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. Each book in the Understanding God’s Word 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.


Currently available:

Habakkuk: The Journey from Doubt to Faith

Click here for Amazon
Click here for Barnes & Noble

Upcoming in 2023:
The Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus (September 2023)
Name Above All Names (Isaiah 9:6) – An Advent Series (October 2023)
Lord, Make My Life Count (November 2023)

Upcoming in 2024:
Note: Titles for 2024 will be added soon.

A Theology of Google, Facebook, Amazon and 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

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.

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit

I recently preached through the Fruit of the Spirit on Sunday mornings. Each week I provided a summary statement describing how the Holy Spirit helps us grow in that particular fruit. Here is a compilation chart of all nine summary statements together. Click here if you would like to download this as a decorative sheet which you can print out and put on your refrigerator or mirror.
                       GROWING IN THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

     I will grow in love as I allow the Spirit to transform my attitude.
     I will grow in joy as I allow the Spirit to direct my emotions.
     I will grow in peace as I allow the Spirit to guard my mind.
     I will grow in patience as I allow the Spirit to govern my reactions.
     I will grow in kindness as I allow the Spirit to inspire my behavior.
     I will grow in goodness as I allow the Spirit to purify my heart.
     I will grow in faithfulness as I allow the Spirit to strengthen my character.
     I will grow in gentleness as I allow the Spirit to soften my manner.
     I will grow in self-control as I allow the Spirit to subdue my desires.

            “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
        goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such
                         things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

From the message series: The Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus

Related post: The Fruit of the Spirit and 1 Corinthians 13

Other posts of interest:
    • The Sanctity of Human Life in the Womb
    ● C. S. Lewis’ Homeschool Schedule
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage

The Fruit of the Spirit and 1 Corinthians 13

Fruit of the Spirit

There is a reason love comes first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. Love is not only the greatest commandment and the most important thing of all, but it contains all the other fruit as well.

We see this in Paul’s beautiful description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul writes: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Here is a chart showing how each of the fruit of the Spirit correspond with Paul’s various descriptions of love here in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love = the whole description in verses 4-7
Joy = “Love rejoices with the truth.” (v. 6)
Peace = “Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (v. 4)
Patience = “Love is patient.” (v. 4)
Kindness = “Love is kind.” (v. 4)
Goodness = “Love does not delight in evil.” (v. 6)
Faithfulness = “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (v. 7)
Gentleness = “Love is not rude, … it keeps no record of wrongs.” (v. 5)
Self-control = “Love is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered.” (v. 5)

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – they are all there in 1 Corinthians 13 because they are all part of the first fruit of love.

I also like how the preacher Donald Barnhouse describes each of the fruit of the Spirit as all springing from the one fruit of love. He writes:

Love is the key.
Joy is love singing.
Peace is love resting.
Patience is love enduring.
Kindness is love’s touch.
Goodness is love’s character.
Faithfulness is love’s habit.
Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness.
Self-control is love holding the reins.

Love comes first because love is the greatest commandment. Love is the greatest thing of all. Love is the first fruit which contains all the others.

From the message series: The Fruit of the Spirit: Growing More Like Jesus

Related message: The Fruit of Love

Putting on the Armor of God

         Overcoming Sin and Temptation series

Many of us have heard about the armor of God, but we may not understand how each of the individual pieces of armor relate to the spiritual battles we face each day. Here is a quick summary of the armor and how each piece protects you against the enemy.

Put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)

1) The belt of truth protects against the enemy’s lies (14a)
   – John 8:44

2) The breastplate of righteousness protects against the enemy’s accusations (14b)
   – Revelation 12:10

3) Gospel shoes protect against the enemy’s distractions (15)
   – Matthew 28:18-20

4) The shield of faith protects against the enemy’s spiritual attacks (16)
   – 1 John 5:4

5) The helmet of salvation protects against the enemy’s physical attacks (17a)
   – Luke 12:4; 1 Peter 5:8-9

6) The sword of the Spirit forces the enemy to retreat (17b)
   – Matthew 4:11

7) Prayer reminds us that the battle is the Lord’s, that we can’t do any of this on our own (18)
   – Zechariah 4:6

Note: For more detail on each of these pieces and how they protect you, please see the sermon, “Preparing for Battle” from the Overcoming Sin and Temptation series.

How (and why) I read 150 books a year

Many people are looking for ways to read more books. I decided to share my approach in case it may be helpful for you or others you know. I made the goal to read 150 books a year back in 2017. Since then, I have reached or exceeded that goal each year. So, here is how and why I read 150 books a year.

Click here for full article: How (and why) I read 150 books a year

The Great Texas Road Trip

My wife and I took a road trip around Texas earlier this year. We traveled two thousand miles in eight days and had a blast. If you would like to read about the trip, I wrote up a journal of our eight days on the road. Click here to read about The Great Texas Road Trip.

Texas Map Trip


Afraid of Death No More

Sunday’s Easter message was called Afraid of Death No More, taken from Hebrews 2:14-15 and other Scriptures. Here is a brief outline of the message:

Seven fears related to death:
   1) Fear of the process: Jesus is with you
      – Psalm 23:4
   2) Fear of non-existence: You will be alive and well
      – John 11:25-26
   3) Fear of bodily decay: You will receive a new body
      – 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21
   4) Fear of loss: To live is Christ and to die is gain
      – Philippians 1:21
   5) Fear of punishment: No condemnation for those in Christ
      – Romans 8:1
   6) Fear of leaving loved ones behind: We will be together
      – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
   7) Fear of the unknown: Heaven will be perfect in every way
      – 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21:1-4

Three questions:
   1) Where did I come from?
   2) Where am I going?
   3) What happens when I get there?
      – Hebrews 10:26-27; Matthew 28:5)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

“The ordinary so extraordinary” by Madeleine L’Engle

Here is a wonderful Christmas poem by Madeleine L’Engle:

“The ordinary so extraordinary”

He came, quietly impossible,
Out of a young girl’s womb,
A love as amazingly marvelous
As his bursting from the tomb.

This child was fully human,
This child was wholly God.
The hands of All Love fashioned him
Of mortal flesh and bone and blood,

The ordinary so extraordinary
The stars shook in the sky
As the Lord of all the universe
Was born to live, to love, to die.

He came, quietly impossible:
Nothing will ever be the same:
Jesus, the Light of every heart—
The God we know by Name.

L’Engle, Madeleine. Miracle on 10th Street (p. 65). The Crown Publishing Group.

A Christmas Sonnet by William Leighton

Here is a wonderful poem and theological reflection by William Leighton (1841–1869) on the incarnation of Jesus as the infinite God-man at Christmas.

“Great Son of God, but born the son of man”

Great Son of God, but born the son of man,
One subject of a double substance framed:
Wherein nor manhood lost, nor godhead won
But of them both at once one Christ was named.

Before all times begot, in time created,
The Lord of Lords, a servant form retaining,
And yet no former form thereby abated:
In servant’s form, the form of God remaining.

Great Son of God, than whom there is no greater
No not the Father in His great divinity,
As God creator and as man a creature:
(For more and less, agree not in infinity.)

Teach me to know how man by God assumed
Is both, and yet not man by God consumed.

William Leighton (1841–1869) was a Scottish poet who died of typhoid fever when he was twenty-eight years old. His family moved to England when he was seven years old. He began writing poetry at a young age and was an active member of several literary societies. A number of his poems were published in local literary papers while he was still living, and several collections of his poems were published in the 1870’s following his death. A complete edition of The Poems of William Leighton was published in 1890. (Source: Dictionary of National Biography/Wikisourse)

Hebrews 11 “Growing in Faith” Series

We just completed a series of Sunday morning messages on “Growing in Faith” from Hebrews 11. Here are the links to the various sermons in the series.

Growing in Faith Series
(Click here for a PDF of all the sermon outlines for the series.)

Hebrews 11 - Growing in Faith

1) Faith: Being Certain of What You Do Not See – Hebrews 11:1-2
2) Creation: Understanding the Power of God’s Word – Hebrews 11:3
3) Abel: Giving God the First Portion – Hebrews 11:4
4) Enoch: Believing God’s Goodness – Hebrews 11:5-6
5) Noah: Heeding God’s Warnings – Hebrews 11:7
6) Abraham (1a): Following God’s Leading – Hebrews 11:8
7) Abraham (1b): Following God’s Leading – Hebrews 11:9-10
8) Abraham (2): Believing God’s Promise – Hebrews 11:11-12
9) The Patriarchs: Longing for Heaven – Hebrews 11:13-16
10) Abraham (3): Unquestioning Obedience to God’s Commands – Heb 11:17-19
11) Isaac, Jacob, Joseph: Trusting God with the Future – Heb 11:20-22
12) Moses and His Parents: Fearing God Rather Than Man – Heb 11:23, 27-28
13) Moses: Identifying with Christ and His People – Hebrews 11:24-26
14) The Red Sea: Trusting in God’s Deliverance (1) – Hebrews 11:29
15) Jericho and Rahab: Trusting in God’s Deliverance (2) – Hebrews 11:30-31
16) Old Testament Believers (1): Triumphant in Victory – Hebrews 11:32-35
17) Old Testament Believers (2): Triumphant in Suffering – Hebrews 11:35-38
18) New Testament Believers: Something Better for Us – Hebrews 11:39-40

Nine Ways to Build Intimacy with Christ

Leighton Ford on nine ways to build intimacy with Christ:

1. At bedtime, be at peace with the Lord (Psalm 4:4-8, Eph 4:26)

2. During sleep, rest in the Lord (Psalm 3:5, 121:4, 127:2)

3. When sleepless, commune with the Lord (Psalm 63:6,7)

4. In the morning, ask of the Lord (Psalm 5:3)

5. During the day, talk to the Lord (Psalm 25:4,5)

6. On the Sabbath, remember the Lord (Psalm 95:6-8)

7. In times of trouble, wait for the Lord (Psalm 37:5-7)

8. At all times, praise the Lord (Psalm 34:1)

9. Always and forever, be at home with the Lord (Psalm 27:4, 23:6)

From: Leighton Ford, Nine Ways to Build Intimacy with Christ (6230 Fairview Road, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28210).

Found in: Michael Frank Sabo, The Life I Want in Christ, p. 107.