December 31, 2012

First Desktop Background of 2013

 This is my first desktop background for the year 2013.  This is a slogan from World War II, produced by the British Government, in case of German invasion.  Though there were several copies of the original poster made, it never saw public display and was eventually forgotten.  It was rediscovered by a second-hand bookshop in 2000.

For me, I think that it is a great slogan for 2013.  (It is at least a good background for January.)

source unknown

December 14, 2012

President Obama on the CT Shooting

I agree with John Piper's thoughts on the President's words:

"Well said, Mr. President."


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


[ht: Denny Burk via John Piper]

Chromebooks Flyer

Here is the flyer that I printed out for our school.  

If you haven't donated yet, please consider giving to our High Poverty school.


For a printable version:



December 13, 2012

Chromebooks For Our School

If you have been following me for any amount of time, then you know I am a huge Google fan.  Two years ago, any mocking for being a Google fanatic was quelled when I received in the mail a free Chromebook from Google.  I was part of their Pilot Program and received one in the mail. Since that time, I have grown to love my Chromebook.  I use it everyday.  After two years of non-stop use, it is still as fast as it was when I first got it.


A couple of days ago, I heard about a special offer from Google and DonorsChoose.org for $99 Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks for Public Schools.  This is an amazing deal!  The school where I teach in is high poverty, we are barely scraping by on one lab of old desktop computers.  We don't have ipads or even a mobile lab.  I quickly put my name in and was accepted before the time ran out.

I am writing this blog post to beg for money.  I only need to come up with about $2600 to get 22 Chromebooks for my classroom.  And... Every donation using the code INSPIRE will receive a matched donation for the next 7 days!  Please consider donating some small amount to our school for this amazing deal!

If you find it in your heart to donate a little toward a needy school, please visit this site and make a donation. (Don't forget to use the code INSPIRE to get the matching donation.)

http://www.donorschoose.org/project/chromebooks-for-our-school/934086/#materialsList


This is for a non-profit, so every donation is tax-deductible!

December 4, 2012

A Reading of The Innkeeper by John Piper


My wonderful wife bought me this book last year. This year Crossway with Desiring God is offering a fireside reading of this book.  Desiring God hopes to offer Hope for the Hurting This Christmas.  If you haven't read this book, this is a wonderful way to hear what it is all about.

 
John Piper reads "The Innkeeper" from Desiring God on Vimeo.


To read my review of this book from last year, click here. To purchase this book on Amazon just go here, The Innkeeper.

November 30, 2012

Killing Calvinism - Book Review

I just finished reading Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside. I found the title of this book to be alluring.  It snatched my attention from the first time that I heard of it.  It was on my watch list for books that I was hoping would go on sale eventually.  Strangely enough, when it did go on sale, it wasn't me that purchased it, but it was my wife who purchased this book. She saw it on the when she was browsing through the Kindle books and decided to pick it up.  I was surprised to see it listed with my books, but quickly started to read it.

Like I said, the title of this book is what drew me in, but what kept me reading was the openness and honesty of the author.  From the subtitle, How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside, I could tell that this book was going to deal with the reality of people's reaction to, what is popularly called, Calvinism, and the difficulty of relaying that truth to others. There are so many knee-jerk reactions to salvation and the sovereignty of God that it is hard to get past all of that and into the actual teachings of Scripture.  The flip side to that coin is the pride, anger and arrogance that seems to go along with those who hold this view, whether that is a reality or not, many seem to detect a connection here.

Greg Dutcher shares a quote from John Piper regarding the anger:
When a person comes to see the doctrines of grace in the Bible, he is often amazed that he missed it, and he can sometimes become angry.  He can become angry that he grew up in a church or home where they never talked about what is really there in Romans 8, I Corinthians 2, and Ephesians 2.  They never talked about it -- they skipped it -- and he is angry that he was misled for so long.
I understand that sentiment.  There are so many passages of scripture that were never discussed or taught. I have seen this anger in me.  I don't want to do things that might hinder others from seeing and savoring the greatest aspects of God's amazing grace, and I definitely don't want my attitudes to dim their glory.  The author shared another Piper quote that really rang true:
I love the doctrines of grace with all my heart, and I think they are pride-shattering, humbling, and love producing doctrines.  But I think there is an attractiveness about them to some people, in a large matter, because of their intellectual rigor.  They are powerfully coherent doctrines, and certain kinds of minds are drawn to that.  And those kinds of minds tend to be argumentative. 
So the intellectual appeal of the system of Calvinism draws a certain kind of intellectual person, and that type of person doesn't tend to be the most warm, fuzzy, and tender.  Therefore this type of person has a greater danger of being hostile, gruff, abrupt, insensitive, or intellectualistic.
So I don't go into a Piper-quoting frenzy, I will stop there.  I do appreciate how the author, through these quotes and through personal experiences and confessions, displays the typical dangers that seem to cloud the  teachings of these doctrines.  I was stirred, again, by the author's love, not of Calvinism, but of the Lord, to keep in mind God's wonderful grace.

