Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Drawn Into The Grand Story of All Time

God's Great Plan -- Book Review

Written by Melissa Cutrera
Illustrated by Matthew Sample II

With engaging words of rhythm and rhyme we are drawn into the grand story of all time.
With pictures galore it is not a bore and once at the end you must read it some more.

The previous sentences are my attempt to characterize the content and character of this book.  Without any negative connotation, this book is “a superb elevator speech”, telling in a well-chosen sequence, the story of creation, fall and redemption with theological completeness in 27 rhythmic two line verses.  Because it is short, it is a great bedtime read, but as with any book, the parents should assess if the sadder elements of the story make another time of day a better time to read.

I found the book appropriate for a wide range of young readers. I liked the illustrations. They provide plenty of opportunity to interact with 2-3 year olds while reading. Even though the vocabulary may be unfamiliar to them, the pictures, along with the rhythm of the words will keep them interested.  The vocabulary is suitable for preschool and young elementary.  This book will remain in my collection for reading to my many grandchildren. It is a 5 star review.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I have been doing a bit of book purging the past couple of months (oh - that doesn't mean I haven't bought any!). Throughout it all I have had many an emotion and thought. This post on principled book purging pretty well sums it up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review of “God in My Everything” by Ken Shigematsu

It usually takes more than a few decades for a person to realize that busyness is an enemy to godliness. The enjoying of God and glorifying of God now and forever requires purposeful activity in a certain direction. Ken Shigematsu has written a book that helps us redirect our busyness to activity that brings us to deep and lasting satisfaction. He shows us how we can find a way of living that brings enjoyment in God in the midst of ordinary living.

 In a concise way, Ken shows how the monastic traditions enabled a centering of a busy life on God. Then using the analogy of a trellis that supports a plant and provides the structure for bearing fruit, he shows how to establish a framework (roots) for life that enable us to relate, restore and to reach out.

The appendix contains a summary of his “Rules of Life” and those of several others. The reader will be relieved to find that having a “Rule of Life” is not necessarily complicated, and the examples have great variety depending on the personality and gifts of the person creating his own “Rule for Life”. Mature Christians familiar with Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” will find they may have arrived at the same place using his methodology for creating a rhythm for life.

 I found the questions at the end of the chapters quite helpful in fixing the major points of the chapter in my mind. They are a good aid to assist reflection on the core message of the chapter.

 I would highly recommend this book and give it a 5 stars out of 5.

 I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Family Prayers for Four Weeks -- Isn't Google providing a wonderful service!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Order From Confusion

I love it when I find examples of how a pastor is able to sift through a person's story and present the hope of the gospel.  Here is one such example from "The Briarpatch Gospel".

He wasted no time before launching into a profanity-laced assault on all things religious, the gist of which was something like this: “I hate God. He’s never done a single thing for me.”
Okay. This is going to be fun. I figured some of his aggression came from the fact that he was on his fourth or fifth whiskey and Coke. “Liquid courage,” as they say. But I knew there was some deep pain beneath the anger.
I turned on my stool to face him, ordered myself a drink, and settled in for what promised to be a long conversation. “Tell me more,” I invited. “I can take it, and I’m pretty sure God can too.”
For the next hour, Dan dominated the conversation as he recounted not knowing his father and being raised by a mother who was loveless and neglectful. She brought into their home countless boyfriends who would beat her, as well as Dan and his younger sister.
When he was old enough, he moved out and found his way to Los Angeles, where he got involved in the pornography industry. He was successful enough to earn a living and support many destructive habits. Involvement in that industry was not conducive to healthy, long-term relationships, so he burned through a string of girlfriends and countless one-night stands.
I kept listening. He kept talking and ordering more drinks. It was one of the saddest stories I had ever heard, and I had the sense that he had never told it to anyone before. I thought it could not get any worse.
I was wrong.
“So what brings you to Decatur?” His story had caught up to the present, and honestly, I was hoping my question would change the subject.
“I’m here to testify in my mother’s murder trial.” He pointed across the square in the general direction of the county courthouse.
My jaw dropped and I began to think, Yeah, I can see why you’re not God’s biggest fan.
“My mother didn’t like my sister’s boyfriend,” he continued. “He would beat my sister, and so my mom got a gun and went and shot him dead."
I was done. Exhausted. We sat in silence for a few minutes, staring into our respective drinks.
He raised his whiskey and Coke to his mouth and muttered into the glass, “So you’ll excuse me if I think God is full of it.”
More silence.
“You know what I think?” I finally said, not waiting for an answer. “I think you’ve been deserted and neglected by those who should have loved and protected you. Your father had no right to leave. That’s not what fathers are supposed to do. Sure, your mother had it bad, but she had a responsibility to protect you and your sister. She let you down. And correct me if I am wrong, but by the way you’re tossing down so much whiskey, beginning at four in the afternoon, I think you’re an alcoholic. You’re looking for meaning and belonging in an industry and illicit relationships that are only emaciating your soul. But deep down, beneath the porn and drugs and abuse and alcohol, your real problem is that you don’t think anyone can love you, not even God. You don’t think God could possibly love someone like you.”
He sat there, head slumped, long enough for the tears to reach his chin. Raising his eyes, he looked at me and said, “You know, you’re right.” “Dan, the truth is, if God can’t love you, then there’s no hope for me either. A lot of bad stuff has happened to you, but you’ve made some pretty bad decisions yourself. The good news is that none of that disqualifies you for God’s affection. Jesus came for broken and stupid people just like you and me. And it’s not fair for us to blame God for everything if we are going to purposely shut him out of our lives. When you sober up a bit and get back to LA tomorrow, I want you to call a friend of mine.”

