Understanding God’s Word Series

Understanding God's Word

I’m excited to announce a new series of books that will be appearing over the next months. Understanding God’s Word is a new series of books exploring various books and topics in the Bible. Each book in the series is adapted from actual sermons preached in the local church. These books are part commentary, part exposition, but mostly offer a clear explanation of the text, showing how it relates to other Scripture and to our lives today.

This style of preaching is modeled after Nehemiah 8 where the Levites under Ezra “read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read” (Neh. 8:8). These books are ideal resources for teachers preparing lessons, for pastors preparing messages and for personal Bible study.

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Currently available (click on the book images to view on Amazon):

Habakkuk: The Journey from Doubt to Faith   Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus   Name above All Name (Isaiah 9:6): An Advent Series   Lord, Make My Life Count!

 
Upcoming in 2024:
Biblical Foundations
Famous Mothers in the Bible (Vol. 1)
Lord, Make My Life Count
Life of Samuel
Real Answers about Heaven

 
Note: Click here for all books in the Understanding God’s Word series.
 

A Theology of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter

googe-facebook-amazon-twitter

We use Google to try and feel omniscient like God. God knows all things, and with Google we feel like we can know all things, too.

We use Facebook to try and feel omnipresent like God. God is in all places at all times, and with Facebook we feel like we can be present everywhere, too.

We use Amazon to try and feel omnipotent like God. God can do all things effortlessly, and with Amazon we feel like we can get anything we want with a single click.

And Twitter, well, Twitter is just the devil.
  

12 Favorite Productivity Principles

I am a pastor and have a variety of tasks to fulfill each week – study, prayer, counseling, visitation, teaching, administration, etc. I also enjoy reading about productivity and learning how best to use my time for both professional and personal pursuits. I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way and have compiled my twelve favorite productivity principles below. I trust you will find them helpful in your life as well.

(Note: You can also access all twelve principles in one longer posting here: 12 Favorite Productivity Principles)

Links to individual articles in the series:

1. 20/20/MIT – First things first
2. Morning, afternoon, evening rule – Finding your rhythm
3. Habit stacking – Habits are hard, but routines are routine
4. Ideal weekly schedule – A place for everything, and everything in its place
5. Appointments, tasks and information – Using the right tool for the job
6. Task processing – One thing at a time (micro-tasking)
7. Working with resistance – Resistance is not futile
8. 10-3-2-1-0 rule – Countdown to a good night’s sleep
9. Capture notebook and pen – One book to rule them all
10. “Briefcase” principle – Avoiding the last-minute rush
11. “Default” principle – Choosing enjoyment over easy
12. “Do it first” principle – Tell what you’ve done, not what you will do
00. Miscellaneous – Your mileage may vary
 

Make Your Prayers Count!

“Make Your Prayers Count!” (excerpt from chapter four):

One reason to pray early is because God’s mercies are new every morning. We read in Lamentations: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

You might not be a morning person, but our God is a morning God! His mercies are new every morning! Every morning when you wake up God is waiting to meet with you. He has fresh grace and mercy for you. You need only spend time with him to be strengthened for your day.

King David knew how to start a day. He writes in Psalm 57: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn” (Ps. 57:7-8).

Robert Murray McCheyne wrote the following words in his journal on February 23, 1834: “Rose early to seek God and found Him whom my soul loves. Who would not rise early to meet such company?”

Begin your day with prayer and lay hold of God’s mercies for you in Christ. God’s mercies are new every morning.

 
This is an excerpt from my new book coming out this week called Lord, Make My Life Count! Drawing largely from the wisdom portions of the Bible, this book explores six key areas of life: 1) work; 2) rest; 3) faith; 4) prayers; 5) money; and 6) time.
 
Note: Click here to view the book on Amazon.
 
Lord, Make My Life Count!

Make Your Faith Count!

“Make Your Faith Count!” (excerpt from chapter three):

Faith means trust. We see this in the classic definition of faith found in Hebrews 11: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). That phrase “being sure” translates a word that means “substance, confidence, assurance or trust.”

Faith means trusting what you can’t readily see. The person who trusts their spouse doesn’t follow them around everywhere, checking all their phone records and reading all their emails. Why? Because they don’t have to see it in order to believe. They trust their spouse. And faith means trust.

It’s the same when we talk about having faith in God. Having faith in God doesn’t mean simply believing he exists. A lot of people believe God exists. But having faith in God means trusting him. You trust his character; you trust his promises; you trust his word.

