Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Marriage Matters" Book Review

"Marriage Matters" is written by Winston T. Smith, is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF).  The subtitle:  "extraordinary change through ordinary moments" seeks to summarize that all of the small ordinary events in our marriage that can usually stall the marriage or bring its deterioration can actually fuel our marriages in to an extraordinary relationship.  The opening section creates a biblical foundation for all marriages.  This section is worth the price of the book itself.  The second section deals with specific concerns, primarily, conflict and forgiveness.  The third section is reminder to stay focused on the important aspect of marriage, how grace satisfies us, how our faith in Christ sustains us, and how our marriage is a picture of God the Son dealings with His bride.

All marriage books deal with the same issue.  There really isn't anything new under the sun when it comes to marriage and the Bible truly is a great source for strengthening our marriages.  This book is a good addition to the marriage book arsenal.  I appreciated Mr. Smith's theological convictions that drove the lessons of his book.  He truly understands the covenant aspect of theology and for that sake marriage too.  The opening section discusses marriage from the viewpoint of how God loves His people and how idols destroy that relationship.  Mr. Smith uses the analogy of idol worship through out the book to highlight the destructive tendencies with in each man and woman and how we use them to fuel our own appetites and simultaneously destroy our marriages.

The chapter on marriage roles interested me and I found that Mr. Smiths treatment of the subject biblically consistent.  The subject is dealt with from a foundation of love.  He presents the topic of authority and submission entirely from a "love" perspective.  I found it very encouraging and biblically sound.

This book would be great for a marriage that is several years along.  Husbands and wives will identify with the stories and relate well to the content.  Pastors and teachers will find it helpful for counseling and advice.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the New Growth Press 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."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"An Earnest Ministry" Book Review

I would compare John Angell James' "An Earnest Ministry" with Richard Baxter's "Reformed Pastor."  It is a strong call to ministers to be earnest in their ministry.  To be earnest as Mr. James uses it is to be decidedly fixed upon your purpose, to have a resolute will, and to persevere in actions.  Like "The Reformed Pastor" the reader will receive a charge of adrenaline in its words that should motivate the pastor to greater depth of ministry.  Through two chapters he discusses the nature of earnestness giving us various reasons why this topic is essential.  The sole pursuit of the minister is to pursue the lost mans soul and plead for its salvation.  This one pursuit then allows for lesser pursuits to be more fully accomplished.  In modern times, we must have a goal firmly established in our minds and to let nothing distract us from it. 

I found "An Earnest Ministry" to be a passionate plea of a by-gone era.  That is not a criticism, opening its pages allowed me to look into the past at the affections of a great minister and how ministry was viewed through his eyes.  Pastors need good role models and I found Mr. James to be a great one.  Like our modern day blogs and facebook pages where we "like" anothers post or article, Mr. James included whole sections of sermons and writings from his contemporaries that illustrated his point.  While this was interesting and helped to fulfill his point, at times it was laborious to read those sermons.  Why?  Because they written over 150 years ago.  The language is powerful and full, unlike todays modern day writing.  I will have to admit there were times when I got a little bored.  But, that may just be me, because I got bored with Baxter's work at times also. 

My favorite quote of the book:  This is earnestness in preaching: when it is evident to the hearer that the preacher feels the truths he discusses; when it is manifest to all that he believes what he says, in affirming that his hearers are sinking into perdition and that he is to persuade them to forsake their evil courses:  when his sermons are full of close, pointed, personal addresses; when, in short, through whole discourse, he is seen moving onward from the understanding to a closer and closer approximation to the heart in the conclusion, and the hearer feels at length his hand seizing him with a mysterious and resistless power, and bearing him away almost whether he will or no, to Christ, salvation and heaven. 

Every Pastor should read this book as it is another fine tool for his ministerial arsenal.  This book was given to me free of charge from Banner of Truth Publishers in return for my honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Will

All of us seek to know what God would have of us.  Yet, too often we mistake God's will with believing we can know the future.  We want to know who to marry, what job to take, what school to attend

God is not in the prediction business with man anymore.  He gave his prophets of old that calling and it usually meant death, destruction, and mayhem!

God's Word is adequate for our knowing His will.  We just don't bother to take the time to read it.  Admit it, how many new TV shows did you watch this week?  Compare that to your Bible reading.  Sucks doesn't it!

The little book of James towards the end of your New Testament is the Proverbs of the New Testament.  In chapters three and four he gives us tremendous help in knowing God's will.

