Category Archives: books

Forgetting the Fairy Tale

fairy-tale-190x300I’ll take 100 copies in camouflage please!

My friend & new ministry teammate has yielded herself to God & written an incredible book!

I do, in fact, recommend that you read it.

It seems that most of the people who read my blog are men. Readers other than my Mom that is–hi mom!  Notice that I didn’t recommend that you buy this book for your wife, your daughter, or your mom—though that’s a good idea, first why don’t YOU read it.

I need to insert a confession here:

I did have a little trouble getting “into” this book to begin with. First, because many of the illustrations are girly; second, because some of the application was a bit harder for me to identify with (cause I’m a dude); & third, I kept seeing the faces of young ladies who I’d ministered to, as a pastor, who got caught up in the “fairy tale.”

This last one was most distracting:

Some of my “manly” readers will jump to a conclusion here. You’ll be thinking, ah, Brian is recommending that I read this book so that I can help ladies in my ministry more effectively.

Again, good idea, nice try, but that’s not my primary intent.

Instead, I want you to take the time to apply this book to your life! I think its concepts will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

You will find them Biblical & as a result meaningful.

Yes, some of the illustrations won’t “connect” immediately but if you change out “shoes” for “guns” you’ll get the message just fine. On the surface the application might feel different for you, but at the root our need for ultimate satisfaction in Christ alone is the same!

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

I challenge you to take time to consider the vastness of creation and the indescribable glory of our Creator, Jesus Christ. Ask Him to open your eyes to the truths of His majesty. Empty your mind of all that seeks to distract you from true communion with Him and give Him praise. Lift your hands and heart to Him in complete surrender and ask Him for the grace that you need to love Him as you ought. It is a prayer that we all need to pray every day of our lives. Our sinful natures prevent us from knowing true love as He is love, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, He can open your heart to love that is deeper and more fulfilling than anything any man on earth could ever provide for you and far more than anything you could ever have imagined. Let Love reign in your heart and life from this day forward.

Now, tell me you didn’t need that!

So really, I’ll take 100 copies with a camouflage cover and a few different illustrations but until that edition comes out, dudes, get over yourselves, grab a pink copy.

Go ahead, open up Forgetting the Fairy Tale, buckle your seat belt, and listen as my friend Donya walks you through the Word reminding YOU that Jesus is more than enough one story at a time!

It’s available on Barnes & Noble’s website & on Amazon too, check it out!

Article by Brian Norris

@BrianNorris

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Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make

I just found my notes from Hans Finzel’s book – a must-read for any pastor / church leader.  Just in case you’re like me and already have 3-4 books going at this moment and don’t really have time or energy to add another book to the list – here are the ‘cliff-notes’ version:  (Don’t miss #9 – it’s my favorite!)

1. Top-down Attitude
This is the “mother of all leadership hang-ups.”  Based on the military model, this autocratic model is set to be abused.  It promotes talking instead of listening and often neglects the art of delegation.

2. Putting Paperwork before People-work
People are opportunities – not interruptions.  Need-meeting is at the core of leadership and ministry.

3. The Absence of Affirmation
People thrive on sincere praise and appreciation.  Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘thank-you note.’ Do your best to catch people doing good and be generous with your compliments.  The ratio of positive to negative should be no less than 6:1.

4. Beware of not Making Room for Mavericks
People with different ideas are often pushed to the side by their leaders.  Make room for independent thinkers by creating an atmosphere of innovation.  Creativity has been terribly stifled in today’s churches.

5.  Dictatorship in Decision-making
You can’t delegate philosophy – only procedure.  Don’t think you are the only one who can do it. The one who does the job usually knows best how it’s done and how it might be improved.  The best ideas usually bubble up from the bottom – not from the bureaucrats!

6. Dirty Delegation
One of the most frustrating things to an employee or a volunteer is to be assigned something with no authority to do it.  Sometimes the job given has so many strings attached to it, that the worker is afraid to make a move.  Don’t be afraid of losing your authority – and don’t give into your tendency to micro-manage.  There is nothing that crushes morale and causes resentment quicker than this!

7. Communication Chaos
Never assume – NEVER.  Communicate your vision and repeat your dream.  Do more listening than talking.  The larger the group, the more formal the communication needs to be, and the more methods of communication needed to interact.

8. Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is defined as: the way insiders behave based on the values and traditions they hold.  Theologians call this ‘contextualization.’  Part of establishing credibility is learning to identify with the specifics of your team.  Know them.  Be sensitive to what people think.

