Chasing Francis | ★★★★★★★

Ever wonder what a religious outsider thinks about Evangelicalism? This book, written by Episcopal priest Ian Cron, came across that way to me. The book is a fictionalized account of the pastor of an evangelical mega-church as he loses his way then finds it again with a group of Roman Catholic monks in Italy. The story presents a somewhat idolized account of St Francis of Assisi and an equally dumbed-down version of Evangelicalism. I like much of the ideas presented in it but felt a bit insulted by the narrative as it presented Evangelicals as mainly superficial and materialistic. And, in contrast, it showcased Francis, and his followers, as the real deal.

All that said, I did enjoy reading a bit about the namesake of the current Pope. It gave me a sense of his identity as a Christian and why he is such a winsome leader. Like the man of Assisi, Pope Francis tends to work within the constraints of Roman Catholicism choosing to lead more by example than by religious words and dogma.

Overall, I liked this "Pilgrim's Tale" and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★.

Sometimes there are no words ...

... but these words seems appropriate: Awesome. Inspiring. Amazing. Challenging.

What words might you add to my list?

You're not going fast enough. ツ

"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough" -Mario Andretti

I love this quote. It reminds me of the few times that life is "under control" - when we are asleep and when we are dead. I think that a full life always involves losing control. You cannot control love because you really cannot control people. The older I get, the more that I am confronted with the uncontrollable nature of our health. And we certainly cannot control the future or the time of our death. So why not say it out loud. Go ahead. Say it. I am not in control! There. Do you feel better. I hope not. Life can be scary. It can also be wonderful when we let go of the little control that we try to exert over things that are not meant to be controlled. ツ

Wounds into Wings

We would rather live challenged than bored. We would rather live raw than numb. We would rather experience things that force us to be brave than to never need courage.

The words of this image so reminds me of my friend Kelli Standish ... the author of the above quote ... one of my very first friends in the Blogosphere ... a young spiritual warrior (one of the very few people I would characterize that way) that continues to overcome so many obstacles. I admire Kelli so much and I am in good company. Following are a few clips from an article (read it here) that a friend wrote about her.

They are stories that wring my heart until it literally hurts when I think of them. In the past two years alone, Kelli has faced multiple hospitalizations for surgery and frighteningly serious complications. She has continued to battle a rare rheumatic disease and endured periods of blindness and great pain as a result. Kelli has moved four times in a period of ten months under stressful circumstances—including across the world to Bahrain and back. Her husband deployed to the Middle East, and during his absence they suffered the loss of a beloved pet that had seen them through so very much. And this is barely scratching the surface of the things the past years have brought Kelli. It’s been wave after wave of deep-cutting battles.

And yet… these stories, the ones I’ve mentioned, and the ones that run deeper still—they don’t shackle her. She places her heart in the Master’s hands, and He turns her wounds into wings. She has scars, but she’ll be the first to say they’ve equipped her for a life of outpouring.

And oh, does her life pour.

Kelli mounts up on those wings, battling to give hope. To summon joy and sow hope in barren lands. When good is elusive, she hunts it relentlessly, makes space for it to grow. She invites the multitude to come, see that the Author of Life and Good is alive and moving!

The Gratuitus Life

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." -John Wooden

Love this quote from the legendary NCAA coach. It reminds me of how I need to live selflessly. Also makes me think of the terms 'quid pro quo' and 'gratuitus'. Consider this:

Gratuitus is the opposite of 'quid pro quo'. The phrase 'quid pro quo' means 'that for which' or 'which for which'. It therefore means getting something for doing something else. In contrast, 'gratuitus' means 'for free'.

I want to live the gratuitus life. Daily giving with no thought of repayment. How about you?

Son of God | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I cannot remember a movie about Jesus that I really did not like - I did not see "The Last Temptation of Christ". And I liked the work that these folks did on "The Bible" miniseries on the History channel. So I think that I was predisposed to like this movie.

I think that some will not enjoy the movie that much if they do not enjoy a reimagining of the gospel story. If it upsets you to see Jesus enter Lazarus' tomb and wake him with a kiss then you might want to stay away from this movie. But if you want to share the story of Jesus with folks that need God then this movie might be for you.

I cried and was moved by many scenes. The love of Christ seemed to bleed through the movie and communicated his compassion with great imagery. I loved the way that Diogo Morgado played Jesus. Not the dour Messiah of the "Jesus of Nazareth" miniseries but a friendly smiling savior that seemed to genuinely enjoy being alive.

I really liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Vacation Packing Tips

Interesting checklist - things like chargers are so important to us. Here are a few items from 18 Things You Forget On Your Packing List For Vacation:

    •  Prescriptions – Bring enough for your entire stay plus a day or two.

    •  Sunglasses and Sunscreen - Never know when you might want to tan.

    •  Bandages - It's better to be safe than sorry.

    •  Snacks – Cheaper than having to buy at the airport.

    •  Reading materials - I use my tablet or phone for reading these days.

What items do you always have on your packing checklist?

Happy Independence Day

In remembrance of this day back in 1776 I offer a few moving excerpts from the beginning and end of the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

I am always impressed when I think of those who drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence. That pledge at the end of the document speaks volumes.. it seems to reflects an impassioned determination to be free. May God continue to have mercy on our country.

The most important adjective in all of history.

The word self-evident. The most important adjective in all of history. All men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. And that is self-evident.

Excerpted from Esquire.