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Monthly Archives: January 2019

A tool to help couples prepare for a successful marriage

Book Review: Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage, by Scott Kedersha

Many couples spend more time planning their wedding than they do preparing for their marriage. They will spend thousands of dollars and countless hours picking the perfect dress, venue, flowers, and cake. If they want their marriage to last a lifetime, how can they prepare for a successful marriage before they tie the knot?

These are the convictions and concerns that lie behind Scott Kedersha’s book, Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage. From his experience as director of marriage ministry at Watermark Community Church, Scott has crafted a number of questions to get couples talking about twelve key issues of life and marriage.

In addition to the big 3—sex, finances, and in-laws—the author writes about communication and conflict resolution, roles and responsibilities, the role of faith, children, companionship, and being part of a community. Each chapter ends with “Am I ready?”—questions to answer personally; “Strengthening our knot”—questions to discuss as a couple; and “Closing prayer”—a prayer for growth in that area of the relationship.

The book is well written, funny, practical, and encouraging. It includes personal illustrations from the author’s life, interviews with other couples, and examples from history and current events. This would be a helpful tool for premarital counseling.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2019 in Books, Marriage

 

Snow foolin’

Maybe I should try this next snowstorm?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2019 in Non-Sequitur, Winter

 

The Secret of Success in Business

Book Review: Relationomics: Business Powered By Relationships, by Dr. Randy Ross

Success in business is not due to skills, strategy, or products. Success in business is built on a foundation of healthy relationships. That is the conviction of author Dr. Randy Ross. As he explains in his latest book,

Business is also about relationships. Relationship, through which those who have a need are linked with those who can supply, es an exchange of value that benefits both parties. In fact, relationships are they very foundation of business. And healthy relationships are always at the center of thriving businesses. I would go so far as to say that good business is never about simply making money. It’s really about building relationships and making a difference in people’s lives. The better you build relationships, the more money you will make. The more personally you connect with others, the more your business will flourish.

I call it relationomics. Now, don’t go look it up, because I made up that term! But relationomics, as I define it, is the study of the observable impact that relationships hav eon economic activity. It’s an assessment of the value created by relationships as opposed to simply a fiscal transactional analysis. In the marketplace, a significant causal correlation exists between the strength of the relationship and the flow of resources. The stronger and healthier the relationship, the more productive and profitable the transactions between those parties tend to be.

Within the book, the author explains the importance of being intentional about building relationships, demonstrating humility in both giving and receiving feedback, investing in others’ well-being, being accountable and holding others accountable, and leading with love. On the one hand, the author’s concepts are not new or revolutionary. They have appeared in other books and articles. On the other hand, he presents the ideas in very understandable and practical ways that you can easily think through how to implement and practice. Each chapter ends with a series of questions that will help the reader think through how to use them.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2019 in Books, Quotes

 

Quotes by C. T. Studd

In my sermon on January 27, I used the following quote by C. T. Studd, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him”. Here are some additional quotes by him that challenge and motivate me.

Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.

Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity, and wisdom of the Almighty Saviour Who gave the command. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it! Are there lions and scorpions in our way? We will trample them under our feet! Does a mountain bar our progress? Saying, ‘Be thou cast into the sea,’ we will march on. Soldiers of Jesus! Never surrender!

Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.

I realized that my life was to be one of simple, childlike faith, and that my part was to trust, not to do. I was to trust in Him and He would work in me to do His good pleasure. From that time my life was different.

Sometimes I feel… that my cross is heavy beyond endurance… My heart seems worn out and bruised beyond repair, and in my deep loneliness I often wish to be gone, but God knows best, and I want to do every ounce of work He wants me to do.

Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.

How little chance the Holy Ghost has nowadays. The churches and missionary societies have so bound Him in red tape that they practically ask Him to sit in a corner while they do the work themselves.

True religion is like the smallpox. If you get it, you give it to others and it spreads.

Had I cared for the comments of people, I should never have been a missionary.

…I do not say, Don’t play games or cricket and so forth. By all means play and enjoy them, giving thanks to Jesus for them. Only take care that games do not become an idol to you as they did to me. What good will it do to anybody in the next world to have been the best player that ever has been? And then think of the difference between that and winning souls for Jesus.

Real Christians revel in desperate ventures for Christ, expecting from God great things and attempting the same with exhilaration.

C.T. Studd’s poem, “Only One Life”, contains the following 8 verses:

Two little lines I heard one day, travelling along life’s busy way; bringing conviction to my heart, and from my mind would not depart; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, soon will its fleeting hours be done; then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, and stand before His judgement seat; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, gently pleads for a better choice; bidding me selfish aims to leave, and to God’s holy will to cleave; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, each with its burdens, hopes, and fears; each with its days I must fulfil, living for self or in His will; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, when Satan would a victory score; when self would seek to have its way, then help me Lord with joy to say; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, in joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; faithful and true whate’er the strife,
pleasing Thee in my daily life; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervour burn, and from the world now let me turn; living for Thee, and Thee alone, bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, now let me say, “Thy will be done”; and when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “‘Twas worth it all”; only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, Quotes

 

What God Are You Serving?

