Monthly Archives: February 2011

“Changed By Faith”

Changed By FaithI just got through reading Luis Palau’s, “Changed by Faith,” which is a book that is not only about faith, but also gives us a glimpse into the Luis’ personal life and ministry.  Luis is a Christian Evangelist that was born in Argentina.  His father’s death (Luis was ten) had a profound impact on Luis.  He spends time in his book writing about how his father came to faith by standing up in the middle of a service and saying, “Right now… I receive Jesus as my only and sufficient Savior.” From that point on his father never looked back and was a man of purpose, intention, and conviction.  He used every spare moment to study the Bible and tell people about Jesus.  Even though his father died at a young age, his life made an incredible impact on Luis.

I found the book both interesting and extremely easy to read.  The chapters are well written and very engaging.   The book chronicles major faith moments in Luis Palau’s personal life and ministry.  Though there is a progression of thought throughout the book, you can open the book at any chapter and not be lost in the progression.

Faith is not really faith until it’s tested and I loved the way Luis shares his precious moments of testing.  Luis is someone that is able to relate to just about anything a person can face.  He shares from the heart how God built and strengthened his faith through his father’s early death, raising rebellious teenagers, and his wife fighting cancer.

The book can easily be read in a single evening.  It is what I would classify an easy read, but that’s not to mean that there is no meat to it.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that are the most powerful and such is, “Changed by Faith.”

Luis Palau is the author of more than forty books, host of three international daily radio programs, and head of the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association.  He is regarded as one of today’s most influential spiritual leaders, particularly in Latin America, where he has served for much of his life.  He has traveled to more than seventy nations and has reached more than one billion people through television, radio, print, and live events.

This book was provided by New Growth Press for review purposes.  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.”

 

 

 

 

“When Our Liberty Sabotages Our Love”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 14:13-23

 

“Crosstalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet”

Crosstalk“Crosstalk,” by Michael R. Emlet was not what I expected when I picked it up.  I thought it would be a book that would link Bible passages to real live situations in a nice pat way. The book is anything but pat.

What I got from the book was a whole lot more.  To sum it up, Michael R. Emlet’s goal is to, “help you read the Bible and read people in a way that promotes gospel-centered, personally relevant use of Scripture in ministry to others.”

Emlet draws a comparison between DITCH and CANYON passages of Scripture.  “Sometimes use of Scripture in ministry has the feel of stepping across a ditch (easy!) and sometimes it has the feel of stepping across a canyon (impossible!)”  Ditch passages are easy to make the connection whereas Canyon passages require a little more thought.  Emlet points out that if we restrict ourselves to only the DITCH passages we end up “ministering with an embarrassingly thinner but supposedly more relevant Bible.”  (p.16) Restricting ourselves to only DITCH passages also implies that some parts of the Bible are not as relevant as other parts. The challenge of the book is to open ourselves up to the WHOLE counsel of God.

I like the fact that Emlet takes the time to explain exactly what the Bible is and (just as importantly) what it is not.  He talks about how the Bible needs to be read front to back as well as back to front (p.52)  I found that this approach added a whole new meaning to the concept of context.   Emlet points out that to read the Bible in context, it must be read through the lens of Jesus Christ since He is the pivotal point in the whole story.

I also like the way Emlet emphasized the importance of “reading” people wisely in order to accurately convey the power of God’s Word into their lives. (p.65)  He suggests approaching people in the counseling setting in three different roles: Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners.  The big challenge I got from the book is to really try to get the Word of God DEEPLY into people’s lives by addressing theses three roles.

The Book is full of examples and two separate case studies that demonstrate effective Biblical Counseling.  The book also has a detailed Scripture index in the back.  The book is not an easy read since it requires some thought, but it is well worth the effort for those who have a counseling ministry.  I wished I had a book like this when I was taking Biblical Counseling in Seminary.

This book was provided by New Growth Press for review purposes.  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.”

Some Things Are Just Not Worth Fighting Over!

Christian Fighting

I shared the following from Max Lucado’s book GENTLE THUNDER last Sunday.  Some of you asked for a copy so here it is…

“Some time ago I came upon a fellow on a trip who was carrying a Bible. “Are you a believer?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said excitedly. Continue reading

“Accepting Each Other”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 14:1-12

“How Good is Good Enough?”

How Good Is Good EnoughAndy Stanley’s, “How Good is Good Enough?” is a short book that addresses the common misconceptions people have about what it takes to make it into Heaven. The mistaken logic flows like this:  “There is a good God who lives in a good place reserved for good people. This God goes by many names and is behind all major religions… therefore, all religions provide a legitimate path to God.”  It’s a tragedy that so many people bank their entire eternal future on what really doesn’t make sense.

