Great Resource on Christian’s View on Money

15 10 2018

61kMMml7EkL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_So many personal financial talks begin with education and a budget.  That is not where Paul David Tripp in his book Redeeming Money:  How God Reveals and Reorient Our Hearts says begin.  In this book published by Crossway, Tripp takes us to the heart of the problem which happens to be the heart.

Tripp, who has been responsible for over 30 books or video series brings years of experience as a counselor to this book.  This book is filled with examples from those years of people who have allowed money to destroy them.

He encourages us to look at ourselves and believes that money is one of the principal ways to demonstrate who you think you are. By looking at a person’s relationship to money, you get a sense of that person’s identity.  Therefore, he tells you to take a good long look at your heart.

I personally took a lot away from his chapter 4 entitled:  Money and the Grace of Surrender.  In that chapter he looked at the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for us to surrender to the Lord and change our views of money.  He says, “Financial sanity doesn’t begin with hard work and careful budgeting, although both are beneficial.  Money sanity begins with surrender, a surrender that rescues us from ourselves and frees us to use what God has provided in the way he intended.”  From there he unpacks the Lord’s Prayer in a very helpful manner.

This will definitely be a book that I will refer back to as I come across this subject again in my life and preaching.  It is filled with convicting truth.  It made me think through my own personal view of money.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers for an honest review.


One of My Favorite Reads

5 09 2018

-bE2DwAAQBAJ            From time to time I read a book that makes a significant impact on my life.  The kind of book that cuts you deep but you can’t stop reading it.  It challenges you in your walk and in your heart.  Bob Goff has written such a book in Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People published by Thomas Nelson.  There is no wonder why this book has hit bestselling list as did his previous book Love Does to which this is a follow-up.

Bob Goff is a lawyer, speaker, world changer, and story teller.  He uses the art of story to bring across tremendous truths in this book.  In his book he says that we should follow the practice of Jesus who just loved everybody always.  Yes, we are to love the difficult ones too.  He says in his book, “I don’t want to get to heaven and have Jesus tell me my big opinions blocked someone’s view of Him.”

Goff sucks you in with story after story.  Almost every chapter is a story and some stories are extended over several chapters.  Each story has been taken from his life and each one has a tremendous lesson attached to it.  He encourages you to view people through the lenses of Jesus.  In the end his desire is for the world to see less of us and more of Jesus in our lives.  “I want people to meet you and me and feel like they’ve just met everyone in heaven,” says Goff.

Probably one of the greatest parts of this book is his challenge for you to love difficult people and he gives practical advice on doing that.  We are talking good, solid, advice.

I could fill this review with quote after quote from this author.  Probably the most powerful story is his last.  I found myself in tears reading it.

There is a reason why this book is a best seller.  His next book will be as well.  If you have never read Bob Goff, you need to.  His book needs to be your next purchase.  You will thank me.

Follow this guy on twitter at @bobgoff.  You will love his daily wisdom.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.  This was a pleasure.

Encouragement for the Small Church Pastor

5 09 2018

41qsejNasDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_In over 25 years of ministry I’ve been to several church conferences.  I will admit that there have been several times where I’ve come home either feeling guilty for not pastoring well because I didn’t measure up to the success that was displayed at the conference, or I’ve come home and tried to implement their blueprint for our ministry when it just didn’t fit.  In the end it almost seemed like a worthless pursuit.  Since 90% of the churches are composed of 200 or less people, it makes sense for somebody to focus on the small church.

Karl Vaters speaks to the small church pastor in his newest book:  Small Church Essentials, Field-tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation of Under 250 published by Moody Publishers.  Finally, there is a book for the rest of us.

Vaters authored The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches, and the Small Thinking that Divides Us (2013), speaks extensively at conferences on the topic of the small church, and writes a blog on small churches for Christianity Today. He has put a lot of thought on the subject.  He even pastors a small church and shares stories in his book on how he has had to overcome many of the challenges in his pastorate as small church pastors all over.

One of the first things Vaters does in his book is alleviate this feeling of insignificance that small church pastors may feel at times because of the size of his church. He grows through great lengths to show that small doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy and that our goal should be becoming a great small church.  Personally I found this very encouraging.

What I found helpful was the practical advice given in this book on tackling the issues and problems that arise in a small church, that a larger church doesn’t have.  From dealing with difficult people to dealing with a lack of resources, there is some truly helpful tidbits in this book.  I even found myself convicted a few times for how I’ve handled things recently.

All in all I believe that this will be a helpful book for small church pastors.  I could see small church pastors meeting together to go through this book.

