Hurting? This is an Excellent Read!

6 06 2018

downloadHave you ever read a book and you could only think of is the people that you needed to pick up a copy of it?  That is exactly how I felt as I began my journey with author Sarah Van Diest in her book God in the Dark:  31 Devotions to Let the Light Back In published by NavPress.  The words of this book were first written to a friend who was in great pain.  Knowing that there was nothing that she could do to make the pain go away, she resorted to praying and writing him letters.  Each day she would send her friend a small note with her thoughts on a section of Psalm 119.  Those small notes and a few more added just for the book are what you have in this devotional read.  This devotional is vGod in the darkry personal and each day’s read is short and concise.  This book of 160 pages is so full of truth, encouragement, Scripture, God, hope, and faith.  If I sound as if I’m gushing about it, then you would be correct.

I could just about tweet this whole book out, if that was possible.  Of course I commend this book to you or somebody that you might know that is in a dark place right now.  It is a wonderful reminder that God is always present in our darkness.  The same comfort that the author sought to bring to her friend who was hurting, can be brought to you.

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


The Spurgeon Study Bible

1 12 2017

Pictures are from B & H Website

There is value in studying a specific pastor or theologian-to read everything that he has written and to study his life.  For John Piper it was Jonathan Edwards.  For Jonathan Edwards it was David Brainerd.  For the man who loves C. H. Spurgeon and wants to get to know him as you read God’s Word, then this Bible is for you.  Because of my own personal love for Charles Spurgeon, I jumped at the chance to review this new Bible that is being published by B & H Publishing in the CSB translation.

One of the characteristics of Spurgeon that I always loved about him was that he was real and transparent about his loves and struggles in life.  Though he was a tremendous preacher and leader, he battled depression and discouragement.  Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the editor of this study Bible, has penned a well written short biography of Spurgeon at the beginning.

At the bottom of every page you are able to read quotes from Spurgeon’s sermons and 9781586409715.in01works so that as you read the Scripture, you are able to see what the Prince of Preachers had to say about that passage.  You are literally taken back to Spurgeon’s day on some of the pages because the publisher has printed some of those notes in the very handwriting of Spurgeon himself.  To top it off this Bible gives you a taste of some of the lost sermons of Spurgeon that have been found and included in the book The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon:  His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854 also published by B & H.  In this Bible you can actually read these sermon notes in Spurgeon’s own handwriting.

9781586409753.in02As far as the CSB Bible is concerned, I have found it easy to read.  I absolutely love the font and size of the letters.  It is easy on the eyes of this man who doesn’t see like he once did.

If you are a lover of C.H. Spurgeon then this Bible needs to be on your shelf.  If you have not been introduced to Spurgeon this Bible needs to be your shelf for you will find in this Bible a good understanding of this preacher who made such an impact in his day and who continues to impact the preaching of preachers in our time.

I was given a copy of this Bible by B & H Publishing for an honest review.


Ladies, Buy this Bible!

2 11 2017

9781433648199.Front02I’m a guy and I’m reviewing this Bible.  I’m doing it because I heard the founders of She Reads Truth on a podcast and these ladies caught my ear in what they are trying to accomplish with their ministry.  (The introductory remarks by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams are inspiring)  I’m doing it because when this Bible was first released it flew off the shelves and was difficult to buy.  I’m doing it because I was able to lay my hands on a few copies and gave it to our seniors as a parting graduating gift at the church I pastor and they loved it.  What is so special about this Bible?  Well let me tell you my thoughts.

First, I love how these ladies give a small primer on how to read the Bible.  Every Bible needs this.  We need to be reminded that we are not reading the Bible for reading sake but rather we are reading it to apply it and to become doers of it.  Their approach to the Word of God is worshipful and life changing.   They follow this up with a wonderful well thought gospel message.  This is a great way to lead up to the Scriptures for the redeemed heart is fertile soul for the Word of God.

This Bible is built for studying the Bible.  The writers have carefully looked at each book and have printed a key verse written with great style and beauty by one of 15 artist.  This thing looks girly.  The book introduction pages are color coded by genre.  The layout gives you plenty of room to take notes.  You have well written devotionals that are placed with the coinciding Scripture so that when you are reading through your Bible plan, you have devotional thoughts to bring you even more into the story.  Your Bible plan is at the beginning of each chapter with “Going Deeper” passages at the side of each one.  You have maps, charts, and timelines perfectly placed in the sections where you need them the most for personal Bible study.  Yes, the tools in this Bible do nothing but enhance your reading of the Word of God.

