Thursday, December 29, 2011

Love Wins By: Rob Bell

Love Wins has endured perhaps the most negative press from contemporary Christians of any book I know. Two friends recommended that I read it with an open mind. I accepted the challenge.

Author Rob Bell is the creator of the "Nooma Video series". If you have ever seen one of these inspiring and informative videos, you will understand when I say that Rob’s writing voice is similar to, and as compelling as his video voice and dialogue; more so in Love Wins than in his earlier work, Velvet Elvis, which I definitely recommend. 

Love Wins is easy reading, which may be the source of the negative opinions. A reader can breeze through, absorbing some of the main points without really taking time to contemplate the ideas appropriately. I initially read it in a few hours. But when writing this review, I re-read the entire book considering each point, insuring that I would not misrepresent anything. When I re-read more slowly, I reached an understanding and clarity about the message.

Rob has a gift of not being afraid to ask questions, even if the questions tend to challenge long-held beliefs. For if the belief is sound, it can stand even in the face of uncomfortable questions.

He discusses heaven first. Funny, most of the negative press that I have heard is about his view of hell. I don’t remember hearing much about his views of heaven. He believes in a heaven after death. But like Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy, he believes in the possibility of heaven on earth.

After heaven, Bell discusses Hell. This is the subject about which I have heard most of the negativity. I have heard that he preaches and writes that hell is not real. That is not true at all. His view of hell is similar to his view of heaven. He believes in hell after death, but he also believes in hell on earth as well. He provides scripture and life experiences for this belief.

But what he does advocate, and backs it up with stories and scripture, is that God is too merciful to banish anyone to hell for all of eternity. He believes that although God may allow punishment for a time, he will not continue to punish forever. This is directly in contrast to what I have been taught all of my life. Does it mean that he is wrong? Only God can answer. I don’t know.

He opens his discourse about hell by listing what he says is the exhaustive list of scriptures about hell in the bible. I found a difference between his list and the list in my bible’s concordance. The list in my bible’s abbreviated concordance was longer for Old Testament scripture. One reason for this may be translations, but I think that he was mistaken in this portion of the book. Whether or not this affects the subsequent theology is unknown. If he used a longer list of scriptures about hell in his theological consideration, would his view of hell be different? Is his view shortsighted because he did not use a complete list of scriptures?

He then writes about Jesus being the only way to the Father. He uses Paul’s interpretation of the story of Moses striking the rock in the Old Testament to make a point. According to Paul, the water came from the rock was provided by Jesus; the Hebrews were relying on Jesus without knowing it. His point is that just because people follow other religions, doesn’t mean that they don’t follow Jesus without knowing it. He makes that point to stress that as Christians, it is not our place to judge who will or won’t go to hell after death; there may be more to their story than we know. He uses other scriptural references to accentuate this idea. This is almost approaching Christian Gnosticism, but not quite. This is different theology than I have ever been taught, as well. Does that mean that he is wrong and I am right, or vice versa? Only God knows. 

What I do know is that I can consider these ideas without feeling that my faith is threatened. 

One thing that I recommend that he do differently is to note the verse of the scriptural references that he uses. Many times throughout Love Wins, he told a story or cited scripture using only the book of the bible or the book and chapter without the verse. Whenever I read a book like this, I like to look up the scripture to compare what it really says with what the author claims it says. 

I do think that my horizon was broadened. I didn’t take on any new theology, but I did consider the ideas. My faith is strengthened in a way from being able to question the beliefs that I have long held. I don’t particularly recommend this book for reading. But I don’t recommend that someone not read it either. But I do recommend that if someone reads it, they do so critically, taking their time to consider the principles that are outlined from Rob Bell.

We definitely have not heard the last of him.

Book Format           Kindle Edition
copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Because I Can

As I reach a milestone with this, my 100th post, I do what most bloggers do; write about why I blog.

The answer, in short, is because I can. Blogging is a great way to record some of the stories that I have written and told others over the years. It is a chance for me to share these stories with others in the world who may be interested, a chance to share books with the public, and maybe, just maybe make a very tiny mark upon the world that, like my children, will outlive me.

Sometimes, I like to write about people who do wonderful things in the name of the Lord. That is one of the reasons why we are here, isn’t it? To serve God. I write to give publicity to acts of love when our local newspaper won’t write about these acts; or if they do, they contain the story to a simple photograph with a short caption, in favor of the front page stories about child molestation, burglaries and other acts of sin. Those stories are important. But they should never take front page over the good that happens in our own communities.

