Enjoying the Journey

Dad and mom made it a practice to read the Christmas story with our family each Christmas morning. As a little boy this was a serious delay in the opening of presents! However, through the years I have come to love this time and Tammy and I continued the tradition with our kids. It is a reminder of who we celebrate. The two narrative accounts of the Christmas story are found in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. If you have never done this I would encourage you to take time to read the story in your home this year. Then pause to thank God with your family for His “unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). This week I was reading in…

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A few nights ago I had the privilege after a meeting to spend some time with a group of young preachers. We had a wonderful conversation on a range of subjects. Near the end of the evening one of the young men asked how I chose what I was going to read. My answer was that I primarily relied on good recommendations from people I trust. It is impossible to read everything – and probably not wise! I enjoy reading widely and appreciate the helpful recommendations from trusted people. Recently I have been asked to review three books that were written by friends. It was my privilege to do so and I am happy to recommend them to you. They…

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It has been a joy over recent months to share with you some of my favorite books on a variety of subjects. The weekly “short list” is really just a starting point for those who want to read more, and I hope the recommendations will be a good starting point for some. We have tried to cover a variety of subjects. Obviously no list like this can be exhaustive. A dear friend and faithful reader suggested humorously that I add the following to our series: 5 Places to buy good books5 Ways to earn extra money for more books5 ways to keep my wife from knowing I bought more books Regarding the first I would simply say that I love…

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Let me begin by saying that I am not a musician! The books that I am recommending are not related to the technical aspects of music, but rather to the use of great songs and the stories behind them. I do love music and have a collection of hymn books in our home. However, I am afraid that very often we know the songs but little about the history of the songs or the people who wrote them. These five books have been a welcome addition to my library. I hope they will be an encouragement to you as they have been to me… Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories by Alfred B. Smith (Al Smith, “Mr. Singspiration,” was a…

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Frequently I am asked what Bible commentaries I would recommend. This is a broad question without an easy answer. Some commentators are better on some books than others. For example, if I am going to study the Psalms I would be sure to have Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David. I would not think of studying Philippians without Guy King’s Joy Way. And it would be very wise to have Andrew Murray’s The Holiest of All nearby as you walk through Hebrews. Personally I love F.B. Meyers expositions of Scripture and especially Bible characters. (Click here to view a good recommended book list compiled by Dr. Clarence Sexton on each book of the Bible.) There is not one book that is…

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Much of my ministry has been connected to young people. It was my privilege to serve for many years as a church youth director. I enjoyed teaching youth ministry at a college level and continue to enjoy working with camps and youth conferences. The most important “youth ministry” I have been part of is having teenagers of our own! I wish that there were many books that I felt comfortable recommending on youth ministry. Far too much that is written is man-centered and felt-needs oriented. We must always begin with God’s truth and then make the application to people of every age. Here are a few books that provide a variety of helps for young people and those who work…

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In a previous post I shared some recommended reading on preaching, but all of us who have been in the Lord’s work for any period of time know that there is more to daily ministry than the preaching of sermons. Much more. Ministry is helping people where they are and leading the church as you follow Christ. These are unusual days in which to minister, but God’s eternal message and timeless methods do not change. The following books have been a blessing to me, both as I labored with a pastor and now as an evangelist: An All-Round Ministry by Charles Spurgeon (Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students is more well known, but this volume addresses the biblical philosophy of ministry…

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Ours is an age of questions, skeptics, and debate. Paul described the last days well when he wrote, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). This is a day for believers to know what they believe, why they believe it, and how to express it to others. Apologetics is the defense of truth. I agree with Spurgeon that the gospel is like a caged lion – it does not need to be defended so much as we simply need to open the cage door and let it out! Or to use an athletic analogy, the best defense is a good offense. Truth faithfully preached and taught will convince and convict. The…

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Someone once said that everybody is having a hard time with something. The longer I live the more I think they were right. We are sinners living with other sinners in a sin cursed world. The oldest book in the Bible says it best, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Now, this is not meant to be a depressing post! It is simply an acknowledgement that all of us at some time will go through a hard time. It is very important who you listen to at those moments. If you are not careful you will only listen to your own thoughts, and discouraged people often overstate their own…

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This week we sat around the dinner table with our children and had a most interesting conversation about finances. The discussion was not just about our finances but about theirs. Each of our kids are now at the age and stage in life where they are beginning to make serious decisions about saving and spending. I enjoyed sharing with them some lessons that my parents taught me about the vital importance of paying the tithe and being a giver. For a Christian this is where it all begins. Only as we remember where our money comes from and why it is placed in our hands can we make right decisions about what to do with it. The Bible principle at…

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