Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Captives and Kings

Captives and Kings (The Thistle and the Cross, #2)Captives and Kings by Craig Parshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 in "The Thistle and The Cross" series is titled "Captives and Kings." This book picks up where book one left off, November 3, 1605. The reader meets Ransom's sons and grandchildren. This book has lots of drama, excitement, history and intrigue. Many historical characters are spread out in the story. This books deals with the reformation in England and the printing on the "King James Bible." Also, the reader learns of the trips that the English are making to the new country, "America." The story is very interesting and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. If you enjoy historical reading then this book is for you!

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Crown of Fire

Crown of Fire (The Thistle and the Cross, #1)Crown of Fire by Craig Parshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Craig and Janet Parshall have written a three book series called "The Thistle and the Cross."  Book one is titled "Crown of Fire" and is set in the 1600's. The book is a history novel that tells of the reformation in Scotland. Ransom Mackenzie is the main character and the story is told through his eyes. Many historical characters are main parts of the story including the following: John Knox, Mary Queen of Scotts, John Shakespeare (William's Dad), Edward the King of England, Marie de Guise , and many others. If you enjoy history and especially church history and like to see how it might have effected the every day person back in the 1600's then this is the book for you. Just a couple of tibets from the book to wet your appetite:

"And your question?"
"Just that...Dante speaks of love, Mister Knox."
"And you have said that God is love, and the source of it."
"Indeed I have. The Holy Scriptures teach it clearly."
"Then, how can love be sin?"
Knox paused, cloaking the temptation to smile at his student's question. Ransom's query showed that, at last, he was beginning to cast the searing light of God's Word onto the dreary stuff of his studies.
"Love," his tutor replied, "and by that I mean true love, is that which obeys the commands of God and emulates His design for our affections. Carnal love - the pursuit of the pleasures of the body in violation of God's holy plan - is the devil's substitute...always inviting, tempting all of us, but never able to satisfy, never able to reflect God's perfect design, which is that of marital affection and fidelity."

Ransom could not understand the wisdom of that course, but his time in the Highlands had taught him something else. That there were occasions where great reasons required great risk - even reckless abandon.

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Have a Little Faith: A True Story

Have a Little Faith: A True StoryHave a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mitch Albom is a good writer. All of the books I have read by him have been very interesting. This book is really about three people. First there is Mitch who interacts with the only two people. The first person Mitch introduces the reader to is a Jewish Rabbi named Henry Covington. Henry asks Mitch to do his eulogy. Henry was Mitch's Rabbi when Mitch was growing up, in fact he was the family's Rabbi for years. Henry has retired and is getting on in years. Mitch finally agrees to do the eulogy but says he needs to get to know Henry a lot better. HE then other the course of a few years meets with Henry several times a month. He finds Henry to be a man like other man but a man that loves God. The other person Mitch introduces the reader to is Albert Lewis. Albert grew up in a baptist home but quickly decided that was not the life he wanted to live. Mitch tells all about the trouble Albert was involved with including: drinking, selling and taking drugs, robbery, and other not so nice things. Mitch ends up in prison for a crime he did not commit. He finally turns his life other to God and God directs him to a run down church where he ministers to the homeless and those that live a lifestyle like the old Albert lived.

It is very interesting to see how Mitch (a non practicing Jew) learns from both men. If you enjoy interesting stories you will enjoy this easy read. I hope you enjoy the following  sermon preached by the Rabbi in 1975:

"A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, 'He sleeps in a storm.'
The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.  Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley. Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly. So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed. He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins. He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry. And then he understands. 'He sleeps in a storm.

My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We can sleep in a storm. And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete."

