Books I’ve Read Recently

WeCannotBeSlient-webWe Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler. When it comes to being informed and educated about what’s happening in modern culture from a Christian perspective, Mohler is a guy we should listen to (check out his podcast called “The Briefing.”) In this book, Mohler speaks to the sexuality issue we have in our country today. He shares about how the sexual revolution has unfolded over the years and how we, as Christians, should respond. Mohler does an excellent job at tracing the history of the sexual revolution all the way up until current day. In the process he address everything from the homosexuality movement, same-sex marriage, the transgender revolution, and the breakdown of marriage. He caps this discussion off with chapters on Biblical sex, religious liberty, what the church should do, and the hard questions we must face and answer. Throughout this book Mohler is extremely researched, Biblical, and challenging. My favorite part of this book was the chapter on how the sexual revolution didn’t begin with same-sex marriage (chapter 2). In this chapter, Mohler points out, “Opposition to the Christian understanding of sex and marriage did not begin with the arrival of same-sex marriage. Long before those in same-sex relationships had any realistic hope for legal recognition of their unions, heterosexuals in the modern age seemed to be accomplishing the weakening and structural compromise of marriage all on their own” (page 17). Throughout this chapter he argues, “The eclipse of marriage in the last century must take into account four massive developments: birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation” (page 17).

41eMBHV46BL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel. This is an older book  by Groeschel that has been on my shelve for a good while. I’ve always enjoyed his books so thought it was time to give it a read. In this book Groeschel challenges Christians to pursue holiness in a very unholy world. He uses the idea of “detox” to describe how Christians need to evaluate how they are living and how the world around them is influencing them. He calls Christians to not stay there but to turn from those things and pursue living the way God wants and tells us to. Each chapter is geared towards a certain negative behavior, emotion, or influence.. He address things like hidden sins, bitterness, envy, anger, fear, materialism, and bad relationships. Each chapter is very practical and Biblical. Groeschel does a great job at explaining what the Bible says about each of these things and what Christians should do in response. My favorite part of this book was the chapter on envy (chapter 6). Through it, God gave me a better picture of what envy is and revealed in me some roots of envy. It was a very challenged chapter that helped me grow.

Walking-with-GodWalking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller. I picked this book up to read while my wife was in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery due to an infection. It was a very painful and emotional few weeks. You can click here to read her story. Our lead pastor, Joe Coffey, recommended this book to the staff a while back. It wasn’t until my wife started her ordeal that I realized it was time to give it a read. Through it God did some work on my heart. He showed me more about what He says in His Word about pain and suffering and showed me how I should walk through it. Like most Keller books, it has both an academic feel as well as a very practical feel. Throughout the book, Keller uses the idea of a “furnace” to describe going through pain and suffering (he spends a good amount of time using the fiery furnace story in Daniel 3 as a parallel for walking with God through pain and suffering). The first section of the book his more academic and explains different secular views of suffering, the Christian view, and the problem of evil. The second and third parts of the book deal more with how Christians can prepare and walk through suffering when it comes into their lives. This book ministered to me a very deep way when I was walking through some pain and suffering. I would encourage everyone, Christian or not, to take the time to read this book. We will all face pain and suffering in our lives. This book will help you as it will ultimately point you to the One who will help you.

Another book I read that I decided not to review was How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur. I went through this little book with my student leadership team and it was great. It gave me a good refresher in understanding what the Bible is and how we should study it. I would highly recommend this book to new believers or Christians who have not started reading and studying the Bible on their own.

Book’s I’ve Read Recently

I enjoy reading and writing reviews of what I have read here on my site. However, I do not always review every book I read. Some books I simply read and put them on the shelve. But in an effort to review and recommend more books here on my site I will be posting “mini-reviews” from time to time of recent books I have read. So today I want to share some quick reviews of three books I have recently finished.

FURT_9781601424563_jkt_all_r1.inddCrash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. Crash the Chatterbox was a good read. I read a chapter a day during my devotional time and learned a lot about how Satan and his lies can cause me to loose focus on my Savior and His promises. Furtick is one of my favorite preachers to listen to and I have enjoyed reading his books. In this book Furtick considers some of the “chatter” Christians hear in their heads from Satan that often times trips them up and causes them to fail. He gives Biblical principles in how to overcome the “chatter” and reminds readers of the promises of God. This was a really easy read that I would recommend to anyone that is looking for a book to help them in their spiritual growth. Overcoming the lies of the enemy is important if we want to believe and live out the promises of God for our lives.

