Vacation!

Will return MondayI am spending this week enjoying summer with my family and celebrating 23 years of wedded bliss to my best friend, so I won’t be blogging this week. But guess what? I am doing a lot of reading, so get ready for a bunch of book reviews next week…

In the meantime, I may still tweet or tumble a bit if the mood is right!

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Sunday Morning Prayer

Pastor, perhaps this prayer from Oswald Chambers should be one we pray each time we prepare to deliver a message…

Chambers“O Lord, that I might be brought into Your presence, and to see things from Your standpoint. I have to speak to Your people this morning, anoint me afresh, O Lord, with Your gracious Spirit. … O Lord, as we consider the  ___ chapter of _______ this morning, light it up with Your glory; soften and subdue, inspire and thrill, and raise us on to the level of such glorious service that we may catch Your likeness.”

Amen!

The Despised Pastor

The Despised PastorSurveys reveal that people in the United States do not have a highly favorable view of evangelical Christians, nor of pastors of evangelical Christian churches.

I agree with John Maxwell’s maxim that everything rises and falls on leadership, so this unfavorable view of evangelical Christians must be addressed first in the pastorate. The 2400-year-old words from the prophet Malachi still ring true today—

“The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.” (Malachi 2:7-9)

Uh oh!

Is it possible, my dear fellow pastor, that if we become men and women of the Word of God that the views of the population might begin to change?

Stopping Words That Hurt (book review)

Stopping Words That HurtContrary the nursery rhyme—Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me—we all know that words do hurt! Dr. Michael Sedler addresses this topic in a unique way in Stopping Words That Hurt.

Reading that title you would think that this is a book about controlling your tongue, but we already know we’re supposed to do that, right? So Dr. Sedler takes a different angle and challenges us to control our thoughts and our environment. He shows us how being receptive to the negative words that others are speaking starts a downward cycle in our hearts and minds that leads to us not only receiving but perpetuating negative reports about others.

This book is not “pop psychology,” but is solidly grounded on biblical principles for heading-off negative reports at their source. Stopping Words That Hurt is filled with practical strategies for confronting gossipers, analyzing our own attitudes, and turning negative environments (where gossip flourishes) into positive environments where people are affirmed and built up.

I plan to use the strategies in this book to help the students that attend the youth center I direct to become catalysts for changing the environment in their schools and homes. Although adults can use this information too, I see a very receptive audience in pre-teens and teenagers. Parents, you need to read this book to be able to help your children as well.

I am a Chosen Books book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Word & The Words

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 Word & The Words

     The Bible is the Word of God only to those who are born from above and who walk in the light. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and the Bible, the words of God, stand or fall together, they can never be separated without fatal results. A man’s attitude to our Lord determines his attitude to the Bible. 

     The “sayings” of God to a man not born from above are of no moment; to him the Bible is simply a remarkable compilation of literature—“that it is, and nothing more.” All the confusion arises from not recognizing this. 

     But to the soul born from above, the Bible is the universe of God’s revealed will. The Word of God to me is ever according to my spiritual character; it makes clear my responsibility to God as well as my individuality apart from Him. 

From Christian Disciplines (emphasis mine)

Do you agree with Chambers on this viewpoint?

In light of this, how will you view Scripture differently?

Things We Couldn’t Say (book review)

EMANPBBACK.qxdIt’s not often that a historical memoir could read like a spy thriller, but that’s exactly how Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman reads.

Diet (pronounced “deet”) was a young girl when the Nazis invaded The Netherlands where she lived, and she quickly got caught up the Dutch Underground resistance against their unwelcome invaders. Alongside her fiancee, her family members, and several of her friends, they worked at hiding Jews from the Gestapo. This involved all of the tricks you would thrill at in any modern-day telling of espionage, with read page-turning excitement.

Part of the interesting underlying plot in this story is Diet’s love for her fiancee Hein and both of their families. Diet and Hein were constantly changing their names and residence to keep the Gestapo from catching up with them, yet they still found time to write some amazing love letters back and forth to each other. Their love was a bright light in a very dark time, and makes their involvement in this dangerous business even more impressive.

Not only is this a story about human ingenuity, but also about God’s divine provision as well. Diet records time after time that God miraculously provided for safety and provision and favor in order to keep alive. At the end of the war, every single one of the Jews Diet and Hein helped hide and care for were still alive!

For those reasons alone Things We Couldn’t Say is a fascinating read, but it’s an important read too. In the postscript Diet talks about her reluctance to write this book because of the painful memories it would reawaken. She said, “When the war ended we all said, ‘This can never happen again.’ But now polls show that 22 percent of the U.S. population does not believe there was a Holocaust. The story has to be retold so that history does not repeat itself.”

I can’t recommend this book strongly enough for readers of any age!

The Dictatorship Of The Routine

Wow, I am really challenged by this word from A.W. Tozer! I pray that my personal life, and my life as a pastor, never falls under the dictatorship of the routine.

Tozer“The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes ‘lord’ in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform…. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.” —A.W. Tozer (emphasis added)

What do you think about this?

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