If you are a Calvinist, 5-point or no... I recommend getting this book.  I found it extremely helpful and encouraging.  I will end this book review by sharing another quote in the book, this one by R.C. Sproul.  This quote is on that I found to be extremely interesting and full of eye-opening encouragement.  I concerns Sprouls acceptance of the teachings of Calvinism:
The combination was too much for me.  Gerstner, Edwards, the New Testament professor, and above all the apostle Paul, were too formidable a team for me to withstand.  The ninth chapter of Romans was the clincher. I simply could find no way to avoid the apostle's teaching in that chapter. Reluctantly, I sighed and surrendered, but with my head, not my heart.  "OK, I believe this stuff, but I don't have to like it!" 
I soon discovered that God has created us so that the heart is supposed to follow the head. I could not, with impunity, love something with my head that I hated in my heart.  Once I began to see the cogency of the doctrine and its broader implications, my eyes were opened to the graciousness of grace and the grand comfort of God's sovereignty.  I began to like the doctrine little by little, until it burst upon my soul that the doctrine revealed the depth and the riches of the mercy of God.
If I know you and you are interested in reading this book, and you have a Kindle, I think that I can "loan" this book.  I have never tried this before, but I would be willing to give it a shot.  Let me know.


November 27, 2012

Lay Elders eJournal

Click to Read
The new Nine Marks eJournal for November/December is covering the topic of Lay Elders.  I am looking forward to reading through this edition.  I always find their work to be both enlightening and encouraging.

I noticed that it was titled, "... part 1" so I am hoping for more on this topic.  As I looked through the table of contents, I didn't find anything about my situation exactly.  It is mostly geared toward elders in the church who are also holding down a full-time job.  That is me, but the journal isn't really dealing with Lay Elders who are the only Elder in their church.

It still sounds really interesting with articles titled:


  • A Job Description for Lay Elders
  • How Much Time Can a Lay Elder Give to Ministry?
  • Raising Up Elders: Three Areas to Address
  • Raising Up Elders: Four Foundational Principles
  • Four Ways to Equip New Elders
  • Besetting Sins of Lay Elders
  • How Pastor Mark Passes Out Authority
They have a printable pdf version available or a Kindle or epub version.  Click on through to download your copy today.

Seeing Through the Fog - Book Review

I finished listening to Christian Audio's version of Seeing Through The Fog: Hope When Your World Falls Apart, by Ed Dobson about two weeks ago, but I have been really busy and didn't have time to post a review.

This was a very interesting book.  It is sort of a memoir of Ed Dobson's after he found out that he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  ALS is a debilitating disease. As it progresses, more and more muscles lose their ability to work. This eventually leads to more and more important muscle groups ceasing to function, which eventually causes death.  ALS is, as far as I know, an incurable disease.

In this book, Ed Dobson shares his struggles and thoughts on the disease and on struggling in general.  It was a very honest book.  It was easy to listen to, and you could sense the author's desire to be as transparent as possible.  He shared his ups and downs, the highs and lows.  His honesty was refreshing and encouraging.

My one complaint is his, for lack of a better way to describe it, his theology of suffering.  About midway through the book he attempted to deal with the question of suffering, if there is a good God, why would we suffer?  The Bible doesn't avoid this question, but even though Ed Dobson is a Pastor and I have no doubt that he loves God as his greatest treasure, I still think he missed the mark on this one... and it just makes me sad.

He captured my sorrow in the chapter dealing with the source of suffering.  He shared how he heard about someone giving a testimony on dealing with cancer.  The individual talked about how he was thankful for the cancer.  Dobson questioned the thankfulness "for", wondering if that was necessary.  We are clearly to give thanks in...(I Thess. 5:18) but should we give thanks "for" everything?  My first thought was, "hmm.  I think there actually is a verse that says to give thanks for everything.

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 5:20 ESV)
But what really got me was when he started talking about whether or not God had anything to do with his disease.  And then he said it... "I don't think God had anything to do with it."  I can still hear those words ringing in my ears.  I actually stopped my mp3 player and paused for a moment.  I couldn't believe that he had said it.

Please, don't get me wrong.  Identifying the source of suffering can feel like a quirky theological maze, but the Bible is clear that God is not set apart from our suffering. Thinking that God had nothing to do with the suffering is surely not the best or the right way to look at it.  For example, that was not quite the sentiment of Job.  That man, after losing everything stated,

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
(and just in case you might think that Job got it wrong, the author quickly adds...) In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:20-22 ESV)
Job didn't accuse God falsely.  When he stated, "the Lord has taken away..." he was right!  This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but I believe that understanding God's central role in all of my suffering is something that is not only theologically correct, it is something of immense encouragement while in the middle of the trial.

I do not doubt Ed Dobson's faith, his view just seemed surprising to me.