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Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People

Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More PeopleEat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People by S. Truett Cathy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

S. Truett Cathy is not only a great business man but he is indeed a great godly man. If you want to learn more about Mr. Truett and more about the beginning of Chick-fil-A then this is the book for you. I trust you will enjoy the quotes from this book:

The lesson that is continually reinforced in me is that to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, we must leave ourselves available. If we had set lofty long-range goals for our company’s [Chick-fil-A’s] growth, our capital might have been so tied up in construction that we would have been unable to respond to these opportunities [WinShape Centre Foundation, which supports foster homes, summer camps, and college scholarships].  ~S. Truett Cathy

Harvard Business School Press in 1996 published a book titled The Loyalty Effect, which showed the correlation between loyalty and corporate profits. The author, Frederick F. Reichheld, stated, “Businesses that concentrate on finding and keeping good customers, productive employees, and supportive investors continue to generate superior results. …[Loyalty] remains one of the great engines of business success.”

“Loyalty leaders,” Mr. Reichheld wrote, “see people as assets rather than expenses, and they expect those assets to pay returns over a period of many years. Loyalty leaders choose human assets carefully, then find ways to extend their productive lifetimes and increase their value.”  ~S. Truett Cathy

My style has always been low-key with regard to my religious convictions. I hope that people see something attractive in the way I live that leads them to seek the One who leads me. In my own personal way I had committed the company to His purpose but had not done so publicly.

It became obvious that the [Executive] Committee was moving toward doing just that. By the end of the day we had developed two statements, which became Click-fil-A Corporate Purpose:

To glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that is entrusted to us.

To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
~S. Truett Cathy

Instruction is what we say.
Influence is what we do.
Image is what we are.  ~S. Truett Cathy

But look at what it means to be average. You are the worst of the best and the best of the worst. You’re not achieving anything unusual, choosing instead to go with the flow. When we do less than our best, we become discontent and “burned out.” Occasionally, I will have an Operator offer to terminate the franchise agreement with the explanation, “I’m just burned out on the restaurant business.”    ~S. Truett Cathy

It is when we stop doing our best work that our enthusiasm for the job wanes. We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to do their best as well. People like to follow those who are excited about their work, not workaholics. ~S. Truett Cathy

My attitude regarding the distant future is to do the best we can every day and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. That combination will lead us to success. I don’t want to set some arbitrary target out there that might lead us to make inappropriate decisions just to achieve it.  ~S. Truett Cathy

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The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal

The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for RenewalThe Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal by Charles R. Swindoll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Charles Swindoll does an excellent job explaining what the church is and was it is not. Anyone interested in learning what a church should be will profit from reading this book. I trust you will enjoy the quotes from this great book:

When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.  ~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this – namely, accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age.   ~Francis Schaeffer

Instead of life being interpreted honestly, it is now interpreted emotionally. Instead of real being real, virtual reality has taken charge. And since the reality is now distorted and viewed as distasteful, the younger generation prefers virtual reality. Reality bores them. We have changed our thinking based on objective instruction from the truth of Holy Scripture to the subjective, secular thinking based squarely on a horizontal, humanistic perception, where self is always predominant.   ~Charles Swindoll

The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God – not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice.   ~A.W. Tozer

Webster defines eroded in simple terms: “To diminish or destroy by degrees …. To eat into or away by slow destruction of substance …. To cause to deteriorate or disappear.” Over the years, I have discovered three simple truths about erosion, all of which parallel Webster’s description. Rather than occurring rapidly, erosion is always slow. Instead of drawing attention to itself, erosion is always silent. And in place of being obvious, erosion is always subtle.   ~Charles Swindoll

We need places in our journey where we force ourselves to pause and evaluate whether or not a drift is taking place. Why? Because a church without milestones will drift. And like erosion, we will not see it occurring if we don’t look for it. ~ Charles Swindoll

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).

