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September 5, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker – A Book Review

I’ve followed Ted Dekker‘s writing since The Circle Series first began with Black. Ted’s writing broke the boundaries that were unspoken set on “Christian fiction.” Ted writes with passion and creates a world in your mind that you’re unable to escape diving deeper and deeper with every word on every single page. In every novel Ted brings about the greater conflict between good and evil in some form or another. In Immanuel’s Veins Ted explores the goods and evils of love, lust, and sacrifice. The struggle exists in a form many Dekker fans will recognize as names such as “Thomas” and “Alucard” arise in pages ahead. As always Ted has tied this novel into the world/worlds that are the Circle and the Dekker-Universe.

Set in a medieval setting Immanuel’s Veins gives a much different feel than Dekker’s fans may be used to. As always his writing immerses you in the story. This story surrounds an epic battle between love and lust, between true sacrificial love and pleasures of flesh. The battle rages over the heart of a young woman named Lucine the opposing forces exist in Toma the picture of good and righteousness and Vlad the ultimate evil.

My only concern with Immanuel’s Veins was that it would become a stereotypical “I’m going to write about vampires because everyone is writing about vampires” book. I’m thankful this was not the case.

Sacrificial love, as noted in Immanuel’s Veins, is exemplified most in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind. Toma wrestles with his own understanding of a loving God. He has little to do with religion but in the end begins to realizes that Jesus died on the cross because of love. He loved us and gave His life for us. A Sacrificial love is a love that is willing to die for it’s friends and it’s enemies. Through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross we are made free. We are set free through love spill from Immanuel’s veins.

It’s this love that is most beautifully explored in Immanuel’s Veins, this story of love and lust will leave your captivated until the very end.

See the trailer for the book along with what other readers are saying in HD here.

Follow Ted Dekker on Twitter

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Booksneeze has been an awesome company that I’ve worked with and blogged for, for a good bit of time now and they never cease to amaze me. With this newest project they’ve worked out an amazing opportunity where  I was able to receive a free “Spread The Love” shirt from www.teddekker.com for blogging on this book. You can also have a chance to win that shirt. If you would like to win the “Spread The Love” shirt here’s what you need to do: comment on this blog with your name your favorite Ted Dekker novel or series, and why. Thanks so much!


I review for BookSneeze

September 4, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Rhodora Lyrics

Some of you have been asking for the lyrics to our lyrics. Here is everything we currently have. Enjoy! Be encouraged. Spread the love of Christ to all.

When All Was Lost
Unheard of disaster, I see it comes.
The end has come, the end has come.
There is panic on the mountains.
There is panic on the mountains.
And this is how you’ll know, it is the Lord who strikes You
This is how you’ll know, it is the Lord who strikes You.

We Found Redemption In Sacrifice
Doom has burst forth, arrogance blossomed.
But redemption comes, through the shedding of blood.
Hope is rising with, with the dawn.
Casting your sorrows down, cast the down
Redemption comes through the shedding of blood.
I’m falling apart at the seams, Father make a better man out of me
Oh, make a better man!
I’m laying all my burdens down at Your feet.
I’m laying all my selfishness down.
Burn it all away, make a better man out of me.
Burn it all away, make a better man out of me.
I’m falling apart at the seams, Father make a better man out of me
Oh, make a better man!
Redemption comes through the shedding of blood.
Redemption comes through the shedding of blood.
Redemption comes through the shedding of blood.

The Day I Decided To Play God
Before the beginning You were and You have always been.
Before the beginning You were, You’ve always been.
Our vanity overtakes us, we’re believing we’re gods
Staring in mirrors forever we’re withered and lost in the sun
Lost in the sun
Teach us how short our lives are
Remove the breath from our lungs
Dry the blood in our veins
Until we’re made up of who You are
Teach us how short our lives are
Teach us how short our lives are
Every breath I draw is one that I don’t deserve
My heart beats in rhythm by Your grace alone
Teach us to love like You
Teacher, teach
Teacher, teach

Then Word Became Flesh
You came crashing in, a child to save us all
Like a ship against the rocks, we were buried in the sand.
With blood and flesh a separation, beauty from my ashes rise.
Rescue was birthed in the darkest of nights, with angels circling at the first light.
“Holy!”, They sing. “Holy!”, They sing.
Worthy is the Slaughtered, Slaughtered Lamb
Worthy is the Slaughtered, Slaughtered Lamb
With blood and water poured out my salvation has come at last, has come at last, has come at last.
You came to bring us in, though we were so small.
Like love at first breath, You captured us up when we were against the wall.
Love came at the greatest price, love came at the greatest price

And Walked Into A Den Of Vipers
God come down, bring rest to our weary souls. Bring restoration for the lost, repair our broken hopes.
We need You now, more than ever before. We need to be washed clean.
Oh God, we’ve turn Your home into a concert hall!
Our worship is just a show!
We hang Your pictures on the wall, but we all know that’s as far as this thing… as far as it goes.
But, that’s as far as this thing goes, that’s as far as this thing goes, will it ever go farther than this?
Our hearts just need to know, that You alone are God, that You don’t need us, but You call us to be a part of who You are.
To broadcast Your stories of redemption to all who need to know that You alone are God. You alone. You alone are God.
Oh God, we’ve turned Your home into a concert hall!
Our worship is just a show! Our worship is just a show!
Spirit come down and wrap us in Your love, fill us with Your fire, burn for all to see.
Burn for all to see. Burn for all to see.
God come down bring rest to our weary souls.
Oh, God!
Tear out this heart of stone, replace me with all of You!
Tear out this heart of stone, replace me with all of You!

Grace And Peace
Grace and peace be to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, grace and peace.

September 1, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Carolina Shoreline

I’ve started working on some solo acoustic material again under the alias of “I Have To Find My Own Chicago”. This is one of the first songs I’ve written for the project. I hope you enjoy it.

D2, C#/D, G/D
I find I waste the day away
At the shoreline after the rain

D2, C#/D, G/D, F#/D, Emin
On the Carolina coastline
I fell in love with you again

D2, F#/D, G/D, F#D, Emin
It’s colder than it ought to be in March
I stole that line because I love it
Because you’ll love it
You love it

D2, F#/D, Gmaj, Emin
Sing a song with me about the waves
Crashing over and over
Sing a song with me about the way
Your love crashes over me
Over and over

D2, C#/D, G/D
Let’s climb the dunes and pretend we’re lost
We’ll hope for longer moments until we get caught

D2, C#/D, G/D, F#/D, Emin

Flying kites like we’re children again
Here on this shoreline we’ll begin again

D2, F#/D, G/D, F#D
It’s colder than it ought to be in March
I stole that line because I love it
Because you’ll love it
You love it

D2, F#/D, Gmaj, Emin
Sing a song with me about the waves
Crashing over and over
Sing a song with me about the way
Your love crashes over me
Over and over

Gmaj, F#/D, Em7
I’m hoping I can be all you want me to be
D2
A lover, your friend, a husband, and father.
C#/D2
A dreamer, your shield, a protector and comfort.
Gmaj, F#/D, Em7
I’m hoping I can be all you want me to be

August 19, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Permission To Speak Freely – A Book Review

I’ve seen in a recent years a rising generation of authors, creatives, leaders, and guides who connect more and more online via Twitter/Blog/Facebook with their “fans” “followers” “subscribers”. It’s through this new medium of social networking that our world is beginning to run. Anne Jackson is one of these authors/creatives/leaders/guides that has connected with her followers on a close and personal level. This comes with a transparency and honesty that only comes through relationship. Anne’s followers are not just her “followers” they are people that she cares for.

My first interact with Anne came from reading her last book Mad Church Disease I read through it in one night as I hung to every word because Anne was sharing some of the same frustrations and burnouts I was having in ministry. She showed me how to focus more on my relationship with Christ than anything else and how to say “No.” As I was reading her book I was tweeting out quotes/questions/content from the book that I was enjoying. She replied back to my comments and thanked me for reading her book. It was small, but it made it an even greater connection.

Anne has used this connection with her followers to reach out and gather from them the answer to one question: “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?” The response she got was heartbreaking. She launched the website http://www.permissiontospeakfreely.com and asked for her followers to submit poetry/photography/art/anything to help communicate their feelings about the question.

The book Permission To Speak Freely is the compilation of this poetry/photography/art/anything along with Anne’s thoughts regarding some of the main issues addressed. Anne tells her story. She shares her own struggles and invites the reader to share theirs, the good the bad and the ugly. The book is beautifully laid out and Anne’s writing style is so personal you feel like your sitting across the table from her with a cup of coffee.

Anne’s goal is not to “paint a negative picture of the magnificent creation of the church.” It’s rather to draw attention to the broken/hurting/deeply wounded hearts that are in need of restoration and hope. Permission To Speak Freely is a beautiful book that asks some hard questions and does it’s best to restore hope to the hopeless. The second section of the book is dedicated to this hope. Chapter 15 – “Sanctuary” is one of my favorite chapters in the book. I have almost the entire thing highlighted. It reminds us of the beautiful messiness the church used to be known for. The church was a sanctuary for the broken, for the hurting, for the criminal, for the prostitute, for the murder, for the homeless, for the hopeless. At some point the church started denying people based on the severity of their crimes. Mind you the church was not a hiding place for criminals it was a place to find shelter and shield from those calling for blood. It was a place to be loved and given a second chance until proved guilty. “However, as time went by, people with power interfered with the system and began excluding specific groups or crimes. at first those who had committed treason or murder were no longer allowed to find safety. Over the next few centuries, slowly, fewer and fewer crimes were given the right of sanctuary, until the end of the eighteenth century when it was abolished altogether.”

Permission To Speak Freely is an eye-opening, heartbreaking, and hope-filled book. It’s Anne’s at her most honest open and best. This is a must read.

I review for BookSneeze

August 19, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Colors Of God: Conversations About Being The Church – A Book Review

Colors Of God: Conversations About Being The Church by Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen & Randall Peters, is a great reading experience. The authors are pastors at a church called “neXus”. Where they come together as “the church” to do church in a very different way that most of America “does church”. The first thing one might notice different is that there’s not just one speaker at a pulpit on Sundays. Dave, Quentin, and Randall speak in dialogue. They may plan out where they are headed in the end but all the in between is an honest, genuine, spontaneous conversation about a biblical “truth”. The book is written in this format of conversation. Much like one would read the script from a play each section is blocked off indicating who the current voice is. The three write/speak well together. I’m a great fan of the style of the book. It’s fresh, new, and rethought.

Truth is also something to be questioned at neXus. Nothing is off the table for questioning, or rethinking. neXus holds that everything that we know about Christianity, and hold true about the Christian faith, must be available to be reassessed. In the book they address this saying that they are part of an emerging group of Christians unwilling to settle for what various church fathers or creeds put in place many years ago. They believe that everything must be able to be put back under the microscope. This is not to say that everything is relative merely that nothing should be off limits for questioning.

I agree with the fact that we should never take anything for face value. Dig deep. Know what you believe. I also believe that this type of thinking can bring one to a hard point of frustration. Not that getting frustrated over digging and questioning is a bad thing. Where do we stop asking questions? Do we take Jesus at His word or do we have to dig deeper to find if it’s true? While I applaud this line of thinking for not allowing Christians to become part of the Christian Culture Machine I would proceed with caution.

Colors of God is a great book to challenge your thinking about books/church/Christianity/faith/God/methodology/theology. Take it in, but cautiously. I don’t agree with much of the theology of the book but enjoyed the conversation.

This book was provided for me by The Ooze Viral Bloggers.

August 18, 2010 / TheCommonCup

Whine Like A Toddler One More Time And I’ll Make Meat Come Out Of Your Nose

Reading in Numbers tonight I started laughing out loud at God’s reaction to sin in the camp. When the Israelites complain about having to eat manna all the time, in chapter 11, and cry like babies to God for meat to eat – God says they’ll eat meat for a month. He says they will eat so much meat they will “have meat coming out of their nose” and they will “grow to hate it”. Then again in chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron were complaining to one another about how “Only Moses gets to talk to God.” So God calls them in and scares the crap out of them. He defends Moses, and says that they should be afraid for speaking out against him. Miriam ends up with a skin disease and of all people Moses has to come before God to plead on behalf of his sister for healing.

Makes me never want to complain to God about things ever again.

August 17, 2010 / TheCommonCup

I Think I’m In Love With Leviticus

I think I’m in love with Leviticus. Who knew such a bloody and ritualistic book could be so alive and beautiful. I read passages like chapter 16 which talks through all of the different things Aaron, as the High Priest, had to do in order to even enter into the Most Holy Place of the Lord. Even to go into the Meeting Tent there was such a list or rules he had to follow or would have died. There is this sacredness to being able to know God. I often wonder if our ideas of what is sacred have been lost in our modern time. We forget that Christ’s sacrifice was more brutal and more bloody and ugly than any animal sacrifice. His death was the worst of all not because of the method of execution, but due to the heaviness of mankind’s sin permeating his every pore.

Leviticus is a call to live a new and better kind of life. Just as in the New Testament, Jesus calls His followers to live an “abundant” or “better” life by knowing and following the Way the Truth and the Life. At the beginning of chapter 18 God reminds the Israelites that they have been brought out of their old life in Egypt. They no longer need to practice old rituals from when they were enslaved. They are made free by the One True God.

In chapter 19 God commands, not suggests, to His people to be holy as He is holy. This is a heavy request. Jesus later quotes this passage when speaking of what it takes to follow Him. Being holy as Jesus, as God, was and is holy is a hard shoe to fill. Yet over and over again in Leviticus we see this call to be more than what we are. To live with the pursuit of holiness. To be holy as God is holy.

Another thought from Leviticus: The Lord often remarks that it is He who makes the people holy. It’s not their sacrifices, it’s God and God alone who can offer forgiveness of sins. Leviticus is a book of forgiveness and the love of a holy Father who is calling His children to become more like Him. What father doesn’t hope for his children to admire him and want to be like him.

It’s beautiful. It’s hard and bloody and brutal, but beautiful.