How important is the Bible to you? Is it what you read before you fall asleep or when you wake up? Maybe it is time you fall in love…with God’s Word.
How important is the Bible to you? Is it what you read before you fall asleep or when you wake up? Maybe it is time you fall in love…with God’s Word.
Did you know that your spouse is a sinner? Yes, it’s true. You married a sinner…and so did your spouse! Sorry to lay that one on ya, but it’s true. We are not perfect and when you get married, you marry an imperfect person with flaws, baggage, annoying habits, struggles, and a constant fight to please themselves over you.
Book Review: When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey
That’s Deep. It’s like the author reaches into your soul in order pull out a good spouse. There is incredible spiritual depth. As Marty McFly would say…it’s heavy. But, be patient, the book starts off pretty heavy but sets a very good foundation for the practical steps in the chapters that follow. Topics that flow in the next few chapters include confrontation, forgiveness, communication, and sex.
Is “Teaching Illustrations” a spiritual gift? Man, this dude can give illustrations. I mean anything from riding a bike to opening gifts a Christmas…he is able to bring everyday life examples to drive home valuable lessons. I mean, the author even snuck in Frodo and Luke Skywalker in there. As a visual learner, this was very helpful in absorbing the material.
Beautiful End. This was quite the twist. I did not expect an ending that was so emotional and poetic. Nearly brought to tears reading stories of marriages enduring through tragedy, I found it to be a perfect ending. Although speaking of “till death do us part” as the final thoughts would not have been my first choice in writing the ending of a marriage book. But you know what? It worked. Actually, it was masterful. By far my favorite part of the book, and it left a sweet transition into putting the book’s lessons into practice in my own marriage.
What Just Happened? There were times where I asked myself, “Self, where is he going with this?”. On rare occasion, the transition from one point to another needed a little more. We started merging on the freeway at 75 miles an hour and I needed time to put on my blinker. You get me?
The Grade: A-. Based on the title, it might not be a good idea to buy it for your spouse. How about buying it for yourself first? Yeah, that’s a good idea. This book allows reality to set in on marriage. Fairytales do not exist. Sure, falling in love is magical. Your spouse is a gift that fills a part of your heart that was reserved only for them. But…Life happens. There are car problems, job losses, sick kids, sleepless nights…it’s not always unicorn rides over rainbows. So when that happens, when tension rises along with your blood pressure…how will you work through marriage as a flawed, sinful, and mistake-filled person with someone else who is all those things too. You’ll have to read this book (which points to the real answers found in God’s Word) to find out.
We need to pray. We need to pray for revival. We need to pray our country turns back to God, instead of turning our back on God. We need to pray for this election that Christianity would have a voice, and God would be glorified. We must do what the money in our wallets and in our kid’s piggy banks says “In God We Trust”. Tomorrow is going to take a lot of trust, but we are in God’s capable hands. We need Him more than ever. Pray. Trust. Hope. And remember that God is still in control.
When I was little, after Saturday morning cartoons, my brother and I would watch this TV show with one of the most successful body-builders of all-time Lee Haney. I always thought it was the coolest thing to have huge muscles. My wife laughs at how I always like to ask the biggest guy at the gym what he does to get bigger biceps. Maybe someday…
But in any workout, there usually is some type of weight-lifting…designed to make you stronger.
In Colossians 1:11, it says in order to walk close to God…we need strength, power, & might. It’s time for some weight-lifting. And when you do, you don’t produce huge biceps and superior lats…no, you get something much better – endurance, patience with joy.
Doesn’t that just describe life. Write that phrase down – “Endurance and patience w/ joy” and repeat it often throughout the week.
No matter how hard I try to bench 500 pounds…just not going to happen unless two big guys pulling it off my chest before I die.
“Strengthened” – this literally means a regenerating power – not just a one-time power up at salvation hoping to last a lifetime – God will strengthen you till you meet Him in glory. This strength is a power that comes from God. Have you felt that power? I know I have. In tragedy – God gave me power to get through. In temptation – God has given me power to fight through. In trials – God gives me power to suffer through.
