Ten Awesome Books I Read in 2013

In no particular order:

1. Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne

2. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper-my first piper book-I’m now definitely a fan!

3. The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett-this guy is a fireball and has one of the biggest visions around today for God’s kingdom and gets it done!

4. Replenish by Lance Witt (re-read)

5. A Call To Resurgence by Mark Driscoll-(Church leaders, you cannot afford to NOT read this book!)

6. Jesus Among Other Gods -Ravi Zacharias-philosophical-Jesus is compared and contrasted with other gods to see what they have in common as well as, what sets them apart.

7. Failing Forward by John Maxwell-how to learn from your mistakes and use them to your advantage.

8. Praying Circles Around your Children by Mark Batterson-If you have kids or are planning on it one day-get this book! Only 1.99 on Kindle!

9. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni-Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything else in Business.

10. Church Marketing 101 by Richard Reising-a timely word for the church-should be required reading for every church leader.


Read the Bible 4x Faster

I don’t know about you, but I suck at keeping New Year’s Resolutions! Do they EVER work? If you’re like me I make a new resolution each year and I’m real gung-ho about it for 90 days or less-usually less. Last year, my resolution was to read the NIV Bible through in a year. Did it happen? Absolutely not! I went about 90 days and just lost steam. Well, to be honest I have never read the Bible through in one year. I read it through in 2 and some change. For me, it feels like a yoke on my neck after awhile and a duty, rather than a privilege.

So, I recently discovered the solution! it’s called B90x. That’s not a typo. This is a reading plan that will take you through the entire Bible in 90 days or less! That’s 4 times faster than a one year plan! I know that’s aggressive but if you think about it, that’s harder work for less time, rather than hard work for a longer time. I’m 5 days in and still excited! Will you join me? Here is the plan-created by Elevation church: http://www.stevenfurtick.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/B90X.pdf

There are also 2 “Grace” days-so technically, you could finish the Bible in 88 days if you don’t use them. But I probably will.

So, rather than feeling defeated after 90 days, I’m gonna feel victory and read whatever I want for the rest of the year! Let me know if you decide to join me!

~Disclaimer~Bible reading plans are not the same as devotions in the Word and prayer with God. For my purposes, Bible reading plans are a discipline. Devotions should be done daily, all year long, every year of your life, as much as is possible.

So, what exactly is a Christian?


Image        I am alarmed at the amount of comments I have seen in the last year as to what people think Christianity is. I believe people are so confused as to what a christian really is. Not trying to slam anyone or sound like a know it all but I am concerned so, would like to take some time to blog about it.

What is a Christian? I mean, when you boil it down, we are still pretty flawed individuals just like the rest of the world. The major difference is that our flaws are already forgiven and our sins are as well. This changes our perspective on life. We no longer feel God’s judgment bearing down on us. That burden has been lifted, so we no longer need to run from God, we want more of Him because he has accepted us. He has done this through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. It’s not a contradiction as many have claimed, but rather a paradox. The way this happened is that Christ was pre-existent. That’s a fancy word to explain the fact that he has always existed, just like God, the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, the 3 persons of the Trinity; One God, existing in 3 persons. He submitted to the Father, like any good son and laid aside the fullness of his divine privileges, left heaven, and was morphed (Phil. 2:6-8) into a seed and miraculously implanted in a virgin named Mary (it was not sexual luke 1:35). Then, he was born, both fully God, and yet fully man. Because he bypassed the sinful nature that is transmitted to every human being through their DNA (trace back to Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden Genesis 3), he did not inherit the tendency to disobey, do evil, and sin. He had his Father’s dna which is holy and perfect and free from sin. So, the fact that he lived a perfect life does not really surprise us because he was God (although it still boggles our minds because of how hard it is for us not to sin). That is how he lived a perfect life and unlike Adam, did not disobey his father. As, you can see, Christianity isn’t really so much about us. It’s all about Him. All about Jesus. He is the one whom we worship, we haven’t done anything spectacular. In fact just the opposite, we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Jesus never sinned. He always glorified the Father and he gave his life for you and for me, sinners. Not only that, he was buried in a borrowed tomb and on the 3rd day, rose again from the dead to give us eternal life…more on that to come in a later post…

So, Christians are they who have quit trying to work their way to earn Gods’ favor and have begun to rest in Christ’s work on the cross. Tim Keller has summed it up well stating that the way into the Kingdom of God is “a door that leads to a long road, and not a long road that leads to a door.” That door is Jesus. He frees us from the power and burden of our sin and gives us free grace (unmerited favor) to walk the road that leads to life.

Christianity is One Nasty Plague…

Blob     In Acts 5:34-42 we have the account of some of the Apostles of Christ being persecuted and flogged by the Jewish court authorities. We find at the end of the verses that the Apostles rejoiced that they were “counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.”

What do you do with that? Seriously.

Beat them so they will shut up. They love it.

Jesus instituted his church and formed it in such a way that it would survive and thrive in any environment in the world. Persecute it and it rejoices. Beat them up and they multiply. Squash them and they spread.

Jesus must have foreseen the brutality that would come from the Roman Empire when he formed this plague.

Let me illustrate: The Roman Empire is a man, standing over a spore. Looking down on it he squashes it with his foot, and it turns to a puddle of slime. As he is standing there rejoicing in his “victory,” the slime begins to bubble and move, crawling up his leg. The slime then infects him traveling deeper into his blood stream. It takes over the heart, organs, and brain. Rapidly, it overtakes his entire being, now controlling his brain function and entire body and soul to do the will of the slime…

This is what the Roman Empire tried to do to the Church and this is what the Church in turn, did to the Roman Empire-in about 300 years time. This is more than an institution, more than an organization, it is a living, breathing organism. Glad I’m a part of it and not fighting against it…

Here are the Verses:

34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

36 “For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

37 “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

38 “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;

39 “but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God.”

40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus [as] the Christ.

The Funeral of Santa Claus

I attended the funeral of Santa Claus last week. No, not the mythological jolly man who rides a magic sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Darrell Williams  was an extraordinary man who looked like Santa, and was asked by a little girl in the mall once if he was in fact St. Nick! This prompted him to buy a suit and start playing the part every Christmas. Darrell was a graduate of my alma mater Baptist Bible College and was a very theological thinking man. He was also very sweet in his attitude, demeanor and would literally give you the shirt off of his back. He was described as an “anchor” for the family. Darrell was talking with his son about the pagan holiday associated with Christmas and how it had been perverted from the original story of St. Nickolas, who would take gifts to the needy children in his country. His son said at the funeral that his dad had told him he intended to “steal back Santa Claus” for the Lord. He would play the part at the local mall and use a candy cane to witness about Jesus. He would turn the cane upside down and show how the “J” represents Jesus, and how the red is the blood and the white represents the cleansing of the soul that Christ does that makes us white as snow. I heard that one family in our church took their kid to the mall to see “Santa” and it wasn’t Darrell, so the kid responded, that’s not Santa, I want the real Santa! Referring to Darrel. Silent Night was played at the funeral. It was touching to be a part of the funeral of Santa Claus, I plan on teaching the true story of St. Nick to my child, and in the spirit of “Santa” use the candy cane illustration. Thanks for the inspiration Darrell! And for the legacy you have left, Santa!

If it feels good…

The next big thing, toy, song, gadget, date, food, etc. If it feels good do it. Isn’t that the motto of our post-post-modern day? The digital age is in full swing. I am guilty as charged! I find that I’m constantly looking for things to make me feel a certain way-food, a good read, the next best gadget, the euphoric buzz of a nice shot of dark roast. It’s the same kind of appetite that if left uncontrolled can turn beastly. That’s the same devil that drove me through the “heart like a hole hills” of drug addiction.


            Appetite is not necessarily a bad thing, after all God gives to us “food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart” (Psalm 104:14,15). The problem comes when we let our appetites become our masters, rather than mastering our appetites. It essentially can become our idol-“whose God is their belly” (Philippians 3:19). We must be careful not to let our desire for things replace our desire for God. But isn’t that easy to say and hard to do? I have found even in the Christian life it is easy to long for a previous time when our hearts for burning brighter for God, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But what if we long for that more than drawing close to him now and doing the necessary steps for restoration to begin? We can in a sense, live so much in the past that we are no good for the present. I want to go to heights and depths of Christ that I have never been to before. I believe God has put in the heart of man a longing for eternity, a longing for Him, that only being in his full presence will bring. Therefore, let us long for that and look to that rather than the “leaks and garlics” of this world. Let us long for His presence with more desire than we long to live, knowing that nothing in this world can fulfill our deepest longing like Christ the Son, the Father, and His Holy Spirit can do. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Romans 8:19