My thoughts on faith, books, and life in general
Category Archives: faith
The 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.”
Each week, I share a weekly spiritual thought with my team. This week we talked about seeking wisdom.
“Knowing that wisdom waits to be gathered, I will actively search her out.”
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.
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.”
“…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.
I just finished Max Lucado’s newest book, Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine. Once I picked it up, it was a really quick read.
Max Lucado is a master storyteller, and uses a nearly endless arsenal of anecdotes to great effect as he shares the greatness of God’s grace. I’ve been a big fan of Lucado’s work for many years, and if you haven’t read any of his previous works, I highly recommend them. While his works are not always deep academic or theological tomes (and I overlooked them for that reason in my seminary days), they have great devotional value and are great for application. It doesn’t have to be academic to be meaningful.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith:Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Tim 1:1-2
Paul was a mentor to Timothy. He was like a father in the faith. All of us need spiritual mothers and fathers – mentors. Paul may not have led Timothy to faith in Christ (it may have been Timothy’s mother and grandmother – cf. 2 Tim 1:5).
Just this week I was encouraged by spending time with several other ministers. I had a great time with my contemporaries and some dear friends, but I also got to connect with some elder ministers. I am always glad when I get to glean wisdom from older ministers and men of faith. These are men who have walked with God for many years and have gained wisdom and experience that can be of great value to me.
Yesterday the eyes of the world (certainly all the news media) were upon William and Kate as they exchanged vows at Westminster Abby in London. I will admit that, although I initially pretended not to care much about it, I watched the wedding – twice. The first time because I was up for work at 5am anyway, and the second time because my wife and I had DVR’d it to watch together in the evening.
Having confessed to getting swept up in the obsession with the Royal Wedding, I have to say that I was impressed by a number of things.
First, it was good to see how excited people still get about a wedding. As a Christian and a minister, I believe marriage is important, and promote the institution of marriage (as opposed to any number of other marriage-like lifestyles).
a few a lot of days when I feel powerless, like I have no control over my life.
We live in uncertain times, don’t we?
Maybe like me, you look around you and recognize you have no control over some of the things that are going on around you. We turn on the news and see bad things happening. It could be that you’re out of work, and can’t seem to find a job. Or it could be that you feel stuck in a job that isn’t your dream job. There could be any number of things going on in your life that might make you feel small, weak, powerless.
If you tell someone that they aren’t going to be run over by a train, it doesn’t seem like good news to them unless they recognize that they were actually going to be run over by the train.
As Christians, so often our message – the gospel, or “good news” – doesn’t really seem like good news to those around us. We try to tell those around us that God loves them and offers grace and salvation to them. The fact is that most people around you and me today don’t see the need for salvation.
The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6:
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
And inRomans 3:10-11:
As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
Then in John 3:36:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
These verses and others like them help give context to the good news that Jesus Christ has taken the punishment for our sins. We must recognize our own sinfulness before we can ever appreciate the fact that Jesus Christ comes between us and the judgment of God that is coming at us.
There are people who don’t believe in God, nor do they recognize His judgment (yet). These are the ones who don’t know the train is barreling down the tracks, so they can’t appreciate the fact that someone could save them from being run over by it.
You and I cannot always change minds, but we do have an obligation to tell the whole Gospel. And telling people that Jesus saves is fine, but it doesn’t seem like good news unless we also share why we need saving and what we’re being saved from.
What do you think? Have you heard someone share this news well?
For more on this, check out my recent post: The Miracle of God’s Judgment and Forgiveness.