Specifically, at chapter three and verse thirteen James asks his readers who among you is wise?  Isn't that what we truly want when we say we want to know God's will?  We want God's mind, God's knowledge of what we should do.  And you know we are secretly blaming God for our failures because we think, "Well God, you weren't clear on my marching orders." 

God doesn't care so much about you doing the right things as He does with you obeying Him in that instant!

James answers his own question by saying, He (you) should show his (your) works by good conduct with wisdom's gentleness.  He goes on to say that we are NOT to have any envy or selfish ambition in our heart.  Does the decision you need to make stem from envy or selfish ambition.  That is an honest question we must ask ourselves.  Next, James tells us, but the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy

Does your desire come from innocent motives?  Is there a secret agenda that fulfills some selfish lust?

Will the choice you make bring peace?  Peace to your soul? your families souls?  your spouse's soul?  We are to pursue peace with all men, even our enemies.  Will your choice bring a win for everyone involved?

Like a mother gently holds and supports her newborn infant will your choice gently hold and support you?  Will the people involved support you? 

Could you see Jesus making this decision?  This wisdom from above will not be out of Jesus' nature.  If you can see Him doing this then you should or can.  Remember, though, to answer this question you must have a solid understanding of Scripture and how God acts.  We don't like to think of God as dangerous, but He does do some pretty amazing things throughout Old Testament history!

Full of mercy
What is mercy?  It is NOT recieving punishment that we deserve.  We should see our decision/God's will as merciful.  You should be amazed that God would give you another option that keeps you from making a bad one.  If you have two options on the table you should be amazed that one of them is full of mercy. 

Good fruit
What will be the result of your choice one year down the road, five years down the road, twenty years down the road?

God's will isn't really that hard to figure out.  It simply takes knowing His Word, which is His mind. 

Anniversary of OK Corral

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the shoot out at the OK Corral.

That infamous gun fight to end all gun fights, which spawned a million movies and tall-tales of gun slingers and cowboys.  The OK Corral gun fight created hundreds of heroes based on Wyatt Earp and the Doc Holiday.  What nostalgia, what wonder, what excitement!  Four heroes subduing a gang of thugs and not one taking a serious hit.

Makes me wanna watch "Wyatt Earp" with Kevin Costner!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Unveiling the Kings of Israel

This easy to read book covers the major stories of the Old Testament reporting on the narrative as it is told in the Bible.  Interspersed in each chapter are archeological finds of recent history and also conclusive evidence demonstrating that the facts of the Bible are true.  Some of the major events and people discussed are Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, King David, Israel and Judahs history with Assyria the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery. There are tables in the appendix's detailing the patriarchs, chronological table and a table of weights and measurements.

When I saw the word archeology associated with this book I expected a little more detailed work on the archeology of the biblical narratives.  At first I was very disappointed in the book because of several reasons.  For one, each chapter goes into great detail retelling the biblical stories, which I found very redundant.  They were almost word for word retelling's.  I immediately thought, "I know this story why I am reading it as if I were reading it directly out of the Bible?"  Then the archeological facts were not much to write home about.  The author, David Downs, relates how while he was researching the exodus he decided to get in his car and drive along the Red Sea to see where the crossing could have taken place.  I became worried and thought this is the extent of his archeological research?  As I read more Mr. Downs used primary texts and recorded data of other archeologists to come to his conclusions.  Needless to say, I felt like this book was a pre-teens Bible story book with some "some-what" interesting facts thrown in.

Then it hit me.  Maybe this book was written for the age category of eleven to eighteen.  If that was its intended market I can understand why it was written the way it was.  If this was a serious investigation of biblical facts then it fell woefully short.  This book was long on re-telling the Old Testament narrative, short of archeology and questionable on its findings.  Even the pictures, which this book is full of, are like looking at someone's summer trip to the Holy Land.  I just could not take this book seriously.

My conclusion has been that it will rest on my son's book shelf and be used as a reference book for them as they become teenagers.  Any adult wanting an easy to read book, with lots of pictures, and a modern telling of the biblical story for their teen this would be a good book.

