Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who says you can't go back home again?



Philosophers have always said “You can’t go home again”, but I will kindly disagree. I am not only doing it once, but twice, albeit to two different homes. This trip is to Florida, where I spent two and a half years of the best days of my life. Historically, minus my wedding and the births of my three children, living with the people here in Kissimmee might have been some of the best times I ever had. They were the years where I finally found out how to live a Christian life. I had been a Christian for six years before I moved here, but this is where Jesus took me to the next level and built my desire to give to others what He had given to me.

The family arrived in Kissimmee after a nearly 18-hour drive from Effingham last Monday. After getting the kids to bed, I collapsed. I was starting not to feel well on the drive, but the flu became full blown during the night’s sleep. My sinuses got to their worst, my chest felt heavy with all the phlegm, one ear had pretty much closed in the mountains of Tennessee and now I was having all this green puss flying out of my eyes every time I watered up. I also looked like someone had been punching me under the eyes. Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling so pretty.

After getting medicated and resting most of the day Tuesday, I found out my plans had changed. Instead of waiting until Thursday to go to The Magic Kingdom, we were going on Wednesday. This was not quite the trip that my wife wanted it to be. Every time we were near riding a ride, one kid would have to go to the bathroom. Every time we got in a line to get pictures, someone complained. We did get our picture with Mickey and Minnie and the kids got pictures with Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Belle. We tried to get pictures with Tigger and Pooh, but my oldest girl got a little nervous around Tigger when he started bouncing. I know this is what he does, but please have some restrain around little kids. Yeah, like he’s gonna listen to me. Anyhow, the all day adventure turned into a four-hour nightmare because my kids really weren’t ready for the culture shock of the entire population of Effingham in the theme park all bunched together. They weren’t ready to watch people push each other just to get a toy that there was only one of, leaving me to think about the day after Thanksgiving.

So thanks to the short day at Disney, I got the opportunity to go back to the church that changed my life on Wednesday night. After six and half years, things weren’t nearly the same. I did catch the new pastor in his BBC debut. I admit I like Rick Flowers as a preacher pretty well. I hated missing my old pastor, Joe Williams, by one service. I would like to have seen him one more time to thank him for being part of my journey. It’s amazing that as you grow in the Christian walk, you learn to respect the people who taught you some important life lessons even more than when they were in your presence. I would equate it to the friend equivalent of absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Speaking of the heart, I found it breaking a little as I heard that one of my heroes of the faith, Charlie Pullen, suffering from cancer, as well as many others being sick and or hurting from all the change at the church over the last year. I had the chance to pray with a few friends over the needs of the church at the end of service. In all, I probably saw ten or so people I knew from my days there. I wasn’t sure how to feel with all the change, but I’ve also realized that it is what comes in life, whether we like it or not. But sometimes it is necessary and it’s not always bad.

Thursday was a down day as it was mostly a rest day. We visited with both families and then I prepared for Friday by buying a new picture card for my camera. Friday would be the day for the concert in Orlando (see last installment for the review). Knowing that I would be going to the concert with my friend James, he asked me to make a day of it and go to the movies first. So Friday became a guys’ day out.

After checking the movie listings for Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island Cinemas, I found several movies I’d like to see, but knew that we only had real time for two. Getting to see two was a big deal since the last movie I saw in a theatre was Passion of the Christ. Yeah, I don’t get out much to the movies and have to watch most of them at home on the small screen. I’ll have another installment sometime this week reviewing the two movies. The first movie we saw was The Cross, the life story documentary of Arthur Blesshit. The second feature was the new animated Aliens vs. Monsters. Both were good, but you’ll have to wait for the reviews to see how good.

Before the concert, we had time to hit Cici’s Pizza over on John Young and Sand Lake. I remember it being better the last time, but it was still pretty good for a $6 meal. I had time to also check out the Family Christian store while I was over there and I was so glad I did. I finally found my Fireproof, Never Leave Your Partner Behind shirt and several other great deals including Israel Houghton’s new CD. We headed to the concert and saw the show(see the review last installment).

Saturday was the first ninety degree day and the family decided that it would be today to travel two hours to Clearwater Beach. It was beautiful, but it was so windy that the kids really only enjoyed it for forty minutes or so. It was not worth the half tank of gas and the $30 spent at a McDonald’s for food. The food wasn’t terrible, but they know that they have you on the beach almost as well as the hawkers at the Disney food places.

