Sunday, July 28, 2013

Becoming God's Warrior

Fight:  Winning the Battles That Matter Most
Craig Groeschel

I remember as a boy that one of the favorite church songs was “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  In those post-WWII years, the concept of a war against Satan was still a regular topic of sermons.  As the culture has evolved over the past several decades, there is very little emphasis on men maintaining a “hawkish” attitude.  Blame it on the feminizing of society, or the anti-bullying of our day, but the effect has been to blunt the warrior like spirit that Craig highlights in this book.  Using Samson as an example of many men in current society was certainly apropos.

I remember the great evangelist, Leonard Ravenhill, declaring that what the church needed to confront the sinfulness of our day was a “baptism of holy anger.”  Craig seems to echo a similar theme.  Theologically, we understand that God’s nature is love.  But His holiness simultaneously demands justice and righteousness.  Those characteristics are not mutually exclusive, but are synergistically holiness.

Craig’s call for men to develop strong will is not out of balance.  He balances the presentation  with his insistence that men conquer their pride, lust and anger.  Many “world leaders” were abject failures in the end because they could not conquer themselves.  The book gives hope that regardless of the failures of our past that God can redeem us and change our hearts to holiness, which would form the basis for becoming God’s warrior.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

God Makes Lemonade

When God Makes Lemonade
Don Jacobson

I primarily read books that challenge my mind.  I love learning new things and gaining insights into scriptural truths.  I read few novels.  Jacobson has compiled a great collection of stories who share a common theme.  Life often hands us unpleasant circumstances, and usually we attribute those negative factors to the devil. 

We would love to believe that we are intelligent enough to choose the path in life that would bring us the greatest success as well as satisfaction.  God is more concerned with developing our character and expanding our horizons.  In each of the stories, some kind of “tragedy” occurs.  Most of the time the people involved could not see how those events would be the things that would bring them great benefit.  But serving an all-wise and loving God we discover that God knows far more than we do about ourselves.

In our most difficult circumstances God not only shows His true character, but we discover a lot about who we are.  When we can embrace those disappointments, we discover that God had planned it all along to bring us into His plans.  We reap the greatest benefit when we accept those difficult circumstances with patience and joy.  “All things still work together for our good.”  Read with anticipation for you will be blessed.  I’ve discovered as I’ve aged that life stories touch me deeper than ever.  

Advanced Strategic Planning

Review of Advanced Strategic Planning
By Aubrey Malphurs

This third edition updates the monumental work of Aubrey, having first published in 1999.  The use of the word strategic is needed because planning does not always lead to progress.  The usual definition of strategy implies some type of trickery or surprise.  But in this context, strategy refers to developing a process that produces well-defined biblical goals by wisely and efficiently using the resources that God has made available to us.

Aubrey emphasizes the need for preparation and I hardily agree.  With the current state of decline of the church in the US, correctly assessing both the problems and the personnel are key to producing a forward-moving plan.  Most churches are simply not ready to change in order to re-invigorate the Great Commission into its programs.  I have seen so many that thought they wanted to grow, but no one understood the deep commitment necessary to make it happen.

This book underscores the need for adequate leadership, both from the pastoral staff as well as the laity.  The only motivation that ultimately succeeds is one driven from passion (the heart.)  We end up doing the things we like to do, so if God doesn’t rule the heart, we do our own things that please us, rather than what the Kingdom needs.

Aubrey provides great detail in the process of building teams, as well as making mature disciples.  In the Exponential Conference Orlando 2013, speaker after speaker emphasized the focus to which God had driven them.  That focus was “making disciples who make disciples.”  If the process does not lead to a deeper relationship with God, and closer ties with those with whom we work, it is faulty.  I believe this guide will help the readers to grasp a great understanding of the elements needed to succeed.  I give this endorsement with a deep prayer that God will illuminate your mind and overwhelm your heart with His knowledge and passion.

Godly Therapy

Defeating Anxiety
by Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore has written a "winner." I met Ralph many years ago in seminars and have visited Hope Chapel there in Hawaii. In each of those settings, it did not seem that anxiety would ever be a problem. This personal testimony is a common sense approach (and God gives us common sense if we let him.)

I strongly believe in divine healing, but God does not choose to give out miracles to everyone. As long as we are on this earth, suffering will be a part of our life--and those afflictions will be different for each of us. Ralph makes a great case for allowing various approaches to dealing with maladies.

Until 5 years ago, I had hardly taken an aspirin. I abhor the thought of medicine. But external circumstances put me in a hospital on an extended stay with major surgery and subsequent complications.

My opinion of Ralph has been great, and it is now even greater. Learning to trust God in our weakness is a great Pauline teaching. Living these truths touch many more lives than our successes. Thank God for this living example of overcoming grace.