January 2, 2013
It has been a while since I have posted anything here. But I thought I would bring in 2013 by posting about the books I read in 2012. I had set a goal to read 30 for the year but fell a bit behind. So I matched my number for last year. I have a feeling this post may get long so I am just going to start right in.
Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll. This was an absolutely amazing book on marriage. When it first came out all of the reviews were about the sex part. The Driscolls take an honest and biblical look at sex without being crass but it still caught people off guard. The majority of the book is on being friends in marriage and how important that is. It is an incredibly helpful book and I would highly recommend it.
No Wonder They Call Him Savior by Max Lucado. This is a beautiful collection of thoughts on Jesus. Lucado takes an honest look at Christ and dives into the deep way in which he loves us. I read through it kind of quickly but this is a book I will definitely read again. It is enriching and very moving.
Monster by Frank Peretti. Monster was my fiction book. It was captivating right from the beginning. I love a good conspiracy and this book has some. I was reading it right before bed and there were some part that I wished I had waited til daylight to read. I felt as though I was right there among the characters and the way Peretti wrapped his book up was perfect.
When Work and Family Collide by Andy Stanley. All through Bible College I heard about how to be effective in ministry. Many of the professors talked about how they had put in 60-80 hour work weeks. It was just to be expected that ministry came before everything else. Stanley took a completely different approach. He is now the preacher at a very large and thriving church in Atlanta. But he mentions, even during the start of the church he would keep himself to a 40 hour work week and would be home by the time his wife requested. He wanted to make sure his marriage and family were not suffering while the ministry was thriving. I had often felt guilty about leaving the office at 4, but this changed my perspective.
The Coming Revolution by Dr. Richard G. Lee. I really enjoyed this book. Lee takes a look at our nations past to point to what he believes is a coming revolution. I mostly enjoyed this book for a purely historical read. I love reading about history and getting a good read on our nation’s history was wonderful. It is fair to consider Lee’s warnings about a coming revolution as well.
Nearing Home by Billy Graham. In his book, Graham discusses the struggles of being old and continuing to follow Christ. Nobody ever discusses how to be a Christian after you reach a certain age. How can you serve or teach or lead others to Christ? What is expected of you when you can no longer take care of yourself and most of your friends have passed out of this life? Even though I am not in this stage of my life, it was a wonderful read as I dove into this man’s thoughts.
Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton. I want to start by saying I highly recommend this book to others! Lupton discusses how giving away free charity in the magnitude that we have been has actually been hurting the very people we have been trying to help. The sense of entitlement that it brings is devastating. It also end up causing some to feel like dirt because they cannot take care of their own families. It makes those who are doing the service feel great about themselves, but what about those we are helping. He comes at charity from a radically different way than I have ever heard of but I loved it!
How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews. This is a very short read, only 80 pages and the font is huge but it was great! Andrews writes about how important it is to tell the truth and not succumb to other people’s lives. He uses the example of the Holocaust. How was it possible for so many to be killed the way they were? They believed a lie.
Man Alive by Patrick Morley. I wrote a review on this book earlier this year. I was very pleased with it. In our world, men are skipping out on being the men they were created to be. So many kids are growing up without dads, men abuse, tear down, or live as boys their entire lives. We can be more than that, and this book points at a few ways it can be accomplished.
Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen. This was the first biography I read in 2012. It was spectacular. I sped through the book, completely captivated by the life of Moishe Rosen. The story of him becoming a Christian and starting and running Jews for Jesus was amazing. I would highly recommend this book!
George Washington Carver by John Perry. I guess after reading one biography I wanted to read another. I’ve been interested in George Washington Carver since about the 4th grade when I had to do a report on him. In Perry’s book, you find he contributed way more to the world than just peanut butter. He was a man of faith and worked his way up in life by working hard and doing what he believe God wanted. This is a short book and a great read.
Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr. I did not particularly like this book. I think I get what he wanted to say. We have the opportunity to grow through our trials. But the way he calls evil “necessary” just rubs me the wrong way. It is like saying Satan is necessary for us to be great. That gives too much power to the enemy. The book also jumped around a lot, with the author talking about something in one chapter and then not coming back to it until several chapters later. I was not impressed.