I have always been a small church pastor and probably will remain in that role.  In closing I believe that there is a special place in Heaven for those pastors who work 40 hour weeks while pastoring a flock.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to read this book.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review.  I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Great Book on Battling Sexual Sin

15 06 2018

41qeSqVJniL._SY346_There is hardly a few weeks that go buy that I don’t have a conversation with somebody about sexual sin.  Whether it is a young man struggling in the church that I pastor or it is seeing it first hand as the male that I’m ubering around in my car is trying to convince the girl with him to come back and cuddle just a bit, it is evident that we do live in a broken world.  Paul David Tripp talks about this world gone crazy in his book Sex in a Broken World:  How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts, published by Crossway.  In this book he doesn’t deny that we are sexual beings, but we live in a world that is not sexually healthy but is deeply broken.  In this world God does not promise us that we will not struggle, but rather He has given to us the best gift ever in it—Himself.  As a matter of fact according to the author, “The cross is our guarantee that in all our struggles with sex, no matter who we are and what those struggles may be, God will give us everything we need.  If He willingly gave us His Son, we can rest assured He will gladly supply what we are not able to supply for ourselves.”  There can be victory in this area of our lives!

In this book Tripp takes a close look at the brokenness of this world but challenges the Christian to not use that as an excuse to chase sin.  He encourages the Christian to take a good long look at his/her own heart and ask the question of whether or not your heart is controlled by a higher pleasure of God, which is greater than any other pleasure you could seek.  The question is this:  Is God the master of my heart?  Everything else falls into place after that.  In this book the author goes in great detail to show us that we must have a heart-controlling love for God that can protect us in this world that we live in.

Tripp completes his book with some practical advice on how to find victory in this area of your life.  He points to hope found in the gospel and in the power of God.  He says, “When you begin to understand that you’ve been invited to a meal that will never end, that you’ve been welcomed to the King’s table forever, you’ll quit looking to sneak a bite at other tables.”  Understanding what we have in this relationship with God, goes far in the victory we all need.

This is going to be a book that I keep close.  It is going to be a book that I recommend time and time again because of the pervasive nature of this sin and this sinful world that we live in.  I found many of the truths in this book to be applicable not only to sexual sin, but any sin.  This is one that you need on your shelfs not just for yourself, but for those you love.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Read This Before You Implode!

11 05 2018

wpln-1I sat in my living room with my mouth open wide in amazement as I watched the Lifeway building downtown implode.  I had been in that building many times and all I could think about is how much work for the Kingdom of God had gone down in that place.  I immediately kicked myself for not making the effort to go down and watch it in person.  Everybody likes to watch a good implosion, right? Maybe so with buildings but it is not very fun to watch it in somebody else or for it to happen to yourself.  Imagine all the pain and disappointment that goes along with imploding lives and multiply that by 100.  I don’t believe you can even scratch the surface.  Some of those scars never heal.

Eric Geiger serves as a Senior Vice President for Lifeway Christian Resources and he has authored How to Ruin Your Life, a book which looks at the story of David’s fall with lessons of how to avoid such a fall in your own life and what to do when you have fallen.  This bestselling author of such books as Simple Church, Creature of the Word, and Designed to Lead, which he coauthored with Kevin Peck, has put together this great resource in hopes of keeping others from falling into some of the same traps that have brought down some of the mighty in the Kingdom of God.

Geiger recommends that you don’t read this book alone, but rather find others to go 5173NyHyYWL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_through it with you.  He has even provided a five day devotional at his website to help.

By looking at three precursors of a fall, which are isolation, boredom, and pride, the author shows how each one of these led to the mighty fall of David, a man after God’s own heart.  He goes on to look at David’s confession and the components that ensured that David’s failure would not be final in his life.  To finish up the book, the author takes us to Psalm 32, which was written after David’s fall, to show how God’s grace applied, can restore us to the joy that we once knew.

This book is an easy read filled with Scripture and stories from real life.  Once I began reading it I could not lay it down.  It is something that I wished I could have read many years ago with others.  This book reminded me of the grandeur of God and the power of His grace.  I plan to use it as I’m teaching through 2 Samuel.  It points out a few things that your commentary will not.  I especially love how this book is about redemption as much as it is about instruction.  He deals with all sides of the issue of failure.

With all of this being said, I too recommend you grab a few peers and read this together.  Though God’s grace heals and forgives, the scars of failure remain.  As I drive by the location where the Lifeway tower once stood, there is a big hole where once a great building once stood.  That is nothing compared to the damage down when a person falls.  They never fall alone.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

Seminary Can’t Teach Everything

8 05 2018

558146Seminary cannot teach you everything that you need to know.  Seminaries are valuable and the contributors to this book are quick to let you know that their sections are not an attack on the idea of seminary, but rather an honest observation that there are some things you can’t learn unless you are in the trenches.  Whether it is learning to stay long term in a ministry or knowing what to do when no door opens to minister, this book covers a variety of subjects.  15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me is a series of 15 chapters written by different contributors and published by Crossway.

