Matt Knight

My thoughts on faith, books, and life in general

Category Archives: Christianity

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®

A Picture of Sin as Rebellion

Grace Cover Final B1
I’ve recently begun reading Max Lucado’s newest book Grace: More Than We Deserve – Better Than We Imagine. I got it as part of Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program. (My review is forthcoming).

It’s often been said that Sin is rebellion against God, but Lucado does a great job at illustrating that point from the teachings of Jesus.

Read Jesus’ one-paragraph definition of sin.

A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten servants and gave them ten pounds of silver to invest for him while he was gone. But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say they did not want him to be their king. (Luke 19:12-14 NLT)

To sin is to state, “God, I do not want you to be my king. I prefer a kingless kingdom. Or, better still, a kingdom in which I am king.”

Imagine if someone did the same to you. Suppose you go on a long trip and leave your residence under the supervision of a caretaker. You trust him will all your possessions. While you’re away, he moves into your house and claims it for his own…He claims your authority and send you this message: “Don’t come back. I’m running things now.”

It’s a shocking picture, but Lucado is right in using this picture to illustrate how God sees sin. You and I think it’s minor, but to God, who is creator and rightful ruler–it’s open rebellion.

Tim Challies’ Next Story

I just finished reading The Next Story by Tim Challies. I really enjoyed it! I believe this book is a must-read for pastors, and anyone who wants to better understand and confront the new realities and theological issues of the technological world in which we live.

Author/pastor/blogger Tim Challies does a great job at highlighting some of the new issues and realities that confront us as users of technology today. This is a topic that needs to be discussed, and Challies may be one of the first to take this issue on and discuss it in depth.

Continue Reading…

Book Review: The Liturgical Year


The Liturgical Year by Sister Joan Chittister is part of Thomas Nelson’s Ancient Practices Series. This book caught my interest because I’ve wanted to know more about the Christian calendar and have been curious about the liturgical year, and many Christian holy days for some time.

Continue Reading…

Book Review: Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado


In his latest book, Max Lucado emphasizes the importance of acts of love in the life of Christ followers. Using the book of Acts, he highlights the importance of loving and serving “the least of these.” His premise is that as we love Christ more, we will begin to show love for people and that our acts of love will outlive us.
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Interesting Thoughts on the Tim Tebow Ad

Someone sent me this column from the Washington Post concerning the Tim and Pam Tebow superbowl ad. The author comes from a different political perspective than I do, but it’s well written nonetheless. I’ll let Ms Jenkins speak for herself. What follows are her words, not mine.

—————

By Sally Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I’ll spit this out quick, before the armies of feminism try to gag me and strap electrodes to my forehead: Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time. I realize this stance won’t endear me to the “Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep,” otherwise known as DOLL, but I’ll try to pick up the shards of my shattered feminist credentials and go on.
As statements at Super Bowls go, I prefer the idea of Tebow’s pro-life ad to, say, Jim McMahon dropping his pants, as the former Chicago Bears quarterback once did in response to a question. We’re always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks. It therefore seems more than a little hypocritical to insist on it only if it means criticizing sneaker companies, and to stifle them when they take a stance that might make us uncomfortable.
I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.
Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn’t.
There’s not enough space in the sports pages for the serious weighing of values that constitutes this debate, but surely everyone in both camps, pro-choice or pro-life, wishes the “need” for abortions wasn’t so great. Which is precisely why NOW is so wrong to take aim at Tebow’s ad.
Here’s what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.
You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren’t embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too — and they should step up to that.
“Are you saving yourself for marriage?” Tebow was asked last summer during an SEC media day. “Yes, I am,” he replied.
The room fell into a hush, followed by tittering: The best college football player in the country had just announced he was a virgin.
As Tebow gauged the reaction from the reporters in the room, he burst out laughing. They were a lot more embarrassed than he was. “I think y’all are stunned right now!” he said. “You can’t even ask a question!” That’s how far we’ve come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex. Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn’t shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.
Obviously Tebow can make people uncomfortable, whether it’s for advertising his chastity, or for wearing his faith on his face via biblical citations painted in his eye-black. Hebrews 12:12, his cheekbones read during the Florida State game: “Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. “Pull the ad,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said. “Let’s focus on the game.”
Trouble is, you can’t focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it — and that is the genius of Tebow’s ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers — who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.
Let me be clear again: I couldn’t disagree with Tebow more. It’s my own belief that the state has no business putting its hand under skirts. But I don’t care that we differ. Some people will care that the ad is paid for by Focus on the Family, a group whose former spokesman, James Dobson, says loathsome things about gays. Some will care that Tebow is a creationist. Some will care that CBS has rejected a gay dating service ad. None of this is the point. CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants, and Tebow has a right to express his beliefs publicly. Just as I have the right to reject or accept them after listening — or think a little more deeply about the issues. If the pro-choice stance is so precarious that a story about someone who chose to carry a risky pregnancy to term undermines it, then CBS is not the problem.
Tebow’s ad, by the way, never mentions abortion; like the player himself, it’s apparently soft-spoken. It simply has the theme “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.” This is what NOW has labeled “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.” But if there is any demeaning here, it’s coming from NOW, via the suggestion that these aren’t real questions, and that we as a Super Bowl audience are too stupid or too disinterested to handle them on game day.

Ministry Must Make a Change in the Minister

Lately God has been teaching me about change. Specifically, how I must be changed as I continue to seek to become more like Christ. As a minister, one of my goals is to help others to find their identity in Christ and to be continually transformed by Him (that is sanctification).

