Book Review: The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: John

July 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: John. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. 2010. 186 pp.

Let me start by saying that I have owned the entire “Be” series of commentaries by Warren Wiersbe for many years. I have used them during sermon preparation at different times throughout my ministry. I have benefited from using them and have recommended them to others. Now, all that aside, getting this book to look over and review is a blessing.

From the back cover; based on Dr. Wiersbe’s popular “Be” series, each study provides topical, relevant insights from selected books of the Bible. Designed for small groups, this twelve-week study features excerpts from Dr. Wiersbe’s commentaries on John, Be Alive and Be Transformed, along with engaging questions and practical applications, all designed to help you connect God’s Word with your life.

 There is a short introduction to the book of John that covers some basic background information. Next there is a short chapter with tips on how to use the book and get the most out of your study whether on your own or in a group.

The study of John is then broken into twelve chapters. Each chapter is divided into the following format: Getting Starter; Going Deeper; Looking Inward; Going Forward and Seeking Help. Before you begin each study you are encouraged to pray and read the Scripture passages that will be studied. There is a reading from the commentary and questions based upon the Scripture passage. Space is given in the book to record your answers to the questions.

Tips are given for those who may be using the book for group study. These tips are designed to encourage interaction among group members. There are Real-Life Application Ideas given to the readers also. The question from lesson one has to do with baptism and specifically how well does the reader know their church’s stance on baptism? I thought that was a pretty good question.

Each lesson closes with seeking God’s help through prayer to work in your life in various ways. The reader is encouraged to follow through on what they have learned. The same format is followed in each chapter. This is a simple, straight forward, easy to use Bible study. If that is kept in mind I could see its value and benefit to many Christians who desire to grow in their knowledge of God and His Word.

Brother Wiersbe has the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor. He takes the deep things of God and makes them understandable to anyone. I would recommend this book be used by young and old Christians individually or more importantly in groups. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Boasting or Belittling

July 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer

We all know how painful it is to be forced to listen to a confirmed boaster sound off on his favorite topic – himself. To be the captive of such a man even for a short time tries our patience to the utmost and puts a heavy strain upon our Christian charity.

Boasting is particularly offensive when it is heard among the children of God, the one place above all others where it should never be found. Yet it is quite common among Christians, though disguised somewhat by the use of the stock expression, “I say this to the glory of God.”

Another habit not quite so odious is belittling ourselves. This might seem to be the exact opposite of boasting, but actually it is the same old sin traveling under a nom de plume. It is simply egoism trying to act spiritual. It is impatient Saul hastily offering an unacceptable sacrifice to the Lord.

Self-derogation is bad for the reason that self must be there to derogate. Self, whether swaggering or groveling, can never be anything but hateful to God.

Boasting is an evidence that we are pleased with self; belittling, that we are disappointed in it. Either way we reveal that we have a high opinion of ourselves.

The victorious Christian neither exalts nor downgrades himself. His interests have shifted from self to Christ. What he is or is not no longer concerns him. He believes that he has been crucified with Christ and he is not willing either to praise or deprecate such a man.

Yet the knowledge that he has been crucified is only half the victory. “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth I me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christ is now where the man’s ego was formerly. The man is now Christ-centered instead of self-centered, and he forgets himself in his delighted preoccupation with Christ.

Where we have failed is in the practical application of the teaching concerning the crucified life. Too many have been content to be armchair Christians, satisfied with the theology of the cross. Plainly Christ never intended that we should rest in a mere theory of self-denial. His teaching identified His disciples with Himself so intimately that they would have had to be extremely dull not to have understood that they were expected to experience very much the same pain and loss as He Himself did.

The healthy soul is the victorious soul and victory never comes while self is permitted to remain unjudged and uncrucified. While we boast or belittle we may be perfectly sure that the cross has not yet done its work within us. Faith and obedience will bring the cross into the life and cure both habits. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 70-73. Published by Christian Publications, Inc. in 1966. Most of the chapters appeared as editorials or articles in The Alliance Witness.

Book Review – Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on John

July 29, 2010 at 9:29 am | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2010. 363 pp.