Love Does by Bob Goff. Donald Miller promoted this book so I bought it. The book is easy to read. It is easy to follow and very easy to just fly through. Goff spends the book telling stories of his life. He tells of lessons he has learned, but mostly he writes about love. Love is not something we just think about but it is something we do. We live out love, we show it, it pours out of us. I really enjoyed this book and the message inside.
I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s book was a bit of a break from the seriousness. It was a fun read. He takes a look at America from a comedic point of view. You can’t read this book thinking “I can’t believe he thinks this way!” The reader has to be ready for sarcasm and a lot of ridiculousness.
Fearless by Eric Blehm. I could barely put this book down. The story of Adam Brown told in this book is so moving. It is a biography written about Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator, Adam Brown. He faces so many trials in life and overcomes so much. His wife is an amazing hero in this book who was strong and stood by her husband. It was very moving and I was filled with a sense of purpose as I read and a need to work harder and do better.
What the Church Needs Now by B.J. Chitwood. It may have been written in 1973, but Chitwood’s sense of what the church needs for renewal applies greatly today. If you are in ministry, I highly recommend this book to you. Many churches are failing and this book may help us see what we need to do to get back on track.
Fatherless Generation by John Sowers. This is a short read with a big impact. Fathers are bailing out on their kids more than ever and it is leaving children to answer a lot of questions on their own. Why did my dad leave? Does he love me? What is a man supposed to be (for young boys)? What kind of man should I seek (for young girls)? It is a heart-wrenching predicament and this book discusses it.
Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick. Pornography addiction just keeps on spreading. Our culture continues to become more and more sexualized and more accepting of sex in every venue. Now, with high speed internet, porn is literally at our fingertips. Young kids (mostly, but not limited to boys) may come across porn on accident but the spark is ignited and they are curious for more. Before long the desire gets out of control. How can we battle this epidemic? This book explores some answers.
The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick and Randy Alcorn. The Resolution goes along with the movie Courageous. This is yet another book on what it means to be a godly man. It is a great resource for a men’s small group. It is easy to read and raises some great topics to discuss as men work together to become who our God wants us to be.
Middle School Ministry by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin. What a book! If you work with Jr. High students at all, this book is a wonderful resources! It is the most comprehensive book I have read on Jr High students and how to minister to them I have ever found. It talks about physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual development of a Jr. High student. The authors talk about pressures students face, and how to minister to them in the best way. It is a fun book (after all it is written by crazy guys who do Jr. High ministry) as well as very helpful.
America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert. This was another fun book to read after some heavy material. I enjoy the wit and humor of Colbert and this book did not disappoint. If you do not like Stephen Colbert, don’t read this book. If you do, go get yourself a copy.
Mondays With My Old Pastor by Jose Luis Navajo. I saw this book and knew I needed to read it. I was feeling a bit stretched out and bogged down. I was losing vision on why I do what I do. This book is about a guy who is feeling these same things and then starts to meet weekly with the old man who used to be his church’s pastor. It was so refreshing to read about the conversations they had and to see how this man, weathered by ministry and time, viewed his life. It was wonderful to see a man so devoted to his God, even after so many years. This was a great book.
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. I may or may not have cheated with this one. I didn’t actually read it. I listened to the audio book. Don Miller takes the reader on a journey as he and Paul travel from Texas to Oregon. It is very conversational as he deals with questions he was having about the meaning of life and why it matters. I have always enjoyed how honest Miller is in his books and I was glad to finally read (or listen to) this one.
And there you have it! The 23 books I read in 2012. I am going to shoot for 24 this year. That will be 2 books a month and I feel it is pretty doable.
What were some of the books you read in 2012?
October 15, 2012
Sexual addictions are very common in today’s world. This is obvious through the accessibility of pornography, TV ads, shows, movies, scandals, and the amount of books written to help battle the issue. Surfing for God by Michael Cusick is another book written about the problem of sexual addiction and how to overcome it.
