Doing Virtuous Business (book review)

The quote on the front cover of Doing Virtuous Business by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch says it well: “Every CEO should read this book.” I agree!

It seems that our mainstream media has become more and more anti-capitalism and anti-private business. It seems a small — but very vocal — group would prefer that our government oversee every business enterprise. According to Theodore Malloch, nothing could be farther from the biblical way of thinking about business.

By using both real-time examples of virtuous businesses and the wisdom of Scripture, Mr. Malloch makes the strong case that businesses operating on biblical virtues become spiritual enterprises that can benefit all of society. As a former business owner myself, I couldn’t agree more.

A few quotes from the book to whet your appetite —

By creating wealth, we use God’s gifts responsibly, and provided that we work toward that goal in a spirit of humility and gratitude, we benefit all those with whom we deal long the way.

When people join together in an enterprise, they create a new person, the firm itself, which is something greater than the sum of its parts. It, too, has a soul, and if its members honor God, then it, too, honors God.

Profitability comes last among the principles: it is not the primary goal of the company, but the consequence of doing business in the right way, so as to honor God.

A company guided by faith will possess the virtues that I have described in this book: it will have the courage and perseverance to pursue its goals and also the humility, compassion, and forgiveness to guard against arrogance and offensiveness.

This is the first book I have read in quite awhile that deals head-on with the weak arguments the anti-capitalists use. And it does so winsomely, kindly, and quite persuasively. I repeat it again: every CEO should read this book!

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

I’m Walking!

…and I would like to ask for your help.

I’m participating in the 2001 Lifewalk to benefit the Alpha Family Center in Cedar Springs. Alpha provides all sorts of resources to teens and particularly counseling for young, often unwed, parents. Lifewalk is their major fundraising event each year.

So here are two ways you can help:

  1. Sign-up to walk with me on Saturday, June 18, at 10am. You can sign up and get a sponsorship form by clicking here.

  2. Make a financial pledge to me for walking in Lifewalk. If you would like to make a pledge, you can do so through PayPal (be sure to put “Lifewalk” on the memo line).

Thank you for helping me support this solidly PRO-LIFE organization!

We Shall See God (book review)

It wasn’t for nothing that Charles Spurgeon was called “the prince of preachers.” In We Shall See God by Randy Alcorn, you can get a taste of Spurgeon’s eloquence, and of Heaven’s majesty.

We Shall See God is a collection of Spurgeon’s sermons about Heaven. Randy Alcorn has done a masterful job of culling through the prince’s sermons to pull out excerpts that talk about the beauty of Heaven and the horrors of Hell. Randy’s comments following each passage from Spurgeon are wonderfully presented. He doesn’t “talk over” Spurgeon, nor does he simply rehash what Spurgeon already said. He eloquently amplifies or briefly explains.

This book is designed to be used as a 50-day devotional reading. But I’ll be honest with you: I couldn’t put it down! I was so enthralled by Spurgeon’s description of Heaven, that I couldn’t wait to read more. And now I can’t wait to tell others more about Heaven.

Lately there have been so many authors and blogger hypothesizing about Heaven and Hell and the after-life. But Spurgeon doesn’t give us his opinion, he gives us biblical insight. And wouldn’t you much rather hear what the Creator of Heaven has to say about it, than what any mere mortal has to say?

I highly recommend this book to you. You will not only look forward to Heaven even more, but you will enjoy your brief journey on this Earth even more too.

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

Memorial Day

I’m so grateful for the men and women who have put themselves on the front lines to keep us the land of the free and the home of the brave! One day a year is far too short a time to honor our fallen heroes, so let’s make sure we start today, and remember them all year long.

Thank you soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines! Because of you, we enjoy our freedom today. May God bless you!

This is a poem by my friend Barney Fritcher entitled “They Stand” —

They stand at attention saluting our flag
or they place hands over their heart
They’ve stood together on foreign lands
each one has done their part
They’ve defended this nation and some have died
to ensure that you’ve kept your rights
They’ve watched as their buddies fell to the ground
and they’ve slept in the jungle some nights
They’ve crawled in the mud while covered with blood
our children, our daughters and sons
and never, not once did they go on strike
saying they did not get enough funds
Many days they have gone without sleep
as they fought for this country we love
Thousands of them have lost their lives
and went with our God up above
To us they are heroes but to them it’s their job
they do what needs to be done
defending this country that we so love
even down to the last one
We give them a day to memorialize them
to honor them for all that they do
but a year would not be honor enough
for the service they give that is true
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines
Men and woman that are so grand
They serve this nation of America
and forever together they stand

How To Read The Bible (book review)

People who call themselves Christians should know how to read the Bible, right? Maybe, but many times I think we assume far too much. Fortunately How To Read Your Bible by A.J. Conyers can help.

  • Some people avoid the Old Testament, saying, “It’s too confusing!”
  • Some people simply flip their Bibles open to any passage and simply start reading.
  • Some people only open their Bibles when they’re at church.

All of these methods may work, but they’re not the best way to learn what God has to say to us in His Word. A.J. Conyers explains to his readers the art of reading the Bible, as well as the practice of reading the Bible. He gives enough background information to get you started in the right direction, and he gives you ample resources to continue digging into God’s Word more.

As you might have noticed, I love to read. But hands-down-without-question my favorite book is the Bible. Every time I open it up, I find something new to apply to my life. If you’re having difficulty getting started on a Bible study, this book may be just the thing to help get things rolling.

(I’m also a big fan of YouVersion: the Bible app for your smart phone. You can download it for your iPhone or Droid by clicking here.)

If Anyone Ought To Be Happy

I remember once going to play golf with two other friends. When we got to the course, the starter added another guy — someone we didn’t know — to our group to round-out our foursome. We began to “play” our round of golf (I use the term play loosely), and joke, and laugh, and enjoy ourselves.

About 4 or 5 holes into our round, our new friend asked what we all did. I responded, “He’s a pastor, I’m a pastor, and that guy over there is a missionary.”

Our new friend looked shocked. “You mean you’re all Christians?!?”

“Yes, we are,” I said. “Does that surprise you?”

“Yes,” he replied, and then quickly added, “But I’ve never had so much fun playing golf before!”

It’s funny, and yet sad. Why would Christians be thought of as boring? dull? killjoys? Shouldn’t we be the most happy and joy-filled of all?

Here’s what Charles Spurgeon said —

We ought to be glad and rejoice forever in that which God creates. Ours is a heritage of joy and peace. My dear brothers and sisters, if anybody in the world ought to be happy, we are the people.

How large our obligations! How boundless our privileges! How brilliant our hopes!

What should make us miserable? Sin? That is forgiven. Affliction? That is working our good. Inward corruptions? They are doomed to die. satanic temptations? We wear an armor which they cannot penetrate. We have every reason for delight, and we have moreover this command for it: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). May God bring us into that blessed condition and keep us there!

God intends not only that we should have joy but also that we should spread it among others. He intends that wherever we go we should be light bearers and set other lamps shining.

Can people tell you have the joy of the Lord? Are you bringing light and laughter to dark and somber people? If you are filled up with God, how happy you should be!

Wandering In The Wilderness (book review)

Brian Simmons addresses a vital topic for church leaders and parents: why are emerging adults leaving the church? Wandering In The Wilderness is chock full of timely research and observations that are vital for us to see a healthy future for the church.

Brian is a real boots-on-the-ground author. He works in a college setting and is very involved in the life of his students outside of the classroom. In fact, the prompting to write this book was a conversation with a former student who shared that she felt she was lost and wandering.

Wandering In The Wilderness has a very conversational tone, but it is by no means simply a collection of anecdotal observations from one college professor. On the contrary, the volume of research that is presented in this book is quite impressive. This level of research gives an authoritative tone to the conversation.

As a church leader, I was particularly drawn to the attitudes that emerging adults have about the church and organized religion. I found myself jotting down plenty of notes in the margin. I also have three children of my own who will soon be entering the emerging adult phase of their life, and I found ample information to help me guide them through this important transitional stage in their lives.

