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Showing posts from 2013

David and Goliath; a Review

I was sent a copy of this book by B & B Media Group in exchange for my review.
I'm a fan of Malcolm Gladwell!  In his inimitable style, he has taken the Biblical epic battle between David, the shepherd boy and the giant Goliath and used it as a template for examining how  underdogs and misfits overcome in the battles of life.  In the process he challenges popular thought regarding so-called handicaps, be they physical, emotional or mental.  One brief passage from the book sums up the over all scope of his premise.
"If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening.  If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction, but you create a community of remote misses.  If you take away a mother or father, you cause suffering and despair.  But one time in ten, out of that despair rises an indomitable force.  You see the giant and the shepherd in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor.  But …

The Great Commission; Program or Lifestyle?

I had recently put on my "to-do" list a reminder to enlist some outreach teams and to get our secretary prepare a list of recent visitors to the church.  The plan was to set up a weekly outreach to follow-up on recent guests in our services.  As I prepared to do this, there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind trying to wedge its way to the front.  That thought was one that I have had for years, but had pushed back into the netherworld of my brain simply because it did not mesh with the prevailing trend among evangelical churches.  Let me share my thought for your perusal and hopefully for your response.
The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) was never designed to be a program, but was to typify the lifestyle of all Christ followers.  Simply put it means that each of us who follows Christ will, as we are going about, are to be in the process of making disciples.  Making disciples begins with sharing the gospel and giving people an opportunity to accept the free gift of…

Lessons From the Eagle

In my office I have a wall hanging depicting an eagle in flight with the words of Is. 40:30-31 under the image of the eagle.  "Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint." I also have some eagle head book ends.  These things remind me of the majesty of the eagle, and also remind me of an acrostic that God gave me years ago and I shared with the youth in my group at the time.

E=Embrace each day. "This is the day the Lord has made..." Ps.118:24 A=Ask for whatever you need. "Give us today our daily bread..." Matt. 6:11 G=God should always be the center of your life, family, friendships etc. Deut. 6:4-5 L=Love as Jesus loves you. John 13:34-35 E=Encourage someone today. Hebrews 10:24-25
I could have written out the scriptures, but I really want you to take the time to look them up …

Bound to A Promis; A Review

I was sent this book by the B & B Media Group in return for my review. Bonnie Floyd has written a book that, while true, reads almost like a novel.  Her word pictures enable the reader to experience the things she saw, heard and felt.  It is almost like readingsomeone's personal diary.  At times I felt that I was eaves-dropping on very private moments. Not only is this a riveting story of intrigue and murder, it is also an inspiring story of redemption both with God and with fellow human beings. Along the way you will meet her father, Bill, her step-mother Kathy, "My Donnie" her husband as well as a variety of characters including Scotland Yard dectives, millionaires, statesmen, murderers, prison superintendants and more.
You'll need to set aside time to read because once you begin this book, it will hard to put down.  Bound to a Promise is a must read.

Reliable Truth; a Review

I was sent this book for review by The B & B Media Group.
The question on the back jacket of the book sets the stage for the book.  "Do you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God?"
Richard E. Simmons III is not a theologian, but rather is the founder of the Center for Executive Leadership, a not-for-profit, faith-based ministry.  He excels at encouraging and advising businessmen and professionals. However, he does a masterfil job building a case for the veracity of the Bible.  The book reads almost like a novel with story after story and many quotes from theologians, scientists, philosophers, historians and skeptics. It will remain within easy reach for me as I study and prepare sermons.  It would also make a wonderful gift to be given to anyone who is struggling with accepting the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  In language that communicates easily to both the scholar and the common man, Simmons provides fodder that will challenge the skeptic and encourage t…

Ending Well

Over the past two weeks I've had the privilege of observing people who were approaching, or reaching the end of their earthly lives and who were doing it in beautiful, yet different ways.  I remember hearing the story of a young man on his death bed talking with his father and saying, "Dad, you taught me how to live, but you didn't teach me how to die."  I think that we all must learn how to "end well".  Let me tell you the stories of three who understood that.
The last time I visited Dave in the hospital, he was making plans for what he was going to do when he got home.  He volunteered for an organization that helped the blind.  They had just shipped him some new hardware, and he could hardly wait to start putting it to use.  He never got the opportunity.  Within a couple of days of getting home from the hospital, he was tranferred to hospice, and then to heaven.  Dave kind of remiinds me of Moses.  It seemed that Moses was busy right up to the end.  So was…

Bigger, Better, Faster?