The book was well written, and I would still suggest reading it.  It isn't my normal sort of read, but I found it to stimulate my thoughts on suffering and encouraging to hear how he has dealt with the challenges.  The voice talent is one that I am familiar with, and he did a great job at portraying the author.


Desktop Background for December 2012

I love to change my desktop background on my computer every so often.  I used to post my backgrounds on the blog, but fell out of the habit.  Thought I would pick this habit back up, I am not ready for my blog do die!

Here is December's background... via 22 Words.  A little bit of a retro poster that goes along with my love of books.




November 21, 2012

Kidnapped Devotions

Every once in a while I will be reading a book or listening to a speaker and I will hear a phrase that cuts me to the quick.  This morning I was listening to the Christian Audio version of Paul Tripp's new book, Dangerous Calling .  It was already challenging me with the openness of the author, but then he said something that stuck in my mind the rest of the ride.  He said that a Pastor's...
"... preparation will regularly kidnap their devotional time."
Whoa.  Absolutely guilty here.  I have even purposely done that.

My excuse has usually come in the form of understanding that a Pastor's preaching should flow from their devotional time.  I don't necessarily think that my devotions should stand as a completely seperate entity, but I will quite often feel that I've spent some personal time with my creator if I have been studying for a sermon. Quite frankly, it is not the same thing.

I only have the audio version right now, through Christian Audio's wonderful reviewer's program.  I think that I am going to have to purchase the book in print or for my Kindle.

November 19, 2012

God is Good

From the Desiring God Blog:

On January 4, 2011, on Twitter, Pastor John wrote: 
Marriage. The roots are deep. The covenant is solid. The love is sweet. Life is hard. And God is good
The quote is a rewrite of what Pastor John wrote in 2003 to Noël in the preface to his book Desiring God
But when the quote appeared on Twitter in 2011, a woman named Patty Hurtarte copied it into her journal with no immediate purpose for it. But almost two years later she returned to the quote, used her artistic skill to turn it into a design, framed it and gifted her illustration to her pastor and his wife, Joshua and Shannon Harris.
I found these words felt especially profound after my Ordination Ceremony this weekend.  My wife has been with me every step of the way.  She makes everything special.

Here is that design:




November 15, 2012

In the Catalog!

I made it into the Maranatha Baptist Bible College Catalog!

I am on page 95 of the catalog.  I am in the Math Education section.

I knew that they were thinking about putting me in there, but I hadn't heard whether or not they had actually done it.  I sent them my "teacher photo" from the school.

Click this picture to read my little write-up.  (Or you can click here to look at the education section of the school's catalog and scroll down to page 95.)



October 8, 2012

Anyone want to buy this book for me?

I don't normally like to beg, but this book really interests me.

I've been using the Khan Academy in my math classes for about 2 1/2 years.  I've seen it grow and change over that time, and it keeps getting better.  I would like to use it more, but trying to figure out how to incorporate it, isn't always as easy. (I have a Khan Academy setup page on our new School Staff page.  Click here.)

Most teachers have limited time with their students.  We are always wanting more time, especially in math.  We can't always depend on students doing homework at home, so I've relied more and more on class time to help my students get their needed practice with a new concept.  The Khan Academy has been great for reviewing those basic concepts, the ones I don't have time for in class because I need them to practice the new concepts, but I feel like I could incorporate it even more.

The Khan Academy even has several RTI (Response To Intervention) possibilities for our school.  I am going to be the RTI coach at the High School We are going to use AIMS web, but the Khan Academy provides a secondary point of data gathering in order to find those students who are most at risk in a certain topic of math.

Anyway, I don't like to beg, but we are a poor school district (partly because the State of Illinois doesn't make it's payments to our school), and I am a poor school teacher who can't justify a  book purchase of more than $0.99 right now.  So, even though I don't normally beg, I just thought there might be someone out there with a heart for Teachers, a heart for Education, or a heart for Georgetown, IL (or maybe even a heart for the Matt Harmlesses of the world) that might feel motivated to buy me a book!

No pressure.  I am mostly kidding.  But if someone bought me this book, I am not saying that wouldn't be awesome!

October 6, 2012

Free Audio Book from Christian Audio

Every month Christian Audio has a free download for the month.  There have been several really good ones that I have downloaded over the past couple of years.  The free book for October 2012 is extremely timely though, so I would like to point all of you there.

The book?  How Should Christians Vote by Tony Evans.

I've always enjoyed Tony Evans on the radio.  I've never read anything that he has written, but he has always seemed quite sound in his teaching.  I haven't listened to this book yet, but I am willing to give it a try.

If you download this book, let me know what you think.  I am currently listening to another one, so I probaly won't get to this one for another week or so.

Atrocious


John Calvin, commenting on Exodus 21:22-25:
The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being (homo), and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.
[HT: Kevin DeYoung]

For me, abortion is not a political issue.  It is a life or death issue.  It is also a personal issue.  I can't agree with John Calvin more.

