Two Questions that change how you see everything

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This past week I was at CPC a conference for Kids Pastors put on by INCM. One of the speakers was Charles Lee found of theideation.com In the breakout I attended he was talking about clarifying your brand. Towards the end of his breakout he said that in our brand management and in our lives we have to ask ourselves two questions.

  1. What matters most?
  2. What is enough?

Sola Scriptura in Kids and Youth Ministry

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I do believe that some people die and go heaven and come back again. I also believe that some people make things up or embellish their stories to gain influence and credibility.

Recently this has come to light. Through an open letter from one of the children who supposedly died and went to heaven. This brief letter is thoughtful and profound. It’s God exulting and pushes people back to the authority of scripture.

An Open Letter from Alex Malarkey “The boy who came back from heaven”

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of heaven outside of what is written in the Bible . . . not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,
Alex Malarkey

This letter was written by a boy whose body is broken due to an unfortunate car accident and it appears that his heart was broken by those who leveraged his situation for personal gain.

Why resolutions matter more than you think

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The new year is a time of faddish resolutions. More often than not they last until the first piece of cake enters our vision, or the first cold morning that prohibits our going to the gym as we promised ourselves. New years resolutions have relegated resolutions to the status of fortune cookies.

Looking back over the years I find that in my life many of the things I have done and not done where based in firm resolutions. Some of those things were good and well, others were done to make others think well of me. I now try to filter my resolutions through the lens of what will bring the most glory to God.

The Ten Best Books of 2014

Here are the top ten books I read in 2014 and the reasons why.

  1. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey


    Total truth was a brilliant call “to awakening evangelical Christians to the need for a Christian “worldview,” which Pearcey defines as “a biblical informed perspective on all reality. I found this book to be foundational in how we see the world through the lens of the gospel. This book is a must read for every kid heading off to college and any youth pastor who works with high school or college age kids. The final section on the flaws in the evangelical church I found both helpful and intriguing.

  2. What’s Best Next by Matt Perman


    I have long been a fan of PeterDrucker. I have read “The Effective Executive” Numerous times. One things I felt was lacking from Drucker’s work and others like him. That was the purpose for productive living and working.Perman does an amazing job connecting practical ways to get things done to an underlying theological framework. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan on reading it again soon.

  3. Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones


    I have read a couple of books by Jones and have enjoyed them. I was intrigued by Proof before I read it because from the index you could tell they were tackling the 5 points of Calvinism from a standpoint of grace rather than a forced acronym. Thoroughly enjoyed the book as they portrayed the Grace of God in such a profound way I found myself worshiping and filled with wonder as I read the pages of this book. This book is a must read for anyone who leans toward Calvinism. I don’t often cry when I read a book but there is a story Jones tells of his daughter that moved me to tears. Such a powerful picture of us belonging to God. It’s worth the purchase of the book for that story alone.

  4. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering – Tim Keller


    This is one of those books that every Christan needs to read as they will encounter pain and loss at some point in their journey. Kellers treatment of suffering does all of us a favor as he so poignantly deals with suffering in such a way that it keeps us from being either trite or melodramatic when addressing the others in pain. Kellers brilliance lies in pointing to our ultimate hope which is Christ. Each chapter ends with areal life story of suffering that I found very hard to read as each one caused my heart to both wrench and rejoice at God’s goodness even if unseen. This book and “A grief observed by Lewis are the best books I have read thus far on the problem of human suffering.

  5. The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung


    If you have been a follower of my blog for any period of time you will know that I am a huge fan of Catechism. The Good News We Almost Forgot is a weekly devotional that I read as a book because each chapter was so good I couldn’t wait a week. DeYoung brilliantly,pastorally, and devotionally dives into each of the Lord’s Days as laid out by the Heidelberg Catechism. I found myself convicted regularly and sitting there after reading a chapter in an attitude of worship.The relevance of the theology in a 400 year old document is astounding.

  6. Bad Religion by Ross Douthat


    Bad Religion was a paradox because it was difficult to read and hard to put down. Douthat argues that “America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as
    many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and  encourage our worst impulses.” I found it insightful enjoyed the fact that Douthat as a catholic had a great perspective on evangelical and catholic follies alike.

  7. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller

     
    I first read this book over 20 years ago in bible college. I read it again this year. Reading the same book 20 years later is interesting. Of all the books I read this year this book hit me hardest. I have been a “full-time shepherd” for nearly 18 years I find that I have become a pretty good Shepherd and at the same time a not so good sheep. As pastors we must not forget that we are sheep first shepherds second. This book does just that. Loved the insight the devotional feel and the loving truths that this book contains.