Blogging was introduced to me by Dan Harrington, who was then the youth pastor at my church. He started writing and shared a link with me one day. I read it, was impressed, but thought, “Maybe I can do this too.” Then I created my own blog account, but didn’t know what to do from there. So, I abandoned the idea.

Some months later, I discussed the possibility of blogging with a friend of mine. We resolved to begin a blog soon, and then neither one of us did.

Months later, a friend, Ellen Carpenter, started a blog and I saw a link on Facebook to one of her posts. I visited, liked it and thought, “Yes, I think that I can do this.” So, starting out ignorant but bold, I began Robbins writes. I had no earthly idea what to write, so I just wrote a quick note about starting the blog on Easter, a time for beginnings and birth.

At first, I didn’t know what I was doing, and had to work hard to generate ideas for posts, but I resolved to learn as I went. Eight months, eleven book reviews, one book giveaway, one author interview,100 posts, and 6500 page views from residents in over 30 different countries later, I have learned a lot, and am happy to report that I am still learning. 

Meeting other writers and bloggers has been a serendipitous experience. I have joined the High Calling Bloggers, added my blog to subscription on Amazon, added ads, and have become an Amazon associate, providing links for the books that I review.

I have enjoyed sponsoring the writings of two others who have written five guest posts for me: Rev. Cheryl Broome and Rev. Kimberly Burke. I have sponsored a fund raiser for the ASPCA to honor my son Rusty at his birthday.

I enjoy blogging on my own website, where I have the editorial control. I can write about any subject I want, and express any viewpoint that I care to, without having to get approval from anyone. That is a nice feeling.

Beginning on Easter, and reaching the 100th post during the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays is an added treat for me. I love the parallelism with the  religious holidays. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.


copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stress Relief Idea #20

Turn  needs into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm.  Everything else is a preference. Don't get attached to preferences.

I want to give a shout-out to my  readers in the United States, France, Russia, Canada, Scotland, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belarus, England, and Hungary. Thank you for visiting Robbinswrites. And have a Happy New Year!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent and the Cross

While my friends have been writing about the beautiful anticipation of the birth of Christ during this advent season, I have been writing about stress, books, theology, domestic violence and an unusual Christmas laced with thankfulness in the midst of painful injury.

But today, I move to Advent. Funny, when it was Easter, I focused on rebirth. In the Christmas season, my mind has centered on the cross. Without the cross, the birth would have a different meaning.

My perspective of Christmas changes in tandem with each rotation around the sun. As a child, my perspective centered on the birth of a baby surrounded by animals. I loved animals as a child; still do. But as an adult, I am keenly aware of the responsibility of ownership.

Now my thoughts are of Mary, the mother of God. As a mother, I empathize with her pregnant condition and the joy of childbirth. But I do have one question. How could she eventually stand at the foot of that cross? How could she stand at all, as her firstborn son suffered a torturous death? What did she know? Did she know about the resurrection to come? Well, this is a story for another day.

And for now, we wait. It won’t be long now. No, not long at all…..

A baby kicks inside his mother’s womb,
Inside of her fullness.
Breasts fill with nourishment for the world.
This body breaths shorter, staggered breaths now,
As her lungs are restricted by space.
A cervix is pinched by the fullness,
Fullness that is everywhere.
It won’t be long now,
Our wait will soon be over.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis the Season for Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, unfortunately does not stop during the holidays. Why should I care, you might ask? It doesn’t affect me. Actually, it probably affects you more than you know. You most likely do know people it touches. The statistics are quoted as 1 in 4 people all year around. Do you know 4 people? I thought that you did. Then there is a 100% certainty that someone you know is touched by this problem.

Contradictory information is provided by different studies concerning holiday domestic violence: the domestic violence occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Some studies indicate an increase in violence during this period and some indicate a decrease, depending on the source. More information can be found here.

I spent a Christmas at the home of a Mental Health Professional one year, when he received an emergency call concerning a man who had shot and killed his wife on Christmas day.

I know of a family that had a family-wide fist fight resulting in a stabbing and one of them having to spend Christmas in jail. The children were not shielded from the melee. But luckily, none of them were hurt.

One man that I know had to shoot his son in self-defense on Thanksgiving eve.

Education and socioeconomic status does not grant immunity to this situation. Domestic violence affects people in all cultures, classes and educational levels. Wherever there are people, there is the potential.