9. Success without Successors
Instill your convictions and philosophies deep within your followers.  Pride tightens the grip, humility relaxes and lets go.  A good mentor:

  • sees potential in others
  • tolerates failure and weakness
  • is flexible
  • must have patience
  • looks down the road
  • prays for discernment
  • gives timely advice
  • has the capacity to encourage
  • gives freedom to allow leadership to emerge
  • is willing to risk his own reputation

10. Failure to Focus on the Future
Be pre-occupied by planning.  Don’t settle for long-term dreams — set short-term goals.  Then evaluate your progress.

Article by Patrick Nix

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Two Sides

“Hey, I’m just bein’ honest here,” or “I’m goin’ to tell it like it is,” more often than not are ways of setting up the fact that we are about to say something unflattering or unkind that we shouldn’t be saying at all as Christians.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a thought with a minor book review.

I will not be telling it like it is…I will be telling it like it should be.

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein was a very good book.  The focal point of the book is Hermeneutics: the practice or discipline of interpretation.  Stein discusses and argues the various points of view in interpreting Scripture as well as discussing translation.  I was reminded of a few men in our church as I read the book.  They are Scholars and Theologians.  Because they are clinical, analytical, and want to dissect and understand all of the Biblical facts, it often seems like they have no passion at all.

I, on the other hand, am full of passion when it comes to the Bible in a different way.  When I was six years old, my father owned a 1966 Pontiac convertible 2+2.  It was sharp.  As we drove down the road one day (with me in the passenger seat beside him and no seatbelt) I turned and said, “Punch it Dad.”  My father looked at me with a mischievous grin and said, “What do you mean…This,” as he kicked the accelerator to the floor.  I was pushed back into the seat and laughing as the car gained speed and the wind blew across our faces.  It was pure joy.  Over the next ten years, my father taught me the mechanics of the automobile so I could properly take care of my own vehicles someday.  I spent a lot of time under the hood of cars learning how they worked and what moved what and why.  It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but all of those hours spent under the hood of our cars dissecting and understanding could not bring about or mimic the joy I felt when Dad “punched it.”

The point is, in our Christian life we need both.  I need those Scholars and Theologians in our church.  I learn a great deal and am able to appreciate Scripture on many levels that I never would have been able to without them.  They, on the other hand, get to feel the pure child-like joy of Scripture.  A passion that understands while Moses and Paul had no idea what they wrote would be translated…And they didn’t know English, Spanish or Russian…God knew.  He knew every language there would ever be and He knew the words they used in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic would be perfectly translated into words you and I read today, because He has a perfectly translated message for you and me.  Trust me, that kind of passion is contagious.

So no matter which camp you find yourself in, look to the other side with appreciation.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is one time we are both right.

 

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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Father Hunger [Book Review]

Just how important is fatherhood anyway? Our culture has no answer as it can’t think of one good reason for fatherhood beyond the biological one. For that matter, many fathers can’t add any more items to the list. Shall we listen to our culture? I’m not sure what our listless age has to commend to itself to be our guide. God, as the Master Designer, is left out of our thinking and the consequences are horrific. That’s where one of the most incredible books on fathers I have ever read comes into play. “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson is profound and greatly impacted me. Every page was like the hard steel blades of the plow tilling through the soil of my heart.

What Mr. Wilson was able to accomplish in this volume is rarely done. When the subtitle proclaims “Why God calls men to love and lead their families”, the book actually delivers on the “why.” Few books can give us the big picture and get especially practical as well. As an avid reader, it’s my opinion that most authors can give us only one or the other. Mr. Wilson, with verve, skill, and a pastoral heart actually pulls it off.

With deftness he upholds the essential equality of men and women while showing that the Lord, again the Master Designer, has assigned men and women different roles. That will probably keep this book off the New York Times Bestseller List, but it will have the smile of Heaven for its Biblical faithfulness. God is Father, so do you imagine in His design fathers would have a non-essential role? Ladies, don’t panic—Mr. Wilson never gives men power to be selfish brats, just power to love and be unselfish and sacrifice himself for his family. Listen to this incredible statement on men taking responsibility: “… to take on a lifetime of sacrifice and hard work. A man who takes a woman to the altar is going there to die to himself. But that is all right because it is not good for man to be alone.”