In this one verse we have the lowest common denominator of a church. This is a ground zero. It would help greatly if God’s people reminded themselves of this single verse of Scripture every day. When the first body of believers gathered together, they devoted themselves to four essentials. Did you notice them? Here are the four essentials: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. This verse is not only descriptive of what the early church did; it is also prescriptive of what all churches must do.  ~Charles Swindoll

Clear, Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality [in the church].  And the imperative? Think spiritually!  However well organized our churches become, we must give priority to Biblical, rather than secular, thinking. ~Charles Swindoll

Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God’s Word, not human opinions. A true, spiritual mind-set comes from meditation on the Scriptures. So the imperative would be: stay Biblical! The Word of God ought to be central to every worship service. Furthermore, every elders’ meeting and every staff meeting should have the Scriptures as the basis of the decisions that are made. God’s Word is to be the church’s guide; it shapes our current thinking and future planning by giving us principles we can understand, believe, and apply.  ~Charles Swindoll

The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God – not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice.   ~A. W. Tozer

Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion. Please note I did not use the word easy. Change is not easy when erosion has occurred, but it is essential. The imperative? Be flexible!  ~Charles Swindoll

What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men ….  He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer!  ~E. M. Bounds

The church was never meant to be a “professional organization.”  ~Charles Swindoll

We must not mind insulting men, if by respecting them we offend God.  ~John Chrysostom

In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells asks several penetrating questions: What is the binding authority on the church? What determines how it thinks, what it wants, and how it is going to go about its business? Will it be Scripture alone, Scripture understood as God’s binding address, or will it be culture? Will it be what is current, edgy, and with-it? Or will it be God’s Word, which is always contemporary because its truth endures for all eternity?

Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord.   ~John Piper

The Lord will honor and bless any plan that upholds prayer and promotes His Word.  ~ Charles Swindoll

We are continually striving to create new methods, plans, and organizations to advance the church. We are ever working to provide and stimulate growth and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of man. Or else he is lost in the workings of the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men …. What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer! ~E. M. Bounds

Excellent exposition of the Scriptures alone isn’t enough to cause people to continue attending and to stick together as a church. It takes more.
I have lived to realize that, while a strong pulpit is essential, a contagious church also requires a context of other distinctives. There must be more than preaching. More than one gift at work. More than the conviction of one person. A contagious church has a number of individuals living out clear, Biblical principles with the result that people pause in the midst of their busy lives. They realize this is a place worth their coming and participating.  ~Charles Swindoll

It’s essential that we not get distracted by all the we can do as a church … and stay focused on only what we must do as a church. Otherwise, we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons.    ~Charles Swindoll

Large numbers don’t necessarily reveal God’s blessing. They could, in fact, reveal error. They could reflect an ear-tickling ministry that panders to people and tells the crowds what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. A growing number of churches and denominations today have found the four essentials (teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – Acts 2:42) unnecessary – burdensome, you might say. Archaic traditions of a bygone era. So they have hired what I call “pulpit whores,” or put more mildly, “teachers in accordance to their own desires” – to affirm them in their selfish and carnal lifestyles. No wonder the crowds expand … it’s as if God has officially approved their sin!  ~Charles Swindoll

I’ve learned through the years that perception overshadows reality. I hate that, but it’s true. From political candidates to polyester carpet, how people perceive things is, to them, more convincing than a truckload of evidence. Unfortunately, most people draw their opinions from the shallow stream of perception instead of the deep reservoir of truth. I find that strange and disappointing.  ~Charles Swindoll

I am convinced that the church doesn’t need marketing devices, worldly strategies, live entertainment, or a corporate mentality to be contagious.  Not if the glory of God is the goal. Not if the growth of God’s people is in view. Rather, the church needs Biblical truth taught correctly and clearly … and lived out in authenticity.

One of the worst things we can do in our churches is to take our eyes off the essentials – to take our cues of how to “do church” from our postmodern world instead of determining our distinctives and priorities from Scriptures. It’s a great temptation to try that these days, because there are so many churches doing it. They look like they know what they’re doing. The crowds swell. The ratings soar. The money pours in. They speak in such a convincing way that we are tempted to think, Well, maybe they’re right and we’re beginning to miss it. Please. Don’t go there.  ~ Charles Swindoll

A marketing mentality and a consumer mind-set have no business in the church of Jesus Christ.  By that I mean Jesus is not a brand … human thinking does not guide God’s work … and the church is not a corporation. The church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual entity, guided by the Lord through the precepts of His Word.

