Book Reviews From 2016

Poetry Saturday—The Christmas Wish

purple-christmas-treeA Christmas wish is special,
It is full of heart and warmth,
Especially if you share it
With God and Jesus in your heart.

So go and tell about Him,
For He was born on Christmas day,
To teach each and everyone one of us
How to live the Christ-like way.

So when you’re carving Christmas ham
With all the trimmings and the pies,
Please hold out your hands
And thank the Lord up high.

So when someone asks me
What will my Christmas wish be,
I just look up and tell them
That I have the Christmas wish in me… Jesus! —Billie Jean Watkins

**Billie became a Christian in October 2004, and wrote this poem as she got ready to celebrate Christmas for the first time as a Christian.

The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy (book review)

the-dawning-of-indestructible-joySometimes I am concerned that even those who know the story of the Incarnation of Jesus miss out on the stunningly powerful miracle that took place in Bethlehem. Instead of being awed by the majesty of Christ’s First Advent, we merely give lip service to His birth. John Piper’s book The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy will give you a fresh perspective of the miracle of Christ’s birth and all that it means.

The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy is written in 25 chapters, building an exciting countdown from December 1 until Christmas morning. Each day John Piper will awaken your heart and mind again to the unimaginable gifts that Jesus Christ made available to us through His incarnation. Gifts such as freedom from sin, intimacy with God, eternal life, and soul-lifting joy.

Each chapter is short enough to serve as an ideal family reading time, perhaps each evening around the dinner table in December. The Scripture passage for each day is short enough, too, for everyone to memorize so that they are prepared to share with anyone else the joy that comes with the miracle of the Advent.

Make this book a part of your family Christmas tradition.

I Love My “Job”

I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am when I get to baptize folks in water who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today it was even sweeter when I got to baptize a father and son!

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The Key Decision For Influential Men

Influence like JesusNo matter how you look at it, being a Dad is hard work! Men have this constant balancing act between being tough and being tender. Guys have to have their game face on at work, and their family face on at home. They’ve got to work hard knocking down work competitors, and then work just as hard building up their family members.

But there is one key decision that will determine how successful a man will be at work, at home, in his social circles, and even in his relationship with God. 

In Acts 10 we meet a centurion named Cornelius. Centurions were professional military officers in charge of a centuria (usually 100 soldiers). Centurions were always “on the clock,” never letting down their guard nor their professionalism.

All of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament have noble characteristics associated with them. Whereas someone might be uncertain how a typical Roman soldier would behave, people felt more assured when the centurion was on the scene. Even Roman governors like Pilate, and Jewish kings like Herod, all seemed to fully trust the judgement, honesty, and resourcefulness of centurions.

Centurions worked hard to get where they were, and had some well-earned perks:

  • Good pay (one built a temple, Luke 7:1-5).
  • “Men of authority” with soldiers and servants reporting to them (Matthew 8:8-9).
  • Opportunity for advancement (Rome was the dominate world force).
  • A certain degree of autonomy (they had their own residences (Matthew 8; Acts 10).

In order to keep this position, they would have to buy into kurios Caesar (Caesar is lord). To do otherwise was to put their position and future advancement at risk.

Yet Cornelius was different. 

He was a trusted centurion, but something unusual stood out about his life. Luke the historian describes him as devout and God-fearing, mentioning his pious activities of prayer and giving to the poor. Cornelius’ own soldiers referred to him as righteous and respected by notable people in the community.

But probably most telling of all: God noticed how committed Cornelius was (see Acts 10:3-4)!

Cornelius had a lot to lose by rejecting kurios Caesar for, as the Christians said, kurios Iesous (Jesus is Lord). Yet after carefully weighing his options, he saw that trusting God was the best thing he could do for his family. His view of the eternal outweighed anything that he could gain in the temporal.

This one decision changed everything! 

Because Cornelius trusted God, look at the expansiveness of his influence, not only at home, but at work, and among his friends and extended family, and throughout his community:

  • His family—ALL his family were devout and God-fearing (v. 2)
  • His employees—a devout soldier (v. 7)
  • His community—respected by ALL the Jewish people (v. 22)
  • His relatives and friends—his relatives and close friends (v. 24)
  • In fact everyone around him—we are ALL here in the presence of God (v. 33)
  • And most importantly, with God—your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God (v. 4)

Fellas, you can have this same level of influence if you, too, will decide to live karios Iesous: Jesus is Lord. If you will do that, you can have said about your life what was said about Cornelius and Jesus: “God anointed ___________ with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him!” (see Acts 10:38).

Dads: Godly Influencers

Godly Influencer - fathers dayIt’s hard work being a Dad!

  • We have to be tough enough to kill spiders, yet tender enough to attend a princess tea party.
  • We have to bring home the bacon, yet not eat too much bacon so our cholesterol doesn’t get out of control.
  • We have to know the strategy of football, and the scoring for competitive cheerleading.
  • We have to be strong and gentle, smart and compassionate.
  • We have to climb the ladder at work, and build a solid foundation at home.
  • We have to knock down our competitors, and build up our children.

The Bible has a lot to say to encourage Dads to do all of these things, and to become the godly influencer God wants us to be in all aspect of our lives.

Please join me this Sunday as we learn from a man in the Bible who had everything to lose at work by doing things God’s way. Yet he chose God’s way and reaped some amazing results. Hope to see all the Dads this Sunday at 10:30am.

Mom, Your Prayers ARE Making A Difference

Mother's loveOne day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Momma, why are some of your hairs white?” Spotting a teachable moment, her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Mom, you have earned every one of those gray hairs or wrinkles through your loving care for us!

Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Proverbs 16:3)

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29)

Mom, your love for us can be summed up in one verse—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

And the Apostle Paul’s words to a young preacher are just as true for Moms as they were for Timothy: Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Don’t give up, Mom! You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

What has God promised you about your family? Has He said your whole family will call on Jesus as their Savior? Then persevere in that. Has He said that your prodigal child will come home? Then persevere in that. Despite the odds, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, keep on loving them and praying for them. It IS making a difference!

Here’s an encouraging biblical example of a little-known Mom’s prayerful influence on a son that is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ…

Keep persevering in prayer, Mom. Your prayers ARE making a difference!

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