Recently I read and reviewed Tim Elmore’s outstanding book Generation iY. That book was a brilliant insight into the thought processes of emerging adults. I would recommend Wandering In The Wilderness as a companion piece, especially for church leaders who want to make sure this generation is well prepared to transition into leadership positions in healthy, growing, vibrant churches.

I am an ACU Press book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald #36

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The First Thing

     If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He will always press the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

From My Utmost For His Highest

I am so good at making my own plans, and only later calling on God when confusion erupts. How much better it would be if I would involve God first

I’m trying to learn this.

Get Off Your Knees & Pray (book review)

I know the subtitle of Sheila Walsh’s book Get Off Your Knees & Pray is “a woman’s guide to life-changing prayer,” but I thought it was fantastic!

I think something special happens when women pray, so I’d love to see more women getting serious about their prayer life. In a moment I’ll tell you how to win a FREE copy of this book. But first, I’ve asked my wife Betsy to share a thought with you about prayer.

I have never viewed myself as a consistent prayer warrior who stands in the gap for others. I pray for those in need and talk with God on a regular basis about my life, my heart’s desires, my fears, my needs. I always had a simple trust that God would come through, He would somehow make things right. Then one day, things weren’t right. My life was in a place I never imagined. I felt completely out of control. All stability was gone, a majority of my comfort was gone, and I looked at the future and felt uncertainty. I didn’t like this place – at all! The most confusing part was that all I had ever attempted to do was follow God’s leading. Although I attempted to cry out to God, it was difficult because I was angry with God. It’s an interesting place to be when you are attempting to pray to the one who helps you forgive others, when you have anger directed at Him.

That was a long, dark time. I am happy to say, I’m not there today. I have pressed through and God has helped me. Those prayers and cries for help…He heard them all. I remember specific moments when I chose to stand upon God’s Word in prayer and to confess what I could not yet see. My final breakthrough came when I surrendered the need to know why, I was simply willing to trust Him. Let me tell you, it was not a simple choice. It was an act of my will. Today, many of my prayers are still unfilled, but I am confident that God’s plan is happening in my life and the lives of those around me.

One thing that helped me to recognize answered prayer, was to focus on the little moments in my life. As I became grateful and acknowledged God’s leading and provision in my normal everyday life, I became increasingly aware that He was working. In those dark days I believe He was working, I just was focused on the wrong things.

So, if you don’t believe that God is working in your situation, ask Him for a new set of eyes. Begin to thank him for the good things around you, no matter how small. I believe you will begin to see bigger and bigger things emerging.

Here’s how to win a free copy of Get Off Your Knees & Pray. To be entered in the drawing (which will take place Friday, May 27, at 5pm EDT), do one or both of the following:

  1. Leave a comment below about what you’ve learned recently about prayer. Even if your comment is “I need to pray more,” it will help others to know they are not alone.
  2. Send the following message via Twitter: Win a free copy of @SheilaWalsh’s “Get Off Your Knees & Pray” from craigtowens.com at http://wp.me/pmy10-19P #prayingwomen

If you are the winner, you will be notified after the drawing on May 27, 2011.

A Birthday Note

     Dear Brandon,

     Has it really been 11 years already?!? As the old cliché says, “Time sure flies when you’re having fun!” And it certainly has been so much fun watching you grow up.

     In many ways you have helped me grow up too. One of the things I most appreciate about you is your sensitivity to other people, and your ability to encourage them. I have a lot of notes from you around so that I will see them often. It seems like whenever I’m having a rough time, I stumble across one of your notes that helps get me refocused.

     You have taught me the value of encouragement. Did you know that the word encouragement literally means to put courage into someone?

  • Courage to do the right thing, even when everyone else is doing the wrong thing.
  • Courage to focus on God, even when everyone else is focusing on their fears.
  • Courage to give my very best, even when everyone else is trying to just get by.  

     Thank you, Brandon, for showing me the power of encouragement. One of your notes to me simply says, “Just trust God.” So I say the same thing to you, my son: Trust in Him in all you do, and He will make your path straight.

     Happy 11th Birthday!

     I love you,

     Dad

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