Friday, November 30, 2012

The Conviction to Lead.

Cover ArtWhen  Bethany House Publishing offered this book to me free for me to review it, I was excited. Dr. Albert Mohler is a man I respect and admire for his cogent cultural commentary, from a Christian Perspective. I love his thoughts on how euthanasia is  the end of human dignity, not a way to die with yours intact, and how the "right to die" turns oh too quickly into the duty to die.  So when Dr. Mohler's new book came out, my sister, who is so kind, allowed me to take it even though she was the one who was going to review Bethany's books.  It is my aspiration to own a library with one book from a solid Christian on each topic. This will be my first book on leadership.  Read Dr. Mohler's heart behind his new book on his website   "Our ultimate conviction is that everything we do is dignified and magnified by the fact that we were created for the glory of God." 

This book is passionate, and deserves a passionate review. Tim Challies wrote a very passionate review of this book, and I read his review right before our copy came.  Albert Mohler defines Christians today as Belivers, and Leaders. Belivers are convinced of the Truth, and they believe passionately. They are ready to live and die for Truth.  Leaders study management, are heads of organizations and want good results from practices and programs.  What we need today is to help the believers realize that they need to lead, and help those in leadership positions  understand that no amount of  management makes a leader- it is beliefs worth leading for that cause you to lead, and convictions that you want spread with all of your being that cause you to learn to lead well.  
Ultimately, we need to understand one thing that will set them both straight. Leadership flows out of conviction.  

Only a man who is convicted with passion and earnestness can lead. Who is more passionately convicted than a Christian? A Christian is someone who is so convicted of Truth that he will live for it and die for it. He knows he has "light in the dark- The Gospel. Who else could be more passionate than him? Who else has something greater to be passionate about than the Gospel?"  A Christian becomes a leader when he realizes that he is willing to "believe in public and think out loud." Leading is part of living for the Gospel. 

You know who should immediately come to mind for all of us as an example of how true this is?  The man whom God drew to Himself in the 1500s, who became so convicted that he would have surely bled and died  for the Gospel, who saw fields of souls ready to harvest  and that God had work to be done. Then this man saw that in between living and dying for the Gospel he needed to lead for it. Leadership flowed out of these convictions. This man, who never studied management, who never aimed to be a CEO of an organization, became known to us as a great leader of the Protestant Reformation. His name is Martin Luther.  I dare to say that it is the same way- Conviction, and leading for those convictions in every great leaders life. George Washington loved the new nation before he agreed  to lead it. Lincoln loved the Union before he was willing to lead and fight to keep it.   

 With this firmly fixed in our mind, that we are leading  because we are convicted of the truth of the Gospel, and we want the cause of Christ advanced, then suddenly the  day to day life of a leader comes into focus. Things like being able to read a spreadsheet become not something to hire out, but to figure out because you are steward of  this money that God has given.  You become a judge of character, and you prayerfully steward every precious life you influence.  The Tv and the radio interview become not something to be feared, but to use unapologetically to advance  your message of conviction, to further the Kingdom of Christ.  Blogging becomes the worlds fastest, most inexpensive way to reach millions with your message. Reading becomes a skill you perfect, by God's Grace, that will give you knowledge of Him and this world to  serve Him better. Speaking becomes, as Mrs. Botkin says, a tool of discipleship to be mastered to better spread your message.  Good Writing, the fruit of much good reading and the way to make your words last longer, becomes something you study and set aside time for.  Time itself must be managed well, to make the most powerful use of the time God has given you. And power must be stewarded. You who are in authority, the Scripture teaches, must be careful how you live for you are under God's Authority. The power you have as a leader must be in servant-hearted Christ-like leadership. Our Lord warned us, we are not allowed to lord it over the people as the Gentiles do,  but  to lead the way He does.  The leader must be able to make decisions almost reflexively, building the reflex into his being by filling himself with God's Word so that it is so much a part of him that  he can make the decision that Scripture outlines almost by reflex.  

 Leadership is something that we, the people that God put here for such a time as this, will need to excel in. We desperately need men, and women, to lead and take dominion in their Biblical sphere, for the Kingdom of Christ.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Photo and A Quote.

Albert Mohler. Leaders are Teachers.

  This is an encouragement to all the home educators!  "Love undergirds the entire process of learning, taught Augustine. First, the teacher loves those he will teach.  The teacher is not only imparting knowledge but also giving a gift." If this doesn't encourage those teaching at home, maybe this will! "Second Augustine taught that the teacher must love what he teaches. The best teachers are those who simply can't wait to teach something they love.  The Third but most important thing that Augustine reminded Christian leaders was that we teach because we first love Christ, who first loved us.  Lastly, Augustine defined the ultimate goal of teaching in a powerful way that should reshape every teacher or leader's vision of what we do. The goal of teaching is to see every student instructed, delighted and moved. Until conviction is transformed into action it makes no difference in the world." 

