My Favorite Quotes

My Favorite Quotes

"Instead of criticizing people who are fall short of our expectations, however, we ought to put on our boots, overalls, all helmets, and get busy on the work site." Joel R. Beeke

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters By: R. Albert Mohler Jr.

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters
By: R. Albert Mohler Jr.

This book has 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters, and I will briefly write a short review on the following four Principles that I believe, in my personal, humble opinion, every leader must learn.

Chapter 16: Leaders as Stewardship
I suggest that you read this two-part series from Albert Mohler’s blog as well:

Our first impression of the word “stewardship” might bring to mind “The Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30. Most think of God as someone in this parable who only cares about what He gains when He returns. If that’s the case, you might want to read Chapter 22.

Chapter 22: The Leader and Time

“…success or failure depends upon the right deployment and stewardship of time” (p. 184).
Even in the downside of economic periods, you don’t hear people complain about not having enough money, but about not having enough time in a day. Some even wish that there were 48 hours in a day.

In “The Parable of the Talents”, one can make the excuse that the other has one or four more talents than he or she does, but when it comes to “redeeming the time…” (Ephesians 5:16, KJV), no one can claim more or less because we all have 24 hours every day. This leads me to Chapter 12 and talking about what leaders do with their time.

Chapter 12: Leaders are Readers

“There is no way to gain the basics of leadership without reading” (p. 99). It really hurts when you see Christian leaders waste so many hours a week on watching sports on television. I’m not a hater if a leader spends more time studying God’s Word than watching sports.

On average, basketball games take two hours, and baseball and football games take three hours each (this is not including Monday Night Football, video games, and news). I can spend about eight hours a week on television, but in those same eight hours, I can read a book and be “…prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [me] to give the reason for the hope that [I] have…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). Someone once said, “Where you spend your time now tells others where you will spend time in the future.”

I’m ashamed to mention here that I have not heard many so-called Christian leaders recommend any good books for others to read. This leads right into Chapter 8. Chapter 12 alone is worth the money and time you spend on this book.

Chapter 8: Leaders are Teachers

A leader can’t be a good teacher unless he is a reader. I have sat in many Bible Study groups and Sunday School classes where the teacher talked mostly about his personal experiences on the lesson that was supposed to be taught. When a teacher doesn’t read up on what he is supposed to teach, he will talk about his own experiences the majority of the time. Chapters 12 and 8 go well together for all leaders.

In my personal, humble opinion, I believe we have so many youths and Christians who are walking away from “…the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3, KJV) due to leaders who don’t look at themselves as “stewards” of God’s grace and don’t know how to manage their time in a way that allows them to read and prepare themselves to be great teachers of God’s Word.

This book is a must-have for leaders. I will buy a few and give them to all your church leaders. It will be the greatest investment for your church’s leaders and future leaders. We spent thousands of dollars on building, signs and programs and yet neglected a few dollars on books for leaders.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Leaders Who Last By: Dave Kraft

Leaders Who Last
By: Dave Kraft

From the front cover: ONLY 30% of leaders last (p.20)

My question has nothing to do with the title of this book: What percentage of said 30% of leaders who last truly last after all? Taking into consideration that I count Bible Study leaders and other ministries’ leaders in a local church as “leaders”, I’m sure the statistic is much lower than 30%. I’m not contradicting what the author wrote in Chapter 6, which was written primarily for leaders who are called to full-time vocational Christian ministry (p. 77).

There are twelve chapters in this book: five are on “Foundations”, four are on “Formation”, and three are on “Fruitfulness”. I highly recommend those who serve as leaders to read all twelve chapters. I will write one chapter review from each section that I believe most leaders fail to recognize. 

Part I: Foundations
Chapter 3: The Leader’s Passion

Passion is a God thing, not a personality thing. The Lord wants all of his leaders to be so in love with him, so excited about his purpose for their lives, that a deep, heartfelt passion results (p. 53). Dave Kraft reminds us again to keep in mind that passion is a God thing—something that the Holy Spirit of God creates in our hearts as a result of our “deep convictions about who he is and who we are in him” (p. 53).

The word “passion” has become just as numb as “God bless America”. Leaders often speak of passion, but show no mark that he is “so in love with [Him]” (p. 53). A leader can’t love Christ’s people unless he is so in love with Christ first.

Many leaders today have no “deep convictions about who he is and who we are in him” (p. 53). Please allow me to break this down to you, starting with the first half: “deep convictions about who he is”. I’m not a leader at my local church; my family and I attend, but I do talk with many of those who serve in leadership positions. I hardly hear them talk about Jesus when they gather together for a conversation. Here is the second half: “who we are in him”. This, in our theological language, is called “our union with Christ.” I’m not surprised that many leaders have no understanding of “our union with Christ.” Many leaders walked away from leadership positions when trials arose because they lacked the understanding of their union with Him.

