I thought learning more biblical facts will help me to be better equipped to answer my critics — I was wrong. Koukl provides believers will practical tactics to help defend and share our faith. I have used some of his methods, and it has really helped so far. It is an easy read but the tactics will take time to master. It takes practice. This book will benefit all Christians, but it is especially helpful for those who work and play around scholars and/or study among those in the science field. Koukl provides a framework for argument, and most importantly, he flooded his book with practical examples. A must read for students and young adults. Read it and let me know what you think.
Imagine — curling up on a cold wintry snow blizzard day, with a big cup of tea, in a warm place with a good book. Usually that would conjure up images of a fiction book, but I recommend Iain H. Murray’s biography of J.C. Ryle. The tea and warm place may energize your body, but that fiction book will probably not be as edifying to your soul as “Prepared to Stand Alone” will be.
I am always intrigued and amazed at how God’s saints (biblical definition) stood firm in their faith in spite of the ‘fiery trials.’ The setting of this biography was set in England, during the 1800’s. This is a different time from our day with different challenges, but I was still encouraged that time period and distance did not erase the common faith and challenges I share with those believers from the past. There were two things from this book that resonated in my soul at this particular time in my life
(1) The common faith: “Who does not know that spiritual religion never brings a man the world’s praise? It never has done, and never does. It entails the world’s disapprobation, the world’s persecution, the world’s ridicule, the world’s sneers. The world will let a man go to hell quietly, and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to heaven quietly — they will do all they can to turn him back. Who has not heard the nicknames in plenty bestowed on all who faithfully follow Christ? — Pietist, Methodist, saint, fanatic, enthusiast, righteous, overmuch, and many more…” p. 67. This reminded me of Hebrews 12:1.
(2) My own inadequacy as an Elder: “However eloquent or apparently knowledgeable a preacher may be, there will be something seriously lacking the man who is not to be found in the homes of his people. Sermons which only come from the study are not likely to be messages which bind speaker and hearers together in a common bond of affection and sympathy. A preacher must be a visitor and be ready to preach everywhere.” During the two years of his seclusion there he acquired, it can be stated, an entire pastoral knowledge of every man, woman, and child, under his charge.”
May God help us to bring glory to our Lord and Savior
Brian L. Spivey (D.O.C.)
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” Revelation 1:3
How many times have you read and heard sermons about this passage? I have heard it many times. I have also heard the phrase, “Context is King.” Although I spent most of my adult life learning how to read and preach the Scriptures, I am reminded how easy it is to detach a verse from its original context. The principle, ‘Context is king,’ helped me understand a Bible passage this afternoon.
Have you ever wondered why it says, “the one who reads ALOUD the words of this prophecy”? I haven’t until recently. The context of this book is a letter that travels to seven different churches. The one who reads aloud would naturally be the Elder or Pastor. When John writes, to the “angel,” he is referring to the pastor or elder. Wow! Now this makes so much sense. The pastor would read it, and the congregation would listen and KEEP the words. Those who do, will be blessed. I guess this would be one of the main purposes of church attendance… not to get our ‘praise on.’ I didn’t think I would find it in The book of Revelation, but I am glad I did.
Brian L Spivey D.O.C.
181 pages, copyright 2001
In an age where things are not built to last; fixing something cost more money that buying a new one, and the average lifespan of newlyweds is three years, it seems more difficult to remain faithful. How difficult would it be to leave a local church? For many that would not be hard at all. And what about a denomination? That would probably be easier for many Americans. When ‘church’ is so easy to obtain with mega churches, online streaming and cell groups by Skype, remaining faithful to a denomination seems archaic at best. So it was a tough job for someone to write a book about how difficult it would be to leave a denomination and not vilify other Christians, but David J. Randall found a way. How could someone with a different background understand this? I was not raised in a denomination, I am not from Scotland, and so it is not my reality. But Randall was victorious. He captured the affective aspect of leaving a denomination that ia so woven in the fabric of that nation and families to the fourth and fifth generation. How do we hold strongly to our convictions and still behave in a way that honors Christ? Randall wrote the textbook. Read it. It will be time well spent.
Brian – D.O.C.
by Alexander Strauch
Among the stack of books I “have”to read, this one was the easiest to understand but hardest to practice! Strauch expounds on Revelation 2:4 and the church at Ephesus. The order of his chapters were just as important as the content. Chapter three of this book is entitled, “Teach Love.” My eyes immediately went to that chapter, and I wanted to camp out there first, but I read the book in order and the chapter before it was “Pray for Love.” This was important and after incorporating this in my quiet time, it has really helped. The chapter about teaching love was so difficult to rush through. It was convicting on many levels, but especially the sentence that read, “Thus the Christian home should be characterized by Christ’s unselfish, giving love–a love that is initiated by the husband.” The word ‘initiated’ was what caused me to pause and repent. The other highlight of this book was his focus on the local church. In the age of the so called, “virtual church,” Strauch helps church leaders and members consider how we learn how to biblically love one another when he writes, “If you are not a participating member of a local church, then you are not in God’s school of love.” If you are brave enough to read this book, let me know what you think.
Brian Spivey — D.O.C.
Identifying a True Minister of Christ
By Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker
Reformation Heritage Books
The authors of this book seek to draw principles from an in-depth study of the life of the apostle Paul to help church-goings and church leaders recognize the true marks of a Minister of Christ. Both authors are pastors. Both men did a sermon series from the book of Colossians, and this was the fruit of it.
I would highly recommend this book with one caution: this is an intense book! It could have easily been four hundred (400) pages. There are so many admonishments and cautions jam packed in this one book. Each chapter ends with a practical message to the “Fellow Christian,” and the to the “Fellow Pastor.” Each section was full of conviction because I am a church member and one who is aspiring to be a pastor. This is a great book for a small group to go through, but I would especially recommend it to a pulpit search committee. It is not the kind of book that Dave or Chad (other two others on this blog) would read next to a fireplace with a cup of coffee, it reads more like a workbook.
