Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Book Recommendation -- A Commentary on Judges and Ruth -- Robert B. Chisholm Jr.

Several years ago, my plan for preaching started making a marked change in its direction.  I started working with the process of expository preaching.  To this date, I have completed several long passages of Scripture in this manner.  When I started this journey, I realized that my study habits would have to change and also my reading tools would have to change also.  Expository preaching means that you will have to use commentaries and language helps to accomplish the task of preaching God’s Word.  So I started the process of purchasing good reference books that would serve more as tools to go back to more than once.  Last year it was my good fortune to become a book reviewer for Kregel Publications.  They have an arm called the Academic division that supplies some very good reference material for an expositor.  This volume on Judges and Ruth was sent to me by Kregel.    

The most recent commentary is written by Robert B. Chisholm Jr., A Commentary on Judges and Ruth.  Kregel sent me this book several months ago while I was just beginning to do an expository series on Psalms.  I judged this book by Chisholm and liked it so well that I ended up purchasing Kregel’s volumes on Psalms by Allen P. Ross (the last volume is not available yet which will cover Psalms 90-150).  The Ross volumes are also very good and worth the investment. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 3

This is Week 4, Day 3 from the devotional Lord, Is It Warfare?  There is something that you will find as you develop a disciplined approach to a daily time in the Word.  Your mind and spirit will be stretched by the Scripture and you will also find a rhythm that as time passes in your devotions that you refuse to allow a rushed attitude to consume your time with the Lord.  (Although today’s entry is relatively short compared to some of the other ones.)  Busyness and hurry are great liabilities to us as we read through the Bible.  The soul is greatly fed as you work slowly through these assignments because overcoming the rush and hurry of devotion moves your thoughts into places that you would not normally be able to go.  That is why I know that the messages that I preach weekly make their most impact when they are “crock-pot” fare versus quick, grab it as you can “microwave” pabulum.

-We all come from Adam no matter what evolutionists and scientists might imply.  We were also created in the image of God. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 2

If you have not purchased your own copy of this devotional, Lord, Is It Warfare?, I want to encourage you to do so (Used books on Amazon start @ 0.42).  Not only is there an opportunity to interact in a personal journal with your own notes but the guide is designed in such a way as to encourage you to mark up your Bible.  Today’s entry is a little shorter than usual simply by the nature of the assignment that was given.  Following are my own reflections.

-This world was not always in the condition that it is in now.  It once was a perfect paradise that hosted God and His creation of Adam and Eve and the host of things that filled the world.  In a single moment, the unity of God and His creation was shattered by the wily snares of the serpent.  He tempted Eve and she fell to an unimaginable state. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 1

I would like to offer a bit of explanation for my two-week layoff from writing.  On early Tuesday, April 15, my mother-in-law passed on to her eternal reward.  I have literally known her my entire life as my parents moved to Dothan when I was two and we started going to church here in Dothan.  My father-in-law had started the church a little over a year prior to our arrival.  In that little home missions setting the Lord was at work but also His grace was at work in my own life too.  I married Teresa, the Patterson’s oldest daughter, in August ’86 and my life was entwined even more in the Patterson family.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer about four years ago and despite surgery it came back with a vengeance in January 2013.  A little over two weeks ago, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she required around the clock care.  I preached her funeral this past Friday and it was one of the most challenging ones that I have had to do.  However, it has made heaven all the more real to me and her illness caused me to dig into the Word and really look at what it has to say about heaven and where saints go when they pass from this life.  I would tell you this, I have done a great disservice to myself and to our church for not preaching more about heaven and the resurrection.  I specifically did something special when I realized that her condition was not going to improve outside of a miracle, I got a leather-bound journal and started writing in it massive amounts of Scripture on what heaven was to be like.  There are old hymns that have fallen out of our worship services that I wrote in that journal.  Furthermore, I read sermons from the old masters of the past and found that they preached about heaven from a whole different angle than what is preached today.  Suffice it to say this. . . you must make it to heaven!!!!!  No matter the cost, it has to be a priority in your life. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 5

I want to pick up with the Week 3, Day 5 portion before moving to Week 4, Day 1 for tomorrow.  I got behind a bit last week but I really did not want to omit Day 5 because of some of the content that I ran across as I was journaling through it.  I will not add Day 6 or Day 7 because it is primarily the summary of the previous material in the week with a host of Scriptures that are designed to bring out various descriptions of the devil.  The following is pretty much the exact content of my ramblings in my journal. . . with a fountain pen J.  Specifically a TWSBI 580 medium nib loaded with Pelikan 4001 Turquoise ink J.

