Tag Archives: Savior

Book Review: Rejoicing in Christ

Book Review:  Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves

The Good:

Only Scratching the Surface.  As we reviewed this book as board members, one deacon in our meeting said this book serves as a reminder that we “have only scratched the surface.  I think we often have too little of a view of Jesus”.  Wow!  And this book will do that to you.  Get ready, because Reeves will make you realize how little you know about your Savior.  But don’t let it get you down, allow this read to inspire you to get to know Jesus better.

Take a Breather.  This is some heavy stuff.  You may need to put the book down, take a breather, and digest what you just read.  You feel like you just ate a whole double cheeseburger in one bite (I shouldn’t be writing before I eat my lunch), when you should just be dipping that burger in ketchup and taking one bite at a time.  Did I mention I’m hungry?

You Talkin’ to Me?  Although there is great depth, what I appreciate most about the book is the conversational tone.  It is as if I am sitting down with the author and talking about Jesus.  And Reeves does a masterful job at taking theological truths that have always been there, and drawing out incredible insight about Christ.  I enjoyed sitting on the front porch having a talk with the author, so to speak.

The Bad:

Heavy Lifting.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but more a warning.  You will be challenged in your knowledge and relationship with Jesus.  OK, so that’s not bad at all.

The Grade:  A.  A tremendous read that provides mind-blowing insight into the person of Jesus Christ.  The book takes you on turns you weren’t expecting but always ends the journey in the same place, where you sit in wonder and honor of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Book Review: What is the Gospel

Book Review:  What is the Gospel?  by Greg Gilbert

The Good:

Let’s Gooooo.  A common joke I have with the teens of our church, go where?  But as one would say during an intense moment of the game, Let’s Goooo!  And there were times in this book, especially the closing chapters, where you are motivated to share the topic of this book.  The Gospel is on your lips and ready to be shared.

Love Increase.  You not only gain knowledge and insight about the Gospel, but it also allows the reader to gain in their love and appreciation of the Gospel, and especially with the Savior.  I can honestly say I love my Savior more after reading this book.

Finally, clarity.  You know our church culture has gone a little crazy with the use of Gospel.  Gospel living, gospel exercise, gospel pancakes (OK, maybe not that last one…maybe).  Gilbert does a masterful job of providing concise, clear doctrine of the Gospel.  Nothing added, nothing deleted in his explanation of this Biblical-based definition of the Gospel.  And the reader will certainly appreciate the clarity and conciseness of this small book.

The Bad:

Little Dog Dogmatic.  We are talking a like a teacup size dog-matic problem here.  There were small instances where the author may have gone a little too far in his own preferences and beliefs on what was truth.  However, what I may have questioned caused me to appreciate two things.  First, it spurred me to research and ask more questions on topics like “the kingdom”.  Second, I love his passion and confidence in his beliefs.  That confidence spilled over into vital doctrines of the Gospel that were needed for the reader.  This boldness allowed him to gain traction in other areas of the book where the Gospel needed clarity and boundaries.

The Grade:  A.  Has been on my reading list for some time, and so glad I had a chance to finish.  It was like a modern Gospel primer.  Sure, that’s lofty praise, but I appreciated how it clearly presented the Gospel, disputed the false claims, and brought you back to the core of the Gospel message.  I walked away encouraged, confident, and motivated.  None many books can accomplish such a feat.

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10 Ways Christmas is Different as an Adult

  1. The energy level from a new toy or video game system lasted all day as a kid.  Now after the rush of Christmas morning, by dinner time it felt like 2 am, I just ran a marathon, and a bus hit me while I were crossing the finish line.
  2. Your Christmas list was toys, games, and fun stuff…now it is programmable thermostats to save money in the winter, socks, and a waterproof vest…and the funny thing is, you are just as excited!
  3. It used to take a week to play or enjoy all the presents…now I look for a box that I can fit my presents in and I’m all set.
  4. I cannot think of one Christmas dinner I had growing up…but this Hickory Honey Ham presentation with Hawaiian rolls, loaded mashed potatoes, carrot casserole, and a chilled IBC root beer will not be soon forgotten.
  5. Matching jammies with my family as a child would be thoroughly resisted in every way…but as a grown up it’s hilarious, fun, and great for pictures.
  6. Opening presents was just the best…now opening your own presents can get in the way of watching your kids open theirs.
  7. When you were a kid it was fun to make Christmas lists…now it takes me all year to compile things I want (it’s true, I keep a notes list on my phone – the programmable thermostat held the #1 spot since summer).
  8. What happened to me? I went from “Merry Christmas ya filthy animal” to where I couldn’t wait to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and allow my eyes to well up…it’s only a matter of time till the tears start rollin in.
  9. I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but I know I won’t forget when my kids have that experience!
  10. One thing will never change with my age, I still am thankful for the reason for the Season and love to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus with my kids…The Hope that Christ brought me as a kid is the hope I still hold on to today.

15697298_10157887449565246_5706098247670253993_nHoping you and your family had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

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Who Needs The Cross?

Let’s say your neighbor or friend told you to undergo chemotherapy…would you? Well, no, especially when you feel healthy, have had no symptoms, no lumps, and you have no evidence of a need for chemo.

Let me ask you this…does your attitude change when the doctor shows you the MRI, the test results, the blood levels…revealing you have cancer. Do you see a need for the chemotherapy now?

Listen, it is only when you see yourself as sick that you go to the doctor. You don’t go to the doctor to visit and chat about sports and the weather. It’s not worth the waiting room experience, is it? No – you go to the doctor when you’re sick. You undergo chemo when you have cancer.

