Two Recent Reads

September 24, 2013 at 10:03 am | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

Two novels I read recently have been worth commenting on.

Calico Joe by John Grisham

It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring.  The first baseman for the Cubs’ Triple A affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home.  The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs, injured his back.  The team suddenly needed someone to play first, so it reached down to its Double A club in Midland, Texas, and called up a 21-year-old named Joe Castle.  At the time, Castle was hitting .395 with 20 home runs, 50 RBIs, 40 stolen bases and only one error at first base.  He was the hottest player in Double A and was creating a buzz.  .  .  .  Castle had trouble gripping his brand-new bat.  In his first round of major league batting practice, he swung at the first two pitches and missed.  He would not miss again for a long time.

So begins a fun yet touching story.  I’d read about five John Grisham novels in the past; all of them were legal thrillers where some lawyer outsmarts the system and gets away with millions (or loses it in the end to someone smarter) .  Though they were all interesting and exciting reading, I’d decided I was done with Grisham because they all sounded exactly alike.  But when Sports Illustrated carried an excerpt from a baseball story by Grisham, I was interested in reading him again.  Calico Joe was nothing like Grisham s legal thrillers.  It is a story about baseball, a story about fathers and sons, but mostly a story about forgiveness.  I was so touched, I decided to read it out loud to my wife and daughter.  They too were touched by it.

If you like baseball don’t miss this wonderful story.  Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, read it for the poignant story of forgiveness.  By way of warning, there is some profanity in it.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

I probably wouldn’t have picked up a book with this title had it not been recommended by a trusted source (World magazine I believe).  In spite of its strange title, this was a great mystery story of young WWI nurse who tries to keep a promise she made to a dying soldier.  When she delivers the mysterious message she was charged to deliver, the soldier’s family seems to do nothing about it.  So Bess Crawford has to decide if delivering the message was her only duty or if she needed to pursue the matter to insure the message had its intended impact.  The more she investigates, the more she realizes how bizarre the family’s history is.  Besides being a good story, it asks the question, “How far should one go to fulfill a promise made to a dying person?”  Both my wife and daughter decided to read this one also, and both girls liked it as well.  Well written, clean and fascinating, I will probably look for more by this author who had a section of other books in the library.

Heaven Is a Wonderful Place — Alternative Verses

September 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Eschatology, False teaching | Leave a comment

I concluded my sermon series on hope this past Sunday with thoughts about our final hope of being in the Lord’s presence in heaven.  I quoted that old spiritual song, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, because it talks about seeing the face of our Savior as part of the glory of heaven.  There is great hope in that – a hope far beyond anything else in the world.  That’s why Paul said “we don’t grieve like others do who have no hope.”  So how would others, because they have no hope, have to sing that song?  Here are some rewritten verses of that old song for people of other belief systems.

I know that some could be offended at these words.  This is not my intent; my purpose is to point out, in a light-hearted manner, that only followers of the real Jesus have a hope beyond this life.  The beliefs of other religious systems offer no real hope.  Others might say these verses are exclusive and simplistic.  I would agree, but they still present the truth.  I found these verses in my files hand scribbled with pencil on the back of some other notes.  I tried to look them up to see where I might have found them, and can only conclude I must have written them myself at some forgotten time in the past.

The Christian Version:

Heaven is a wonderful place,

Filled with glory and grace;

That’s where I’ll see my Savior’s face.

Heaven is a wonderful place.


Heaven is a wonderful place,

But of mercy there is no trace.

I dread the day I see God’s face,

For judgment is in that place.

Eastern Religions

Heaven is a wonderful sound,

but we will never be crowned

to earth we’re forever bound.

So let’s stay here for another round.


Heaven is not a real place.

If I’m good while I’m in this place,

I’ll be a god in outer space,

With my planet to call home base.


Heaven is a wonderful place,

But it’s filled and out of space.

What about the rest of the human race?

For them, not a saving grace


Heaven is a crazy lie,

A promise of “pie in the sky.’

No such thing as “sweet by and by.”

So in our hopelessness we cry

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