Sunday was party day for three of our family and extended family after a morning church service and Sunday school. My two daughters have early April birthdays and my niece had a birthday on the 31st of March. Opening presents is always wild, but surprisingly only one present was opened incorrectly by the wrong party. After three and a half hours of hearing eight children scream and play, I decided to take my mom back to her house and head to evening service. The relative quiet and seeing a few other good friends made the evening worthwhile. It truly has been nice to see the healing begin.

Monday was just hectic and I think it became the day of the vacation breaking down before building steam to finish it out. I took some major heat because my wife was really tired after my youngest has continued to wake up during the night. By the end of the day, I was so wiped out that I was in bed by 8:30 EDT, which is truly amazing since I am usually a better night owl.

Today though has bounced back. My wife and I had a date night at Applebees and I have to tell you guys that regardless of how crazy life becomes or how overwhelming and daunting the task, it is vital to have a date night. Most of the time, you get to have great conversations of getting you and your partner on the same page for the short term and often get to share some of the long term hopes and dreams. After only having one in 2009, we’ve had two in ten days this month and it helps see how much that she loves me and gives me a chance to show how much I love her. I hope I never forget this.

The last three days of Florida before the drive should be all good family days. I do have a couple meetings with friends (I hope) and I do hope to get back to BBC on Wednesday night to be able to see my friends there one last time before I hit the road. I think Friday will be celebrating my daughter Megan’s birthday before the drive on Saturday. Her birthday is Saturday and hopefully we’ll find a cool restaurant that gives her a piece of cake or cookie. I still don’t know if we’ll try to do the whole trip back home on Saturday or if we’ll split it into two days (which I prefer). If we do the whole trip in one day, it is more than likely we won’t make it to church on Sunday, but if we split it, that we may try to go where we stop. I’ve got my map circled where I want to stop, I’m just hoping I can get that far.

Anyhow, I am kind of excited to get home because of a few new ideas for the web page that I’ll share with you in the coming days. Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day, so watch out for pranksters. If I get something up tomorrow, it will be something useful as part of the new updates.

I love you guys!
Frank

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Francesca Battistelli/Group 1 Crew Come Home to Orlando






It was a time for coming home and performing for the people that were so much a part of the raising of two fine Christian acts. Lake Mary’s Francesca Battistelli and two members of Group 1 Crew returned to the church that they had their humble beginnings, Faith Assembly in Orlando on Friday night.

The show was started by the church’s worship band, Mainstream Worship. The 11-member group (at least on this evening) got the crowd started with five power packed songs. The great part of this band was how seamless the songs came together. Don’t be surprised if you see more performers coming out of the church into the mainstream of Christian music.

The morning talents of local radio Z 88.3 introduced the lady striving to be new contemporary artist of the year at the Dove Awards, Francesca Battistelli. She performed most of the songs from her My Paper Heart CD and a new song that should be on the new project. She didn’t give insight to when the new CD will come, but she did clue that a new single would be released to radio from My Paper Heart. My personal favorites from the concert were Forever Love, as the crowd sang out in praise, Beautiful Beautiful, a song that jumped out as she played her guitar and finally, her current top five smash, Free To Be Me, to close out the set.

After a brief intermission, we were introduced to Group 1 Crew. I have to say that I bought the CD before I left for the Sunshine State, but never had the chance to listen to it before the show, so every song was new to me and I loved it! Every song was awesome, but the best part was the crew taking us back to hits of the 80’s and rocked the house. Even though the main members of Group 1 Crew are the three that you see on their Ordinary Dreamers CD, the backdrop was almost as good. They had over 20 different dancers during parts of the performance and they helped take the electricity of the show to another level. They closed the show with the former #1 song, Keys to the Kingdom.

The meet and greet afterwards showed what every introduction said about all the performers, that they were as sincere, kind and stewards of the Gospel offstage as on it. It was fun to meet all the performers and even though the lines kept moving due to the sheer numbers of people wanting to reunite, everyone got a moment or two to talk and share a smile. The event staff was really great as well. I do want to send out a big thanks to Pastor Darryl for being kind and making sure I was taken care of while I was there. If you are in the downtown Orlando area, give Faith Assembly a chance to take to you to the throne room with a really good worship and message. They have four services on Sunday mornings (8:00, 9:30, 11:15 am and 1:00 pm) and a Wednesday night service at 7:00 pm.

