Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The New Year and Bible Reading

Okay, it’s about to be a brand new year. And with that comes the time for the annual New Year Resolutions. We’ll dispense with all the fluff and statistics about resolutions and get straight to the point.

And the point is if you make a New Year Resolution – focus.

So should an Christian deal with a New Year Resolution? My thought, absolutely. Why not give your Christian walk a little more pinpointed motivation?

Now, of course there are a myriad of resolutions that a Christian could make – better church attendance, more fellowship, healthier lifestyle – but one of the most important should be Bible reading. And that centers on a good Bible Reading Plan. If you resolve to read more of the Bible in 2014, a haphazard approach will not work. Find a plan you like and focus on it everyday.

Here’s a few suggestions. (BTW, if you do an internet search for “Bible Reading Plans,” you likely receive 13 million hits.)

BibleStudyTools.com has a list of 17 plans - http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/ - all categorized and themed. Pick one and get busy.

Ligonier Ministries has a similar list that includes PDF downloads. Go here http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/.

About.com Christianity has a nice selection of plans, a couple of which are different from the usual - http://christianity.about.com/od/biblereadingplans/tp/topbiblereadpla.htm.

Look these over and if you find one you like, get at it.


You can create your own. How? Well, if you got by sixth grade math, figure this. There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament for a total of 1189. With 365 days in the year 2014 that’s 3.25753424 chapters per day. How easy is that?
Let’s get to it. Our country needs a little more Bible reading and a little less TV viewing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Most Arrogant Man in America

… and he's conservative.

About a week ago on Bill O'Reilly's Factor, found on Fox News, Fox contributor Bernie Goldberg made a statement that can fairly be classified as the most arrogant I have ever heard – at least out loud on television. It's these type of statements that one might conjure up within the comfort and privacy of his pea-sized brain, but would never be so dumb as to actually say it with enough volume that others could actually here.

Here's the scenario. During a debate with Howard Kurtz concerning the A&E/Phil Robertson debacle, Goldberg made the statement, “The earth is 4.2 billion years old. I don't care what the Bible says; I don't what Jesus says; I don't care what God says.” He went on to make a couple more statements about how the Bible is ignorant which only further demonstrates the point here.

A torrid stream of comments about Mr. Goldberg and his thought process is not worth the effort at this time. Suffice it to say that in ten short seconds he demonstrated exactly what is wrong with America today.

Thank you for your substantiation, albeit unintentional, Mr. Goldberg.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Worthy Publishing was kind enough to send us this book for review. But, since my wife is a certified nutritionist, she took over the task of reviewing Food Triggers. She blogs regularly at New Creations Ministries on faith, food and its relationship to the Christian life. The link is here http://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com/.
In a world that seems to be obsessed with weight loss and dietary plans, self-help and personal assistance books are in great supply. Food Triggers adds to the mix. But, at the same time, Food Triggers, * End Your Cravings* Eat Well and Live Better, is a breath of fresh air. It provides both knowledge and inspiration in the “dietary wars.”
What is especially inspirational about Food Triggers is that it has integrity. Author Rhona Epstein, Psy.D, is an extremely accomplished woman. She is a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor and marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in clinical psychology. Yet, despite the impressive credentials, she still faced a private demon. Her extremely open and realistic perspective in confronting and conquering an eating addiction, is all part of the credibility of her book. In Food Triggers, she lays out practical pathways in well thought out form, to overcome them.
Interspersed with Christian values and Biblical verses, it is sensibly written using intelligent applications to which anyone can adhere. For example, using case composites of her many patients, we learn that  it is not simply a matter of willpower as many believe. Additional emotional and physiological challenges factor into the equation. She lays out how the mind-body connection affects our actions.
Dr. Epstein addresses how one’s relationships, internal beliefs, lack of pre-planning and brain chemistry among others, affects food triggers and how one retrains beliefs in order to take care of our bodily temple.
Food Triggers touches on what addicts relate to most and is a must for anyone who struggles with food addiction. It’s a refreshing perspective on instituting eating self-control in one’s life.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Preaching?If you go to church on Sunday, most likely, hopefully, you will hear a sermon. The sermon is usually delivered by a trained preacher. In part, what you think of the sermon and how you can apply that sermon to your life is dependent on the content. The content of a preacher’s sermon should be developed through hours of blood, sweat, tears and prayer.