Here are 2 key thoughts about our identity and character as ministers:

1) Who you are is more important than what you do.
A few years ago pastor Ronnie Floyd of First Baptist Church Springdale wrote a book entitled 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know. Dr Floyd says that every minister must understand that who we are is more important than what we do. Often we have a tendency to find our value and our identity in what we do, or how well we do it instead of recognizing our identity as blood bought, unconditionally loved children of God.
Pastor Floyd encourages readers to look to Ephesians 1:3-14. Concerning identity, check out this statement:

Who am I? In Jesus Christ, I am chosen miraculous, accepted, completely, forgiven freely, planned providentially, and rich spiritually.

2) The ministry we do must make us who Christ wants us to be.
Once we recognize who we are, we must allow God—through reading, studying, and teaching His word; through intercession; through worship; and serving—to change us. We must recognize in our own lives what we teach others: that as we encounter God, we cannot remain the same. As believers we are destined to become more like Christ. As ministers this is critical: we must live out this truth if we ever hope to teach it.

The measure of our ministry is not solely how it impacts others, but also how it changes us. Imagine what a miserable existence it would be to minister to others, yet not be changed ourselves. Still, there are many even today who work in God’s name, but have not experienced the power and transformation that is brought by His presence.

Let us never simply do ministry and walk away unchanged. We must know who we are in Christ, and we must become who He has created us to be.

An Incredibly Humbling Experience

Rarely do I post on Sunday, but something happened today that I have to share.

Today our church did our annual patriotic salute service (many churches in America do similar services, ours was probably not that different). Several friends had asked me if I was going to be wearing my Air Force uniform, and convinced me that I should. So I showed up to church this morning wearing my Air Force Service Dress.

It was a good morning, I accepted several compliments from friends and church members on my uniform and my service. It always humbles me when people thank me for my service. Being a young chaplain and a reservist, I often feel like I haven’t done much yet. Still, I remember that when I wear that Air Force uniform, I represent not only myself, but many many other brave Airmen who have served and continue to serve our country. I accept thanks on behalf of them.

After the church services were over, and we had heard personal testimony from Lt Col Brian Birdwell, USA (Ret.), we were planning to go to lunch a few folks from the singles class I teach. It turned out that none of the folks we had invited were able to come to lunch with us, so Kelly and I made a new plan and went off to lunch.

While sitting at the restaurant, having just ordered, an older couple came by our table. They had finished their meal and this retired Lt Colonel and his wife stopped by to thank us and to let us know that our bill had been paid.

I didn’t know what to say, but I managed to say, “thank you.”

A few moments later the waiter came by (himself an air force vet, we learned) and told us that our bill had been paid, and (mistakenly) pointed out another couple. Incidentally we learned from this second couple that they had offered to buy our meal moments after the first couple (who had been sitting at the next table) had paid for us.

All this floored me. I couldn’t believe how generous these folks were, and to us. Again, I recognize that I have the privilege and responsibility whenever I wear that Air Force uniform of representing others who serve in far worse conditions that I do, and with greater valor than I may ever be called upon to show. Words cannot fully express the sense of humility that I feel at receiving the undeserved honor and favor of a few patriotic men and women.

When we gave thanks to God, I must admit that I thanked Him with a fresh conviction and a sense of thanksgiving which I have rarely had before. Times like these remind me of the undeserved favor that God shows each of us, and also of the sacrifices of the men and women who serve our country.

To those who serve, I salute you. I thank each of you for your service, great or small as it may be. I pray today that God would place His hand of protection upon those in harm’s way, that He would heal and comfort those who are hurting, and that He would bring those serving away from their families safely home. In the midst of all this I ask that God would make His presence manifest around those who serve, that they might recognize it and turn to Him.

Once Again, I must say “Thank You.”

Steve Harvey Introduces Jesus

It’s exciting to see a man like Mr Harvey using his influence to point to Jesus. Here Steve Harvey introduces Jesus:

HT:Ron Moore at HolyCoast.com

If You Really Want to Sell Your House…

I have several friends who have homes for sale. Some of them have had homes on the market for quite some time. My wife works in the real estate sector, so I hear lots and lots of stories about this. Let me say up front that I’m not going to offer some tactic that will sell your house. If you’re looking for key words for your listing or a magic bullet I don’t have it for you, but I hope you’ll stick around anyway.

In times of a depressed (and perhaps depressing) housing market, people turn to all kinds of remedies to sell houses. Today I want to highlight one that I’ve recently seen again. When I was in a local Christian store recently I saw someone purchasing a statue of St Joseph, not unlike this one:

This got me thinking, is it an acceptable practice for Christians to use St Joseph statues to try to sell houses? Stick with me for a second while I briefly digress. Several years ago, as a teenager I remember an incident that happened to me. I received one of those common email forwards promising that I would be granted a certain wish if I forwarded it to enough of my friends. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well I did forward it to my friends, because there was something that I desperately wanted — perhaps you can relate. I remember clearly a Christian friend who took me to task after receiving my forward. I still remember what he said to me: “If there is something that you really want, you should pray for it.”

I was ashamed, because as a Christian I had succumbed to the allure of superstition. I was trying to get something, essentially through a form of magic. Now let’s bring it back. The principle is the same, if you want something, you ought to ask God. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17).

If you bury a piece of plastic in your yard, that has absolutely no power to sell a house. Why would it? How could it? If God desires for you to sell your house, He can accomplish that with or without plastic in the yard. Let me encourage you to ask God for what you want. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 7 that they should ask God for what they want, because God is a perfect father and wants to give good things to His children.

I know that if you’re trying to sell a house, and especially if it’s been a long time, that you can get desperate. I don’t have a good answer as to why your home hasn’t sold yet. Right now, I pray that you will seek God, and that He will give you wisdom and comfort, and also that He would lift this burden from you. I’ve got nothing against St Joseph, but when it comes to who has the real power, remember that it’s God who is in control, and He has a plan.

If you really want to sell your house, ask God for it to sell, hire the best realtor you can find, and trust God.