Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Signs of the Times.

Yesterday was philosophically peculiar. Besides being tricky to pronounce, that means I ran across some things that left me sad about the state of humankind. First there was this large sign plastered on the side of Fort Worth public transportation: 

This isn't the exact graphics, but it is the exact wording. While looking online for an image of the poster on the bus, I was surprised to find what a massive campaign this is on the part of secular humanists. They have chaplains. The word 'oxymoron' comes to mind. Or maybe just 'moron.'

Of course, I was very disappointed to see that our local government-sponsored bus system thought it was a good idea, at Christmas time of all times, to display this insulting sign. I was surprised to learn that Dallas refused to display this ad, considering it religious in nature, and having a "non-religious" advertising policy. Normally Fort Worth is the conservative side of the metroplex. I suppose this means Fort Worth allows religious advertising? Hopefully there's not a double standard, although I don't know for certain.

At a time when it's all "Happy HOLIDAYS" and lighting a "HOLIDAY tree," I suppose I shouldn't be shocked. Actually, I wasn't. Just doleful and a bit angry at the false message that many searching souls will try to assuage their guilt with.  

Last night when I was checking email, I was further saddened by an article that described several pastors, some that are still in the "ministry", that have lost their faith and become atheists. You can read it for yourself here. How Satan has twisted their minds is a mystery, but one that the Bible warns us to expect, especially in the latter days. Yet, once again, these sinking ships take down many passengers, and allow a gloat-fest from the media.

I haven't a nice, neat little summary, or a clever observation to close this with. It is sobering to see how we must truly know what we believe, and at the same time, understand our enemy. He will appear as an angel of light and draw moths to his flame to be burned.

A few words of truth are in order.

"The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good." Ps. 14:1
"All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." Ps. 14:3
"All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one." Rom. 3:12
"But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Tim. 3:13

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed." 2 Peter 2:1-2

"They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them."  2 Peter 2:19-21

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review: Circle C Beginnings. Early Chapter Books You Won't Want to Miss!

Little girls and horses just seem to go together like . . .well . . . little boys and puppy dogs. I know that I was a horse-crazy kid, and now I have three young ladies of my own that adore all things equine. If you can’t have adventures on your own horse though—oh, what a cross to bear!—the next best thing is to READ about adventures on a horse!
Author Susan K. Marlow has delivered another wonderful series that will have your littlest horse lovers jumping in with both feet. “Circle C Beginnings” is the prequel to Susan Marlow’s other successful series, “Circle C Adventures.” I reviewed Trouble with Treasure, one of the books from the latter series, earlier this year. I just loved the wholesome fun it offered. So much so, that I bought the entire set for my 12 year old daughter. She inhaled every book and proclaimed them to be the best stories her voracious reading appetite had consumed!
When I received the first two “Circle C Beginnings” books recently, my daughter snatched them up and read them as well (even though they are aimed at an audience of 6-8 year olds). There’s something about Andi Carter, the main character of all the Circle C books, that is so endearing. She just seems to find trouble like a flea finds a dog. And it’s always with such good intentions that you can’t help but become a fan! 
In Andi’s Pony Trouble, Andi is tired of her pokey, hand-me-down pony, Coco. She is almost six years old, for Pete’s sake, shouldn’t she be ready for a full-grown horse? Her family doesn’t think so, but Andi is sure she can prove how mature and ready she really is. 
Andi and friend Riley go riding on Coco and Riley’s horse, Midnight. Riley let’s her take a turn galloping on Midnight and Andi feels like she can conquer the world! She certainly doesn’t want to ride boring old Coco anymore. In fact, why can’t the two of them ride double on Midnight and let Coco follow them back to the ranch? Good plan, until they realize Coco is no longer behind them. Andi knows that losing Coco will mean big trouble. If she can’t take care of a pokey, hand-me-down pony, then it proves she really isn’t ready for a full size horse! Maybe if she can find Coco on her own . . . (yes, it’s a bad idea!).
Andi’s Indian Summer finds Andi and friend Riley (or maybe “partner in crime” is a better description?) between a rock and a hard place. A dime-novel about Indian’s taking white men captive has planted some pretty scary images in young Andi’s mind. What could be worse than being kidnapped by a tribe of wild Indians? The children find that getting lost in the vast, unsettled wilderness proves to be a close second. When real Indians come across their path, Andi and Riley are sure they are goners! 
All of the Circle C adventures are set in the late 1800’s, in the untamed Sierra Nevada’s of California. A perfect place for a young tomboy to find trouble and adventure galore! There’s enough rough and tumble fun in these stories to ensure that boys will enjoy them as well. Although Andi makes bad choices at times, she also learns wholesome lessons through the natural consequences of her actions. Important concepts for young people to grasp!
These delightful early chapter books have a “New Words” list to help readers navigate the tale. Illustrator Leslie Gammelgaard has liberally sprinkled her charming sketches throughout the pages, serving to enhance the story that much more.The author also has a few questions and historical facts at the end of each book to add to the experience. You’ll also be glad to know there’s a definite Christian worldview woven into each story that's never preachy, just a natural part of Andi’s life.
Furthermore, on the Circle C website (visit it here), there are activity and coloring pages (related to each book) that can be printed out for FREE, serving to make these chapter books a truly educational experience. If you’re ready to add some Circle C fun to your Christmas gift list, then you can order books by visiting the Kregel Publishing website here.
It has been a pleasure to get to know Andi Carter and crew through the various Circle C books! I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of writing and integrity of character that Susan K. Marlow serves up with each tale. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Punch for a Bunch!

Here's an easy, festive recipe for Christmas punch that you can whip up for your next Christmas party. Good anytime, really!

One gallon of Apple Cider
One bottle of 100% Cranberry juice (you can do Cran-Pomegranate, or Cran-Grape, whatever you fancy).
One 2 liter bottle Ginger Ale, 7-Up or Sprite (Cherry or Cranberry 7-Up helps to keep the drink more pink/red).

Mix in large container and enjoy!

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.