Sometimes the hardest choice in life is knowing which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn. Consequently, we often waffle and stand still in the middle of the road.

If General Joshua were present today, he would say, “Stop waffling between two opinions. Because of God’s mercy, pledge your allegiance to serve God alone. Count the cost and mean what you say. But make a decision. Today!” That is the message Joshua delivered to the people of Israel in the last chapter of his book.

Nearing his death at the age of 110, Joshua gathered the people of Israel together at Shechem (Joshua 24:1). Shechem was a place where commitment and significant decisions were made. God promised the land to Abraham (Genesis 12:6) and Abraham responded by building an altar here (Genesis 12:8). Jacob buried the family idols at Shechem and recommitted himself to following God (Genesis 35:4). Joshua and Israel reconfirmed their commitment to the law at Shechem (Joshua 8:30-32).

Joshua encouraged Israel to remember the evidence of God’s mercy (24:2-13). Joshua mentioned four specific examples of God’s mercy and protection. He spoke of how God called Abraham out of idolatry, introduced him to the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants (2-4). God delivered Israel out of bondage and oppression in Egypt (5-7). God gave the Amorites into the hands of the Israelites. He turned the curses of Balak and Balaam into blessings (8-10). Lastly, Joshua explained that the Promised Land was not conquered by weapons, but by the power of God (11-13). Joshua’s emphasis was that we must recognize what God has done in order to appreciate the choice laid before us.

The overwhelming evidence of God’s grace placed Israel under obligation to serve the Lord exclusively. Just in case we might miss the point, Joshua uses the word “serve” seven times in verse 14-15. He presented a powerful, logical, and compelling argument. If this God, who acted as he did in space, time, and history for his people, calls for commitment, then commitment becomes the only logical and rational thing to do.

C.T. Studd, the famous English cricket player, gave away his vast wealth and became a missionary in 1885. His slogan was, “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.”

Joshua drew a line in the sand and challenged Israel to make a commitment. The people responded with wholehearted agreement (16-18). Joshua encouraged them to count the cost and to mean what they said (19-24).

Joshua established two witnesses for the commitments that were made that day (25-28). One was a written record of what took place. The second was a monument that would remind future generations. Both served to remind the people of what God had done.

The chapter and book close with three burials—Joshua, the bones of Joseph, and Eleazar, the high priest. All three demonstrate the joy of finishing well.

What are the gods that you have to choose between? What are the siren songs that call your name? Do you feel the pressure to cheat to stay competitive on the playing field, in the classroom, or in the boardroom? Do you find yourself sacrificing family events because of the demands of your career? Have you made your family into an idol and made pleasure and fulfillment the god you serve? Have you succumbed to the temptation to base your worth on possessions and material things?

Choose this day whom you will serve. Will you serve the gods of this world or the one who gave his life for you? Choose this day whom you will serve.

Joshua confronts us with the choice.

Joshua 24:14-15 – “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Whom will you serve?

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 27, 2019. (It was scheduled for January 20, but we canceled our services due to snow and icy conditions.) It is part of a series of messages on the book of Joshua. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Should Christians Practice the Old Testament Law?

Book Review: Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith, by Curt Landry

While not a bad book, I did not find Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith that helpful. As such, I read through the first half and skimmed the second half. The book is primarily about the author’s journey of faith. The author presents the belief that what worked for him should be normative for all Christ followers.

The author was abandoned by his parents and adopted by a couple where the husband was Catholic and the wife was Jewish, although neither practiced their faith. Because of that background, the author struggled into adulthood seeking to understand his identity and where he belonged. After coming to faith in Christ, he reconnected with his birth father and learned his birth mother was Jewish. These facts gave him a desire to know more about his Jewish heritage. In turn, he began to see how the roots of Christianity are rooted in Judaism. Today, the author leads a charismatic ministry that seeks to be a bridge between Israel and the church.

The author goes beyond his testimony to stress that what helped him grow spiritually should become normative for all believers. He and his wife follow the Jewish calendar and practice the Jewish feasts. He believes that the Old Testament Covenants with their promised blessings and curses apply to Christians. If the church would observe and practice them, then we too would find fulfillment and blessing. The author also alludes to charismatic theology with the practice of signs and miracles and a sense of a name-it-and-claim-it approach to prayer.

The book was not what I expected and I would not recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in Books

 

We don’t know enough to weep

It’s a sad day indeed when free speech is ridiculed, death threats are issued because of differing opinions, abortion is cheered, and government gridlock is practiced out of spite. Common courtesy has become uncommon. Rather than broken hearts, we have hearts of stone. Rather than weeping, we have become proud of our hard hearts. May God have mercy on us.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2019 in Uncategorized