Now I understand why these Bibles flew off of the shelves.  Now I get why my wife has already taken over my copy of this Bible.  All I can say is that I need to get me a Bible cover so that nobody can see the “She” on the outside cover and study on.  The CSB is already coming out with more manly study Bibles like the Spurgeon Study Bible.  Perhaps that one will make me grunt just a bit.

I was given a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review.  I honestly loved it!


6 05 2008

My Little Sofball PlayerLast night I got to do something that I enjoy so very much.  I got to watch my daughter Sydney play softball.  I’m absolutely amazed how far she has come in just one year.  Sydney is probably the youngest and smallest player on her team but she is by far the quickest.  She is on a team this year that has several young players and they played a team last night that looked like giants in comparison.  When it was all said and done the lost in a landslide 13-0.   What is usually a great joy brought me pain because the other team’s coach was determined to get every single point that he possibly could.  Up 10-0 with the game well in hand he continuously kept running his girls around the bases taking advantage of every little mistake that our young team made.  One of the final points was scored when one of his players absoloutely leveled our catcher.  This coach didn’t even walk over and check on our girl.  No apologies.  It is just a game in his mind.

Well I must admit that I was becoming bitter as were other parents.  One guy behind me called him a pompuous @#$.  You get the point.  After the game this same coach gathered the girls to pray.  I heard another parent say, “Well look at the hypocrite.”  I promise you that wasn’t me although I sure thought it.  I asked somebody what this guy did and I was shocked when they told me he was a preacher.  I was shocked and then I was ashamed.  This Christian missed a great opportunity to teach his girls mercy.  I know what some of you coaches out there may be thinking but it is so easy for us as believers to miss opportunities to be a witness on the public stage.

I was reading 1 Corinthians 9 this morning when I cam across these verses.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)  Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 6 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

In running the race of the Christian life it is too easy for us to get disqualified.  Hey I’ve done it.  I have the scars to prove it.  No doubt this comes when we place ourselves above God and His plans for us.  And when we do this we destroy things that we worked so hard to build up.  We must keep ourselves under control because if we don’t then we too may become disqualified.

I beleive that this coach disqualified himself last night.  He may have won the game but he lost the war.  My guess is that he would have some people that absolutely would never listen to what he had to say when he preached the gospel.  What is frightening is that my wife told me on the way out of the field that I would probably do the same thing (run up the score).  She is right in that I would be tempted.

I’m thankful that I have a Sunday School class that I teach each Sunday.  Please pray that I don’t disqualify myself from this new race I’m running.

Danger! Explosive Devices Being Used in This Area!

29 04 2008

My morning began this morning in Romans 7.  To tell you the truth the verse that jumped off of the page to me in the beginning was verse 4:  “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”  Let that verse soak in you for a moment.  Through Christ we have died to the law as a means of salvation through what Christ has done.  This whole idea of trying to be good enough to get to God has died in Christ. The fact is that nobody is good enough.  Nobody even comes close because on down it tells us that all of us are “sold under sin.”  We are born with three strikes against us.  We have died to that so that we might “belong to another.”  Isn’t that just awesome.  We belong “to him who has been raised from the dead.”  Why do we belong o him.  We belong to Him “in order that we may bear fruit for God.”  I’m born from above so that I may bear fruit FOR God.  I bear it for Him.  Not for myself.  For HIM! 

Honestly it is easy to get caught into the trap of doing this all for yourself.  This morning I got up to have my prayer time and I sat down to catch just a minute of the news.  Looking at the clock I thought to myself that I had better get to my quiet time and then this little thought entered into my heart.  It said, “Johnny you know your day has some potential today so you better go and pray and get God into your day.”  Conviction struck my heart at that point and my thinking got readjusted and a new thought came across my mind.  I don’t want God in my day so that I might get a break through in my sales.  I want God in my day because I want HIM.  I love HIM.  I want to bear fruit for HIM.