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Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples by Duffy Robbins. When it comes to youth ministry, I love reading and learning from Duffy Robbins. This guys has been around for a long time and is full of youth ministry related wisdom. It’s evident from his books (and when you hear him speak) that he loves Jesus and teenagers. He is also passionate about helping youth pastors follow the Great Commission in making disciples, which is what this book if all about. In this book, Robbins shares how you can build an effective youth ministry that builds teenage disciples. This by far was one of the best youth ministry books I have ever read. It was practical, but very theologically sound. Robbins doesn’t just share how to attract teenagers, but how to pour into them and help them become fully-devoted disciples of Jesus. I really enjoyed chapters 2 and 3. In chapter 2 Robbins talks about how youth ministry is more about the youth pastors relationship with Jesus than anything else. Then in chapter 3 Robbins talks about how youth ministry must be incarnational. With Jesus ministry as the blueprint, Robbins helps youth workers see the important of being with teenagers and how healthy relationships with teenagers make for great ministry. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone in youth ministry both full-time or as a volunteer.

cotw-cvrCreature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger. We need Gospel-centered local churches. Not many pastors (or Christians for that matter) would disagree with this statement. But what does a Gospel-centered local church look like? How does a Gospel-centered church operate? Those are the kinds of questions this book addresses. The local church is all about Jesus. He built it, runs it, and owns it. The Gospel, the good news of what God did through Jesus, is what should drive the church. The Gospel, the person of Jesus, should be at the center of it all. The first few chapters (chapters 1-5) unpacks this truth while the last section (chapters 6-12) get more practical in dealing with how the Gospel impacts everything from church leadership, ministry, preaching, and contextualization. I really enjoyed chapter 8 and what the writers had to say about children and student ministry. As well as chapter 9 and the discussion on what is Biblical, Jesus-centered leadership. I’d recommend this book for anyone who is in church leadership and is passionate about building a Gospel-centered church.

I’m currently reading The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel Hoyt and plan to start reading Perry Noble’s new book Overwhelmed this week. Reviews coming soon.

Freebie: 10 Degrees Hotter eBook

10DegreesHotterThroughout the month of January our church has been in a series called 10 Degrees Hotter. This is the vision four our church in 2014 that God has placed on our lead pastors heart. Throughout the series we have been talking about how we can grow 10 degrees hotter in our affection for God. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Gary Chapmen is probably best known for his book The 5 Love Languages. In that book Chapmen says every human being gives and receives love in different “languages.” They love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. In this series, 10 Degrees Hotter, our lead pastor has been walking us through how these love languages can also help us grow in our love for God. Just as we work on these languages in a married towards our spouse, we can use them to grow in our affection for God. You can click here to watch the sermons from this series.

To go along with this vision and series, our lead pastor wrote a book about growing 10 degrees hotter. In this book he walks through the love languages and how we can use them to grow in our affection towards God as well as other practical ways to grow in this area. Also, the book is totally FREE! Click the link below to get the 10 Degrees Hotter ebook and see how you can grow 10 degrees hotter in your affection for God.

Download the 10 Degrees Hotter eBook

Why You Should Do Mission Trip Interviews with Your Students

interviewDo you do interviews with students who apply to go on a missions trip with your student ministry? If you had asked me this a few months ago I would have said no. As I started promoting for our 2013 high school summer missions trip with LeaderTreks I wasn’t planning on doing interviews. Honestly, it was probably more for selfish reasons than anything like not thinking I had enough time to interview a bunch of students. But since I’m part of a multi-site student ministry I wanted to follow what our student ministries have always done and that has been to hold interviews with students wanting to go on missions trip. I did the interviews last week and I can honestly say I’m glad I decided to go through with doing them. I came away more excited about our upcoming mission trip as well as a excited about serving the students God has placed under my care. So if you would ask me the question again, do I hold interviews with my students wanting to go on missions trip, I’d say yes! It’s a must for our ministry and we will continue to do it as long as we exist. Maybe you do them as well or maybe you don’t, but I want to offer up a few reasons why I believe we must do interviews with our students who want to go on a missions trip with our ministry.

