Today I finished an excellent book on preaching.
“Between Two Worlds” is a book by a preacher and for a preacher. John Stott gives a masterful explanation of the necessity of preaching for every day and age. He also states his case for how bridging the gap of the Bible day with current day can best be achieved.
Stott’s book strikes the balance between philosophical and practical and is a must-have book for the shelf of any modern-day preacher. If you are involved in the preaching of God’s Word and have not yet read this book, quickly put it on your to-read list. You will find your preaching ministry deepen as a result of reading “Between Two Worlds.”
I read a great review regarding The Hunger Games today.
Periodically I will peruse the NYT best-seller list and pick a few titles that interest me to get a pulse on what everyone is reading. The Hunger Games caught my attention and it only took me a week and a half to read the whole trilogy.
Here is what stood out from my reading:
- Suzanne Collins is a masterful writer. She writes in a gripping, short-prosed way that gets your heart thumping and pulls you into the story.
- These books force you to think through many themes impacting our culture today – the effects of war on children, our world’s obsession with Reality TV, a society devoid of God, senseless killing, what true love is, depression, and the list can continue.
- You will exhibit a range of emotions as you plough through the story.
- You will recognize the possibility of something like this actually happening in the not-so-distant future.
In my opinion, this trilogy trumps the Harry Potter line of books in its masterful use of modern-day English and it’s capturing of the human imagination and emotions.
Feel free to form your own opinions as you read the books (which are of course way better than the movie), but only start into the trilogy if you have a lineup of nights when you are willing to stay up late, and be sure to arm yourself with a good book-light.
God, may our church be faithful even if that does not mean full. May we be known by consistently reaching out to others with Your Word. Help us to be more committed to Your Ideas than our own. Lead us to be more consumed with a passion for success in Your eyes than a fear of how man measures us. Show us the reality of Your love in our lives and help it to overflow in our love towards others.
And if faithfulness = fullness, we leave that up to You.
It’s not the size of the book in the fight, but the size of the fight in the book. Pardon the terrible pun, but that is what I found myself thinking as I read D.A. Carson’s From the Resurrection to His Return. This short, 47 page book (which is in reality only 42 pages of solid text) does justice in teaching it’s subtitle – living faithfully in the last days. Carson unpacks a familiar passage of Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:1–4:8, in a way that will leave you motivated to live out your days in a godly manner.
The book is broken down into 5 chapters: the first one serves as a descriptive backdrop to the text, and then the next four hold out the commands for our lives sourced in the text. Carson views “the last days” as being from the time of Christ’s first to his second return. Then he explains the descriptions that Paul gives of those who live in this time period. The following is a list of the four commands, along with a brief description.
Hold the right mentors in high regard. Carson states a convincing case for a mentality that looks for godly mentors to place oneself under. I appreciate his focus on being under the godly influence of others instead of living a maverick lonely Christian life.
Hold few illusions about the world. Here, Carson urges believers to realize that this is a sin-cursed world in these last days. Sin should not surprise, but it should always horrify. Believers should not live life acting like they are not different from the world around them, as that is pure blindness to reality.
Hold on to the Bible. This refreshing command comes straight out of the fourteenth verse of 2 Timothy 3. Carson does not back down from holding the Bible as the sole authority for our thoughts and actions. Such a high view of Scripture is sadly becoming rare in these last days.
Hold out the Bible to others. Not only is the Bible good for our own lives, but it is also worth spreading out to others, as Carson presents from 2 Timothy 4. I appreciate that he encourages Christians to “think aggressively” about how this is done in every area of their lives.
This valuable gem of a book can be finished in less couch-time than any modern movie consumes, but it is immensely more profitable to one’s life than the effort it takes to read it.
I am a man. Men used to be taught that they should never cry. In today’s culture, I believe that it is becoming more acceptable for men to shed tears. However, this shedding of tears has to come about by some kind of “manly” reason.
- What man doesn’t shed a tear while re-watching Braveheart for the fifteenth time when William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) yells out “FREEDOM!” right before his head gets chopped off?
- What man doesn’t shed a tear while watching the Philadelphia Eagles smolder and burn into ruins for yet another season?
- What man doesn’t shed a tear while witnessing a Cinderella team knock of yet another big contender during March Madness’s NCAA Tournament?
- What man doesn’t shed a tear when his little girl comes up to him with a sweet smile, a hug, and an “I want you to know I love you, daddy”?
So, men do shed tears. But only for manly reasons.
I have found myself coming to the point of tears this week as I think through Easter and the events leading up to it almost 2,000 years ago. Jesus Christ – glorious, perfect, holy, kind, loving, rich, sinless, majestic – died for me – depraved, imperfect, evil, unloving, poor, sinful, cruel.
Was there any sane human reasoning behind that choice? After all, would you choose to die for the scum of the earth? Were any of you itching to take a bullet for the Osama Bin Ladens or Adolph Hitlers of the world? Count me out.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4a)
That is some other-wordly, supernatural kind of love. That’s the kind of love that brings even the most manly in this world to tears. So there’s another “manly” reason to cry this Easter season.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
Have you seen & heard about Christ and from Christ?
Then sing today!
Have a song in your heart that worships Christ. Sing out loud the song God has put on your heart. Sing in the shower, sing in your car on the way to work, sing at your cubicle when you are about your monotonous work but realize that you serve a God who could never be described as monotonous. Sing when you’re in the depths of despair, even when your heart is breaking, because Christ made himself nothing, giving up the grandeurs of heaven for the darkness of this earth. Sing because the Holy Spirit enables you to.
Then speak today!
Speak to others about the Christ. Tell them that even though they have no desire to know God, God makes himself known to them in his Word. Tell them the story of Jesus, who loved them in their wickedness. Tell them that it is easier for them to love the murderer on death row than it was for God to love them. Speak the gospel. Let it exude from the core of your being.
Who cares who wants to shut us up, whether he be someone with authority to kill my body or someone who would no longer associate with me because I sing and speak about Christ.
This life is too short to not exalt Christ in all our song and all our speech.
Peter and John were compelled to speak of the things they had seen and heard, because they were too marvelous not to speak about.
Pour forth Christ from your lips, and enjoy your day.
From Dr. Charles Wood:
No two churches are exactly alike. No two pastors are exactly alike. No two communities are identical. No two situations are the same. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that what will work in one place will not necessarily work in another; in fact, trying to put some of these things into practice can cause considerable harm to a ministry.
Often, people will come to a church with their presuppositions that churches do ______________. There are some activities all churches must be involved in. Our church plant’s mission and core values reflect that. However, we need to put the strategy of doing those things in the context that our church is in.
Paul’s normal tactic was to go into the synagogue and reason with and seek to persuade anyone who would listen to him. In Acts 19:8 he does just that in Ephesus. However, after continuing for three months and dealing with stubbornness and unbelief, he changes his tactic. Acts 19:9 tells us that he took the disciples that had formed and went to the hall of Tyrannus, and then, according to Acts 19:10, he teaches there for two years. Paul tried something, it wasn’t showing fruit, and he changed his tactic. Never once did he change the message, however, he did change his traditional way of operating in order to be more effective in Ephesus.
What have you changed in your church lately?