Archives For Books

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Where do I start? As always, Tony delivers a great tool he just happens to call a book. I love how each chapter is short and powerful. You can pick it up again and again and flip to where you are having problems and find some great insight. For instance, in Part 1 Chapter 5 Tony deals with structure problems. I found it very helpful because I’m planting two campuses right now and growth is taking place. We are looking to add more structure but it needs to be the right structure.

Tony says this, “The more structures we have to navigate in order to do our work, the more difficult it is to do our best work. When we are required to resolve the dissonance of complex systems, reporting relationships, and accountability structures just in order to get our objectives and check off our direction, we will begin to lose our drive to do brilliant work. Over time,this complexity only pulls entire organizations toward systematic mediocrity.”

I don’t want to end up with systematic mediocrity. Thanks Tony for always keeping it real and giving great advice that you have gained over the years. Thanks for another great book.

Do You Notice?

February 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

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One of the greatest comforts the Bible demonstrates is that Jesus takes pleasure in breaking away from the crowd to take care of the individual. It is simply impossible to be lost from Him in a crowd. In Mark 5: 24-34, we read the story of a woman in the crowd.

We are told that she had suffered for many years. In fact, she had been suffering for twelve years. Her condition was growing worse daily, and she was out of money. We are told that she touched the cloak of Jesus and immediately she was healed. Jesus felt power issuing from Himself. Jesus then turns to look for who touched him. Once she is identified, by falling at his feet, the real miracle takes place. She is validated in front of everyone.

As soon as Jesus was face to face with this woman the crowd faded into the background; the crowd was forgotten and there seem to be no one there but Jesus and her. She had His full attention. Now that is the true miracle simply because she had captured the full consideration of God. You see, the world is still full of people lost in the crowd, and they are searching for their healing. They are waiting for someone to give them the same attention God gave this woman in Mark 5.

We are called to notice people. We must stop walking by the suffering because we are afraid to emerge from our schedules. Someone in your path today needs to be noticed, and God wants to use you to meet them. Think about it. Life is short, and each day must count.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 47-48).  . Kindle Edition.

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Guilt And The Lap Of God

January 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

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Have you ever had trouble staying awake during your prayer time? Many years ago I had a season in my life where I fell asleep more often than I would like to acknowledge. At first, it didn’t bother me much. I just excused it because I had been working a little more than usual.

However, guilt quickly set in, and it made me feel horrible.  Each time I fell  asleep it just increased the guilt. I was beginning to  feel shame, and I had thoughts of God being seriously disappointed in me. It’s distressing enough, I thought, to fall asleep during prayer but to feel like God was disappointed in me was worse.

No matter how hard I tried to stay awake during this period of my life, I would doze off. No one else knew but me, and of course God, but I was feeling like a spiritual failure. I was feeling like God was mad at me. I was trying hard to stay awake but getting nowhere. I heard the voice of guilt more than the voice of God.

Then it happened! One day I came home from work early, and my daughter who was about four at the time came running up to me and said, “Daddy, can you read me this book in your chair?” I smiled and said, “Of course I will.”

We settled into my favorite chair, and I lifted her up and into my lap. She turned her head slightly back and up and made eye contact with me, accompanied by a smile. I was feeling pretty good. I was having a perfect Father and Daughter moment.

As I was reading, she would look up and back at me asking questions and making comments. I was completely pleased with the moment. We were simply spending time together, and it felt incredible.

As I continued to read, her conversation and questions fell silent. She was getting tired. It wasn’t long until she fell asleep in my arms. I closed the book and just enjoyed the time we were having together. I was thankful she wanted to spend time with me at all.

Then it happened! God spoke and healed my guilt about falling asleep on Him. I could hear Him whisper to my heart. “Are you mad at her for falling asleep?” My heart whisper back to God was, “No Lord, I love just being with her.” His response back was, “I feel the same way about you.”

It was on that day God took my guilt away. His love for me was not based on effort and discipline, even though they are beneficial. His love for me is unconditional, and He is pleased even when I fall asleep in His lap with His arms wrapped around me.