-Note that the people who are involved in the spiritual war are saints.  The devil has no need to attack those who are already in his kingdom.  If you sometimes have a tendency to think that evil-doers have an easier path, the Bible very clearly articulates this in Psalm 37 and 73.  Those psalms both have the same theme. . . the prosperity of the wicked.  On the other hand, never think for a moment that they are never without troubles, difficulties, and huge battles with their conscience.   

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 4

Starting out with a great apology, I had fully intended to work through this segment last week.  I know that some of you are following along with your own copy of Lord, Is It Warfare? and your journal and you have been reading some of my thoughts in addition to what you are doing.  I apologize for not getting on with this last week but I had some time pressures that sort of knocked me off of my routine.  The next thing that I thought about doing was moving on to the next week in this series but there were some things in Week 3 that I felt like would be important and I did not want to omit them from the series.  I will certainly do my best to get back on track in the next few days. 

Beginning with Week 3, Day 4 there are a lot of recommendations concerning working through your Bible with a fair amount of passages.  As I worked through some of those passages, I was troubled by them and that is the reason that I did not just skip to Week 4 because I wanted to address my own troubles in a Scriptural and honest way in the way that we often view God.  Job 2 has a tendency to rattle some of our Americanized ideas about the identity of God and how He may operate in our lives.  Again what follows are the exact notes that I have in my own personal journal. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 3

We are continuing to work through the devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  The focus is on the fact that the devil often fills the role of a roaring lion.  What follows are the notes that I have written in my journal. 

-Of all the names in Scripture for the devil, none is used more frequently than Satan.  It is used 55 times in the OT/NT.  (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6; 1:7; 1:8; 1:9; 1:12; 2:1; 2:2; 2:3; 2:4; 2:6; 2:7; Psalm 109:6; Zechariah 3:1; 3:2; Matthew 4:10; 12:26; 16:23; Mark 1:13; 3:23; 3:26; 4:15; 8:33; Luke 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22:3; 22:31; John 13:27; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:15; Revelation 2:9; 2:13; 2:24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2; 20:7.)

-Devil—DIABOLOS—Accuser, slanderer, from the verb that means to attack, to curse, to be an adversary, to resist.  All of these actions are the way that he will choose to operate in our lives.  Whatever is necessary to cause chaos and opposition is the goal. Thirty-five times he is called, devil, meaning “slanderer.”  (Matthew 4:1; 4:5; 4:8; 4:11; 9:32; 9:33; 12:22; 13:39; 15:22; 17:18; 25:41; Mark 5:15; 5:16; 5:18; 7:26; 7:29; 7:30; Luke 4:2; 4:3; 4:5; 4:6; 4:13; 4:33; 4:35; 7:33; 8:12; 8:29; 9:42; 11:14; John 6:70; 7:20; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11; l Timothy 3:6; 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14; James 4:7; l Peter 5:8; l John 3:8; 3:10; Jude 10; Revelation 2:10; 12:9; 12:12; 20:2; 20:10.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 2

Thanks to all who have sent e-mails and other social media messages that have encouraged me that this is helping.  As always, I think that what John Wesley wrote in one of his journals more than a hundred years ago about how that spiritual growth and reading the Bible and devotional material were very closely linked.  Frequently I give great consideration to the blessing that we have for being able to read especially when the statistics note that the majority of the world’s population cannot read and are illiterate.  There is some benefit to writing down lists in your journal of the simple things in life that you can be thankful for.  Such as being able to read, clean water, antibiotics, a functioning city sewage system, a yard that needs mowing, glasses, peanut butter, and a bag of jalapeno flavored kettle chips.  Thank God that you are able to sit up and read a book late at night in a quiet den or living room on a sofa or easy chair.  Gratitude flows when you start writing down your blessings!  Paul encouraged us that in everything we are to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 1