Vicki Tiede- "When your Husband is addicted to pornography- healing your wounded heart."

   To any young readers, this post may not be appropriate. It is a review of a book about pornography. This sin does touch everyone in this world today.  A few weeks ago my sister and I had to close an account at a global photo sharing website that we were glad to be able to use. The reason? Pornography. The site had become a hangout for pornography. Images were being posted and shared that should never have been taken. It ruined a perfectly good site for us to share photos on. The culprit professed Christ on his profile. Mixed in with his pornography were shots of his wife.  And I could not help but wonder- does his wife know? Because this will ruin her life.  Pornography is everywhere. It is socially acceptable. It is deadly. 

 Last week I read a wonderful series of articles by Tim Challies on pornography. He addressed the fact that pornography has warped our conscience as a Nation, setting the tone for the way millions of men view women and marriage. He said that every time a man views pornography he deadens his conscience a little bit more. What broke Mr. Challies' heart the most was this-
vicki moto
"The saddest emails I have received in the past few days came from women who are older than you are and perhaps even old enough to be your mother. They told tales of utter devastation—of husbands who got into pornography when they were young and who never cared to give it up. And here they are, all these years later, still damaging themselves and their wives and families. The choices they made as young men threaten to tear apart their families today. The women, the one God calls these men to be intoxicated in for all of their lives,  live with gaping holes in their hearts, longing for their husbands to step in and fill them up. Could this be your wife some day?"     
When Your Husband is Addicted PornographyTim Challies was writing to young men, teens or newly married. He is pointing them to the fact that if they continue on this road of  death they will someday break their wifes  heart.  

       Mrs. Vicki Tiede was one of those women. This book is her story.  She wrote this book to address the questions that a woman has when her marriage is blown apart by a husbands pornography addiction. Can she ever have  Hope again? How does she  Surrender? Is it safe to Trust?   How do you deal with being Broken?   Where in this madness do you find Identity?  And how do you give Forgiveness to someone who tore up your trust and betrayed you? Are you even expected to forgive them? 

         Vicki writes Sister in Christ to Sister in Christ, praying for her readers and crying with her readers. Her book is saturated in prayer and tears. Tears because Mrs. Tiede had to open up the old wounds to write heart to heart with the wives of other porn addicts, prayers because she interceded before Our Heavenly Father, for every woman that would read this book.  "I did not choose pornography. (I am sure you did not either.) God did not choose it for me either. However, when my husband chose pornography, God inserted a parenthetical moment into the story of my life. In the space between those parentheses, He assured me I was not alone. He knew my pain. He saw my tears. He felt my losses and he would redeem it all. He did."  Page 147, emphasis mine. The idea of a parentheses in a woman's life is a very helpful idea. The parentheses contains a limited number of words. The parentheses is not the story itself, only a part of it. But the words within the parentheses change what comes after them.    

       Vicki writes the way she speaks, overflowing with the word of God and the love of God. She wrote this book to come along side women and walk with them through a six week journey. This book was written to say  the things she needed to hear as the wife of a porn addict.  The first thing needed is Scripture. Scripture fills this book. Scripture to comfort you, Scripture to counsel you, Scripture to do what God wrote it to do- Point you to Christ. The second thing needed is a sister who has walked this road to help you understand how to move forward in the healing process, because with Christ there is healing, but it is a process. This book is not a book about your husband or about addiction. This book is about you and your healing. This book is arranged as a Bible study, and takes a number of weeks to complete, which allows the reader to soak in the Truths of Scripture. The verses used come from a variety of translations, including the Kings James Version, the ESV, the NIV and the Message. 
        The women that this book was written for are the wives of level one or two addicts. Level one and two are everything below criminal behavior, and these behaviors are considered normal by todays culture. Wives of Level three and four addicts  (affairs, raped someone, or molested a child) can also benefit, because tragically enough the "normal male behavior" of pornography use leads to these other acts. 
      The women this book is written for also are probably hoping to reconcile with a changed husband, although that is not always possible. This book does NOT affirm divorce as a simple, painless solution. It is Not.  However, in this fallen world, there are times when a husband is dangerous to his wife, unrepentant in his sin, blaspheming God and dishonoring his marriage covenant unrepentantly. There is one time in the New Testament when divorce is permissible, when the spouse has committed adultery.   Pornography is adultery. It is marital unfaithfulness. God hates it. God hates divorce also. Once again, Vicki's story will minister to a woman's heart. From page eleven, "When my first husband refused to responsibility for his actions or recognize a need to repent of his behavior, the behavior escalated, and my emotional, physical and spiritual health was at risk.  I was advised by a Christian counselor and my pastor to end the marriage, and I did. Please hear me when I say this- God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 NIV), and I have never met anyone who has gone through a divorce who does not agree with God. It is God's desire that every heart and marriage be restored (Job 22:23)." If you are afraid that there is no hope, then this book is for you. If you are praying for reconciliation, then this book is for you. 