I received this book free from New Leaf Publishers through the 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.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Book of Man by William Bennett - A Review

"The Book of Man" is written similarly to Bennett's "The Book of Values" and "The Moral Compass." It is chocked full of small stories, poems, excerpts from other great books, and articles all surrounding the topic of manhood. The book is broken into six major topics:
  1. Man in War
  2. Man at Work
  3. Man in Play, Sports, and Leisure
  4. Man in the Polis (city)
  5. Man with Women and Children
  6. Man in Prayer and Reflection
One new aspect of this work not seen in Bennett's other works are the personal profile's scattered throughout the book. In each profile we are introduced to modern day men who fulfill the aspects of that particular topic. For example we read of Alvin York (Sargeant York) from WWI fame.

I love this book.  It has become a staple of mine and my boys reading times.  I am excited to introduce them to men of all ages and walks of life who display manly characteristics and devoted lives to God, their families, and their country.  This is a wonderful book! 

It has caused me to want to read more about President Theodore Roosevelt.  There are several excerpts from his life in this book and those alone has caused me to devour another book about him and I have begun an in-depth treatment of his life and legacy.  I think my response is what Dr. Bennett would want.  He understands that men need heroes and that we crave adventure and daring challenges.  "The Book of Man" has done that for me.  It has created in me a hunger for understanding the great men of all times. 

Great book!  Get it today!  Get it for your sons! 

Book Review: Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century

"Planting, Watering, Growing" is a consortium of writers from a Presbyterian/Reformed background discussing pertinent topics related to planting a church. Part one discusses the "why" of planting a confessionally reformed church. Part two goes into methods. Part three digs into the work of planting dealing with the heart of a church planter, strengthening the worship service, and making membership important. Part four gets into the topic of making the church relevant to culture without losing its roots. It begins in the theological and biblical context, moves towards methodology, and finishes with the details and specifics.
I am a Southern Baptist by choice, we own the market on church planting. To a Southern Baptist, there is nothing more important than this! I am not a church planter, but I am Pastor of a small church re-start. So although I have not read alot of church planting material, you don't have to go to far in Southern Baptist life to be thoroughly exposed to it. It is in everything we SB's publish.
As I read Hyde and Lems (editors) book I did not read anything new. I read a complete discourse on how to start a church as an Orthodox Presbyterian minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) or the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), or as a member of the North American Presbyterian and Refomed Council (NAPARC). This should not discount your reading this fine book. They cover every known topic that a church planter would need to know, but it must be remembered that it does so from a Presbyterian/Reformed viewpoint.
This is not a knock against my Reformed and Presbyterian brothers. I learned alot from this book. I have come to have an even greater depth of appreciation of corporate worship. SB's could learn alot from Micheal Horton, one of the contributors and a fine theologian! His chapter, "No Church, No Problem," was worth it alone! The chapter on public worship made me embarrassed as a SB. SB's have put such weight on pragmatism, that our denomination would do well to read this chapter and its implications for us today. Two chapters towards the end of the book on culture and contextualization again sounded the alarm in my ear to the danger of contextualization becoming the dominant force in church life.
Although this book presented no new details for me to institute in my own church, it did a very reasonable job of pointing me back to the Book and the roots of the Christian faith. For this I give a hearty thanks to Daniel R. Hyde and Shane Lems for producing it.
I received this book free from the publisher through a book review/bloggers agreement. 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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: Future Men by Douglas Wilson

I have sons, how do I prepare them? 

Future Men is an excellent read for knowing the basic principles that a father should under-gird his son with.  It touches numerous topics such as girls, fighting, work, money, and laziness.  The author, Douglas Wilson, begins by defining the obstacles that prevent boys from becoming Godly men, then enlists the fathers to take up the responsibility God has given them in the raising of a son, and finishes with several chapters on key topics, as mentioned above.

I found this book to be principly sober.  This book was short and concise, consisting mostly of biblical principles that sons must know and fathers must teach.  Biblically, this book, was aligned correctly with the Word of God.  I found all of Mr. Wilson's points to be exegetically correct and applied aply to any and all issues of our sons.  Each chapter was short and carefully outlined in such a way that referencing it in the future for quick review on a certain issue is helpful.  The book began and ended by establishing the truth that men are to be obedient to God.  In fact, every chapter alluded to this very basic and absolutely essential truth - men are called to be obedient to God. 

If you are looking for a book with very practical applications to it, this is not the book.  The principles outlined on each topic allow for personal digestion and personal application.  For instance, Mr. Wilson does not advocate a certain type of education for our sons over another, i.e. homeschooling is better than public.  He lays out the truth of what our sons need and then rightly applies the implications - fathers are to make sure their sons know the proper truth as future men. 