  8. Compassion Without Compromise by Adam Barr and Ron Citlau


    As a christian if you have not been asked what you believe about the issue of homosexuals and homosexual marriage yet, you will. What are you going to say? When someone you love invites you to a same-sex marriage ceremony what are you going to do? When you as a christian leader are interviewed by a reporter they will ask what you think. What are you going to say. Barr and Citleu offer an amazingly practical and pastoral book that will help you speak the truth in love. As christian we need to be loving but we can’t allow our desireto be loving to derail us from truth.

      

  9. Evangelism And The Sovereignty Of God by J.I. Packer 


    J.I. Packer is brilliant. I love his high view of both God and Scripture. In  his classic he talks about God’s role in salvation and how we cooperate with God in preaching the gospel. It is a classic on evangelism and should be read by all.

  10. Brothers We Are Not Professionals by John Piper


    I love Pipers passion. I enjoyed this book because he tapped into a passion of mine. That passion is for Pastors to be Pastors rather than savvy CEO’s. The business culture that has crept into the church has helped pastors be better leaders which has some value to be sure. But at what cost? That cost I would say is the erosion of the care of people, the dependence on Holy Spirit. In the United States we have turned the office of pastor into a profession rather than a calling. We need strong leaders in the pastorate but the price the church is paying for that leadership is far too steep and doesn’t honor God. I loved how Piper passionately calls pastors and leaders to the things that matter most. If you are a pastor I beg you to read this book. I pray that it will convict you as much as it convicted me.

 

The books I read in 2014

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This year I set a goal for myself to read 52 books. This was not to just say I did it, but as a way to push myself to read more. To grow more. This is my second year setting a goal for myself that pushed me to grow here are a few unexpected outcomes.

  1. I read less sporadically
  2. I rarely watch TV now
  3. I don’t allow myself to get stuck in bad books
  4. I read more diverse types of books
  5. I allow books I enjoy to lead me to more books I enjoy

Next year I plan to produce more and consume less. I want to read 26 books and write 500 words a day. Here is the books I read in 2014
1. A Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards

2. Little Bets – Peter Sims

3. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. – J.I. Packer

4. 3 Signs of a Miserable Job – Patrick Lencioni

5. The Global Achievement Gap – Tony Wagner

6. Galatians for you – Tim Keller

7. Is God Anti-Gay – Sam Allberry

8. The Spirit Filled Church – Terry Vergo

9. Why the Church Still Matters – Jon Tyson

10. The Disciplines of a Christian Life – Eric Liddell

11. Brothers we are not professionals – John Piper

12. Leaders Eat Last – Simon Syneck 

13. AHA – Kyle Idleman

14. The Racketeer – John Grisham

15. Screwtape Lettters – C.S. Lewis

16. Leadership and Self-deception – The Arbenger Institute

17. On Writing – Stephen King

18. Who is this Man – John Ortberg 

19. Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan

20. Romans 1-7 for you – Tim Keller

21. Conform – Glenn Beck

22. Total Truth – Nancy Pearcey

23. The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

24. The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

25. Turn this ship around – L. David Marquet

26. How Should We Then Live? – Francis Schaeffer

27. The Preachers Kid – Barnabas Piper

28. What’s Best Next – Matt Perman

29. Act of War – Brad Thor

30. The Black Count – Tom Reiss

31. Practicing Afirmation – Sam Crabtree

32. The Pilgrims Progress – John Bunyan

33. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

34. Proof – Daniel Montgomery / Timothy Paul Jones

35. The Mark of the Christian – Francis Schaeffer

36. Managing the Non-Profit Organization – Peter Drucker

37. Walking with God through pain and suffering. – Tim Keller 

38. A prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

39. Following Jesus – NT Wright

40. The One Thing by Gary Keller

41. Miracles – Eric Metaxas

42. The Good News We Almost Forgot – Kevin DeYoung

43. The Bruised reed – Richard Sibbes

44. Start Here – David Dwight & Nicole Unice

45. Bad Religion by Ross Douthat

46. Tender Warrior – Stu Webber

47. Weakness is the Way – J.I. Packer

48. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 – Phillip Keller

49. Taking God at His Word – Kevin DeYoung

50. Food: A love story – Jim Gaffigan

51. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – John Piper 

52. Compassion without compromise: how the gospel freeze us to love our gay friends without losing the truth – Adam Barr and Ron Citlau

53. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – Jeff Sutherland