Same thing when talking about with your soul – you will never go to the Savior Jesus Christ asking to be saved – if you don’t think there is anything to be saved from…you don’t feel like a sinner or think you are sinner…so why would you need to be forgiven?

Well today, I’m the doctor coming to you with the deadly results – you have a genetic defect…in fact, all of us are infected…and it is called sin…and the only cure is the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross. Who needs the cross? YOU DO! I DO! We all do!

EvangelismClass

Taken from Sermon on 5/31/2015 – can be heard here

 

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6 Reasons LeBron James Story Reminds Me of Jesus

lebron-james2He’s coming home. LeBron James is coming back to Cleveland. A text message saying “He’s back” was on my phone Friday afternoon, and I knew I needed to head to www.espn.com post-haste. I knew right away it was about King James. At first, it was hard to believe. But, it was confirmed, in his own words, “I’m coming home”. He wrote to the people of Cleveland, “sometimes I feel like their son” and “I want to give them hope…I want to inspire them”

Now to the person who doesn’t connect with sports. Those words seem ludicrous to you. Sure, if a war hero said these words, you could understand, but a man who plays a sport. How could one man cause this much headlines from sports pages to national news? How could one man bring hope to an entire city? As if the city was Gotham or Metropolis…not Cleveland.

As a pastor, I could not help but think of another man. These words that are being thrown around about LeBron James were written about another man some 2000 years ago. Before you dismiss this article as cheeky or irreverent, just think of the events of the last 4 days and the phrases that are being thrown around…

Hope. (I Peter 1:3) LeBron said in his letter to Cleveland that he wants to give hope to the city. Hope of what? A gold trophy that most likely will be passed to another team a year later? Hope is a word that should be reserved for what the Savior gives us each day. That even though today is hard, there is hope for tomorrow.

Left Paradise Behind. (Philippians 2:7) My apologies to Cleveland, LeBron just left the sandy beaches of South Beach to come to Cleveland. But this was nothing compared to the place our Savior left. He left heaven to be born in a feeding trough for animals.

2nd Coming. (John 14:1-3) You would think with these types of headlines, and the hoopla surrounding the announcement, we would be talking about the 2nd coming of another man. Nope. We are talking about a basketball player.

Picks His Team. (Luke 5:1-11) LeBron had his pick of where he wanted to play and who he wanted to play with. He essentially picked his team. He even helped his former team pick in the draft, and then left. But instead of choosing the equivalent an all-star point guard and the team with the #1 pick in the draft, we see Jesus choosing guys from the YMCA men’s leagues. He chose guys like you and me, ordinary people, even some outcasts of society, to be on his team.

King. (Revelation 11:15) The King Returns. LeBron is back. King James.   I realize these are nicknames given, but are misused. The King who will return, and take his rightful place on His eternal throne…that will be worth way more than a max contract.

Son. (Luke 19:10) LeBron calls himself a Son of Northeast Ohio, who will come to bring hope and inspiration to his hometown. Jesus called himself the Son of Man. He came to seek and save the lost, and bring hope and inspiration to the world.

You see why now I can’t help but think of a greater Savior, a greater King, a more humble Son. The bigger headline should be reserved for the one that can truly bring hope to all the nations. Jesus.  And although His 2nd coming may be talked about less today, one day it will put everyone on one knee.

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What Happens When You Turn 30…

This past year, it’s true, I turned 30.  And for the 3 or 4 of you that actually read this blog, I know my secret is safe with you.  Turning 30 is pretty important.  It’s not because you get your driver’s license, or you can get in any movie you want, or you can rent a car (which I believe is 25, kind of a weird rule).  It’s something much more spiritual, monumental, and reflective…30zone

30 years old.  Wow.  Some may call it young.  Some may call it old (Like my students.  One of which asked me about the 70’s…he was serious, and I was serious when I told him I was born in 1982).  Nevertheless, turning 30 is significant if you are a student of Scripture.  You see, according to Luke 3:23, Jesus was 30 when he began his public, earthly ministry.  It was the year the Messiah started his ministry career, gathered 11 young men and Peter for discipleship, and began teaching, healing, and doing miracles.  The Christ was about to make His name known, all the while knowing, that in 3 years’ time, He would willingly give His life, and completely transform the world.

Now you see why it is signficant?  Now, I certainly have very few things in common with the perfect Savior.  But turning 30 is something we both have in common.  Sure, it’s a small straw to hold on to, but it does cause one to reflect how much my life resembles the Savior’s at 30.  Here are some things that come to mind:

  1. Follow Me?  Christ began to assemble 12 disciples that he mentored, challenged, and developed spiritually.  These were the men (sans Judas) that would eventually establish the early church.  Am I taking the time to disciple the younger generation?  Do I realize these are the young men that will be the next generation of the Church?
  2. An Ounce of Teaching.  Never could I ever approach the skill, the duality of simplicity and depth, the sensitivity, and the insight of the master teacher.  However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to improve my craft of teaching and preaching.  Some goals I have is to read books like Excellence in Preaching, Speaking to Teenagers, and Hearing God’s Word:  Expositional Preaching.  Eventually, I’d like to take some homiletic courses.  In the meantime, I make it a point to glean knowledge from veteran preachers like my senior pastor, and listen to other skilled communicators at least once a week.
  3. More Public.  My risk is nowhere near the risk of Jesus’ public ministry.  Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the anointed one that the Jewish nation had been waiting on for hundreds of years.  However, it’s still time my ministry becomes more public.  That means being a witness more often, recognizing needs of my neighbors and community, and not shying away from gospel sharing opportunities.

Sure, I’ll never perform miracles at weddings this year, raise someone from the dead, and probably won’t be preaching from a boat anytime soon…but I can still make my earthly ministry significant, and after turning 30, there’s no better time.

 

 

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