It seems that we Americans are enamored with bigger, better and faster regardless of what we're talking about.  The clerks at McDonalds want us to "super-size"; the auto dealers want us to get the newer, faster model of car; we are quick to jettison our perfectly serviceable cell phone for the "newer, better" model.
I just read an article the other day that seemed to prove that students who took notes the old fashioned way scored higher than those who tapped out their notes on a laptop or tablet.  The writer went on to show how, unless a student was in advanced science or math, they only needed the $10 variety of calculater, not the kind that had all sorts of multi-functions.
Where am I going with this line of thought?  I spent a half hour at Office Depot yesterday and almost convinced myself to buy a new combo laptop and tablet.  Now mind you, I have a functioning laptop, and I'm writing this blog on my 3 year old Acer Iconia 300A tablet with a bluetooth k…

Unlimited: A Novel: Davis Bunn: 9781433679407: Amazon.com: Books

Unlimited: A Novel: Davis Bunn: 9781433679407: Amazon.com: Books:

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I was sent a copy of this book  by TBBMedia in return for my review.  I found this to be a captivating novel.  Bunn grabs your attention in the prologue and doesn't let go until the last page of chapter 41.  Simon Orwell, the protagonist, comes off sometimes as a cad and sometimes as a hero as he travels to Mexico for what he thinks is a "ho-hum" presentation to the Ojinaga city council.  What follows is a fast paced adventure with a touch of science fiction and murder mystery mixed in.  Oh, yes.  There is a developing love story as well.  You just know as you read that this will one day appear on the big screen...and so it will.
Along the way you will meet larger than life characters like Harold Finch, the former NASA employee and consultant for Fortune 500 companies to work with orphans in Mexico.  Together with Simon, they unravel the mystery of the death of Simon's mentor an…

Unlimited; A Review

In Golden Splendor; A Review

Recently I was sent a copy of Michael K. Reynolds' book, "In Golden Splendor" to review on my blog.  Here is my review:
Is it a love story, an adventure story, a mystery, a western novel, or an inspirational story?  Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!  This delightful book is all of the above.  Following the life and times of Seamus Hanley takes the reader from the mean streets of Manhatten in the 1800's to the gold fields of California. There is adventure on the high seas, drama in the desert, and the thread that runs through the book of a picture of a mysterious young woman that keeps Seamus going in the midst of all sorts of danger.
Just about the time you think that you've figured out what will happen next, Reynolds throws in another "kink" that sends you reeling back to square one.  There is something in this book for every reader.  The connecting link is faith.  For a while it is blind faith, but eventually you begin to see a direction toward a hoped for e…

Aloha, Mahalo

I'm still somewhat jet-lagged from my first trip to Hawaii.  Only took me 74+ years to get there. The flight was not quite that long, but it seemed like it.  In addition to jet-lag, I've had to deal with swollen ankles and feet from the long flights.  I don't remember that happening when I was younger.  Must be one of the add-ons that comes with age. (Ugh!)
Our trip was a gift from our daughter and son-in-law for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Anniversary and birthday. (not sure about Christmas yet)  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  The marvelous views that we devoured with our eyes each day, the gracious people we met, the experience of golfing amid gorgeous scenery, the visit to the Polynesian Culture Center, the Luau, and most vivid in my memory, the trip to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial all made for an unforgetable page in my memory bank.
We heard "Aloha" many times during our 9 day stay.  I understand that it is a universal greet…

The Art of the Follower; Dag Heward-Mills (a review)

Although written with a decidedly Pentecostal slant, this book has useful information to any Christ-follower.  Based on the truth that Jesus called people to "follow Me", and Paul's admonition "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1) Heward-Mills encourages believers to follow the example of some of faith's Old Testament heroes.  He points out both the positives from their lives to be emulated and the negatives to be avoided. I did find that I had to somewhat "cherry-pick" parts of the book that were helpful to me.  At times it almost seems like a Tony Robbins self-help book.  Of the three divisions of the book;  1.  Following is Eternally Significant  2.  Following God's Champions 3.  Following Begins at Home  I found the 2nd segment to be the most helpful and enlightening. This book was provided to me by The B & B Media Group in return for my review.