If we sacrifice the essentials of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer on the alter of strategy, creativity, entertainment, and “relevancy,” we have abandoned the main reasons the church exists. We should build on these essentials, not attempt to replace them.  ~Charles Swindoll

From the verb be strong, we glean the first distinctive for a contagious church: it is always necessary in grace (2 Timothy 2:1). That sounds simple, but it will be one of the most difficult principles to apply in a consumerist culture.  ~Charles Swindoll

Author Steve Brown says that some people think legalistic churches are as bad as grace-oriented churches. As he put it, they are no more alike than saying a taxidermist is like a veterinarian. Some would claim, “Well, either way you get your dog back!” True, but one of them collects dust and never moves. The other one is busy and barking and eating and jumping … he’s alive. He’s the real thing! The point? Let’s choose to be veterinarians. Let’s determine that our churches will be places of grace. A church of grace is alive, anticipating God’s work, willing to risk, free of judgmentalism … but make no mistake – they’re not free of holiness. There’s a vast difference. ~Charles Swindoll

The church needs to guard against compromising the Word of God so that it takes more palatable to newcomers. Christians suffer when we do that. I’ve said for years, “Sermonettes are for Christianettes.” If our churches give a little eight-minute sermon, we are not feeding the flock. Instead of teaching them, we’re tantalizing them. Instead of stretching and challenging them, we’re entertaining them. Our congregations need pastors who study hard, play hard, and prepare well-balanced meals, then open the Scriptures and teach people how to study the Word for themselves. That’s what gives them stability in hard times, discernment in the midst of deception, and the strength to stand alone.  ~Charles Swindoll

Did you notice in Titus 2:11-15, “the grace of God has appeared … instructing us to deny ungodliness”? I repeat it only to underscore: grace doesn’t mean anything goes. Rather, grace motivates our behavior. Grace frees us to obey. Being strong in grace goes hand in hand with being committed to living the truth. There is no contradiction in those two commitments. After all, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Grace provides the context for God’s commands to be taught. Truth equips our minds and shapes up our lives. Truth therefore must be taught!  ~Charles Swindoll

Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’s rod, He needed Moses’s hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done.  ~Warren Wiersbe

Because of Jesus Christ, the church must endure every difficulty for the benefit of others. I find this principle in Paul’s writings to Timothy:  “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).  ~Charles Swindoll

Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster then they can keep in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot.  ~Gordon Dahl

When we substitute the urgent for the important in the church of Jesus Christ, we emphasize work, activity, involvement, doing, producing, impressing, and accomplishing. But it leaves us feeling flat and empty. Exhaustion replaces satisfaction. Furthermore, it smacks of the secularized world in which we work. Who knows how many people have been turned away from Christianity, longing for the true, living God but encountering at their church a secularized substitute?  ~Charles Swindoll

The underlying objective of a church committed to the important things – rather than the urgent – is the cultivation of a body of worshipers whose sole focus is on the Lord our God.  ~ Charles Swindoll

Secularization theology has taught us to be “tolerant” of the world system – to be more accepting and understanding … and not bigoted. G. K. Chesterton says it well: “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” It’s always easier to claim tolerance and straddle the fence than to choose sides. Tolerance will get you elected. Tolerance keeps you popular with a voting congregation. Tolerance doesn’t make waves at the office or across the backyard fence. But tolerance makes no impact for the kingdom of God.  ~Charles Swindoll

Paul is describing (in 2 Tim. 3:4-5) the outward “form of religion” but were “denying the power of it.” They evidently attended the worship services of the church. They sang the hymns, they said the “amen” to the prayers and put their money in the offering-plate. They looked and sounded egregiously pious. But it was form without power, outward show without inward reality, religion without morals, faith without works. True religion combines form and power. It is not external form without power. … It fosters a worship which is essentially “spiritual,” arising from the heart, which expresses itself through public, corporate services, and which also issues in moral behavior. Otherwise, it is not only valueless; it is actually an abomination to the Lord. ~John R.W. Stott

Christians are in the minority, to be sure. God always prefers to do His work through a remnant who face insuperable odds. Babies conceived in aging wombs. Meals for thousands from a meager sack lunch. Every sin atoned for by one Man’s death. The world turned upside down by twelve ordinary men who were called apostles. God specializes in the impossible. In fact, He is greatly glorified in circumstances where human ingenuity, creativity, and ability fall short.  ~Charles Swindoll

Understand, there’s nothing wrong with creatively communicating to our neighborhoods about our churches. But when promotion receives more emphasis than the essentials – the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (see Acts 2:42) – then the tail is wagging the dog. The church starts drifting off course. Erosion sets in. On the other hand, when we commit ourselves to the essentials, our churches will be contagious for the right reasons. And in Ephesus, that is exactly what was occurring: “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10). Word of mouth has always been God’s preferred method of getting the message out.  ~Charles Swindoll

Most of the Ephesian Christians were now [when the book of Revelation was written] second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ. How the church today needs to heed this same warning [… that you have left your first love], that orthodoxy and service are not enough. Christ wants believers’ hearts as well as their hands and heads.   ~John F. Walvoord

C.S. Lewis once made the statement “The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.” If I may write it far less eloquently, “We need to smell our own stink.” Why? Because we are all depraved … all given to selfishness … all drawn to embrace what the world tempts us to crave.   ~Charles Swindoll

Trust me, churches that keep you always busy are predisposed to erosion. Join this program … enroll in this study … go on this trip … come to this concert … teach this class … serve here … meet there … be hardworking … stay productive … count those heads … keep busy! Sadly, many of those same churches fail to encourage personal reflection, growth, and analysis. Their focus? The bottom line. Busyness equates to success. Lewis Sperry Chafer summed it up this way: “Much of our spiritual activity is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.”  ~Charles Swindoll

Is it really possible for a Christian to become overexposed to spiritual things? Yes, if having blessings from God in such abundance makes us hardened to them. It can happen when we become the benefactors of a great number of God’s blessings. Our business goes well. Our health is good. Our children are fine. Our marriage is strong. Our church is good. The music is great. Our pastor is solid. Our home is lovely. Our ministry is bearing fruit. Our cars are new. Our neighborhood is clean. Our schools are safe. We’ve made good decisions in life. Blessing after blessing after blessing …

“But!” Jesus interrupts. “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

How does this kind of personal erosion occur? Nobody ever picks up a phone, calls a friend, and says, “Hey, today I feel like ruining my life.” We don’t do that. But we do, on occasion, entertain thoughts like, I don’t want the lordship of Christ to touch this area of my life. This is mine! After all, look at what’s happened as a result. It’s not that bad. I can handle it.  And we allow a subtle but destructive drift – the dethroning of His authority and an enthroning of our own. It happens because we’ve gotten bored in the Christian hothouse.

A believer who wades through God’s favor and God’s blessing and God’s bounty day after day, week after week, year after year can begin to court the dangers of erosion. How? Things get to be predictable. They become routine. You grow cynical. And before you know it, you can be lusting while you’re singing a gospel song. You can be thanking God for His forgiveness of your sins while you harbor bitterness toward your brother or sister in Christ. What you’re doing is just another religious duty. A.W. Tozer writes,

Familiarity may breed contempt even at the very altar of God. How frightful a thing it is for the preacher when he becomes accustomed to his work, when his sense of wonder departs, when he gets used to the unusual, when he loses his solemn fear in the presence of the High and Holy One; when, to put it bluntly, he gets a little bored with God and heavenly things.  ~Charles Swindoll