Set a serious tone for the trip. Many students sign up for mission trips because it sounds fun or maybe their friends are going. Usually these are the students that will not go into the trip with a very serious attitude towards it. Holding interviews sets a serious tone for the trip, especially for the students going who just want to be a part of the “fun and games.” Sure mission trips are a blast and we want to have fun, but they are also serious because we are going to reach others and pour our time and energy into spreading the love of Christ. This means that students can’t stay up all night playing pranks on each other. Mission trips are not summer camp. Interviews help set this tone upfront.

Understand where each student is spiritually. Just because a student signs up for a mission trip doesn’t mean they are spiritually healthy and growing in their faith. This is why an interview is important. It allows you to figure out where each student is spiritually. Once you figure out where they are you know how to help them grow before, during, and after the mission trip. For example, I found out many of my students who are going are not spending time in the Word and in prayer consistently. So one of the things I’m doing leading up to the trip is challenging them to do personal devotions on a daily basis. We are giving them devotional books that help them do this. Interviews will help you discern where each student is on their spiritual journey.

Get to know the students better. This is important for larger student ministries like ours. It’s hard to know every student and connect with them relationally. But you want to know the students going on your mission trip pretty well. You want to build a good relationship with them even before the trip starts. Interviews are a great time to just get to know each student better. See how their doing in school, with their family, and in other areas of their life. Spend a few minutes just talking to them and getting to know them better. This was one of the best parts of each of my interviews.

These are just a few reasons why I think interviews for students going on a mission trip are important. If you don’t do them, start doing them soon. You won’t regret it. It demands a lot of time and energy, but it’s well worth it.

How to Have a Effective Quiet Time

If you want to see growth in your Christian life, you must commit yourself to what we sometimes call “spiritual disciplines.” In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul says to “train yourself for Godliness.” This isn’t just “try harder” and “try to be Christ-like”. This is a command to intentionally, whole heartily, give all of yourself to growing in holiness. It’s a call to enter into the process of sanctification that God is currently doing in you through the Holy Spirit.

But before we move forward and talk about the spiritual discipline of quiet time (you may call it devotions, Bible reading, etc.) we need to understand one thing about spiritual disciplines. It’s not the spiritual disciplines that sanctify you. Doing your quiet time doesn’t necessarily make you a better follower of Christ. Spiritual disciplines are the channels God uses to sanctify you. So doing a daily quiet time is a way you can expose yourself to God’s Word and a channel that He will use to make you more like His Son. Spiritual disciplines create conditions where God’s grace and sanctifying work can flow through you.

So what about quiet time? I believe one of the most important spiritual disciplines you can have in your life is a daily time where you read God’s Word and apply it to your life. Here are are a few thoughts on how to have a daily, effective quiet time:

Get a system. Don’t just open up your Bible and read the first verse your eyes see. Find a system that takes you through God’s Word in an organized fashion. If you don’t have a good system in place you will quickly stop doing your quiet time. There are many systems out there, but the one I use and recommend is Word of Life’s Online Quiet Time. It’s a daily quiet time system that take you through books of the Bible as well as a few Psalms each year. It’s totally online and it even has an iPhone app! It also allows you to keep a prayer journal and set up accountability (click here to check it out).

Find a consistent time. Once you have a good system that works for you, find a consistent time each day to do your quiet time. Having a time set aside each day will help you gain consistency in doing your quiet time. I have done mine at various different times through the years. At one time I did them in the middle of the day and at one time I was doing them in the morning. Currently I do them at night. Find a time that works best for you and stick with it.

Use study helps. Having a copy of God’s Word is excellent, but grab a few study helps to help you dive deeper into God’s Word. I would suggest getting a solid commentary that will go along with your Bible reading. I would suggest using the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old & New Testament), or the Wiersbe Bible Commentary. I have found these to be some of the most helpful commentaries and they offer a good balance between exposition and application.

Have accountability. If you want to get serious about your time with the Lord, ask someone to keep you accounatble. Ask them to check up on you regularly and especially ask about your time with God. Make sure they ask you are you doing them as well as what you are learning.

These are just a few thoughts on how to have a consistent quiet time. As I said earlier, it’s not a command from God to have a daily quiet time, but it’s a way we expose ourselves on a regular basis to God’s Word so He can shape us into the image of His Son!