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Books I Read In 2016

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” Readers certainly are leaders, but what you allow to influence you is vitally important to your life and ministry. In no particular order, I have listed the books that I have been privileged to read this year.

Greek for the Rest of Us by William Mounce. I never took Greek in Bible college. The idiom “It looks Greek to me” filled my mind with fear before I ever started to read the book. If you’re a beginner like I was and would like to learn Greek at the baby stage level, read this.

Basics of Biblical Greek by William Mounce. This is the next book you should read if you are going to learn Greek. Mounce’s approach to Greek is very easy compared to many approaches that are taught in the classroom. You want to get his grammar book and workbook. 

New Testament Greek for Beginners by J. Gresham Machen. He was a fighting fundamentalist of his day. Machen’s book has been the standard Greek textbook for almost 100 years. 

Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit by Erwin Lutzer. If you are a preacher, this is a great book to use as a series. I found some good thoughts in each chapter that have helped my personal life. 

Is This the End? By David Jeremiah. The first half of the book is about the future of America and the latter half of the book is about prophetical events in Scripture.

Take it Personally by Paul Chappell. Another fine book put out by Striving Together Publications. 

Forward in the Face of Fear by Edgar Feghaly. Inspiring missionary story from beginning to end! The author shares his religious upbringing and cultural background in his homeland of Lebanon. It is a detailed account of how God providentially guided his life each step of the way. Sometimes people read a biography about a missionary from the past and think, “Can God do that in my lifetime?” Fortunately, this author’s experience of answered prayers, souls saved, and churches planted answers yes to that question. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any reader.

How to Study the Bible for Yourself by Tim Lehaye. As the title suggests, the book provides a practical approach to understand God’s holy book. 

Basics of Biblical Hebrew 2nd Edition by Gary Practico and Miles Van Pelt. So far I have gone through 1/3 of the book and it has been a joy to learn the language of the Old Testament. Make sure you buy the Grammar book and Workbook. 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Can Your Wednesday Service Be As Big As Your Sunday Morning Service?

Last year my father-in-law, pastor of Lyford Bible Baptist Church, made a dramatic change to his church. He switched the children’s Sunday school to the Wednesday evening service. This meant more people were available to teach a class and surprisingly more children were picked up from the van routes. Why do I think it worked? It’s because our culture is changing. Sadly, because of the busyness of people’s lives and kids from divorced homes going back and forth from one parent to another, Sunday morning it seems to me is getting harder to reach the young generation. Wednesday seems to be a better time to reach this group of people because more kids are going to be at home. 

Just recently, Friendship Baptist Church started a children’s ministry (teens included) called Cross Trainers. In the past four weeks, we have grown in number. Amazingly our Wednesday night service has equaled our Sunday morning crowd. This has revived some of our people who weren’t doing much to have the opportunity to feel involved by helping out in our Wednesday evening service. Christians who were coming to one service a week are now coming to two services a week. I realize this idea may not work for your church, but I hope this blog post has helped you out in some way. 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

How Applicable Are Your Sermons?

“My pastor is so good he can talk on any subject for an hour.”“That’s nothing! My pastor can talk for an hour without a subject!” The World’s Greatest Collection Of Clean Jokes, Bob Phillips, p. 52.

Do people in your congregation think that? You may be an excellent expositor of God’s Word, but what about applying the Scriptures to people’s everyday lives? Somebody once said, “Bible preaching without good applications to real life communicates to people that the Bible is irrelevant and that God is out of touch.” Sincere saints are asking of today’s preaching, “So what?” I have personally been challenged in this area of making a better connection to my listeners. 

Allow me to share some misconceptions: 

It’s the preacher’s job to preach the Word and the Holy Spirit’s job to apply the message. How true that preachers are not the Holy Spirit, yet God uses you as the mouthpiece to make life-changing decisions. 

Applications should come at the end of your message. Wrong! They should be placed throughout your entire message. 

People are good at figuring out what you are trying to communicate. No they are not! You have to be plain and clear. 