     Mrs. Tiede also ministers to the heart of hurt wives who believe the lie that whispers if they had been more-whatever- then he would not have gone elsewhere. This is  a flat out lie.  Your husband did not choose pornography over you because the women were more beautiful. He chose pornography because it was forbidden, dangerous, and evil, and sin drew him. People are not tempted by the pure, sweet, normal and wholesome. Temptation is the slimy, the sick, the ugly, the brutal, the secret.  That is pornography. It is an absolute perversion of a woman's body and sexuality. And yet there are wives who try to "compete" with this filth for their husbands love.  No amount of "being more beautiful" would have filled him, because he was not looking for his wife's natural beauty that every woman is born with, he wanted the fantasy of photoshopped pixels.  

Vicki tells the Truth plain, but gently in this book. This kind of gentle "truth therapy" will help heal a woman's heart.  What he is doing is not innocent. No matter what the culture says.  It was not a deficiency in you that made him choose this sin. Attempting to give "instant forgiveness" to avoid the pain of working through the problem sounds more Christian- but it isn't. Yes, a wife's identity is shattered after this- but God holds the pieces and it is God who knows what you were created for, and who can put your heart back together.  It is not your fault, and there is no way you can "fix" him. That is between him and God. There are ways to promote healing, however.  There are ways that you can work with a willing husband to make healing possible.  

   This book is honest, loving, and encouraging.  If she could, Vicki would invite every woman who is in her former shoes as a wife of a porn addict to come to her house, sit on her couch, take out her Bible and a box of tissues, and talk  heart to heart. This book is part of what she would say. This is her heart behind the book, her hope for all women who have been betrayed in this way. "My prayer is that a woman will focus her eyes on the God of Hope, rather than basing her hope and happiness on her husband’s choices. Learning to allow God to meet her greatest needs is a long and learned process, probably longer than the amount of time it will take to go through my interactive book. It’s a slow dance through brokenness in the arms of the Almighty. I know. I’ve been in her shoes and I’ve learned the intricate steps to finding Hope in the midst of a husband’s addiction to pornography."  
    A few years ago we made one of those mosaic butterflies.  You make the mosaic with pieces and shards of broken glass in all different colors and sharp edges, but the result is a beautiful mosaic butterfly. We still have it in the garden. Mosaics are beautiful, made out of broken pieces. Mosaic is a perfect metaphor for the healed heart. 
Mrs. Tiede has since remarried, and has one daughter and two sons whom she home -schools. She is a student of Scripture, an author, and speaks at Churches and conferences. You may visit her blog, and her Facebook Page. 

   We are grateful to have received this book free from New Growth Press to review it, and were asked for our honest opinion. You may buy a copy from New Growth right here.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Genius of Ancient Man.

Dr. Don Landis, President of Jackson Hole Bible College, together with his research team, is the author of this book The Genius of Ancient Man.  This book is a large hard bound book filled with history, archeology, and color photographs to provide for us a glimpse of the way that History is His story, and truth can never be rewritten to the point that it completely hides God's works and ways, although the enemy will try. In the war against God, keeping people from seeing His hand in history is a major strategy. When God says that Man was made in His image, and that even after the Fall man was fantastically intelligent, the enemy trains our children to think ancient man could barely figure out how to tie a loin cloth on and sat in a cave trying to make fire all day. Cartoons like Barney Rubble gave us this, and I know older adults who had been given the idea that aliens built the impressive structures of the ancient world.  

Once again, science and observation are on the Christians side. This is why I am so excited to read this book- clear writing, color photography, and it is big! Twelve by ten inches and 107 pages long,  this book, like all sound  Christian Books, never neglects the spiritual realities of a topic. The way we think about ancient man will depend on our beliefs about spiritual things, our presuppositions. And most disturbing, if God's Word is not our foundation, we will get our ideas from other places, and those ideas will determine how we view ancient man and everything else. There are MANY counterfeit views on ancient man. It is not enough to have evolutionists telling us that we are slightly refined old world monkeys, spinning about in a world devoid of meaning, we now have new age cultists telling us that we are cycling through history, with mankind reaching almost to the heavens and then being wiped out again and again- with the final wipeout coming this December, four days before Christmas.   In the midst of all these voices, what does the Bible tell us?  What does history tell us?  What does the record that ancient man left behind tell us? What do the mathematically correct angles and artful masonry of their work testify to? This book shows us through 107 pages of full color photographs. These photographs, maps, and timelines lay out the history of ancient man, what he built, what technology he had, how he traveled, where he traveled to, and all of this ultimately testifies to which version of history is true. It is Scripture's account that is proved true again and again. Man was made in the image of God with full intelligence surpassing our intelligence today, and then he fell  into rebellion and sin which perverted his intelligence and led him to serve false gods and idols with the mind God gave him.

