Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Martyrdom and Mission-- A Life-Changing Sermon (Preached by David Platt)

There may not be a more needed subject to talk about among our Christian faith in the world today than our dedication to the cause of Christ. When we think of the most dedicated Christians, I firmly believe that our minds should go to those who have given their lives for their faith. In this sermon, David Platt goes into why the martyrs of our Christian heritage were willing to give their lives for their faith, then asks us the question: How should we live in light of their example? I hope and pray that this sermon touches your heart as much as it has mine both the first time I heard it and every time I have heard it after.


For discussion questions on this sermon, go to--
http://s3.amazonaws.com/radical-net-assets/images/20180521155323/Martyrdom-and-Mission-Why-Reformers-Died-In-Their-Day-How-We-Must-Live-In-Ours-Discussion-Questions.pdf

For more by David Platt, go to-- 
http://radical.net/

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Control Freak on a Roller Coaster

Image result for roller coaster

My ministry journey began at a young age. At age 3, I told my grandmother that I would take over our church when my grandfather, my pastor, retired. As the years have gone on, God confirmed in my heart His call on my life to the ministry. And yet. . . 

There have still been changes in my life. Twists and turns as I have prayed about what God would have me to do with my life. For a time, I thought missions. Then it was career youth pastor before becoming a youth evangelist. Then it was back to missions again. I constantly look at my life and see a roller coaster effect that has engulfed me. If you've known me for any length of time, you know that I absolutely detest roller coasters. I can't get on them at all. I hate the feeling of not being in control of how my body is moving—that some outside force could take my body and move it in a way that would destroy it. That's how my mind has felt about my future. 


I have thought that I want to plan everything that I do in my ministry. That I will have a plan and trust God to help me bring that plan to pass.  But that's not the way God works. He has His plan that He wants to work in my life. He wants to make my control freak mind and take over the controls.  


There have been times where I have let Him take control, and He has blessed me for it. There have been other times that I have kept control, and He has used me in spite of myself. Yet I have found that through following His plan and surrendering to His will, God is able to use me and bless me so much more than following my own plans. 


So where have I come from? I used to be a guy who said that I will be an assistant and youth pastor only. I used to be the guy who said that I'll be the number two man in a church. You know where God has me now? He's changed my heart and wants me to be involved as much as I can in church planting, one of the biggest roller coaster rides of ministry. 


I may never get on a roller coaster again. I have no desire to do so. My control freak body can't get past the fears that come with it. But my control freak mind and heart have been learning and will continue to learn to submit to the God whose will is better than mine and whose plan is more detailed than mine. He controls the roller coaster better than I can control my body.


1 https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Wl-Ap2yUjYQ/maxresdefault.jpg

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: Student Ministry Essentials, by Steve Vandegriff & Richard Brown

Youth ministry is a unique part of the church's mission. There are so many angles that can be taken to reach teens, but only a few are very effective. Vandegriff and Brown lay out their philosophy for doing this here in Student Ministry Essentials.

The philosophy that these men take looks at three different parts of youth ministry: 1) leadership, 2) nurturing, and 3) reaching. In leadership, they talk about the developing of leaders in the church to help with the youth ministry, which includes the pastor, youth workers, volunteers, and especially the parents. Nurturing looks at understanding and developing the youths of today-- helping them grow to new heights. Reaching involves anything outside of your own services-- youth activities, partnership with other churches, and outreach into the community.

Each of these areas is a necessary one. There are so many charts, figures, and images to help one understand the concepts that are given in the book. I felt that the book was very basic at times, but that comes from giving the bare essentials of the message. For these reasons, I give 4.5 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO PURCHASE THIS BOOK:
https://www.amazon.com/Student-Ministry-Essentials-Reaching-Nurturing/dp/0802412653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524677458&sr=8-1&keywords=student+ministry+essentials

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Vandegriff, Steve, and Richard Brown. Student Ministry Essentials: Reaching. Leading. Nurturing. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2015.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the MP Newsroom book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: When We Say Father

This is the final manuscript work of the great preacher Adrian Rogers before he died in 2005. Since he wrote it, his son Steve took it, edited it, and got it published. This book has been a great encouragement to me in growing my prayer life.

Rogers beautifully points out the significant elements of the Lord's prayer that we see today. The person, priority, provision, pardon, protection, praise, and promise of prayer are all present here in this book, as it is organized almost like a long alliterated sermon. This, for me, increases the readability of it because I can remember the previous points of the book better.

I love this book. Its principles are simple and yet still very much challenging as it digs into the model prayer set for us by the person who has the best relationship with God of any man-- Jesus Christ. 5 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO PURCHASE:
https://www.amazon.com/When-We-Say-Father-Unlocking/dp/1462771300/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522269100&sr=8-1&keywords=when+we+say+father

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Rogers, Adrian, and Steve. When We Say Father: Unlocking the Power of the Lord's Prayer. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2018.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BH Bloggers book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Book Review: Kingdom Collaborators, by Reggie McNeal

Another book on leadership. Some new concepts, but relatively average.

Many books have been and will continue to be written on leadership. This book, Kingdom Collaborators by Reggie McNeal, is another such book. McNeal's desire in this book is to truly see leaders who will take the world by the reins and collaborate with God to bring about revival and show people how to follow the ultimate leader-- God himself.

McNeal does a good job of relaying leadership principles, but if you have read any Christian books on leadership in the past, then you have no doubt seen them before. McNeal adapts some of them so there are good things that anyone can learn from this book. Ultimately, it is a good book with good principles, but we have heard this all before. 3 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK:
https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Collaborators-Signature-Practices-Leaders/dp/0830841431/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522175604&sr=8-2&keywords=kingdom+collaborators

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
McNeal, Reggie. Kingdom Collaborators: Eight Signature Practices of Leaders Who Turn the World Upside Down. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press, in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

Good, short resource

This dictionary is not necessarily a dictionary of the Bible. Rather, it is a dictionary of Bible doctrines, extra-Biblical terms and events, and Bible scholars. This makes it a bit different than other Bible dictionaries that you will find, but it is a good resource because of it.