Cusick goes about it in a different way. He doesn’t give a 12 step program on how to overcome the addiction. He doesn’t tell the person to work harder. The way Cusick goes about helping is very personal. He tells much of his own story. Cusick was a long time addict and he openly shares some of the lowest points he faced before he was able to overcome the hold this sin had in his life.
Some of this book discusses brain chemistry and why just “working harder” doesn’t work to overcome sexual addiction. He writes about how the brain is changed through addiction, and how powerful the chemicals in our brains can be. His conclusion is that through prayer, allowing God to circumcise your heart, focusing on who you are to become, and correct accountability, people can overcome this sin.
I really enjoyed most of this book. It can be an amazing tool to those who are currently struggling with this issue as well as to help others understand how to help people who are struggling. The way Cusick tells his stories is very helpful. It is easy to feel what he felt and to see where he was coming from, even if you have never gone as far as he had.
I was very concerned about his promoting of Centering Prayer or Contemplative Prayer. As I read his description of this kind of prayer I became very uneasy. This “praying” is very similar to the Eastern Mysticism practice of meditation. It is true that as Christians we are told to meditate on God’s word but that means to dwell on it. We focus on it as we go about our life, we let it change us. This kind of prayer is going into a quiet room and focusing on a word or phrase until you feel something. I am not comfortable with promoting this, and I believe it is very wrong.
Every other part of this book I enjoyed and believe it can be very helpful. I would encourage others to read this book, but to do so with discernment.
October 2, 2012
I don’t know anyone who likes to feel the eyes of judgment staring down at them. There is nobody I know who just enjoys putting themselves in a position where people judge their life, their actions, or even their motives.
In fact, I often hear people saying things like, “don’t judge me!” or “this is my business, don’t you worry about it.”
There is an account in the Bible about a woman who didn’t let that bother her though. Check it out in Luke 7:36-40, 44-48.
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”… 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
This woman was completely aware of her lifestyle decision. She knew by walking into this gathering she would meet judgmental eyes. She knew people would talk, spread rumors, whisper, lie, or do anything else to make her look bad.
She didn’t care.
All she care about was washing Jesus’ feet. All she wanted to do was to serve and worship the man she knew could make a difference in her life.
This is the kind of abandonment of ourselves to which Christ calls us. If we stopped worrying about what other people thought and stopped letting them rule our actions.
Sometimes people will spread lies about us. Other times they will take what we have done and make it seem bad in some way. We live in a world that values darkness. When we begin to live in the light, the world does not like it and the dark will do what it can to squelch the light.
We cannot let the perceptions of others stop us from living the life God has called us to live. Just like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, we must worship Him, no matter who is around. Jesus forgave the woman for her sins and spoke highly of her to those around.
When we live according to what God tells us, we will be blessed, and that is worth all of the trash people may say about us in the mean time.
October 1, 2012
It is hard to believe that we are already in October. The month of September had many things happen both in and out of the blogging world for me. We will stick with what has happened in the blog today.
I wrote 16 posts during September.
That is as many posts as I had written from April all the way through August!
It is also the most amount of posts I have written in a month since starting this blog. I was very excited when I realized it.
I have been much more consistent about writing my posts than I have been in recent months and my plan is to continue that this month. I know it didn’t always work out this way, but I still plan to put up a new post Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and on Wednesday put up a link to my post on Hammer on Anvil.
My traffic to the site was actually down from last month, but this is the first month of writing consistently so I wasn’t expecting any different. Here are my top 10 posts from September.
I wrote all of these posts, except the book review, this month. I had several people start following the blog or liking my posts this month. My top liked posts were “Don’t Give Up on Others” and “Share it.”
Thank you all for continuing to visit the site and read the posts I put up. If you ever have feedback, just leave a comment and I’ll get back with you!
What was your number one post for September on your blog?
September 28, 2012
You may or may not know this about me, but sometimes I get frustrated. I mean fists clenched, jaw set, my mind can think of no good things frustrated. In these moments of complete frustration it is hard for me to think of a way out or possible solutions.