On a final note, if you want to help Francesca in her pursuit of the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year, you can do so with your cellular phones. If you text Dove 81 to 72648, you can do this as many times as you want. I did hear that one lady had called over a dozen times so far.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Man Revival goes on vacation!







Lyrics | Group 1 Crew Lyrics | Keys to the Kingdem Lyrics

Hey gang!

The family has packed the car and as of early tomorrow morning, we will be off for Florida. The vacation is the first of the year and our first since the middle of last year when we took five days and went to Wisconsin over the 4th of July. It’s going to be awesome and I hope to see lots of family and friends. I won’t be computer-less and hope to keep doing some blogging and a few video spots of how it’s going.

I love you guys!
Frank

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Review of the Make It Matter Tour from Avon, IN







Hey gang!

Yeah, I know, three videos for you today. I want you to be able to hear a little something from all three performers at last night’s Make It Matter Tour featuring Natalie Grant with Chris Sligh and Meredith Andrews. The first video is a song I’d never heard until last night, Natalie Grant’s Held. My words can’t describe how great this song really is. Someone did take a video, even though they weren’t supposed to, so the second video is Chris performing the song that he wrote and Rascal Flatts made famous in the country sector. Finally, you get a viewing of Meredith Andrews as worship leader at Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin performing The New Song We Sing.

Getting to the show in Avon, IN was a little more difficult than anticipated. My wife and I left in plenty of time to get there, but neither Yahoo nor Mapquest’s directions were anywhere close to correct. Thankfully, we ran into (not literally) a driving school instructor and he was able to straighten us out. We made just seconds before Tiffany Thurston from the Revolve tour began telling us what we had in store for us at the show. So if anyone in Avon wants to give good directions to the two map authorities, it would be much appreciated for the distance driving public to your shows.

Anyway, on to the show. After the pastor of Kingsway led us in opening prayer, we were introduced to Natalie Grant who talked momentarily and then invited us into Meredith Andrews. Meredith had a four song set that included her top ten smash You Invite Me In and the song will probably be the next single, You Are Not Alone. The interplay between Andrews and her husband had a funny moment as he stepped from guitar to piano as she let us know that it didn’t bother her that he was better keyboardist.

Once her set completed, Natalie came back out to introduce us to former American Idol Chris Sligh. Sligh opens with Cry Tonight and his former number one, Empty Me, and then takes us to his single being released next week, the jiving Something Beautiful. He got the crowd involved in the song and joked about how we were missing an awesome guitar solo because he was bandless on the tour. He followed that up with a single that he wrote for Rascal Flatts, Here Comes Goodbye. Sligh then gave us a sneak peek at his next CD with a powerful song called I Am. He talked about playing his most serious song, then gave us a fun Rock Stars Need Money, giving us a look at the fact that he did have a CD and t-shirt table. He closed with his serious song that I did not get the name of, but it was a very good piece.

Before we were released for intermission, Natalie came out and talked about her charitable organization, The Home Foundation. She brought up that the organization came out of an episode of Law and Order, SVU talking about child trafficking. Amazingly, my wife and I could recall the episode. We’re big fans of the show too. Natalie then discusses that she began a simple Google of the internet to find out how extensive the problem really was. After this, she went to Bangledesh and witnessed the goings-on first hand. That led to her founding The Home Foundation. Even though I’ll have more info on The Home Foundation on this website after my return from vacation, you can get a head start looking at The Home Foundation’s website, http://www.thehomefoundation.net/, if you wish.

During the intermission, I hung out in line trying to go meet Chris Sligh while my wife tried to get passes for the post concert signing from Natalie Grant. She wasn’t one of the lucky ones, but I got a break by being the last person to get my picture taken with Chris as intermission ended. I think being funny helped me. I asked him if he take one last picture with another chubby guy. He laughed and accepted my offer. Before I went back inside, I went over and met The Home Foundation’s Director of Special Programs, Kathryn York, and got her info so I could get more info for you guys.