Wheeler, Shayne (2013-02-18). The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places (pp. 202-206). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Influence: Deep and Wide

This article echos the increasing conviction I have that God is leading me to invest in just a few people to spend time with and to disciple.  It is the answer to years of frustration in seeing people learn, but not be transformed.

Influence: Deep and Wide

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Reads in Jan, Feb, March 2013

  • In the Presence of My Enemies - Grace Burnham
  • The Hidden Life of Prayer - David MacIntyre
  • Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being: Zack Eswine
  • Am I Called - Dave Harvey

Friday, January 18, 2013

The True Path To Freedom From Lust's Bondage

Surfing For God
Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle
by  Michael Cusik
Review by Dana Perkins
Published by Thomas Nelson

"The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one's life to a larger goal." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

These well chosen words appearing at the beginning of the book summarize both the content and the flow of this hope inspiring book meant to give freedom to those struggling with lust.  Through the use of personal story, biblical story and stories of well-known writers, Michael Cusick presents a clear and compelling Gospel pathway to real freedom from bondage to pornography.  The author adds very useful information about ancient spiritual disciplines and recent information on the neuroplasticity of the brain to assist the reader in his journey to freedom.

Many readers will identify with Michael's description of the difficulty we have in connecting truths such as "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" or "the truth will set you free" and the experience of these truths.    Our hearts long to say, as David says in Psalm 119:32 "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free".  In five parts spread over 14 chapters and a helpful conclusion Michael Cusick leads the reader into discovering the divine desire beneath sexual struggle and shows the gospel pathway to freedom.
     I. Why breaking free from porn is so difficult
    II. The spiritual roots of addition
         a. The ways we avoid and control pain and how this relates to using pornography.
         b. The nature of shame and how you overcome it.
         c. The familiar cycle of how men become ensnared with porn.
   III. Unearthing the lost treasure of the Gospel
         a. Our deepest desire
         b. Being a spiritual warrior - the need to fight against darkness
         c. The way porn subverts your brain and capacity for intimacy
   IV.  The specific path to freedom and wholeness.
   V. God's pattern for bringing about change.

Each chapter begins with a marvelous pithy quote. These quotes are like sparkling jewels waiting to be delighted in.  They serve to draw the reader in and provide great summary statements for later recollection of the contents of the chapter they represent.

This book is one on of the best books I have read on this subject.  I think it provides help not just for addiction to pornography, but also for any addiction one might have, including alcohol. For me, this is one of the most helpful reads of 2012.

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.")