Faith involves knowledge, assent and trust. Knowledge is important because you have to know something before you can believe it. Assent is important because you must agree with what you know before you can believe it. But it is not real faith until you take that final step which is trust.

There’s a great children’s message that illustrates this truth. First, you ask the children, “Do you believe that I exist?” That’s knowledge. Then you ask them if they believe you could catch them if they fall. That’s assent. Then you ask them, “Who is willing to stand on the edge of the stage here and fall backwards into my arms?” They may have demonstrated knowledge and assent with their answers to the first two questions, but they haven’t exercised real faith until they show their trust by actually falling into your arms.

It’s the same way with God. It’s good to believe that God exists. It is good to agree that God’s word is true. But until you trust him, until you make a conscious choice to fall into his arms and rest completely in him, then you do not truly have faith.

 
This is an excerpt from my new book coming out this week called Lord, Make My Life Count! Drawing largely from the wisdom portions of the Bible, this book explores six key areas of life: 1) work; 2) rest; 3) faith; 4) prayers; 5) money; and 6) time.
 
Note: Click here to view the book on Amazon.
 
Lord, Make My Life Count!

Make Your Rest Count!

“Make Your Rest Count!” (excerpt from chapter two):

When was the last time you felt completely rested? No anxiety; no stress; completely calm; completely relaxed. I told someone this week, “I am working hard on a sermon on rest.” Now that might sound like a contradiction but work and rest really do go together. They go together in the Bible, one following the other in Genesis chapters one and two. And they go together in life. You need a strong work ethic before you can develop a strong rest ethic.

We hear a lot about work these days, but not so much about rest. It’s been said: “We have become a generation of people who worship our work, who work at our play, and who play at our worship.” These are each vital parts of our lives, and it is essential that we get them right.

There are many of us who work hard, but we’ve never really learned how to rest…. There is a time for work and a time for play. God rested after creation, and then God gave us the Sabbath because we need rest. We need a good night’s sleep each day, we need one day of rest each week, we need mini breaks during the day, and we need occasional longer breaks to refuel and recharge.

Do you want to make your rest count? Then work hard when you work, and rest well when you rest. Don’t worship your work, or work at your play. We rest first of all because God designed us to rest.

 
This is an excerpt from my new book coming out this week called Lord, Make My Life Count! Drawing largely from the wisdom portions of the Bible, this book explores six key areas of life: 1) work; 2) rest; 3) faith; 4) prayers; 5) money; and 6) time.
 
Note: Click here to view the book on Amazon.
 
Lord, Make My Life Count!

Make Your Work Count!

I have a new book coming out this week called Lord, Make My Life Count! Drawing largely from the wisdom portions of the Bible, this book explores six key areas of life: 1) work; 2) rest; 3) faith; 4) prayers; 5) money; and 6) time.

Each day this week I will be posting an excerpt from one of the six chapters. Today’s excerpt comes from the first chapter: “Make Your Work Count!”

Part of viewing your work as God’s calling is understanding that all work is ministry. Colossians 3 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).

We tend to think of ministry as the work we do in the church rather than the work we do in the world. We divide life into the sacred and the secular, but God views it all as one. Ministry simply means serving the Lord. You can do that at church, but you can also do it at your place of work. So, you might be a minister of the gospel, but you could also be a minister of accounting, or a minister of daycare, or a minister of plumbing!

Martin Luther wrote: “The idea that service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that the service of God takes place only in the church and by works done therein.… The whole world could abound with services to the Lord … not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, and field.” Or as Dorothy Sayers wrote: “All work done well and for God’s glory is Christian work.”

At our church we like to say we have several pastors but many ministers. We are all ministers as we serve the Lord both here in the church and in the place where God has called us to work.

 
Note: Click here to view the book on Amazon.
 
Lord, Make My Life Count!

Advance Readers – Lord, Make My Life Count!

Lord, Make My Life Count!

Free advance review copies: The fourth book in the Understanding God’s Word series will be releasing next month, and I am looking for advance readers.

The book is called Lord, Make My Life Count! It’s a short book (six chapters), and an easy read. Drawing largely from the wisdom portions of the Bible, this book focuses on six key areas of life: 1) making your work count; 2) making your rest count; 3) making your faith count; 4) making your prayers count; 5) making your money count; and 6) making your time count.

Here is the full schedule and details:
January 20-31: Sign-ups for the reading group
February 1: Advance copies distributed by email
February 1-21: Three weeks to read
February 22: Release date on Amazon
February 22-29: Post a review on Amazon

If you would like to be part of the advance reading group for this book, and you feel you can read and review the book within the allotted timeframe, just let me know and I will send you a link where you can download your free copy. Thanks for your support! (You can email me at ray@pccflorida.org)

There are a limited number of advance copies available, so be sure to sign up early! Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who may be interested in participating.
 
Note: Here are the other books currently available in the series (click on the book images to view on Amazon):

Habakkuk: The Journey from Doubt to Faith   Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus   Name above All Name (Isaiah 9:6): An Advent Series
 
Note: Click here for all books in the Understanding God’s Word series.
 

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Here is a beautiful Christmas prayer from Robert Louis Stevenson:
 
A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson
 

A Christmas Prayer
 
O God, our loving Father,
help us rightly to remember
the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in
the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.

May Christmas morning
make us happy
to be Thy children
and Christmas evening
bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake,
 
Amen.
 
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 
Merry Christmas, and may God bless you and yours!
 

New Advent Book on the Names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6

If you are looking for some Advent reading this December, let me suggest my new book on the names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6. You can check it out on Amazon here: Name above All Names (Isaiah 9:6)
 
This book works well as devotional reading in preparation for Christmas. It would also make a great Christmas gift for the reader on your list. I hope you enjoy it!
 

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a child who would be born a ruler and king. How would people recognize this baby when he was born? Isaiah identifies him for us by his names: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

There is only one child in history who fulfills the meaning of all these names. We celebrate his birth each year at Christmas, and his name is Jesus. Come join the wonder of the Advent season as we study the meaning behind these four names together.

Bonus Material: Selected commentary, poems and songs on Isaiah 9:6 through the ages.

 
Note: This book is part of the Understanding God’s Word series. Each book in the series is adapted from actual sermons preached in the local church. These books are part commentary, part exposition, but mostly offer a clear explanation of the text, showing how it relates to other Scripture and to our lives today. They are ideal resources for teachers preparing lessons, for pastors preparing messages and for personal Bible study.
 
———————
 
Currently available (click on the book images to view on Amazon):

Habakkuk: The Journey from Doubt to Faith   Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus   Name above All Name (Isaiah 9:6): An Advent Series
 
Click here for all books in the Understanding God’s Word series.
 

Nine Lepers Went to Church

Ten lepers were healed. Nine went to church. One went to Jesus!

 
I preached on Jesus and the ten lepers this past Sunday from Luke 17:11-19. It was my first time preaching on the passage and I really enjoyed it.

One thing that stuck out to me was at the beginning of the passage all ten lepers called out to Jesus in a loud voice for healing. And then later on, the one leper who returned came back praising God in a loud voice. It raises a good question. Do we praise God as loudly and as passionately when he answers our prayers as we do when we call out to him for help?

Anyways, if you would like to read the whole message, you can find the transcript here: Give Thanks! (Jesus and the Ten Lepers) – Luke 17:11-19 Blessings to you, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
 

Matthew Henry’s Thanksgiving Testimony

Bible commentator Matthew Henry made the following entry in his journal the night he was robbed. This is a great example of “giving thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

“Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” (Matthew Henry)

 
Note: Click here to view books in the Understanding God’s Word series.
 

Would You Like to Be an Advance Reader?

Name above All Name (Isaiah 9:6): An Advent Series
 
Free advance review copies:

The next book in the Understanding God’s Word series comes out next week. It’s a Christmas book on the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace).

I am looking for a group of people who would be interested in reading the book and possibly leaving a review on Amazon when it is released. It’s a short book (only five chapters), and an easy read. I have a limited number of advance copies available.

If you are interested in being a part of this group, just let me know and I will send you a link where you can download your free copy. Thanks for your support! (You can email me at ray@pccflorida.org)

P.S. Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who may be interested in participating.

Free Ebook on Being a Christian in Work

Being a Christian in Work, by Muel Kaptein

        

Muel Kaptein has provided a wonderful resource for Christians at work. Kaptein is a professor of work ethics and advisory partner at KPMG Ethics & Integrity. The book is based on his experiences as a practicing Christian as well as his education in business administration and partly in theology.

The book is set up in workbook format, with short thoughts on various issues relating to work accompanied by questions for reflection or discussion. The material is practical, accessible, filled with scripture references and biblically sound. This is a great book for either individual reading or for use in Bible study or discussion groups.

You can purchase the book in paperback at Amazon here: Being a Christian in Work (Paperback) Or Kaptein has generously made the PDF of the book available for free download here: Being a Christian in Work (Free PDF)

I trust you will find this resource helpful as you seek to be faithful to Christ whatever your work situation.