This small dictionary gives some good definitions of what are often some terms that do not have definitions found in other places. It's easy to keep in a pocket of a bag to go along with your Bible, especially if you're going to be taking Bible classes and don't understand some of the terms used. 4 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK:
https://www.amazon.com/Baker-Compact-Dictionary-Biblical-Studies/dp/0801019079/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522089454&sr=8-1&keywords=the+baker+compact+dictionary+of+biblical+studies

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Longman III, Tremper, and Mark L. Strauss. The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical  Studies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Baker Book Bloggers book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: 8 Hours or Less, by Ryan Huguley

Need more time? Here's some help finding it!

Having prepared sermons now for a couple years, I know how time-consuming this process can be. And yet it can seem impossible to cut down on the quantity of time without sacrificing the quality of the sermon. In this book, Ryan Huguley suggests a week-long preparation process that can help the pastor "redeem the time" on a daily basis and still have strong, faithful sermons.

For each day, Huguley has set aside 1 or 2 hours at the most to be devoted to a specific area of sermon preparation:
  • Monday: 2 hours or less to develop a clear and concise frame for the sermon (strong, yet rough outline).
  • Tuesday: 1 hour or less to meet with trusted people to receive feedback on the sermon frame.
  • Wednesday: 1 hour or less to develop an attention-getting introduction.
  • Thursday: 1 hour or less to develop a purposeful conclusion.
  • Friday: 2 hours or less to fill the frame developed earlier in the week and finalize sermon notes.
What I really enjoyed about this book was Huguley's emphasis, not on being new, but on being efficient. He does not seek to completely change how one writes a sermon, but to take the process that is currently in place and refine it, so one can, as Paul wrote to Timothy, make full proof of their ministry. The only element of this process that I do not currently do in another form is meeting with people to discuss the sermon frame, yet I can see the value in this and will seek to do this going forward. Huguley's book, while not new, is certainly revolutionary in its efficiency. 5 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK:

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Huguley, Ryan. 8 Hours or Less: Writing Faithful Sermons Faster. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the MP Newsroom book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Book Review: Together on God's Mission, by D. Scott Hildreth

I have never had the opportunity to read much on the Southern Baptist Convention, so this book was a first for me. This book presents the history of the convention and a proposal to continue and grow the cooperation in the convention today. 

For me, I felt that this book was informative, but that was about it. It really did nothing to challenge me as a believer. It is a good resource to be sure, but I was kind of disappointed in the application portion of the book. 3 stars out of 5.

WHERE TO PURCHASE:
https://www.amazon.com/Together-Gods-Mission-Cooperate-Commission/dp/1433643944/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521822727&sr=8-1&keywords=together+on+god%27s+mission

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Hildreth, D. Scott. Together on God's Mission: How Southern Baptists Cooperate to Fulfill the Great Commission. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2018.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BH Bloggers book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review: Everyman's Bible Commentary--Revelation, by Charles C. Ryrie

My study of the book of Revelation has spanned a good part of my life. I am a total Bible prophecy nerd. So when I was given the opportunity to review a commentary on the book of Revelation, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. 

I think that Ryrie did an excellent job at outlining and commenting on the book of Revelation. The main purpose I put into my reading was to find areas that are often problems in studying Bible prophecy and to see how he handled those issues. Ryrie did an excellent job of covering those problem passages, most notably the idea of salvation in the Tribulation, often a highly debated issue. This commentary did a good job of fulfilling its purpose: making the teachings of the Bible understandable for people of all different backgrounds, not just the pastors of the world. 

I look forward to seeing the new cover that will be coming out for this commentary series. It will, I am sure, bring new life to a very good commentary. 5 stars out of 5.

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Ryrie, Charles C. Everyman's Bible Commentary--Revelation. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1996.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the MP Newsroom book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book Review: 8 Great Smarts, by Dr. Kathy Koch, Ph.D.

A Smart Resource

"You smarty pants!" "You smart cookie!!" Parents use these names rather loosely with their children. Whenever a child brings home an "A" test or paper, parents will often reward their child for being smart. But what about other kids who never bring home an A? Kathy Koch here presents 8 different ways that a child may be smart. She also attempts to show how parents can help their children grow in all the different smarts and thrive in them.

The 8 smarts that Dr. Koch lists here are:
  • Word Smart (thinking with words)
  • Logic Smart (thinking with questions)
  • Picture Smart (thinking with pictures)
  • Music Smart (thinking with rhythm/melodies)
  • Body Smart (thinking with movement/touch)
  • Nature Smart (thinking with patterns)
  • People Smart (thinking with people)
  • Self-Smart (thinking with reflection)
When going through this list, there are so many different things to consider that I don't have the time to list them out for each of these. But this book does an excellent job at what it set out to do: it provides parents and teachers with ways to help their children and students grow in all the different kinds of smarts. The biggest thing that this book does well is teaching how to encourage children to grow in smarts that are not their primary smarts. It's an excellent tool to assist parents in helping their children grow. For these reasons, I give this book 5 stars out of 5. 

WHERE TO BUY THIS BOOK:
https://www.amazon.com/Great-Smarts-Discover-Nurture-Intelligences/dp/0802413595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520960450&sr=8-1&keywords=8+great+smarts+kathy+koch

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THIS BOOK:
Koch, Kathy, Ph.D. 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child's Intelligences. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the MP Newsroom book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.