Here is the first volume in what will be a multi-volume series on the books of the New Testament. It is by a highly respected pastor, leader and educator who has not lost his passion for teaching God’s Word to others. The book is simply divided into two main parts: 1) The Introduction to John and 2) The Commentary on John.

This volume makes use of endnotes which will prove useful to the reader who wants to do further study. Another useful section is the Key Terms in which Greek words are defined and background information is given. There are also pages designated, From My Journal, but I found those less helpful to me and unnecessary to the book.

Swindoll’s commentary follows a simple and helpful format. He gives the passage for study, his exposition of the passage and then application from what was learned. If you liked his Insights for Living broadcasts, you will like this approach. Personally I found the format and commentary both interesting and encouraging.

There is a balance between the exposition of a passage and the practical application. I would have to say that the pastor’s heart of Swindoll is shining through. Here is a commentary from a man who is a pastor first, but a pastor who is well read, who study’s deeply and who can communicate in a way to connect with people and connect people with God’s truth.

I used this commentary as a part of my studying for a recent sermon from the Gospel of John. I found it helpful as part of my preparation. As I write this short review I would encourage any young man studying to be a pastor or who is currently pastoring to get and use this book. It is written by an old man who has walked the walk and talked the talk and has earned the right to be listened too. Chuck Swindoll has a lot of wisdom and insight to offer to those who want to listen.

There is no Hollywood glitz or flash here. There is no loud cocky voice demanding to be heard. There is a simple commentary from someone who has spent many years following and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a deep commentary, but it is a useful commentary. Since this is part of a ten year project I think it is safe to say that Chuck Swindoll wants to keep on following and serving the Lord and teaching the Church what he has learned. I look forward to future volumes.

I received this commentary for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Keep Your Motive Pure

July 27, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Satan’s policy is to crack the breastplate of righteousness by beating it out farther than the metal can bend. And every time you trust in this distortion you destroy the very nature and purpose of the armor – your righteousness becomes unrighteousness and your holiness degenerates into wickedness.

Is anything worse than pride, such a pride which runs rampant over the way which God Himself has made for saving souls? If you really want to be holy, be humble, because the two are clasped together. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). God has not asked you to earn heaven by your holiness but to show love and thankfulness to Christ who earned it for you. Thus we have insight into the way Christ persuaded His disciples to walk in holiness: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). It is as if He had said, “You know why I came and why I am going out of the world – I lay down My life and take it up again to intercede for you. If you value these deeds and the blessed fruit you reap from them, prove it by loving Me enough to keep My commandments.” – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, July 27. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr.

Coffee Review – Stauf’s Dominican Republic Cafe Femenino

July 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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We enjoyed our visit to Stauf’s Coffee Shop (www.staufs.com) and you can read about it in the coffee shop reviews category. We have not tried a coffee from the Dominican Republic yet so we were looking forward to trying this one that was roasted by Stauf’s. It is described as a bold, full body, with smoky malt and dark chocolate flavors. It finishes clean with a subtle zest of citrus and lower acidity. It came to us as a whole bean full city roast.

The Café Femenino beans are the first and only beans grown exclusively by women farmers. This program is designed to help girls and women get an education and to come out of poverty. The Café Femenino line is helping women in different countries improve their lives and lifestyles. Stauf’s is also committing 20% of the sales to the Griswold Residency of YWCA Columbus, Ohio. This helps provide women in transition with affordable housing.

First up was the French Press and there is a nutty aroma that greets you when you open the bag. After it is brewed it has a flower like aroma in the cup. It has a sweet smooth flavor and medium body that hits the front half of your tongue. There is a clean, fruity, naturally sweet aftertaste.

Next up was the Chemex coffee maker and the aroma in the cup was more fruity and floral. There is a bright clean flavor with a snappy zing to the middle of the tongue. The naturally sweet flavor is more pronounced here. This coffee paired well with almonds, dried figs and dark chocolate.

We enjoyed this coffee in the auto-drip also. The nutty aroma and good flavor were still there. If you are on a diet and want to get away from any type of sweetener you will probably like this coffee because it tastes real good black. The natural sweetness and fruity aftertaste are very pleasing. It goes well with a high fiber, low fat snack. We’d give this coffee two thumbs up in any brewing style.

If you want to help out some good causes (www.cafefemenino.com and www.ywcacolumbus.org) while drinking a flavorful coffee we suggest you try this Dominican Republic Café Femenino from Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

July 25, 2010 at 7:04 am | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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(18)For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, (19)but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Nothing But the Blood

By Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

1.      What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain) Oh, precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;

No other font I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 2.      For my pardon this I see – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

For my cleansing, this my plea – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 (Refrain)

 3.      Nothing can for sin atone – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

Naught of good that I have done – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain)

4.      This is all my hope and peace – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

This all my righteousness – Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 

(Refrain)

This song is one of those old ones that are just nice to sing and to sing loud. It sounds good when it is done in a call and response way also. The song leader can sing the verse and the congregation can respond with the refrain. Regardless of how you sing it, you want to raise your voice and sing out to the LORD for what He has done.

Thank you Jesus, for taking my sin upon yourself and dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I am grateful for what You have done so that I might experience redemption. Thank you. I give this song to You and the Father as an offering of praise and thanksgiving.

Stay faithful and hopeful, 

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 50:23

Coffee Review – Rwandan Bukonya Ikawa

July 22, 2010 at 5:24 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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Those of us who like to try different coffees enjoy differences presented by the roasters, the types of roasts and the beans themselves. We like to try the coffee that comes from different regions, countries, or specific farms. As we grow in discerning flavors we begin to get more confident and specific in what we like and don’t like. Bottom line is that we like coffee and enjoy the adventure of tasting the flavor of the next cup.

But could there be more? I think there can and maybe it starts with helping the farmers in different countries who actually grow the coffee. This Rwandan Bukonya Ikawa is from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee (www.drinkcoffeedogood.com) and is described “as a sweet, aromatic melon medium that rides on top of the full chocolate undertones for a complex and delightful brew. Some are roasted to a solid medium and others to a rich dark.”

Land of a Thousand Hills was started to partner with coffee growers, coffee drinkers, coffee shops and churches to embrace a commitment to Community Trade and give back to the farmers who produce the coffee beans. They hope to use the coffee as a way to build community and connect people in a purposeful and tangible way. They care about helping people who live in one of the world’s poorest countries be empowered by being paid a fair living wage for their work. There are other things they do to help the farmers grow and develop and I would encourage you to check out their story and site. I’ll share more when we review their decaf.

We brewed this coffee in the Clever Coffee Dripper first. It seems to have a spicy, citrus aroma. The acidity is mild and the body is light to medium. The flavor seems to stay on both the front half and sides of the tongue. The aftertaste is kind of spicy and chocolaty.

Next was the Chemex coffee maker and deep roasted flavor comes out here. Kim liked this coffee paired with chocolate. It makes you think while you are drinking it because it is complex. There is something there that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like it.

Then we tried it in the French Press and the aroma is more pronounced. It really smells good when you grind the beans and pour the water into the press. The deep roasted flavor stands out the strongest of either brew here. My mind is working as I try to figure out what I taste. Kim thought it went well with cinnamon graham crackers and chocolate. I’m only a man, but I think she wants me to get her some chocolate!  

We also brewed this coffee in the auto-drip and liked it there also. I realized that we must have liked this coffee because it was gone in less than a week. I went to make some and all that was there was an empty bag. It was there and then it was gone, but it was a good coffee drinking experience. Two thumbs up.

We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. If you want to try a good Rwandan coffee and do good at the same time we suggest you try this Bukonya Ikawa. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

The Cure for a Fretting Spirit

July 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer

The Holy Spirit in Psalm 37 admonishes us to beware of irritation in our religious lives: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.”

The word “fret” comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon and carries with it such a variety of meanings as bring a rather pained smile to our faces. Notice how they expose us and locate us behind our disguises. The primary meaning of the word is to eat, and from there it has been extended with rare honesty to cover most of the manifestations of an irritable disposition. “To eat away; to gnaw; to chafe; to gall; to vex; to worry; to agitate; to wear away;” so says Webster, and all who have felt the exhausting, corrosive effects of fretfulness know how accurately the description fits the facts.

Now, the grace of God in the human heart works to calm the agitation that normally accompanies life in such a world as ours. The Holy Spirit acts as a lubricant to reduce the friction to a minimum and to stop the fretting and chafing in their grosser phases. But for most of us the problem is not as simple as that……….

Of one thing we may be sure, we can never escape the external stimuli that cause vexation. The world is full of them and though we were to retreat to a cave and live the remainder of our days alone we still could not lose them. The rough floor of our cave would chafe us, the weather would irritate us and the very silence would cause us to fret…………

The prayerless Christian will surely misread the signs and fret against the circumstances. That is what the Spirit warns us against.

Let us look out calmly upon the world; or better yet, let us look down upon it from above where Christ is seated and we are seated in Him. Though the wicked spread himself like “a green bay tree” it is only for a moment. Soon he passes away is not. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble.” This knowledge should cure the fretting spirit. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 67-69.

Success and Contentment

July 20, 2010 at 9:53 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

The worldly person who does not go the his business every morning by way of a prayer closet rarely returns home in the evening to give thanks to God. He begins the day without God and it would be unusual for him to end it with Him. The spider that spins her web out of her own body dwells in it when she is through; and the person who operates his enterprises by his own ingenuity entitles himself to recognition as a “self-made man.” Thus it is easier for such a person to worship his own wisdom than to worship God.

Once a man overheard his neighbor thanking God for the rich stand of corn in his field and reacted to this praise: “Thank God? Why I would rather thank my manure-cart!” It was the speech of a sewer-spirit, more filthy than the load on his cart. If you want to be a Christian you must acknowledge God in all your ways and not lean unto your own understanding (Proverbs 3:6). This selfless attitude will lead you to crown God with praise when success crowns your work.

Jacob worked as long and hard as any other businessman for his wealth; yet the foundation of his diligence was in prayer and in the expectation of blessing from heaven. He attributed his valuable holdings to the truth and mercy of God, who promised to provide for him when he was still a poor pilgrim on his way to Padan-aram (Genesis 28:2-4).

Necessity was the heathen’s schoolmaster to teach contentment; but faith is the Christian’s. Faith is what teaches the saint to enjoy the supplies of providence with sweet complacency as the will of God concerning him. This is godliness that triumphs – when the Christian can carve contentment out of God’s providence, no matter what dish it sets before him. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, July 21.

Coffee Brewer Review – Clever Coffee Dripper

July 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Coffee Brewer Reviews | Leave a comment
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We are finding there are many ways to brew a cup of coffee and each brewer brings out a slightly different taste. That is one of the reasons we use at least three different brewers when we review a new bag of coffee. It’s all part of the coffee adventure.

For a little over a month we have been trying a Clever Coffee Dripper made by the Abid Co. (www.abid.com). It is made of high grade plastic and is an interesting design. You can brew one normal mug or two small cups at a time. If you like the taste of French Press brewed coffee you’ll like this brewer.

Some of the things that we like are that you can control the grind, the amount of coffee, brew time, and the amount of water. Brewing one cup of fresh good tasting coffee couldn’t get any easier. Clean up is easier than you can imagine too.

First you have to decide whether you want regular or decaf and grind it similar to a French Press grind. Put the # 4 size filter in the dripper (some people have told us that they run hot water through filters to remove the paper taste) and add your coffee. Pour the hot water to the desired level and give it a quick stir. Then put the lid on and wait. We let it brew for 5 minutes.

After the wait set the Dripper on your coffee mug and it will begin to pour through into the cup. It really is that easy to enjoy a good cup of coffee. Clean up is easy too. Throw the filter out, rinse the Dripper and let it dry. We use it all the time now when we want just one cup of coffee. You can use it at home, the office or take it on trips.

The Clever Coffee Dripper comes with a pad to set on while the coffee is brewing. No coffee has leaked out while we have been using this. The way it is designed the coffee will not come out until it is set on a coffee cup. It is easy to use, makes good coffee and seems to be durable.

If you are looking for a new coffee brewer we suggest you give this one a try. We received this brewer for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

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