Archive for the 'Books…Check ’em out' Category

20
Aug
12

A Monday morning word for my fellow preachers…

Take heed, therefore, brethren, for the enemy hath a special eye upon you. You shall have his most subtle insinuations, and incessant solicitations, and violent assaults. As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves, lest he outwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant: he can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive: he will get within you, and trip up your heels before you are aware…You shall see neither hook nor line, much less the subtle angler himself, while he is offering you his bait… O what a conquest will he think he hath got, if he can make a minister lazy and unfaithful, if he can tempt a minister into covetousness or scandal!…If you will engage yourselves against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places; if you will undertake to rescue captive sinners out of the devil’s paws; do not think that a heedless, careless course will accomplish so great a work at this.

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, pages 74-78.

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19
Apr
12

Old Man and The Sea

One of my favorite stories of all time is “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. Today I read a very similar story with a couple of differences: 1) it is true, and 2) there is a happy ending for the fisherman.

10
Jan
12

help your marriage: read this not that

Mark Driscoll publishes “Real Marriage” in a couple of days and Ed Young publishes “Sexperiment” today. My friend Mike takes issue with the authors here for multiple reasons and I don’t plan on reading these two books. I have the feeling I can get the content of these books from reviews and twitter posts. After all, I don’t understand how Ed Young can write an entire book based on the idea of having sex with your spouse for 7 days in a row, and frankly, I don’t care to find out. It seems odd to me.I’m slightly more inclined to read Driscoll’s book because I have benefitted from some other things he has written and I appreciate many things he has to say. I enjoyed his ebook Pastor Dad.  If you are looking for good books to read to benefit your marriage, I recommend these:

Paul Tripp – What did you Expect? (or on DVD) You can read my post outlining and summarizing this book here.

Lou Priolo – The Complete Husband

Kent Hughes has a chapter on marriage in his book “Disciplines of a Godly Man“, you can read my review of it here.

Don’t waste your time with Driscoll or Young, there are too many good books to read. What books have your read that you have found helpful?

20
Jul
11

The Autobiography of George Muller

One of the books that I am currently reading is the Autobiography of George Muller. He lived in England in the early 1800’s. The book is a collection of excerpts from his personal journal over a period of years. He was highly involved in helping orphans and the poor during his lifetime, helping children obtain a biblical education, distribution of the Bible, and educating adults as well.  He lived his life based on faith that God would provide for every need to do what must be done. His journal is filled with examples of God proving himself faithful in the hour of need. It was God’s responsibility to feed the orphans because he is the “Father to the Fatherless” so Muller expected God to provide the money, food, etc. to take care of the orphans. He would not let people know about the needs there were, but only approached God with them in prayer. Time and again God prompted people to meet those needs without ever knowing what they were. Muller believed this was the way in which God would receive the most glory because people were not giving in response to a need but in response to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Muller lived debt-free and gave away every penny he had yet he always had enough. This book is both deeply challenging and encouraging. It will feed a fire within your soul to trust God in his work, challenge you to align your habits and patterns of life with his will, and drive you to your knees in prayer.  It has been especially encouraging to me in this hour of my life and ministry.

If you want to read it, you can borrow my copy, just email me.

04
Feb
11

The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, a book review

Gabe Lyons analyzes some of the shifting trends in Christendom. If you have ardent beliefs about America being a Christian nation, then this book will grate against you. He divides the book into three sections. The first is really an evaluation of much of the research he presented in his previous work UnChristian. He encourages the reader to evaluate the church at large and their personal Christian context in terms of those who separate from the culture, those who resemble the culture, and those who seek to restore the culture. The second section of the book is Lyons’ articulation of how Christians can begin to make the shift to being a Restorer in their context. This is helpful because he evaluates church and culture, reaction to restoration, in multiple ways and through the multiple channels of culture (see chart on pg. 117). The final section is quite brief and is really an emphatic call for Christians to return to the Gospel in Keller-like fashion.

Overall I was encouraged by the book as Lyons moved from the “so what?” of the research to the “do this!” of what many of the Next Christians are doing.

I heard Mark Driscoll speak of similar categories to those Lyons offers for Christian interaction with culture. Driscoll frames the conversation with the words Reject, Receive, and Redeem. I believe Driscoll’s are easier to remember and communicate, but not entirely different from Lyon’s categories. Lyons does offer various subcategories under each as well, but I appreciate simplicity and felt like in Lyons’ attempt to gain in contextualized application, he lost in clarity and understanding.

