December 29, 2008

Reading in 2008

I made it a goal to do more reading in 2008 and I believe that I was, for the most part, successful. I managed to read 24 Christian books and 2 works of fiction (based on popular movies that came out this year - which is about the only way you can get me to read fiction).

I compiled a list of all that I read and rated them based on a 5-star system. What will follow is this list of books and some commentary by yours truly. I hope you'll find something interesting enough to buy and make it a part of your 2009!

Keep in mind I'm not a professional reviewer and therefor don't get free copies of things to review. I have to spend my own money which means I deliberately choose those books which I feel are worthy to be read and also fill holes in my Christian walk and education. So, in short, most of these books will be rated on the higher end; there won't be any 1 or 2 star entries here.

Fiction Books

"Fireproof" by Eric Wilson
Almost better than the movie. I read the book before the movie (because I just couldn't stand it) and, for me, it was a page turner. I think I finished it in three nights of reading just before passing out for the night. There's a bit of stuff that didn't make it into the movie which makes it even more enjoyable. And, of course, it's a great present to friends because it does approach marriage from the proper viewpoint (and that would be God's) and, just like the movie, presents a clear Gospel presentation; something everyone in America needs to hear

"The Dark Knight"by Dennis O'Neil
I love analyzing the characters and themes in certain movies. That's why I was so attracted to Batman Begins which tried to reset this famous comic book and film character. So when this movie was to come out, I just had to read the book that went along with it to help me in my analysis. Like most fiction these days, it isn't terribly involved making it an easy read (so that, I'm sure, it can appeal to the broadest possible audience from 8 year-old boys up to grown men like me)

3-star Books

"A Journey Worth Taking: Find Your Purpose In This World" by Charles D. Drew
This one was recommend by Tim Challies, I believe, back in 2007 and is one of the few books, I think, he said that he felt strongly enough about to read twice. I would probably benefit from reading this one again. I personally found the first half of the book to be a bit tedious and drawn out. But I am glad that I stuck it out as the second half is some good reading. The basis of the book is helping God's people to find purpose in their life using sound theology in the process. For this reason, the author takes us through creation, the fall, redemption and consummation as it relates to how we are to make sense of this world, our life and how to best live for God's glory. Be warned, the very first page may "turn you off" as it did me when reading the acknowledgements. It is in the very first few sentences of the book that you'll find how the author thanks his parents for teaching him how to love creation and all that is in it, including himself. I'm sorry, sir, but no one needs to teach you how to do that. Perhaps the author just didn't know how to express himself but it's certainly a good way to get people like me to simply close the cover and put this one back on the shelf.

"Culture Shift" by Dr. Albert Mohler
Dr Mohler is one of my modern-day heroes. I follow his blog on an almost daily basis and love his writing. Straight theology applied directly to the pertinent issues of our life and culture. I listen to his daily radio program on a fairly regular basis. So why only 3 stars? Because this work represent largely what has already been on his blog and radio program. So it's kind of old news to me. But if you aren't familiar with Mohler, stop sinning and introduce yourself ASAP ;-) For those wanting clear biblical answers to today's problems, read this small book of short commentaries and you will be edified and better prepared to defend your faith

"Fireproof Your Life" by Michael Catt
Based around the concept of the movie, you can't control your life but you can be prepared for those events in life that everyone has to struggle through. In other words, be prepared. This is a good, solid book with a lot of useful info but it is the type of thing that's been done before by any number of authors. I have read this and can recommend for new believers who haven't seen it all before.

"Still Growing" by Kirk Cameron
Cameron is my bud! Being a self-professed rabid Way of the Master fanatic, I just had to read this book. It is a biography of his entire life. It does make for a good read but having not really known about Cameron's TV career, I wasn't too terribly interested in his early years of fame. It was interesting to note that God's hand did appear to be on him, protecting him and keeping him from the many evils that our society tempts young people with who have that kind of money and fame. Where it really turned interesting for me is when he begins to confront the issue of God and finally gets saved. It details how he hooked up with Ray Comfort and the early years of the Way of the Master ministry. Read this book and be amazed at what God can do when He firmly gets a hold of someone

"The Cross He Bore" by Frederick S. Leahy
This is a small devotional-type book that covers the passion week. It's a bit more on the harder to read scale as it does make you think about many things that probably never entered your noggin before. There are a few areas where the author stated things which seemed weird or just plain confusing. But, otherwise, it is another glimpse into the final days of what our Lord and Savior had to go through in redeeming His people. And that's always worth reading about.

"How Should I Live In This World?" by R.C. Sproul
Previously released back in the 80's as "Ethics and The Christian", this 100+ page booklet covers the basics for ethics as they relate to materialism, capital punishment, war, abortion, etc. A good introduction and as usual, just good old-fashioned Sproul at his teaching forte

4-star Books

"The Deliberate Church" by Mark Dever/Paul Alexander
With recommendations by Mohler, Duncan, Mahaney, Ryken Hughes, Carson, and Rainer how could you go wrong? How should you "do" church" Read this book and find out how to have a vibrant church which does not compromise, takes the Bible at face value, lives in a community of love and proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ in all that it does.

"The Reason For God" by Tim Keller
One of the year's best sellers and rightly so. Another book written in defense of the faith and in answer to the renewed assault by the new atheists (Hitchens, Harris, etc.)

"How To Care For Your Pastor: A Guide for Small Churches" by Kent Philpott
I wrote a blog review of this earlier this year

"The Faith" by Chuck Colson
This is Colson's latest book and, in a way, it's a response much like Keller's work. Colson boils down the Christian life to the bare essentials of what is necessary to have a true faith in the God of the Bible. And it also serves as a beginning apologetic for why the Christian faith matters in today's world for without it, we are doomed as a nation to live any other way

"Holmann QuickSource Guide To Christian Apologetics"
A product of Broadman-Holmann, the publishing arm of SBC, this is a very good introduction to apologetics and can supply the average Christian with a lot of basic answers to questions and thought provoking questions for when witnessing

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan
An easy reading book directed at the lukewarm church in America. Chan is a great pastor and his love of and passion for Christ is evident throughout. Read it and be motivated to live passionately for Him.

"Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris
An easy read and a bit simplistic, the two Harris boys give a powerful message for people of ALL ages to get off their backsides and live large for Christ. It's a scathing indictment against our culture which treats teenagers as a form of privileged class of whom nothing more is expected buy sleeping and spending (their parent's) money. A must-read for all teens and youth workers.

"The Blue Book On Evangelism" by Ray Comfort
This is kind of a FAQ in book form for all of those who feel compelled to witness to strangers but are afraid of the technique, how to answer tough subject matter, etc. This is one of those books that needs to be reread each year to brush up and fire up for the year ahead

"Knowing Scripture" by R.C. Sproul
This goes along with MacArthur's book on the Bible mentioned here. Sproul gives a great introduction on how to personally study the Bible as well as providing insights to proper interpretation and application of God's word to our lives and then finished up with a nice listing of practical tools for Bible study

"Born Again" by Chuck Colson
The autobiography of Chuch Colson, one of my modern-day heroes. A powerful read and celebration of how Christ can change people's lives ... and powerfully!