Why does this matter to us as Christians right now? For at least two very good reasons. The first is that if we allow the naturalists or the new agers to tell us what ancient man was, we have accepted mans word over Scripture and History.  Once we get our History right, we can get our Present right. We aren't worrying about the end of the world this Christmas, because we know that God who Created Man and the World told us no man knows the End of the World.

The second reason is surprising and disturbing. Most of those giant pyramids, monuments were built with religious significance. A counterfeit religion, a perversion of truth, is seen in almost every place, every ritual. And more and more, these same counterfeits, these same perversions, are being highlighted today.  There are whole cult groups today, rearing their ugly heads, trying to breath life into the dead cults of thousands of years ago. When ever a "new" religion begins to lead people astray we as Christians need to know about it, so we can know how to witness against it.    This book would be a very good  history/ Creation Science book for those ages 13 and up. It would also be a great book to start a  Creation conversation on, because how many people do you know who would immediately look at the cover and say "Oh, an APEMAN!" 
The Genius of Ancient Man
I am grateful to New Leaf Press for giving us  The Genius of Ancient Man to review. It provided hours of edification to our family, and was a reminder of our past and a warning to be careful of counterfeit religions in the present based on the counterfeits of the past.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Photo and A Quote. Click on the photo to see the quote.

Os Guiness on Freedom.

 This is a very worthy lecture. Freedom. He begins it with something that breaks my heart. He reminds us of a quote by Saint Augustine, who said that we do not know about a country by its schools, or its museums, but by "loved things, held in common." What do we, as a nation, which ever Nation we live in, love in common? He continues, if it is a noble thing that we love in common, we are a healthy nation. If what we "love" is ignoble, then we are an unhealthy people. If what we love is Noble, but is in poor repair, merely enshrined in ceremonies and monuments and patriotic songs and not alive, not lived out by the citizens, not beating in the breast of every boy and girl, then we are an unhealthy nation indeed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Songs from Casting Crowns.

      For my Mother's Birthday she received some new Christmas CDs. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!!! This album is on sale for five dollars at It contains some old favorites and some new songs, Offering, While you were Sleeping, God is With Us, they are new to me- God guided us to Casting Crowns last year, right in time to meet these songs for Christmas.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Finding God in the Hobbit.

 I first read the Hobbit at age 13. Neither my Mother
nor my Father had met Bilbo Baggins  as children, nor Balin or Dwalin or Gandalf. We met them together, me reading aloud. A year later we read The Fellowship of the Ring, starting in June, a time that will always be connected to Lorien, the Lady of the Golden Wood,  Legolas who can string his bow faster than sight, Aragorn and his kingly bearing, who teaches us that under his worn rangers cloak beats the heart of a King. Then we read the Two Towers, and we saw the treachery of Boromir, and the nobility of his brother Faramir. We saw Merry and Pippin, two of my favorites, as they changed from young hobbits wanting adventure to toughened warriors. We saw them enslaved by the orcs and rescued by the Ents.   Then the Return of the King, and the utter foulness of evil, and the joy of Purity, and Wholesomeness, and  Yes, I did weep when Frodo and the Elves left Middle Earth for the Far Country. I hope all readers do.

I talked about Tolkien and Middle earth for the whole summer. The next summer I was blessed to receive a copy of Gladys Hunt's book, Honey for a Teenagers Heart. Here was a woman in her eighties, writing glowingly about Middle earth, and the Truth, Beauty and Purity, Bravery, showcased there. She understood the lure of Lorien. The admiration of Legolas andhis bow shooting.  Her book made her a friend of mine.  I had not read another book that explained the love of Middle Earth so perfectly until I received a copy of Finding God in the Hobbit by Jim Ware, from Tyndale House free for a review.  Finding God in the Hobbit is the third book in a series written by  Jim Ware, and  Kurt Bruner. Their first two books were Finding God in the Lord Of The Ring Finding God in the Land of Narnia and now  Finding God in the Hobbit.                                                           