Read Also:
Three
Moral Vote
Four
Decisions Made in a Pickup Truck
15 Pro-Life Truths to Speak (by John Piper)

October 4, 2012

Don't Waste Your Sports - Book Review

I just finished the Christian Audio version of Don't Waste Your Sports by C.J. Mahaney.  It was free on Christian Audio for a short time.  I love free, so I couldn't help but snag this book.

Don't Waste Your Sports was a short book.  Some of the chapters were only about 6 minutes long in the audio version.  The whole book took less than an hour to listen to.  That was OK though, the book was very to the point.  And, quite frankly, it is about sports, with the hope that athletes will read it.  So, not trying to be mean, but a short book might have been the best choice.

I really enjoyed this book.  I am not a huge sports fan, so I have always been keenly aware of some of the negative aspects of sports.  Not being a good athlete myself, has also increased my sensitivity to the pride that reigns supreme in many good athletes. It was refreshing to hear many of those issues addressed directly in this book.

I have to add, though, that because of my negative attitude, it has caused me to miss some of the more positive aspects of sports. This book was very helpful in assisting me in seeing the redeemable points in  sports, thinking ultimately about the Glory of God in the midst of sports.

If you are an athlete (or not) or a coach or an athletic director or a parent, I would like to recommend this book.

October 3, 2012

This Will of Mine

I have been reading, on a weekly basis, The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre. I have also been sharing some of what I have been learning with my church on Wednesday night prayer meetings.

Near the end of Chapter 3, titled The Direction of the Mind, there was a poem that I felt.  Do you know what I mean by that?  I mean, really feeling a poem.  You feel it down deep because you have experienced what the author is describing.  I may not have actually written those exact words, but it felt like I did.

I don't know if the poem had a title or not.  I am also not really sure who actually wrote it.  It is simply sitting at the end of a section about honesty in prayer.  Not only being open and honest before God, but also willing to hear the honesty from God as He might bring things to mind while you are praying.  Things you might have to deal with.

I want to continue to give you the background to this bit of writing, but instead, I am just going to share it with you:
Lord, here I hold within my trembling hand,
This will of mine - a thing which seemeth small;
And only Thou, O Christ, canst understand
How, when I yield Thee this, I yield mine all. 
It hath been wet with tears, and stained with sighs
Clenched in my grasp till beauty hath it none;
Now, from Thy footstool where it prostrate lies
The prayer ascendeth, Let Thy will be done.
I've been there.  Had my will, my wants, my dreams, clenched firmly in my grip. I am sure to most, it wouldn't have seemed like much, but Christ knew.  He knew that to yield this to Him was yielding everything.  To finally release, lay it at His feet and say, "Lord, whatever you want.  Even that."  Those were hard words.

I urge you.  I plead with you, if you are reading this blog, to begin your prayers with a heart that is willing to give your all, to yield to the will of God.

September 28, 2012

Pray

I think God wants me to pray.

I could have known this when Jesus told the parable about how we "ought always to pray and never lose heart."  Or what about when Paul says that we should "pray without ceasing."

I could have picked it up from Paul as he was giving young Timothy some teaching about how we should be making all sorts of prayers for all sorts of people.  He later tells Timothy that the men (especially) should pray everywhere.

I could have learned it from any of those passages, or a dozen others like them, but I didn't.  I learn most everything the hard way.  Through trials.

It is through difficulties and challenges that I turn to God most diligently.  I wish it wasn't so... I really do, but I know that it is.

Life has been fairly smooth for awhile now, but God has recently allowed me to face a couple of minor challenges.  These things have left me realizing, more than ever, the necessity of prayer in the Christian's life.  It is so important that John Bunyan said, "If thou art not a praying man, thou art not a Christian."

So, I have been praying.  Praying more than ever.  Getting up early to pray. Turning my headphones off while I am running, so I can pray.  Praying on the bus in the morning.  Praying on my walk to school.  Praying during the day for the kids.

I have been reading books on prayer and prayer books.  Anything I can do to assist my growth in prayer.

This morning, after the bus dropped me off and I was heading to school, I was praying while I was walking.  It lasted for a few moments, then I started to get distracted.  Just as my mind was leaving that state of prayer, I looked up and saw this sight.


Like I said, I could have known the importance of prayer from many different sources.  In the end though, God is graciously bringing these reminders into my life.  And I praise him for it.

If you are not a praying person, then I challenge you to be.  Get on your knees this week.  Pray.  Cry out to God.  Pray for your family and your friends.  Get a prayer book and pray through those prayers.  Pray through the Psalms.  Write your own prayers. Just Pray.



September 27, 2012

Post Number 1501

This is blog post number One Thousand Five Hundred One.

I didn't realize I had posted so many times to this blog.  I started this blog September 2003, which means I have blogged, somewhat consistently for 9 years.  I can't even believe that blogging has been around that long.  It still seems like such a new thing to me.