Like Lyons, I am also a graduate of Liberty University, and I find much of what he says about having Restorers in every aspect of culture remarkably reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s vision for the University. I may be mistaken, but I don’t recall him ever giving credit to this. Not that I am trying to defend Falwell, or promote Liberty University, but it was a significant part of the culture at that Christian University while I was there. Perhaps Lyons doesn’t want to be identified with that institution because of the abundant stereotypes and misconceptions, and if so, I can understand that.

The appendix of the book offers some great continued learning questions and resources and points the reader to the website that is quite helpful for thinking through much of what Lyons writes about in the book. Check it out at www.qideas.org.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

11
Jan
11

“What did you Expect” by Paul Tripp – Book Notes and Videos

What did you expect?

Paul Tripp Videos

Summary Notes

Video #1

Grace Based Marriage – “Grace is a lifetime warranty on marriage”

  • Jesus died for my here and now and there are present benefits to God’s Grace
  • I have a deep need for God’s grace
  • Books – location of problems, but not why we struggle
  • All of us struggle, all of us have been disappointed

6 Commitments – rooted in trust of Christ, not my spouse.

-I have been given grace and I want to give it to the people I live with

1. We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.
2. We will make growth and change our daily agenda.
3. We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.
4. We will commit to building a relationship of love.
5. We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
6. We will work to protect our marriage.

(Found on Amazon.com under the book review)

“Cancelling debts” – challenges in marriage

Immaturity – “I love you”; what do you know about love?

    • Grace believes in process, delayed gratification, hanging in there because of love, dealing with the immaturity
    • Regular confession and forgiveness – we still have bad days, selfish moments
    • Point out failure, defense mechanism not thank you, offense,
    • Instead of – I see your sin, let’s deal with it under grace
    • If we cannot point out failure, we cannot have change

 

Grace vs enabling

  • Grace never calls wrong, right
  • Grace is needed because wrong is wrong.
  • Grace is the way we put wrongs and offenses on the table
  • Forgiving is not forgetting, we need to remember our own need for grace amidst our failure
  • Forgiveness is not holding your sin against you, you cannot forget

Nurturing Dislike

  • Is it possible to dislike someone you’re trying to love?
  • Possible to have romantic feelings in some places and keep a record of wrongs that structures the way we think about one another
  • We view one another not through strengths, but through immaturity and weaknesses.
  • We expect the worst and when you fail, we say, “here we go again” and we put up the protective wall.

Video #2

Forgiveness

    • Definition – a vertical commitment (God), followed by a horizontal transaction (spouse)
    • Give the wrong to the Lord
    • We entrust one another to God’s care.
    • We don’t want to forgive because we want judgment. WE nurture feelings of injustice and wrong.
    • Rather, we entrust you to God’s wisdom, justice, and mercy and this frees us to forgive one another’s wrongs.
    • Do we love our need for ‘justice’ more than we love our spouse?
    • Often our problem isn’t  that we haven’t loved our spouse enough, but that we haven’t loved God.
    • We insert ourselves in his position and so we don’t love our spouse enough
    • We make it about us – our plan, justice, circumstance.

 

How do you fix something vertically? (Between you and God)

  • Quit telling myself that my greatest problem is outside of me.
  • My greatest difficulties are inside of me
  • The DNA of sin is Selfishness
  • Sin is anti-social so I reduce my spouse to either a vehicle or obstacle to get what I want.
  • I don’t need to be rescued from my spouse, but from my sinful, selfish instincts.
  • We are equally broken, fearful, and selfish and so we both must rely upon God’s grace.

Laziness/work ethic in marriage/indifference

  • Plant seeds and walk away, what happens?
  • We can’t be indifferent or lazy, it won’t stay healthy.

If we don’t see it modeled, how do we know?

What role does fun play? 

  • Grace causes us to not take ourselves to seriously.
02
Aug
10

Response to Stetzer’s Future Trends in Evangelicalism

I wanted to write a response to Ed Stetzer’s article Future Trends in Evangelicalism, however his comment space on the webpage he posted was too small for significant interaction.  I hope to see about addressing these trends even if it is not related to this blog.

I have experienced the tension of 3 out of the 4 of these trends in the past week (the one on the definition of evangelicalism isn’t so much an issue for most church members in my experience). I believe this is an incredibly helpful article as we seek to reach those who are far from Jesus.  The difficulty, however, is not so much in identifying these trends, it is addressing them.