I got back inside just in time to catch the last of a worship set led by Tiffany Thurston and Natalie before beginning the Make It Matter set. Natalie performed most of the Relentless CD, but she also performed two songs off of the Awaken CD which I personally had never heard. These were Held and The Real Me. Both of these songs were totally awesome and if I had had a few minutes after the show, I probably would’ve bought Awaken with one of the Make It Matter shirts (thanks honey). She ended the show with bringing all the performers back on stage to do a powerful version of the song Chris Tomlin made famous, God of This City. Like me, most of the crowd wasn’t ready to leave, so Natalie came back out for an encore and performed In Christ Alone.

As we were heading out, you could hear how happy people were with the show and for me and my wife, it was a truly great show and the first one we’ve been able to go to together in our nearly six and a half years of marriage. It was definitely worth the night out and the four hours of drive time that we had together, two hours each way.

For anyone that gets the chance to go see the Make It Matter tour, it is definitely a must do. I know on a local level that several people from my home church are heading to Marysville on April 3rd to see the show there. Unfortunately, we’ll be driving back from vacation or I’d be tempted to go see the show again.

Natalie Grant on stage

me and Chris Sligh

I love you guys!
Frank

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday's Terrific Ten and a Big Thank You







Lyrics | Carman Lyrics | Heart Of A Champion Lyrics

Hey gang!

It’s been over a week since I’ve had time to write anything down for the blog. I hope you enjoyed the video yesterday telling you where I will be on Friday night and I hope you enjoy the two today. It’s been three months since I joined Networked Blogs on Facebook and I’ve seen it grow to 60 subscribers now reading and that’s fantastic. The second video is a song I have loved ever since it came out almost a decade ago from Carman. Carman’s theology doesn’t always agree with mine, but the man can put words and beat together to produce great songs.

Today I am going to start something special. I really enjoy reading your comments and they do inspire me to keep writing, but I also love to read other bloggers that have great ideas. My blogging friend Kevin Martineau does a Friday listing of five sites that he has liked over the past week. He does it every week. So not only do I get to enjoy his blogs throughout the week, he usually directs me to five more great blogs to read each Friday.

So in honor of it being Thursday and the fact that I am only doing it today (I’ll start this as a regular feature on Thursday on April 9), I will call today’s links Thursday’s Terrific Ten. Without further adieu, here we go.

1. Shooting the Breeze (http://kevinmartineau.blogspot.com) I couldn’t start anywhere else but with Kevin’s blog, since he inspired the idea. Besides the aforementioned Friday Five, he also has a regular feature on Mondays that he is inspiring others to try and lose weight with him. I haven’t done so well. I’ve gained since he started it. This week, Kevin asks us to share what God is teaching us lately and if there are great things to be done in your city.

2. The Church of No People (http://www.thechurchofnopeople.com) Matt Appling has become one of my other blogging friends as I find myself reading his stuff all the time. His header asks the question what would a pastor preach if no one showed up to church, but I promise you that it will never be the case when Matt writes the sermon. My favorite this week is a blog he writes about all the things he has quit. The blog begins with a video of one of my favorite quitters, Homer J. Simpson. As funnyman Ron White says that his granny talks about him, “That boy certainly has a lot of quit in him.”

3. Stuff Christians Like (http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com) Johnathan Christopher’s blog series will be turning into a book next year, but until then enjoy this guy’s blogs. They are absolutely side-splitting making gentle fun of the church we all go to. This week’s funniest questions are what would happen if a fight broke out between Kirk Cameron and Bono and a thought-provoking “Do we always have to pray before we eat?”

4. Faith 2.0 (http://www.blog.faith20.org) John Alan Turner got me really interested this week because he began talking about a comparison of my second favorite thing to do, baseball, and faith. I still don’t think I could be a Braves fan, even if I lived in Atlanta.

5. Eskypades (http://eskypades.blogspot.com) I’ve been reading Stephen Escalera’s blog since I found it. He hasn’t written in a couple weeks, which shows you I’ve been behind too. He gave me a nice hookup (and you too if you go there before the end of March) by linking to Christianaudio.com to their free book of the month, Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. If you go to my church, it is a great complementary book for Tyler Sterchi’s Cultivating the Sacred Life sermon series running through March 29.

6. Servant and Steward (http://dzehnle.blogspot.com) Speaking of Effingham sermon series, I get a good Catholic perspective from my friend Daren Zehnle. A piece that caught my attention this week was talking about a speech from Pope Benedict that talked about evangelization. He stressed the two most important factors in his mind, your witness and the Word of God, something I can definitely agree with. For critics of Catholics saying that they never crack open a Bible, take notice.