 This book is like a Hobbit, small and full of unexpected wisdom. Jim Ware shows us things in Tolkiens books that I never would have seen.  Let us start with something Tolkien was very familiar with, something we see often in the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo, something that enriches my world here having met it there in Middle Earth.   It is the Eucatastrophe, or good catastrophe. A eucatastrophe is defined as "rather than an invasion of sorrow it is the surprise of joy bursting onto a seemingly hopeless situation, the certainty of death and destruction undone by the unexpected intrusion of life and resurrection. In a word, the Gospel." Yes, the Gospel is in Middle earth, and not because Tolkien wrote a wooden allegory, but because all good books are about the themes of this world, and this is one of the core themes. We find this theme as the Gospel in God's word, and we find this theme coming out in books by discerning men. Tolkien was a discerning man, and he knew that the Gospel came into his books. He wrote a letter to Deborah Webster in 1958, saying "I am a Christian," and this "can be deduced from my stories."  And that is what Jim Ware does. He deduces the Christian Truth in these wonderful stories. As a student of both Scripture and The Hobbit, we will find our time in Middle Earth and our time in our earth richer after seeing what Jim Ware saw.  There are problems in our world that Middle earth will help us solve.  The eagles are one of those. In the Hobbit, and in the Return of the King, when the hobbits are in danger and there is no way out by their own strength, the Eagles come flying in and carry them away. In most fantasy stories this might be the author's way of getting his heroes out of a corner he wrote them into, and we would have to enjoy the story but know that that rarely happens in life. Also, in most stories there would be a glaring contradiction, because as one of Jim's friends points out "If the eagles can fly anywhere and save the heroes, why didn't the elves just have them fly the ring to the mountain and drop it in the crack?" That at first seems unresolvable. But study resolves the question. What at first seems a slip of the author turns out to have profound truth in it. "There is a pattern to the eagle rescues that dot the pages of Middle earth history. This pattern points to a certain wonderful and startling conclusion. It suggests that we might be justified in seeing these majestic  birds as a beautiful symbol of Grace, Free and Sovereign Grace... Because Grace isn't something you can control. Like Bilbo and Frodo, you can only look up and receive it with a sigh of relief. You can only give thanks and shout Hallelujah! when it swoops down to save you out of a hopeless impasse.  To experience Grace is to be left speechless and awestruck- not wondering how you might have found a way to take advantage of it earlier on." 
 The Eagles are not ordinary eagles, they are the Eagles of Manwe, and they are controlled by the King of the earth. They are not for hire, by Elrond or anyone else. Their Master knows the Hobbit's plight, and when he wills he sends them to save. In Biblical terns the eagles can be compared to The Eyes of the Lord, that run to and fro throughout all the earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16 verse 9. "They function as executors of the divine will, extensions of Love that defies mortal comprehension and reaches down to men and elves from a place beyond the boundaries of the world."  These Eagles also will only save when their Master commands them to, and for reasons not understood by man the eagles could not carry the ring. Frodo and Sam had to carry it for a time.

Another beauty of this book is the same thing that made Tolkien beloved of all of us. The "good liking" in his books. The love of hearth and Home, the love of pipe and supper and stories and slippers. Stephen Lawhead called Tolkiens work a Praise Hymn for the Goodness of Creation, the goodness of the physical  universe. This book celebrates that. from the Hobbits who loved the good comforts of Home to the dwarves who loved skillfully worked gems to the Elves who loved beauty and purity.  
 Read this book. Read it in one evening on a comfortable sofa in December, with a woodstove burning, and a few Christmas lights glowing. Read it and marvel at all you will be enjoying next time you read the Hobbit that you never saw before. 

This book reminded me a little of this fine book- Not a Tame Lion, by  Terry Glaspey. I got my copy for 2.99 at, but they seem to have sold them out. After reading that little paper back biography of C. S Lewis which had his life story in the front and some of his thoughts on Love, Heaven, and other topics taken from his writing, my Dad vowed to read everything C. S Lewis had written.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. —Psalm 95:1-6 

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.
—William Bradford 

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
—George Washington 

  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
—Psalm 78:2-4
The Lord has not only blessed this nation with a rich providential history, but you too have a story that needs to be told. Your children need to hear it and understand the mercies of God in the life of your family. So, this Thanksgiving, chronicle all that God has done in the history of your family. How many generations has your family been in America? How did they get here? When, if ever, did your fathers embrace the Gospel?
7. Purpose to Fight Hard and Hold Fast
History is not made by majorities, but by dedicated minorities of like-minded friends who have joined together in common cause. This was the Pilgrim legacy, and it must be ours as well. To change the world, courageous men and women must “fight hard and hold fast” to the things they know to be true. Most people will not fight hard and hold fast (which is why most people are spectators instead of world-changers). If you are grateful, purpose to be engaged. Purpose to be part of an important work for the Lord. Purpose to stand with those who are fighting hard and holding fast. Purpose to be a twenty-first-century pilgrim for Jesus Christ. Doug Phillips, Vision Forum.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Albert Mohler on his new book.

