Monday, August 31, 2009

It only takes a little

I don't know about you but my tendency is to ask God for more faith when I fail. Apparently, that's pretty normal. At least that's what I see the disciples doing.

Jesus is teaching his disciples things like the woes of leading people to sin, the importance of confronting a brother in Christ who sins against you, and forgiving people over and over...and over again when they sin against you. Tough stuff.

Apparently the disciples agree. In exasperation, they respond to Jesus by saying, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5)

Sounds like a great request, right? I've prayed that many times myself. But Jesus sets us straight in just one verse (albeit a long one).

(Jesus) replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.' (17:6)

Now that would be impressive!

But Jesus uses this to make a huge point. It's not the size of our faith that makes the difference--it's the object of our faith. (Object = Jesus, here)

Notice that in his example, Jesus says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed." His point is that faith in Jesus is powerful not because of how much you have but in whom you have it. When we exercise faith in Jesus, we can move heaven and earth because he is Lord of all creation. He's huge!

Why does God do it this way? Good question!

To have faith to tell a tree to move and it happen really is impressive! Again, my tendency is to think that the person who can do that has a lot of or big faith. They are impressive! But therein lies my problem.

Did you catch it? In my response I exalted the one who demonstrated the faith instead of the object of their faith (Jesus). When it's about how much faith I have, I get the glory. When it's about my little faith moving mountains, it becomes about my great God. And since I exist for his glory, this makes much more sense. It exalts the One who is the object and source of our great faith!

So maybe I need to adjust my prayer. Maybe instead of, "Lord, increase my faith" I need to pray, "Lord, increase my awareness of how big and good you really are." When I see my problems beside my massive God, they take on their proper perspective and I find I have an easier time trusting God.

What's your prayer today?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cargo Bikes

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Clutter-free Christianity book review

This book was like bad cold--I couldn't shake it.

Dealing with the heart of the matter in following Christ, there wasn't a lot of new information for me. Which is why I kept trying to put it down...but every time I'd read a little I found I wanted to keep going.

Jeffress is witty, real and smart in his writing. I felt like I got to know him in this book. Like a great mentor, he gently and compellingly kept encouraging me to do what I already knew I needed to be doing to strengthen my walk with Christ.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flock Browser

I'm checking out this new browser tonight that is designed to make social networking more seamless. So far I'm impressed! www.Flock.com
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So Beautiful book review

Len Sweet offers his MRI church as a picture of what could be a church (and therefore Christ-followers) that is "So Beautiful."




From book jacket, "Sweet calls for the re-union of these three essential, complementary strands of the Christian life. Far from a novel idea, Sweet shows how this structure is God's original intent and shares the simply beautiful design for His church."

I "read" this book as an mp3 on my ipod. I like reading better since I like to re-read sentences I don't get the first time. It's just such a rich read that you can't just blow through it and expect to get the full impact. Maybe I'll listen to it again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seven Faith Tribes book review

This book was better than I expected.

Barna does a great job outlining the 7 basic faith tribes in America and then helping us get a better picture of what they're like. I thought he'd stop there but he doesn't.

Barna then outlines his ideas for how we can impact America by focusing on the "Shared values" of these groups (which includes everyone from atheists to Muslims).

His premise is that it's going to take all of us to turn America around.

I learned a lot about the adult population of America from this book. While I'm not sure how on board I am with his premise and reason for writing the book, I appreciate his passion and vision for a better America and how the church (and I) can be a part of loving people

Monday, August 24, 2009

Confessions of another pastor...

By Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Wash, DC and popular author. I love this guy. Check this out:

If you asked me: what is the best decision you made this year? The answer is easy. The hands-down best decision was the decision to read through a one-year Bible.

Let me come clean. I didn’t read the Bible nearly as much as I could have or should have last year. This is embarrassing to admit, but Bible reading had become synonymous with sermon prep. I was reading it professionally instead of devotionally. I was reading it for what God wanted to say through me instead of reading it for what God wanted to say to me. And it took its toll.

Then at the end of last year I stumbled across an interview with J.I. Packer, the renowned author and theologian. He said, “Any Christian worth his salt ought to read the Bible from cover-to-cover every year.” It stung at first. But it made sense, so much sense that I decided to do it. And it has proved to be the best decision I made this year. Long story short, I’ve fallen in love with the Bible all over again.

If you want to grow spiritually, you need a consistent diet of Scripture. In fact, you will never outgrow your consumption of Scripture. There is no substitute. There is no supplement. The poet, T.S. Eliot, once observed: “Everything we eat has some effect upon us. It affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe exactly the same is true of anything we read.” In other words, you are what you read.

I have a saying that I repeat to our congregation frequently: reading without meditating is like eating without digesting. If you want to absorb the nutrients, you can’t just read it. You’ve got to chew on it. You’ve got to digest it. Meditation is the way we metabolize Scripture. Finish Article
RePost: Bible Reading Plans

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Becoming the Answer to our prayers review

"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do." -from introduction

The authors hit a home run here.

Written not by theologians (although great theology & biblical insights) but by activists who know from personal experience why prayer isn't just a good idea but essential in following Christ. They guys live it out daily in urban settings by choice. They could be in high-paying jobs or ministries. Instead, they are working with the least, the last and the lost to make a real difference in the poorest neighborhoods in Philly and Durham, NC.

At only 120 pages (and with great end notes), this won't take you long to read. But it will stay with you for quite a while.

They basically show how prayer and action go together. While that sounds like a no-brainer, ask yourself this question: how are you doing putting your actions and your prayers together?

"If we hope to see God change society, we must be ordinary radicals who pray--and then are ready to become the answers to our own prayers." Classic. A must-read.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Simple Spirituality

Simple Spirituality is Chris Heuertz's attempt to do just that: Follow Christ simply.

Chris just believes that it's not complicated.

He breaks following Christ into 4 areas and go into depth in each one with stories and truth that inspire and inform. He starts with humility and then moves through community, simplicity, submission and ends with brokenness.

It's nothing fancy. Reading it on the heals of Becoming the Answer to our Prayers was probably a God-thing as they dovetailed nicely. I can't recommend this book enough. Only a 152 pages, it's short, sweet and delightful to eat (plenty of salt in this one).

Family Driven Faith book online FREE!

For those who'd like to read Voddie Baucham's latest book Family Driven Faith online (thanks to Google Books & generosity of Voddie), here's the link:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John Piper rocks! FREE stuff!

Free Resources for Hungry Students

If you're a student, or you know a student, then you probably know how expensive going back to school can be. You have to buy books, pay tuition, cover housing, and then get enough together to buy something to eat (Ramen noodles anyone?). At Desiring God, we want a student's "spiritual food" to always remain affordable.

That's why, in this back-to-school season, we simply want to remind you of the wealth of free resources on the DG website. Currently we have

And remember that these resources come in multiple formats, such as text, audio, video, or some combination of these.

Take for example our 2006 National Conference The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. As with most of our content, you have several options for how to get it:

  1. Download the book and then watch or listen to the messages online.
  2. Purchase the conference DVD, audio, or book in our online store at regular price.
  3. Order them by phone, email, or letter, and simply pay Whatever You Can Afford.

So don't let your student go hungry this year. We want to make it easy for them to feast on the truth of God's word.

For free resources, visit our website: DesiringGod.org.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tools to help you read through the Bible

The Discipleship Journal® Bible Reading Plans

Thank you NavPress!


Bible Reading Plan
These are daily Bible reading plans that will chart your way through the New Testament.
30 Day | 90 Day | 1 Year

From www.PurposeDrivenLife.com website. Thank you Rick Warren!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friends We Keep/ 40 Min Bible Studies summaries

Summary for The Friends We Keep

During a particularly painful time in her life, Sarah Zacharias Davis learned how delightful–and wounding–women can be in friendship. She saw how some friendships end badly, others die slow deaths, and how a chance acquaintance can become that enduring friend you need.

The Friends We Keep is Sarah’s thoughtful account of her own story and the stories of other women about navigating friendship. Her revealing discoveries tackle the questions every woman asks:

• Why do we long so for women friends?
• Do we need friends like we need air or food or water?
• What causes cattiness, competition, and co-dependency in too many friendships?
• Why do some friendships last forever and others only a season?
• How do I foster friendship?
• When is it time to let a friend go, and how do I do so?

With heartfelt, intelligent writing, Sarah explores these questions and more with personal stories, cultural references and history, faith, and grace. In the process, she delivers wisdom for navigating the challenges, mysteries, and delights of friendship: why we need friendships with other women, what it means to be safe in relationship, and how to embrace what a friend has to offer, whether meager or generous.

Summary for 40 Minute Bible Studies

The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Circle Series the Best Fiction in long time

Black-Red-White are one story in 3 books. Much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy (actually 6 books but one story), this story (2 stories in 1?) keeps you just off balance enough to keep you reading. The back and forth between realities (?) or worlds (?) doubles the suspense. The fantasy aspect is my favorite but I love the weaving in of contemporary scenarios. The best is the redemption story imagery. As a long-time Christian I know it's easy to take the "Old, Old story" for granted. Ted brings it to life by bringing it back in a way you never see coming. Tears and shouts are not uncommon when reading these! Classic series. I can't wait for Green to come out in Sep 09!