7. The Idiot (http://www.belliana.blogspot.com) Jimmy Smuda talks this week about the 30 Non-Negotiables of Christianity. He takes out the obvious ones and goes from there.

8. From the Backwoods (http://fromthebackwoods.blogspot.com/) This one is more for the readers that are ladies. Leslie Harris Stock does a review on Lisa Bevere’s book Nurture. Sounds like there is something for all the generations of readers of this book.

9. Transparent Christian Magazine (http://www.transparentchristianmagazine.com) I’ve been following Jason Elkins’ work since I began on MySpace. He isn’t the only writer for the magazine, but he’s the guy that I really like to read. His article this week is inspirational for the time of year we’re getting to with a column called “Hiking For Life Lesssons.”

10. Ligonier Ministries (http://www.ligonier.org/blog) I looked at this blog for the first time because I thought it had to do with the town in Pennsylvania of the same name. My childhood memories of Ligonier was Story Book Forest, the kiddie division of a larger theme park. However, the organization is actually based in Orlando and has several accomplished writers. Tim Challies does an interview with the author of Jesus the Evangelist, a book I am interested in and also gives an interesting take on how we serve in a piece called Served By God, Serving Man.

In other closing notes for this piece, I will tell you that I plan on writing at least one more article before my family heads out on the Florida vacation. I also plan to show some videos and write a little while we’re there. If you are in Avon, IN tomorrow night at the concert, stop by and say hi. I’m not sure where in the audience my wife and I will be, but I will be wearing the all-new One Man Revival T-shirt. Of course, I will definitely try to get a few words from all the artists performing for you while I’m there.

I love you guys!
Frank

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Loving Those Left Behind, Is Suicide Hellbound?



I had planned on writing about discipleship today and how one of the church’s biggest missions that gets skipped over in all the other good things that is being done. But I got a phone call in the middle of pulling verses together that changed all that. The rest of my day was talking to people from 500 miles away to let them know how much I loved them and that I would come to West Virginia to say goodbye to one of my oldest, dearest friends.

To understand his friendship with me, I’ll start the story from the beginning. In the mid 1980’s, another friend encouraged me to try a new game, bowling. I was not the super athlete I always wanted to be, so I wanted to give the game a try. I was 15 and almost weighed 280 and fell in love with the game instantly. The youth coordinator happened to watch my first night and encouraged me to come out and try a league on Saturday mornings.

That first Saturday, teams were put together. I was a late joiner and got put with others that came in late to join. I knew Jason. He was Serena’s little brother and we had hung out for years at girls’ basketball games. The other three members of my team I met that day. First, there was Todd. The boy threw the ball like a rocket and smashed pins. Then, there was Mike. Mike looked like Rick Moranis in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and threw his ball backwards. Not back at us, but he flinged the ball. Finally, there was Scott.

Scott was a big guy like me and he brought the humor to the team. I always found him making us laugh. What was funny about my team was that we couldn’t wait to bowl. We would arrive at 8:00am to bowl at 10:00am in the league. We would bowl and have Satuday brunch. Well, Scott, Jason and I would. Todd was the lady killer of our group and Mike just didn’t think we needed all that food. Doctors would tell us that we were not supposed to eat while bowling because it defeated the purpose of the exercise. We were teens and could care less.

After I turned 16, Scott and I started hanging out on weekends. I drove over to his house in Stealey and we would always go somewhere fun. That’s how it was throughout our high school years and into the early days of college. I started at Fairmont State and he started in the real world. He met Beverly and for a while, he disappeared. Isn’t that how it always is when you fall in love? You meet the woman of your dreams and you want to spend all your time with her. Some of his other friends were giving him a hard time, but I knew she made him happy and that was cool enough for me. We were still getting together once in a while, but I was getting busy with school too.

He married that girl. They were so happy. You just knew it was going to last. There are marriages made in heaven and thankfully, theirs was one of them. He was lucky. One girl all the way to marriage. I was not so lucky. When I could get a date, I was meeting losers. Maybe that is a little harsh, but they were not women that were going to make me better. Then the dates stopped. I became married to my books and hanging out with my friends. But I was lonely.

