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.


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.

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.



Does Your Church Welcome?

17 04 2018

765452You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  That is something that I have personally reminded my first impressions team at the church that I pastor.  That statement and more like it were reinforced to me in Thom S. Rainer’s book Becoming a Welcoming Church, published by B&H.

In this book Rainer challenges us to think through whether or not we are as welcoming as we think that we truly are.  When we take an honest look into the mirror, we find that when we think that we are friendly and welcoming, we are really focused on ourselves and not outsiders.  It is so easy to get complacent and therefore lacking in this area.

This short book by Rainer encourages you to look at your church from the eyes of an outsider.  Discussions about signs, websites, safety, cleanliness, greeters, and welcome centers are vital.  They are short but concise.  He touches so many areas of the church in so little time.  What I like about this book is that this is something that I can hand to my leaders and be assured that they will read it.

Each chapter has a list of discussion questions that could help you or a small group think deeper about your own situation.  I found the questions to be very helpful.  There is also a church facility audit in the back of the book as well as a secret guest survey that one might give to someone that you have attend a Sunday at your church to see how you are doing.

This is a very helpful book and there is a companion book entitled We Want You Here that can actually be presented to first time guests of your church.

Yes, I do recommend this book to you and your guest services team.  I plan to share it with mine.

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

When God Wants to Drill a Man

10 04 2018

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.

– Anonymous