Below is a summary of each chapter.

Chapter 1 is entitled:  Knowledge and Credentials Aren’t Enough.  In this chapter the contributor, Jeff Robinson Sr., reminds the pastor that the ministry is not for the faint of heart.  He reminds us here just because you have credentials, doesn’t mean that you are confident; that unfortunately ministry means war; and that pastors are in need of God’s grace most of all.

Mark Vroegop was given the topic of what to do when your church is dying.  In this chapter he gives seven pieces of advice that he learned while helping a church make transition.  How important it is that you love, depend on God, and trust God in the pastorate.

Daniel L. Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, tackled the topic of how to shepherd your wife in chapter 3. The highlight of this chapter for me was his seven ways to bless your wife.

Jeff Higbie, pastor of Faith Evangelical Church in Underwood, North Dakota, had the topic of how to pastor people who are different from you.  Coming from large metropolitan areas to rural North DaKota was a challenge for Higbie, and in this chapter he addresses the differences that a pastor might face and how to serve well in the midst of them.  Probably his best piece of advice is that “every pastor is interim” so serve well.

Matt Capps spoke out of a painful experience in his life when he had differences of opinion with the senior pastor of the church that he pastored.  That led him to tackle the subject of how to follow your lead pastor when we disagree.  In this chapter he speaks from his mistakes and lessons learned.  The unity of the church always is to be cherished in such a circumstance.

Having solid Biblical leaders is a must in the local church.  Juan Sanchez takes up the topic of how to lead your leaders in chapter 6.  In this chapter he thinks through what Biblical leadership looks like and how to search for it and build upon it with leaders that you call alongside of you in your church.

Teaching your kids to love and not loathe the church must be intentional.  Matt McCullough tackles this subject in chapter 7 bringing his experience as a pastor’s kid from a dad who did it well and from his experience of being a pastor with kids.

John Onwuchekwa knows pain from loss in his own life.  In chapter 8 he is given the task of speaking about shepherding your church through seasons of suffering.

When do you know when God has called you away from the ministry that you are in to another ministry?  Harry L. Reeder speaks to this and once again he speaks from personal experience giving practical biblical advice.

There will be conflict in a church whether it is between members, between members and the pastor, or between staff members.  Jay Thomas does a great job in this chapter of taking all of these conflicts to the gospel.

Vermon Pierre speaks on the needed subject of fighting for your relationship with God.  How does a pastor keep from becoming dry and discouraged?  Helpful advice is given in this chapter.

How do you be a good shepherd to sheep that sometimes can bite?  That is what Dale Van Dyke tackles in his chapter.  In this chapter he meticulously discusses how to build trust which is a necessity if you are going to be their shepherd.

Scott Sauls was almost Tim Keller’s successor.  Almost.  His chapter comes from his pain of disappointment when that dream was snatched away.  The chapter entitled, The Temptation to Make a Name for Myself, gives solid advice about living for a name that is way bigger than yours.

Phil A. Newton discusses the value of a long tenured pastorate in his chapter of things that he did not learn in seminary. Also speaking from his experience of pastoring South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN.  In his own words, “Seminary academic focus didn’t teach me about the oy found in deep roots.”

Collin Hansen is the editorial director for the Gospel Coalition but his desire at one time was to pastor.  When that didn’t happen right away it made him question what he felt was his call.  Once again from his own pain he speaks to the subject of what to do when you are not called to a position.

This is a good short read for any pastor in my opinion.  I was impressed how many of the contributors spoke out of their own painful situations.  The lessons learned are valuable.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

A Must Read for Spiritual Leaders!

17 04 2018

418HvjpKd-L._SY346_Cream rises to the top.  That is what I always have heard.  For the past couple of years I’ve been listening to numerous podcasts about leadership and I have read plenty of blog posts as well.  When asked what books have influenced their leadership the most, the one book that continues to rise to the top is none other than J. Oswald Sanders’ book entitled Spiritual Leadership published by Moody.

I’m so glad to finally have this classic on my book shelf and the publisher Moody has recently updated it by changing the wording so that it can speak to the culture of our day.  They were careful to remain faithful to his original meaning.  They also added helpful endnotes that helped you identify many of the authorities cited in the book since they may not be known by the modern reader.  Another change was in the Scripture translation used to once again help the modern reader in his reading.

