Matt Knight

My thoughts on faith, books, and life in general

Review: gods at war

Gods at WarThe latest book I’ve read is gods at war by Kyle Idleman. This book is a must read! There are a lot of books out there that aren’t worth the time, but this one definitely is.

While I had not read his previous book not a fan, I was intrigued and decided to check this one out. Boy am I glad I did.

The premise of the book is that all of us as humans are made to worship. The trouble is that we tend to worship things other than God. Idleman points the spotlight on the issue of idolatry in our world today, and deals with several of the gods that compete for our hearts and attentions.

One thing that I really liked about this book is that it was not repetitive. The material is fresh from start to finish. He does a great job of explaining what modern-day idol worship looks like and how to combat an array of popular idols.

Each section of the book deals with different areas of life where people are drawn to worship—areas like: pleasure, power, and love. For each of these, there are more specific foci and great explanations and examples. There are stories from the author’s life, as well as the lives of other, sometimes well-known, Christians who have dealt with these issues and idols.

The book is engaging and a quick read. I highly recommend this one. This is the best book I’ve read this year.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I review for BookSneeze®

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Leave a Legacy

A little over a week ago, we had a big retirement ceremony for my boss and mentor. We call him “Chappy” and he’s one of the best bosses I could have hoped to work for.LegacyTree

He is leaving our team to go back to the civilian world and pastor a church.

Our loss is their gain.

I wish him all the best.

Some other pastors spoke at Chappy’s retirement ceremony. The opening prayer was offered by a couple who mentored Chappy many years ago when he first entered the ministry. What’s amazing is that another local pastor also shared how this same couple had influenced him as he entered ministry. Both Chappy and this local pastor have a great influence in our community and beyond. But what struck me was the incredible legacy and influence of this couple who had invested in these two pastors and so many others.
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Seek Wisdom

Each week, I share a weekly spiritual thought with my team. This week we talked about seeking wisdom.

This was a continuation of the thought I shared last week about forgiveness. Both are part of the 7 Decisions for Success from The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews.

“Knowing that wisdom waits to be gathered, I will actively search her out.”

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Book Review: Dirty God

Johnnie Moore’s Dirty God had a lot of potential, but didn’t seem to quite live up to what I had expected. I agree with the core message of the book, that grace is for everyone, and Jesus is God who gets His hands dirty and comes down to a human level in order to bring us into a relationship with Him.

Despite my respect for Johnnie Moore and the work he’s doing at my alma mater, Liberty University, I was really pretty disappointed by this book.
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Forgiveness

This week I shared with my team about Forgiveness.

I also made a book recommendation. I recommended The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews.

I’ve enjoyed his books and this was the first of his that I read. Andy Andrews has a powerful personal story – one of tragedy and hardship. His parents both died when he was a young adult, and he ended up homeless and living under a pier in Orange Beach, Alabama. He began reading about the lives of great men and women and learned from their example, how to live a life of success. Now, years later he is a bestselling author and successful speaker.

One of the Seven Decisions that he discusses is what he calls “the compassionate decision.” This is the decision that says, “I will greet the day with a forgiving spirit.”
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The Joy of the Lord is our strength

“…This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law…“Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:9-10 (ESV)

Today I preached on the book of Nehemiah (our congregation is going through The Story–a 31-week journey through the Bible). Out of all the material to cover, I focused on Chapters 8 & 9.

This morning, I awoke to a dreary fog. My own mood was similar. I didn’t really want to get out of bed, go to church, or preach.

It’s true, it happens to preachers too.

However, after I got to the chapel, I was pointed to the scriptures. I read Psalm 47. It begins, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God all with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.”

It’s a command to praise God, and through this scripture God spoke to my heart.

In Nehemiah 8, the people are weeping and mourning, but their leaders command them to rejoice and be happy. How, I wondered, could they be expected to change from weeping to rejoicing?

This morning, I experienced it. You see, the rejoicing comes, not necessarily out of happy feelings, but rather, the recognition of who God is and what He has done. Scripture directs us to praise Him, even if we don’t feel like it.

The thing is–God can change our hearts through worship. Who He is is greater than how I feel. God is worthy of praise. The Bible is full of praise for His great attributes and shows a long track record of His blessings and kindness toward people. When I focus on God, instead of myself, my feelings can change. The joy of the Lord (joy of who He is and the joy that He gives) is my strength. It can change my attitude from malaise or sadness to one of praise and gladness.

When we life out this truth, it can change our attitudes and our lives.

“Writing is Easy…”

Peggy Noonan discusses speech-writing in this piece on her Wall Street Journal Blog.

She discusses the hollow nature of many political speeches in the present era, saying:
“If you try to write ‘good lines’ you’ll likely wind up with strings of dumb, unconnected applause lines. The audience will probably applaud—crowds of supporters are dutiful that way, and people want to be polite—but they’ll know they’re applauding an applause line, not a thought, and they’ll know they’re enacting enthusiasm, not feeling it.”

She has some great thoughts. Read the article here.

Dealing with Criticism

This week, I spoke to the leaders in my circle about Criticism.

Author and motivator Tim Sanders says criticism is like a nut. You eat the meat and spit out the shell.

Each of us will deal with criticism. It’s been said that, “if you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing much” (Donald Rumsfeld). Whether you’re in the spotlight or working behind the scenes, you will face critics.

Sometimes the criticism is justified. There are times when we deserve correction or advice. Other times, people can simply be petty, mean, or simply wrong about us. That’s why we have to take the good, and throw out the bad.

Legendary coach John Wooden said, “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” It’s important that we not get sidetracked from our mission in life by either praise or by criticism. We’ve got to use it to make ourselves better, and move forward.

There are two key elements to dealing with criticism. The first is to learn how to receive it. The second piece is learning to give it.

For some, criticizing others comes easy. This is dangerous, because we may need to learn when to keep our opinions to ourselves. We should only give criticism when it is helpful. Before you or I open our mouth to criticize, we need to stop an think about whether it’s constructive or destructive. If it doesn’t serve any positive purpose, let’s keep our mouths shut.

For others, it’s important to learn to speak up when something needs to be said. Some people see problems that others may overlook, but fail to speak up. At best, this can rob others of encouragement or correction that they need. At worst, it harms others. When engineers see a critical design flaw in a product, they must speak up, so that defective products don’t endanger the public. When we fail to correct, we allow problems to continue and grow.

To on the giving side, it’s important to learn how to give criticism, as well as when or when not to give it.

Truth = Freedom

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We live in a world filled with lies.

People have all kinds of “reasons” for not telling the truth, and they can hide it for a time; but in the end the truth will come out.

In the news these days, we have seen a number of high profile stories about people who have been caught trying to hide the truth. When they’re finally caught, the truth is exposed for all to see. Sometimes the truth can be ugly. When it is, we have a tendency to try to cover it up, so nobody can see. The result isn’t a pretty thing. When we cover up the truth, we experience fear (that someone will find out), guilt, and anxiety.

Lies imprison us, and only the truth can set us free.
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Coping with Change

It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. In our lives, we constantly must deal with changes. Maybe it’s big changes, like a career move, a marriage or a divorce, or other big life change. But we also face small changes – maybe it’s bad weather that forces a change of plans, or someone around us doesn’t do what we hope or expect. In times like this, we have to be able to deal with change.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference…” – Reinhold Niebur

When we fail to change, we can get stuck in a rut. One of my college professors, Dr Paul Fink, said “a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out.” This reminds us that if we’re alive, we need to make appropriate and necessary changes. The only institution that rejects change, it’s been said, is the cemetery.

Change can be difficult, but we can do it.

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