While I've been on this blog, I've lived in Indiana, South Carolina, and Illinois.

I've taught at Faith Baptist Christian School of Lafayette, IN, Shannon Forest Christian School in Greenville, SC, Mauldin High School in Mauldin, SC, Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Landrum, SC, and Georgetown Ridge Farm High School and Mary Miller Junior High in Georgetown, IL.

In addition to teaching, I've been a truck driver at three different moving companies.  I've traveled as far north as Connecticut and as far south as Miami.  I've also been a janitor and a pastor (which are surprisingly  similar) since I started blogging.  I've made good money, bad money and no money.

I've seen my children go from tiny to one of them being as tall as me.  We've encountered black widow spiders, scorpions, and poisonous snakes.  One of my children had an encounter with a small hatchet.  Shortly after that I had an encounter with a sharp piece of metal.

I've seen my wife suffer through the loss of two babies.

I've owned and sold hairless cats.  I had a dog and had to give up that dog.

I've lived in 7 different houses since I started this blog.  I've owned a few different vehicles and had to repair more than one of them.  I've blogged about replacing the fuel pump in the same vehicle on two different occasions.

This blog started at a time when my marriage was barely hanging on.  Since then, I've seen our marriage grow to a deeper depth of love and commitment than I knew existed when I typed my first post.

I had just turned 31 when I started blogging.  Now I am 40 years old and have high cholesterol.

If I was really an ambitious blogger, I would put links up for each of these stories.  But I am not an ambitious blogger, I just like to get on here when it crosses my mind or when I finish a book.

Two other bloggers that I started following from the very beginning and have kept up with since then are Rodney Olsen and Rick Boyne, both brothers in Christ.  I appreciate both of their blogs and always enjoy reading what is going on in their lives.

Well, there it is.  One Thousand Five Hundred One posts.

September 19, 2012

Psalm 27 as a Prayer for my Church


This is a prayer for Edgewood Baptist Church, that was adapted from Psalm 27.  Feel free to pray this for us or for your own Church.

The Lord is our Light and our Salvation.
Who or what is there that we would fear?
The Lord is the Stronghold of Edgewood Baptist Church.
Is there anyone or anything that could cause us to be afraid?
When Satan tries to discourage us.
because of his desire to consume this Church,
He may bring all manner of enemy against us.
So much so that it will feel like an army in battle array against this Church.
But We will be confident!
And our hearts will not fear! 
There is one thing that we are asking of you, Lord.
Just one thing that we are seeking after.
Our desire is your presence in this Church.
We pray that this will truly be the house of the Lord,
That we may live in your presence, not just today, but every day.
We don’t want to miss your beauty
or the beauty of your Gospel!
May we come here to gaze upon it all the days of our lives. 
When days of trouble come, we know that safety is with You.
We run to you for shelter, comfort, and a firm place to stand.
Now Lord, we will lift up our heads to you.
Our sacrifice to you will be done with shouts of joy!
We will sing praises to you and mean it! 
Please hear us Lord as we pray... As we cry aloud!
In your grace, Lord, will you answer the prayers of this Church?
You have said, “Seek my face.” 
In obedience, We are answering this call.
Lord, Our heart is saying to you, “Your face, Lord, We will seek!
As we do this, Lord, do not hide your face from Edgewood Baptist Church. 
Maybe you've been angry with one or all of us.
Lord, Please don’t turn away from this Church in Anger.
You have been our help.
We have turned to you again and again.
Lord, Please do not cast This Church to the side.
Please don’t forsake us. 
David cries, “O God of my salvation!”
That is what you are to Edgewood. Our Salvation.
And we would seek salvation in no other!
There have been so many that have forsaken us.
But the Lord will absolutely take us in! 
Teach Edgewood your Way.
Show us the level path.
The Enemy would have us go astray
He will speak lies to us, discouraging us.
Help us to stay on the right path. 
We believe that we will look on the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living. 
We will wait for the Lord.
We will be strong.
Our hearts will be courageous.
And We will wait for the Lord.

September 15, 2012

The Hole in our Holiness - Book Review

I just finished the Christian Audio version of The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung and read by Adam Verner. The full title of the book is The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness.

The Amazon.com Description:
The “hole in our holiness” is that evangelicals don’t look particularly holy, and, despite the flood of gospel-centered discussions, there seems to be a greater focus on personal depravity than on the pursuit of holiness. Looking to right the balances, Kevin DeYoung presents a popular-level treatment of sanctification and union with Christ, helping readers to see what matters most—being like Jesus. He shows how one can be like Christ in being joined to Christ. The market is ready for DeYoung’s timely book, ready to avoid legalism and ambivalence, and they are ready for someone to articulate the inextricable relationship between grace and holiness.
I absolutely agree with the basis of this book. In my own circles of friendships and acquaintances, I have seen this consistent slide towards a relaxed view of holiness.  With many it has even been a, "We can continue in sin so grace may abound!" sort of view.  Though most wouldn't admit this truth, their lives proclaim it day by day.