Summary:

I believe it all hinges on our understanding, application, and love for the Gospel. When we understand how it is vital for all of our life, it will allow us to address #1 in a manner that is biblical and Spirit led. # 4 is directly related to a failure to properly apply the Gospel in our lives and a failure to teach others to do the same

Addressing #1 – “Evangelicals must learn to navigate what I call a “post-seeker context.”

We are seeking to connect unchurched people to our church and as my wife and I talk to our acquaintances about our church, there is a general ambivalence to it. It’s nice for us, but others perceive it as having no real value for them.  So I have been trying to work through some of this issue when I see it addressed in the first point of the article. So, I wanted to interact with this point of the article and look at what I believe may be valuable for addressing this issue. First, is the importance of what I know as “relationship evangelism” because I can’t think of a better term unfortunately. As people around you see the value of the Gospel in your life, you will have opportunities to point them to Christ.  I think Ed Stetzer’s book Lost and Found is helpful in conveying the Gospel to people who have little cultural recollection of Christianity and will help us to shape our ministry to reach people between the ages of 18 and 40.  Unfortunately, most churches see little value in reaching these age brackets which relegates college ministry to para-church organizations who often fail to emphasize the role of the local church. And without the support of local churches, who can blame them.  Likewise, the role of the church seeking to meet significant community needs will play a role in the community’s perception of it. A church that has no contact with the addicts, the homeless, and the generally “jacked up” people will not be seen as a church that has any real community value. However a church that can serve its community, through partnering with schools, police and fire departments, and other government organizations, will be seen as a community organization that is essential. This element of being “essential” is addressed in Rainer’s book, Essential Church which addresses roughly the same demographic as Lost and Found and is also quite valuable in shaping a ministry that is relevant to the “post-seeker”, as Stetzer puts it in his article. Unfortunately, many Christians and churches are establishing more boundaries between the church and the post-seeker (per Dan Kimball) and many of us may have to stop this as a precursor to actually making significant strides in the proper direction of reaching the post seeker. So, how do we address navigating the post-seeker context?

  • Intentional, relentless, relational evangelism.
  • Connect local churches with collegiate ministries.
  • Move the local church to significantly impact its community.
  • Develop a culture within the church that displays the essential nature of the Gospel in life.

Addressing #2 – “Evangelicals need to regain a confidence in the gospel.”

Over the last several years I believe that God has been teaching me how the Gospel is relevant, important, vital, etc. for every aspect of my life. I need to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach me how to apply it in every situation. But, my confidence for making the most out of my life is losing my life to Jesus.  Recently, I feel like my eyes have been opened to multiple resources for this. I am an avid reader of the Resurgence stuff, I just got Greg Gilbert’s book What is the Gospel? for free download, I picked up Platt’s Radical, and I bought Keller’s new small group material Gospel in Life (which is excellent!) to preview with my wife before we try to teach it in a small group setting. What all of these have in common is a tenacious focus on the Gospel. This is how we regain confidence in it, we must love it. I can think of no other way to have confidence in the Gospel than to know it, live it, love it through pouring ourselves out before God and asking the Holy Spirit to teach us how the Gospel is to work in our lives.

Addressing #3 – “Thirdly, in the next decade, we will need to address the definition of evangelicalism.”

Whenever I read anything, I immediately begin to think about how it is significant for my context.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this should concern me. I’m sure there are a myriad of persons much smarter than I that could convince me and I welcome the enlightenment they might bring me.

Addressing #4 – “Evangelicals must address our shallow definition of discipleship.”

Yesterday, after church, a 23 year old man sat down with me after the sermon and asked me “How do we now develop and build community”. We talked about how transformation is a vital component to this. I believe that discipleship is done in community, not individually.  This is what small groups try to do: discipleship in community.  Waggoner’s book causes all of us to now think in terms of quantifying personal spiritual growth rather than merely giving it lip service. What is demonstrated in my life, in my church that shows that there has been spiritual growth?  I believe this is inherently related to #2. If we realize all that Christ is for us in every aspect of life, then we will see significant growth in our souls and in our congregations. This will then allow us to address #1 in a Spirit led manner. If discipleship means applying the Gospel, then over time, we should apply in more often and more appropriately to more circumstances in our lives.




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