You know, there are those that don’t believe in God and his power – ask them this – You prove to yourself there is no God. Congratulations…now what do you have?
“Endurance” – resisting the urge to fight evil with evil or take revenge. Fight another way – by persevering to the end and not quitting in the Christian life. Charles Spurgeon said “By perseverance the snail reached the ark”. Don’t quit when life gets tough.
Don’t try to fight with other means like bitterness, anger, or hate…it will take you down the wrong road.
“Patience” – steadfast, one who will not be deterred from the ultimate goal – even through immense trials and difficulty. This is not the weight-lifter that sits on the machine “waiting around” – this is like a runner battling through cramps and pain to finally reach the finish line. Body-builders grinding it out only to see results later down the road – isn’t that what life is like?
“Joy” – is a sign of a strong Christian walk. Some of you today are lifting some heavy weight right now, some incredible burdens – but it is the inner strength that comes from the Lord – still find joy in these times. It’s not a passive or emotionless joy. Even when we know the ending of a movie/documentary, we still may cry tears in the middle…we are in the middle of God’s story, and we know the end…but we still may hurt. But God gives us the strength to have joy even in the struggles, pain and disappointment – that’s the power of God.
There’s a reason why runners do weight training – so they have endurance and strength to fight to the end. God can give you that strength to fight to the end.
God can part the sea, make the sun stand still, and create the universe in 6 days…but He can’t make you have patience…what does that tell you? God will do all He can to put you in a position to endure and have patience with joy. Will you let Him train you in your patience & joy?
What a time to be alive! This is the closest I have ever followed an election. Now that I am a parent of young kids, a family pastor, and starting to fit in my big boy slacks…I’ve been following this election season pretty carefully. Although it has brought anxiousness and frustration, I’ve sat through the debates, followed articles on Twitter, and even read numerous postings from all the “experts” on Facebook. In the end, sometimes I feel like this…Until now, I have bit my tongue in the social media world. There have been numerous times when I have had to type out responses…and then delete them just so I could move on. It was my therapy. And it also saved me from saying things I would regret, cause division, and embarrass others. This election has already taught me humility, self-restraint, and a whole lotta trust in my Sovereign God…a whole lotta.
As a pastor, I get asked this from time to time. How should I vote in this election? It seems like this election, for obvious reasons, has been the most highly debated among Christian circles. My response was never “Vote for _______”, end of story, check please. Instead, I was able to present the issues in the lens of a Biblical worldview, trying my best not to influence or push my biased opinion. Here are some of my points that may help you vote as a Christian this coming election…
What’s the Bible Say?
Can’t I just read a Bible verse that will tell me what to do? Well, you could try Ecclesiastes 10:2 (ESV). Nice try, but I don’t think the application would be very accurate…clever…but not the original intent of the passage.
The best article I have come across for a Biblical approach is found here. I encourage you to read it. In fact, I’d rather you read that article than my blog. Yes, there is a candidate leaning in this article, but the principles cannot be ignored. But bear in mind this is written by a man whose theological books are used in most conservative Christian universities. And when I did a poll last year with youth pastors about what theology book they use, it was Mr. Wayne Grudem’s. It is well worth your time.
Social Issues That Make You Grab the Tissues.
Here’s where I have the most difficulty. Abortion. How could you vote for that? Yes, it is just one issue, but the magnitude of that one issue is indescribable. Truly, there are no words. To think of someone who can defend a partial birth/late-term abortion. It breaks your heart, and should not even be a discussion point…but sadly it is. Why not just take the baby early? Give that beating heart a chance. I’ve seen an ultrasounds of my kids, and it is unimaginable. I’ve been there when you are searching for heartbeat. Your vote can be a voice to all those little ones that do not have a voice.
Never Say Never.
I really needed to come to the election box with an open mind. Sure, you can see some bias in my writing. But the #never______ hashtags on social media don’t help anyone. If you do, make sure your reasons are not just media or campaign fabrications. You say I will never vote for Trump because of how he made fun of those with disabilities (proven to be a lie) or what he said about Hispanics all being rapists (slight exaggeration). Or you could say believe the lies about Hillary’s tax plans where Trump may be stretching the truth (seen here).