"Prepare For Rain" by Michael Catt
With an endorsement by Warren Wiersbe, what else needs to be said? This is the story of Pastor Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, which made the movies Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof. He talks about his early struggles, coming to Sherwood and how they grew as a church which crafted a vision for spreading the Gospel throughout the world.

5-star Books

"The Book On Leadership" by John MacArthur
A great read and something that should be read by every ministry leader, lay or professional, in today's church. It's just wonderful to sit back and let MacArthur take you on a journey through the life of the Apostle Paul and the cultures of his day as he made his way through the world, pouring his life out for Christ

"Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney
This is the one book I feel that EVERY Christian should read. You will come away feeling ashamed for how little you live for your God. If every Christian, or even 25% of "true" Christians in the US would read and APPLY the wisdom in this book, we could revolutionize our faith in this country and see God glorified through the gospel of our Lord.

"Unleashing God's Word In Your Life" by John MacArthur
Another must-read for every Christian. MacArthur does an excellent job of providing the basics for understanding the Bible followed by chapters on how to read, study and apply God's word. Another book that could drastically alter the Christian landscape in the US

"The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian
This one caught me by surprise and it was one of those books that you just can't put down. This is another must-read on how Satan has done a great job of winning the culture wars and, at the same time, put Christians on the sidelines as ignorant bystanders who have let him take over. Buy it. Read it. See the world anew and adjust your walk accordingly

"The Criminalization Of Christianity" by Janet Folger
This book is in a similar vein to the one above. Folger talks at length about how Christianity has been marginalized in the US in the fight over abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, stem-cell research, pornography, evolution, etc. She explains how everything is tolerated in our culture except Christ not to mention how "faith" has been relegated to something you do at home or in the church but don't you dare bring it into society. Reading through this book it will amaze you at the amount of persecution that is going on in the US that you are not aware of. Read this book and have your eyes opened. And it only adds to her credit that she hammers home the issue of absolute truth and even gives a clear gospel presentation!

Reading Through 2009

I've already started on my next book, "Christless Christianity" by Horton. With a few chapters already read, it's definitely looking like it may earn a 5-star rating. Other books I plan on reading in 2009:
  • "Postmodern Times" by Veith
  • "What Is A Healthy Church?" by Dever
  • "What Is A Healthy Church Member?" by Anyabwile
  • "Christian Apologetics" by Van Til
  • "Trusting God" by Bridges
  • "Where Do We Stand?" by Blamires
  • "Character Counts" by Guinness
  • "For The Glory Of God" by Stark
  • "The Courage To Be Protestant" by Wells
  • "The Most Important 18 Words You Will Ever Know" by Packer
  • "Things That Cannot Be Shaken" by Oliphint/Mays
  • "The Battle Belongs To The Lord" by Oliphint
  • "Spurgeon: A New Biography" by Dallimore
  • "Respectable Sins" by Bridges
  • "Growing Your Faith" by Bridges
Does anyone have any 5-star titles that they read this past year? Are you making plans for what you'll read in 2009? Remember the old adage: if you fail to make a plan then you've made a plan to fail!

With that in mind, here are a few articles that are sure to help inspire you and give you a plan to do more reading of your own (and hopefully for the glory of God!):
10 Tips to Read More and Read Better by Tim Challies

Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books by Al Mohler

The Twilight of the Books? by Al Mohler
Happy New Year and Soli Deo Gloria!

December 19, 2008

What Would Your Child Say?

I should have posted this earlier (I posted it on my headlines web site on the 17th) and was reminded of how powerful it was when I saw it posted on another Christian blog:
Mutilated Christian Girl, 10, Forgives Attackers
What a powerful testimony for Jesus Christ! These poor, persecuted people know so much more about Christ and what it means to be poor in spirit and persecuted for righteousness' sake then most Americans ever will (including myself).

So, you're child gets attacked and scarred for their religion. What would they say about their attackers?
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. [Pr 22:6 ESV]

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you [Mt 5:44 ESV]

December 3, 2008

Want To Be Disgusted?

Then read on:

Just In Time For Holidays, Indiana Planned Parenthood Offers Gift Vouchers
Planned Parenthood offers gift vouchers
UPDATE: Use this link to write Indiana House Majority Leader Russ Stillwell and put an end to this morbid business practice: Family Research Council Action Alert.

I can only wonder how long God's hand of protection can be upon our nation given such brutality and wholesale infanticide. I can only find peace in knowing there will be a day of reckoning when God sets all thing aright.

If you want to read more about depravity and the "innate goodness of man," read the next two stories.
Police: Security inadequate at Wal-Mart where worker died
Video: 'Groupthink' Store Trampling?
And while this is nothing compared to the above, I point it out simply because stupid is as stupid does...
Some Parents Rethink Toy-buying

November 26, 2008

An American Thanksgiving

Every year as the holidays approach, I am struck by God's goodness and am reminded of how much I am thankful for all year (and I am also struck how much I take for granted and therefor am ungrateful for). I'm talking in general about Thanksgiving but I am especially grateful for what the upcoming Christmas will celebrate, the birth of our our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Is 9:6 ESV]).

And then I have to go and read something like this: The true focus of Thanksgiving. Just amazing isn't it? What lengths man will go to to deny the one, true God. Given the above quote by the author regarding this proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving in 1777, I decided to look it up myself in our recently purchased copy of The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the U.S. (which I would recommend for any family interested in our true Christian heritage). I found the reference with a bit more detail that I thought you might be interested in reading:
Saturday, November 1, 1777

The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several States to set apart a day of public thanksgiving, brought in a report, which was taken into consideration and agreed to, as follows—Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, to acknowledge with gratitude their obligations to him for benefits received, and to implore such further blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the defence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties, particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success: it is, therefore, recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor, and that together with their sincere acknowledgments of kind offerings they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public councils of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue, and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Ghost. And it is further recommended that servile labors and such, recreations as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.

Friday, November 7, 1777

Ordered, That a duplicate of the recommendation to the several States to set apart a day of thanksgiving, signed by the President, be sent to the several States and to General Washington
and General Gates.

The proceedings of Congress were sent to all the States by Henry Laurens, President in Congress, with an official request that each Governor would be pleased to take the necessary measures for carrying the resolve into effect in the State over which he presided. Washington, when the above proclamation reached him, was on his march to Valley Forge, and halted his whole army during the day, and the chaplains held religious services with their several corps and brigades, upon which the commander-in-chief exhorted all officers and soldiers to “attend with reverence the solemnities of the day.”
I wonder if, after reading the above, most Americans would be humbled at all? I wonder how such a proclamation from our nation's founders would be received by the public today? By the ACLU? By the Freedom from Religion Foundation? By Americans United for Separation of Church and State?