 Dr. Albert Mohler on Talking about his new book The Conviction to Lead. 
"For the better part of the last three decades, leadership has been a major cultural preoccupation and a professional obsession. Walk into an airport bookstore and you will find the front tables filled with books promising to make you a better leader. Apparently, people passing through airports have a healthy appetite for books on leadership. Walk into a Christian bookstore, and you will find ample evidence of the same hunger.
If you are like me, you have probably read a small library of books on leadership, attended numerous conferences and seminars, and you likely read leadership newsletters and professional journals when you find the time. Hotel conference rooms overflow with people listening to speakers deliver talks on leadership and colleges and universities have gotten into the business as well, offering majors, degree programs, and even entire schools devoted to leadership studies. 
What is going on here? The hunger for leadership reaches every sector of our society, including business, government, education, cultural institutions, and, of course, the church. Christians, along with the rest of the society, were looking for leaders, and to develop leadership.
It was not always so, of course, though it is hard now to imagine a time when leadership had something of a bad name. The twentieth century was a brutal and murderous laboratory for leadership. All you have to do is think of names like Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong.
In light of these horrors, many people began to wonder if leaders and leadership were themselves the problem. Theodor Adorno and his colleagues at the University of Chicago suggested this in 1950 in their book, The Authoritarian Personality. They seemed to suggest that any ambition to lead was based in unhealthy psychological needs and would produce dangerous results.
This mentality took root in the culture of the 1960s, where counter-culture groups demanded the abolition of many leadership positions and the larger society grew increasingly nervous about the nature of leadership. Educators followed suit with classrooms in which the teacher was to be just a fellow learner, no longer “the sage on the stage.”
Of course, it didn’t work. It couldn’t work. It turned out that even anti-leadership movements needed leaders. The nation needed leaders. Businesses needed leaders. Teacher had better know more than the students."

God Maketh No Mistake.

A.M. Overton (1932)
A retired pastor, who lost his beloved wife,
wrote this incredible poem during her funeral service.
Lyrics slightly modernized by Adrian Vermeulen-Miller.

Original Poem:

He Maketh No Mistakes!
My Father’s way may twist and turn,
my heart may throb and ache.
But in my soul I’m glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
my hopes may fade away,
but still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
for He doth know the way.
Tho’night be dark and it may seem
that day will never break;
I’ll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.
There’s so much now I cannot see,
my eyesight’s far too dim;
but come what may, I’ll simply trust
and leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift
and plain it all He’ll make.
Through all the way, tho’dark to me,
He made not one mistake. Thank you to New Hope Music for letting me post this.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Choosing Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh Demoss

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy

     I knew I wanted to read this book when I saw it recommended on a blog I love. The reason I knew I needed to read it was because the woman who runs this blog lives these truths out- she lives and breathes gratitude. She has challenging days. She has known trials.  Yet when she speaks of a trial, it is always to praise God for another mercy in the middle of it. She finds God's Gracious hand in the middle of pain, she finds a beautiful sunset at the end of a long day. Her archives are filled with posts that are a breath of fresh air- and it is the lovely scent of gratitude that perfumes them. Reading her posts made me want to have what she has.
     So, one day, when I had (very minor) dental surgery planned, and was inwardly complaining about it, I decided to try looking for the mercies. They were there.
1. My dentist has very gentle hands.
2. My dentist talks to you while he works.
3. I had a family member who got the whole day off from work to take me, and would be waiting in the waiting room the whole time.
4.The rest of the family got to stay home...that is a blessing!
5.The weather was excellent for a drive into town.
6. I would be missed while I was gone and told so many times when I got home.
7. I had a new book at home to read when I got back. :-) That is a special blessing!

     And there is was...Gratitude welling up in me for things I never would have seen. And I knew I needed this book. And now I think we all need this book.
   "Gratitude is a lifestyle. A hard fought, Grace infused Biblical lifestyle. And though there is a sense in which anyone can be thankful- for God has extended His common Grace to all- the true glory and the transforming power of gratitude are reserved for those who know and acknowledge the Giver of every good gift  and who are recipients of His redeeming Grace. This book is about discovering what makes gratitude truly Christian. And how it makes life, even with all its bumps and bruises, a joy to behold."  