He looks at our country and where it is today and sees the absent father as the biggest culprit for the mess we are in. From fathers who provide the seed for a child and vanish to the fathers who live at the same address and mostly do their own thing in life, we have a generation of absentee fathers. The Lord designed everyone to need a father. A father’s loving hand is needed in the life of every child. He says, “Your actual pursuits are a running scoreboard. They reveal what you actually prize.” Are you challenged here? I am.

He shows how feminism, or the dire warnings of overpopulation, or the design of the welfare system, or the plea for gay marriage are all direct attacks on fatherhood. It also a direct attack on what every one of us needs to thrive as God intended. Statistics on everything from crime to education are given. The jury is in and the verdict says that homes without fathers are destroying children today. Without a Dad they will much more likely be a school dropout or be in prison. Also, the worst we see out of men comes from not encouraging them to settle down, accept responsibility, and protect their family.   He shows how God is masculine (not male) and how masculinity (defined with care) is needed all around.

There’s so much more, but this review is getting ridiculously long. For the practical side, the chapter “Some Father Mechanics” is worth the price of the book alone. I saw my lack all over its pages. Thank you Mr. Wilson. If no one else needed your book, I did.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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Meet the Skeptic [Book Review]

Here’s a book we’ve been needing–”Meet The Skeptic” by Bill Foster. So many of us witness by routine with a rote presentation with no regard if the person we witness to can make any sense out of a word we say. Or perhaps we use theological words, though great to us, which can no longer be understood in our Biblically illiterate world. Mr. Foster talks us through this problem, reminds us that it is people we are after, and guides to better methods and word choices.

For example, “salvation” would in no way mean to a guy with no church background what it would to those of us who have grown up in church. To ask “if you died today, would you go to Heaven” wouldn’t mean much to a lady who doesn’t believe there is a Heaven. To only quote the Bible might have little impact if that person has been indoctrinated to believe the Bible is full of errors. I believe the Bible has the answer, but how can I turn the conversation in a direction that would make Biblical truth something that must reckon with?

That’s where this book comes in. Mr. Foster does a masterful job reorienting us. He introduces many insights that I honestly had never thought of before. What makes his presentation so powerful is his uncanny ability to let us know how others think, how they’ve come to think it, and how we might finally get through with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He explains the 4 main types of skepticism you may meet: spiritual skepticism, moral skepticism, scientific skepticism, and biblical skepticism (not believing the Bible is trustworthy). He describes the root idea behind the skepticism and offers probing questions to get them thinking. There’s even a quick reference chart at the end of the book designed to help you grasp what is fully brought out in text.

It’s not a gimmick; this book talks sense. I’ll keep mine handy for reference. Mr. Foster clearly admits that not everyone will turn to Christ with his approach. But wouldn’t you feel better knowing they rejected what they understood instead of what you ineptly explained?

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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A Book Our Children Need Before They Leave Home

It’s not academic analysis but real life that confronts us in “How Do We Know The Bible Is True? Volume 1″(edited by Ken Ham and Brodie Hodge). Yes, it passes the academic test, but it wants us to be able to face an antagonistic world. It addresses the questions the world is asking Christians today. Not only do we have little effect on a world for which we have no answers, but these are the type of questions that pull our children away from Christianity.

Product DetailsThe chapters are 28 relevant questions answered by various authors. The first one had me hooked as it answered the question “How Do We Know The Bible Is True?”  How would you answer that question? We might answer “by faith”, but that means nothing to the non-Christian. Here and at other places in the book the laws of logic are brought to bear. What could be better in a world that says we believe the Bible against reason. Find out here that though faith will never be taken out  of the equation, our belief is not against reason!

In chapters on the reliability of the Old and New Testament we get answers (really good answers) to questions Christian young folks hear on college campuses or at the workplace. I heard these things attacked when I went to the University of Tennessee several years ago and I had to dig hard. I want my children to read this before they get in such a situation. I saw others then have their faith crumble as they had no answers to such things. But there are answers, and this book lays them out beautifully.

Some questions are not as critical as others–like the 3 days of Christ in the Tomb and so which day was Christ crucified on, or issues like polygamy. Others are great! People throw up Bible contradictions, or who wrote Genesis, or how to view evidence. In several places you will learn that carbon dating doesn’t prove a thing because of the assumptions made, that the assumption of uniformity is not legitimate on the part of evolutionists, or best of all, the strongest arguments that evolutionists make is only possible if God exists. You’ve got to read about that great fact.

I highly recommend this book. If Christian young people mastered the contents of this book, far fewer of them would drift away. May the Lord use this book to that end.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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