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Top Books Read in 2017

November 24, 2017

Below is a list of the top books I have read in 2017. I’d recommend these as gift ideas or for your own personal growth.

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

This is the best leadership book I have read in some time. Fuller Seminary studies growing churches and how to keep young people in church. Their insights are very timely for the missions organization I previously served with and the church I now work with.

 

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

If you are a leader who takes missions teams or sends them from your church, this is a must read. This book gave me words to articulate my strategy as a missions pastor following 25 years of missionary service.

 

We are living in the most connected time in history. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, Facetime……

Why is it we have an epidemic of loneliness coupled with a lack of vulnerability?

Depression, anxiety and stress are at all time highs.

We are desperate to be known, yet terrified of being discovered.

We are able to create a public face to be anyone we want to be.

This face is merely a cover story, not reality.

Loneliness, Isolation and Self-Pity are our companions.

We are not alone in this…and not without some Biblical insight.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah has the classic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. He challenges them to call down fire from heaven from their gods of wood and stone. When it is Elijah’s turn, he soaks his offering with barrels and barrels of precious water during a drought. God answers with fire from heaven, consuming the water and the sacrifice.

I think I have heard people encouraged to follow their heart more in the last few months than ever.

The message seems to come in many forms, some wrapped in Christian packaging.

At times the pursuit of our desires leads to something as harmless as a career change or a new hobby.

Other applications of it have ruined marriages and led to a slew of broken commitments and promises.

There are many Facebook quotes weaving this new-found “theology” with Christian lingo.

“Stop worrying about being good, be free.”
and
“Trust yourself to set your own moral compass.” they say.

These quotes are shared and liked hundreds and thousands of times…by Christians!

This should scare us.

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Following your heart sounds nice but has several false foundations it is built on

Gods Who Are Not God

September 13, 2016

Andy Stanley is currently sharing a series in his church geared towards people who may have walked away from God.

In the message entitled “Gods of the No Testament”, Andy explores several false conceptions of God, which we as the church are often guilty of promoting.

These are versions of God we have been told exist, but in fact do not. These are gods we SHOULD walk away from. For those who have lost faith over these things, there might be reason to reconsider. These versions of God are not God!

Here are the groupings Andy uses. I will insert some of my own thoughts in each one.

Bodyguard God– The god protects from all harm. In this view, God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people. This doesn’t hold up to our experience or even that of Jesus. The author of our faith had some pretty bad things happen to him. Christianity started with horrible things happening to a very good person. Many have walked away over personal pain or the suffering of the world when God is viewed through this lens.

Loving the Stranger

July 5, 2016

While rounding a corner on a run in the United States the other day, I came across a Muslim women clad in a headdress and robes. I could see her cower off the sidewalk a bit as this white, American man came plodding her way in middle America. You could sense her apprehension and read her thoughts of “here we go again.”

I greeted her warmly, commenting on the beautiful day. You could visibly see her relax and the tension leave her body.

I’ve been in her position before. I too have been the foreigner in a land and culture which is not my own. I can relate to wishing I could change my nationality or accent in order to blend in. I wouldn’t wear my USA soccer jersey because of the perception of my nation in South Africa.