Monday, December 31, 2012

Books read in Nov-Dec 2012

Just a note for me: Books read in Dec

With Me: Relational Essentials for a Discipleship Ethos – Lance Ford
One of: Beginning the Missional Journey – Gregg Nettle and Alex Absalom
Released: The Power of Everyday Christian on Mission - Matt Carter
Grow: Reproducing Through Organic Discipleship – Winfield Bevins
Disciples Who Make Disciples: Turning Your Church Into a Multiplying Movement – Gregg Nettle
Unleader - Lance Ford
Promise Me This - Cathy Gohlke

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Men of Sunday

Men of Sunday
How Faith Guides the Players, Coaches, and Wives of the NFL
By Curtis Echelberger
Published by Thomas Nelson

I’m not one who follows football all that closely, but since we are in the middle of football season, I thought this would be an interesting read.  Interesting book, but bad choice for me.  I don't know most of the many players and managers mentioned in the book, and for that reason found it hard to stay interested in the book.
But for someone who follows football, there is an incredible number of football players and managers covered.  Given the lack of media coverage on the role faith plays on football teams, players and coaches, I was pleasantly surprised to find an amazing amount of detail on the role of faith and on the religious attitudes and lifestyles of many of the players and their families.

However I do have a caution in reading the book, especially for those whose love of football and the players could blind them to some of the questionable statements that are occasionally made. One obvious one is on page 37 where Washington Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is responding to the questions of seriously injuring an opponent when it may not be necessary.  He says we don’t want to put the game above the lives of the people He created. However, he then says, “But he has called us to play this game 100 percent without fear or hesitation to His glory, and as long as we do that within the rules, I believe that in His eyes He is pleased with what we are doing.”  The catch in this statement is by what rules is Atogwe playing.  The rules he refers to are the rules of football, but if they are applied in a wooden way, without judgement, then following the rules will violate the biblical requirement to love your neighbor.  There seems to be one set of rules used for football, and another for before and after the game.

That said – if you love football and are wondering how faith is lived out in the lives of the players and their families, this would be a good easy read.

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good and profitable read but not great literature:

Mondays With My Old Pastor 

by Jose Luis Navajo

“Old age is like climbing a large mountain. The higher you get, the more tired and breathless you become, but your sight becomes more free and the view more extensive and serene.” Igman Bergman

An unnamed retired pastor was such a man who from the top of the mountain was able to bring encouragement at a time when Evangelical Pastor Navajo was burned out and disillusioned and ready to quit the ministry.  At his old pastor’s insistence, Pastor Navajo visits the dying pastor for a number of weeks over which 15 encouragements are given to him.  These encouragements bring new life and renewed vision to Pastor Navajo and his wife and will also bring much encouragement to the reader.

Although I profited a great deal from the book and would highly recommend it, it fell short as a good work of art.  I found the book often excessively sweet and sentimental. The author tried to make the book read like a novel, but it was choppy in it’s genre as it often came through as non-fiction.

At the end of the book (don’t read ahead!) the fifteen principles are summarized, and I will probably extract them for regular review. Jose ends with
“During the night, a person asks a thousand questions. … But morning finally comes and the sun restores everything to its rightful place. Then we discover that the grotesque shadows at night that seemed like arms of a skeleton were only branches laden with fruit, and that empty blackness that seemed like an abyss in the darkness was a well of crystal-clear water willing to refresh us.”

 Overall a great book, I would give the book 4 stars out of 5

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

John Newton has done it again...

John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 1, hymn 126

1. I would, but cannot sing,
Guilt has untuned my voice;
The serpent sin's envenomed sting
Has poisoned all my joys.

2. I know the Lord is nigh,
And would, but cannot, pray;
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.

3. I would but can't repent
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne'er relent
Till Jesus make it soft.

4. I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have pow'r to move
A soul so base as mine.

5. I would, but cannot rest
In God's most holy will;
I know what he appoints is best,
Yet murmur at it still!

6. Oh could I but believe!
Then all would easy be;
I would, but cannot, Lord relieve,
My help must come from thee!

7. But if indeed I would,
Though I can nothing do,
Yet the desire is something good,
For which my praise is due.

8. By nature prone to ill,
Till thine appointed hour
I was as destitute of will,
As now I am of pow'r

9. Wilt thou not crown, at length,
The work thou hast begun?
And with a will, afford me strength
In all thy ways to run.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Book of Knights - Yves Meynard

This is a marvelous well written book. It is a fantasy, but an easy and pretty straightforward read. For those looking for a book that looks deeper into life, courage and wisdom and for growing into maturity, this is it. Good for adventure and hard to put down.

The author has written several books in French, and I think has done a great job in English!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Time to Talk

This poem by Robert Frost cuts to the quick. I want so much to do this more often, but find it hard. So this is my prayer for today "Lord grant me a greater love for people than for getting things done."