Instead of taking charge of the situation and deciding to be spurred on to change the outcome or not allow the drama in my life, all too often I just accept the situation as is and decide nothing can be done about it.
I’m guilty of feeling this way about people as well. I like to see people grow into the individuals in the community of Christ that God desires them to be. But sometimes there are set backs or temptations and people fall. Many times I am available and help those who are struggling.
However, there have been times that instead of being willing to help, I get frustrated and begin to write the people off. “Well, I guess their faith is no longer important to them.” I thought about how I have done this in the past. There is one struggle that I become aware of in someone else and I immediately begin to wonder how they could just throw out their faith.
It is so wrong of us to think or feel that way. Yes, we should be concerned when a brother or sister in the faith is struggling. We should be concerned when we see less of them than normal, or when some of their actions are changing for what seems like the worse. We should not give up on them though.
In these moments of struggle, temptation, questioning, or weakness are exactly when our brothers and sisters need us most! They need to know we are not giving up on them or just assuming they are “too far gone.”
Think of times when you have gone through the same thing and think about the people who were there for you. If there were no people there for you, think about how much of a difference that would have made.
We can’t just give up on people. They are too important. God sent His Son to this world to take away the sins of the people we are giving up on. He followed through to the death. We need to have absolute commitment and follow through as well.
My encouragement is just to not give up on others. Keep praying for them. Keep loving them.
If the person is your child, don’t give up.
If they are in your youth group, don’t give up.
Don’t give up on your neighbor
Don’t write off your sibling
Keep being there for your roommate
Whoever it is, don’t give up. Right now may be the time they need you the most.
September 27, 2012
I don’t like to look stupid. I know that may come without saying, because most people don’t like it, but I really do not like it.
When meeting people, I am often pretty quiet. I think it’s because I like to evaluate the people I am meeting. I want to hear and see what they are like before opening myself up. My mother-in-law made the comment once that she thinks I said about 3 sentences the first few times I met her.
I am beginning to realize, and maybe I’m a bit slow in this realization, that there is a lot of stuff happening in my head at any given time. I have quick thoughts, long drawn out thoughts, or a series of them all strung together. The problem is, so many times I never share them with anyone.
So I have these thoughts floating in my head; sometimes I write about them, sometimes I think about them for months, and then other times I forget them until much later.
My wife and I talked yesterday about a couple things she has been thinking about for a few months. Sharing stuff out loud helps make it so much more real. It is no longer just some abstract idea. When it comes out of our mouths it has the ability to now take form. We now have someone we can share these ideas with.
Sharing our thoughts really does make a huge difference. Sure, there are all kinds of reasons to not share. Someone may make fun of us, push back on the idea, poke holes in it, not understand, or they may tell someone else.
But some of those reactions, like the push back, may actually help our ideas to grow. We grow as individuals so much more in community with others than we ever could by ourselves. This is why it is so important to find someone with whom you can share your thoughts.
That idea you have, may just change the way you live your life. It might end up helping so many people around you, and maybe even others you don’t know. Your idea could turn out to be a blessing, or develop into a book. It may be just what someone else needs to hear.
You have no idea the power in your ideas, and you won’t begin to discover it until you share it with someone else. So find someone, and tell them what you have been thinking.
September 26, 2012
September 25, 2012
Alright it is confession time. What I am about to admit here on the internet where everyone can see may seem a bit ridiculous to you. In fact, there are times it seems a bit ridiculous to me. This is humbling to say right here to you, but I am going to just come right out and say it.
I am afraid of balloons.
It’s true. They terrify me. I hate the way one looks all blown up, stretched to it’s limits, just waiting to explode. I hate the way I never know if it is going to pop or not.
I was never a fan of balloon games in Youth Group growing up. I didn’t like to sit on them, blow them up until they blew up, or stomp on them. You can call me cruel, but these are games I will not lead in my own Youth Group. I know that seems a bit unorthodox, a youth group that doesn’t play balloon games, but it will just not happen. They stress me out too much.