Just how a preacher should engage his blood, sweat, tears and prayer into a sermon is what Alec Motyer’s compact volume is all about. Motyer is a British Biblical scholar. He is the Old Testament editor of IVP's commentary series, The Bible Speaks Today, and has written several volumes in that series. Additionally, he has had a lifetime ministry in the pastoral field. So, on the subject of preaching, he is well experienced.

This book gives advice and counsel on how to develop the content of a sermon and in large part provides examples of the method of preparation of a sermon. Unfortunately it weighs heavily to the second part and at times becomes more of a Biblical commentary than a self-help volume on preaching. It provides excellent examples on how to do Bible exegesis with a few preaching thoughts mixed in.

If you’re looking for a new approach to preaching, give Preaching? a try. If you’re a young preacher still developing your style, give Preaching? a try. But most of all, if you want to learn how to study the Scriptures better, whether you’re a preacher or not, give Preaching? a try.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boot Camp:  Equipping Men with Integrity for Spiritual Warfare (The IMAGE Series)In a Christian literary world that is beleaguered with “how-to-live-a-better-Christian-life” books, Deward Publishing author Jason Hardin has offered us another, Boot Camp - this one focusing on how a Christian man can live opposite to what the world expects. Hardin’s approach is a bit unique. As can surely be surmised from the title, his volume centers around a military theme. Hardin uses this military launching point to focus in on his central topic – integrity.

The book is divided into three sections: Frist is “The Beginning of Our Journey” which introduces the subject at hand and is a challenge to Biblical integrity in the framework of military terminology. Second is “As Integrity is Born, What Must Be Put to Death?” which addresses seven challenges to integrity such as Selfishness, Idolatry and Sins of the Tongue. Part Three is “The Lord’s Armory” in which Hardin issues the ultimatum for men to rely on the Lord.

Boot Camp highlights Hardin’s marvelous creative imagination. For example in Chapter One he introduces us to a “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12.1) that are the spectators in an ancient coliseum. We are the participants in the arena of life. Imagine Moses, Gideon and David observing as you live your life. With this imagery Hardin gets our attention right from the start.

The text is frequently intertwined with Scripture which supports the challenges that Hardin wishes to issue. It should direct you to your Bible to check out his exegesis.

While Boot Camp really doesn’t break any new ground, it is certainly worth the read. Hardin’s style is light which makes the book an easy read. It is encouraging and challenging and will serve as an excellent primer for a new Believer and a challenging reminder to more mature and experienced Christians.

Friday, August 30, 2013

More Info on Religious Liberty

Here’s a link to further information on the case of the Christian photographers in Colorado who have had their religious freedom stripped from them.

At the bottom of the article are a few more links to various stories concerning this case.

This is a case that has far-reaching implications and consequences. This is a case that can totally reinterpret our religious freedoms.

Here’s a potential worst-case scenario.

If this case gets to the U.S. Supreme Court and if the Supreme Court upholds this ruling in Colorado, how we conduct ourselves as Christians will be threatened. Soon your religious liberty will extend only to your house of worship. Once you step outside the doors of your church, your religious liberty will end. Your right to speak about God will end where the church walk meets the sidewalk.

If you are a Christian who owns a business, forget about conducting your business with an eye toward Christianity in mind. You, the owner of a private business, will not be able to refuse the service of your business to anyone.

It’s all a frightening scenario, but it is not long in coming.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More and Moore on the Christian Photogs

Here’s a follow up article on the couple who refused to photograph the commitment ceremony of a homosexual couple and then had their ears pinned back by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The article provides more detail on the decision (with a few more incredible quotes from the “esteemed” justices and some reaction from SBC leaders.

One of the justices summed up some of his comments with this statement,

“Compromising religious beliefs is ‘a price ... we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life,’" Boson wrote.

All this is an indication of where religious liberty is heading in our country – down the liberal, progressive rabbit hole.

One of the statements of reaction from an SBC leader caught my attention also. Russell D. Moore, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented that the church's appropriate response should not be venting outrage at the decision but rekindling "in our own churches why religious liberty and freedom of conscience are essential for a free church and a free state. We've been here before, and we'll be here again."

What? That reads to me like we ought to take the punch; that we ought not to display any moral outrage.