Why Paul Would Visit the US If He Were Alive Today

I believe that if the Apostle Paul were alive today, he would want to visit the USA just as he desired to visit Rome in his day.  Why?  Because the USA shares some of the same characteristics that Rome had during its hey-day.  John MacArthur listed some of the questions facing people in both countries;
“Is Jesus really God? What proves He is God? Why did He come? What is a saint? What is God like? How can God send people to hell? What will happen to people who have never heard the gospel? Why do men reject God and Christ? Why are there false religions and idols? What is man's biggest sin? Why is there sex perversion, hate, crime and those other things and why are they so rampant? What is the standard by which God condemns people? How can a person who has never heard be held responsible?” (John MacArthur)
Perhaps what we need in America today is a modern day Paul who would address issues without concern about political correctness.  He presented the gospel without apology to the Roma…

How We Got to the Supreme Court Decision

Today many are sad about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defence of Marriage Act.  The real thing we should be sad about is that so-called committed Christians have been "fiddling" just like Nero while the United States burned.  This is nothing less than confirmation, not that we lost, but that we didn't show up for the game.  Over the past 50+ years Christians have blithely gone about their sheltered lives while leaving government to those who don't have anything better to do.  We have become self-absorbed to the point that we have lost our flavor (like Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5)  His warning is that when the salt has lost it's flavor, it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and walked on.  Welcome to the road!  We are now being walked on and we don't like it.  Our only hope is to get serious about makiing 2 Chronicles 7:14 reality in our time.  However we must read the context.  God's promise of forgiveness and re…

Divine Frustration

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What Happened to Wisdom?

Lately on the news we are hearing supposedly intelligent people make inane and assinine statements.  These are people with numerous degrees after their names from prestigious institutions.  I could list some here, but you can find them daily on line and in print.  
This has led me to ponder the question, "what has happened to wisdom and knowledge in our day?"  Perhaps the starting point to find an answer is to read the words of the Preacher in Proverbs 1:1-7.  If the BEGINNING of knowledge and wisdom is the fear of the Lord, isn't that a good launching point for our query?  And by the way, the "fear of the Lord" is the FEAR of the Lord.  It involves awe and reverence, but it doesn't end there.  
I have heard that wisdom is the practical application of knowledge.  That being true, two people with the same knowledge may arrive at two distinctly different conclusions because one possesses wisdom and the other doesn't.  
The fact that we have through the years…

When God Makes Lemonade (Review)

tbbmedia gave me the opportunity to read and review this book by Don Jacobson.  As a busy pastor, Don has provided me a priceless tool that will remain on my desk near my commentaries and Study Bibles.  I'm always looking for real life illustrations that will enhance my sermons.  That is exactly what Don provides in this book.  The illustrations are from real life incidents that Don has gathered from numerous sources.  In addition, at the end of some of the stories, he provides a "Lemon Drop" which is an addendum that Don adds which gives a brief application of the story.
Sixty eight real life stories will encourage and cheer the reader, and will provide illustrative material for many sermons.

This One Thing I Do

Brain, Interrupted - Yahoo! Finance:

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Paul hit the nail on the head long before any scientist began testing our ability to "multi-task".  In Philippians 3:13-14 he wrote "Brothers I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus."
When we try to have our devotion time in from of the TV (even if we mute it) our attention is not fully on the Lord and what He is saying to us through Hid Word.  If we pray while driving or sitting in a resturant, we are not able to focus on our request or on His immediate response to our request.  Even as I write this, I'm convicted because I'm guilty of doing the very things I'm mentioning here.  The bottom line is that all of us need some "closet time".  Jesus said in Matt. 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your roo…

Stop Being a Mugwump!

Last Sunday I preached about making a choice from Joshua 24.  As I've been reading and watching the news this week I've determined that Christians need to stop being "mugwumps" and get off the fence.  A "mugwump" according to Teddy Rooseveldt is a bird with its mug on one side of the fence and its wump on the other.  This week our president, and the media have celebrated a fading athlete for publically acknowledging and bragging about his sin.  At the same time our defence department has announced that military personnel who actively promote their faith are subject to court martial.  In case you haven't noticed Christians, we are under overt attack.  No longer is it just isolated events, it has become an everyday practice to denegrate Christianity and Christians.
So here is what I'm proposing.

Make sure that you are walking with the Lord through obedience to His Word.Spend time daily reading God's Word and praying for His kingdom to come and His w…

Baptist Press - Jim Wallis now supports gay marriage - News with a Christian Perspective

Another "so-called" evangelical leader has acquiesed to the leaning of society.  For whatever reason, people such as Jim Wallis and Robb Bell have decided that if those they deem to be spokespersons for society take a position that is against the clear teachings of the Bible, their opinion trumps the Scriptures.  This is nothing new.  Throughout history there have been those who find fault with the Bible and elevate their own opinion above Scripture.  The truth of the matter is that we (mankind) do not break the laws of God, rather we break ourselves on the laws of God.  Just this morning in my devotions I read from the 22nd chapter of Revelation the following;
"I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in thie book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book." (…

P.U.S.H.