Allow me to make some suggestions in making your Bible messages more practical to your listeners: 


Allow your studied passage of Scripture to preach to you first before you attempt to preach it to others. Oh, I believe we can give homiletical masterpieces without God’s wisdom and power! I am slowly learning over time to allow a text to become a part of my devotional life. I will read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it because God has a message for me before it can be communicated to others. 

With a pencil and paper, write down every thought of how your passage can apply to you. Ask yourself: “What does this passage require of me?” Not everything you write down will be used, but determine what is relevant to your listeners. Keep in mind that the application comes directly from the passage instead of trying to fit it in. E.g., In Luke 17:17, Christ asked a healed leper who came back to him, “Where are the nine?” The Lord Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one gave thanks. That’s only 10%. Many are unthankful, few are truly thankful. Which are you? 


Using a Strong’s Concordance, look up the reference of a particular word. Seeing how a word is used in other portions of Scripture can provide great application to your message. 

Ask your wife how the passage of Scripture applies to her. I am tremendously blessed with a wife who grew up in the ministry. Sometimes I think she could write a better sermon than I could. Her thoughts on Eph. 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands” and many other Bible passages will give a fresh, new perspective from a woman’s point of view. 

When you make an application, explain what it means and how your listeners can apply it to their life. What good is it to preach “repentance” if someone in the audience does not know what repentance is and how to repent. 

Applications must be personal. Evangelist Tom Farrell, in his book Preaching That Pleases God writes, “The use of the personal pronoun you needs to be part of the preacher’s vocabulary. Certainly we and our have their place in preaching, but you brings the message directly home to the individuals and the audience!”
Start a sermon illustration index. For five years now, I have collected hundreds of illustrations arranged by their subject and source. They are a wonderful resource in aiding the preacher with his message. Illustrations can be found in the Bible, news articles, books, real-life events, stories and other places.

Research for applications on the Internet. Put your topic in the search bar and next to it, type in words such as: example, sermon illustrations, studies, quote.

Place yourself in the audience. My life as a preacher is far different from a guy who works night shift, a single mother of three children, a faithful elderly couple and your new guest who knows nothing about a Baptist church. Tailor your messages to their needs. If you had to listen to your own sermon, what would you get out of the message? 

Listen to audio sermons of your favorite preachers to find applications. I personally like to browse through sermonaudio.com. 

Make the Bible come alive by acting out the narrative story. 

Use an object lesson. 

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Russia And Islam In Prophecy

Down below are my notes on Ezekiel 38-39. 

Introduction: When Israel became a nation in 1948, it fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament that the Jews would return to their homeland. Unlike the world events that are unfolding before our eyes, they are not a fulfillment of prophecy, but preparation for the events described in Ezekiel 38-39. Are world events getting you troubled about the future or upset at God? Let’s look at Scripture to help us understand what is going on in the world today and where it is headed.

One: The Teaming Of The Alliance (v. 1-3; 5-6)

Gog

Gog means “prince, ruler.” This is not the name of a person, but a title (pharaoh, czar). 

Magog

Magog is referred to as one of the sons of Japheth in Gen. 10:2. Josephus, a secular Jewish historian, wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that the people of Magog are the people whom the Greeks called “Scythians.” The Scythians were a people group that migrated from the Middle East northward and settled north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the region we know today as Russia and the former Soviet Republics (Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and possibly Afghanistan).

Verse 3 tells us that God is against Russia. Yikes! Keep in mind that Russia did not exist when Ezekiel wrote this prophecy 2,600 years ago. We know that they are atheistic and anti-Semitic. 

Persia

Until 1935, Persia was the legal name of the country we know today as Iran. Russia has helped Iran develop its nuclear weapons. 

Ethiopia

The Hebrew word is Cush that we now know as Sudan. It is radical Islamic. 

Libya

Libya and Algeria hate Israel and are closely allied with Russia. 

Gomer

Turkey was a NATO ally, and a friend of Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. But in the last few years, the Turkish government has swung dramatically away from the West, towards Russia and Iran.

