Monday, July 20, 2009

New Book Review

This week I start reviewing a new book. This time I joined up with the publisher Thomas Nelson. Stop by later to read my first review of "The Noticer", a new book this year by Andy Andrews. This is the publisher's book description:

"A moving story of common wisdom from the bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift.

Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people. But they all have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, and many of the other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.

Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious old man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. In his simple interactions, Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what they can do about it.

Based on a remarkable true story, The Noticer beautifully blends fiction, allegory, and inspiration."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review - Believing God: Chapter 12 - We Shall be Like Him - I John 3:2

This is the last chapter of the book and so the last review. Did Dr. Sproul save the best for last? Who's to say. But there is a lot of good stuff in this chapter although it characteristically rambles. The main topic is Jesus as we know from the chapter title.

I remember the two witnesses who shared the Gospel with me. Try as I might to locate them these 25 years later, they seemingly have melted into obscurity. That conclusion is only based on Google and my ability to think up keywords concerning their whereabouts. From God's perspective though, I imagine these two gifted evangelists are still out there boldly proclaiming the truth about Jesus. And that is just fine to be that way. They are not the important ones here. Jesus is. And how many times they reminded me of that prior to and after my salvation I lost count. But I never forgot how earnest they were in focusing everything upon Jesus.

It's a good lesson that I was reminded of as I read this chapter (and at other points throughout the book). Let's see how many times Dr. Sproul mentions people and Jesus. Under the people category:

the reader
the devil (why he credits Satan with a capital "D" I don't know)
the church
demonic scientists
Martin Luther
his family
Paul the apostle

(NOTE: and after all that he finally gets to I John 3:2.) Now back to the list.

Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr.
a publisher
an athlete
a theologian
a rock star
a political figure
our heroes
His Body and Bride

That is a very lengthy list to get around to the point that we should fix our eyes, hearts, minds, and very lives upon Jesus. God says in Jeremiah 24:7, "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jesus says in Luke 14:26-33, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

This morning's devotional from Oswald Chambers says, "THE PRICE OF VISION

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1

Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died - I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or - I saw the Lord?

My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say "I saw also the Lord," there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. "In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee." Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

Finally, God says in Hebrews 12:1-2, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus (emphasis mine) the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Even God spends a lot of time talking about other people. But every single one of them is a witness to Jesus. Our eyes are not on the witnesses but on He who is witnessed, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

That's One Small Step for a Man...

Monday July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and Neil Armstrong's famous words as "First Man". The day before, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. will sponsor a full day of activities marking the historic event. But the most exciting event, to space nuts like me, will be at 8:00 that evening when the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins come together for the first time since 1969 to address the public.

Up until two weeks ago, I had tickets to go see this historic event. It will never be repeated. It was the chance of a lifetime. I gave the tickets away for a higher calling.

My oldest son just returned from his first missions trip to Germany. That Sunday evening he and the rest of his team will stand before the church and share the great things that God did and continues to do during that trip. As soon as the pastor announced the date, two things happened to me.

Immediately I was aware of the conflict. But first, my spirit soured to know that I would be there to support my son. Second, my heart sank as I knew what I had to give up. The decision was simple and it was unanimous with my wife and children. This was not a decision about my son, but about Jesus.

My son, day by day, is visibly being transformed by the renewing of his mind (even at the tender age of 15) and he is coming to know the will of God for this moment in his life. I am thrilled to see such fruit.

So not only is this an example to him of:

Luke 14:33 - "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

...but it is also a beautiful picture of:

I John 2:14-17 - "I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." that both my son and I know and do the will of God and give Him all the honor, glory, and worship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's Official

My first article was officially published by the Examiner today. Stop by and take a look. If you have ideas for an article, or would like to write for the Examiner as a local expert, drop me a line.

Upcoming Events

A gem dropped into my lap two weeks ago while on vacation at the shore. As I read one of my Yahoo! Christian writer's group messages, one person wrote about a new writing gig she started with The Examiner. Intrigued, I checked out the website. Now I have a gig with them too as the Philadelphia Christian Living Examiner. I posted my first article last weekend. Upon acceptance by my editor, the site will open to the public. Then I may post freely and frequently. The posts will be a little different than what I blog here, but the underlying theme will remain pretty much the same. I look forward to seeing you there and reading your comments.

Since writing the manuscripts Christian Mythology, The Remnant, and My Little Children, I have struggled a LOT with how to share all of it with my family. More than anything I want them (and others) to join me in Christian fellowship as we worship our Lord Jesus. But as I have known all my life, and my wife reminded me the other night, I am a much better writer than a speaker. I struggle at the dinner table and family gatherings for the right words. It comes out all wrong and I get very discouraged. There have been so many starts and stops. I see God doing so many wonderful things as He molds and shapes my children. I want to know all about those things and at the same time I want to share all the joys of what God is doing with me. But the spoken word fails.