Here are some safety tips for people who may be caught in a potential abusive situation:
1. Have a “code word” established with family and friends in advance so you can communicate without the abuser knowing what is being said.

2. If a dangerous situation presents, do not go further into the house or building where you are being put into a corner. If you can get outside, do so. This usually takes steam away from an abuser because abusive people usually don’t like witnesses.

3. You can surreptitiously call 9-1-1 without having to say anything. Call, allow time for the phone to ring and the call to get recorded at the 9-1-1 center, and hang up if need be. The call will be registered, and an officer will be sent to your residence for follow-up.

4. For more information about adoption of a safety plan, go here.

If you know someone who lives in an abusive situation, please try to be understanding and offer assistance when it is wanted and or needed. Volunteer your time with a local shelter, donate food or money to a local shelter. These are things that we can all do.

And if you are one of the 3 out of 4 who is not experiencing domestic violence, please take time out of your holiday to thank God for your safety.


copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stress Relief Idea #19

Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil). Or use an answering machine.

I have unplugged from all electronics on sabbath. Sometimes it is good to let those closest to us know beforehand so that they can physically come and get us in the event of a true emergency.

I want to give a shout-out to my newest followers on facebook and google: Fellow writers Felicity Lennie and Deborah Winegarten. Thank you for following! And a special hello to readers in the United States, Scotland, England, Russia, Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Germany, France, Indonesia, Chile, Malaysia, Ireland,Singapore and Bangladesh who have all visited this blog in the last week. Thank you for the visit and please return soon.


Merry Christmas to all from robbinswrites! May your day be joyful! For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, may your day be joyful still. Amen.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prayer for Those I Love

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

                                                             Eph. 1:17-23 (NIV)

Linking up with Deidra at Jumping Tandem and Katie Lloyd Photography

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Friday, December 16, 2011

Front Porch Tales By: Philip Gulley

I had to take a break from reading high-brow theology, so I grabbed this book from my list of books to read for a nice change. It was a delightful change. Actually, I picked this one up from Goodwill, which is a great place to buy books.

Philip Gulley is a Quaker Pastor with a fine sense of humor that he draws upon in this menagerie of true stories from his life. He grew up in the days where people actually sat on their front porches and conversed with each other. His stories reflect this fact. 

Doctor Gibbs is the main character in his first story about a man who refuses to water his trees because he says that it causes the roots to grow shallow. He believed in putting his trees through adverse situations in order to toughen them up. He uses this as an example of life. Gulley says that instead of praying for his children to escape tough, trying times, he prays for well-developed, strong roots so that they will be able to weather the storms of life successfully.

His next story is about a bond that he made with a neighborhood widow when doing his paper route. She would have an ice cold coke waiting on him when he arrived to deliver her newspaper and he would drink it and nod as she shared stories with him on her front porch. The front porch stories were healing for her. The next time he saw her was at a church function, where she was serving dinner happily.

He adds scripture to some of the everyday stories to make a particular point. Sometimes, no scripture is needed. My favorite story is “Misery Turned to Joy”. It is a very humorous account of church rummage sales. Rather than to explain the humor or the story itself, I will leave it to the reader to get this book and read for one’s self.

This is a book about grace, love, family and friendships. All of this is wrapped up in simple, funny, poignant stories. Many times God shows up in the simplest of places. I think that Philip Gulley has found many of these places.


 Paperback              Kindle Edition

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Unusual Christmas

Wednesday, December 13, 2000 will forever be etched into my memory. For on that night, as I was cooking supper, I heard a knock at the door. Caffey was there when I answered. She was a friend of ours. She told me that my husband Greg had wrecked his pickup truck on a dirt road in the country when he hit a pine tree. He was only banged up a little, although the truck was totaled. But for precaution, he had been transported via ambulance to the hospital just to be checked out.

I called a friend to watch our three boys while I went to the hospital to get him: only an hour or two I told her.

When I walked into the room at the emergency room and heard him shouting out in pain, I realized that the Caffey was a good liar; but she had only lied to prevent me from getting too upset. Greg said that he thought that his hip was broken. Moments later, I overheard the Doctor telling the nurse to increase the flow on Greg’s IV because of a drop in his blood pressure. I knew that this was not a good omen.

They originally planned to transfer him to a hospital that specialized in orthopedic injuries, but after consulting with a surgeon, changed that plan. They transferred him to a hospital in Pensacola, Florida, about one hour away.

