Archive for June, 2011

Review of You Can Change

June 28, 2011

You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions
©2010 by Tim Chester
Published by Crossway
192 pages

What is sanctification? How does it work? Is it past, present or future? Is it all of God or all on me? Do I let go and let God? Or do I roll up my sleeves, grit my teeth and discipline myself to holiness? Tim Chester has done a great service to any Christian who struggles with these issues. This is an easy to read, yet detailed explanation of how change works in a Christian’s life. It is doctrinal and practical. I highly recommend it for any believer who wants to see real change take place in his or her life.


In tribute to John MacArthur

June 17, 2011

A chance encounter on the Ohio Turnpike changed my life. I was a student at an Independent Fundamental Baptist (hereafter referred to as IFB) college. I was raised in an IFB King James Only church. The sermons I grew up with were sermons of the “pick any verse to prove your point” variety. The sermons usually ended up at the same destination. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t chew or go with girls who do. Witness more, give more, dress more (modestly). Women shouldn’t wear pants; men should cut their hair. We believed we were the only ones who lived right, loved God and believed the Bible (the King James Bible).

Although there was the occasional hypocrite, we sincerely did want to live right, love God and believe the Bible. Our pastor was a good man, my hero. He taught me to follow the Word of God. I am a pastor today because of him. I am the type of pastor I am today though, because of John MacArthur.

On Sunday, June 5th, 2011, John MacArthur accomplished something that is extremely rare in a preaching ministry. He finished preaching through the entire New Testament, verse by verse. A process he began in 1969. On top of this, he did it as pastor of the same congregation for all 42 years!

I will never forget that day in late 1979 or early 1980 driving back to college. Instead of listening to my CB radio (my handle was “silverfish” because I drove a silver pinto and my teenage nickname was fish, short for fish-lips), I was channel surfing. A Christian radio station came in loud and clear. A man was preaching. I had never heard of him, but more importantly I had never heard preaching like that. It was like water to a thirsty fish. He was preaching through the Bible verse by verse and wasn’t pulling any punches. He didn’t share stories, tell jokes or go off on rabbit trails. His love for the Lord and respect for His Word were evident. The half hour broadcast was over way too soon. I wanted more, needed more. I took note of the program “Word of Grace” (it later became “Grace to You”). As soon as I got back to school I wrote a letter to this radio “pastor-teacher” thanking him for his ministry.

Much to my surprise I received a thank you and a study guide. Not the slick study guides of today. They looked like the church printed them in-house. The pages were cut in half and hole punched with a simple card stock cover with one color printing. Simple in design, rich in content. Eventually I received another. Then another. To this day I have them all. Over time they became more professional looking. The Grace Community Church (“Word of Grace Communications”) was no longer the printer, now Grace to You published them and eventually Moody Press. The study guides were bound instead of stapled and the covers were printed in color. By now I was in the ministry, teaching weekly (or should I say weakly). I poured over these notes. They began to affect my teaching. I didn’t (and still don’t) preach directly from them, but they changed my approach to studying and preaching the Word. I didn’t know it, but I was becoming an expository preacher, in fact I had never heard the phrase. God in his grace began to encourage me through the appreciation of those who had to listen to me.

Over the years I have listened to hundreds of John MacArthur sermons (first preaching tapes, then CDs and now on-line). I have read dozens of his books. I have grown immensely from his teaching ministry and it has impacted the way I do many things in ministry. Thank you John MacArthur and a radio station I only heard once.

Review of Written in Tears

June 14, 2011

Written in Tears: A Grieving Father’s Journey Through Psalm 103
©2010 by Luke Veldt
Discovery House Publishers

I have finally finished my first Kindle ebook. I don’t know how many pages the printed book is, because page numbers don’t relate to the Kindle edition. For a great review of this very heart touching book see here. I recommend this book, but my review is about the ebook experience.

As I am writing this you can get a brand new print edition of this book for $6.09 ($4.57 used). The Kindle edition costs $6.99. At that price I would rather have the print edition. In fact until Kindle prices fall dramatically, I would always prefer the book in print. I realize that eventually the reading populace will be brought up on ebooks and that they will not suffer the withdraw from having an actual book in hand. (Yes I know that one day the “virtual” book will be considered the “actual” book, but not thank God in my lifetime.) Apparently you can bookmark your ebook and highlight a passage, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. It isn’t the same. If I had read the print edition I could at this very moment thumb through it and point to you passages that struck me. I can right now walk over to my book shelves and pull off any number of books and immediately turn to passages that impacted me as I read them. I cannot take you to the ebook and do that. I have finished reading it, but it is not a part of me.

Review of Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend

June 13, 2011

The Civil war battle of Chancellorsville was both the South’s greatest victory and its greatest loss. Although General Lee won the battle, he may have lost the war because it was at Chancellorsville that Stonewall Jackson was mistaken as Federal Officer and shot by his own men. When he died eight days later it is very likely that any hope the Confederacy had of winning the war died with him. Stonewall’s wounds at first cost him his left arm, but the resulting pneumonia cost him his life. Upon hearing of Stonewall’s amputation, General Lee said, “He has lost his left arm, but I my right arm.”

This book is long, 950 pages long. Thankfully, the last 180 pages or so consists of a bibliography, footnotes and an index. In spite of its length (or maybe because of it) it is worth the labor. Thomas J “Stonewall” Jackson was a complex if not contradictory character. He gave every evidence of being a sincere Christian, yet condoned slavery and showed no mercy to the enemy. Though outwardly cold, he had great affection for his family. He attended every church service he could, yet usually slept through the sermon. He trusted in God, yet worried constantly about his health. He was a hero to some and a villain to others, but definitely fascinating.

I divide my reading habits into two categories, theological and personal. Although much, but not all, of my theological reading takes place in my study at the church, I confine my personal reading to after work. Usually the two don’t intersect. However while I was reading this book I was also reading Why Johnny Can’t Preach in which the author repeatedly references Robert Lewis Dabney’s Lectures on Sacred Rhetoric. This very same R.L. Dabney served for a time as Jackson’s chief of staff. However, as his legacy demonstrates, Dabney turned out to be a better preacher than a soldier.

5 reasons ebooks aren’t there yet

June 8, 2011

This sums it up perfectly for me