    God commands us to give thanks, to Glorify His name with Thanksgiving, to Praise Him. Our gratitude also blesses those who hear it and see it, because it points them to the One we are Thanking. Gratitude blesses us too...keeping us from sin. Nancy Leigh quotes D. James Kennedy, who says that an ungrateful person is one step away from meeting their needs in an illegitimate way. I agree. We want what we don't have and we don't have what we want. We envy those who get "it" first. And yet what are we missing that we need? We live in a fascinating world of blessings...and yet we miss the daily blessings showered upon us. Like Nancy says, we think our soap and tea come from the grocery instead of our Gracious God.

    This book goes deep... this book talks about being grateful in affliction and terrible loss, like the death of Nancy Leigh's brother as a college student. He planned to be a missionary.
His family gathered to praise God after he died...not because it was easy and they felt like it, but because God was worthy. There is a reason it is called a sacrifice of praise, Nancy says. "Our hearts were breaking even as we tried expressing them. But what we were really saying was 'Lord, you've not given us the privilege of understanding why You would take this young life that was so devoted to You, and we may never understand your reasons this side of heaven. But LORD we trust you. We know you don't make mistakes. And what we really want even as we grieve the loss of son, brother and friend--more than anything else--we want you to be glorified.' And he has been."
That is awesome, the way a heart can praise God in the midst of pain like that.
This book is so full of truth, and the writing is beautiful.
Choosing Gratitude will be on my top books of the year list. I intend to do the thirty day devotional included over the next month, as part of transforming my mind to think in grateful terms. I was blessed to receive this book from Moody Publishing to review.

Interview with Nick Vujicic, from ChristianBook .com

Q: You came to Christ at a young age; have you ever felt despondent enough (as a Christian) to consider taking your own life?

A: I gave my life to Jesus at age fifteen when I read in the Bible that Jesus knew that the works of God would be displayed through the blind man in John 9. However, before having faith in Jesus, I was angry at God and blamed Him for my lack of limbs and the fact He didn't seem to care. I thought He’d forgotten me or wasn't real at all, because He didn't answer me when I asked with much faith for limbs miraculously. Neither did He answer me when I asked why He had done this. Because of being bullied at school, experiencing a lot of negative attention, feeling like I was a burden to my parents, and not seeing a right future, I attempted to commit suicide by drowning myself in a bath tub. As I was in the process, the thought of leaving my parents with [that] much grief helped me to not go through with the suicide. It was by God's grace that I am still here, and I can hear the words ring true in Jeremiah 29: 11-14.
Q: What advice can you offer to other people who are mentally or physically disabled, and feel like their life is "over" and worthless?

A: Any negative lies and thoughts that come in are not from God if the statements are not in-sync with the Word, the heart of God.  Every day, we must pray that the Lord guards our hearts and minds as we battle with principalities and powers of darkness. We have the truth. Remind yourself of the truth of your identity, purpose and destiny in Christ. Put on the full armor of God. Ask God for the gift of faith to believe every loving word of the Bible and the discipline to have time in worship or prayer or reading of the Scriptures to further the growth of your faith. Take one day at a time. We all have a fear of being lonely. Some have been abandoned, but Jesus is with you. Trust Him, and if you don't know Him, seek Him.
Q: Describe an average day for Nick? How long it takes to get ready in the mornings? 

A: As a teenager, I wanted to prove to myself that I could be independent, and it would take me an hour to get ready, brush my teeth, go to the restroom, shower and dress myself. These days I like to focus on what gives me more joy and save my energy for the things that are truly rewarding after proving to myself that I could be independent. So, I have caregivers who take care of me and get me ready especially when traveling.
Q: How did you meet your wife?

A: My wife Kanae and I fell in love at the top of a Bell Tower in McKinney, Texas at the "Adriatica.” The fully story is in my book, but it was at a night where I only spoke to 16 people, and we watched the Butterfly Circus. I shared about the ministry's goals and heart in reaching the world. Fireworks were in our minds and hearts when our eyes connected that night...and for the rest of the story, get the book.
Q: What qualities or characteristics attracted you to her? Do you plan to have children soon?

A: She is my best friend, and I adore her. She has unimaginable grace, love, patience and meekness. She is such a focused and gentle giver. We are hoping to have children in a few years, but you never know what the Lord wants.

Q: Where do you live/attend church?

A: With living in Southern California but traveling quite a lot over the years, it has been difficult to find a home church that we truly see our children growing up in long term.  But we genuinely enjoy the fellowship of the Apostolic Christian Church in Pasadena and love their hearts in valuing the family-style congregation.
Q: You minister around the world to children, churches and businessmen. What message is on your heart at the moment?

A: In such a world and generation, there is so much information and entertainment and vicious pressure to be someone you're not yet or to get something you don't have yet. The message to preach is the truth. To know our true worth, knowing that we are all loved, and we are here for a greater purpose.

Q: Tell us about your book - what inspired you to write it, what do you hope it will achieve, who is it for?

A: Before writing Unstoppable, I personally went through two major life-changing experiences that I learned so much in and through. I went through a personal crisis in December 2010. Then I met my wife and started courting her at the end of 2010. That's why I wrote Unstoppable. I love how God lets us go through difficult challenges to help each other and encourage one another. I want to communicate a message of hope and love that continues to evolve as I walk closer to Jesus.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From God to us- How we got our Bible.

                             From God to us: How we got our Bible.
                                         by Dr. Geisler and Dr. Nix 
       We first heard about Dr. Geisler and Dr. Nix's weighty 412 page book on Mrs. Parshalls radio show, In the Market. Moody Press has just republished this book, revised and expanded from the first edition in 1978. This book should be on every Christians shelf. This book contains 21 chapters that cover the four very strong links in the chain from God to us. These links of Inspiration, Canonization, Transmission, and Translation bring the Bible to us from God. God wrote the Bible by Inspiration. 
      From God to us, page 66 "The first characteristic of Inspiration is that it is Inspired writing; namely it is verbal. The very Words of the Prophets were God given, not by dictation but by Spirit-directed employment of the prophet's own vocabulary and style. Inspiration also claims to be plenary (full). No part of Scripture is without Divine Inspiration. Paul wrote 'All Scripture is Inspired by God.' (2 Tim. 3 verse 16, NASB). In addition, Inspiration implies inerrancy in the original documents, called autographs... Finally Inspiration results in the Divine authority of Scripture. The teaching of Scripture is binding on believers for Faith and Practice."
     This  is what elevates the Bible to a whole new not so easily dismissed plane, making it so rich for those who feed their soul on its marrow and fatness and yet so threatening to those who defy it. The  Bible actually claims to be the Words of God, collected, preserved, and here for us today. The Doctrine of Inspiration, and the quote above give us the frame of the book. The frame of studying How we got our Bible. First- All Scripture is God Breathed. How did we determine what books were Scripture? Who got to decide? Or- was it all decided by God and we recognized it? How did we?  This is Canonization, studied in chapters 6 through eleven.  Then we have the question- the autographs were inspired, but they are all gone. Do we have the Bible we were given? Has it changed? How? Can we trust it? This is Transmission, studied in chapters eleven to  Then we have the question that according to evangelist Bill Jack is often cited by college students as a reason why they cannot believe the Bible is true: Too Many Translations.
    How did the Bible come to us in English faithfully copied and translated throughout hundreds of years, with no mistakes. What about all the Revisions and Corrections that must have been made? Are Revisions in a Translation the same as changes to the text?  How do I choose a Bible that is a close to the original text as possible? When was the ESV begun? Is the KJV the definitive Bible?
   This book is a worthy read- a very worthy read. If we study this book and master its contents we will be able to defend the Scriptures' authority and we will have comprehensive answers to give the person who says that the Biblical books were "chosen" and "decided" at a big council in the 300s AD. Or that the prophetic books were written long after the prophecies. Or that Genesis was written during the Babylonian Exile. Or that the whole Bible was written by a sixth century monk, as one anti-theist said. Or- the idea that somebody changed every manuscript all over the known world to reflect their personal heresy. Or any number of feeble attacks that this book will help you resist. Understanding the Bible also arms you to war with cult teaching- all of which rewrite the Scripture to get what they want. Why should we believe that we have the Bible we were given? How do we know that the "cult" version is not what the original really said? Aren't we getting further from the original each time we translate our Bible? Did you know that every translation can be more accurate than the one before because of the old manuscripts we can now work with? Did you know that every one of Paul's letters claims its own inspiration? Even Philemon? Philemon claims its own inspiration verses eight and nine when Paul makes it clear that he has the authority as an apostle to command Philemon to obey, but would rather appeal to him as a brother  in the Lord.
     There are many exciting facts woven in- did you know that many languages were written for the first time when Christian Evangelists brought the Gospel to an unsaved country and wrote the spoken words into a written language so the Bible could be read by the people?

Source: via Kirk on Pinterest

        This book is a thorough study of the way we got our Bible from two esteemed Professors, and leaves you knowing that you have the tools in the book to learn a lot about this topic. Buy this book- take a highlighter or three, and spend a month reading From God to us. Go to In the Market with Janet Parshall and listen to her review with Dr. Geisler as you wait for your copy to come.  Mrs. Parshall speaks with Dr. Geisler. One hour long- very good!!! I received this book for free from Moody Press- and it is a blessing. And the cover- it is PERFECT. A pen poised over the parchment, ready to write God's word. Beautiful.