Archive for April, 2012

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Do you wonder what heaven is like? Will you experience Heaven?

Author Andrew Farley doesn’t want us to wait until we die to experience Heaven, he says that we can experience parts of heaven here and now on earth. Farley’s book is based on the questions:

What if heaven wasn’t just meant to be experienced after we die? What if heaven can be enjoyed here on earth–right now?

We sometimes are so busy within our lives that we don’t take time for our spiritual lives. Sometimes the only time we can make for God is during Sunday’s church service. We live lives that seem devoid of God. This isn’t God’s plan for us and for the world.

Farley states that God intends for us to experience the beauty and joy of heaven in our daily lives, regardless of our life situations.

We have put barriers up between us and God, and the Author Farley challenges us to tear down those barriers and awaken our five spiritual senses so that we may experience heaven here and now.

The book is divided into sections based on awakening each sense:

Sense 1: Feel the Freedom of Grace
Sense 2: Hear the Spirit Bearing Witness
Sense 3: See the Finished Work of Jesus
Sense 4: Smell the Fragrant Aroma of Christ
Sense 5: Taste the Goodness of the Lord

Farley challenges us to take action and put work into our relationship with God. Throughout the book there are Biblical References for the reader to go one step further and there are prayers to help focus on the task at hand, experiencing the presence of God.

This could be a book to have during a book study or lenten activity. I enjoyed the book and want to see how it would work in a group setting. It challenged me to think about my relationship with God and how God is involved in  my life today.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

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This is the first in a series of books in the “Books of the Infinite”. It follows the fictional journey of a young prophet named Ela. The writer mixes fantasy style writing with religious themes and it makes for a fancinating story.

I found myself lost in following Ela’s story and what would happen next. The book seems to follow in some ways the stories of the different prophets in Christianity. Ela deals with horrible visions about the future, is ostracized by many who she meets, has to go away from family and deal with hardship.

It is a tale of survival and persistance through hardship. Ela shows what it means to follow one’s faith and to follow God (The Infinite) no matter what the personal cost. I could not put the book down and I am inpatiently waiting for the next installment.

There are scenes of violence within the book so I would not recommend it for a young reader, but it would be great for a teenager or adult. Even though it is a fictional tale I found myself feeling for Ela and also gaining some understanding about the Biblical prophets and the struggle they faced.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

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Real Marriage DVD-Based Study Kit The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together

Written by By Mark & Grace Driscoll
Published by Thomas Nelson

This is a book and dvd based study. It was my first experience with a dvd based study. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I received this study a few months ago and it took several weeks to fully evaluate. I used this with my spouse as a way for us to discuss our marriage and what it means for our faith.

I feel that this study would be a good resource to use for a marriage seminar with other couples. The book which came with the study,  supplemented the dvd, and it would be an excellent resource for the leader to have and use, but found it not necessary for participants to have. The Dvd is divided into 11 short segments around 10 minutes-15 minutes each.

As we are a relatively young couple, 30 years old, and without children, some parts of the study weren’t really applicable to us at this point in our lives. For myself, being a young Pastor I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable leading some of the sessions due to my own inexperience.

I found that the study guide contained many good questions and I could easily see this resource being used in a group to help facilitate discussions. I am wondering also how comfortable some people would be in participating in conversations around sexuality while in a group setting.

Overall, I found the study interesting and engaging. I will be interested to try it in a group setting and get some feedback on it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 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.”

Contest from Graf-Martin

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

What if you told God you would do anything and He took you up on it? http://bit.ly/HEcVvL

Olay Hair Remover Duo

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

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This is a relatively new product from Olay. It hasn’t been on store shelves here in Canada for even a year yet. I’ve been using it for the last three months.

It costs $35 for one kit which has up to 12 applications. So what does it do?

It is a hair removal system for the lip, cheek, chin area. It basically dissolves the hair in about 10 minutes. You first smooth on a protecting balm (and believe me you do want to use the protecting balm) then you use the hair creme over it in a thick layer, wait up to 10 minutes and wipe off with papertowel, wash face with water.

This must be used on a clean face, so I use a product such as teraseptic so there is no residue left after cleansing.

Now I am not an overly hairy person, but with age hairs appear here and there. I use this product about once a month, once every two months. I find it works very well. I was shocked at the first time I used it, as it worked just that well.

The downside is that for 10 minutes you look like a fool with this creme smeared everywhere, if you put the creme on a spot that wasn’t first covered with the balm there is some irritation that does occur, and there is a slight chemical smell to the product. I would not use this product before going out somewhere, as with my pale skin, my skin appears red for a couple of hours.

The upside is that it works and it works well. It is cheaper than going to a salon, and depending on how much product you need to use, one package could last you a year. It is a fantastic product. great job Olay.

5/5

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Satin Care In-Shower Moisturizer by Gillette

I’ve been using this product off and on since it came out over two years ago. I usually stick to the sensitive skin as I have sensitive skin. So what is the product?

Well, it’s a moisturizer that you can apply to wet skin and wash off. You can use it while showering and after shaving. I have used it on those days when my skin feels extra dry. The past two weeks I find myself using it almost every day. The smell is fantastic.

It takes some getting used to, as when you apply it, it doesn’t rub in like a lotion, it instead seems to stay on top of the skin. You also wash it off, as you would soap, but it doesn’t all wash off, when wet it feels more like a film on your skin. Basically when drying off it feels slightly sticky/oily, not a good feeling.