That loneliness took a toll on my life. I got depressed. Two days after Christmas in 1992, the crash diet that was supposed to change my world because I was skinny almost killed me. I was hollow. I wanted to die. After I came out of the coma, the first friend that was waiting to see me was Scott. His mom, Wanda, was a nurse and could get into ICU without the time constraints. She let me know that he was waiting patiently until I was downgraded, but that he was ready to give me the whatfor for almost killing myself. She gave me the lecture and that allowed him just to love on me when I got out into the regular rooms. The great part was that he called everyone else that he could think of to come see me. There were ten people in that room to help support me back to my feet in a few days. I remember laughing for years afterwards because he brought them during the one good meal of hospital food that I got there.
Fast forward almost sixteen years. Friends grow apart. Scott was having a great marriage and I had moved away in 2000. I was sitting in Illinois planning to go home and hook up with Scott and many other friends for my 40th birthday in May. I hadn’t been home to see him in five years. Monday afternoon, the call came. Scott had gone to his father’s grave on the sixth anniversary of his death and shot himself in the head. It was fatal and friends and family began asking me what could have been done differently.

Truthfully, I don’t have the answers. I honestly have thought a lot in the past 24 hours about how horrible I feel for not being able to return the favor and be able to show him how much he had to live for. But that’s not what he would want me to do. The toughest conversation has been with his mom, Wanda. I love her like my own mom. She didn’t say it, but I could tell in her voice her mind was asking me a question after I said it. I told her that I knew where Scott was today. He was getting the love from a father that he had been missing ever since his death and also love from the heavenly father consoling him for doing something he didn’t have to do.

Her thought was, “How can you say so definitively that he is in heaven?” I’m not some great Nostradamus, but I know the love of Jesus and so did he. I know that some of you faithful readers are going, “Frank, are you sure about that?” You know me. I tend to let scripture do the talking for me. There is a great website that is run by Dawson McCallister called Christian Answers that takes scripture to answer questions like these. I’ll give you the link and let it speak. The site says it much clearer than I could.

http://christiananswers.net/q-dml/suicide-and-heaven.html

If you want to debate me in responses, that’s fine. But you’re missing the point. As I said a little earlier, something that happens with suicide is that people tend to blame themselves. What could I have done? What messages did I miss? Why? Surviving family hates that last question the most. Most of the time, they don’t know either. Rather, after asking those questions in your mind, the time for change is now. Instead of asking what you could have done, ask yourself what you can do to prevent this from happening to more people you love. The task is rather simple, yet so hard. It is getting involved in people’s lives. Don’t try to be nibby or pushy, but at least ask questions. Make people think more about how those living around them care about them.

Bill Hybels writes a book about taking a walk across the room. The purpose of the book is to get people into relationships and help lead them to Christ. However, the book would also be helpful as encouragement for anyone to begin talking to people they love or just see as outside the group that you are comfortable with. Does it mean that suicide will stop? No. But maybe, just maybe, because you took a moment to care, that person may be able to say that life is worth living.

I love you guys!
Frank

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Should I be hanging out with The Shack

Hey gang!

No video today because I want this subject to be on its own. I know I am stepping into controversial territory by just uttering the words. However, I really feel a need to talk about The Shack.

It’s one of the three books I finished while my laptop was shelved with a bad power cord, along with UnChristian and Bill Hybels’ A Walk Across the Room. All three were great books in one way or another, but this book has gotten a ton of attention for less than happy reasons by some.

I’ll start by saying this about The Shack. The book is a book of fiction. Let me repeat that, the book is a book of fiction. I say that twice because I think that is a major point to remember. The Shack tells the story of Mack, a father of four and his adventure of a lifetime dealing with the murder of his daughter Missy. Unfolding the events up to the murder are a little slow, but after that, the book is very sharp in its detail. The remainder of the story tells us Mack’s life afterwards and then takes us to three days that he will never forget going back to the scene of the crime and meeting three individuals that change his life forever.

For those of you that have read the book, you know that the characters represent the Trinity of the Bible. That’s where the trouble begins with most Christians that are up in arms over the book. There are a few inaccuracies when putting The Shack next to The Holy Bible. The first one that made me jump back was in chapter six when the character representing God said that he was with Jesus through the entire scene played out at the Cross. Yeah, that Cross.