Give me a break Dr. Moore. We ought to raise …. about this. When the schoolyard bully pushes you to the ground and you fall down and scrape your elbows, you get up and push the bully back. You don’t go home and reevaluate why the bully doesn’t like you.

We need to fight this battle in the cultural wars until we win or die trying.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coming Soon to a Town Near You - Freedom from Religion

I haven’t had the opportunity to “blog” much lately, but this particular story really caught my attention and I thought it was vital that as many people as possible were aware of the story itself and the multitude of implications that are behind it.

It is illustrative of a number of counter-Christian social issues that are embodied in our laws today. It shows exactly the path down which the USA is travelling. Think of it as the Garmin of our moral direction.

You’ll want to read the story first here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=40958

BUT, before you hit the link, here’s the headline: Christian photogs must compromise beliefs.

Aside from the overall case itself, what is astonishing are the statements made by the members of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Here’s a sample.

"The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of their sexual orientation -- photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony -- than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims," Justice Richard Bosson wrote in the court's unanimous decision.

If that doesn’t make your head spin and your blood boil, well then …

And with this statement Bosson has just wiped away the First Amendment. He has reinterpreted the Constitution to mean to “freedom from religion.”

The next step in New Mexico (and eventually the USA) will be the state dictating to churches when to meet, where to meet and what to believe.

Let’s hope the Alliance Defending Freedom does appeal this case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the they agree to hear it. A decision on this case will point out to us the direction of our nation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Come on ERLC! Come on FRC! Come on SBC!

Come on ERLC! Come on FRC! Come on SBC!

Here’s the riddle for the day: What happens when Christian/Evangelical organizations act like those in the non-Christian world?

Answer: [I’ll provide one for you later.]

If you’re having difficulty, let me give you a few facts to clarify your thinking.

Every day I receive an e-mail from Baptist Press. It bills itself as “News with a Christian Perspective” and it’s a publication of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). One of the stories in the May 24th edition concerned Richard Land receiving the “Watchman on the Wall” award from the Family Research Council (FRC) and its president Tony Perkins. Land is the outgoing president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), an organization of the SBC.

“How wonderful,” I thought. “I wonder exactly what the Watchman on the Wall award is.” So I pop up the ol’ Google and off we go. A simple search led me to a page with this headline “Family Research Council President Tony Perkins to Receive Distinguished Service Award from ERLC.” What? Did I misread the abbreviations?

Turns out this is a press release  - a press release announcing that Perkins was going to receive an award in February 2013 from the ERLC. A what’s worse is that the award Perkins was receiving was the Richard Land Distinguished Service Award from the ERLC.

Holy smokes, boys. This looks a lot like organizational incest. Couldn’t you have waited a year or two to hand the awards to each other instead of three months?!

ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE: It doesn’t necessarily tarnish your testimony with the non-believers of the world (they probably don’t give a hoot anyway), it destroys your credibility with the believers you are trying to minister to and influence.

CONSEQUENCES OF THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE: With these gentlemen parading around and patting each other on the back, why would any hard working Christian want to donate his/her hard-earned money to either organization?

Come on, gentlemen. Surely you must see how bad this looks! It smacks of Pharisaism.

If you want to follow the trail of the smelly fish, here are the links to the two stories.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Shocking Poll from Gallup

Okay, get ready to put on your shock face.

Well, on second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be a shock if we, as a country, had any moral fiber remaining.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that “72% of Americans Think the Country’s Moral Values Are ‘Getting Worse.’”

Go here to read the sad numbers on the poll … http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gallup-72-americans-think-country-s-moral-values-are-getting-worse.  And you may just want to put this on your favorite list and refer back to it when the whole country goes down the tubes.

I won’t try to interpret the numbers for you because everyone seems to have their own moral compass by which they evaluate such a poll. I’ll just pass on my favorite determination and let you examine the rest.

The poll specifically showed that Americans who attend church weekly, are married, or are Republican, were the most negative about the country’s moral direction. But even Democrats, people who attend church infrequently, and the unmarried had high negative outlooks about the nation’s moral values.

And one final thought – I think it is not so important that these numbers exist, but rather how do we turn this ship around?  This question can be answered in two steps: (1) What caused the moral decline, and (2) what can be done to improve the morals of America?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Day of Reason?

This will be just a short note for everyone to go to the two links provided.

