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Showing posts from January, 2013

Book: The Conviction to Lead

Today’s Book was provided by Bethany House Publishers. A free book was provided in exchange for the review.I have been putting off this review of Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s The Conviction to Lead. Really, it should have been done a month or more ago, but I have been struggling with how to present it to you. I’ll get to why near the end.On the front side of the situation, The Conviction to Lead is a good exploration of what it means to lead an organization and what it takes to lead against an organizational inertia that runs in a different direction. Part of this is illustrated in Dr. Mohler’s years at the helm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one the oldest institution in the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the older theological training schools in the Americas. (At least for Protestant Christians, that is.)Working through The Conviction to Lead, the principles presented are sound. Some of them, such as “leaders are readers” have almost attained cliché status, but are …

No Leftovers for You! Leviticus 19

Leviticus continues to be an interesting hodge-podge of laws and regulations. If you could imagine mixing Federal and State laws, the Tax Codes of the Several States, and the Baptist Faith and Message, you can picture what Leviticus is. Of course, life was perhaps a bit simpler 3500 years ago, allowing for a shorter collection of items.Leviticus 19 (link) is a good example. First, we have a combination food safety/religious worship law. Then we have welfare/unemployment regulations, followed by interpersonal relationship guidelines, immigration law, judicial regulations, and child welfare regulations. If that does not give you some weirdness, I do not know what will!Taking the first one: food safety/religious worship. Have you ever considered these two things together? Many people have not. I actually have. Honestly, ever considered the church potluck and whether you would eat a restaurant that set up like that? Anyway…The opening verses of the chapter are actually straightforward. Th…

Sermon Wrap-Up for January 27

Good Monday to you!Morning Audio Link is hereMorning Outline:January 27 AM James 1:1-4: Joy is Coming We need to see that rising oppression of Christians means that joy is coming back to the Church in America
I. James: brother of Jesus and eventual leader of the church @ Jerusalem II. Dispersion: scattered throughout: not the Jews, but God's people: this is for Christians III. Joy in Trial IV. Strength through prayer V. Diverse Trials VI. Test our faith: our trust in God.       1. Which builds our endurance      2. We lack endurance      3. Without endurance, we do not grow and we do not become complete VII. Action:      1. Prayer for others      2. Prayer on a planned basis Morning focus shifted to variety of trials and focused a little harder on the need for prayer than on the inevitability of persecution. That seemed appropriate: one we can do something about. The other is the result of living like Jesus.Morning Video Embed: Finally! A video where the opening stillshot has me beh…

Books in Brief: January Edition

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I know that you see plenty of book review posts from me, but this is a little different. While a few famous bloggers do this with books they get sent free, just to keep the free books rolling, I want to point you to some that I have either received as gifts, won in giveaways, or flat-out bought. Yes, I still buy books. Real books. And Kindle books.Note: all links are to Amazon for convenience. I do not profit, as the Amazon Affiliate program was blocked in Arkansas because of all the things Wal-Mart owns, the State Legislature is one of them.First up: On the Shoulders of Hobbits by Louis Markos. This book runs 240 pages and takes a look at some of the classic virtues and how they can be seen in the characters of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Rather than attempting to massage the characters or even the author’s intent in these stories, Markos has presented the virtues and used situations from the book to illustrate. Further, Markos demonstrates the power of story to transform how…

Injustice: Acts 23

Paul has been detained by the Romans and is currently being tried by the Sanhedrin. That is where we are in Acts 23 (link). What’s a Sanhedrin? If you took and mixed Congress and the Supreme Court, a little bit, and then added a twist of state religion, you would have something like the Sanhedrin. They were the primary deliberative body through which the Jews self-governed. The Romans did not have to accept the Sanhedrin---or even allow it, but giving the people a sense of self-determination kept the revolts at bay. Some of the time. Odd how people will settle for the illusion of freedom.Back to Paul: he stands, unjustly accused, before a group of people who do not have the proper authority to try him. Why? Because he’s a Roman citizen and they cannot execute any form of sentence upon him. Further, he has accepted the Christian faith, placing himself under the authority of Jesus as Lord and Messiah. Add to that the reality that he has done nothing wrong.Yet he stands before them to ma…