Togarmah

Turkic-speaking people spread out from East Turkey and across Central Asia.

It is interesting that some countries are not mentioned like Egypt and Iraq. 

Over 20 years ago, Islam was just another religion. Now we can’t help but hear about it on the news. Radical Islam could be a precursor of unification to fulfill prophecy. Sunni and Shiite Muslims no doubt will unite together in order to destroy Israel. 

Two: The Timing Of The Invasion 

The invaders will come in a time when Israel is secure (v. 10, 11, 14). That doesn’t sound like Israel today. Since 1948, they have been vigilant. 

These events will take place in “the latter days” (v. 16). This isn’t referring to a specific day, this is referring to a time period that started with Christ until the end of time. So let’s be more specific.

The Revived Roman Empire (ten nations) will band together under the antichrist. In the Tribulation period, the antichrist will enter into a seven year peace covenant with Israel as described in Dan. 9:27. At the midway point, he will enter into the Jewish temple (which has not been built yet) and break his covenant. So Ezek 38-39 take place in the first half of the Tribulation. 

Three: The Treasures (Motivation) The Invaders Seek

Power

Russia is power hungry. As America weakens its position of patrolling the world, Russia is taking our place, but with the wrong motivation. 

President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is sky-high. With a country that is 20% Muslim, they will continue to align themselves with Muslim countries. 

Land

The Islamic nations believe the land of Palestine belongs to them (v. 8, 9, 18). 

They would want to prevent the rebuilding of the Jewish temple to protect the “Dome of the Rock” a revered Muslim monument which has stood on the temple site for centuries. 

Resources

Oil has been found recently in Israel. It is also well known that the Dead Sea has rich minerals (v. 12-13).

Four: The Terrible Destruction Of The Invaders  

Earthquake    

The invaders will come from the north. Ezek. 38:15 says, “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army.” Israel does not fight in this war.

An earthquake will take place (v. 19-20). 

Killing of each other

The enemy forces will become so frightened and disoriented that they will turn and starting fighting each other (v. 21).

Pestilence

Diseases will start to spread through the enemy forces (v. 22).

Overflowing rain

Verse 22 says, “I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”

Fire from heaven

Parts of Russia and other enemy countries will be devastated by fire from heaven (39:6). This will be a supernatural event.

Seven months to bury them

The devastation is so horrific that it takes the Israelis seven months to bury all the bodies of the enemy forces (39:12-16). To give their enemies a decent burial is a testimony to their kindness. 

Many bodies are eaten up

The birds of the air and the beasts of the field eat many of the bodies (39:17-20).

Five: The Tremendous Plan Of God

The victory will reveal the greatness of the Lord as he displays his power (38:23; 39:21).

The victory will make Jesus Christ known to the Gentile nations (38:23).

Islam’s powerful influence will be destroyed. Many Muslims will turn to Jesus. 

Israel will recognize the holiness of God and be convicted of her own sins (39:7, 22).  

Since America is not specifically mentioned in Israel, we have to assume that America will no longer support Israel. 

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Favorite Quotes On Anger

“Anybody can become angry-that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” -Aristotle
“When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your failings.” -Epictetus
“If you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words” — Charles Spurgeon
“Anger does a man more hurt than that which made him angry.” – Spurgeon
A lady once came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. She said, “I know I have a bad temper, but I am over with it in a minute.” He replied, “So is the shotgun, but it blows everything to pieces.” 
“When men are provoked, speak gently to them, and give them good words, and they will be pacified.” -Matthew Henry
“Angry people keep adding fuel to the fire instead of trying to find ways to put the fire out.”
“Have a forgiving spirit every time the same person does you wrong. Start people off on a clean slate.” 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Why Indiana’s RFRA Needs To Be Repealed?

I normally don’t blog about political issues, but I can’t keep silent anymore. A law was passed in Indiana last month that provided businesses and religious organizations the right to not violate their religious convictions. Soon afterwards, LGBT advocates stormed the media with blatant lies that this bill was discriminatory. Gov. Mike Pence issued this statement at a press conference.