I have seen this tendency in my own life as well.  The "big-bad" sins are gone, but those lingering ones tend to remain for a long time.  It has been through great conviction, and some trials and tribulations, that God has begun to work those out of my life as well.  It has now moved to the forefront of my mind that this is essential to all Christians.  And the critical nature of personal holiness has also shown itself in my study of Ephesians at Edgewood.

The thing that I really enjoyed about this book, that moved it up to an "excellent" number of stars on my ratings, is that it is full (to the brim) with scripture.  And not just references, I love it when an author includes whole verses and passages of scripture in their book.  It isn't just "filler" for a book, it becomes the book's spinal cord.

I also appreciated how Kevin DeYoung starts by showing us the "why" of holiness, but he also tells us the "how" from more than one perspective.  There were huge applicational points throughout the book, but he really zoned in on the marriage between God and his Grace in Jesus Christ and the effort that is exerted in a pursuit of holiness.

I highly recommend this book.  I really enjoyed the voice talent as well.  Adam Verner was a new name for me, but he really reminded me of the times that I have heard Kevin DeYoung speak.  There was such a personal feel to the reading that I thought that it was actually the author reading the book through most of it.

Check out the links above to go to Amazon, or go the the Christian Audio site to purchase this book.

September 11, 2012

New York City From Space on September 11, 2001


This image is from NASA's Image of the Day website.  Here is part of the description:
Visible from space, a smoke plume rises from the Manhattan area after two planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. This photo was taken of metropolitan New York City (and other parts of New York as well as New Jersey) the morning of September 11, 2001.
Click on through to read the rest.  click here

September 10, 2012

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church - Book Review

Earlier in the year our church covered the book What is a Healthy Church?  The longer version of that material is found the the book called the Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. To prepare for the Wednesday night teaching, I read through this book to help me prepare.

I was drawn to this book because I am the Pastor at a very small church.  And when you are the pastor of a very small church, you find yourself constantly questioning your own abilities and measuring your effectiveness by the number of people in the room.  I mean, surely if I was doing what God wanted me to do, then this church would grow... Right?

Wrong.

There are many cases in the Bible of Men doing exactly what God wanted them to do, and their lives weren't marked by popular success.  Noah didn't have one convert believe in his message of judgment.  Isaiah's message was that people weren't going to believe it.  And Jesus was eventually abandoned by all of his followers and crucified.

So, I needed another way to evaluate our church.  I had been reading the Nine Marks blog for a little while, so I decided to grab this book from Amazon and give it a read. I then grabbed the down-sized version and used it during our Wednesday night teaching time.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we walked away with some changes that need to be made and some confidence that we are doing some things right.

The Nine Marks are:

  1. Expositional Preaching
  2. Biblical Theology
  3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News
  4. Biblical Understanding of Conversion
  5. Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
  6. Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
  7. Biblical Understanding of Church Discipline
  8. Biblical Understanding of Church Leadership
  9. Concern for Promoting Christian Discipleship and Growth
Though there are several other ways to evaluate your church, I found this one to be extremely helpful and essentially Biblical in nature.  Even asking about being "healthy" instead of "successful" is such an important aspect.  I highly recommend this book, and encourage you to click the link above and start evaluating your church.


September 9, 2012

The Expository Genius of John Calvin - Book Review

About a month ago I finished reading The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven J. Lawson.  I had read another book about Calvin about a month before this, but I was especially intrigued by the focus of this book.  I was also intrigued by the low price when I purchased the Kindle edition.  (I think it was in the free section for about a week.)

Knowing that, it doesn't mean as much if I say that it was a worthwhile purchase.  Let's pretend that it was regular price at the time... "It was a worthwhile purchase!"  Did the pretending help?

OK, OK, let me just say that it was a really good book.  It was easy to read and covered aspects of Calvin's life and ministry that I hadn't heard of before.  I appreciated the examples that this book shared from different messages that Calvin preached.  The book was well researched and the examples demonstrated the points the author was making as to the methods of Calvin's sermons.

It was interesting to find out that he attempted to speak in such a way so that the common man could understand the message.  When he would quote other passages of scripture, he wouldn't always mention that it was a quote, quite often state a phrase or a portion to emphasize a point.  It was as if Scripture simply flowed from his lips.

I was also greatly encouraged to learn that the focus of Calvin's ministry was simply to "preach the word."  Change didn't come because he had political influence or even an office.  He was simply the pastor who held the belief in Scripture alone.  He faithfully preached his way through book after book of the Bible.  Many times picking up exactly where he had left off after an illness or even after the time he was run out of town, when he returned he started at the very passage in the book he had been preaching through.