The book does a great job describing the conscience as something that condemns you and reminds you that you are not perfect.  Yet the conscience doesn’t assure you when you’re doing well.  That’s where RELIGION takes over.  All religions of this world share one common denominator: How you live your life on this side of the grave determines what happens next.   The problem is that all these religions disagree as to what you need to do. Continue reading

Why Were Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

Why Were Not EmergentI get really confused when I hear the term EMERGENT. This book helped me to clear a lot of that up. EMERGENT is essentially the latest form of liberalism. In fact, it is so liberal that it’s extremely difficult to nail down a firm definition. Kevin DeYoung writes, “Defining the emerging church is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.” Emergent Leaders often refuse to take a stand on controversial issues like Hell, Original Sin, Atonement, Exclusivity of Christ, Authority of Scripture. Their silence speaks volumes.

The Emergent Movement intentionally moves away from DOCTRINES in favor of having a CONVERSATION in which key elements are discussed and in some cases redefined. WHY WERE NOT EMERGENT is a book that seeks to enter the “conversation” from an Evangelical point of view. DeYoung points out, “There is a time for conversation, but there is also the possibility of certainty, not because we have dissected God like a freshman biology student dissects a frog, but because God has spoken to us clearly and intelligibly and has given us ears to hear his voice.” (p.41) Continue reading

How Would Your Church React?

jeans and barefootRebecca Manley Pippert in her book, “Out of the Saltshaker,” writes about a student she met when she was living in Portland, Oregon.  He was rather eccentric, but brilliant.  His hair was always messy and no matter what the weather, he never wore shoes.  As you read her account ask yourself, “How would my church respond in such a situation?”

There was a well-dressed middle-class church across the street from the campus that was in the process of trying to figure out how to reach more college age students.

One day Bill decided to worship there.  He walked into this church, wearing his blue jeans, tee shirt and of course no shoes.  People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything.  So Bill began walking down the aisle looking for a seat.  The church was quite crowded that Sunday, so as he got down to the front pew an realized that there were no seats, he just squatted on the carpet –perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, but perhaps unnerving for a church congregation.  The tension in the air became so thick one could slice it.

Suddenly an elderly man began walking down the aisle toward the boy.  Was he going to scold Bill?  My friends who saw him approaching said they thought, “You can’t blame him. He’d never guess Bill is a Christian. And his world is too distant from Bill’s to understand.  You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do.”

As the man kept walking slowly down the aisle, the church became utterly silent, all eyes were focused on him, you could not hear anyone breathe.  When the man reached Bill, with some difficulty he lowered himself and sat down next to him on the carpet.  He and Bill worshiped together on the floor that Sunday.  I was told there was not a dry eye in the congregation.

As this man walked alongside of his brother and loved him with all that he had received from Christ’s love, so must we. This man was the Good Samaritan. He made Bill feel welcome, feel as if he had a home. So he also knew the secret of the parable of the prodigal son: there finally is a homecoming, because we really have a home to come to.

There are a lot of churches that would’ve done the opposite.   Such churches are more interested in maintaining the dress code than reaching new people for Jesus Christ.  Sometimes it’s too easy to focus on the outside without looking at what’s on the inside.

That old man was willing to enter the young man’s world and sit  down right along side of him.  That’s exactly what we’re called to do both inside and outside the church.   At the heart of being incarnational is loving people. We are to love people in the same way Jesus loved people.  You want to be a GREAT evangelist?  It’s not a matter of going to seminary, but simply walking in love.  St. Augustine said, “Preach the Gospel at all times… if necessary use words.”  Now I do believe it is necessary at some point to use words.  The point is how you live speaks just as loud as the words you use.   Our job is to love them till they ask us WHY?  Jesus said in John 13:35, “by this all men will know you are My disciples if you have LOVE for one another.”

Here’s hoping that more characters like the one Rebecca writes about  will come stumbling into our churches to shake us up a little.

“TrueFaced: Trust God and Others With Who You Really Are.”

“TrueFaced,” is all about discovering how to live under God’s grace. The book was written as an allegory.   (i.e. The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Chronicles of Narnia)

The Book sucked me in right from the start by talking about two possible paths for the Christian to take in life:  PLEASING GOD or TRUSTING GOD.    At first glace, I saw the PLEASING GOD path as the best.  It sounded a lot more “spiritual,” but it actually ends up being the least graceful.  It leads to a room called, “GOOD INTENTIONS,” that is opened by the doorknob of EFFORT and is full of people who put on a facade because they feel no one (Including God) would accept them as they really are.  I quickly realized that many times I have mistakenly taken this route in life and was miserable as a result.

The path of TRUSTING GOD is just the opposite and leads to a room called “THE ROOM OF GRACE.”  The doorknob of HUMILITY opens this room and it is characterized by people who want to grow and trust God and others with who they really are. This involves faith. The Bible says that without faith it’s impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Continue reading

“The Debt of Love”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 13:8-14