“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was about religious liberty, not about discrimination,” he said. “As I said last week, had this law been about legalizing discrimination I would have vetoed it. This law does not give anyone a license to discriminate. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana does not give anyone the right to deny services to anyone.”

And rightfully so, it didn’t. But lawmakers in Indiana and our governor have caved in to the pressure and added this clarification to RFRA.

It does not “authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.”

According to law professor Mark Rienzi, the new fix will allow the state to prosecute Christians criminally for denying gay weddings their professional affirmation.

Marriage expert Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation said, “…the proposed fix amounts to nothing less than a wholesale repeal of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to those who need religious liberty protections the most.”

The Family Research Council issued a statement: “The new proposal guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and empowers the government to impose punishing fines on people for following their religious beliefs about marriage.” FRC president Tony Perkins said, “Religious freedom should not be held hostage to Big Business.” Much of the opposition to the Indian law came from major corporations who threatened economic retaliation for enacting the law.

Activist Linda Harvey pointed a finger at LGBT activists. “This ‘fix’ is everything gay activists could want.”

I recently spoke with Arkansas state representative Bob Ballinger who helped passed Senate Bill 975 (their version of RFRA).

I asked him if that bill protects businesses to refuse service for same-sex couples due to religion purposes, and he said, “We did.”

I then asked him so, “Arkansas’s bill does not have the same anti-discrimination verbiage as Indiana?” He said, “Correct.”

Conclusion:

I’m not one who believes America is going to be saved through political efforts, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take time to call up Gov. Mike Pence and Indiana representatives to get RFRA repealed. If you live in another state, please call up your state lawmakers and ask for a law to be passed that is similar to Arkansas’s Senate bill 975.

More than ever before, Christians need to keep their focus on Christ. Fear and panic must be replaced with biblical faith and absolute confidence in our Heavenly Father. Preaching the gospel and fulfilling 1 Tim. 2:1-4 is our duty. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Comments On Commentaries

  • The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible.

    • When you come to a passage of Scripture that doesn’t make sense, look at what it says before and after to get the context.

    • When you come to a word or a phrase that you don’t understand, look in other parts of the Bible to see how it is used to understand it’s meaning.

  • Commentaries are the work of men.

    • They are fallible sharing their thoughts on the Bible, yet containing much wisdom from well-studied writers.

  • Usually those who despise commentaries have no sort of acquaintance with them.

  • Start with the Bible first, then pull out a commentary. You don’t want a prejudice going into your Bible study.

  • Commentaries will help keep you from wild interpretations.

  • Every commentary will have something different to say on a passage of Scripture.

  • There are so many commentaries to choose from. It is very helpful to have a trustworthy commentary to turn to when a passage does not seem clear. Down below in no particular order, I have included seven recommendations.


Independent Baptist Commentary (Understanding the Bible) by Dr. David Sorenson

I am a pastor and this is the first commentary I pull out to help me prepare a message or study the Bible. It is reliable, goes into the text, straight to the point, and sound doctrinally. This eleven-volume set can be purchased by calling 218-726-0209 or go to northstarministries.com.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Written by a Presbyterian pastor, this commentary is best used in your devotions. Be careful of his allegorical interpretation of prophecy and his Protestant universal church belief, but it would be a great use to your library.

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (Be Series) by Warren W. Wiersbe

Rich exposition and relevant applications makes this a very practical, helpful commentary.

Thru The Bible by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

This five-volume commentary set is very affordable.

The John Phillips Commentary Series

Conservative, dispensational, and a favorite of many Christians. This series covers every book of the New Testament and seventeen books of the Old Testament.

H.A. Ironside Commentaries

His commentaries cover some of the Old Testament books and almost the entire New Testament. Enjoyable to read, doctrinally sound and filled with good illustrations.

Treasures From Scripture Bible Series by Dr. Rod Mattoon

Dr. Mattoon is an independent Baptist pastor who has written several books of the Bible in expository sermon form. I highly recommend getting your hands on these books. You can order online by going to lincolnlandbaptist.org. 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized