Plastic Donuts (video review)

Plastic DonutsHere is a video review Waterbrook Multnomah Press asked me to do on Plastic Donuts. This review is especially for other pastors, but I think you’ll see how much I liked this book. If you would like to read my full book review, you may do so by clicking here, you may also read some of my favorite quotes from the book by clicking here.

Calvary Assembly of God, get ready … you’re going to hear more about Plastic Donuts soon. And I’ve got a special gift for you too! Stay tuned.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Right Context For Scripture

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.

Oswald Chambers

The Right Context For Scripture 

     You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. … Yet you refuse to come to Me to have life. (John 5:39-40) 

     These verses reveal how a knowledge of the Scriptures may distort the mind away from Jesus Christ. Unless we know the Living Word personally first, the literal words may lead us astray. The only way we can understand the Bible is by personal contact with the Living Word, then the Holy Spirit expounds the literal words to us along the line of personal experience. 

     … There is a context to the Bible, and Jesus Christ is that Context. The right order is personal relationship to Him first, then the interpretation of the Scriptures according to His Spirit. 

From Bringing Sons Until Glory 

Amen! Chambers is precisely on target with this.

Remain

Remain
(click image for a larger view)
Jesus says, REMAIN in Me,
And I will REMAIN in you.
The branch must REMAIN in the vine; there’s
No fruit unless you REMAIN in Me.
If you REMAIN, you’ll bear much fruit;
If you don’t REMAIN, you’ll wither up.
So REMAIN in me, and
My words will REMAIN in you.
Stay and REMAIN in Me.
If you obey, you’ll REMAIN in My love, just as
I REMAIN in My Father’s love
And My joy will REMAIN in you. (John 16)

A Harmony Of The Gospels (book review)

HarmonyFor anyone who wants to read the four New Testament gospels with greater insight, I highly recommend A Harmony Of The Gospels For Students Of The Life Of Christ by A.T. Robertson.

Dr. Robertson wrote: “The purpose of a harmony is not to teach theology, but to make available for men of any faith the facts in the Gospels concerning Jesus of Nazareth.” And that’s exactly what this book does.

It is one of the more interesting ways I have ever read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When I followed the outline in Robertson’s book, instead of reading each gospel straight through, I read them in chronological order. For instance, in reading about John’s message announcing the soon-arrival of Jesus, I was reading Mark 1:7-8, Matthew 3:11-12, and Luke 3:15-18.

In other words, you will be reading the four gospels in chronological order as the events unfolded in Christ’s ministry. Right alongside each section of study are Dr. Robertson’s fascinating and insightful notes. Reading the gospels this way really brought out details that you may have missed when just reading through the gospels in a more traditional manner.

You don’t have to be a scholar to use this book, you just need to be desirous to learn more about Jesus.

She Did What She Could

She Did What She CouldIt is one of the most beautiful scenes in the Bible: Mary, a woman set free by the power of Jesus, anoints Him with her fragrant perfume. The Bible says that the people sitting around Jesus were “indignant at the waste” of perfectly good perfume. Some may have even thought, “What’s the point?”

But Jesus responds, “Leave her alone, she has done a beautiful thing to Me. She did what she could” (Mark 14:1-9).

Apparently Mary was not a woman of great wealth, but she did what she could. And Jesus said it was beautiful.

I cannot feed all the hungry people in the world, but I can feed one hungry student in Cedar Springs.

I cannot share the gospel with every unreached people group on the planet, but I can give a few dollars a month to a missionary who is reaching a tribe in northern India.

I cannot undo all of the injustice done to women, but I can support the W.A.R. Chest Boutique who is is helping rescue women from slavery.

I cannot counsel every woman contemplating an abortion, but I can volunteer at Alpha Family Centers whose counselors are lovingly counseling women to choose life.

I should never allow the largeness of the situation or the smallness of my resources to paralyze me from acting. I can be like Mary who did what she could.

Altared To Be Altered

Altared and AlteredI love this verse from Isaiah: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a Voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). This foreshadowing of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian is powerful.

The Voice can be an audible voice, but not always. Sometimes the Holy Spirit says, “This is the way” through different modes. Things like:

  • Discernment. This is the Spirit’s help when we would normally rely on our own common sense (see Acts 5:3 and Acts 16:6-7).
  • Prompts. These motivate us to do something productive (Acts 8:29).
  • Checks. The flip side of promptings, these checks are to stop us from doing something unproductive (Acts 10:9-20).

But here’s an important thing to remember: The Voice of the Holy Spirit is not perceived by those people intent on doing things their own way. The Voice may be speaking, but those people are simply not tuned-in. The individuals that hear the Voice saying, “This is the way” are those who are determined to obey what the Voice says to them.

In Romans 12, Paul says that as our act of spiritual worship we lay our lives on the altar: we give up trying to control our own lives. He goes on to say that when we do this, we will quickly discover what God’s good, perfect and pleasing will is. In other words, we will be receptive to His Voice leading us into His perfect plan for us. So the Holy Spirit can direct us only after we’ve given up trying to direct our own affairs. Or said another way—

I altar my life, and the Holy Spirit will alter my life

“Oh, this baptism of the Holy Spirit is an inward presence of the personality of God that lifts, prays, takes hold, and lives in us with a tranquility of peace and power that rests and says, ‘It is all right.’ …Oh, this God of grace! Oh, this willingness for God to let us see His face! Oh, this longing of my soul that cannot be satisfied without more of God!” —Smith Wigglesworth

Prayer After Preaching

My fellow pastor, many times we pray before our sermons, but have you considered praying after your sermon too? These words from Andrew Murray challenged me to do so—

Andrew MurrayPreaching must always be followed up by prayer. The preacher must come to see that his preaching is comparatively powerless to bring new life until he begins to take time for prayer, and according to the teaching of God’s Word, he strives and labors and continues in prayer; and he takes no rest and gives God no rest until He bestows the Spirit in overflowing power.

The Holy Spirit’s Power

Holy Spirit as powerHere are some of the quotes I used in my message this morning…

“The Holy Spirit is not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation. No, He is for every child of God a vital necessity, and that He fill and indwell His people is more than a languid hope. It is rather an inescapable imperative.” —A.W. Tozer

“There is nothing so still and gentle as the checks of the Holy Spirit if they are yielded to, emancipation is the result; but let them be trifled with, and there will come a hardening of the life away from God. Don’t quench the Spirit. … Guard as your greatest gift the anointing of the Holy Spirit.” —Oswald Chambers

“Jesus doesn’t say we will baptized with the Holy Spirit and power (see Acts 1:8), but that we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit AS power. There’s a huge difference! It means we will have everything we need to always overcome, to never be at a loss!” —CTO

Bright Lamps

photoPastor, please carefully consider these words from Charles Bridge (1794-1869)—

“It is indeed a ‘neglect of the gift of God that is in us,’ to trifle either in the study or in the pulpit. God will bless our endeavors—not our idleness. Our Master, and our people for our Master’s sake, have a just claim to our best time and talents, our most matured thoughts, and most careful studies. To venture upon this infinite work of God with slender furniture, proves a guilty unconcern to our high responsibility.” 

These words remind me of Christ’s words at the end of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Luke 12): Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their Master to return.

We cannot be idle. Even our “down time” should be preparation time for renewed ministry.

Don’t neglect the gift God has given you to minister to others, to glorify Him, and to be a servant working to hear his Master say, “Well done!”

Thursdays With Oswald—Appealing Control

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.

Oswald Chambers

Appealing Control 

     We have to be so controlled by the Holy Spirit, to so submit our intelligence to Him, that Jesus Christ is presented along the line that appeals to those to whom we talk. 

From Bringing Sons To Glory 

God has given humans the amazing capacity of intelligence to think and reason, and to communicate our thoughts persuasively and creatively to other humans. This is a gift, but it can also be a hindrance. My intelligence is only going to glorify God when it is under the control of the Holy Spirit.

It is not my responsibility to convince others about God; it is my responsibility to be controlled by the Holy Spirit so that He can convince others. So the question I need to ask myself about my conversations with others is: Who’s in control?

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