That whole experience this morning brings new meaning to Romans 7:21:  “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”  You know evil always lies close to hand.  Even when your whole itention is to do something good, evil is not that far away.  Thomas Brooks in his book Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices teaches to remember that our heart is a powder keg filled with gun powder.  It is always ready to explode into sin if given a chance.  We need to be aways aware of the fact that evil always lies close to hand.  We must pray, “Lord, keep us from evil” and keep a close watch on our heart because there is explosive powder (the flesh) that is always ready to explode even when we are trying to do something that is good.

Following Moses

15 04 2008

Big Shoes to FillMoses was a very unique individuals.  He spent the first 40 years of his life as a somebody living in the Pharaoh’s palace.  He spent the next 40 years of his life as a nobody keeping his father in law’s sheep on the back side of the desert.  He then spent the last 40 years of his life showing God’s people that God was everything to them.  In Israelite history he is considered with great high regard because he was the one through whom God used to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt.  He is considered with such high regard that the writer of Hebrews go through many words to describe Jesus Christ as greater than Moses.

With all that being said could you imagine following this guy.  As a pastor I always felt sorry for a guy who followed a legend at a church.  We normally laughed and called him the sacrificial lamb.  Time usually found us to be right on the subject.  Just think about how Joshua must have felt as God called him to succeed Moses.  In Joshua 1 we are able to peer into a conversation where God speaks to Joshua.  God is so awesome.  It is just like him to stoop down and encourage us humans.

I first notice that the name for God here is LORD.  That is His covenant name and by that we know that Joshua can be assured of God’s steadfast love as he began this awesome task.  Every day that Joshua woke up he knew that God was for him.  Then God promises him success.  Wow!  No man would be able to stand against him all the days of his life.  Now Joshua still had to go out and fight those battles but what a promise.

But probably the greatest promises was the promise of God’s presence.  God told him in verse 5 that He would not leave him for forsake him.  And because of that God then told him to be strong and corageous.  Then God gives him specific instructions to be careful to obey the law.  Don’t turn to the left or the right of it.  If he does this he will have great success wherever he goes.  And just so he knows what the law says he is commanded then to meditate on it.  He is to get it into his head and his heart.

Well you say that is all good for Joshua but what about me.  Don’t we have the same promises given to us as believers.  I’m not preaching a health and wealth gospel here at all but I do believe that there are some promises that God has made to us in the Scriptures that we can depend upon. I do believe that by obeying Him we place ourselves in a position where he can bless us.  Whether He does so or not is up to Him.  We can’t twist the hand of the Lord.  I do believe that we can face each day being strong and full of courage knowing that whatever we face, we face it with Him in our life.

What should we do?  Simple.  Obey.  How do we know what to obey.  Simple.  Meditate on the Word.  That is one reason why I do these blogs.  When I’m not blogging I’m journaling because I don’t want to read Scripture just to say I got through it.  I want to read it so that I can meditate on it.  I want to get it from the page to my head to my heart. 

Big Task…Big God

8 04 2008

It is so amazing that when you get yourself in the Word that God finds a way to have a word for you.  He did yesterday.  Actually He had two.  One was of great comfort to me and the othe convicted me greatly.  As I was making my way through Deuteronomy I came to Deuteronomy 20 and the title said, “Laws Concerning Warfare.”  Verse 1 says this: 1 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”  God was real blunt with them.  When you come to an army that is bigger than yours, you SHALL not be afraid of them.  Wow, that is a command.  Why not be afraid?  Because the LORD YOUR GOD is with you.  God is enough for any army or task that you might be facing.  So don’t be afraid.

That is tough for me.  I want to be afraid.  I want to know that everything will be OK.  That is one reason I was a little excited about a job opportunity at Dell.  Well Dell fell through and I’m back to plan A.  Plan A is trust the Lord and keep doing what I’m doing.  The task before me is huge but my God is bigger.

Now here is where God convicted me.  Deuteronomy 20:8 says this:  “And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.'”  I must confess that if I’m down in out others know about it.  God told the Israelites that if any of the solidiers were fear and faintearted they were to be sent home because He didn’t want their belly aching to spread in the rest of the army.  We have other soldiers around us every day who are depending on you and me not being fearful and not being fainthearted.  They need the strength in us that we draw from the strength of God.  So NO Belly Aching.  Go face your day and fight.  You and I have a big God who is bigger than the task we face.