There really is little to say about this mayor’s philosophy of life. It is typical of life today in the USA.

And for Christians this is the battle. For every day of prayer, some nitwit will offer a humanistic meditation solution. For every cause to worship some nitwit will entertain a day to celebrate human accomplishment. The goal, of course, is to squeeze God completely out of the society.

So take the time to read these two pieces. It will be an awakening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Illegal Immigration and Religious Freedom

What do these two situations have in common?

The answer is probably pretty obvious: They are both about immigration – one about legal immigrants coming to this country to get a little religious liberty and the other about illegal immigrants coming to this country for, well, … who knows?

The comparison of these two situations is really a great study in twisted priorities. Quite frankly, if you don’t think these priorities are way out of whack, then you have a loop in your logical think circuits. Better get it checked out.

However the most serious consequence resulting from these two situations is the blatant challenge to religious liberty. And that challenge comes directly from this statement from the Baptist Press News:

According to the arguments made by the U.S. government in Romeike v. Holder, Farris said, "If you believe that God wants you to do something, that's not going to be a protected religious belief unless you're part of a church that forces you to take whatever action is in question.

You see, I have always had the understanding that in the country I was free to choose the religion I liked best and then freely practice it. But, apparently the U.S. government (President, Attorney General and the rest of the band of miscreants) do not agree with that assessment.

All that is downright scary and is another step down the staircase to socialism.

We’ll keep you posted on where all this is going.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Religious Liberty and Religious Persecution

That’s the headline for this blog and these are one in the same. A denial of religious liberty is religious persecution.

There are two separate incidences currently occurring in the U.S. that fall under the above headline.

One is the plight of the Romeike family who came to the U.S. to flee religious persecution in Germany. The Romeike’s are a devout Christian family. Their “crime” is that they want to homeschool their children. In Germany homeschooling is illegal. (Geez, you would have thought that the Germans would have learned a little about the issue of national control from the history of 70-80 years ago.) The problem is that the Obama administration is siding with the German government. I would say “Can you believe it?” but that would be a most rhetorical question. Here’s some more info on this story: https://bay165.mail.live.com/default.aspx?id=64855#n=1268852563&fid=1&mid=58c213e9-a15e-11e2-9220-00237de49d24&fv=1

The other is the provision under ObamaCare that forces businesses to underwrite both contraceptive and abortion-causing pills in their health care coverage. Religious organizations, regardless of their belief system, must provide health care insurance plans that cover drugs defined by the Food and Drug Administration as contraceptives, even if they can cause chemical abortions. You can read the complete article here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=40042.

Christians need to pay close attention to these situations. Adverse decisions will erode a giant chunk of the religious liberty base that we have in this country. Total religious persecution will not be far behind.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Crucifying Morality

The beatitudes have been worked over, dissected, evaluated and interpreted from every human and denominational angle possible. There are metaphysical and allegorical viewpoints that would make you think you have fallen into a philosophical time warp. Yet very few seem to hit the “where the rubber meets the road” interpretation.  Along comes R.W. Glenn with a fresh look at how the beatitudes are applicable for 21st century Christians. (And we can define Christians as anyone who reads the Bible with the intent of improving his life)
R W Glenn is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka, MN.  He is in the group of hip, young preachers that seem to gravitate toward mega churches. That is not meant derogatorily but rather as what-to-expect information. These are the guys that can enlighten the young generation.
Glenn’s newest work, Crucifying Morality, is a fresh, insightful consideration of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.1-12. Crucifying Morality is a walk through the beatitudes in modern language.  It is fresh and highly applicable for the Believer’s everyday life. It is written in a verse-by-verse format making it easy to follow.
Glenn’s overarching interpretive principle is that the beatitudes are not commands, but rather Christian principle, sort of a code of conduct for the believer.
If one is ever intending to preach or teach on the beatitudes, this will serve as an excellent resource. Glenn provides thoughtful insight as well as some applicable illustrations.
As a study, growth and application aid, there are questions upon which the reader can reflect at the end of each chapter
There is no reason to prolong the evaluation of this book. For Christians and non-Christians who have ever wondered what in the world Jesus was talking about as he began the sermon on the mount, get this, read it, digest it and apply it. Your life will be better for the effort.

Note:I was provided this book by Cross Focus Reviews in exchange for my honest review.