The book ends with a plea for faithful preaching, voiced by stating, "We want again Calvins!"  C.H. Spurgeon said this of Calvin:
Among all those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin; no age before him ever produced his equal, and no age afterwards has seen his rival.
At another time he said:
John Calvin propounded truth more clearly than any other man who ever breathed, knew more of Scripture, and explained it more clearly.
From the author:
We now stand in the twenty-first century, almost five hundred years removed from John Calvin's time, but we find ourselves in an equally critical hour of redemptive history. As the organized church was spiritually bankrupt at the outset of Calvin's day, so it is again in our time.  Certainly to judge by outward appearances, the evangelical church in this hour seems to be flourishing.  Megachurches are springing up everywhere. Christian contemporary music and publishing houses seem to be booming.  Men's rallies are packing large coliseums. Christian political groups are heard all the way to the White House.  Yet the evangelical church is largely a whitewashed tomb.  Tragically her outward facade masks her true internal condition.
Though I don't agree with that exactly, mostly because we forget to factor in the global church, I think the author might be dead on when it comes to the American Church.  More importantly, I believe that the remedy is not to be found in a program or a new Bible Study, but in the preaching of the Word.  I will close with one more quote of Spurgeon's that the author also chose to end with:
We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen's ears.  We have dire need of such.  Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time... 
I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men's ears to hear it.  The moment the church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His churches.



September 6, 2012

In the news...

My family was featured in our local news paper, The Commercial News, over the summer.

I've hesitated mention this on the blog because it felt a little too much like self-promotion. I don't want to do things that make me look good.  I want to do things that make Christ look good.  When I originally said yes to this interview, I simply wanted the end result to lift up Christ.  When I first read the final result, I felt that, to some degree, that was accomplished. So, I am sharing this now for that same reason.

My secondary motivation for saying yes to the interview was the potential of getting the name of our church out there.  I love my church and I am totally content with the people who are there and completely satisfied with God having full control over the growth of this Church.  But I love people and I want them to come to our church!

I really believe that our core group of people at Edgewood Baptist Church have a genuine desire to do things God's way.  For the most part they are holding onto the things that matter and willing to change and adjust in other areas.  We just need some more people. So I hoped that the article might catch the eye of someone who might be hurting or struggling or maybe someone simply looking for a good church to attend.

If you haven't read the article, please read it and let me know what you think.

Pastor Fulfills Dream After Return to Danville

September 5, 2012

Officially an Old Guy

It happened in one week.

I've always felt like such a kid, and I've always felt like I was on the younger side of life.  But then in one week it all faded.

On Monday, August 27th, I turned 40.  That's a big number to an actual young person.  I'm sure I could ask some real old people and they would tell me, "... Aw!  You're just a young pup!"  I think their perspective is just a bit skewed though.

The 40 by itself wouldn't have done it, but at the end of the same week I received a prescription for cholesterol medication.  I've had high cholesterol for a while, and even though I've worked really hard at getting it down with diet and exercise... since I've done next to nothing to remedy the problem through diet and exercise, the doctor felt like it was necessary to put me on some meds.  It was really high though.  triglycerides through the roof.  My blood was basically lard.

So this double blow of oldness has hit me.  I am just glad that I still have my hair and my wits.

August 7, 2012

A Portrait of Calvin by T.H.L Parker

 John Piper says that his first encounter with John Calvin was through this short biography, called Portrait Of Calvin by T.H.L. Parker.  Hearing that made me want to pick this book up.

I will say first of all that John Calvin was not what I had expected.  Because of "Calvinism" he has been portrayed as this cold, unfeeling, almost dictatorial leader.  Reality though, none of those is true.  He was actually a very warm, tender individual.  He showed great care and concern for the people he was pastoring.

Though there was political influence that he showed, the reality is that he was simply a pastor.  He preached the word of God and he did that consistently.  Throughout his life he would preach in an expository fashion through books of the Bible.  Whether it be Old Testament or New Testament, he plodded his way through passage after passage, making the central theme of his preaching Christ and the core of that preaching focused on the passage.

If you would like a taste of who John Calvin was, not simply as the historical figure that you've heard about, but a closer examination of his life and ministry, then I would like to highly recommend this book.  You can get a hard copy through Amazon, but the Desiring God website has a free ebook (that's where I picked it up).

If you read it, let me know what you think.


The Dragon's Curse

I found The Dragons Curse by J.J. Abrams with the free books on Amazon.  I noticed it because it was J.J. Abrams... I think the same J.J. Abrams known for his work in television and movies.  It was free, so I picked it up.

The book's description on Amazon:
An innkeeper's son is entrusted with a dragon egg, leading to a quest to restore the ancient race of dragons to their former glory.
The setting was definitely medieval times.  No description was given of the time or place.  The kings and kingdoms are not mentioned in detail, but only in passing, focusing on the boy and his grandfather. Though there was definitely some predictable aspects of the story, there were also a couple of twists and turns along the way.

One particular aspect that I enjoyed was that the boy was continually respectful to his parents and others throughout the book.  So often there is the expected rebellious hero that has to go through a series of issues with the parents and other authorities, which leads to other complications in the story.  This book didn't go that route.  The parents were also portrayed as open-minded and wise, something that lacks in so much literature geared towards the preteen and teen crowd.

I would recommend this book.  I am going to try to get one of my kids to read it.  Like I said, it was geared toward the younger crowd, but it definitely portrayed a respect and wisdom of the adults in the book.  There was also the promotion of good character and the value of hard work and that finding your place doesn't always mean leaving.

I don't think the kindle book is still free, but it is still an affordable price.  Click on through to Amazon and check it out.

May 26, 2012

Fake Love, Fake War

I want to direct you to an incredibly thought-provoking article.  It concerns the combined topics of porn and gaming addictions.  If you've never made that connection, then you've never really paid attention to a gamer before or you've not known or been a porn addict.  The similarities, on a purely initial-impression perspective, are striking.

The article is called Fake Love, Fake War.  It is written by Russel Moore and you can find it on the Desiring God blog.  Allow me to quote a couple of paragraphs that really grabbed my attention.

Near the beginning of the article, Moore makes this valid point:

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core. 
Satan isn't a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose. God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality in the self-giving union with his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.
It is so valid and so important to understand that what we wrestle with is not flesh and blood, but principalities and power... We are in a spiritual warfare.  If we don't recognize this, we become vulnerable to attack because of our naivety.

Near the end of the article he makes this statement... Which, when I read it, I may have given a quite verbal and vocal "amen!" or at least a "wow!"

Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression. The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one's life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one's reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.
Besides the importance of these words, especially as I attempt to raise my own boys into men, I absolutley admire Moore's ability to put to words things that I've thought in ways that make more sense than how I've thought them.

Read the entire article... It's worth it.  Click here.

May 17, 2012

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton - Book Review

Until a few months ago, I did not realize that G. K. Chesterton was a writer of fiction.  I knew of his books on such topics as orthodoxy and heresy, but was unacquainted with the fictional works that had an impact on such authors as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.  The first book I read was Manalive.  I wrote a review of that book not too long ago.

The Man Who Was Thursday was described by C. S. Lewis as, "A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe."  It is about a man named Syme, who is employed in the service of the British Police, in a special department, by a special man, to fight against the anarchists of the world.  As he infiltrates the inner circle of anarchy, taking the name of Thursday, as each member of the inner ring has a name of a day of the week, he is left wondering, and fighting to determine, who is this man named Sunday?

I've really enjoyed reading Chesterton's stories.  There is a certain whimsicalness to his writing as he attempts to discuss serious topics through the use of story, but he does it in a way that the belief system that he is discussing plays a part in the story the way a tent plays a role in the circus.

If you haven't read any Chesterton, this one would be a good place to start.  A mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and socio-political drama-comedy!

May 15, 2012

Wide Open Door for Preaching the Gospel


"Is not this then the very time when the door is wide open for the preaching of the Gospel? 
The age in which we are living is so similar to the first century in many respects.  The old world was exhausted then.  The flowering period of Greek philosophy had come and had gone, Rome in a sense had passed her zenith, and there was the same kind of tiredness and weariness, with consequent turning to pleasure and amusement. 
The same is so true today; and so far from saying that we must have less preaching and turn more and more to other devices and expedients, I say that we have a heaven-sent opportunity for preaching."


From Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The Explicit Gospel - Book Review

I just finished listening to the Christian Audio version of The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson.

Of all of the books that I've read on the Gospel in the last few years, I would rank this one near the top.  Matt Chandler does an excellent job of explaining the Gospel in an... well... explicit way.  He describes the Gospel in the broader perspective as the "Gospel in the Air" and the "Gospel on the Ground" is the more personal aspect of the Gospel. He then discusses the dangers of focusing on one aspect of the Gospel without taking into account both the big and the small picture of what God is doing.

I especially appreciated his personal approach, sharing stories and experiences that illustrated different aspects of the Gospel.  In many of his stories he was willing to share how he had struggled or gotten it wrong in the past; times where he had shared the gospel in not-so-perfect ways, but God's grace was even in those events of his life, as he so adequately shares.  One story he titled, "The Dirty Rose" was especially touching.

If you have questions about the Gospel or you are simply desiring a deeper understanding of the Gospel, then this is a good book for you.

David Cochran Heath, the voice talent for many of Christian Audio's works, does an excellent job of reading through this book.  In my opinion, a good voice talent will cause you to forget that you are listening to an audio book, and it will feel more like you are listening to someone talk to you while you are driving down the road.

Visit Christian Audio to purchase this book or to view other Christian Audio Titles.

May 10, 2012

Ephesians Message with Illustrations!

Final Ephesians message from Chapter 3 with illustrations from my son.


Click to Enlarge