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“My dad read the Bible ten times, and I want to do it in my lifetime. But it’s definitely tough getting through.” Pamela Anderson

Well Pamela…I hope you get to do as you have spoken. It will be the greatest thing you have ever done. Just saying.

The Word of God is a mirror for your life. God’s word will show you what needs to stay, what needs to go and what needs to change.  The Bible is the only book that is the perfect life adjustment tool that is infallible.

The Bible is not primarily about you and me. The Bible is about God and His glory alone. The privilege and blessing of reading the Word of God is that we may become more like Him, thus reflecting His glory to the world around us.

The Bible gives us eyes to see ourselves as we truly are and what we can actually become. The Bible also gives us eyes to see the Gospel beyond the pages of scripture.

Martin Luther once said, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

What worth is the Bible? I would sacrifice every page ever written for just one page of God’s Word. Yes, it is that valuable because its words are forever and eternal.

Let me close by asking you a few questions today.

What place does the Word of God hold in your life?

Do you read it daily?

When you read it, do you allow it to  read you?

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That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard? There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

 

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69).  . Kindle Edition.

You can purchase a copy of The Descent to Compassion on Amazon. Click Here

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Is your devotional time with God in a rut? I once heard a preacher say, “ A rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.” In other words, a rut is a grave of death. Ruts can be hard to get out of, but you can escape. Change is necessary in life, and when it comes to your devotional life, change is necessary from time to time.

1. Set a time or reset a different time

Spending time with God takes time. You must set a time or reset a time you already have as part of your daily routine. For example, if your devotions are in the morning and they have become routine so that you are not feeling connected on a deep level-then change the time you do your devotions. If you have devotions in the morning, move them to the afternoon or evening.

2. Change the location

Change the place you do your devotions. Changing the time and place will make a big differences. I once moved my devotion time to a park, and it was amazing how God would speak through His word to me and at the same time show me things about people all around me. I felt connected to both God and humanity.

3. Don’t be random

Have a plan for you devotions. Pick a book of the Bible to work through. Add a devotional book to your time with God. Add a good Christian discipleship book to your devotion that will challenge your faith in a strong way. You might want to check out my book, The Descent to Compassion.

4. Record your thoughts and what He is speaking

Write down what you are thinking as you are having your devotional time with God. You can even use a smartphone to record your thoughts to a voice memo. You would be amazed how well this works to keep you engaged in what God is trying to speak into your life.

5. Pass on what you can

Share with others what God is speaking and doing through your life. After all, a relationship with God should and must be shared. Not only should you share some of the things God is speaking to you, but also you should walk out works of kindness before the world so they will know you have been with Jesus.

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You have more time than you think.  If you are like me, you have a list of things to do and time seems to be in slim supply. Fear not! There are ways to find a little more time in your day if know where to look and what to do.

Below are seven ways to find more time

1. Take an inventory

You must know where your time is going before you can adjust it. Trust me, you have more time than you think you do. Grab a notepad and keep up with your time for a day or two. Write down what you do in time intervals. Once you take an inventory, you will be able to see where your time is really going. You will be amazed at how all the things you do can be consolidated. For instances, look for and discover on your list a few things that can be done together instead of spread out through you day.

Example-Want to read that book but don’t have the time? Then try reading when you are in the bathroom. I know that sounds funny but hey, everyone goes to the bathroom. 🙂

2. Little adds up

Some goals in your life are big and take a lot of time. They are so big, many times you might find yourself giving up altogether. Guess what? You don’t have to. Why? The reason why is because little adds up.

Example-Do you want to write a book that is 50,000 words? Then write 500 words a day. In 100 days you will have that book.

3. Don’t disregard small increments of time as having no value

You would be amazed at what just 5 minutes given to a project or goal in your life will do. Sometimes people don’t work on a goal or project because to fully complete it that day would take an hour. Guess what? You can divide that project or goal up into 5-minute increments and it will get done eventually. It might be slower than you wanted, but never forget…the snail made it on the ark -even if he was the last one on. 🙂

4. Capture a weekend

There will be times that 5-minutes will not be the best choice for you. That’s okay. Just look at your calendar and find a weekend that must be yours and plan to use that weekend to get the task done. You would be amazed at what can happen with a whole day with no one to bother you. Let’s face it…we waste a lot of time on weekends recovering from the week. Take one weekend and own it for your goals. Don’t let anything social get in the way and steal that marked off time.

