Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee–a review

Clouds of Glory:  The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee
Michael Korda
New York: Harper, 2014.

On a recent vacation, our family happened to go to a Barnes & Noble store (bookstores are a trap for me!). While there, I noticed Michael Korda’s new work, Clouds of Glory:  The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee. Well, I am a sucker for books in general, and Civil War history and biographies in particular, so I picked this one up. (I did manage to limit myself to just one!)

Biographies can be easier to read than other non-fiction works because of the personal element. Well-written biographies are even easier, and this one is well written (though not entirely without flaws). I swept through the 693 pages in about a week and a half. For anyone who has read much Civil War history, a fair outline of those years will be in hand, so some of the material you will have read in other sources. Michael Korda’s approach seems to me to be fairly objective. He respects Lee, but does not worship at his shrine. He critiques decisions, argues with other writers on interpretation, and in the end presents a picture of an interesting Christian man.

[Read more…]

Update on my health

Thanks again for all the kind words after my last post.

The last two months have been an interesting new experience, to say the least. I am doing very well, feeling as normal as I will ever be, and am back to a full schedule. The only restriction on me now is travel out of the country, this is put on me by my travel insurance who will not cover heart issues until my treatment is stable for 90 days. (That even includes a reduction in medications, so I will have to coordinate things with my cardiologist to cover travel dates next year.)

In the meantime, we are busy in the work. Our annual business meeting went well at church, our folks are supportive and we are praying for new believers added to our number this year. Three current attenders have approached me about membership, praise the Lord!

I had a stress test today, the technician doesn’t tell you much, but I did much better than I have ever done before, so that was a plus. Of course, I have lost over 80 pounds since the last one, so that might have had something to do with it. I am near my target weight. Someone said today, “You’re starting to look gaunt!” My new image!

I thought I should post this update though, as some of you are just coming here and noticing the announcement of an attack. I really appreciate your ongoing prayers, but praise the Lord, for now my health is doing very well (well… except for a cold my wife gave me, but that is on its last legs too…)

Praise the Lord for his gracious gifts

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know what the Lord did for me yesterday. I am writing from the CCU of one of our local hospitals. That term will give you some clue what I am writing about.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking out of our local Walmart (i’m sure there’s no correlation with this) when I suddenly began to feel very unwell. As I walked in I debated whether or not the pain I was feeling was really just came or not. (they say the denial is part of the normal experience when you’re having a heart attack)

I sat down to rest, thinking that surely this would pass and I could go into Starbucks to get the coffee I was contemplating. The feeling didn’t pass but I didn’t know what to do. I started walking again and ran across an old friend, someone I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. He greeted me and all I could say was “I don’t feel very well.”

He said, “you don’t look very well, do you want me to call 911?” I agreed that he should and then said I had to sit down. In short order, the ambulance was there and I was on my way to the hospital. As I came into the coronary unit, I was actually greeted by my own heart doctor. In less than two hours from the onset of symptoms, I was equipped with life-saving stent. And so I am here today to tell you what happened. Apparently there is still work for me to do for our Lord.

I am writing this so that I can have something to refer all my friends to when they have questions about what has happened. I believe that I am here simply by the grace of God. All praise his name!

shutting down arguments

Online discussion is very predictable. There’s a meme out there about how such discussions go and the odds that Hitler will be mentioned as the discussion lengthens (It’s even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, apparently).

In Christian discussion boards odds are that as soon as someone is losing an argument, one of two strategems will come up:

  1. Have you spoken to X about this? (The Matthew 18 card)
  2. You can’t judge motives

What is the purpose of these strategems?

To shut you up, that’s what. It does get a little tiresome, but I encourage you to either take no notice of those who attempt to use them, or push back against them.

This does not mean that I advocate impolitic speech, or uncharitable communication. However, I think that we must insist that topics be discussed on their merits and refuse to be drawn into a side-tracking rabbit trail by allowing these tactics put us on the defensive.

don_sig2

an interesting point

Alex Guggenheim raises an interesting point at his blog, here. A video has been circulating around the internet where Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria exhorts Christians to be ‘happy’ because when you are happy, God is happy.

But it’s not just Victoria Osteen who thinks this way.

[Read more…]

Needs vs. Desires

Paul Tripp has a good article on this subject here. We need far less than we think. It is dangerous to think otherwise. Tripp explains why.

not quite ready for prime time?

Check this out from Lenovo.com (click on the image for the link)

image

Lenovo, who makes an excellent computer, by the way (more than one!), announced a new app today. But notice the “More text explaining this here” on the page. I thought this was hilarious in a geeky sort of way.

don_sig2

new blog

An old-timey friend of mine, Monty McCoy, has joined the blogosphere at leadinghorsestowater.net. I love the title, reminds me of a favorite quote from Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Things Go Wrong, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you’ve got something!” I can’t remember who said that originally, but I think it is particularly applicable to most leadership situations.

Monty and I used to team teach a Sunday school class in our church’s bus ministry. With him, I used to visit some of the poorer sections of our town where most of our children came from. These homes were so broken, it was hard to see how they could be helped – only the grace of God could make a difference.

We had some professions of faith in our class – it was first grade. I don’t know how serious these little ones were, but I know that little children can make serious spiritual decisions. Regardless, I think the ministry to little ones (and all ages in that community) was a worthwhile effort. It was costly, eventually our church gave up that ministry (after I had moved away). It certainly isn’t the “in thing” among Christians these days, but what could be more important than teaching the Bible and the life changing message of the gospel to anyone who will listen?

Well, Monty and I reconnected last year after spending about thirty years incommunicado (hurrah for the internet!). Monty is a godly servant in a local church somewhere in Iowa (he really lives out in the sticks, a real country gentleman). I appreciate his faithfulness and ministry a great deal and recommend his blog to you. Hope you enjoy it.

don_sig2

more on invitations

As a follow-up to my earlier post, I’d like to comment on what I think are appropriate uses of the invitation.

[Read more…]

on invitations

If you’ve been in the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist world for any length of time, you’ve experienced a variety of invitations in the services you have attended. In some services, the preacher seems to connect with heaven and send a message direct from God to your sinful heart and you bow in confession and respond as the preacher calls for repentance at the end of the service. Some services in particular speak directly to the heart of the lost and are used by God to bring about numerous conversions in response. On other occasions, the preacher may not have seemed so connected with the divine, yet an invitation is given anyhow – and a response ensues, often in large numbers, but it somehow seems to lack the intense spirituality of those other occasions. It seems… routine… manufactured… indefinite… inconclusive… and rarely produces change that lasts.

What is the difference? [Read more…]