After a few minutes, skin feels silky and moisturized. I especially like using it on my elbows. I would not recommend it on areas where you normally break out such as face, neck or back. I also would not use it on feet, as it causes the tub to be slippery, so use care when using the product.

A little but goes a long way, and for busy people like me, it’s a great way to remember to moisturizer. I usually apply it after I condition my hair, so it allows the conditioner to set in for a moment or two.

You find it in the shaving care aisle.

4/5.

More and more our churches are looking at ways to cut back on spending, there is less revenue coming in as there are less people attending churches. Some churches see a fix to their financial issue in getting a new minister, one freshly graduated, just out of seminary. As this means for them they get cheap labour and they still have a full time minister.

There are problems with this way of thinking. Often at least in Canada, the churches willing to take young, fresh seminarians are in rural areas. Rural areas are lovely, and the churches often have many volunteers to take on tasks. Rural areas however can be shocking to a new minister and their family. At least in the Maritime’s rural means a lack of jobs and a lack of social opportunities. It also can be hard to break into a rural area, as most people were born and raised here, you are seen as an outsider. This is further complicated by the fact that you are the Minister, and/or the Minister’s partner/child etc. All your business is soon known to the small community.

In my case I am a young (one of only 15 across the country under 30 ordained ministers within my denomination) minister. This is my first career and as such I spent 8 years in school to get ordained. That schooling comes with a lot of debt. My spouse has been completely supportive and followed me around from my undergraduate, to graduate studies and internship and now to the country life. He also has his undergraduate degree with debt. As we moved around so much due to the way the program is structured he has never had a professional job, he has instead chosen to do whatever work pays the bills while I have been in school. That has always worked for us, except now that we have come to the country.

The church offered two pathways into ministry, one path is where the new minister found their own church (call) and then the traditional route where the minister is placed by a committee into a church community (settlement). I chose the latter as I soon found out Maritime churches being slow to change, did not perhaps want a newly ordained Minister. With settlement comes challenges, and boy have we ever faced those challenges.

We knew we were heading towards an English community surrounding by French communities just on the cusp of the Acadian Pennisula. We never considered what that really meant for us. We thought well if a committee matched us here then it has to be alright. That was the wrong hypothesis to make. We experience first culture shock, as it sets in that we are first the youngest people in the village, and secondly that the village is mostly french and we do not speak a work of french. We were literally city folks plunked down into the country. Slowly I began to learn the way of country life, such as what a sump pump is, and how a well works.

We settle into the very quiet life, but it soon begins to become undone. We are the youngest people in the village, the next youngest would be in their late fifties, we however aren’t even 30 years old. So it meant no social life. We tried starting up a softball team, no one responded, we looked for social events, most were in french. Drawback one.
My partner had kept himself fairly busy with looking for work. No matter where we had lived before he had always found work doing something, his fall back job had been working in a kitchen. Little did we realize, that the jobs we were told about that exist here all require French, which he does not have. One month passes no work and no interviews, two months pass, three, four, five months, seven months pass before he finds employment. Within that time student loans comes a knocking wanting to be repayed, car loans need to be paid, and we need to eat somehow. Did I mention I am a newly ordained Minister?

I slowly see my spouse become depressed, the only job he was able to find was a contract with a call center an hour drive away. If you have ever worked at a call center you know how depressing that can be. With him being depressed I find myself getting slowly sucked down as well. Turns out the first year ministry is very challenging indeed. The bills are still coming in the doors even though the money is not coming in.

I throw myself into work to try to deal, after all, it’s only been 8 months here and we haven’t met a single friend. Friends aren’t that important are they? To deal with the isolation and loneliness and stress, I do what we are always told not to do in seminary, I become the workaholic preacher, working until midnight most nights and at work at 9 in the morning. I visit, make sure the paperwork gets done and administrative duties are done (as the country church does not have paid secretarial support).

Did I also mention that the past clergy person was here for five years an had a spouse who filled  in and helped out with many of his duties? So here I am filling the role of two people, and I am only one person. I cover a 73 kilometer stretch with three churches within my pastoral charge. So I cover three seperate and distinct communities which are about an hour between furthest points, the middle one being half way.

As my spouse becomes more withdrawn I throw myself into work more, only to find out that it’s not helping and that I am coming apart at the seams. Things are not good here. There is some major conflict happening within the church community due to an outside conflict that started before I arrived. Are things complicated enough yet?

Did I mention that one church also is a covenanting community and governed my a different set of rules than the other two churches which includes using different hymn books, and it completely against homosexuality while I am an affirming clergy person?

The churches which often accept new ministers aren’t always healthy and many times have issues which are magnified by isolation and community conflict. The national church has not learned to deal with issues such as increasing student debt. The national church is still working on the paradigm that ministers come out of school with little debt and that their spouses have little to no debt. This is not true. It is extremely hard to be a young, first career minister when we are thrown out into the wilderness and expected to just deal with little to no support and no feedback into the process that caused us to be placed in these situations.

The church needs to wake up and realize that student debt is real. Myself and my spouse have over $90,000 in student debt. Both of us need to work in order to pay that off. The world has changed in the past decade. More than one clergy marriage has the settlement process ended, mine however was not going to be another statistic. So it was with sadness that I had to admit a few weeks ago things just weren’t working and put in my resignation to my church.

We are placed into broken churches, expected to bring forth wholeness. We are placed into situations where it’s nearly impossible to thrive and expected to grow. We are placed into areas where we are needed while our needs are ignored. The church needs to change or it will have no new clergy left.