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!