Archives For christians

In Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, pastor Tom Nelson offers a new perspective on work, providing a look at God’s purposes for work in a way that is both practical and theologically based. He helps readers to make the most of their God-given vocations and to treat their work as God intended, as acts of worship.

I really enjoyed this book and was truly blessed by it. Nelson gives a look at this important topic that is both refreshing and convicting. He is not afraid to debunk common myths nor to reveal his own shortcomings and he uses biblical accounts as well as modern-day stories to deliver his message. He covers topics such as why work is more important than we commonly believe and how to make the most of our “mundane” work and many, many more.

If you would like a fresh perspective on a healthy work ethic and theology of work for Christians, I highly recommend this book.

In Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe, Johnnie Moore, vice president and campus pastor of Liberty University, challenges readers to live an authentic Christian life. He argues that one of the chief problems with Christians, particularly those in the US and other developed countries, is that we have become hypocrites, whether intentionally or otherwise. We need to start living what we say we believe.

I found this book to be inspiring. Through a variety of stories and musings, Moore unpacks what authenticity looks like and what we need to do to have an impact on our world. One of my favorite things about this book is the author’s own authenticity. Moore goes to great lengths to be honest with readers about his own shortcomings and struggles. That combined with his conversational writing style yields a book that is big on conviction and inspiration without feeling preachy.

This book seems targeted at millennials, the author’s own generation, but is well-suited for people of all ages. I feel transformed and convicted after reading this book and I urge you to read it as well.

You have a story. Everyone has a story. A story of plans that didn’t turn out as expected, people who disappointed you, goals that didn’t pan out. Maybe you lost your job, you and your spouse have been unable to have children, or a loved one died of cancer. In Putting Plan B Into Action: A DVD-Based Study, Nashville-based pastor and church planter Pete Wilson speaks to those who have experienced a Plan B situation, a time when God didn’t show up the way you expected. Based on Wilson’s book, Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?, this small group study uses real-life contemporary stories and biblical teaching to lead you through the process of discovering the Plan B for your life and embracing it.

Each of the six group sessions includes a 12-15-minute video message from Wilson followed by a brief reading, a series of questions designed to encourage small group discussion, and a prayer. Group leaders are encouraged to use the questions to get people talking but to allow the discussion to go wherever the participants need it to go rather than covering every question. The participant guide includes 5 daily personal devotions to be used in the week following each group session. A daily scripture reading, short message from Wilson, and questions help to reinforce the message during the week.

This is a fantastic study. The DVD is beautifully produced and the content of each session is excellent. The participant guide coincides nicely with the DVD and encourages honest sharing and forming of community among group members, something that is so important for people who are dealing with life’s struggles. Most importantly, the study is grounded in scripture and reminds us that we must turn to God when dealing with the pain of disappointment.

Putting Plan B Into Action: A DVD-Based Study is well-suited both for Christians and as an outreach to non-Christians. I encourage you to use this study with your small group or to start a small group using the study. If you do, let me know how it goes.

“For Him to increase in my ministry, I had to decrease in my waistline.”

That, in a nutshell, describes comedian Scott Davis’ motivation for losing 132 pounds. In If My Body is a Temple, Then I Was a Megachurch: My journey of losing 132 pounds with no exercise!, Davis describes his journey to a healthy weight using a good-sized helping of humor. The author uses scripture to show that losing weight is about more than just one’s physical condition – it is about the spiritual condition as well. The humor keeps it light-hearted while the scripture and personal stories of his struggles add weight to the book.

This is a great memoir, but it is much more than that: while not a diet book, it is an encouraging look at why and how Christians who struggle with obesity can and should take control and reach a state of health. Davis makes it clear that this is not easy, but he shows that it is doable if we rely on God and the people He has put in place to help us.

My only negative comment about the book is this: at times, the book feels like an infomercial for Quick Weight Loss Centers of Atlanta. It’s easy to get annoyed by the references to one weight-loss facility and lose the greater message of the book. However, it sounds like they have an innovative program and I can see why he would spend so much time talking about it.

Despite this, the book is well worth your time if you struggle with obesity or even have just a little extra weight that you can’t seem to lose. In fact, I think that pretty much anyone could benefit from the book because so much of it has as much to do with spiritual health as physical health.

The audiobook is read by the author and is very well-read and well-produced. I highly recommend it.

In Think: The Life of Mind and the Love of God, bestselling author and pastor John Piper aims to encourage and help Christians to think. He argues that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God” and uses scripture to debunk and bring to light the dangers of the anti-intellectualism movement in the church. At the same time, he makes it clear that using human intellect alone is also not scriptural. He also addresses relativism, showing the dangers of this line of thinking and how to safeguard against it.

I found this book insightful. Like all of Piper’s works, it is incredibly deep and will, at least for me, require repeated listening before I will glean all of its insight. Piper’s approach is fresh and full of scriptural basis and he is careful to explain that either extreme in this debate is dangerous.

I listened to the audiobook edition from christianaudio and found the recording quality excellent. Wayne Shepherd read the book clearly and used proper inflection, keeping the reading interesting.

I urge you to read or listen to this book if you want to learn how to grow closer to God.