This book originally grew out of two series of messages that were originally spoken to the leaders of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship at conferences in Singapore in 1964 and 1966.  After numerous requests these messages were eventually put into book form.

The truths in this book are timeless and fit any time period.  Below you will find a summary of each chapter:

  • The author begins by showing that our ambition to lead must center on the glory of God and the welfare of the church. When we do this we are a mighty force for good.
  • That in this search for leaders we must realize that it is God alone who makes them therefore, a person must quality to be a spiritual leader. They begin by first seeking the Kingdom of God and at the appropriate time God will anoint that person with the Holy Spirit and calls them to a specific ministry.
  • To find what an ideal leader looks like, look no further than Jesus who took the form of a servant. The author in chapter 3 speaks to the qualities that were found in Jesus and the qualities that will make us into great servant leaders.
  • In chapter 4 he talks about the difference between a natural and a spiritual leader. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader.  A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.
  • In chapter 5 he asks if I can become a leader. He speaks about how Jesus took a group of men who many would never have pegged as a leader and turned them into a group powerfully used by God.  He asks a series of questions for us to mull over and then encourages us to work on our weaknesses.  Most of these questions have to do with character than ability.
  • Chapter 6 dives into the leadership teaching of Paul and looks specifically at the Scripture in 1 Timothy which speaks to the qualities of an overseer.
  • Peter is another one who spoke on leadership in 1 Peter when he addresses his fellow shepherds. Chapter 7 takes a close look as to what he had to say about leadership and how he may have learned these qualities from his past failures and successes.
  • Chapter eight takes us through a list of essential qualities of leadership: discipline, vision, wisdom, decision, courage, humility, integrity, and sincerity.
  • In chapter 9 he gives us even more qualities including the appropriate use of humor, the right use of anger, the need for patience, the power of friendship, the use of tact and diplomacy, the incredible power of inspiration, the use of executive ability, the therapy of listening, and the art of letter writing.
  • According to chapter 10, a spiritual leader can do without many things but he/she cannot do without being Spirit-filled. They must be controlled by the Spirit of God.
  • If you want to know how the author feels about prayer and leadership in chapter 11, all you have to do is see his first sentence of this chapter which reads, “The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.”
  • The use of time will tell you much about the quality of a person’s leadership. That is what the author says in chapter 12, where he convicts us of the fact that the president has and Jesus had the same 24 hours that we do each day.
  • In chapter 13 the author instructs that we should choose our books like we choose our friends, which speaks to the power of reading. I loved a quote that John Wesley spoke to his young ministers that he was influencing, “Read or get out of the ministry.”  There is also helpful proven strategies for making your reading profitable in this chapter.
  • Chapter 14 is about improving your leadership by recognizing your weaknesses, making corrections, and cultivating strengths. There is a great guide written by Hudson Taylor to help in doing that in this chapter.
  • Self-sacrifice, loneliness, fatigue, criticism, rejection, pressure, perplexity, and cost to others are a summary of the cost that one finds in leadership. In chapter 15 he discusses the cost and how to focus on the rewards instead.
  • Chapter 16 was his lesson on the responsibilities of leadership. According to the author leaders are to serve, apply discipline at times, provide guidance, and show initiative.
  • There will always be tests of leadership. In chapter 17 he discussed the different tests that can come against a leader such as compromise, ambition, facing impossible situations where the leader must go forward, failure, and jealousy.
  • A leader cannot stand alone and must delegate responsibility to others. Using the example of Moses, the author shows in chapter 18 that to fail to delegate is a failure in using the resources that God has provided us.  It hurts the leader but it hurts the people that could have used their talents in service as well.
  • A leader will not last forever. In chapter 19 the author speaks about trusting God when it is time for a leader to move on.  The work is not built entirely upon the leader but upon his awesome God.
  • Chapter 20 is about reproducing leaders and the responsibility that a leader has to provide those under him the opportunity to exercise and develop their own powers. What struck me about this chapter is that we don’t advertise the end that we have in view but rather take the pattern of Jesus and teach them to serve.  He also went into detail how this is hard personal work and shouldn’t be done on a mass scale.
  • Chapter 21 discusses the perils of leader, the dangers that the enemy may attempt to exploit in our life such as: pride; egotism; jealousy; popularity; infallibility; indispensability; elation and depression; prophet or leader; and disqualification.
  • The last chapter is a look at the life of Nehemiah and the qualities that made him a strong leader.

I highly recommend this book and now understand why other top notch leaders do as well.  It is a timeless classic that should be on the book shelf of every leader, especially every spiritual leader.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.