My favorite moment in the book was in the chapter on Christian Liberty.  He carefully laid out the truth that Christian liberty is for the service of another, not our own personal self-will.  We do have the liberty with certain practices, as mature adults distinguishing between good and evil.  We are to train our sons to be able to distinguish the same and not give into their appetites for their own glutoness passions.  As he closes out the chapter he tells the reader that wine makes a heart glad and that a father is to train his son to enjoy a glass of wine responsibly.  He is not hypocritical in his position, just balanced and led by the truths of Scripture.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any father who needs a basic primer on the principles that are necessary for the training of our future men. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shackleton's Way

Shackleton's Way is a short book detailing the extraordinary events of Ernest Shackleton who sought to explore the Antartic at the turn of the 19th century.  Using the events of the tragic voyage the authors incorporate leadership principles in to their story.

Shackleton's ship the Endurance never made its final destination.  It was trapped in the ice floes of the Antartic forcing the 28 men on board to travel across the frozen floating ice floes, onto the open ocean, and finally to a small whaling station.  It is a powerful story of one man who in the most pressing circumstances brought all of his crew home alive.

The authors, Morrell and Capparell, do a fine job of listing out the principles of leadership that Shackleton displayed and placing them in a modern day context.  Each chapter ends with these principles easily listed for future reference and followed by a real life business story that encapsulates these same principles.

I love this story of the Endurance and I loved how the authors extracted timeless principles of leadership from this historic achievement.  Ernest, himself, is captured on the pages as the capable leader he is.  I have read other accounts that Ernest Shackleton was a hard man, bent on explosive moments.  This book did not capture that side of him and probably for the better.  Although, this book is a historic account it seeks to mainly extract the principles of successful leadership.

I would encourage anyone who loves history and good books on leadership to pick this one up!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden as reviewed by Paul Simpson. Mr. Marsden does give a concise account of Jonathan Edwards in eight simple chapters. He does not dwell on a lot of details but gives a very epic picture of this profound man although he lived a relatively short life. Each section of Edwards life is crisscrossed with the lives of many contemporaries of that day.
As we journey along Mr. Edwards life we are met along the path by several men of renown - Benjamin Franklin, Increase Mather, George Whitefield, David Brainerd and many others. We aren’t just told that Johnathan met these famous men, but we are given a glimpse of how his life intersected with theirs. Quite often we are taken down a quick side trail describing this persons pedigree and their most notable contributions to Christianity and humanity.
Of most prominence is Benjamin Franklin. The author interweaves Franklin and Edwards life throughout the book. This does two things: first, we are given a time line that most students of American history are familiar with but will help those less familiar with history and secondly, the author describes the two men as polar opposities. Both men could not have been more opposite when it came to biblical Christianity - Edwards who was clearly born again and a minister of Jesus Christ and Franklin, a good and moral man, a deist by all accounts, but not born again. The juxtaposed views of these men, one with a heavenly viewpoint and the other with a human viewpoint paints a vivid picture of America at that time. He notes that although Ben Franklin was his contemporary and one of the architects of America’s national awakening Edwards was the prime mover in New Englands spiritual awakening.

I actually did not read this book but listened to it on audio CD. The narrator Grover Gardner has a wonderful English accent which only enhances the listening.I received it as a gift from The Shepherds Fellowship, a Pastor’s conference held each year in Sun Valley, CA and hosted by Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Bible Church.

If one wants to know more about the life of Jonathan Edwards I believe A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden would make an excellent start.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

180 Movie

You need to watch this powerful movie!  It is created by "The Way of the Master" team, ie Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron. 

They do a powerful job of changing the minds of people on the issue of abortion.

The images aren't too painful.  But, dare we look away from this holocaust we've allowed in America?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reading Proverbs