I told the babysitter that this was going to take longer than I had originally thought. Could she possible keep our children for the night? "Sure", she assured me. 

Upon arrival in Pensacola, Greg had emergency surgery to re-align his leg with the socket. He was left in traction. The doctor said that he had a fracture on his hip socket that was the equivalent of an egg being cracked all over. They called it an acetabular fracture, that could be repaired at only one of five hospitals in the country. They were trying to find the hospital that would take him to do the surgery. In the meantime, he stayed in that hospital.

They decided to transfer him to Tulane hospital in New Orleans. They didn’t do this until Sunday afternoon, December 17. In the meantime, Greg was worried about money and work. For more information about this read Provision.

I had returned to work on Friday before the transfer and then worked at lining up people to keep our kids for the next week for Greg’s surgery. 

They didn’t do the surgery until the next Wednesday, a full week after his wreck. It was a thirteen hour surgery. It didn’t end until after one a.m. It was such a long, stress-filled day. But the surgery was successful. Finally, I went to bed and his mother returned home.

I stayed for two more days before returning home. Christmas was fast approaching. I had Christmas shopping to do. The Christmas tree was never put up. I didn’t have time. The plan was to send our youngest child to my mom’s house for Christmas. He was only three months old. He didn’t know that it was Christmas. Then, I would load up presents and take the other two boys to New Orleans to see their father. We would have Christmas in his hospital room. After all, Santa Claus goes all over the world.

The afternoon of Christmas Eve, we made the trek. Traveling three and a half hours with a four year old and a two year old wasn’t an easy task. We checked into a room in a motel that adjoined the hospital, and went to see their father. Getting the boys to sleep was especially hard because of being in a strange place and it being Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law helped me to sneak in the presents to Greg’s hospital room.

The next morning, we had breakfast and then went to Greg’s hospital room to see what Santa had brought. The boys and I enjoyed our time with their father and his mother on Christmas day. They had not seen their dad for eleven days, which was a long time when they were used to seeing him everyday. 

I hated that our youngest son wasn’t there. But I was so glad that we could have Christmas together otherwise. The mood at the hospital was very interesting that day. Not a lot was happening. The activity level was much lower than normal, fewer workers, and things were quiet. The people working stayed out of our way so that we could enjoy our celebration. But with the pain, Greg had to have periods of quiet. I think that we spent another night before returning home. It was a Christmas that we will never forget.

Later, my doctor said, “You have had a terrible Christmas!” I told her that I had not had a bad Christmas at all. We had so much for which to be thankful. We had a surgery, not a funeral, the children were not with him when he wrecked. So many other things could have made it worse. Instead, we still had our God, our family and our Christmas together with almost all of us there.

Greg was discharged from Tulane hospital on New Year’s Eve and was able to spend New Year’s Day at home. His recovery was bumpy but that is a story for another day.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stress Relief Idea #18

Say "No!." Saying "no" to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don't have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect, and a belief that everyone, everyday. needs quiet time to relax and be alone.


I want to say hello to my readers in the United States, Russia, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, France, Chile, Israel, Romania and Nigeria.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Friday, December 9, 2011

Golfing Together

I was discussing common friends with Tom, a new out-of-town friend. I mentioned Ann and he said, “Yes, I played golf with her husband Mason this afternoon.” 

I said, “Great!”

A few days later, I received an email from Ann telling me that Mason had collapsed on the golf course, was transported to the hospital where it was determined that he had become dehydrated in the 3-digit heat. Anybody could become dehydrated in those temperatures. He was doing well now, but she had experienced a hectic couple of days.

Mason had collapsed on the same day that Tom said that they had golfed  together. How does a man golf with someone who collapses and fail to mention that? I analyzed this for about a week and consulted with other friends to determine the answer.

Later, I asked Tom why he didn’t mention Mason’s collapse. He said, “Well, I didn’t know that he had collapsed. I knew that they had taken him off in an ambulance, but I didn’t know why. Somebody said that it might be his blood pressure.”

I thought, ‘Really? You were golfing with someone and didn’t know they had collapsed? Even knowing an ambulance was called would not escape the details of a woman relating the same information. No woman would have failed to mention this.’ We are so different, we women and men. 

My analysis finally reached a conclusion. They weren’t really playing golf together. They just happened to be playing in the same tournament on different teams, who apparently weren’t very close to each other. 

Apparently, if a male tournament player collapses or dies on the golf course, all of the other men simply calculate in their minds whether the incapacity of the player has resulted in the increase or decrease of their team’s tournament ranking. At the nineteenth hole over a beer or two, they might even contemplate the identity of the lucky man  who remarries the guy’s wife if he dies.

If the same scenario had happened among women, friends would be notified, plans would be made and casseroles would begin cooking. The casseroles are for family meals. Women would be offering to baby-sit, take the kids to school, along with an entire plethora of other duties for which we women are responsible. The prayer chain would be initiated before the ambulance arrived.

Well, you get the point. I am glad that someone took time out of their tournament to call an ambulance for Mason. I am glad that Mason recovered so quickly that he was back on the golf course a week later. And now I know if a man says that they golfed with someone, to always ask more questions.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Act Your Faith

“Do you have fruit?” Pastor Kyle Toomire asked. “Does our church have fruit? Do we matter in our community?” These are questions that he asked in a sermon that he gave on the last Sunday before he shut down the Journey United Methodist church in Buda/Kyle Texas for a Sunday of not “just going to church but coming and being the church.” This was a chance for the congregation to act out its faith.

According to Pastor Kyle, fruit is generated by God in a Christian and a congregation that follows the example of Jesus. He says that it is because of a person’s faith that he or she has works. Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is dead. The two must intertwine to perform the will of God.

On Sunday, November 13, 2011, the church members went into the community to help where they could; to make a difference in the lives of community members.

The actual action began the day before when some of the members helped members of the First United Methodist Church in Kyle, Texas to build ramps for someone in a wheelchair.

Then, on Sunday, the participants gathered at the Journey, which meets at The Painted Horse Pavilion building and had a quick, tasty breakfast before breaking into groups to go out into the community for service.

Rachel Toomire led the children in worship through bouncing in a bouncy house and making manna bags to make a difference in the lives of the homeless. Then she led these youngest Journey Partners in prayer over these bags. 

Trish Cramer led a group of members going door-to-door in the community collecting food donations for the Hays/Caldwell women’s shelter.

One women’s hedges were trimmed by a group. A HEB gift card was donated to someone needing groceries.

Church Partners enjoy organizing clothes for the clothes closet at Chapa Middle School

Dedicated group after working hard.

One group began with ten people and ended with over twenty. That group worked on the yard of a lady who had been unable to tend to her yard for months. They had a lot to do, and got it done in a big way.

Children worked hard to beautify garden.

Debbie Sparks said that her favorite part of the installation of 2 gardens for a cancer patient who had recently moved into a new home was watching the children digging and planting in a garden.

Prayer is the best way to start any job.

One group cleaned windows, worked on baseboards, replaced siding and painted the front porch of a family.

All of these projects were discussed at the next Sunday service. After the slide show, Pastor Kyle reminded his congregation that the work was not over. “God is still calling us to be the church all year long.” He said that later in the same week, he received an email from a member of the Missions Team that started, “ I know we just finished doing our local mission project, but could we……”

Before the celebration lunch, Pastor Kyle shared with his congregation that Billy Graham said that the association between faith and works is like this: “faith is taking the gospel in and works is taking the gospel out.” The two go together.

Services for the Journey UMC are held every Sunday at The Painted Horse Pavilion on FM 1626 in Buda, Texas at 10:30 am.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Most Dangerous Books of the Bible

I am writing today about a specific book in the bible: The book of  First Opinions. You know this book. It is nestled in the Holy Bible right in between Facts and Preachers. Facts is the book that is quoted by many people who start by saying, “I know for a FACT that the bible says …. (Insert phrase here).” The book of Preachers is the book that is often quoted as follows: “Well, I once heard a preacher say….(Insert phrase here). Both of these books are full of what people frequently think that the Bible might say. They are most often quoted by people who haven’t actually opened a bible in some time.

The Book of First Opinions is closely related to the Book of Facts and the Book of Preachers in that these three books can be in the Old Testament or New Testament, and sometimes occur in both at the same time. They are both the newest and oldest books in the Holy Bible at the same time, depending on whose purpose is to be suited. And they can be the most dangerous books in the entire bible. 

Dangerous because they are based on sometimes faulty memories and misunderstood scripture that has not be consulted in a while. Dangerous because they have no citation to a particular scripture, but generalized quoting. And dangerous because unless one challenges these assumptions, the quoted information can be taken for fact.