Book: The Tainted Coin

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Today’s book is a change of pace for me: The Tainted Coin: The Fifth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton by Mel Starr. This is a fiction book, set in fourteenth century. It is the fifth book in a series featuring the character Hugh de Singleton, who is a surgeon and a bailiff on a manor in England. Having never heard of this series, I first thought the “fifth chronicle” part was rhetorical, but that turns out to be accurate: this is the fifth in the series.Here is what it looks like:The Tainted Coin is historical fiction. The protagonist, one Hugh de Singleton, is a surgeon in the fourteenth century. This means that, contrary to Hawkeye Pierce, he does not often wash his hands nor wear gloves and a mask. Instead, he worries about both what herb to use and the astronomical setting of the surgery. Admittedly, de Singleton does not worry much about the stars, but it is a factor.As to the writing style, The Tainted Coin worked well. Was this the perfection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s genre? Not qu…

Out of bounds: Leviticus 18

One thing that cannot be said of Scripture, especially the book of Leviticus, is that it leaves things unsaid. Take our chapter for today: Leviticus 18 (link) as an example. Here we see a long list of people you can and cannot have sex with. Let’s cut this to the chase: this is about sexual behavior, both that which is acceptable and that which is not.Getting into this chapter is a journey, partially, into disgusting territory. For most of us, the idea of “approaching a blood relative to uncover nakedness” is something that we not only would not consider, it’s a little bit of an appetite suppressant to think about. Then there are the other aspects discussed: people who are related not by blood but by “law:” cousins, step-siblings, father’s new wives, etc…Suffice it to say that a strict adherence to Leviticus 18 would spoil every soap opera you have ever known. Yet there are items not prohibited in Leviticus that many of us would argue should be. Polygamy is not out-of-bounds here, tho…

Sermon Wrap-Up for January 20

I apologize for the lack of video for the AM Sermon. Apparently, the battery that I thought was good was not good, and we did not know it until I started preaching. If you’ve ever tried to do something for free that should be expensive, you understand. We do have audio for the morning and audio and video for the evening.Why both? Because we are kind of belt-and-suspenders on this: I try to video and audio. If one goes down, we have the other. If both go, then I guess you had to be there :)Morning Audio Link is hereMorning Outline is here:Galatians 3:23-29 All Lives Matter I. The tutorial of the Law II. The Justification by Faith III. Universal Adoption as Sons IV. All heirs to the Promise Evening Audio Link is hereEvening Outline is….somewhere in the Ethernet. Probably with the Ether Bunny. Evening Video:

Book: American Patriots by Rick Santorum

Continuing on a Book Binge: this week is a catch-up week for me on book reviews. I don’t get unsolicited books for book reviews, I ask for all of them. (Well, once I had a person contact me. I was less-than-enthusiastic about the book, and haven’t gotten an unsolicited since.) However, life tends to back up the shelf.
Senator Rick Santorum ran for President. He lost. After that, he released a book of short biographies of people from the Revolutionary War era of United States History. Let us hit the long and short of it straight up:
Some people do not agree with Santorum’s politics. That predisposition will cause an automatic distaste for American Patriots. Others are wholesale in favor of Santorum’s politics, and they will universally adore American Patriots. If you’re inclined to love it without paying attention, then go buy it. If you’re inclined to hate it without paying attention, then move on and grow up a touch.
There are two major parts to this book. First: there are short bio…

Watch Your Language! Acts 22

There are two divergent points in Acts 22 (link) that I think are worth your time. Here they are:1. The first point is in Acts 22:2. Paul is standing in front of a hostile crowd. They are convinced he has violated their holiest places and mocked God as they understand God. It’s not a safe place to stand. Angry mob on one side, Roman soldiers on the other, and here is Paul in the middle. Now, before we go forward, we need to go back a few verses to Acts 21:37-38. Paul asks the Roman commander permission to speak to the crowd. He speaks to the Roman in….Greek. Which surprises the Roman and gains Paul that permission. Paul then speaks to the crowd in….The Hebrew dialect of Aramaic. The local, home language of the area. He speaks to them in the language they know and understand. In the language that no one would have bothered to learn just for fun. That gets their attention. This shows that either: he is one of them or, at the least, he has cared enough to learn the language. We know he i…