In a strange twist, the preaching of the cross is now foolishness, not only to the world but also to the contemporary church.   ~Steven J. Lawson

Admittedly pastors can learn from growing churches and successful ministries. Yet God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing. He provides the power and He alone receives the glory only as His divinely prescribed plan for ministry is followed. When man-created schemes are followed, often imitating the world’s schemes, the flesh provides the energy and man receives the glory. … In a strange twist, the preaching of the cross is now foolishness, not only to the world but also to the contemporary church (Steven J. Lawson).  ~Charles Swindoll

Hearing the Word of God isn’t about being entertained, or feeling good, or leaving impressed with a speaker’s ability, or merely listening to someone talk. It’s about life change. The following verse lands like a gavel on a judge’s bench: “So when it comes to pass—[a]as surely it will—then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst” (Ezekiel 33:33)   ~Charles Swindoll

For some, a major life crisis may cause them to attend church, but only as superficial hearers. Like Ezekiel’s audience, they may find the form of the message interesting and stimulating, but they never feel its power in their hearts as life-changing reality. Those of us who are preachers need to be careful that we do not foster such shallow attention. In our day, there is a focus on “seeker-sensitive” services that will present the gospel in a way that will be attractive to such people. The task of the church, however, is not to assemble seekers but to make disciples…. The seriousness of the message must never be obscured by the desire to make the medium more attractive. The preacher’s task is not to entertain or inform but to plead passionately with men and women to flee the wrath that is to come on account of sin. (Charles Swindoll quoting a man)

The church is scarred by wars, buffeted by storms and eroded by pollution, and God is at work restoring His own – repairing, cleaning, purifying.  ~Ruth Bell Graham

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right

God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American RightGod's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right by Michael Sean Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book written by someone who did not think highly of Falwell's beliefs. However, he did a good job of conveying Falwell's convictions and a great job of how Falwell came to be one of the most important man in American politics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to learn more about Falwell or to those who like to learn hoe Christianity and politics can influence each other.

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Leadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and Intuition

Leadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and IntuitionLeadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and Intuition by John Sims Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good book about leadership, relationships, and priorities. I  trust you will enjoy and be challenged by the following quotes from this book:

Personal values will always override organizational values.   ~John  Townsend

I have seen leaders who considered their organizational values in some sort of consultation or task setting and were diligent about it. And the result was a Word document, an email, a poster, a reminder of things that everyone signed off on. But at the end of the day, no one would really and truly change their behavior based on these stated values. Nor would they think about them when faced with an opportunity or a problem. These values weren’t part of the fabric of the leader’s heart. They were helpful and potentially valuable, butb they weren’t considered.   ~ John Townsend

He (a well-known leader) talked about the delemma most of us face in an election: we don’t agree with everything any one candidate says, so how do we decide for whom to vote? His values aha statement that stuck with me was, “There are some issues I don’t have to agree with and will still vote for a candidate. But some issues are so important to me that if I voted for a person who disagreed with my position on them, I wouldn’t know who I am anymore.” That is what I mean by “when your values aren’t lived out, it bothers you.” Compromise and negotiation are valuable in leadership. But when it comes to values, you want to always know who you are.  ~John Townsend

There is a myth that the creative process can only be unleashed when you get away from all order, discipline, and parameters. People who believe this say that creativity must be as free as possible to express itself. This sort of thinking is not true, and it discourages leaders from investing in the process. Leaders know the value of structure in organizations. They aren’t about to abolish all that in the hope that creativity might happen.

The reality is that creativity floourishes with structure. Creative freedom can exist within parameters. A brainstorming meeting with a flip chart occurs for a specified amount of time. People ask thought-provoking questions to get the creative progress going.

A great example of the creative process within parameters is music. Any musician has to submit to the structure that there are musical scales with finite number of notes. Chords

Think of your mind as having a certain amount of room in it, like the RAM of a computer. RAM is used for the “thinking” a computer has to perform. The more RAM, the better the machine operates. When too many applicatrions are open, however, there is less room, and the computer can become sluggish or inoperable. In a broad sense, the clearer your life and mind are, the more space creativity has to grow and bring new ideas.  Creativity, especially for the leader, takes work and discipline.   ~John Townsend

Just remember the problem solving nature of anger. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let it control you. Be sure to find its source, and take action.  ~John Townsend

Leadership is about wanting to make a difference, having a vision, helping people you care about, changing lives, and meeting goals.  ~John Townsend

Leaders resist helpless situations.  I don’t mean that you are completely and totally helpless. Certainly you have options and choices, but there are times you must accept that you are helpless to change someone or something. Here are some examples of what you may say, “I can’t change this” about. You might be helpless in:
making someone change their neagative opinion of you;
resurrecting a deal thast has gone away;
causing someone to stay who wants to leave;
keeping a position that is no longer an option;
going back into the past and doing things again differently.   ~John Townsend

Happiness is a valuable experience, but it is a miserable goal. In its proper place, as a celebration of gratitude and an appreciation of the good, the emotion of happiness has real benefit. It is a fruit, a result of the good. But it never works out when we focus on happiness as something to accomplish.  ~John Townsend

When you stop trying to find happiness, it will find you. I don't mean this in some mysterious way. There is reality to this idea. When you focus on what is really important, and live and lead in the right way, you will experience the side benefit of happiness. It will find you in those moments of enjoyment along the way. And it will find you also when you see that a life well lived is a good life indeed. ~John Townsend

I define passion simply as “focused desire.”  ~John Townsend

Passion develops when we are doing what we are designed to do.  ~John Townsend

Life and leadership require that you give up good things and good opportunities in order to carve the best path.  ~John Townsend

One aspect of character growth and maturity is the ability to lose the good, in order to gain the better.  ~John Townsend

You can’t create passion, not for yourself or for anyone else. Your job is to create the right environment for the chemistry to happen. You do this by personal research. You must spend the energy to know your people and learn which tasks intersect with their passions.  ~John Townsend

People who feel a passion inside don’t mind challenge. In fact, they are internally driven to meet challenges. They don’t need you to motivate them. They need you to provide a structure for them to push themselves toward the goal.   ~John Townsend

Performance Appraisals
First, you need to be able to normalize the evaluative process itself.
Next, talk to the person ahead of time about the process.
During the review, it is important to add to the reached or unreached goals, the underlying causes. It is never about the numbers only.
Finally, it is important that you hear the person’s responses to the appraisal.  ~John Townsend

It is a benefit to a leader to become involved in the personal growth and improvement process at some formal and structured level.  ~John Townsend

The point is, as a leader, you need a place you can go for yourself, not just your work. It is the difference between deciding to get up an hour earlier to be more time-effective and facing a problem of letting others control your time during the day so that you need to get up earlier. One is change, and one is transformation.   ~John Townsend

I need to clarify that transformation is not simply about skill building. Competencies, vision casting, people management, and strengths building are all necessary parts of leadership training and development. They are the roles you need to develop the right culture, the right people, and the right results. But I am adding to that what you need to grow and develop as a person, in your own character.  ~John Townsend

When approaching the arena of the personal – our character, growth issues, and our ability to relate – we do not have the option to manage weaknesses, we need to resolve them.  ~John Townsend

A character weakness or issue is not part of our hard wiring in the same way that our gifts and talents are. We weren’t designed to be self-sufficient, or unable to comfort. Those weaknesses come from our significant experiences, our backgrounds, and our own choices. So when we talk about character, we do not have to manage or accept as a fatalistic reality that we will always be this way because we have always been this way. There is always hope for change and transformation. ~John Townsend

You simply can’t separate yourself as a leader from yourself as a person.  ~John Townsend

You can’t lose in leadership by growing as a person.  ~ John Townsend

Your spiritual nature points to the fact that we are all unfinished and incomplete without God.    ~John Townsend

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The Family

The Family
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