5. Cut the radio off

When you are driving, cut the radio off. You will be blown away by how it clears you mind and allows you to think. I almost always drive without music. I love to write and of course I write sermons for each Sunday. Many times in my truck I think of great thoughts. I simply grab my iPhone and record my thoughts to listen to later and work with. (Note: This one can be dangerous. Keep your eyes on the road and do this one at your own risk)

6. Get up earlier

This one is simple. Get up 15 or 20 minutes earlier and use that time. Do it!!!!!!

7. Pray longer than normal

I know this one sound crazy but you would be amazed at how spending extra time with God will give you more time. I’ve learned, that many of the blocks in my writing will go away when I’ve prayed more. It seems that God blesses me with fewer roadblocks, and what would have taken an hour to do, often ends up taking just 30-minutes.

Got Porn?

September 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Surfing For God by Michael John Cusick is a must read for anyone struggling with the addiction of porn. He openly places his struggles and victories on the table for the reader to see and experience. By sharing his life he addresses many root issues of pornography. In his book, he argues that in today’s society, “When a man surfs the Internet for porn he is really surfing for God.”

Michael deals with the empty promises, personal brokenness and shame in great detail.

Concerning the empty promises he address some of the following issues.

Porn promises validation of our manhood without requiring strength
Porn promises sexual fulfillment without relationship
Porn promises intimacy without requiring risk & suffering
Porn promises passion & life without connection to your soul
Porn promises power over women without responsibility & humility
Porn promises comfort & care without depending on others

Speaking to the issue of personal brokenness he never leaves you without hope of full restoration to God and others. There is a beautiful sense of light at the end of the tunnel. Michael doesn’t sugarcoat anything; he tells it straight about the damage porn does to relationships and to the soul of a man. However, it must be noted again that he paints a great ray of hope to be free. “If you are losing the battle, please read closely: following Jesus consists of so much more than trying harder and white-knuckling your way through it. You can be free.”

As for the issue of shame he writes, “To be naked and unashamed before God meant that Adam and Eve were both free and able to offer to God exactly who they were, without holding anything back or hiding their true selves. They were fully known, just as they were created to be, and they were fully okay with that. This led to an uninhibited intimacy with God and with each other.” (In my opinion this is a great chapter that really stand out. Chapter 6)

In closing I would add that it’s a must read for any man and a must read for the wives of husbands that have struggled with porn. It will help the wife get a better insight into what is really going on at the root of the issue.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Description

Learn how God’s grace can and will transform you.

None of us deserves what God offers, a life free from sin and hope for a glorious future, but unbelievably it’s ours for the taking. Why? Because of God’s grace. The unmerited favor, the lavish love and kindness he pours out on us, and has, since Creation.

But if it’s so available then why do we live a graceless life? Why are our churches filled with disillusioned Christians, weary of religion’s demands, struggling with personal defeat because of issues or behaviors?

Join pastor Andy Stanley as he traces grace through the Old and New Testaments, observing God’s grace at work in the lives of some of the best—and worst—characters. He also uses personal stories from his own life to reveal how grace is not a natural response but is the most essential one. Together these stories unravel the mystery of grace and tell of its transforming power to set us free.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading Andy’s book very much. It’s a great one to read at night right before you go to bed. Just read a chapter and sleep with Grace on your mind. The book is not deep theology but instead it puts flesh on the deep theological topic of Grace so that it’s easy to embrace. I really enjoyed Chapter 5, Ruled by Grace. Andy makes a beautiful point that, “When we see God’s law the way he intended it, we understand that the grace of God and the law of God are not opposing concepts. There is no tension between the two. One is simply and expression of the other.” In other words what he is teaching us through the law is that the law of God is simply an expression of the grace of God toward each of us that are in the family of God.  For example, Andy says, “By giving Israel the Law…God made it possible for the Hebrew people to live under the rule of law, rather than the rule of man.” I would encourage each of you to get a copy and place it by your bed for great reading at night before falling off to sleep.