A proclamation which makes it very clear whom we should be worshipping and giving thanks to. And what about that mention of Jesus Christ! Surely our founding fathers were not fit to govern our new nation as they clearly had no respect for the "separation of church and state." Clearly they were laying a foundation which would crumble as quickly as it was laid.

How far we have fallen. God's patience and longsuffering are miracles in and of themselves. Why He has not obliterated mankind, let alone our depraved nation which was founded upon a foundation in Jesus Christ and the Bible as its highest authority, is unfathomable.
"if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" [2Ch 7:14 ESV]
My brothers and sisters in Christ, it is time to pray. It is time to live like true disciples of Christ (and, with all due respect, that means more than just lip service, we need to walk the talk) and not like those of the world. We need God. We have always needed Him but unfortunately we do not live like it. How much farther do we need to fall before His church decides radical action is needed? Hopefully we will not wait too long.

Soli Deo Gloria! And Happy Thanksgiving (as our founding fathers intended it!)

November 20, 2008

Time For Change (And I Ain't Talkin' Obama)

Today's story out of WORLD magazine has an article by Cal Thomas titled, "The other deficit" which challenged me. I think it confirms what I have come to know not only about life today in the United States of America but with the Christian roots of our nation. The more and more Lydia and I dig into American history (that which has real truth in it and has not been significantly revised by the liberal educational establishment), the more we realize what has been hidden from us.

Here are some quotes from Cal's article:
"For the third straight year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) has found that a large number of Americans cannot pass a basic 33-question civic literacy test on their country's history and institutions."

"The random sample of 2,508 American adults, ranging from those without high school diplomas, to people with advanced degrees, revealed a minimal difference in civic literacy between the uneducated and the highly educated."

"Ignorance of America's history and heritage is a setup for politicians and others who want to manipulate us into a way of thinking that allows them to make decisions that are unconstitutional and unwise. More than repeating phrases and figures, knowledge of the past prepares us for a future based on unchanging principles. That's why knowledge matters and ignorance endangers our government and threatens our way of life even more than terrorism."

"ISI calls on everyone involved in education, including parents, to re-evaluate curricula and standards of accountability and to emphasize to students the fundamentals about our country. It notes Thomas Jefferson's admonition: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... it expects what never was and never will be.""
Do people really understand how far we've fallen? Do you? Probably not; because we have little true history to see where we've came from and why our Founding Fathers created the civil government and educational system in the ways that they did.

I recently scanned through a DVD from WallBuilders which is most excellent (in what I did happen to see) for those who want to understand how our Founding Fathers used the Bible to form the foundation of our government and educational institutions. I hope to have a full review of it sometime in the near future (which will likely consist of nothing more than "Go buy this DVD immediately and watch it ten times within the next month" or something like that).

I've recently started reading a book by Cornelius Plantinga (
Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living) in which he starts the book by detailing the original mission statements of our nation's original colleges, including Harvard, Yale, etc. which desired above all else to bring glory to God by providing a biblically-based higher education that taught their students how to live ALL of life using the Bible as a gauge for everything. It's making me quite sick when I compare the founding intent to what they are teaching today. Anyways, I'm only through the introduction and first chapter and I've already highlighted more text than not!

Interesting side note: I just spell-checked the preceding paragraph and "biblically" was marked as being incorrect. I just went to the Merriam-Webster site and they seem to know what this word is. But blogger/Google does not? Should I be suspicious? Nah...

What follows are the links for Cal's article, the ISI report, the civics quiz and DVD info:
The Other Deficit

Our Fading Heritage

Civics quiz

The Influence of the Bible on America
UPDATE: I totally forgot about this FOX News video I posted in yesterday's headlines. Fits in perfectly:
God expelled?

November 18, 2008

What Are They So Afraid Of?

The latest battleground is down in Texas where scientists, teachers and boards of education are wrestling over the issue of evolution, intelligent design and creationism. Today's post is about a recent article in the Dallas Morning News which is the latest salvo from the scientific community.

Not only are they petrified of Intelligent Design (ID) and Creationism, they don't want children to be provided with any information which might suggest that there are weaknesses in their grand "theory" of evolution (which Charles Darwin himself suggested how his theory could be debunked which has largely come true but the elitist professionals refuse to acknowledge it).
95% Of Professors Back Teaching Only Evolution In Texas Schools
We know what they're afraid of:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Php 2:9-11 ESV]
And we know why they have no defense in hiding behind their "science" of evolution:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. [Romans 1:19-23 ESV]

November 14, 2008

Atheism Outreach Crosses the Pond

What started out as a whim over in the UK:
All aboard the atheist bus campaign

An Unbelievable Challenge -- A Look At Atheist Public Relations

Atheist Posters Are ‘Great Adverts For Christianity’, Says Think Tank
has now made its way onto U.S. soil:
God, Humbug: Humanist Holiday Ads Say Just Be Good

Billboard: "Don't Believe In God? - You Are Not Alone."
What are your thoughts? Would you honestly be able to speak intelligently about how to reasonably argue for the existence of God? Why His existence is crucial for a proper understanding of life? What about crafting the argument to lift up the God of the Bible over the gods of Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism or ...? What about it being an excellent opportunity to transition this spiritual conversation into the area of evangelism to show what man's true problem is and why Jesus Christ is the only answer?

UPDATE: Another article from the Wall Street Journal:
Atheists Reach Out -- Just Don't Call It Proselytizing

Merry Tossmas!

Focus on the Family has just rolled out the 2008 video for the Tossmas campaign. Enjoy!

Merry Tossmas 2008

Focus on the Family Action’s 2008 Christmas-Friendly Shopping Guide

Tolerance Is as Tolerance Does

Here's a set of recent press articles detailing the reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 in the state of California (which is trying to preserve the definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman - you know - like God intended).

And it would seem that those asking for tolerance of their "lifestyle" aren't exactly being too tolerant themselves. What do you think?

So Much for Tolerance
The Aftermath of Prop 8

'Mormon Scum': Gay Marriage Backers Focus Anger On Church

Mormon Church In Orangevale Vandalized In Wake Of Prop. 8 Vote

White Powder Sent To Mormon Temples In Utah, LA

Video: Bill O'Reilly Talking Points

Cross-Bearing Elderly Woman Attacked by Gay Marriage Supporters, May Press Charges

UPDATE: Here's some recent commentary from the Christian blogging world:

Undermining Democracy

Retaliation against the other side

October 28, 2008

What Is Your Vote Worth?

It's coming down to crunch-time! Some of my friends have already voted and I plan to soon. How about you? Do you know why this election is so important? No, it will not challenge the sovereignty or alter His plans. But He has raised up this government and used the lives of millions to shape our country and give us the privilege to vote. Please don't waste your opportunity.