In the chapter entitled, “The Subject of Paul’s Ministry,” the first sentence of the “Fellow Christian” section states, “Are you sitting under a Christ-Centered, Christ-saturated, Christ magnifying ministry?” This is a question that requires a lot of thought and self-reflection, and this was only the first sentence. This was the first question, there are ten more in that section and that section is not even two pages! It’s a good book, but not a quick read. If you are considering reading this book as an individual or a group, let me know.
Brian L. Spivey – D.O.C.
Kevin Deyoung’s book, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality will help many of us Christians come out of the closet.
In his introduction, Deyoung declares that the Bible is not a book about homosexuality but it does have something say about homosexuality. He unapologetically states, “This is a Christian Book with a narrow focus, defending a traditional view of marriage.” (p.15) This does not mean that it is not a book for those who have a different view, on the contrary, those who have a different view should read why most Christians feel so strongly about this issue.
Deyoung looks at most of the Scriptures that deal with homosexuality and defines the words in their cultural and theological context. The great thing about this book is though it explores the Greek language, it is not difficult to understand. You don’t need to know Greek to understand this book. Deyoung is able to write about this politically-charged subject with compassion and wisdom. He stayed away from the legal, political, scientific, cultural and educational controversies surrounding homosexuality…”(p.137) until the very end.
Christians in the closet? What? Why?
Yes, because of the supreme court decision to legalize, so-called gay marriage, because of the social pressure to fit in, because the governor of New York declared that those who believe in traditional marriage should leave New York, and legislation by President Obama to silence dissenting voices, Bible-believing Christians have jumped right into the closet and shut to door. Our voices silenced. But armed with this book, we can shout, “I’m Coming Out!”
We think this book was so essential for understanding this subject that for a limited time, we are offering a free copy to any one who is interested in understanding the Christian perspective. Please let us know in the comment section.
Brian L. Spivey – Disciple of Christ
Welcome to The Story
Reading, Loving, and Living God’s Word
By Stephen J. Nichols
Stephen J. Nichols is research professor of Christianity and culture at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. He has written an easy-to-understand book about how a person can get the most out of their Bible reading. A lot people read the Bible as a jigsaw puzzle and ‘cherry-pick’ verses to help them with their problems. Nicholas encourages us to read the Bible with the plot in mind. There is “Trouble in Paradise” and there are four elements to the biblical plot: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. He begins with Genesis 1-3 and traces this plot line throughout the Scriptures. When one reads the Bible with these four elements in mind, the Bible is understood more like one grand story, than a bunch of stories that barely relate to one another. I wish I had read this book twenty years ago. I recommend this book but the best thing about this book is the practical guide to getting the most out of your daily Bible reading. Even after twenty-two years of walking with the Lord and hours of theological study, I still learned many things from this book. If you read it, let me know what you think.
Brian L. Spivey — D.O.C.
This was a conference I’ve heard of before, but it was different that any conference I’ve ever attended before.
It is a conference for those who are serious about the authority and sufficiency of the Bible, and just as serious about preaching/teaching it. Most of these men were full-time pastors. For the pastor/teacher, seminary is like medical school, but just like a doctor, a pastor must continue to refine his skills — this conference was just that for those in full-time ministry.
It is a three-day conference and it was broken into three components — “the big meeting,” “the small meeting,” and the individual time in God’s Word. I was only able to attend for one day, and as an observer I was still able to glean many things from this conference. There were two speakers: David Jackman and Chris Spano. Jackman spoke first and he stressed the importance of “Staying on the line.” He started with the question, “What is expository preaching?” His definition was clear: “The Bible text drives the sermon!” It is hard work but if the Bible drives the sermon then it is God Himself who speaks to His people. The other take-away from his presentation was the fact that the Bible interprets itself.
Chris Spano then came and showed us how to stay on that line by explaining the importance of context. He used Mark 8 and we all did it together in our “big meeting.” One of the things he stressed was the reading and re-reading of the book to understand the purpose of the author. He said, “Biblical context is the king but the cultural context is the prince.” We get into trouble when we enlarge the cultural context over the biblical context. It was so rich. I would encourage anyone who is in full-time ministry to find a workshop and attend it. I know for me, as soon as I get into full-time ministry I will sign up right away. Hope to see some of you there.
Brian — D.O.C.
Did you ever see the Dynamic Duo – otherwise known as Batman & Robin? It first aired on T.V. from 1966-1968. Sometimes Batman would get captured and Robin would have to save him, but most of time, it was Batman that came to the rescue of Robin. This was done to emphasize the point – they worked best together. It just didn’t seem right if the two of them were not fighting along side each other. You can’t have one without the other and still have a Dynamic Duo.The apostle Paul also wanted to etch this theme in the minds of the Christians in Crete – you can’t have one without the other. The one difference between the Dynamic Duo and the Divine Duo is that Batman can be a superhero all by himself, but the two elements of the Divine Duo never operates separately.
In the last post I explored the first part of chapter one, verse one –“servant hood & apostleship.” The second part of verse one explores theme of the knowledge of the truth and godliness. This is the Divine Duo. This theme is one of the themes that help us understand the whole Book of Titus.
Christianity is not a religion of head knowledge only. The purpose of learning is to obey. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” This helped the believers in Crete avoid false teachers; but this was written for our edification as well. When we are evaluating a Christian leader, the question is not just how much he knows, but how much he grows. Paul doesn’t only admonish us to examine our leaders, but to examine ourselves – does your biblical/theological knowledge match your biblical/theological maturity?
Brian L. Spivey D.O.C.