Today I'm writing as much to myself than to anyone else.  I have a cap with the acronym in the title of this blog on it.  It stands for Pray Until Something Happens.  I believe in this.  I practice this.  I've seen results.  Just this week a man from our church who has been in the hospital since the first of December, 2012 came home cancer-free.  Our church and many others prayed diligently as he dealt with leukemia and then bone cancer.  We prayed as he went through several rounds of chemo, dealt with pneumonia and other side-effects.  Now we are praising God that he is home and headed toward a full recovery.
However...there are other prayers that have been on-going for years, and I've yet to see the answers.  I've been praying for almost 2 years for a man in our neighborhood to be saved, and for opportunities to share the gospel with him.  No result yet.  I've been praying for years for God to intervene and provide for someone in our family.  They have faithfully …

The One Success Habit (You Can't Do Without)

B & B Media Group, Inc. sent me this book to review.  I can honestly say this is the best time management tool I have ever encountered, and I've read and tried myriads.
Perhaps it is because the author, Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand is a fellow Alabaman and speaks my language.  (As an Auburn fan I've forgiven his allegiance to U. of Alabama)  Reading this book was almost like sitting across the table at a coffee shop with Dr. Lybrand.  I felt that I was having a conversation with him.  He doesn't try to wow anyone with big words or complicated concepts.  From his definition of success; "Success is achieving what is meaningful to me through the use of my best talents; without violating the rights or freedoms of others and without offending God."to his application of the three essentials in planning; "I Will, I May, I Will Not", the author leads us on a no-nonsense path to an uncomplicated life.
I've already recommended this book to several colleagues and fa…

Spiritual Constipation

I told my congregation this past Sunday that I was going to blog on this subject, so...here goes!  After 50+ years in ministry, I have noticed that for many, if not most ardent church-goers there is a lot more input than out-flow.  The result?  Spiritual constipation.  People get so full of spiritual truth without allowing it to flow through them to others that they begin to lose their joy and actually be in spiritual pain.  For many years the annual revival served as a cathartic to cleanse their systems and get them back to a productive Christian life-style.  In recent years revivals have given way to conferences which only added to the problem...more input without outflow.
Here is what I perceive to be the solution.  Become a note-taker.  Instead of writing down just the points of the message, write down what the Spirit of God says to you through the message.  It may be something totally different from the message itself.  Then prayerfully determine what God wants you to do with the …

A Review of "Questions of Life" by Nicky Gumbel

I've just finished the book "Questions of Life" by Nicky Gumbel.  This is a book I wish I had read years ago and had placed in the hands of many young Christians.  Addressing fifteen questions that people ask about the Christian life such as "Who is Jesus?", "Why Did He Die", "How Can I Have Faith?" "Who is the Holy Spirit?" and "How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?", Gumbel uses a wonderful mix of anecdotal material from his own experience and that of others and down to earth application of scripture to create a fascinating and informational book.  I found myself wielding my highlighter on almost every page.  One of my favorite highlighted sentences is "Some people have only got the pilot light of the Holy Spirit in their lives whereas when people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to fire on all cylinders."
Born out of the Alpha discipleship course, this book captures the core truths that so…

Spring Training of Life

Every Tuesday I visit shut ins, mostly at Nursing Homes.  Over the years I've observed people as their physical being gradually ceases to function and ultimately they die.  I'm struck with the dignity with which those who are Christ followers face this inevitability.  Many of them become increasingly homesick for their promised, eternal dwelling place.  At times they even seem to long for the end of human life so that the reality of eternal life can begin.
On the other hand, I also deal with family members who struggle with the decline of their loved ones and who strive to do all that is humanly possible to get just one more day with them.  Sometimes this is even in the face of extreme suffering.  These experiences have led me to think more deeply about the reality of life and life ever lasting.
I've come to believe that human life is merely "spring training" for the season to come.  During this life there are specific skills I need to learn to prepare me for life …

The Normal Christian Life

I realize that the title I've chosen for this post is also the name of a book by Watchman Nee.  However, I can't think of a better title for what I wish to convey in this post.  From my observations, it seems that most Christians have accepted a life style that is far beneath what Christ had in mind when He said in John 10 "I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." In light of His declaration, I've had to re-evaluate my own life.  I'm not living with the expectation of God's abundance being demonstrated through me.  That doesn't mean that I should live an opulent, showy life style, but it does mean that my life should be so "out of the ordinary" that people take notice.  I believe that when we Christians live beneath our privilege, we do the cause of Christ great harm.
I believe it was Vance Havener who said, "We've lived sub normal lives for so long that if we become normal people will think that we are abno…