We are back in the saddle again after taking off a week from the devotional, Lord, Is It Warfare? by Kay Arthur.  I would like to reflect some on the layout of the book.  I have not blogged about Days 6 or 7 from Week 1 or 2 but there are some very valuable insights to be gained as you walk through the process of the book.  The book is designed in such a way that it walks you through various passages of Scripture and allows you to gather insight as you work in a topical manner.  I would also note that for those who are ministers or teachers of Bible study groups that I have gathered somewhat of a guess in the resources that the author uses.  Two old resources used much in generations of the past before everything came to us in electronic format was Nave’s Topical Bible and the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.  Orville Nave works at the Bible exactly as his text suggests, in a topical manner.  The TSK is a bit different but is one of the most massive and intense cross-referencing systems of Scripture that I am personally aware of.  If there is another one that is more powerful, I am not aware of it.  Both of these tools are extremely helpful to one who is working in the Word. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 5

Week 2, Day 5 of Lord, Is It Warfare? opens up a huge and somewhat muddy theological answer that has been debated and argued for a long time perhaps even centuries.  The looming question is ‘did God create evil?’  Did he create the devil purposely to trip us up?  Did the devil have a free-will as man did?  Those types of questions can fit into the place that Paul told Timothy to avoid.  He told him that there are questions that simply create and “gender strifes” (2 Tim. 2:23) and he told him to avoid those kinds of things.  It has been my experience that oftentimes some of the foolishness in the name of “academics” that goes on in seminary classrooms do not strengthen faith in the Word or confidence in God.  So this is one of those sorts of questions.  I am aware of one thing in this matter; I have been filled with the Spirit. . . It empowers me. . . but I have an enemy who wants to destroy me!  That is the fact and there will be a struggle between good and evil until God intervenes. 

From the Scriptural passages the devotional brings out, it is noted in John 1:1-3, Nehemiah 9:5-6, and Colossians 1:15-16 that all things were created by God.  I made a connection by reading a little further over in John 3 that men choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.  Therefore I would come to a conclusion that at some point apparently the devil possessed a will that moved him toward the trap of pride and he attempted to exalt himself against God. 

The lesson that I need to take away from this would be the fact that I must live out Romans 6 and fight against the tendency for pride to consume me.  The only way to effectively live above and beyond this is for my life to have a complete dependence on the Spirit and walk out Romans 8 so that my mind is Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.  Pride in the heart of the devil is what led to him being expelled from heaven.  Remember that Jesus said it is not what is on the outside that soils a man’s life but rather the things that are stored in his heart (Mark 7:20-23). 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 3 & 4

I am again combining two days of Lord, Is It Warfare? because the length of Day 3 was comparatively short and I chose not to go down a rabbit trail although as you shall see, I did with Day 4.  Day 3 dealt with the Ezekiel 28 passage that describes a lamentation or a funeral dirge of sorts for the king of Tyre.  But as you look at the passage, there are a couple of observations about different words in verse 2 as compared to verse 12.  My primary translation for this devotional study has been the ESV. 

The word “prince” appears in 28:2 and comes from the Hebrew word, NAGID which has the connotation as a ruler, leader, prince, or a captain.  This position would be commonly for a leader in government, religion, or the military.  The word “king” is used in 28:12 which uses the Hebrew word, MELEK.  It is most commonly used for a man who is in a position of control of a city-state, small nation or government.    But there is a further idea that Ezekiel develops when he notes that it is speaking of a cherub.  This reduces the equation to the fact that this king of Tyre was a symbolic figure that could be the role of the devil.  This cherub would have been a dark angel or demon who was in charge of a group of angels.  This would define the role that the devil filled as we remember that Lucifer was one of the archangels.  At this point, the devotional encourages us to make the connection between the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis and the account that is given in Ezekiel 28.  I would think that we could see the very clear connection between the two especially when we look at the symbols and types that are used in other places in Scripture. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 2 & A Short Rabbit Trail

This study guide, devotional Lord, Is It Warfare? has been designed in such a way that we are asked questions that aren’t leading but rather to help us to get to an understanding of what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare.  Years ago, I can remember a writer, whom I have long forgotten, giving the advice that we are to interrogate the text when we are studying Scripture.  This is a very effective way to gain more than just a superficial knowledge of Scripture.  If you can recall the old description of an adverb, it is a word that describes who, what, when, where, and to what extent.  Those are useful questions to ask when you are looking at the Bible.