When it comes to reading the book of Proverbs there are some clues that will help you.
Clue #1: Common sense is required. We all know the modern adage, “Look before you leap.” What if you leap once with out looking and do not get hurt? Does that mean this modern day proverb is not true? This saying is useful for indicating what is generally true. Each proverb is an individually packed observable truth.
Clue #2: They are always ultimately true. Look at Prv 16:7, "When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." But what about Jesus? His enemies were hardly at peace with Him. We know that ultimately His enemies will be brought down.
Clue #3: They are normally true now. The purpose of a proverb is not to exhaust a topic but to teach a lesson in a way that is memorable. “Look before you leap” puts a truth in your mind that is normally true. Again, using Prv 16:7, we learn that if we seek to please the Lord, He normally will make us be at peace with even people we don’t get along with. Yet, He still uses our enemies to discipline us and refine us.
Clue #4: They employ poetic imagery. Look at Prv 16:17, "The highway of the upright avoids evil; the one who guards his way protects his life." Of course this is not refering to a literal highway, it refers to how the righteous live their lives.
Clue #5: They are partial in themselves. Read Prv 17:8, "A bribe seems like a magic stone to its owner; wherever he turns, he succeeds." This sounds like a bribe is a good thing. But, Prv 17:23 condemns bribery. Verse 8 is a sardonic observation about real life. We cannot clip individual proverbs like coupons to be applied as we wish. Each proverb typically attempts to capture one basic idea.
Clue #6: They are sometimes obscure. Some proverbs will be obscure because of their time and cultural differences. For instance when you read Prv 25:28, "A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down." We don’t have walls anymore around our towns, so how do we apply this to our modern day? By using common sense we can deduce that a city with downed walls can be broken into, stormed, and taken over. Similarily a person with anger issues will lose friends, be ruined, and overwhelmed with despair.
Clue #7: As a whole, the proverbs are religious. It is a book about our lives before God. There are two people in Proverbs: the wise and fool. One will fear the Lord and trust Him and live. The other will disdain discipline and wisdom, trusting only in themselves, and their end will be disasterous. We know that "Wisdom" was with God in the beginning to set the foundations of our world and our existence and we can see from the 1 Corinthians chapter one that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God.
I hope this helps a little. Thanks to Mark Dever's book The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made which helped me to put this outline together.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Story of Wolverton Part 2

As time went by the Major did what most Mayors do, he kept the roads free from holes, kept the village square nice and neat, made sure the village events were wonderful and fun for all. But, he also seemed to be a little nosey. He occasionally could be seen reprimanding some of the younger folks in town about their actions and ways. But, he also frequented the residents homes and genuinely expressed love towards the people of Wolverton. And soon the attacks began on the Mayor and his family. Small things at first, his horse being scared out of the barn, chickens killed, but then it got a little more serious when the Mayor's wife was attached in broad daylight behind the city hall. All of the attacks were clearly committed by werewolves.
One thing about werewolves you must know is that they eventually will reveal themselves. For they are sloppy beasts and although usually lurking in the shadows they do like to be seen by men. The wolves of Wolverton did not attack and kill for the draw of blood, but of something else. They liked the power they could sway over the other residents of Wolverton. If two neighbors had a disagreement, the one who had his home attacked would always back down from the disagreement the next day. Like I said, everyone knew there were werewolves. They were neighbors, co-worders, and for some even family members.
Well, the Mayor went on the offensive and began confronting these man-wolves. Most would deny it, but many began to be found guilty. Things were changing in Wolverton and this did not sit well with the Old Man of the village.
The day came when the Mayor went to the Old Man's home and confronted him on some glaring events that pointed to the Old Man being a werewolf. Well, the Old Man blew into a rage and threw the Mayor out of his home. The Mayor, knowing he had stirred up a hornets nest, went home to prepare for the attacks that were sure to come.
That night the Old Man came lurking to the Mayor's home in his werewolf form. He planned to put that Mayor in his place and show him who really ran Wolverton. Unbeknowst to the Old Werewolf the Mayor had two other men in his home whom he had taught the vital weapon so needed to stop the werewolves. When the Old Werewolf attacked the men used the weapon wounding him.
The next morning as the villagers began to emerge from their homes and begin their daily business they found quite a sight. There in the town square was the Mayor, his two comrades, and the Old Man morphing back and forth between his shape as a man and as a wolf. The Old Werewolf would growl and snap his fangs at the Mayor, but he had been wounded. The Mayor and his men sat gently nearby talking to the Werewolf and the people of Wolverton saw the Old Man for who he really was. It did not take long for them to gather their courage and drive the Old Man out of Wolverton, even out of their county!
The people were thrilled that the Mayor had been successful in vanquishing the worst werewolf Wolverton had ever known. As the days passed the other wolves began to move on quietly and stop their harassments. Some even learned to squelch there wolf instincts all together. You see the Mayor had a weapon so powerful, that it drew the villagers together in unity and purpose. They saw that this weapon displayed in their Mayor’s life was so much more powerful than any fear or intimidation that the wolves had ever used. This weapon the Mayor used? It is the power of love. Self-sacrificing, honoring one another, putting others first L-O-V-E! The Mayor taught the villagers that love is to serve one another and honor one another. Before, if someone didn't like you or your idea they would bully you into submission with their wolf tactics. But, with everyone serving and honoring each other, there was no reason to bully. The village did begin to thrive like never before. People came from all over because homes were safe, the economy was strong, and they knew they were safe from wolves.
Are there wolves in your village? If not now, there will be someday, I promise. And will you be ready to fight for your village and confront those who would seek to devour your loved ones with their fear and threats? The only weapon you have is love. You must love your village more than yourself and love them so much you would be willing to fight off the wolves.