Book: Tender Warrior

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As forewarned, it’s time for another book look.Today, I want to point you to a book that I read what seems like two lifetimes ago: Tender Warrior by Stu Weber. It looks like this:You can buy Tender Warrior from various websites, including the one named after a large rain forest that no longer has an affiliate program in Arkansas because the Legislature thought punishing me was going to increase tax revenues. You can also buy a copy from the publisher, Multnomah, here.Or you can hunt down one of the 375,000 people who have bought it and borrow theirs. Which is what happened to my hardcover copy years ago when I first read this book. Why would I read it again just for a review after several years?Here is the hinge of Stu Weber’s book: it is not only possible but appropriate that Christian men be both compassionate and strong. The possibility of doing so is based in the power of God. The appropriateness is found in following the example of Christ, because we see both attitudes in fullnes…

Aliens Included: Leviticus 17

Aliens? Yes, aliens. Read Leviticus 17 (link) in the New American Standard Bible, and you’ll see it. Of course, the clearer, less giggle-inducing, translation is “foreigner” as you see in the New Living Translation and a few others, but for me, I like aliens. The connotation works better than a mere foreigners for us.Why? Here is a spot that we Americans, especially, have difficulties with is understanding just how deep national divisions run. Imagine the cultural divisions, language divisions, and more that separate Arkansas from New York. Now amplify that by at least an order of magnitude. Add in a mix of general hostility that is tempered only with times of apathy. As in: when a disaster strikes, you hope the neighboring nation sends no one rather than sending an invading, plundering horde. Now, that is the normal state of affairs for those times. And do not forget that we’re not dealing with aliens with a universal translator or a TARDIS. You can’t understand each other. I’ve hear…

Book: Grace by Max Lucado

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Blog note: I’m going to be trying to double-post this week. Real thoughts in the morning, book in the evening. Why? Because I looked at the shelf that was “Books to Review” and “Other stuff to be done” and realized: yikes, that’s a lot of books.Today’s book is Grace by Max Lucado. It’s published, as many of his are, by Thomas Nelson Publishers and available all over the place, except in places where it isn’t but ought to be. It looks a lot like this:The picture links to the Thomas Nelson webpage, but you’d be wise to check prices. Jungles often provide cheaper books.The pictures show what the book looks like, but we all know that there is a difference. A real book is multi-dimensional. It has heft, takes up space that isn’t measured in megabytes, and even has its own smell. Real books are a full-sensory experience. Pictures, while helpful, are never quite like the real thing.Now, amplify that problem by an order of magnitude and you are approaching the  problem Max Lucado tackles in G…

Sermon Wrap-Up for Sunday, January 13

Here are: 1. the audio for Sunday Morning’s sermon on Exodus 12; 2. the audio for Sunday Evening’s sermon on Genesis 1:26-28; 3. the video-embed link for Sunday Morning’s sermon.Why no video Sunday Night? I can video 30 minutes and 20 seconds at a time. I preached 38 minutes. It was not a sermon that the last 7 minutes 40 seconds can really just disappear off of, so the truncated video is not going onto the Internet. Apart from practice, practice, practice, I’m working on a system to keep myself under that video cutoff. We’ll see.Morning Audio Link is HereExodus 12 Concept: How the Passover Speaks to Us Today 1. The spotless lamb's blood saves the person: Salvation 2. The spotless lamb is for the family: Fellowship 3. The family is not alone: Interdependence 4. The gathering is for preparation: Readiness 5. The preparation awaits the act of God: Submission 6. The act of God frees the people from bondage: Deliverance 7. The people remember their salvation: Celebration 8. Their salv…

You’re in Trouble Now: Acts 21

What can we say about Paul? If you are a believer but have never read Acts, you do not realize what kind of trouble Paul was capable of getting into. You should read the whole text and then come back to this point. If you have read the whole book, though, let’s get into this from here: Acts 21 (link). Paul is making his way back to Jerusalem, and stops off at Miletus to meet with the elders of the Ephesian church. Then he travels on to Caesarea and meets with Phillip the Evangelist (Acts 8, see here) and Phillip’s four daughters who prophesied. While Paul is there, he also encounters a chap named Agabus comes in, picks up Paul’s belt, ties himself up with it, and says that the owner of the belt will be bound up just like that.Now, go back through all the rough moments Paul has been through. He’s been stoned, flogged, locked up, threatened….but we have no textual moments that tell us he was ever warned that bad things were going to happen. Usually, he just went one place to the next.He…