When we take a first look at the enemy, who is deceptive, deadly, and intent on destroying everyone who is in allegiance with Jesus Christ, we find him in Genesis 3.  A couple of other OT chapters also give a description of him.  There is the brief allusion that Isaiah makes in Isaiah 14 and there is a bit longer region in Ezekiel 28.  It is a passage that has reference to the king of Tyre but many biblical scholars also hold that imagery used by Ezekiel would fit the bill for the devil also.  What causes us to come to this view is because of the words that the prophet uses would in no way entirely describe a man.  While there are some descriptions that would fit a human king, there are also words that help us to see that the devil would qualify in this description also.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 1

I am going into the second week of the study guide/devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord, Is It Warfare?  Today we come at the concept of spiritual warfare with a bit of a different angle.  The first emphasis that should garner our attention is Jesus Christ.  All spiritual warfare must began with the understanding that the devil has been defeated at Calvary and through the work of the Cross.  The enemy has been defeated at the present moment, he has been allowed to operate on the earth until his appointed time of judgment.  Since one of the primary themes of Ephesians deals with this matter of spiritual warfare, it is clear that Paul came to some conclusions when he wrote Ephesians 1:15-23, in fact there are three truths to understand:

1.      1:18—There is a hope to which we have been called.  That hope helps us to understand that there is a point in the future of which we will have rest from the attack of the enemy.
2.      1:18—The riches of this inheritance or position has been given to us and is clear through the work of the Holy Spirit. 
3.      1:19—There is an immeasurable power given to the saint of God through the resurrection.

Jesus Christ is in a heavenly place.  He has all power, authority, dominion, and rule over the dark world of evil.  However, if this is the case then why is there a conflict that a born-again man has to contend with?  If the Lord has all the power in the in this world and the one we cannot see, then why the seeming triumph of evil right now?  Those are valid questions to consider.  These questions fall into a category called theodicy which basically is an understanding of why God allows evil to exist in our world.  Volumes and volumes have been written on this subject and there is no way to give an explanation in this very brief blog post.  It is perhaps a rabbit trail for another day.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Days 4 & 5

One of the things that this study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare? works toward is getting our minds to think in a biblical direction about spiritual warfare.  One of the benefits of this is that it will move your mind to areas of Scripture and characters that exemplify the principles.  Day 4 and Day 5 are both relatively short although is some more interaction with Scripture that is necessary.  By virtue of this, you make a strong connection between the events of Acts 19 and the principles that are expressed in Ephesians 6.  One thing that comes to mind is the closing out of Ephesians 5 and beginning of Ephesians 6 where Paul speaks of marriage and the family.  The reality of the matter of it all is that these too can be battlegrounds that the enemy will attempt to insert himself into.  While spiritual warfare takes place in the heavens, it is played out in a very practical setting where we live our lives. 

Ephesus, because of occultic influence, was a place that was driven by fear.  The shamans, pagan priests, and others given to the influence of the “curious arts” (defined as such in Acts 19) played and preyed on the fears of the people.  This caused me to consider the aspects of America culture where that we pay money to experience fear.  However, I would cause you to think in this way with me.  If the enemy can cause fear and use themes that have ominous spiritual outcomes to be confined to a movie screen, the viewer’s compartmentalize it and believe that there is nothing to it.  What a brilliant move but very deadly move by the enemy.  Kay Arthur notes, “Films, TV, and recorded music evidence increasing control from the ‘dark side.’  Occult images fill even children’s films, cartoons, and video games.”    

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 3

We are to Day 3, in the first week of Kay Arthur’s Lord, Is It Warfare? study guide.  You need fair warning to know that this entry today will force you to think through some matters that are facing our society today.  One of the spiritual battles that we face on a regular basis is when a there is a developing fearfulness of speaking about these things and how that you will be perceived among your friends.  It is very interesting the subtle peer pressure that is prevalent in the church these days both among ministers and members when we speak something that is solidly Word-based that is opposed to a humanistic bent.  Say what you will but this is spiritual warfare!  The same spirit pushing on Jehudi to take a penknife to Jeremiah’s words in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 36:23) wants to do the very same thing today. 