The Story of Wolverton

Once upon a time there was a simple little village called Wolverton. It was a seemingly normal village frequented by many travelers on its highly busy road. The village was comprised of long standing citizens but most villagers only stayed for a short while in Wolverton before moving on. For you see Wolverton had its problems, but not ordinary problems. Wolverton was full of werewolves.
These wolves weren’t extremely dangerous, there had only been two humans killed in the last decade! Most werewolf events involved scaring children at night, the killing of a family pet or disturbing the livestock. Luckily for the villagers the two people who had been killed were the Wolverton’s Mayors. Needless to say this was not a job anyone in the village wanted. When the last Mayor vacated this position the village had to seek a new Mayor from far away.
A new Mayor they did find. He was a fine family man from a distant village that had become rather healthy under his leadership. He even knew about wolves and had rid his last village of a few. He told the citizens of Wolverton that he knew of a weapon long forgotten by most which could stop the wolves attacks. The newer villagers had never heard of such a weapon and older villagers had simply ignored the weapon until it was lost from their knowledge.
The villagers knew who were and who were not werewolves for the most part. There were some who were obvious and others not so much. The most obvious werewolf was the Old Man. He had lived in Wolverton since, well...since anyone could remember. Most people speculated that he had been the murderer of the two dead Mayors years ago. He was very friendly to all, but could always command respect out of any crowd. For the most part people avoided him out of fear, yet held him in high regard.
As time went by the Major did what most Mayors do, he kept the roads free from holes, kept the village square nice and neat, made sure the village events were wonderful and fun for all. But, he also seemed to be a little nosey. He occasionally could be seen reprimanding some of the younger folks in town about their actions and ways. But, he also frequented the residents homes and genuinely expressed love towards the people of Wolverton. And soon the attacks began on the Mayor and his family.
End of Part One

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Denominations are of the Devil!

Do you agree with my title of this blog? I've known many people who do. I have heard preachers say this very thing.

But, what is so bad about denominations? The one arguement that the above defenders would say is that the modern church is divided and not acting as one. Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. So either I must be sinning, or every church is sinning by having their church over there, while I have this perfectly good one right here!

This arguement sounds good on the surface, I used to be a proponent of it. There are several "one another's" throughout the New Testament, so why can't we get along?

Just as there are millions of people and we all have similiar, yet different personality traits, so too does a church. People's preferences are as wide as the Grand Canyon. I really don't think Jesus is upset that we have Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Catholics, or Pentecostal denominations.

The book of Acts tells us of only four events the early church partook of: teaching, fellowship, meals, and prayer. There were elders appointed in each church per Paul's instructions to Titus and similarly to Timothy. Beyond that the look and feel of a church is pretty much up for grabs. Now, understand that alot of churches are doing it right and alot are doing it wrong, just look at the first seven churches listed in Revelations. This blog isn't about right and wrong practices, at least, not today. This blog is about denominations not being sinful.

Some prefer small and quaint, some like big and loud, some like traditional, some like rock shows, some like preaching, some like singing.

I hope you don't get bent out of shape about denominations.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do We Really Love?

Do Christians really love like they are supposed to?

When Jesus says we are to love our enemies and then says if they slap us on the cheek we are to turn to them the other cheek, is He just being facitious? Or, does He really mean it?

Luke records Jesus' words in Chapter six, verses 32-36, saying that the unconverted person will only love those who love them back. Jesus says that this is no credit to His people if that is all we reciprocate. If we only love those who will love us back and do good to those who do good to us and only lend to those with whom we expect to recieve back then we have fallen short.

Jesus really raises the bar on His people!