Part II: Formation
Chapter 7: The Leader’s Gift

“Many are in leadership roles that they are not gifted to fulfill. They struggle greatly and bear little fruit, and they often quit or are removed.” (p. 90)

When a leader is not gifted, he is not able to “shepherd, develop, equip, and empower those being led” (p. 88). Many church committees nominate and put many candidates in leadership positions just to see them quit or removed a few months later.

In my humble, personal opinion, only a gifted leader can perform the aforementioned functions. This leader would train and raise up more leaders for his church. I’m afraid many churches will end up with many Rehoboams leading future generations.

Part III: Fruitfulness
Chapter 11: The Leader’s Influence

“Be careful with whom you spend the bulk of your time. A leader influences many by investing in a few and letting those few influence the rest” (p. 128). Paul says that he didn’t merely give the gospel, but his own life as well, because they had become dear to him (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Leaders have their greatest influence by being up close and personal (p. 129).

Be careful because many leaders have a habit of getting together with a few just to catch up on their sports teams’ current scores. Giving your life to others not only involves spending time, but also the willingness to invest financially in those whom we lead. I buy books and Study Bibles for those whom I teach (not lead, because I’m not a leader at my church), and share with them that they need to do the same for those whom the Lord will call them to lead.

I weep for those who enter into leadership positions just thinking about doing this or that and not taking leadership seriously as if they were going into battle. In order for a leader to go into this battlefield, he must read books such as this one to equip himself to lead and serve those whom the Lord calls him to lead and serve for His glory.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bitesize Biographies: John Newton By: John Crotts

Bitesize Biographies: John Newton
By: John Crotts

When I first started to read Christian books about 25 years ago, I was told to read as many Christian biographies and autobiographies as I could, and that in reading them, I would find out how God uses men for His glory. I now have a very good collection of them in my library.

People who know John Newton’s name often only know one or two things about him. They recognize that he wrote one of the most popular hymns of all time: “Amazing Grace”. The other thing they might know is that he was captain of a slave ship before he wrote that hymn. Those facts are true, but there is a great deal more to his story! (p.10)

I will leave it for readers to find out more about the rest of his story, and by the time you finish this book, you will realize that it is not “Bitesize” at all. I do want to share one of Newton’s gifts that God bestowed upon him: the gift of writing. God used him to write letters to a young lady named Polly, with whom he fell in love and later married.

John Newton’s letters have comforted many Christians and brought the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to many of those with whom he corresponded. Back in his day, it would take anywhere from four to six weeks to receive a letter from someone, and Christians were very eager to receive his letters.

I’m grieved at the fact that Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, and emails allow us to receive messages within an instant of second from someone and yet we don’t take our time to read most or any of our emails when a ministry sends it to us.

Despite making comments about the negative impact of emails or any of the above social media, I believe that when we take our time to write like John Newton, we can reach and comfort others. I pray that you will get this book, read it, and treasure it. It is not just about the hymn “Amazing Grace”; you will find out what prompted John Newton to say, “I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

I received this book for free from Evangelical Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices Author: Chris Brauns

Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices
Author: Chris Brauns

Don't let the title scare you, but be encouraged that you are bound together with others. What is it that binds us together? In his latest book, Chris Brauns defines the negative (curse) point of "the principle of the rope" as the decision that Adam made to rebel against God, which has subsequently left us in a desperate situation. We stand condemned as rebels, excluded from God's good future, unless we are saved from our wretched condition (p. 50).

In Chapter 3, Chris Brauns follows up with the positive (blessing) point where believers are "roped" to Christ, so in being united with Christ--or being "roped" to Him--we can receive His freedom, forgiveness, and salvation for our sins (p. 58).

"Roped to Christ", in precise, theological language, equates to "union with Christ". Union with Christ means that the believer and Christ are one. This reality underlies the message of the gospel and affects every aspect of our salvation. Because Christ is righteous, the believer is righteous. Because Christ is a child of God, the believer is God's child. Because Christ is eternally blessed, the believer is eternally blessed. Union with Christ means that a believer is in Christ and Christ is in the believer, who is being increasingly conformed to the image of Christ (p. 63).

Most Christians focus so much on the person and the work of Christ (it is an excellent desire for believers to study the person and work of Christ), but fail to recognize their own "union with Christ". This has cost many Christians to not experience "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3).

In "Part II: Applying the Principle of the Rope", husbands will learn something new in Chapter 7. After reading this chapter, I decided to take a week off for Spring Cleaning my whole house so my wife could have a rest.

After reading Chapter 8, I must confess that I have not read the story of Rahab the way Chris Brauns wrote it in this chapter. God's grace is so richly shown in her life that I have reread this chapter twice to sink into my spirit the richness of God's grace towards a sinner like me.

I encourage you to read this book for a clear understanding of "original sin" and the best understanding of our "union with Christ". For me, Chapter 7 alone is well worth the price of buying the book because my wife noticed that I had done something I had not done in our 14 ½ years of marriage, which was taking a week off to do Spring Cleaning.

I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."