To combat this and other attacks, Paul gave us some instructions:

·        Be strong in the Lord—v. 10
·        Put on the whole armor of God—v. 11
·        Take the whole armor—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 14
·        Put on the belt of Truth—v. 14
·        Have the breastplate of holiness/righteousness in place—v. 14
·        Put the shoes of the Gospel on your feet—v. 15
·        Take the shield of faith—v. 16
·        Take the helmet of salvation—v. 17
·        Take the Sword of the Spirit, the Word—v. 17

The following format is the manner that I have recorded these notes in my journal.  It does not follow an active paragraph style. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 2

I am continuing from yesterday as we go through the devotional study guide (study guide is a serious understatement) by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  I am in much encouragement of you working with this book and a handwritten journal.  At the end of this, I am certain that you will feel a sense of accomplishment but even more than that you are going to have developed a sense of understanding of what Scripture has to say about the matter of spiritual warfare.  Furthermore for those who serve in churches as Sunday School teachers, Bible study group leaders, and even pastors, you are going to find a wealth of material that will come to you at the right time as you are teaching.

One quick note of explanation for those who are not familiar with some of the Greek language that the New Testament was written in.  On yesterday’s post you would have noticed that after the words for flesh, lust, and war from 1 Peter 2:11 in yesterday’s blog there was a “G” followed by a number.  This is the system that was developed in the original Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance used by Bible scholars, preachers, and teachers who did not have a background in the Greek language.  Instead of having to know the language, the student could work with the number system. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 1

One of the top ten books for me in the honorable mention category from last year was KayArthur’s book, Lord, Is It Warfare?  I did use it in some of my own personal devotions but as I worked through it, I discovered that as a pastor, this book was a launching pad of sorts to go beyond the exercises that had been given in the book.  Therefore, over the next several weeks, I have intentions of putting some of my scribblings from the book margins and from my own personal journals that I composed.  Obviously the study guide has some areas of personal reflection and evaluation that I will leave out for understandable reasons.  I would encourage you if you are a regular reader of this blog to take some time to consider what will be covered.  Also I would greatly encourage you to get the book, get a journal, and get a pen and write.  For me, it ended up being about an hour time allotment but it will become one of the most eye-opening hours that you will spend during that day.    

Spiritual warfare can be a slippery path that can lean toward fanaticism or formalism.  At the end of the day what we must take into consideration is what Scripture clearly and accurately addresses in this area.  If you have been in Pentecostal circles for any length of time, you have probably heard some very fanciful stories relating to this subject.  I am in that camp!  I have heard some of the most far-fetched stories that as the years have rolled on, I have dismissed them as pure imagination of the teller who had a motive of self-aggrandizement mixed with too much exposure to Hollywood.  On the other hand, because my father-in-law has been a district global missions director for over 30 years, my exposure to missionaries has probably been much higher than that of the average pastor.  Friends, neighbors and all ya’ll in between, when a missionary comes to town, the vast majority of them can tell you some very clear and accurate things concerning the dark side of the spiritual battle.  I would encourage you to spend time with these men and women and listen to what they have to say. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review -- Apostle of the Last Days -- C. Marvin Pate

Several weeks ago, I was sent a book from the Kregel Academic Division by C. Marvin Pate, Apostle of the Last Days—The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul.  The arrival of this book coincided with a study that I had been doing in Acts and it came at just about the time I was going through the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.  While there was some good material about the basic history of Paul, the whole subject matter of the book was concerned with the eschatological stances that Paul placed in his epistles.  One particular thing I appreciated about Pate’s subject matter was his response to some of the critics who have attempted to question the authenticity of the Pauline letters.  I have increasingly noticed in the last five years or so that there is an increasing tide among those who once believed in the Bible to begin to pick at its edges and question the authority of the Word of God.  Pate meets some of that response briefly in the introduction as he moves toward a conservative approach to the Bible.  You will benefit from what he has written and how he has responded (p. 13). 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Leonardo da Vinci was a man who marked the world far beyond his lifetime.  He made some valuable contributions to the hometown he grew up in.  But it was his drawings that would outlive him.  The principle behind electric doors that are present at department stores was one of his ideas.  The principle behind the lamps and bulbs that have the ability to operate with varying degrees of power was another of his ideas.  I am certain that most people are familiar with his drawings of what he called “flying machines.”  These drawings would be proven true later on as the field of physics and the study of aerodynamics developed.  While some would categorize da Vinci as a genius, from various biographies it is clear that da Vinci had a gifted mind but it was not what many would classify today as an exceptional one.  So what was it that separated da Vinci from the rest of his fellows both in his time capsule and those beyond it? 