The point is, do your research beyond watching character attacking commercials and the playground arguments that we call Presidential debates these days. Take a look at the facts yourself from independent sites, watch the actual footage of accusations, and dig a little deeper. It’s muddy water for sure, but I think you can still go fishing and catch what you need to make dinner (did that illustration help anyone?).
You’re Not Voting on Your Pastor.
It would be nice if we could just vote for our pastor to be a candidate. A man who follows Scripture, lives a godly lifestyle, treats others and even their enemies with love and respect. But you’re not voting on a pastor. You’re voting on a presidential candidate. This is a politician we are talking about here. And remember, you are voting on their policies…and possibly even more bigly, who they will choose on the Supreme Court (this might make this the most important election of our lifetime). These are very flawed candidates, and that is what is making this decision difficult, I get that. Both candidates must have frog collections, because they each have warts galore! Each have actions in the present and the past that cannot that are indefensible. That can’t be denied, but we also must remember this is not a church vote for a pastoral candidate either. I’m not condoning behavior, just providing a reality check.
Last but certainly not least, pray. People we need to pray. Pray for wisdom. Pray for our leaders. Pray for those voting. Pray for unity among believers. Pray for our nation. Whoever you vote for, I encourage you to take the advice of Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence…
Ask any youth ministry veteran what they wished they did more of in their first few years of ministry, and partnering with parents will probably be in their top 3, if not their top wish. It is so important to get on the same team as your parents in youth ministry. This book will help you be the assistant coach to the head coach (parents) that you can be.
Book Review: Team Up by Phil Bell
Pep Talk. Skeptical of involving parents in your ministry? Well, at least read chapter one and then let me know what you think. The author does a great job grabbing the reader’s attention in the first chapter to explain the importance of parent involvement.
Practice Makes Perfect. At the end of each chapter, the practice drills are dynamite. They provide ways to implement everything you just read. These could also be put to good use in parent meetings.
Super Practical. Man, I came away from this book with tons of ideas for parent meetings and boosting my relationships with parents. How do you do parent meetings, how do you communicate, how do you _______. It’s all there and the steps are all written out. Right on Phil Bell!
Gimme Some Cheat Codes. The only thing I really feel like this book is missing is some devotional or lessons for parents using God’s Word. It would be nice to get some example of lessons or portions of the parent seminars that were mentioned in the book. I’m not looking to copy the entire presentation, but passages used, more detail of topics covered, and lessons that proved to be effective would be beneficial for the reader.
The Grade: A-. Talk about a practical ministry book that everyone in youth ministry should read. This would be the one. After reading it, I texted a few of my youth ministry buddies right away and told them about this one. So this me telling you all, get this book and be encouraged by ways you can minister to and with parents.
Where Do I Sign? This book is not short on inspiration. I loved reading the real life examples of churches partnering together, and the amazing accomplishments for the kingdom of God. If you are not excited to at least explore a possibility of partnering, then maybe you should take a vitamin or something, because it is definitely inspirational.
Emphasis on Prayer. This was probably what I most appreciated about this book. This wasn’t just a “How-To” book on church partnerships. The authors were careful that these partnerships were bathed in prayer and were God-directed. Very wise move by the authors and should be appreciated by the reader.
Watered-down. Due to the wide range of denominations that might pick this book up, there were some aspects that required watering down, or at least vagueness. For example, one part of the book spoke of the essentials of the faith, but failed to go into detail. This had to be a discussion the authors had while writing, and I’m sure proved to be a difficult task.
The Grade: B+. I wouldn’t call this book earth-shattering, but it is high on practicality and helps the reader fulfill the goal of the title. If you are looking for ways to partner with other churches, this book will provide valuable insight on how to accomplish your pursuit. Along with valuable examples, the reader will allow other experiences to vault them into a successful partnership. This book holds hope for churches to reach their greatest potential together for the glory of God. I’d say that’s a pretty good review.