That's why my post today is to help bring the main issues into focus before you vote. The first article comes out of Massachusetts and it details the changes in that state that have already come to pass due to homosexual influence. And same-sex "marriage" isn't even legal there yet!
PLEASE! Take some time to read this first article to feel what this issue will do if it's allowed to spread like a cancer across our country:
What Same-sex "Marriage" Has Done To Massachusetts
It's far worse than most people realize
http://www.massresistance.org/docs/marriage/effects_of_ssm.html
This next article is by Randy Alcorn on the abortion issue and how it effects his vote:
Commentary: I'm Not Voting For A Man, I'm Voting For Generations Of Children And Their Right To Live
by Randy Alcorn, guest columnist
http://www.citizenlink.org/CLtopstories/A000008537.cfm
And here's a video that's being promoted by Focus on the Family for some, odd reason ;-):
Online Video Calls On Christians To Get To The Polls
http://www.citizenlink.org/CLNews/A000008532.cfm
Pray for our country. Pray without ceasing. Pray that God's will would be done and that no matter what the outcome, we will live each and every day to glorify Him and learn to enjoy Him forever.

October 21, 2008

Deeper!

Lydia and I visited a LARGE church near Atlanta this past weekend. It was the First Baptist Church of Woodstock. It's large enough to be called a mega-church but luckily it's lead by a godly man, Pastor Johnny Hunt (who now happens to be the president of the SBC), who keeps his eye on Christ, and preaches the Word and the TRUE Gospel! We were here about two years ago for the Transformed conference and coming back to a familiar venue was almost refreshing in itself.

Take a look at this ginormous building:




This 3-story building is huge and it's just one piece in the overall campus. The area set aside for just the children's playground equipment is larger than most church properties! There are many other buildings which house dozens of classrooms, many conference rooms and chapels, and even gym and other recreational/sport areas.

Gotta love these signs adorning all of the entrance door side panels:



And then you step inside and it practically takes your breath away due to its size. But this is what I love to see the most:



Here are some more inside pics of the rotunda surrounding the main auditorium:



Then stepping inside you are greeted by two floors of chairs that can seat approximately 7000 people and a not so small stage:



Why were we there? For the Deeper Conference, of course!



Anyone who knows me understands the impact that Ray Comfort and The Way of the Master (WOTM) have made upon my Christian walk. Words are simply not enough to express how they have helped me to grow over the years and this conference was the pinnacle of glorifying God and preaching the Gospel! The purpose of this conference was simply to take Christians deeper into their walk; to preach, teach, edify, inspire and encourage.

The speakers at this conference included Ray Comfort (founder of Living Waters, The Way of the Master TV and radio programs, and author of over 60 books and dozens of Gospel tracts), Kirk Cameron (co-founder and lead in the TV program not to mention his awesome work in Fireproof), Todd Friel (host of The Way of the Master Radio [WOTMR] program and "Wretched" TV program), Emeal Zwayne (Ray's son-in-law, pastor and executive vice-president of Living Waters), Paul Washer (missionary, church planter & the closest equivalent to a modern-day Apostle Paul that I know of), Pastor Johnny Hunt, Marshall Foster (president and founder of Mayflower Institute), and Ken Ham (president and founder of Answers in Genesis).

And our worship time Friday night and Saturday morning was led by Scott Krippayne (who my wife forced me to buy three of his albums they were selling there - luckily she doesn't know that he has 8 others or I'll need to hide the credit card).

We arrived for Friday's session around noon at it actually began at 1pm. We did not leave until 10:30pm! And it was awesome! When you have such godly men who are glorifying God with their words, preaching Scripture rightly and lifting up the Gospel, you can't help but be energized, encouraged and challenged. And the time just FLIES by! Saturday we got there just before the doors opened at 8am. The first speaker started at 9 and we left to go home a few minutes before 5:30pm.

Here's what we saw and heard on Friday:

Ray Comfort opened the conference with "Gethsemane - The Missing Link to the Cross." As expected, Ray preached on evangelism. And while many see him as abnormal for continually praying for lost souls, handing out gospel tracts and open-air preaching, Ray says this should be the norm for true Christians. We should have the same compassion for the lost as God did for us. But our pride gets in the way. We are more worried about the reaction of men than disobeying God. And for that, we'll have sinners in Hell who will wonder why the Christian never shared with them the words of eternal life instead of being left to an eternal death. The Great Commission by our Lord and Savior is to go and make disciples. And we can not have someone to disciple until we get them people saved first.

And during the course of his talk, he talked about an experience he had as a pastor when he rushed to a hospital to stop a woman from having an abortion. The child was born and years later, whenever he looks at that beautiful child, Rays makes the emphatic statement that he will never vote for a man who would condone the killing of babies in the womb! Praise God!

Here's a picture of me and Ray just before he went on stage (he still gets a bit nervous and I enjoy leading him through some calming Bible verses):



Emeal Zwayne's talk was "Mind Matters." This was some very convicting preaching as it pointed out our lack of love for God and how, as Christians, we have given up our calling to have an influence on our culture (which very much tied into what Ray just preached). Emeal told how his family has a vision statement which hangs in their living room and reminds them of their daily duty to serve Christ in all that they do. Lydia and I will be doing the same!



Pastor Johnny Hunt is quite the character! Thanks to Way of the Master Radio I've heard plenty of Hunt's sermon snippets. This man knows how to bring the Word! His talk was on the sufficiency of the Bible. Talk about a message many of today's churches need to hear!

Paul Washer talked on the "Essential Truths of the Cross" and "The True Gospel Call." These were our favorites. Pastor Paul is about the most humble, quite and godly man you will probably ever meet. But give him a chance to preach Christ and Him crucified and watch out! Give him a microphone to talk about a godless American culture and you'll see sparks fly! What an incredible blessing it is to hear him preach, and sit under his teaching and even conviction! There's plenty of him to see on GodTube.com. I would strongly suggest talking in all you can of Mr. Washer and what he has to say. And if you get a chance to see/hear his testimony, tell me you can do it without shedding a tear and I'll tell you that you have no heart!

Here's a pic of brother Paul bringin' it:



Kirk Cameron gave one of the longer talks (as well as handling the two teen breakout sessions to teach them practical evangelism skills) on basic apologetics. While it's important to stick to the conscience and Gospel when witnessing, we need to be ready to give a defense of what we believe for those who are truly seeking answers (contrasted against those who have no interest in what we have to say and are just looking to fight and lead us down rabbit trails). A little bit of preparation and memorization will do wonders to help give credibility to your witness and convince people that you know what you're talking about.

The past "Growing Pain" himself:



We finished off the night with great time of worship thanks to Scott Krippayne on the piano!



Saturday's sessions gave us even more great things...

After the welcome message, we got off to a rousing start with a time of worship thanks to Scott Krippayne who led us through some of his songs as well as some very old hymns! Paul Washer was also there to read selected Bible passages.

Todd Friel gave two talks on the supernatural aspect of the Bible. One talk was about Biblical Covenants and the other was about the "scarlet thread" which is woven throughout the Bible. It linked Christ in the Old Testament shadows of His coming to His life and fulfillment of prophecy in the New Testament. Wow!

After his talk, I met up with Todd and gave him some feedback so that he could be even better in his afternoon session:



And after his talk, Todd lead us in a time of communion through the Lord's Supper. What a time to reflect on our walks with Christ, ask for forgiveness and cleansing, and to do so with a body of fellow believers over 2200 strong while going through parts of the Athanasian Creed!



Marshall Foster gave two talks on how God has and is working through history to transform our world, spread the Gospel, and chart the rise and fall of nations. It was amazing to sit back and listen to this knowledgeable man go back through time and, by recounting historical events (most of which have been lost to modern-day history books), show how God has worked people, places and things for His glory, and how we are to be a part of what He is doing now in our nation. While no man can predict future events, it is clear that America is waning and China is rising in both Christianity and world dominance.



Ken Ham gave two great talks that gave us lots to think about. His first session talked about the need for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and how it forms the foundation for all the rest of what we believe. He showed how departing from Biblical knowledge leaves us with man's folly and why it explains so much that is wrong with our church and culture. His second session was on how the Christian and non-Christian (specifically the scientific community) have access to the same facts but we choose to interpret them VERY differently which leads us to VERY different conclusions. Using a Biblical point of view, the Bible and science can be easily reconciled but the same can't be said for approaching the Bible from man's perspective and limited knowledge.



Lydia and I will be working to arrange a "field trip" for our church to visit the Creation Museum in Kentucky. This is one of those "must sees" for every Christian family!

And finally, Todd, Ray and Kirk worked together in the closing session to plead with everyone in the audience to make something happen after leaving this conference. While such happenings are great for encouraging and inspiring people, they will have ultimately failed if people don't take what they have learned and applied it to their walks in service to Him. Todd begged us to go home and for each of us to start our own ministry. We need to find out what our skills and spiritual gifts are, go to God in pray and ask for wisdom, read our Bibles and seek out counsel from godly and wise people close to us. As the apostle James stated so well, we need to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. Amen!



Most of the talks were recorded on video and we decided to buy this DVD set which was given to us only minutes after the last session concluded. Talk about efficient!

First thing on Monday's Way of the Master Radio program, Todd stated that he was already missing everyone. He made the comment that this type of worship and fellowship was just a small taste of what Heaven will be like. Amen to that!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone at Living Waters, WOTM, etc. and FBCW both in the spotlight and behind the scenes for helping to make this go so well and showering us with so many blessings! Great is your reward in heaven!

So listen up followers of Christ! Deeper is already planning to come back to Woodstock in September 2009. Block off your calendar now and Lydia and I will be sure to let you know when to sign up. You'll be glad you did and likely never be same! Soli Deo Gloria!!!

September 29, 2008

Fireproof Followup

Well, the time finally came Friday night; the night I'd been waiting for since last November when I learned that Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the men behind Flywheel and Facing the Giants, were working on a new movie for Sherwood Pictures (the media outreach ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA where Alex and Stephen are associate pastors). The movie was Fireproof and I was NOT disappointed!

Considering that the budget for Flywheel was $20k and Facing the Giants was $100k, Fireproof upped the ante once again to $500k. And it showed. This film looked and sounded great. It was an all volunteer crew. Even Kirk Cameron, who is worth millions, worked for free because he so believed in this project and wanted to see God and His institution of marriage lifted up. And for the Truth to be told.

The movie was mostly one of anguish in which the two key characters are trying to live their lives and find contentment outside the will of God. But there were also many funny moments just like in the previous Kendrick movies. The key theme is one of marriage and what it takes to make it work successfully and all for the glory of God. As fallen sinful creatures, we all need help in this department since we are incapable of doing it on our own, regardless of what our flesh and society may tell us. And this is the journey that Kirk Cameron's character Caleb Holt must go through. His marriage would have no doubt burned into ashes quickly had it not been for Caleb's parents who got saved a few years back.

They have been praying for their son's marriage but now it's time for them to step into the battle to render aid before it's too late. And what an influence parents have in the lives of their children! It is paramount when they are growing up but it does not stop after they move out on their own. That's exactly what we see; a father who knows the Lord and will do whatever it takes in time, effort and heartfelt talks to get his son to see the Truth.

While I had many favorite scenes in the movie, my favorite favorite ;-) had to be when Caleb was sitting in the campground and his father asks him how Catherine has been reacting to his attempts at reconciliation. As Caleb tells his father how she despises him, hurts him and rejects him effectively spitting in his face, his father has slowly circled around to lean against the cross. He then asks his son if that reminds him of anything. And that's when Caleb comes smack up against his rebellion towards God. He denies that he has been rejecting the God who gave him life but his father disagrees. Dad presses home the point that God loves him and has given him all that he has. But Caleb can't give true love to his wife because he doesn't have it to give. That's where my heart broke because it reminded me and the life I lived before He graciously reached out and saved me from the brink of an eternity without Him.

There's plenty more I could talk about. One issue I had with the film was this above scene and its presentation of the Gospel. The father did lead Caleb though the law and showed him how he stood guilty before God, how it would condemn him to Hell and that no good works would come even close to bribing the Judge to think differently. Caleb needed Christ as we all do. Where the writers dropped the ball, I feel, is that they did not explicitly talk about repentance. The Bible is VERY clear in that REPENTANCE and FAITH are needed for Biblical salvation. Now, in a later scene, Caleb does admit that he has asked God for forgiveness and maybe that will be enough for some to "connect the dots" but I would have preferred that it happened back in the campground scene.

Speaking of connecting the dots, have a read over these two commentaries from the people over at Breakpoint (the web site presence of Chuch Colson's ministries):
Making Marriage 'Fireproof' (the paragraph of interest comes near the end)

’Fireproof’ Storytelling

I REALLY can't understand Mark Earley's comment, "And, in my opinion, the movie’s step-by-step presentation of the Gospel was a little over the top." I was flabbergasted when I read a week ago and still am in a state of confusion trying to explain that one. Even worse was that second commentary by Zoe Sandvig which makes about as much sense. Apparently it's impossible to make a good film if you are completely clear about the Gospel. Guess we should just leave that to the Bible and not bother to express it any other way. Pah-leeze.

On another topic, for those interested in the music from the movie, it is available on iTunes and includes songs from Third Day, Casting Crowns, John Waller and more. There are also several books that might pique your interest:
Fireproof (the novel based on the screenplay; I've read it and it contains more info)
The Love Dare (in its 4th printing & ranked 28th on Amazon)
Fireproof Your Marriage Study (DVD)
Fireproof Your Life (I'm looking forward to reading this next)
Preparing For Rain (I'm just about done with this and it's very good)
Still Growing (Kirk Cameron biography, I've read this and it's good as well)
Either you or someone you know will likely find the Fireproof My Marriage web site helpful.