It was a principle that is noted very early on in the journals that da Vinci seriously began to write in while he was in his early ‘20’s.  He lived by a principle called OSTINATO RIGORE which means a stubborn, relentless and persevering work ethic.  This is what da Vinci did.  Once he started working on a project or a certain pursuit, he would not let it rest until he had completed it.  This is what made him one of the masters of the world as we know it.  His voice was one of the prevailing voices that came out of the Renaissance.  It was through his commitment to this principle that he allowed science, art, military strategies, and machinery to be forever changed because he stayed with it. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers--Fundamentals of Expository Preaching

Here is another very good resource for our continuing education for minister’s series.  If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you are very much aware that a lot of time and attention has been given to preaching.  The reason for this is because I believe it is the highest priority that a pastor can devote his time to.  Obviously after you have been preaching for a while, you can get into a rut in the preparation process and there are a wealth of resources on the internet to help us to be better preachers.   

You also know that I always put a disclaimer out when I recommend books and other resources—keep the meat and toss the bones.  Such is true for this same series of videos.  There are close to fifteen hours of instruction here and you can treat it as if you are attending class.  I encourage you to do this!  Take notes and develop the principles so that you can become clear voice for God. 

Friday, February 07, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers--Preaching the Psalms by Steven J. Lawson

Because continuing education is a part of what a minister ought to do, I have been attempting to put up some resources that have been useful for me. In the fall of 2012, I attended the Expositors Conference that was hosted by Steven Lawson in Mobile, Alabama. At that conference a very nice “grab-bag” of books were given to those who attended. I think the cost was $75 but just what was in the bag alone was worth more than what the registration fee was. A number of Christian book publishers were represented that had focused their publishing on matters of preaching and other resources to help preachers. The commentaries and the books on preaching were incredibly priced. One of the books that I bought was “Preaching the Psalms: Unlocking the Unsearchable Riches of David’s Treasury.” I had little idea that this book was going to be as good as it was.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Power of Discipline

Nothing can push a man to heights like a commitment to discipline.  It shapes his hours, his thoughts, and the very direction of his soul.  There are absolutely no obstacles that can withstand the assault of a disciplined life.  History is filled with men and women who had lesser gifts and talents but through their commitment to discipline they climbed far beyond those who had great gifts.  Don’t lament what you don’t have outwardly but see what is budding inside of your soul that can have a harvest if it finds a blessed discipline.  I believe wealth, talents, personal gifts, and even good looks have ruined more than a few who thought they could get by on them without any effort at harnessing their whims, moods, and habits.  Discipline will help you to push beyond the certain coming calamities of life that will do their best to take us by the throat and choke out our faith and our hope.  O God, I don’t won’t talent but grant me by Your grace that hearty and full-orbed blessing of discipline!    

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers--The Mechanics of Preaching

I am presently in the midst of doing a series of blogs that is encouraging the continuing education aspect of the minister.  This next resource is one that I have immensely benefited from.  I am not sure how I found it but the content is actually a seminary level class that on the mechanics of preaching.  It has almost 15 hours of classroom instruction by Steven Lawson.  I can vouch for the content as I have worked through more than half of the lectures and used them as if I were in the classroom.  There are aspects of homiletics with an emphasis on expository preaching in these lectures.  Lawson also gives several examples of how to work through a passage and then shows the actual sermon notes he used to preach from.   

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers--Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

I am working on a series of blog posts that deal with the necessity of continuing education for ministers.  The first post was along the lines of the necessity of and reason for continuing education.  While I believe that prayer and ministry of the Word are the major priorities of the minister most of these resources will be tailored toward areas of helping us to get better with that.  I need to always add the necessary disclaimer and say that just because I am pointing to these resources, it does not mean that I am entirely endorsing the content.  However, I can say that in my own experience it was reading and studying things I did not agree with that either helped me to shore up my own beliefs or helped me to change according to what the Scriptures were clearly promoting as doctrine. 

I recently read an article written by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The title was “The Pastor as Theologian” and he noted the great decline in theological acumen when theology was turned into an academic discipline to be taught only in seminaries.  “Every pastor is called to be a theologian.  This may come as a surprise to some pastors who see theology as an academic discipline taken during seminary rather than as an ongoing and central part of the pastoral calling.  Nevertheless, the health of the church depends upon its pastors functioning as faithful theologians—teaching, preaching, defending and applying the great doctrines of the faith.”  Mohler made it clear in his article that the pastoral calling meant that we are to give our minds, hearts, and tongues to the great quest of knowing Scripture and then clearly teaching it to those who are under our care (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:2-4).  A pastor is to guard and protect the flock and this calls for a clear and well-defined preaching of the Scriptures.  The only way for a man to do this with freshness, clarity, and authority is for him to become immersed in the theology of the Scriptures. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Continuing Education for Ministers

I am for continuing education for ministers.  Continuing education can do wonders for a sense of personal growth for a pastor, associate pastor, missionary, youth pastor and any other leadership role that one may serve in at the local church level.  But for effective continuing education to take place, resources, relationships, and disciplined time management will be paramount among all the other priorities that we have to juggle.  A commitment to continuing education will help the pace of ministry to adjust itself. The ministry is a marathon and far too often the sprinters who start out so rapidly are also among the first to cave in to their spiritual fatigue and unreasonable expectations of what they may have thought their calling was all about. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013 - #1 - Standing Firm Through the Great Apostasy - Steve Gallagher

I come to this last best book slot, being #1, of the books I read in 2013 and have found again it to be a very provoking book.  I have gone back and scanned through and reviewed much of what I wrote in it back in January 2013.  I purchased the book in December 2012 primarily on author recognition.  I read a previous book by Steve Gallagher entitled Intoxicatedwith Babylon and found it to be a very good book.  I guessed that would have a pretty good idea of the content that Gallagher would take up with this book Standing Firm Through the Great Apostasy.  This is another book that falls into the category of our personal need for revival and a reawakening of the church to its true purpose.  As I mentioned in a previous post, books on revival and a true need for true repentance and godly conversion was what I spent the most time with last year.     

As a pastor, I often have to deal with very ambivalent emotions concerning the state of the church both locally and nationally.  There are times that I feel the great lift of faith to believe that there is an ardent devotion to the Lord and to His Word among those who follow the Lord.  There are other times when I find myself going into a tailspin at the shallow, uncommitted state that we slop around in.  Perhaps nothing like social media reveals the true nature and direction of where and what we are heading toward.  Jesus noted that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and I think with our modern technological wizardry that now we can discover that the abundance of the heart is revealed through what the keyboard types, what the tweets reveal, and what the Instagram pics expose.  All of this social media exposure can be terribly disheartening when you began to understand the relentless onslaught of the world, the flesh, and the devil on the church.  Visit the profile pages of those who populate Facebook and you see many people who are so immersed in the entertainment venues of Hollywood, the music of Nashville, the insatiable appetite for the fads of Fifth Avenue, and all sorts of troubling distractions that you wonder if there is any hunger for God at all.  Some of what Gallagher addresses in the book relates to this.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013 - #2 - The Church Awakening - Charles Swindoll

We are at the number two spot in my book reviews of the best books that I read in 2013.  This book is one that published in 2010 and I got around to working with it in 2013.  Chuck Swindoll has been around for a long time and the majority of his books are primarily devotional in nature and it is rare that he would take on a subject like this concerning the need for revival in the church. 

I noticed something about my reading patterns in 2013 and that they were mostly concerned with personal revival and corporate revival among the church.  Anyone who is involved in ministry has to understand the reality that when a church is in a state of revival and devotion that things in churches go much smoother.  Churches that aren’t experiencing a climate of revival often turn inward and over the course of time will ultimately die.  We cannot afford for the local church to collapse even though it is under a very heavy attack both socially and spiritually in our day.  On the other hand, it is clear that when a church has well-defined boundaries and encourages its members to have a high input that the Lord can do great things with it. 

Author:  Charles Swindoll
Publisher:  Faith Words, 2010

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013--#3 - A Call To Spiritual Reformation - D. A. Carson

I am continuing to count down the best books that I read in 2013 and now approach the third place.  This book could have very easily been tied for the 2nd place but we will put it in this slot.  I noticed something about my reading trends in 2013 and that mostly I read things about revival and spiritual renewal.  That was not my plan to get necessarily do so, it just sort of unfolded in that way.  This book by D. A. Carson is an older book having been published in 1992.  However except for a few dated references that Carson makes to the ’80’s and ‘90’s its message is still just as relevant now as it was then.   

Author:  D. A. Carson
Publisher:  Baker Book House, 1992

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013--#4 - Follow Me - David Platt

The book coming in at #4 was another one of the $5 books that I purchased at Family Christian back in April.  I love books and I especially love good deals on books.  Since I had previously read David Platt’s book Radical and was very challenged by it, I thought this book would probably do the same thing.  It often does us well to remember the old statement, “You are who you will be now in five years except for the books you read and the people you meet.”  The older that you get and the longer the tenure in ministry there can be a tendency to just settle in and put things on cruise control and just enjoy life.  My brothers, we ought to push against this kind of attitude!  We are here for a purpose and that is to extend the kingdom of God. David Platt’s books can make those who are in cruise control become uncomfortable and even defensive.  That is why we need books like this! 

Platt has a unique way of grabbing you by the throat in the very outset of his books.  He did this in Radical with his account of preaching overseas and they kept asking him to preach to them even when he had gone through his forty-minute little set of notes.  Finally he just opens the Bible and starts working through it.  The outcome was a four hour sermon to these people who were meeting secretly.  He uses the same method in Follow Me.  He opens the book with a story about a Muslim who converted to Christianity and the jeopardy it put her life in because of her conversion.             

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013--#5 - The Conviction to Lead - Albert Mohler

The next book that comes in at the #5 is a book on leadership but it comes at it from a bit of a different angle.  Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, believes that all leaders must lead from a formed set of convictions that are unchanging.  He writes that leadership is more than just a man filling a role to accomplish a purpose or fulfill a certain task.  Also if you are a history buff, Mohler has multiple stories woven throughout the book that helps to illustrate what he is writing about.  One notable mention is of Ronald Reagan and how that Mohler actually worked in his 1976 political campaign. 

This book is written in such a way that you might read through it on an initial run but there are multiple things to be harvested the second time through.  I found the book to be one that was begging for a highlighter and penned notes to be placed in the margins.  The chapter where he writes about intelligence is very good because he cites a Harvard Business Review study that took into consideration those with a very high IQ.  What the study found was that people can have a very high IQ but if there is not an emotional aspect where they are willing to care, make adjustments, and occasionally totally remove a program they thought would work, these people will not survive as a leader.          

Friday, January 03, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013--# 6 - A Call to Resurgence - Mark Driscoll

The next book that comes in at the #6 ranking was a book that I again judged it by its cover and then made the purchase.  The title in itself gave me pause for consideration but the subtitle will jolt you.  Coming in the form of a question, the subtitle is:  Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?  No matter whether you are in a thriving church, one that is merely maintaining, or one that is in decline, this ought to cause all of us to think.  As I think of it now, many of the books that I read this year had to do with the need for revival and the overall decline of Christianity in America.  While we can listen to all the cheerleading sessions that we want to, the overall picture in America concerning Christianity at large is very grim. 

The author of this book is a commonly referred to in the Reformed circles as a brash badboy who needs to grow up.  However some of that is related to the area that he hails from.  Seattle is one of the most liberal areas of our nation that has become home for legislation that legalized the use of marijuana and has “lawfully” sanctioned homosexual “marriage.”  So given that environment, Mark Driscoll, probably has a reason to be as brash and impetuous with his preaching that is sometimes peppered with slang words that would make many of us in the Bible-belt cringe.    

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013--# 7--gods At War--Kyle Idleman

Coming in at # 7 is another one of the $5 books that I picked up at Family Christian during our District Board meetings in April 2013.  This is another book written by Kyle Idleman called gods At War.  This book is very similar to a book written by Bob Hostetler entitled American Idols both of which focus in on cultural and societal issues that are facing the American church. 

Both of the KI books are quick reads.  What I mean by that is he writes in such a way that you can move through them fairly rapidly without having to do a lot of stopping, writing, and pondering.  As far as reading goes, I have come to believe that we need to have various streams of depth with our reading.  We should read books such as these that don’t take a lot of thought but they still pack a punch.  Obviously these kinds of books provide various sermon illustrations that will sting when you use them.  On the other hand, I believe that we ought to give our time and attention to reading books that require pausing and thinking and even perhaps writing in a journal/notebook.  Books that would fall into this category are going to be systematic theologies, doctrinal works, and Christian biography.      

Author:  Kyle Idleman
Title:  gods At War
Publisher:  Zondervan, 2013

A Prayer Pouring Out of Psalm 119

--> I am presently preaching through the stanzas of Psalm 119 and it has been a spiritually enriching exercise.   Toda...