Obviously, I am referring to books that don’t really exist, but sometimes they might as well. So how do we prevent ourselves from falling victim to mis-quoted scripture? We need to ask questions of people who are quoting the bible off their cuff: “Where, exactly can I find that in the bible?” is a question that will usually suffice. Most of the time when people mean well, but are not quoting actual scripture, they don’t remember the book or verse.

The most powerful thing that we can do is to read our bibles for ourselves, so that we know what it says and are not led astray by quotations from books of the bible that don’t exist. If someone does not like to read, many audio versions of the bible are available on MP3 players, CD’s and various other media. 

Devotionals are available. And most churches offer bible studies for members and visitors. All of these, in tandem with prayer can prevent us from falling victim to these most dangerous books and keep us rooted in the true word of God.


copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stress Relief Idea #17 and More

Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back directions, what someone expects of you, etc., can save hours. (The old "the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get," idea)

Congratulations to Julie Moore of Durham, North Carolina is the winner of the robbinswrites' book giveaway. Congratulations to Julie! She won Love You More by Jennifer Grant.

I want to give a shout out to my readers in the United States, Russia, England, Germany, France, Canada, Netherlands, South Korea, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Venezuela, Dominica and Latvia who have visited this blog in the last week. Thank you for reading and please return.

I am happy to report that we received an abundance of rain over the past weekend in Central Texas. We are so thankful for the life in the rain. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. 

For those local to Buda, Texas, the Budafest community celebration was postponed until the coming weekend. Please join this celebration and be sure to stop by the Buda United Methodist Church's baked potato booth to grab some great food. While you are there, stop by the Youth soda booth and quench your thirst.

Copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Divine Conspiracy by: Dallas Willard

Note: Julie Moore is a winner! Julie won the robbinswrites' book giveaway and will be receiving the book Love You More by Jennifer Grant soon! Congratulations to Julie!

In the New Testament Gospels, people marveled at how Jesus taught as someone who had authority. When I read the writings of Paul, I am impressed by his spiritual understanding and knowledge. He wrote, taught and preached as someone who had authority and knowledge that is beyond the average Christian.

I see not as much, but the same understanding in the writings of C.S. Lewis, and now in the writing of Dallas Willard, a present-day philosopher and theologian who wrote The Divine Conspiracy.

"The Kingdom of God is at hand" is the pervasive theme of this book, with every argument, thought and example pouring into this theme. Willard explains logically that this kingdom is not something in the distance to be experienced after death only, but is a miracle to be experienced in the here and now. His explanation of “the kingdom of God is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done.” (P. 25) It is that simple. According to Willard, we can be part of that kingdom in our everyday lives.

Since reading this, I have to admit to changing some of my prayers, to asking the Father to help me to live within this kingdom. I have felt a difference.

Willard’s work is brilliant and his theology is right on the mark.(Keep in mind that this assessment comes from a layperson). This 400 page book took me two weeks to read because I couldn’t read it like I do most books. Most books, I just zip right through. But not this one. I had to read a section or two and then take time to reflect on the words. 

If there was anything in this book at all that I did not like, it was that he took the liberty to paraphrase scriptures into his own words. I like for scripture to be quoted as is, in a particular book. For if everyone who wrote paraphrased scripture to suit their purpose, there would be many distortions. I followed the scriptures quoted in the first half of this book with my bible and found one citation to be incorrect on the bottom of page seventeen where he quotes a story as coming from Luke, Chapter 5; it should have read Chapter 7. Other than that, this book was perfect. In Willard’s defense about the paraphrasing, he did disclose this in the his Introduction. And, he is after all, Dallas Willard. He may be qualified enough to do his own paraphrasing.

The same thing that I am criticizing, I found that I liked at points. When discussing the Beatitudes on the Mount, he put some of the conditions in a description that hit home to me:

“Blessed are the physically repulsive,
Blessed are those who smell bad,
The twisted, misshapen, deformed,
The too big, too little, too loud,
The bald, the fat and the old-” P. 123

What contemporary can not identify with some element of this passage.

After Willard discusses the God’s Kingdom, he discusses how to become the disciple of Jesus with practical suggestions for entering into discipleship. He ends this book with a discussion of death.

This book covered too much to be discussed in one post. Let me say that as Christians, there are certain books that we should have on hand and read annually. The first is the Holy Bible. The second is C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This is the third. I am sure that there are many others. But this book has the potential, when used in tandem with the Holy Bible, to change lives for the better.


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copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins