enough to oppose you.

Proverbs 8:13b  ...I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

... I had stretched everyone around me ... evil behavior, nothing uplifting ... this verse applied to me. 

Leviticus 26:19  I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the earth beneath you like bronze.  (Holman Christian Standard)

... God will oppose your work and dry up your resources in order to get your attention. 
... Humble Pie app is the bell at the back of your head dinging ... the idiot light on your dashboard.  God's trying to get your attention.  Stop, slow down, read the road signs (Danger!)

What's this look like in real life?  Fewer friends, and the friends you have left are perhaps telling you you're drinking too much.  You're not sleeping enough.  Feel like God is judging you. 

Luke 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

... Back to the basics.  Own those bad behaviors. 

2. Win through daily humble choices.

Luke 14:8-10  “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.

... parable that talks about daily choices.  Choose the cheap seats, not the box seats. 

Philippians 2:3-4  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own  interests but each of you to the interest of others.

... Pay attention to the little things.  Small steps of obedience. 

Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.

... God does not guarantee a result that we will like.  No expectation of a reciprocating response.  Trust Him to lift you up. 

3.  Trust God to do the lifting.

Isaiah 66:2  These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit and who tremble at my word.

... contrite=broken, teachable

... Back to the end of the story.  End of Jimmy's dream.  Talking to an attorney, who advised he file bankruptcy.  Scary moment before the bankruptcy judge.  Judge said: I'll be seeing you again ... I know your type.  Something hit Jimmy, that shattered his crust.  He did not like that judge because he saw through him.  There is another Judge, his name is Jesus, and he knows your type. 

Jesus is the Judge!  He knows your type.

... We are all built to need praise, love and respect.  Need to be held and validated.  But we must look in the right direction and trust God to do the lifting. 

Philippians 2:8  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!

... God lowered himself to be with us (as Jesus).  How do you tell the difference between a good shepherd and a bad shepherd.  He smells like his sheep.  He got stinky for us and endured the shame of the cross but before that he walked in humility among us.  He was the lowest, and lifted up the highest.  Trust God to do the lifting up. 

... God's plan for us is humility. 

Choose Plan A!

Prayer:  You are the hope that we have.  Turn toward God.  Look to God and trust Him with all your heart.  Jesus, we love you, we pray to you and in your perfect name, Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Get Your Hot Summer Book Swaps Here

Due to the Ozone Red Alert Warning for today, I'm staying inside and at home today. This leaves me no excuse but to tackle projects I've neglected for weeks if not months. Overnight I received a BookMooch request to send a book to a Californian, so it got me thinking about my physical book inventory. Once I found the book requested for BookMooch, I packaged it and addressed it sitting in my new library. I grabbed a stack of books I'd set aside as abandoned and started adding them to my GoodReads swap site. And now that I own a Nook Color, I want to see less physical books on my physical book shelves to make room for the more ephemeral ebooks on my virtual shelves.

Friday, July 22, 2011

eBook Bargains (and Freebies) via The Cheap

the Cheap

Welcome to the Cheap!.

Excellent blog, including Twitter feed and several Facebook pages to supply any avid ereader with serendipitous and abundant ebook freebies and bargains.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Newly Released eBook Edition of SF Classic - The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Ridan Publishing released late last week an ebook edition of Joe Haldeman's classic award winning science fiction novel The Forever War.   A must read for any die-hard fan of science fiction, especially the military scifi subgenre.

My review, written two years ago during the Summer of 2009, follows:

The Forever WarThe Forever War by Joe Haldeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

If I had been born in the 50s and also been born male, I'm positive I would have loved this story. All the pain, confusion and futility of Vietnam but strung out and extrapolated over three thousand years (or about three years relatively speaking). The last fourth of the book salvaged the first three parts.

I didn't have any trouble grasping the science, the physics or the technology. Haldeman did an excellent job conveying them without making me take a course in quantum physics or string theory.

But again, similar to The Accidental Time Machine, character development suffers, even though we spend months bored in transit. I personally didn't care for or agree with his predictions for societal changes on Earth and elsewhere that occurred while Mandella travelled at relativistic speeds. I did agree with the morale of his story, which is similar to Ender's Game in philosophy.

I've now read most of the classic (and one neo-classic) military science fiction novels. My personal favorite seems to be Old Man's War by John Scalzi, followed closely by Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Haldeman's Forever War follows and the distant finisher remains Armor by John Steakley.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: The Summer Tree by Kay

The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, #1)The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took quite some time to warm-up to this earliest novel of Guy Gavriel Kay. I just couldn't get excited about five Canadian college students agreeing (with the exception of one malcontent ... but there's always got to be one rebel) to be whisked or warped or rifted or transported (take your pick) to the world of Fionavar just to attend the king's jubilee. Thrust into a seemingly medieval setting, complete with court politics, royal succession quandaries, manipulative magicians, kingdom-wide drought and blight and an approaching storm of vengeful evil, these young men and women adapt readily and a bit unbelievably. Even the initial loss of one in the crossing barely causes a blip of concern once the remaining four become embroiled in the avalanche of events bearing down on the kingdom.

Of all the characters, both from our world and Finovar, I respected Dave the most as well as Sharra (and I hope to learn more about her in the rest of the series). Paul seemed to excel at doing the right things for all the wrong reasons. Kimberly went native almost before leaving Earth, but Kevin remains an enigma to me. I barely glimpsed Jennifer's tribulations and fear for her fate.

I saw the influence of Celtic mythology throughout Kay's worldbuilding and drew parallels with other epic fantasies prevalent and popular in the late 70s and early 80s (Tolkien, Lewis and to a lesser extent Brooks).

I suspect I missed reading the Fionavar Tapestry in high school and early college because I had to rely on what I saw at the grocery store book/magazine aisle, since I didn't have access to a library or a book store and GoodReads wasn't even a gleam on the Internet's nascent horizon. Had I read this series then, I am confident I would have added it to my permanent re-read collection. While The Summer Tree and the rest of the Fionavar Tapestry will remain on my shelves besides Kay's other later great novels, I doubt I'll be tempted to re-read it. Not with Tigana or the Lions of Al-Rassan enticing me to return and relive the wonder and the glory.

For further insights, please visit the discussion threads at the GoodReads Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club held in June 2011.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review: A Shot in the Dark by Stewart

A Shot in the Dark (Jesse James Dawson, #2)A Shot in the Dark by K.A. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

A Shot in the Dark continues a few months after A Devil in the Details, with Jesse James Dawson mostly recovered from his last demon death-dance and tornado tango, but still suffering from nightmares of an earlier near-fatal demon fight. His annual Colorado camping trip with his buddies should provide ample opportunity for rejuvenation and recreation… What should have been a relaxing retreat quickly turns into a siege reminiscent of the Alamo . . .

A Shot in the Dark provides a good mystery, a few thrills, a new take on zombies, MacGyver-esque innovations in demon fighting and a peek into the true identity of Jesse’s favorite demon sidekick, Axel (hint: read To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust or Milton’s Paradise Lost). This is a strong sequel to last year’s A Devil in the Details and a great summer vacation read. Just don’t forget the holy water, mirrors and swords.


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Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Reads - Second Third

I met all my reading goals for the first month of summer. I loaded up the first of the month with the authors I knew would delivery excellent stories, leaving the unknown frontier of my book club selections for the middle and end of June. I devoted the last week of the month to reading the first in a relatively new fantasy series by Kevin J. Anderson that I've been surprised and engrossed in for days. The third book in his Terra Incognita series releases in a couple of weeks, so I'm all fired up to read the second book as soon as possible.

For July, my GoodReads book clubs are hit and miss:

Over at Fantasy Book Club Series, we're continuing in the Empire Triology with Servant of the Empire. I'm looking forward to reading what Mara plots next for the Game of Counsel on Kelewan.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club selected The Snow Queen for our July scifi reading pleasure. I've had this book on my shelves for years and finally have no excuse not to read it.

Neither selection at Beyond Reality for July appeals to me, but we are accepting nominations for our next series read and will probably have the poll up for voting by the time this blog post publishes.

The Fantasy Book Club decided to read the ever-popular Wizard of Earthsea in July. Since I've read this classic by Le Guinn several times already, including recently when the Syfy channel aired a mini-series based on the trilogy, I'm going to skip another re-read this time around.

For Fantasy Literature, I need to read and review Sorcery Rising and listen to Dragongirl.

I'll round out July by continuing in the Fionavar Tapestry with The Wandering Fire. And, if I can acquire a copy of the second novel in Terra Incognita, I'll continue exploring and searching for the lost continent of Terravitae in The Map of All Things.

Friday Morning Update: I actually finished The Edge of the World a couple of days ago (but with the holiday weekend I won't get a review written for a few days). As filler to round out the last couple of days of June, I started reading one of Barnes & Nobles 'free Friday' Nook Books from a couple of weeks ago entitled Stupid History. Aptly titled and I should whip through it in record time, leaving my intelligence intact (I hope). The best surprise I got this morning, though, was the companion progressive rock CD released by Rosswell Six called Beyond the Horizaon. I listened to the first four tracks on the drive in to work today and I felt transported back to the glory days of the 70s and rock bands I grew up with (and savored) like Kansas, Rush and Styx. Click on the CD cover icon to listen to excerpts of the songs: