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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Thoughts On Reading

As we say goodbye to 2013 and look forward to 2014, I find myself resolving to read more in the new year. Hopefully you do, too, for reading is an important discipline that brings many wonderful benefits into the life of a Christian. So, here is a brain dump on the topic which may or may not prove helpful. I present it with the prayer that the former proves true.

I need to read the Bible in 2014. This is a given. I pastor Friendship BIBLE Church. I proclaim loudly from the pulpit that the Bible is the Word of God, shows us the heart of God, and uncovers the will of God and plan of God for life. I need to read it more. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJV) Concerning God's words, the psalmist said More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalms 19:10, 11 NKJV)

  • I need to read the Bible systematically in 2014. There are so many reading plans available. I need to pick one and follow it. (You? I can point you to a number of good reading plans. Ask.)
  • I need to read the PAPER Bible in 2014. This may seem odd, but let me explain. For the past several years I've done my Bible reading on an iPad. Great. Wonderful tool. Few could claim to be a greater supporter of the technology than me. But I've noticed some things that concern me. I find now that when I do pick up the Bible, I cannot find things as quickly as before. I've lost some of my edge in Sword drills! And I miss the ability to take notes and find them later. Yes, note-taking is built in to the iPad apps I use, but it's simply not the same. I can pick up an old Bible filled with notes from 20 years ago, and I am immediately reminded of things learned previously. And those same notes may someday edify my kids or grandkids. I can leave them a Bible, whereas the electronic notes on my iPad... not so much. So, for 2014 I'm going low tech and will use my good old leather bound Bible for my daily reading. The iPad will still be there, and is unsurpassed for deeper study. But I want the smell of leather and paper along with my coffee in the morning.

In 2014, I need to read more of the books God has preserved. Books are churned out at an astonishing rate these days. Christian authors abound. I've even published a few myself this year. But few... very few, of the books that are popular today will even be in print a few short years from now. Take a trip to Ollie's and look at the book racks. As you walk between the shelves filled with yesterday's best sellers being dumped at Goodwill prices, you'll see what I mean. But there are also many spectacular works that God has singularly blessed and preserved. Some classics never go out of print, for they never cease to be relevant and helpful. Authors like Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan (Have you read Pilgrim's Progress?? Spectacular stuff!!), CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, etc. Timeless. Oh, I'll still read a little of Dever and Mohler and DeYoung. But in 2014, I need to skew my reading toward the things God has chosen to put His stamp of approval on. (You?) After all, the endless attempts by many authors to invent something new and fresh is less than Biblical, anyway. Solomon (an ancient author whose writings God has preserved, I think) wrote that there is nothing new under the sun.

In 2014, I need to read more books that will help me cultivate the gifts God has entrusted to me. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift that God had given him. I need to read more on preaching and teaching. I have much to learn. I need to read more on how to shepherd the flock of God. I need to read things that will help me keep the gifts of God stirred up. (You? What is/are your gift/gifts?)

In 2014, I need to read more, and watch less. The deeper our society falls into the cesspool of sin and immorality, the clearer it becomes that as a Christian I need to separate myself more and more from television. It becomes harder with each passing year to articulate any positives that come from that medium. Yet it occupies so much time. Reading more will help me watch less. I need that in 2014. (You?)

Well, that's enough on the topic. I hope and pray God helps me read more in 2014, and I pray the same for you.

2013 Reading

Here are a few notes on some things I read in 2013, published in the hope it might encourage you in your reading. "Readers are leaders" it has been said, and so I encourage reading, and I covet the prayers of my church family as I strive to become more faithful to reading in the new year.

The 2013 list:

The Bible. I always strive to read it through at least once during the year. There are, of course a variety of ways to go about that goal, and this year I chose "Prof. Horner’s Bible Reading Plan". It was a very intense reading plan, not for the faint of heart. I found it too difficult to keep up with and ended up abandoning it in favor of less structured reading plans. I will have a separate post about some suggestions for reading the Bible in 2014.

Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. I've read Lewis's "Space Trilogy" several times before, and love it. Timeless science fiction unlike any other I've read. This is the first in the trilogy.

Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis. The second book in the trilogy.

The Christian Directory, by Richard Baxter (from The Practical Works of Rev. Richard Baxter, Vol. 2) Baxter was a Puritan Divine who pastored, preached and wrote prolifically. This volume, like most of his writings, is excellent. Directive 14 on mortifying the flesh, is particularly good.

The Life of David, by Arthur W. Pink. Read as input to the sermon series "Lessons From The Life Of David."

Follow Me, by David Platt While parts of this book were good, I did not like the fact that he based a lot of it on a strawman argument about the "sinners prayer". Overall I found it a good, but not great, read. Chapter 7, on the church, is absolutely excellent, though and worth the price of the book.

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd Alas, I started this, but found it a difficult read and gave it up. Perhaps I'll try again in 2014.

Pontius Pilate, by Paul Maier This is an historical novel on the life of Pilate. Although a novel it is meticulously researched and based on known scholarship. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it for its thought provoking insights into the mind and life of this important Biblical character.

The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have To Preach, by Bryan Chappell. A good set of examples of sermons for the hard times in life.

Saving Eutychus, by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell. I picked this book up at the BASICS conference, as it was highly recommended by Alistair Begg. I agree with his assessment after reading it. It is an excellent book on preaching in general. I found Chapter 3 to be the most useful chapter.

The Hole In Our Holiness, by Kevin DeYoung. This is a superb book, and a wonderful antidote to the misuse of “legalism” in American Christianity today.

Exploring Church History, by James P. Eckman. This, along with the next two titles, were input to the Leadership Training Institute studies in church history.

Studies in Early Church History, by HENRY T. SELL, D.D.

Who’s Who in Christian History, J. D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, Editors

The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon in 4 Volumes. If, in addition to God's Word, I could have the works of only one author in my library, Spurgeon would be the only choice. At the close of the year I'm still working through this massive work, and finding jewels on every page.

Here are a couple I've started and not yet finished. They should make the 2014 list:

Brothers, We are Not Professionals, John Piper

Deepening Your Conversation with God: the Life-Changing Power of Prayer, by Ben Patterson

And, for the geeks among you, a little IT-based reading:

Version Control with Git, 2nd Edition, by Jon Loeliger and Matthew McCullough


Monday, December 30, 2013

Prayer Meeting

No prayer meeting this week. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Candlelight Service

6:30 - Christmas Eve

Traditional carols, the story, candlelight, and a gift for all.

Bring somebody with you and join us in celebrating the birth of the Savior.

Friday, December 20, 2013



If you signed up for the Cookie Exchange TONIGHT....DON"T FORGET!!!!
Bring 6 dozen of one kind of cookie.
Jessica will also be giving us some fun tips for the won't want to miss this.
The FUN starts at 7:00 pm 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sigh... the pastor once again has misread the calendar

I should not be allowed near calendars.  For some reason I can't seem to read them!

The Christmas caroling is NOT on Saturday, as the previous post suggested. It is on SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

A couple schedule changes to note

Don't forget that our missionaries to Australia, Ron and Vicki Letts, will join us on Wednesday during our regular prayer meeting time.  Come out and support this family that serves our Lord down under.  We will meet in the sanctuary.

Remember, too, that this Thursday afternoon, the Christmas baskets for the needy will be assembled and delivered.   We could use help both assembling and delivering the baskets.

Finally, remember that this Saturday, the 22nd, we will going Christmas Caroling.  This is always a fun and rewarding time as we gather and sing the songs of Christmas to others.

Call the church office during regular office hours for further details on any of these activities.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kevin DeYoung NAILS IT

This is an excellent discussion about one of the greatest problems in American Christianity. We need to read it prayerfully.

The scandal of the semi-churched

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Heart of Christmas

God' greatest gift, can be mine!

Friday at 6:30 is dress rehearsal. Choir be faithful!

There will be two performances, Saturday and Sunday at 7:00.

Don't neglect to invite friends and family to this special Christmas celebration!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Brothers and Sisters - please hold Tom and Judy and Tim and Gayle and the girls up before God this evening. Judy may soon be with Her Savior.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ronnie Smith

Click here to read John Piper's wonderful response to the murder of this Christian man in Benghazi this week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Weekend Happenings

Just a quick note about what's happening at FBC this weekend.

Saturday is normally our day to set up and serve at the Haven of Rest in Akron, but the Haven has cancelled that event for December.

Sunday is the penultimate practice for the Christmas Cantata "The Heart of Christmas" so choir, be faithful. Remember, too, that dress rehearsal is the following Friday at 6:30 PM. Also Sunday, after choir practice, those who signed up for the Ladies Ministry trip to Zoar will depart.