Book: Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

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When four of one’s books are made into six movies that will gross more money than some small countries, one must expect a biography or two to come out.Of course, J.R.R. Tolkien doesn’t actually expect anything, having passed away in 1973, not surviving his beloved wife, Edith, more than a couple of years. Now I have spoiled the ending of Colin Duriez’s J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend for you. That should not keep you from considering this biography of the man who presented us with hobbits, Middle-Earth, and the only part of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony that made sense. (At least, I saw the Shire in it, and the rise of Mordor. Maybe I was wrong.)<----The book looks like this from the front. The link takes you to Amazon, but you can buy this book several places. It is from Lion Publishers, who provided me with the copy for this review.I am not an expert on the life of Tolkien, nor on his writings. I do know that he was born, orphaned, lived, married, and died. I know that…

Scapegoats: Leviticus 16

Leviticus. The summary of this book is this: if the One True Holy God is going to dwell among people, then those people must be holy, and holy is not something we get to make up as we go. Instead, there are guidelines to follow.The secondary line of Leviticus is this reality: people never can live up to any form of rules or guidelines. This is the secondary theme of the whole of the Pentateuch, really: mankind cannot hold to one law and so ends up needing more and more. If the heart is not changed, then no increasing laws will fix the problem. Genesis starts with one law, then it expands. By the time you get through Deuteronomy, you have hundreds of laws for life.Still, those laws are not well followed by anyone. There is sin. There are intentional sins and unintentional sins. There are times of spiritual nearness and spiritual weakness. It is good and bad out there, and more than that, it’s good and bad inside our hearts.Leviticus 16 (link) provides an image of the solution to the pr…

Sermon Recap: January 6

Sunday AM Audio Link is hereJanuary 6, 2013 AM: Our Plans for the Year: Acts 2:41-47 Application points: 1. Teaching 2. Fellowship 3. Worship 4. Prayer Evening service did not go as planned—so, there is no audio/video for that night. Thanks! Doug

Book: The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek

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Face it: if you are not using your Koine Greek skills every day and twice on Sunday, they are getting rusty and you need help. The help you need is not a larger print NASB or ESV, either. It’s to get the Greek back. Or to learn it in the first place, especially if you are a Christian leader. After all, if one wants to know America’s Founding Documents, one still reads it in the swooped script of the Declaration of Independence and not just in text message-speak.So, how do you get it back? How do you get it in the first place? If you are pounding through acquiring the Greek in the first place, you know that sometimes a textbook is just not as clear as you’d like. Or that one text explains material in one order, and another is different. Or just that Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is so big that you cannot find what you need quickly.Well, help is at hand, and it is in the form of The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek by Douglas S. Huffman. In 106 pages, Huffman runs through …

Clear the Old

I want to encourage you to take a look at 1 Samuel 12 for a moment. If you need the story so far, Samuel has been leading the people. He has anointed Saul as the first king, and is now fading away into semi-retirement. Well, he’ll pop up and anoint David in a few chapters, but at this point he’s backing away.Samuel stands in front of the assembled people of Israel and asks few basic questions. They summarize in this manner: “Anybody got any issues with me? Bring it up now.”Really. Read 1 Samuel 12:3 and think about it. His questions are about whether or not he has personally misused his position for his own gain or to the discredit of the office itself. Historically, this is the transition from the period of the Judges of Israel into the United Monarchy. Imagine America shifting from the government of the Articles of Confederation into the Constitutional Era or Rome becoming the Republic through the Twelve Tables of the Law from despotism. It’s a critical juncture for the peopleBut Sa…

Sermon Recap: December 30, 2012

Well, this should have been up yesterday, but I didn’t get it done. So, here are the sermons from the last Sunday of the year:Morning SermonMorning Audio: (link)The End and the Beginning: Revelation 22:1-9 & Genesis 2:8-9 Our hope as all things end Central Theme:    The perfection of God's Purposes Objective Statement:If we trust in Christ, there is nothing to fear in the end of all things      Rationale:     1. Creation was originally good      2. Eternity will see the restoration of that good      3. This means the elimination of the curse      4. To eliminate the curse means eliminating the source of it      5. Sin will have no place there, as it had no place in the beginning Responses:1. Consider your standing before Almighty God: only perfection will be allowed. Are you perfect?
2. If you are not perfect, how do you plan to enter in? Only with perfection does one enter eternity.
3. If you know that eternity is settled, how do you handle today? Do you work as unto the Lord G…