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Marva Dawn

If you have not read Marva Dawn, then you ought to. I am sad to say my list of books I am currently reading has had to undergo a reality check, so I must put this one down to read later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Advanced Driving Skills School

Yup - it's back to school and fun it was. This is a rather tame picture, but one of the few I have. At the beginning of the day, we were learning how to change direction quickly without loosing control of the car. Switching over 1 lane, then 2 without braking, sliding or taking out instructors and photographers who were standing right in front of us signaling us when to change lanes.
We began the day with a chalk talk to learn the basics of vehicle dynamics, but spent most of the day on the skid pad. I know all about understeer, oversteer, steering with the throttle, secondary weight transfer and power-slides and put them to good use on the figure 8 and auto cross courses. Check it out I just may go on to the High Performance school in the fall and put in some track time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spiritual Discernment

Rarely have I found so many people I respect recommend a book as highly as this one. I am in the middle of reading it and find it quite good. More later. In the meantime check out the author Tim Challies' web site. Check it out.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"Nowhere did I find the quality of that preacher"

I've had this book set aside for a long time hoping to get to read it one day. A couple of weekends ago, I finally got to read it when a friend offered us a weekend getaway at their parents summer home near the Botanical Gardens near Boothbar Harbor. Here is one of the delightful and surpizing passages from the book. Written in 1962, Steinbeck observers something still needed to be seen by evangelicals today. A reminder also I think of the knowledge of God in everyone (Romans Chapter 1)

"Sunday morning, in a Vermont town, my last day in New England, I shaved, dressed in a suit, polished my shoes, whited my sepulcher, and looked for a church to attend. Several I eliminated for reasons I do not now remember, but on seeing a John Knox church I drove into a side street and parked Rocinante out of sight, gave Charley his instructions about watching the truck, and took my way with dignity to a church of blindingly white ship lap. I took my seat in the rear of. the spotless, polished place of worship. The prayers were to the point, directing the attention of the Almighty to certain weaknesses and undivine tendencies I know to be mine and could only suppose were shared by others gathered there.

The service did my heart and I hope my soul some good. It had been long since I had heard such an approach. It is our practice now, at least in the large cities, to find from our psychiatric priesthood that our sins aren't really sins at all but accidents that are set in motion by forces beyond our control. There was no such nonsense in this church. The minister, a man of iron with tool-steel eyes and a delivery like a pneumatic drill, opened up with prayer and reassured us that we were a pretty sorry lot. And he was right. We didn't amount to much to start with, and due to our own tawdry efforts we had been slipping ever since. Then, having softened us up, he went into a glorious sermon, a fire-and-brimstone sermon. Having proved that we, or perhaps only I, were no damn good, he painted with cool certainty what was likely to happen to us if we didn't make some basic reorganizations for which he didn't hold out much hope. He spoke of hell as an expert, not the mush-mush hell of these soft days, but a well-stoked, white-hot hell served by technicians of the first order. This reverend brought it to a point where we could understand it, a good hard coal fire, plenty of draft, and a squad of open-hearth devils who put their hearts into their work, and their work was me. I began to feel good all over. For some years now God has been a pal to us, practicing togetherness, and that causes the same emptiness a father does playing softball with his son. But this Vermont God cared enough about me to go to a lot of trouble kicking the hell out of me. He put my sins in a new perspective. Whereas they had been small and mean and nasty and best forgotten, this minister gave them some size and bloom and dignity. I hadn't been thinking very well of myself for some years, but if my sins had this dimen sion there was some pride left. I wasn't a naughty child but a first rate sinner, and I was going to catch it.

I felt so revived in spirit that I put five dollars in the plate, and afterward, in front of the church, shook hands warmly with the minister and as many of the congregation as I could. It gave me a lovely sense of evil-doing that lasted clear through till Tuesday. "
-- John Steinbeck in Travels With Charlie -- page 79

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Engaging Your Emotions Against Evil

I don't like the title for this book, but the contents really captivated me. The subtitle much more accurately describes what the book is about.

Prayer requests often seem so weak, because we are not really sure what God's will is. Not wanting to be presumtuous, I often think as I pray, "if it is your will, Lord". But then this puts me in the frame of mind where I don't really expect God to answer my prayer. He is going to go ahead and do what He wants to do whatever I ask. So my prayer is emptied of emotion.