It’s all too common in today’s church: Christians hurting Christians. A critical comment, an unforgiving stare, a no-holds-barred battle among church members. In the end one or both parties are wounded, a testimony has been harmed, and the only winner is Satan. In A Tale of Three Kings, author Gene Edwards speaks to those who have been harmed at the hands of other believers. He uses two biblical accounts – those of the relationship between David and Saul and that between Absalom and David – to deliver a message of hope, comfort, and healing.

This is a beautiful story. Edwards’ use of the stories of David’s relationship to Saul and then to Absalom to instruct and offer healing is profound. I will never look at these two stories in the same light again and will never again see church conflict as I did before, either.

The audiobook edition, read by Paul Michael, is excellent. I listened to it twice on a trip to bring my grandparents home from Florida, first by myself on the plane and then with my grandparents in the car. The narrator’s soothing voice combined with the author’s soothing words to deliver an experience unlike any other. I took much more away from my second listening and encourage you to listen more than once to gain all the insight found within the book. It’s very short, so listening multiple times is easy to do.

On a personal note, my grandparents left my church ten years ago after some sad occurrences. Two weeks after listening to this book, they started attending again. I won’t say that this book is responsible for that, but I am certain that God used it in His plan to bring them home. I praise the Lord for that.

We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don’t want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We’re not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us?

In Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God, bestselling author Joshua Harris says no, God’s purpose for Christians involves a deep commitment to a local church. This commitment involves far more than showing up on Sunday to sing, chat, and listen to a sermon. Josh says that in order for us to have the kind of relationship with a local church that God intended, we must first see the Church (universal church) as God sees it.

This is the third book by Josh Harris that I’ve read. One of my favorite things about his books is that his writing style is so conversational and unassuming. I feel when I pick up one of his books as if I’ve sat down with a friend for a cup of coffee and encouragement sprinkled with confession. He uses a variety of examples, but many of them come from his own life – his own shortcomings and mistakes. And yet, his books are always grounded in scripture and demonstrate a satisfaction in Christ that many only secretly dream of.

In Stop Dating the Church!, Josh breaks down the arguments for church dating and explains why God desires that we have the close relationships with other Christians found only in a local church. Like with any commandment of God, there are real, tangible benefits to obedience. Commitment to a local church takes effort, but the benefits far outweigh that effort. Unfortunately, many of us are too committed outside of the church to have a real relationship with the other members of our local body.

In the book, Josh offers real advice on how to commit to the church and what commitment looks like. He also discusses choosing a church, including what things are a matter of taste and what things are vital to a healthy church family – and, by extension, a healthy Christian. He then talks about how to make the most of Sunday, including the church service and the rest of the day.

I highly recommend that you read this book, whether or not you think you might qualify as a church dater. I found the book convicting, but also encouraging and insightful. It’s helped me to look at my own relationship with my church in a new light and I am looking forward to applying more of Josh’s suggestions.

One word of caution: I am linking above to the print edition of Stop Dating the Church!. The book’s content is fantastic, and what I’ve seen of the print edition’s quality is excellent, but I read the Kindle edition and was very disappointed in the production quality of that edition. It appears that they took the print edition, converted it to the Kindle format, and posted it without any proofreading. There are numerous cases where words that needed to be broken across lines in the print edition are still hyphenated in the Kindle edition, or where characters that apparently didn’t convert properly are either missing or display strangely in the Kindle edition. Having read this one Kindle edition from Multnomah Books, I would be hesitant to buy another Kindle edition from the publisher. By the way, if you’re from Multnomah and are looking for someone to do Kindle conversions, feel free to get in touch. :-)

I came across an interesting post on Internet Monk a few weeks ago and want to share it with you. It has led to interesting discussions among my family members and caused me to question my own reactions to certain behaviors. The post is entitled “Will We Have To Leave?” and relates to cohabitation and other sinful lifestyles and how the church responds to them. Here’s a snippet:

Nothing really works in this situation. People are broken and looking for something to glue themselves together. Religious people are accumulating morality points and abandoning the Gospel. The possibilities of a community of Christians to show what it means to love people as Jesus did and in their own weakness get lost in drawing lines and pretending there is such a [thing] as justification by having never [cohabited].

The possibility of seeing someone repent of sin, come to Christ and move toward true gifts of forgiveness and marriage is apparently less appealing than the Pharisaic joys of letting sinners know they aren’t welcome with us or the God we worship until they clean up their mess.

Read the entire post here.

It’s confession time. I actually have avoided inviting people to church because they were cohabiting and I wasn’t sure how this fact would impact the people’s experience at my church. You can probably imagine the thoughts that were going through my head: “What will people say if they find out? Will they still be welcoming and be a good testimony?” The good news is that when I’m being honest with myself I do think that those in my church would do the right thing. Most of them, at least, would join me in welcoming any guest, regardless of the areas of sin in his or her life. That doesn’t mean that my church would be accepting of the behavior, but sensitive to the fact that while the behavior shouldn’t be approved of, the person should feel welcome. The behavior should change if/when the person forms a relationship with Christ. If, at that point, the behavior continues, then we have a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Time for self-examination: how do I really feel about this? Would I participate in gossip about this individual? If it weren’t my friend, would I feel comfortable with the situation? Would I be a good testimony? I would like to think so. I pray that I wouldn’t gossip, that I would feel comfortable enough to make the visitor comfortable, and that I would be a good testimony. I also pray that I wouldn’t be so accepting that I inadvertently show acceptance for the behavior.

How about you?