It troubled me that the character said that he was with Jesus the entire time during the crucifixion. In all four Gospels, Jesus asks the question “Father, why have you forsaken me?” I had always been convinced that in teaching, God turned his back on Jesus because he could not look at sin. So I researched it and amazingly found two differing points of view. I’ll give you links to both so that you can read it for yourself.

http://www.larryollison.com/cutting/0274.html
In this excerpt from Larry Ollison’s Life Is In the Blood, he says that yes, in fact, God had to turn away from Jesus because he could not look at sin. For his entire thought, see his website.

http://www.livingway.org/library/faq/faq022.htm
This is a counter point from Living Way Ministries footnotes in the Spirit-Filled Life Bible, a version worked upon by well known televangelist and preacher Jack Hayford.

So, keeping in mind that this book is fiction and the fact that these views counter each other, I would say that William Young didn’t walk that far out on a limb in that discussion. Truthfully, this example, which is one of several that I looked at, didn’t take the book beyond believeability for me as a reader. Again, is The Shack the defining Word on Scripture. No!

My biggest belief in reading this book is this; While I would question a few thoughts against scripture, which I think all of us should do, it does not take away from reading the book as a story of FICTION! I’ve been asked countless times over the past month, would this book be a good witnessing tool for a person that needed salvation? I’ll answer as clear as I can. Maybe.

Why do I say maybe? There are a lot of factors. The first is whether or not this is a replacement tool. What I mean by that is that I don’t think The Shack should be the first experience of God’s universe to any potential new believer. Furthermore, I believe that the book could be a complementary piece, if and only if, you are going to sit down with this person after reading and discuss it with them. I would never hand this book to someone if I weren’t willing to take the time to talk with them and unfortunately, that’s what a lot of people are doing. I’ve read some thoughts from the bulletin board for the Missy Project, http://theshackbook.com/forums/, that organizations are just sending boxes of these books to prisons and other missionary endeavors. That makes me nervous when I hear that. I love the book, but not more than The Bible, God’s Holy Word. The Shack isn’t going to get you into heaven on its own.

The second factor is that I think you have to hand a book like this to a person that will be able to give a proper perspective to the story. In The Bible, Jesus is described in a way that shows him as the Son of the Trinity with its respect and honor. While I find myself liking The Shack’s sarcastic, joking Jesus, he doesn’t come off with the honored place in the trinity that I’m comfortable with. Jesus was a straight shooting, parable telling storyteller, not a sarcastic comedian type. I think William Young shares a very truthful point, that Jesus limited himself as a person on Earth, but it almost makes Jesus less than God in some aspects. That bothered me, but again not enough to dislike the story.

The third factor that I’ll look at is someone that won’t buy into the hype that the book is being given. I tend also to get nervous when I see people paralleling the book to Pilgrim’s Progress or anything like it. Folks, it’s a good book, but Pilgrim’s Progress has 400 or so years of history as both a great book of fiction and as a primer that the Pilgrims used to teach children to read. It has history on its side. Also, as much as I love reviews on covers, hey all books do it, so it’s not a major chill sending message, the reviews need to be ignored walking into this book. The true reviews that count in my mind are the ones that are talking about how this book has made Christians and non-Christians alike think about how they see Christians, Christianity and improving their walk with Christ.

Finally, you have to remember that The Shack is a book of FICTION. I’ll stress this many times because I don’t want to see this book entirely passed upon because of overzealous Bible-thumpers that say the book is worthless because it isn’t perfect. There is a difference between The Shack and The Bible. The Shack is a realistic book of FICTION that helps people deal with issues. The Shack does a terrific job of explaining how important relationship is in our world and in the world to come. Besides helping you relate with others, The Shack also does a great job at showing how many Christians live. It shows people in struggle, not necessarily being fake, which is what a large amount of non-Christians like to throw out when they see struggle. The word hypocrite comes to mind often to them. The truth is that people aren’t always fake. They could be dealing with the issues of life and not able to see the bigger picture or you trying to fit into it.

On the other hand, The Bible is inerrant Word of God. I think 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says it best, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in rigtheousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So my words to the Christian community are this. Please, please don not get crazy-go-nuts over The Shack because it isn’t the Word of God. Do grab a Bible and show people that are reading it The Truth. Also, show people the compassion of understanding. Show them the good things that The Shack can teach because the book does one thing that smacking them with the Bible won’t do, it can open a person’s heart to hearing the rest of the story. Glory to God, what a great story that is!

I love you guys!
Frank