This book was helpful in my seeing that "Jesus didn't ask his disciples to pray according to his will and then neglect to let them know what it was."(page 51) We know what God's character is and the intentions he has for us. There is not as much need to put a reign on my prayers as I have been doing. I am not sure how God will work out the circumstances and I am glad I can leave that to Him, but there is plenty I do know and plenty he has asked me to pray about, and with no caveats. So my prayers are now more decisive and persistent.

This would make a good book to use for our Family Reunion this summer. If anyone is interested in it -- let me know and I'll order you a copy - shipped direct to your home in time to at least look through it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I had real good luck with the compost this year. It is nice and light and black with little junk in it. I use grass clippings, kitchen wastes, leaves and stuff from the garden. I usually put it at the far side in the picture and turn it to the left -- then reverse and turn it to the right and then back again where it ends up in the bin on the end.

This year's garden

We managed to get a yard of nice clean wood chips when the delivery next door would not fit in the space available. The carpet is wearing out - so the wood chips arrived just in time to spread them out in the paths. I thined the forsythia out and gave away a bunch of them to neighbors and friends. I've also torn out a lot of the dogwood at the edge of the garden. My brush pile is now 6 feet high and about 10 foot wide and 10 fit high - after jumping on it several times! Got to take it all to the dump soon.
Broccli and lettuce has been planted.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Perkins Poetry

The following two poems were found in a undated (about 20 years ago) special edition of a Second Parish OPC Newsletter called All Creatures Great & Small.

Deep in the forest of the Amazon jungle
is this place I know.
In this place where the cheetah has no spots,

the zebra has not a single stripe,
the banana is always ripe,
the giraffe has no neck,
and the woodpecker does not peck,
is a rare and most unusual treasure.
This treasure fulfills every worldly pleasure,

but to obtain it an exchange must be made:
The human soul for this unusual treasure.

Woe to the man who makes this trade
and follows his greedy desire,
for he shall burn in the eternal fire

when he dies and leaves his treasure.
Ha! He will pay to the fullest measure
for his foolish action.
Now we must leave this place

and leave not a trace
of our being here.
My friends, let us leave this treasure

to the animals who have no souls to give.
Let us not follow our fantasies and wildest dreams

or we may not fulfill our purpose in life.
This purpose is to love God
and feed our cats and dogs.
--Andrew Perkins

Have a good day in Zion,
Said the lion to the sheep;
For if you venture from its gates,
It surely will be for keeps.
--Dana Perkins

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Checkout the two sets of pictures Matt's visit in July and our trip to Boise.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Joan has been hapilly volunteering at Mercy Hospital arranging flowers for sale. She has a talent for this and much to her delight is being trained by a retired Florist. Ask her about it - she loves to talk about it!

Keyed Up

Saturday, June 07, 2008

World Flute Trio

Carl Dimow (bass flute), Nicole Rabata (Irish Flute) and Phil Nyuokai (shakuhacki flute) gave us one grand time last night. This was an amazing blend of Irish, Japanese, Jewish and European music. Ever hear an Irish-Japanese Blues? We did - I think the first time that they played it - so there is no recording of it, but it was some sweet music that left me feeling alive and soothed. I thought the opening footstomper (with an Japanese shakuhacki?-- ya!) was going to be the best, but it just kept getting better. Especially nice was classical guitarist Nathan Kolosko who joined Carl for 2 numbers. The most amazing piece was the last number where there was the most awesome blending of Irish flute and Japanese flute with a suporting bass flute melding into the turns the Irish flute and Japanese flute took at playing melodies that were hard to say were either Irish or Japanese -- they were both at the same time. It is like the music was made for each other's instruments! Here is a link to their site, but the concert was so much better than any samples I found. The World Flute Trio.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Flowers in Backyard on June 01, 2008

One of my favorites and one of more than 11 flowers in bloom in the back yard.
For more pictures go to flickr

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Three in one

I bet not everyone can catch 3 woodchucks at one time in one trap!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Celebration Extraordinaire

If's off to Spruce Point for our 37th Wedding Anniversary!

Nestled away in the woods on the edge of the ocean.
We enjoyed some time on deck
Viewing and listening to the waves
Watching the schooners pass bye.
more on flickr.com

Monday, May 12, 2008

Celebratory Toast

Joan is just getting over a wicked cold so we postponed the culinary celebration of our 37th wedding anniversary. We did however post a toast and bent the elbow with a good Smithwick's Pale Ale using the mugs Andrew got us while in Europe.
I wanted to include some words of wisdom, but the head to page translater isn't working this morning.