I could tell you more, but I think I have been transparent enough for one day. I will sit here for a moment and allow you to wrap your mind around that bit of information and to maybe pick yourself up off the floor from laughing yourself to tears.
Alright, let’s move on.
The thing is, Christianity is a bit ridiculous to those who do not understand it. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who [m]are perishing, but to us who [n]are being saved it is the power of God.”
It seems foolish, ridiculous, just down right strange. The way we are called to live as Christians does not make sense to the world.
We are to turn the other cheek when someone treats us wrong. (Matthew 5:39)
We should forgive others who have wronged us, even when they continue to do so. (Matt 18:22)
Christ tells us to trust God and not be worried about our lives (Matt 6:25-34)
God calls us to love our enemies and pray for them. (Matt 5:44)
We give up sleeping in on Sunday mornings to meet together in worship. (Hebrews 10:25)
There are so many things we find in Scripture that go completely against how the rest of the world lives. It doesn’t make sense to others why we would serve people and show them love when they don’t deserve it. It doesn’t make sense why we would “die to ourselves” and live our lives in abandon for Christ.
I know those who have gone to do ministry in one way or another and their family and friends do not understand why they would take a cut in pay or move somewhere they don’t know anyone.
My family has struggled with the fact that I work on the weekends so I can’t just skip going to church, even though I would be going to theirs.
Our faith may seem ridiculous, even to other Christians, but God expects us to live it out each day. It doesn’t matter what other people in our lives say about us. We should be living everyday completely for Christ, no matter how strange it may seem.
What are ways living out your faith has seemed ridiculous to those you know?
September 20, 2012
There was a video shared on Facebook that showed up in my news feed a few days ago. The video is apparently a few years old but it was brand new to me. It’s 5 minutes long but it really got me thinking. You can view the video by clicking here.
This video shows Penn Jillette talking about an encounter he had recently had. It was right after one of his shows. There was a man standing off who approached Mr. Jillette and began to talk with him. After just a little bit the man handed him a Bible and shared his faith a little. Now Penn Jillette is an atheist and this man knew.
What I found so amazing was Jillette’s admiration of the Christian. Throughout the video he says the man was respectable, looked him in the eye, and was a really nice guy. At the end of the video he says he still knows there is no God but this guy had really left an impact.
But the line that really stuck out to me happened at about the 3:30 mark. Jillette asks, “how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” He’s asking, if you know there is a hell and people are bound for it, and you do not tell them, what kind of pure hatred is that?
How many people have I shown this hate? I sit comfortably by and watch as they live their lives, unaware of the future that awaits them. They are living apart from God but I don’t want to say anything for fear of hurting their feelings, or making the situation awkward between us.
How much do I hate them?
Or how great is my own self-love that I would put it above the souls of others. Getting off the couch and telling others would be so inconvenient. What if they have questions? What if they are smarter than I am? What if they don’t like me? What if things are never the same between us? Now think about how they feel at the end of their life when they realize you knew where they were heading and you never loved them enough to warn them.
We share Jesus, not because we think we are better, but because we love. I think that is what Penn Jillette was getting at. This guy seemed genuinely nice and cared enough about him to tell him about Jesus. It’s that genuine love that attracts people. They may not always agree with us, but we can still share in a loving way.
I’m glad Jesus wasn’t worried about how we would react to His message. He just came and told it anyway. It was life changing. Sometimes it was hard to hear, but He still told it because of His great love for us.
That’s what should prompt us to tell others. Because just sitting around and refusing to share, may be the greatest expression of hate we can give.
September 19, 2012
Instead of welcoming John and the Savior with praise and following their teachings, the people of the day, most specifically the religious leaders, were acting like children…..
So instead of following, what was their response? The religious leaders came up with lies. John abstained from certain foods and actions so they called him demon possessed. Then Jesus came along, partaking in the things John did not and they called Him a glutton. There was no pleasing the religious leaders. They acted childish and without wisdom.
You can find the rest of this post at Hammer and Anvil by clicking here.