To turn the other cheek is to go beyond people's expectations of love. To give them our shirt after they have taken our coat is to go beyond comprehension of true love.

Jesus reminds us that His Father is gracious to the ungrateful and evil and that He is a merciful father. If we are to be sons and daughters of the Most High God then we too must be gracious and merciful. This is no small feat!

But, why, why must we love like this?

Because Godly love makes the Gospel believable!

They may be our enemies, but one day they will stand before a holy God and then they will see who their real enemy is. God will destroy all His enemies on the last day. So, today is the day of their salvation. They cannot wait until judgment day - it will be to late!

We must show them Godly love, so that we will have a platform for presenting the Gospel to them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love Your Enemies

Jesus told us to love our enemies in His famous Sermon of the Mount (matt 5-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6). In fact He says:

  • love your enemies

  • do good to those who hate you

  • bless those who curse you

  • pray for those who abuse you

Jesus doesn't leave a lot of gray area does He? I wonder if He really understands what His people go through on this earth? How we have to deal with enemies who sometimes exist in our very own families.

There are so many examples in our society of this rampant denial of this command. Divorce, abuse, law suits, videos on Youtube of school bus fights. We tell our kids to not start a fight, but you "shore b'ter finish it!"

Jesus went as a gentle quiet lamb to the altar where His neck was slit and His blood drained out. His blood was applied to all the utensils in the meeting place of God. He never spoke a vicious word to His murderers.

If we love Him we must keep His commands. Oh, my dear brother and sister, you must submit to Him and love those who hate you. If you love Him, ask Him to help you in this area of your life.

"You are never more like God then when you forgive." John MacArthur.

Monday, January 31, 2011

God's Training Wheels

Someone has said that tithing is like training wheels. As we learn to ride a bike we have to start somewhere, hence the need for training wheels. This can parallel to the giving of our wealth. The tithe is a biblical mandate that has not ceased being operational in our day. Here are four principles about tithing.

1. Tithing causes us to fear God - Deut 14:23. As we learn to give a portion of our income to God we will either trust Him more knowing that He owns it all anyway or we will not trust Him thinking we can't make it by giving 10% to Him.

2. The tithe is most definitely His, it is holy - Lev. 27:30. Yes, God owns it all and we are stewards, but the tithe MUST be His. This leads easily to the third principle.

3. Not tithing is robbing God - Malachi 3:8-10. We see clearly that to not tithe is to rob Him.

4. Our tithe must be the best, not left-overs - Prov 3:9. God denounced the Israelites for bringing to Him decrepid animals for sacrifices. He wants the best. This teaches us that He knows what we need and will provide it. It teaches us to trust Him and depend upon Him always.

But, isn't tithing a law? Christians are under grace, therefore, we don't have to tithe, we just have to give joyfully whatever we feel like. WRONG!

We aren't to murder, but Jesus raised the bar and told us not to even hate someone. We aren't to commit adultery, but Jesus raised the bar and told us not to even lust after another. If He came to fulfill the Law, Matt. 5:17, then the Law still stands. We are required to tithe, it is our duty.

Yet, as believers, who understand how wretchedly sinful we are and from what we have been saved, to tithe should be a small incidental detail to us. We shouldn't mind obeying His Word. The real obedience takes place when we begin to give beyond the tithe. Just like when we go beyond not murdering to not hating, beyond adultery, to not lusting.

The tithe was God's plan for using earthly resources to empower His Kingdom agenda. The tithe caused the people of Israel to focus all their energy into Him. That hasn't changed today. The church is the HOPE of the world. Our giving supplies the agent which God will use to save men, women, and children from eternal damnation.

Do you tithe? If you don't, I hope you will begin to wrestle with this and ask the Lord to guide you into this biblical truth. We are sanctified by His Word!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Content OR Zealous?

David Bradley spoke at our morning services yesterday at Crosspoint. He is with the Facilitating Ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. He ministered to us from Revelation 3 in the letter to the Laodicean Church.

This is the hot or cold and gonna vomit you out of My (God's) mouth passage. Jokingly, he told our congregation that I did not suggest this passage!

God's Word through this brother was convictioning to me. Am I content in my relationship with Jesus, or am a stoking the fires of renewal? To make something hot you must add energy, to make something cold you must extract energy, to make something lukewarm you simply do nothing. WOW!

I want to be hot towards my Lord! I must pour into our relationship just as I do with my wife or kids or friends.

I hope you will be zealous, hot for the Lord, too!