And here's some of the latest press articles:
'Fireproof' Opens, Offering Hope For Troubled Marriages
'Fireproof' Makes Hollywood Premiere
REVIEW: If You See One Movie This Year....
Director Recounts Making Of 'Fireproof'
In closing, if you haven't seen this movie, go see it! If you have, be sure to tell everyone you know about it to try and convince them to see a wholesome movie that might unbeknownst to them may very well help their marriage or give them the Truth of the Gospel.

I was happy to see the box office numbers for the opening weekend. Fireproof took in $6.5M. Compare that to the opening weekend for Facing the Giants which took in $1.3M and topped off at $10.1M after 15 weeks. Looks like we can expect to see more from Sherwood and the Kendrick brothers. Praise God!

To everyone who has seen this movie, I'd like to hear about what you thought about it so comment away!

September 11, 2008

Waging War

My personal morning devotions are currently taking me through the New Testament and today's chapter of study was 2 Corinthians 10. Bearing in mind the title and purpose of this blog, verses 3 through 5 leapt off the page at me:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [2Co 10:3-5 ESV]
I believe most "Christians" (even those who are truly saved through repentance and faith in Christ) are totally unaware of what's going on around them in the spiritual realm. A war is going on that few of us seem to be aware of. Unfortunately I think we are so caught up in this world (run by you-know-who) and our five senses that it simply fails to register most of the time. And I speak from a long line of experience, trust me!

Jews in the NT were well accustomed to warfare. From the time they set foot in the Promised Land until the time of Christ, they were intimately familiar with the things of war. The nation of Israel started off by having to fight the pagan armies that surrounded them and later, they had to put up with being the captives of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks and in NT times, the Romans. And while, on the surface, they were battles in the physical realm it was simply a facade for what's been going on between Good and evil since the Fall.

Although those of us in the US know little of real war, we as Christians can not afford to be so naive.There's something much larger than ourselves at stake! Two sides are battling for control even though the final outcome is certain. And it's simply not an option to sit on the sidelines or say that you're neutral (not even the Swiss)! If you're not actively maturing in Christ and growing yourself in Holiness with His help, you are unwittingly playing into the hands of His opponent.

The sad realization is that even though some of us are on God's side, we appear as though we are on Satan's. Most of us live such small lives and dream of such paltry things. Those in the church and those who lead it have lost the vision. We have been sucked up by the culture and grown fat, lazy and dumb. We don't know how to defend our faith. We are too timid to give a reason for the hope that is within us. We spend so little time in the Bible that true wisdom eludes us. And because of this we are ill-equipped to "destroy arguments ... raised against the knowledge of God"

We are told to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" yet how are we to do this when we do not have the knowledge of God's truth to do so? We are bit dim bulbs in the darkness when we should be shining as bright beacons, much like the bright lighthouse that warns sailors lost in storms at sea. We are told to renew our minds and that's done by immersing ourselves in the Scriptures so that we can understand what God's will is for our lives; to make ourselves more holy by conforming our thoughts, words and deeds to the will of Christ.

But instead we are immersing ourselves in the things of the world. Is it any wonder why we and the church are so ineffective in today's world? Consider the time you are in the Word, praying over it, meditating on it. How much of each day? Then consider how much time we spend immersed in the things of the world. It sickens me the more I think about how I spend my time.

Whose side are you on? What will you tell your King when you stand before Him and give an account of your life? Will you stand proudly, knowing you did your best thanks to the grace of God? Or will you stand there in regret knowing for all eternity that you lived most days according to your own will and pleasures rather than in the service of the One who bought you with the ultimate price? Is that how much we love Him?

So the time has come to obey our Lord and Savior. Spend time in Scripture. Read it, meditate on it, pray for guidance in using it and then live it out wherever the Lord takes you. Leave an impact on this world that will be felt throughout all time! As John Piper is fond of pointing out, only what's done for Christ will last. Fellow brothers and sisters, we are on the winning side. We need to go out there and live like it! We need to shine as bright lights to point this dark world toward God so that in and through it all He may have the glory. Soli Deo Gloria!

August 12, 2008

How To Care For Your Pastor

Last night I finished reading one of my latest acquisitions, "How To Care For Your Pastor: A Guide For Small Churches" by Kent Philpott. Kent has been a pastor for over 40 years and has seen a lot of things in his time. He has seen the ups and the downs of pastoring small churches and has much great advice for congregations who care about their pastor and his mental, physical and spiritual health.

The book is pretty small (5x8" footprint) and its 120 pages are broken up into 16 chapters. It was published in 2008 by Evangelical Press (who I am not familiar with). I was quite pleased to see that Kent used the English Standard Version (ESV) when quoting Scripture.

While the book does start off a little slow, it picks up the pace as you read on. I read the book in 4 sittings but read the last 10 chapters in one sitting! While the earlier chapters are pretty much the cut and dried stuff most of us have already read (the pastor is a sinful human being like the rest of us and not some kind of superhero, etc.), the last half of the book is just great at relating the triumphs and struggles of being a pastor. Kent tells many stories about the failings of both he and his congregation and how all of God's people must be willing to learn and forgive. He provides many details of his own life while not going into particulars that might make some uncomfortable.

Chapter one starts off by pulling no punches in proclaiming that the pastor's job is to teach and to preach. And it's the congregation's job to help him get this done. For pastor's who teach Biblical truth, these actions can have repercussions to those who would rather believe their own theology over that of God's Word. Preaching the truth that Christ is the only way of salvation and that the duty of His disciples requires discipline and sacrifice is bound to win you some enemies. And Kent is eager to talk about not only having Satan as an enemy but also those who work with him to oppose the truth. Persecution is a definite possibility for both the pastor and those who support him.

Chapter two is pretty straight forward in trying to convey to the masses that the pastor is just a man and not some kind of perfected saint who is constantly surrounded by angels and an invisible, impenetrable spiritual force field. Chapter three is a good follow-on in that it explains that pastors are a work in progress like the rest of us. He explains how pastors grow emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and theologically. Chapter four follows by explaining how new believers mistake the pastor for a super-Christian and when reality sets in, it can come as quite a shock that they are not the perfect representation of mankind!

Chapter five begins to forge into new ground as Kent relates how pastors, according to God's Word are to receive double honor (1Ti 5:17) and are due respect and support. But after reading the last few chapters, some may be hard pressed to do so but since God is our source of truth, this must be done without thinking and it is not something that must be earned.

Chapter six talks about how pastors of small churches are busy people (since they must usually hold down several positions within the church) but if he is supported by the congregation, he will always have time for those who truly need him. Chapter seven goes along with this theme in stating that the pastor is not the only minister in the church. A mature congregation will understand their need to bear the burdens of church work, using their time, energy and spiritual gifts to make it run as it should. Chapter eight discusses the many roles the pastor must fulfill and this extends beyond the church doors out into the community which is an area few people in the church fully understand for the time and effort it takes.