So God put into my mind this morning the culmination of thoughts and experiences from the past (weeks I guess?) on how to resolve this. I will write a Bible Study that is for the family. It will bring together the three manuscripts in a way that we can all share in the great work of God as He forms His Church, nutures, grows, and sends her out to do His will. Needless to say I rejoiced and worshipped the rest of the way into work. I'll keep you posted from time to time how the work is going. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review - Believing God - Chapter 11: The Good Work Shall be Completed - Philippians 1:6

This chapter is different from any other so far. It is mostly a high-level theology discussion as well as another tiresome replay of Dr. Sproul's cast of theologian associates and family. It leaves me wondering sometimes whether he struggles with his beliefs about his beliefs, just as we all should if we are honest.

Today's devotion from "My Utmost for His Highest" was therefore no coincidence as I read it and thought about this chapter. Oswald Chambers writes, "THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP

"If any man come to Me, and hate not . . . he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:26, also 27, 33

If the closest relationships of life clash with the claims of Jesus Christ, He says it must be instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person, Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a difference between devotion to a Person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ. No man on earth has this passionate love to the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Ghost has imparted it to him. We may admire Him, we may respect Him and reverence Him, but we cannot love Him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Ghost, and He sheds abroad the very love of God in our hearts. Whenever the Holy Ghost sees a chance of glorifying Jesus, He will take your heart, your nerves, your whole personality, and simply make you blaze and glow with devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is stamped by 'moral spontaneous originality,' consequently the disciple is open to the same charge that Jesus Christ was, viz., that of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds. Men pour them selves into creeds, and God has to blast them out of their prejudices before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ."

It's that last sentence that really grabs me and makes the point of this review as well as my own personal struggle. "God has to blast them out...." Well, what if we don't want to. Perhaps Chambers' wording is too dogmatic, for in fact, God will not force us to do any such thing. He will do all in His power to make it happen. But there is just one little problem - sin.

God allowed me to go through a little exercise this past week so that I could write something very personal to you. It is personal to me yet I believe universal to the saints. I had some sin in my life this week. When that happens, among the Biblical consequences that I share so often, I am also unable to write. That prophetic gift of God dies as the old man of the flesh comes back to life.

This time, God brought all that together for a purpose - to bring this message today. So perhaps in a way He did "blast" me. But I still have to wonder, for if sin is left unconfessed and unrepented, the inevitable searing of the conscience comes along. Perhaps it is the beautiful reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who would not allow me to get more than one step away rather then steep in sin.

But don't listen to this foolishness. The point is that in sin, the flesh is delighted to heep upon itself its own beliefs. As Chambers says, our flesh "pours 'its' selves into creeds" whole-heartedly. The old man will not hesitate to build such walls against God and then we convince ourselves of our theology, our beliefs, and creeds. We gain tremendous comfort that our thoughts are all right and Biblical when in fact they are not. We build myths, extra-Biblical manifestos.

So in my sin I was doing just that. And then God allowed me just a glimpse of just how heinous this path was. Not just the path was foul however. It was the fight of the flesh to keep on it. I refused to deviate. I told God it was no big deal. I could shake it off. Of course I realize the consequences God but don't worry, I can handle it.

Do you ever have conversations with God like that? Do you know you are in sin? Do you hear the checking voice of the Holy Spirit calling you to repent, to not go too far?

Sure, and just like me and all the saints, we struggle still. We get convicted. So we say to God, "Just give me a minute. I'll clean up this mess I got myself into. I know I should repent right now but I have to fix a few things first." The wicked, evil flesh is still fighting, holding onto its Edenic desire to be god. But what does Jesus say? "Come unto me."

We have a favorite hymn, "Just as I am". Truly that is how we must come to Jesus in repentence with immediacy. We could not clean up before salvation. We cannot do it as saints either. The only difference now is as saints we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict and give us the presence of mind to know and do the right thing.

This week Love Worth Finding aired a repeat message from Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of my favorites on Romans 6. God used this again for my restoration, just as He uses this truth every time. It is the only truth from which we obtain God's mercy and grace. There is no other way. I highly recommend getting a copy of the message "Three Steps to Victory". Go to

Here it is in short:

I KNOW that I am in Christ Jesus, baptized into His death. Therefore,
I RECKON myself dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord. Therefore,
I YIELD myself to God in obedience unto righteousness.

Ahh, back again, right with God. Free from sin. Alive. Awake. Free in Jesus to worship God, rejoice in His mercy and grace, and be bold to write to you.

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." - Romans 11:36

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Examiner

Thanks to a post in one of my Yahoo Groups, I learned of The Examiner. "An Examiner is someone in a local market who enjoys informing others about subjects they love. They are the backbone of, they are magazine writers, bloggers, housewives, Ph.Ds, college students and others. The common link between them is that they talk about their knowledge in useful ways." (from 7/1/09

Yesterday I was selected as the regional Philadelphia Examiner for Religion. Wow that's pretty exciting. Articles will start shortly so I will keep you posted and provide a direct link to my page. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement!