Book Reviews From 2018

What’s Behind A Church’s ♥able Reputation?

Last week I said if people are going to say “I ♥ That Church!” it has to be a ♥able church. A ♥able church has a ♥able reputation that compromises what Luke captured about the very first Church—internal unity, sincere piety, supernatural results, and practical help.

Once a church has this kind of reputation, how is it sustained? 

First, let me tell you how it’s NOT sustained: A church’s ♥able reputation isn’t sustained by that church focusing on it’s ♥able reputation. 

A ♥able reputation must flow from the constant development of godly character. Otherwise, we substitute what sounds good with what is actually sound, and we substitute what looks good with what is actually good. 

That’s what the Pharisees did—they were more concerned about how their religion looked to others, and not how it aligned with God’s heart. In fact, Jesus told two stories about people that thought they were “in” with God because of their reputation, but God actually says to them, “I don’t know who you are” (see Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-12). 

Matthew Henry reminded us, “Men may go to hell with a good reputation!” 

But D.L. Moody got the order right when he said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

I believe the first Church shows us three components of a maturing godly character. 

  1. Our source must be pure. The Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In other words, they grew with sound doctrine, not with things that sounded like doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3; Acts 17:11). 
  1. Our daily disciplines must be productive. The Christians saw “church” as an every day thing. They didn’t view studying the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, and other maturing activities a merely something to be checked off their To Do list. 
  1. Our accountability must be in our fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship (koinonia) means an active involvement with the “one anothers” in the Church. What’s especially important is maintaining the highest levels of accountability with each other so that the growth of godly character can continue (see especially Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16). 

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, everything is lost.” —Billy Graham 

My church’s ♥able reputation will be sustained as I am committed to growing in godly character. 

So… are you committed to that continual growth? 

What If I Sin?

I have been trumpeting this truth: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. God wants you to know that you have found His favor. 

But what happens if we sin? Do we lose God’s favor? In a word—NO! 

Here’s what happens instead: God becomes our Prodigal Father. 

Let me show you from both the Old Testament and the New Testament what I mean, but first, let’s define prodigal: it means recklessly extravagant or lavishly abundant. This is always how God treats His children. 

In Isaiah 59, the prophet reminds us that nothing about God’s strength or ability to respond to our pleas has been diminished. Instead: your sins have separated you from your God—we can leave God, but He never leaves us! 

Isaiah catalogs all our sins that have become a quicksand trap for us. God looks to see who can help us, and finding no one, here’s what He does: so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. 

God did what was underserved. God did what no one else could do: HE HIMSELF BECAME OUR SALVATION! 

If ever there was a definition of recklessly extravagant, lavishly abundant love… this is it!! 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story that people often call the story of the prodigal son, but it’s really the father who is prodigal. The son squanders all his father’s blessings on wild living and finds himself bankrupt, starving, and completely disgraced. But the moment the son came to his senses and began to move toward his father by confessing his sin, his prodigal father ran to him! 

Jesus tells us this father was overflowing with compassion. There wasn’t anything his son could have done to diminish the father’s love, nor was there anything the son could have done to make his father love him more. The father was all-loving all the time. He was recklessly extravagant and lavishly abundant in his love. 

The father RAN to his son and covered his son’s disheveled, stinking rags with his royal robe. 

This is exactly what Isaiah said God would do for us…

  • instead of ashes, we get a crown 
  • instead of rags of mourning, we get an anointing of gladness
  • instead of a spirit of despair, we get a garment of praise
  • instead of shame, we get a double portion of God’s riches
  • instead of disgrace, we get God’s inheritance

How does all this happen? Our Prodigal Father abundantly, lavishly “clothes me with garments of salvation and arrays me in a robe of righteousness”!!

Don’t ever buy into satan’s lies that God loves you less, or that you’ve used up your changes, or that your sins are too many or too big. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 

Join me this coming Sunday either in person or on Facebook Live as we learn more about God’s favor toward us. 

10 Quotes From “Life Wisdom From Billy Graham”

I love the wisdom that was constantly flowing from Billy Graham! Before you read these quotes, check out my review of Life Wisdom From Billy Graham by clicking here.

“God will not reject a heart that’s broken and sorry for sin. He’s not waiting to condemn you, to judge you. He’s waiting to kiss you and say, ‘I love you.’” 

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” 

“God measures people by the small dimensions of humility and not by the bigness of their achievements or the size of their capabilities.” 

“In God’s economy, a person must go down into the valley of grief before he or she can scale the heights of spiritual glory…. One must come to the end of ‘self’ before one can really begin to live.” 

“Everybody needs some friends around him who will say, ‘You are wrong!’ And that includes me. I really value the friendship of people who will just tell it to me like it is, even though I may try to defend my position for a while.” 

“Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. I urge all people to examine themselves and renew their own hearts before God. Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.” 

“All of us in Christian ministry need to live and work with integrity. By integrity, I mean the moral value that makes people the same on the inside as they are on the outside—with no discrepancy between what they say and what they do, between their walk and their talk.” 

“The social needs of man call for our urgent attention, but we believe that ultimately, these needs can be met only in and through the gospel. Man’s basic need is to be born from above—to be converted to Christ. Man must be changed. Man’s biggest problem is man himself.” 

“In a world of greed, where materialistic values often take first place, pleasure has become a god—and a great premium is placed on cleverness—our greatest need is moral integrity.” 

“Government will never be better than the men and women who have given their lives to it.” 

Life Wisdom From Billy Graham (book review)

Sometimes I need a dose of wisdom from someone who can be trusted—someone who has been-there-done-that and handled it all with the utmost integrity. No one better exemplified that in my lifetime than Billy Graham. 

Life Wisdom From Billy Graham is a quick read, but it is packed with timeless insights from a man who lived his life only for God’s glory. Billy had opportunities to talk to the most influential people during his lifetime, and yet he never used that open door to gain privilege for himself. His ministry had a worldwide reach, yet there was never a question about how he handled the finances. He was revered by millions, and never let that go to his head. 

In Life Wisdom, Billy gives words of truth on financial and moral integrity, staying true to what God has called you to, friendships, stewardship, vision, power, influence, and so much more. Anyone who wants to grow in wisdom will benefit from this book. 

Billy Graham On Gratitude

BillyGraham“We hurt people by being too busy. Too busy to notice their needs. Too busy to drop that note of comfort or encouragement or assurance of love. Too busy to listen when someone needs to talk. Too busy to care.”

“The smallest package in the world is a person who is all wrapped up in himself.”

“Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian virtues; ingratitude, one of the most vicious sins.”

“Grumbling and gratitude are, for the child of God, in conflict. Be grateful and you won’t grumble. Grumble and you won’t be grateful.”

Billy Graham’s Humility

BillyGraham

This story was shared by Max Lucado—

I witnessed an example of this humility last October. I partnered with Michael W. Smith for a ministry weekend near Charlotte, NC. The retreat was held at “The Cove,” a beautiful facility that is owned and maintained by the Billy Graham Association.

A few hours before the event, Michael and I met to go over the weekend schedule. But Michael could hardly discuss the retreat. He was so moved by what he had just experienced. He had just met with Billy Graham for the purpose of planning Rev. Graham’s funeral. The famous evangelist was, at the time, 94 years old. He was confined to a wheelchair, on oxygen. His mind was sharp and spirits were high. But his body was seeing its final days. So he called for Michael. And he called for his pastor. He wanted to discuss his funeral. He told them that he had a request.

“Of course,” they said. “Anything you want. What is it?”

“Would you not mention my name?”

“What?”

“Can you not mention my name? Just mention the name of Jesus.”

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