Chapter nine relates the struggles the pastor will face battling the world, the devil and, unfortunately, even wolves within the congregation itself. Pastors need our prayers, our comforting and our support. Chapter ten reminds us not to forget the pastor's family and all they must endure with having to share their husband and father with the church all while standing in the spotlight themselves. But Kent makes it very clear that God comes first, the pastor's family is second and the church gets third place.

Chapter eleven talks about a difficult subject; seasons of life which leave us "spiritually bankrupt." And pastors are no exception. Many pastors can hide this well but those who are close to him should be able to detect subtle signs and provide help accordingly. What is needed most often is simply understanding, caring, discussion and patience.

Chapters twelve and thirteen delve into the areas of leadership and failure. As Kent puts it, "Failing is not the problem; failing to lead is the problem." The body must give the pastor freedom to lead and, as we have all experienced, failure is sometimes a result but it is not a reason to give up and give in. He also talks about failure in ministry, becoming "burned-out" and
even failure so total that, gulp, the pastor resigns from the ministry.

Chapter fourteen addresses monetary needs of the pastor and his family. While they do not need to live in the lap of luxury, the don't need to live like paupers either. Too many times Kent has seen those who feel the pastor should have to scrape by on bread crusts and, many times, get a second job, a secular one, just to keep his family housed and fed. But the Bible makes it clear that the body is to pay the pastor wages and we are therefor the ones to blame when financial burdens put an undue strain on the pastor and, as a result, his ministry.

Chapter fifteen is unusual in that it addresses the issue of anger. As established in the first few chapters, pastors are people too. They will lose it sometimes and if they do, we are responsible for loving him, forgiving him and reconciling him back into the ministry (obviously depending on how far off the handle he flew! ;-)

Chapter sixteen is a wonderful closing to this book and a counter point to the previous chapter in that he explains the joy of doing his job. He explains why he finds his work so much fun and if it wasn't, he wouldn't have made it through the trials. In a roundabout way, what I think he's trying to say is if the pastor ain't happy, ain't no one happy!

Overall I have to say that I enjoyed this book and the brief glimpse it gave into the life of a man who has filled the role of pastor for many years. Even if it is only a 30,000 foot view, it is a start and more of us in the body would do well to read something like this every now and then to make sure that he who shepherds us is looked after as well.

Kent also wrote a book back in 2000 titled "For Pastors ... Of Small Churches" which is what prompted him to write this book. He has also written a few other titles, a few of which I will want to look into further: "Are You Really Born Again?: Understanding True and False Conversion", "Why I Am A Christian" and "Are You Being Duped?".

I will leave you now by closing with two tidbits contained in the Afterward:
It is not my desire to have churches develop plans to facilitate ministry to pastors, but rather to help individuals within churches understand the nature of the pastoral ministry and then, in whatever means suitable and appropriate, put the caring into practice on an individual basis.

My view has been that a book like this was needed because it is not always evident to many in the congregation that they are to love and care for pastors. I did not want this point to trump or overshadow the mutuality of loving and caring in the Body of Christ.

August 6, 2008

Grace & Mercy

I continue to be amazed on a daily basis by God's grace and mercy. And I pray that this will always be the case. Two news articles, one yesterday and the other today, got me to thinking about this and, unfortunately, how shallow and caught up in my own world I can get at times. How far I have yet to go in being anything even remotely resembling Christ. And there I am once again, thanking God for His grace and mercy in the form of His patience. I have every reason to be gracious and merciful yet rarely am, yet He always is and has no reason to be toward me, the rebel and sinner.

I see so much brokenness, pain, suffering and misery in the world and I know why because I believe in God's Word and His explanation of the fallen nature of mankind and the universe we inhabit. So much I take for granted and then I read another headline, or hear about family or friends who are going through a trial. It is sad that it takes such things, or even drastic events in our own life, to make us appreciate what He has given us out of His loving kindness and grace. I deserve nothing that I have in life. I deserve the death penalty and eternal punishment for sinning against an eternally holy and righteous God.

But thank GOD for the cross! In what is surely the most miraculous event in history, the God of the universe stuffed Himself into a mortal body and lived as one of us. Knowing full well what awaited Him in persecution and suffering, not only from man but from the Father as well, He came anyway and gave up all He had to redeem us. Why would He do that? I don't think I shall ever know or even understand this either now or in eternity. But I do know it is real, I have experienced it and He has changed me for all time. Thank you, Lord Jesus! I shall never be able to thank You enough.

Thank You for my beautiful wife whose patience and love are only second to Your own. Her love for You makes we want to be a better husband, father, friend and servant. Thank You for my precious children who invoke in me feelings and wishes for them I had never thought could be possible. May the day come soon when they will repent and trust in You so that they may know the blessings and assurance that only You can give. Thank You for godly in-laws who have given me great encouragement over the years with their service in Your honor. May they continue to be a beacon of light and hope serving You by serving others.

Thank You for my church home that has, even after a short time, already provided me with an abundance of blessings. May I never hesitate in giving back to them that which I have to give (which, again, is all thanks to You). Thank You for the many brothers and sisters in Christ I have been blessed with throughout the years, who have helped me see You in different ways and stretched me to see more of You and life than my own myopic viewpoints. The list, it seems, could go on forever. One day it will, when we stand before Him in the bliss of His presence and enjoy Him forever.Everything old will truly pass away and this life, the blink of an eye it is, will seem so pale in comparison to His glory in person and the rewards He will bestow upon us.

If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please, take a few minutes to get alone before Him and truly meditate on Him and all He has done for you over the years. Confess all of your sins no matter how new or old, let the blood of Christ cleanse you of all unrighteousness, enjoy the forgiveness that only He can grant and then spend time before Him in thankful prayer. Lift Him up in gracious adoration, thank Him for all that He is, all He has done for You and tell Him how much you look forward to being in His presence one day; even if you are like me and have a hard time of understanding exactly what that will be like. But it WILL be good and glorious because that is all that He is. It is all He has ever been and ever will be.

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all glory, honor and praise. Forever and ever.

Chick-fil-A Owner Doesn't Press Charges
(Be truthful, could you be this gracious and merciful?)

Should You Pass On Bad Reports?
(Talk about shining the light of conviction into the depths of your soul!)

July 31, 2008

Fireproof

No, this entry will not be a topic for parents to help them prevent their children from burning down the homestead. What I'll be chatting about is the upcoming movie from the makers of Facing the Giants. This is a Christian film with a Christian message and one that is so needed in today's dark society where marriage (the main topic of this movie) is treated like nothing more than a fond friendship that's picked up and put down with little thought.

I originally heard about this movie back in November of '07 when I reported it on my News Headline site. I was very excited given what the directors, producers and screenwriters were talking about back then. And I'm even MORE excited now after learning more, watching the trailer and listening to interviews of the main star, Kirk Cameron (I will dedicate future posts to Kirk regarding his salvation, his wife and family, their involvement in Camp Firefly, his involvement in The Way of the Master evangelism, TV show and radio program, as well as his recent autobiography which I finished a few weeks ago). I mean, I loved Facing the Giants and although it was a bit "corny" in places, it had a very good story and was suitable for the entire family. How often does that come along?

And while the budget for Facing the Giants was limited to $100K, Fireproof is much better looking and has a more professional polish since they had a budget of $500K! The movie has been show several times to select audiences and it started with a screening at the SBC Pastor's Convention this past June. They actually started this convention a half-day early so that they could watch the film, then get together to discuss how they could support it in their churches!

At the helm of the project are the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen. When asked why they were doing this movie, they replied:
"The foundation of marriage has been attacked, devalued and redefined by many in our culture," he said. "It is our desire to tell a story that would allow the audience to relate to common marital issues, and then to take them down a path toward understanding principles for unconditioned love through the roles of husband and wife. Our hope would be that after viewing the film, couples and singles hoping to marry would be challenged and exhorted to pursue God-honoring relationships that reinforce the foundations of marriage in light of a relationship with Jesus Christ. We want people to realize that fireproof does not mean the absence of fire, but the ability to withstand it."
As far as support from the religious sphere, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Focus on the Family and FamilyLife are backing the film and urging people to go see it.

One little tidbit I found funny when listening to an interview with Kirk about the film and which he also discusses in his autobiography regards a scene near the end of the movie. In this scene he and his movie wife are to share a passionate kiss but Kirk admitted to the Kendrick brothers that he simply could not do this. The solution? They flew in Kirk's real wife, put a wig on her to make her look more like the movie wife and dimmed the lights so they could film the scene using Kirk and his real wife! Gotta love a man of integrity and faithfulness!

Here are a few older articles that give some background info:
Kirk Cameron Joins Movie-Making Church for 3rd Film

'Giants' Makers Working On New Movie
Here are the articles that came out at the SBC Pastor's Convention:
Pastors' Conference: Prepare For Revival

'Fireproof' Set To Be 'Giant' In Theaters
Here are a set of the most recent articles put out by the Baptist Press:
Makers Of 'Facing The Giants' Tackle Marriage In 'Fireproof'

'Fireproof' Offers Churches Unique Chance

Kendrick Brothers On Track For Another Hit

Volunteers Called Backbone Of 'Fireproof'
Here are two reviews:
'Fireproof' A Big League Film

Tim Challies
Last but not least are the two official movie websites. The first is where you'll find a very good trailer (large size, great audio) and the second, according to the makers, "provides information about marriage-strengthening resources scheduled to be released simultaneously with the Fireproof DVD in January 2009."
Fireproof movie website

Fireproof My Marriage website
So, please, spend some time reading these articles, watch the trailer to get a glimpse of what's in store and then start talking to everyone you know! As one person associated with the film put it:
"The opening weekend is the key and is so critical," Catt said. "Unfortunately, we live in a society with movies where it's market driven and box-office driven. Sept. 26 is huge. That opening weekend determines how it spreads. We had a great opening weekend with Facing the Giants, and so it spread to other cities. We started in 400 theaters and ended up in over 1,000, and a lot of that was based on what happened the first weekend, because it let people know this is a legitimate film. The key to that was churches, the key to that was pastors standing up in their pulpits and saying, 'We gripe about Hollywood. Here's something positive. It's a film we can go to and support.'"
Get your pastor, elders, deacons, church family, friends and coworkers excited about this movie. Pass along some links and have them view the trailer. Then think about spending some time in prayer for God to be glorified through this and help those lost in darkness either directly through the film, its web site or by using us as we take the plunge to talk about this movie and why it's so important to bring our faith in God to the table.


fireproofbanner

July 29, 2008

Two Headlines

In my headline scrounging today, two stuck out especially so.

The first gives us an idea of how fast we are falling in regards to the sanctity of life and where it's likely to go in the next decade or two:
Oregon Offers Terminal Patients Doctor-Assisted Suicide Instead of Medical Care
And no, it is not April Fool's nor is this some type of urban legend. A similar headline came out of Oregon about a month ago and this makes things even more grave. This is here, today, in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We must hang our heads in shame.

What immediately came to my mind was this passage from Proverbs 8:
"And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death." [Pro 8:32-36 ESV]
The second article is also a great source of pride for all of us North Carolinians. Nothing like the State putting our hard-earned tax dollars to good use:
No. Carolina Funds Movie With Child Rape Scene
Make sure you read the entire article to understand this isn't the first time NC has funded such wholesome family entertainment.

This movie made all the Christian headlines a while back when it was learned that Dakota was doing these scenes herself (not using an older "stunt" double) and neither she nor her parents had any problem with it. All in the name of "artistic expression." And I would have to imagine that these parents also wouldn't mind allowing Dakota see another recent film from the Sundance Film Festival which celebrates bestiality in an effort to promote sympathy about the real life struggles of a man who loved his horse (I kid you not).

What will it take for God's people to stand up and speak the truth? How long are we willing to just sit on the sidelines with our heads buried in the sand, hoping that perverse and dark things won't effect our little part of the country? What good and righteous things will be around for our children and their children to enjoy? It is time for God's people to be doers of His Word and not just hearers only. We need to be reading and meditating on His Word daily, putting it into practice, giving a reason for the hope that lies within, preaching, teaching and defending the one and only truth which can change people's lives and thereby alter the course of a nation. And we need to do it simply because we were created by Him to fulfill our chief duty in life which is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

America, America, God shed His light on thee...

Free Book

OK, here's one for all you cheapskates out there. It's an easy way to land a coupon to get John MacArthur's next devotional book for free! It will be available in September and is titled "Daily Readings from the Life of Christ."
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Many thanks to Tim Challies for making this offer known!

July 28, 2008

What's America's Idol?

No, I'm not talking about the Fox TV show. I'm talking about the idol that most of America has come to worship instead of the one, true God. Some recent articles I came across for my news headline web site help to bring this issue into focus:
Economy's Stuck, But Business Is Booming At Therapists' Offices

Woman Kills Herself Before Foreclosure

Foreclosures' Financial Strains Take Toll On Kids
And, of course, the solution is never a return to the God of the Bible which can help us put this life into perspective, but it's always a fix created by mankind itself. Somehow our evolved intelligence continues to think that since we got ourselves into this, we should be able to get ourselves out of it. A mad hamster running on the treadmill of life and getting nowhere fast (except maybe to exhaustion and hopelessness).
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. " [Mt 6:24 ESV]
That's where we, the true followers of Christ and partakers of God's kingdom on Earth, need to step in.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. [Ecc 12:13 ESV]
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." [Mt 5:14-16 ESV]
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants R14 for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [2Co 4:5-6 ESV]
The more I think about it, the more I have come to agree with many commentators on today's life in America and what we like to call Christianity. We are, by far, the richest nation in the world. And this immediately brings to mind Jesus' warning:
And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." [Mt 19:23-24 ESV]
Thoughts?