Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If It Weren't For Us Christians...

Huge congrats to my friend Bobby Weaver, whose debut book, If it Weren’t For Us Christians, There’d Be A Lot More Christians, was released earlier this month.


Bobby uses wit, humor and plenty of real life experience to examine some misguided attempts at the “Great Commission.” Without trying to be overly preachy, he has taken a candid approach to suggest Christians rethink their "witness" while being a witness. If it Weren't for Us Christians, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Crossover Publications websites.

So…what sort of examples does he use? Here’s just a taste:

* A pastor in North Carolina leads his congregation to vote nine members out of the church. According to him their sin was voting for the wrong man in the presidential election.

* Two competing churches in Florida put up opposing billboards. One declares, “There ain’t no hell!” The other counters with, “The hell there ain’t!”

* A young man following a car with a “Honk If You Love Jesus” bumper sticker, honks his horn and gets the middle finger from the driver.

Bobby: These are just a few actual examples that have led me to believe that some of us must interpret the Great Commission like this: “Go into the world and scare off as many people from the Christian faith as we possibly can.” Let’s face it, when it comes to spreading the Gospel, we can often be our own worst enemy.

Bobby’s Background: From opening nearly 1,000 retail stores to starting a national newspaper chain, Bobby Weaver seemed to have it all…with one possible exception…a relationship with God. You see, Bobby was on a wrong-way journey when God had another idea and used the most unlikely fellow to help. Would you believe Howard Stern? Yes, the radio shock jock. It was the middle of October in 1996 when Bobby told Howard off on a live radio show. But, believe it or not, it was Howard’s response that ended up totally revolutionizing Bobby’s life.

So, Bobby…Why did you write this book?

A. Well, I knew this one person who loved to judge others. In fact, he did it all the time. And he was one of the worst hypocrites I had ever met. He could talk the talk with the best of them, but when it came to walking the walk, well, that was a different story. I hate to say this about him, but he was one of the most disgusting people I've ever met. Guess where I met him? In a bar? In a topless joint? No, I met him in a mirror. It was me. Once God finally got my attention, he was kind enough to let me live another day, but I'm thinking it was my turn to do something for him...hence, the book.

Wow...that's some pretty honest self-reflection. A lot of people shy away from looking that closely at themselves. Why should people read your book?

A. Because my baby needs a new pair of shoes. No, seriously, I honestly believe that a lot of us Christians do things VERY UNINTENTIONALLY to scare off others from our faith. Some of us (not all, but some) use questionable language, we occasionally gossip, we drive like a NASCAR driver and advertise it with our Christian bumper sticker, and on and on. I have had several people say after reading the book that it points out subtle things we do without ever realizing it. But to keep this book from being a preachy, boring book, I relied on my days as a publisher of Beach Bull to offer this serious matter laced with humor. My favorite comment I have heard about the book is "I couldn't put it down." Of course, I paid them $25 them to say that. (Smiley face goes here!)

Thanks, Bobby! Your answers definitely make me want to read the book, which will be arriving in my mailbox any day now. Remember, all you need to do is leave a comment for a chance to win If It Weren’t For Us Christians….

Since Bobby hails from Florida, let’s go with a Florida recipe for today:


• 3 Tbs. soy sauce
• 1 Tbs. honey
• 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
• 1 tsp. lime juice
• 1 tsp. chopped garlic
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


1. In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
2. Lightly oil outdoor grill grate and preheat grill for high heat.
3. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cruising Around New Zealand

Many thanks to fellow-traveler Karen Robbins, my guest blogger for today. Unlike me, Karen has actually been to New Zealand! Read about her adventure, then stop by and visit her blog at

Green fields spotted with white lambs. Rocky coastal areas with albatross, soaring above. Towns reminiscent of Scottish heritage. Dramatic cliffs rising
from the sea protecting harbors of quiet waters and lush green foliage. A city vibrant with the enthusiasm of a great sailing event. These are the things I remember most from our visit to New Zealand.

Our trip to New Zealand, the land of the Kiwi, was back in 2000. It was a Millennium Cruise that began in Auckland in January—the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere. The first round eliminations for the Americas Cup were being conducted and we enjoyed watching the activity as the large sailboats came into the harbor after the races and crews rushed to get them out of the water and cover the keels least someone should copy their secret design.

We stayed one night in Auckland before boarding a Princess Cruise ship to begin our cruise down the east coast of New Zealand and over to Australia. It was a wonderful way to get an introduction to the country.

Our first stop was in the Bay of Islands to the north of Auckland. We anchored in the middle of them and took an excursion in a smaller boat around several interesting natural formations and explored a bit of Urupukapuka Island where Zane Gray is said to have stayed when he came to fish in the area. Serene and exotic, I can imagine he was inspired whether the fish were biting or not.

