Thursday, July 24, 2008

ICRS and Tyndale

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Tyndale House Publishers' Author Appreciation Dinner in Orlando, Florida, during the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

I'm thankful for John Van Diest, Janis Long Harris, Lisa Jackson, Bonne Steffen, and the rest of the Doug Knox's team at Tyndale. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with on If God Disappears.



David Sanford with David Hawkins, licensed clinical psychologist, author, and speaker (www.yourrelationshipdoctor.com)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Did you see the full moon last night?

Did you see the full moon last night?

Earlier this year my younger son Benjamin and I had an opportunity to watch a spectacular lunar eclipse. The sky was clear, the air was cool, and the show was spectacular. We watched the moon go from pure white to a haunting silhouette. It was one of those wonder-filled memories that probably will stay with Ben and me forever.

On my desktop I’ve set up a sidebar that randomly shows all the pictures I’ve stored on my hard drive. The first photo of the morning caught me by surprise. It was a photograph of the full moon my wife, Renée, had taken.


By right clicking on the photo and changing the format settings for brightness and contrast from 50% to 10%, I found I could turn the photo into a simulated lunar eclipse.



By changing the format settings from 10% to 0%, I discovered I could simulate a pitch black night.


By changing the settings from 0% to 100%, I found the photo completely disappeared (at least on my screen).



If you want, I can e-mail this posting to you. If you were reading the posting via e-mail, you could right click on the space above, change the settings back to 50% and see the full moon again. Want to try it? Just drop me a quick line at IfGodDisappears@gmail.com.

Then… Ask yourself these “top 10” questions in reverse order of priority:

10. Why did you believe the photo of the full moon was still there?

9. Were you simply curious?

8. Did you figure there was a good chance it was there?

7. Could you see part of it due to your screen’s settings?

6. Or did you trust me because you know me?

5. When life doesn’t make sense anymore, what do you see?

4. What do you believe?

3. Where do you turn?

2. Who do you trust?

1. Why do you trust him or her?

I found myself asking, “Why do I trust God?” I realize part of the reason is God’s amazing creative power. Not only did he create the universe, but he also designed it so intricately that we can predict the exact time of the full moon years from now. How can we know for sure? Because God always keeps his promises. Not just to himself, but to us.

No wonder the psalmist David penned these beautiful, often quoted verses from Psalm 8 more than 3,000 years ago:

3When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

The next time you see the moon, whether on a clear night or on your computer, you probably won’t remember this post.

But please don't forget that God cares for you deeply and always can be trusted....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Read the first chapter now for free...

See the left side of the page "Free Chapter" for a link to the first chapter to If God Disappears: 9 Faith Wreckers and What to Do About Them by David Sanford.

Let David know what you think about the first chapter of his forthcoming book by e-mailing him at ifgoddisappears@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

With the end in mind

Thomas à Kempis’s first book, The Imitation of Christ, especially the closing three chapters, speaks of the importance of beginning with the end in mind. That is, think deeply and often when alone about the day of your death.

I’ve found it helpful to meditate on Kempis’s question, “How do you want to meet God?”

To do this, not once, but as a habit of life, in union with several others, creates a sense of excitement and mission about all that we do. Our thoughts, feelings, energy, and choices matter.

Yet how many never give serious thought to the end of their life? Oh, they think they do so—they give thought, often excessively, to the way they would like to finish their years in some supposedly blissful retirement. Then, they tell themselves, I’ll do what I really want—live in a nice home, travel, write, invest, whatever. Yes, we must wait for all good things. But why wait until the end of life, when the body is frail and the mind may not be as sharp?

One woman, whose husband’s health was failing rapidly, lamented to my wife and me: “He promised we’d travel the world together after he retired. We’ve taken only one trip, and now he can hardly walk” and would soon be gone. Her sorrow over all that might have been shook me.

Ever since, I’ve made no apology of spending time with my wife, traveling, a day here, two days there, a week in southern Florida, two weeks in Europe, additional weeks trekking in the Alps, the Amazon, the Andes, the Sahara desert, the ever planning (not just dreaming) of traveling together again. We may not traverse the whole planet before my health is gone, but my wife won’t be able to say we didn’t try, throughout our life, not just at the end.

The same goes for other dreams, goals, desires—if they’re part of our mission, our life’s adventure, I see no reason to wait (until it’s almost too late) to go after them, heart and soul.

Pity the person who never decides to live, whose chief excitement is daydreaming, who never dares to passionately pursue his or her plans now, today, this year, the next five years, before it’s too late and our family and friends lament what might have been.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

You won my trust

Recently a friend of a friend, whom I’ll call Jodi, phoned me to discuss a book she’s writing. In the course of our discussion, we started asking about each other’s religious background and spiritual journey as an adult. Afterward, I sent Jodi a quick letter saying, among other things: “I greatly appreciated your authenticity and integrity, especially when we were talking about spirituality. You could have done what some people do and told me what I wanted to hear. Instead, you won my trust by being yourself.”

Interestingly, Jodi told me her paternal grandparents are devote Christians, her parents chose to live by the morals of Christianity without going to church, and Jodi and her husband are more “open” (syncretistic) in their beliefs, which has included attending church with friends and watching a popular televangelist every Sunday morning.

I was especially impressed that Jodi has taken the time to read the Bible cover to cover. Maybe like Jodi, it’s time you read the Good Book from Genesis to Revelation. I highly recommend the Starting Point Study Bible.

I also recommend How to Read Your Bible by David & Renée Sanford. We will be glad to send copies to the first 10 individuals who visit the www.HowToReadYourBible.com web site and write to us at the e-mail address provided there. Please be sure to include your full mailing address (sorry, U.S. addresses only).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anyone can have a bad church experience

Anyone can have a bad church experience. Just ask Colleen and Eric.

At first, Colleen and Eric felt great about the church they attended. After all, that’s where they had met, were married, and had started raising their family.

At that point in their lives, Colleen and Eric weren’t really searching for God—just the acceptance of a group of peers. So when they started noticing the church leadership’s apparent contradictions and deception, they kept quiet. What they didn’t know for several years: their church was part of a now-discredited cult.

After Colleen and Eric left the cult, they were plagued with pain, guilt, and doubt. The experience “caused me to question my own ability to see the truth,” Colleen says. “I had guilt for seeing red flags along the way, but not doing anything about it. You ask God for forgiveness and he gives it, but it’s hard to forgive yourself. I felt cheated, like I had wasted all those years.”

Within a year, however, Colleen and Eric joined the Vista Del Sol church in El Paso, Texas, and began the second religious journey of their lives.

Colleen’s desire to be accepted was met—this time in a positive, healthy church environment. “We felt genuinely loved by everyone,” she says. “Walter Mueller [the pastor] embraced us and loved us. I think his Austrian background made him have a heart for people who were a little different.”

Despite the guilt that Colleen felt from being in a cult, she wouldn’t change her past. Why? God has allowed her to share her story with and assist others who have had bad church experiences.

You don’t have to join a cult to have a bad church experience.

Approximately 31 million Americans say they are Christians and that their commitment to Christ is still important to them, but they have struggled with faith or relational issues and therefore quit going to church.

Tens of thousands more will join their ranks this week.

Like a safe harbor, local churches can be a second home for many people.

Sadly, churches also can be the setting for some of the harshest attacks against our faith.

What experiences have you had—good or bad? You can write to me at ifgoddisappears@gmail.com or post a comment below.