The Maoris named our next stop Tauranga which means “resting place for canoes.” This was one of the first places the Maoris arrived in New Zealand. In 1769, Captain Cook arrived. His reception here was a little calmer than some of the other places he explored. We had a full day as we explored the Roturura Lake countryside with stops to see some of the wildlife represented at a farm/zoo. The elusive kiwi bird was only a stuffed specimen since the kiwi are entirely night creatures and very shy. At the sheep farm, we watched a demonstration of sheep dogs at work and farmers sheering wool.

At a Maori Village, we were immersed in their culture as we participated in a meal that had been cooked in a fire pit (or so we were told). Pork, sweet potatoes, and all sorts of local produce were arranged in pots at a buffet-style lunch. The Maoris have a strange custom that the men perform. To make themselves look fierce and scare enemies away, they stick their tongues out. We tried not to giggle.

The town of Napier is known for their wool production. Wool was the number one industry in New Zealand for a long time but has since been replaced by tourism. At a nearby sheep farm and processing plane, we watched the sheering, cleaning, dyeing and processing of the sheep skins.
Our last stop on the north island of New Zealand was Wellington, the capital of the country and the birthplace of writer, Katherine Mansfield, who seemed from the literature we read to be a kind of Virginia Wolf personality. She lived from 1888 – 1923. Large red pom-pom type blooms graced tree branches throughout the city’s gardens. They called it the New Zealand Christmas tree because it always blooms around that time of year.

Christchurch, about a third of the way down the east coast of the south island is described as the most English city outside England. Its gardens, 19th century architecture, and antique trams give the city a quaint feeling of Victorian England. The port town of Littleton was easily explored on foot and the harbor area we toured by boat, gave us pastoral scenes of green hills dotted with sheep. Christchurch is also one of the places from which Antarctic exploration teams leave for their tours of duty.

Originally a Presbyterian Scottish settlement, Dunedin, the city located at the head of the Otago harbor maintains its Scottish ambience. While the city is a delight to explore, I found the harbor even more so. It abounds with wildlife. We saw seals, little blue penguins, cormorants, terns, and the big attraction, the albatross. These birds were amazing with a huge wing span that made them look like small jet planes in the air. We were not allowed near the nesting area but from our perch on the sight-seeing boat, we could see a ranger sitting next to one of the large birds. The ranger was probably about six feet tall but sitting, he was smaller than the albatross.

The southernmost part of New Zealand was the most spectacular of the coast line that we saw. We spent a day cruising through Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, and into Milford Sound, the most spectacular of the fjords. When we stopped to pick up some passengers who had done an overland/overnight excursion, we could see in the distance snow capped mountains.

As we turned and cruised into the twilight, out toward the Tasman Sea, we bid farewell to the beauty and serenity of New Zealand with a promise to return to the land of the Kiwi.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Land of the Kiwi

Let’s go under the Land Down Under to an almost surreal place of lush rainforests, steaming volcanoes, breathtaking beaches and bigger-than-life fiords. New Zealand is roughly the size of Colorado, but it’s amazing scenery and unusual creatures make it a popular destination for playing, relaxing and thrill-seeking.

The photo at left is Mt. Tongariro, one of three active volcanoes that dominate the landscape of the North Island. It's dramatic beauty made it the perfect spot to shoot parts of the Lord of the Rings triology! I heard parts of Jurassic Park were filmed there as well...or somewhere in NZ.

About a quarter of the country is forested and, thank goodness, protected from exploitation. Let’s hope it stays that way. Only about 4 million people call New Zealand home, making it one of the world’s least crowded countries. If you’re looking for peace, quiet, wide open spaces or deep, dense forests with ginormous ferns...this is the place to go.

Stop by next week for the scoop on places to stay, things to do and a bit about this small country's unusual wildlife. For now, take a look at this New Zealand recipe that would make a perfect Halloween dinner! (And don't worry about trying to find New Zealand pumpkins -- good old American pumpkins work just fine.)

Printed from COOKS.COM
2 med. size New Zealand pumpkins
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 round onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Minced garlic
1 1/2 lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 lg. can sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tbsp. shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tbsp. brown or raw sugar
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, chopped
1 1/2 c. cooked rice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash pumpkins; cut a round hole on top of each pumpkin and use as a cover while baking. Remove seeds and pulp. Set pumpkins aside.
Saute onion, celery and garlic in oil; add ground meat and brown well. Drain excess fat. Add mushrooms, soup, shoyu and sugar. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water chestnuts and cooked rice. Spoon half of mixture in one pumpkin shell and the other half in second pumpkin shell. Place on baking sheet and bake 1 hour or until pumpkin meat is fork tender. Remove and serve hot, scooping out filling as well as pumpkin meat.