January 12, 2017

Book review: The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Steven J. Lawson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was impacted greatly when I read Preaching & Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and this book by Steven Lawson truly described the passion that The Doctor had concerning preaching and the Word of God.

In the preface, The Doctor's Mandate, Lawson said, "In a day that clamors for churches to capitulate to the spirit of the age and use entertainment in order to draw crowds, the primacy of biblical preaching must be restored wherever the people of God gather to worship." So true for today, too.

I look forward to reading the other books that Lawson has written, in The Long Line of Godly Men Profile series.

View all my reviews

January 2, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

Well, Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone has learned from their mistakes last year and look forward to starting over in 2017.

With the new year comes a series of resolutions that many people make, in the hope that they will accomplish as many, or all of their resolutions that they made for 2017.

There's 363 days to go until we get to December 31st, so hopefully you've started yesterday and today with good effort and commitment to accomplish your resolutions or goals.

Last year, I was introduced to this reading challenge and shared it with my father and he accomplished reading 16 books.  I, on the other hand, attempted to read 30 books, but only accomplished reading 7.  

It was a challenging goal for sure because I don't read very fast, or much in the course of a month and this would have called for me to read at least 2.5 books per month, to reach my goal.

While I do read every day, much of my reading is focused in the bible and other surrounding resources related to my study and sermon preparation each week.

This year, I'm going to make a stronger effort, to read 16 books minimum for the year and that would mean that I'd have to read one complete book and have completed 1/3 of a new book in the same month, to reach my goal by the end of the year.  This is definitely doable too.

Last year I was introduced to the reading challenge from Tim Challies website and he had a VERY aggressive list of books that he would read.  I only wish I was as voracious a reader as he is.

Click here to read his post on the 2016 Reading Challenge.  Tim has posted a challenge for 2017 too, which you can read here.

This year's Reading Challenge is from Amazon Kindle and Goodreads and the Goodreads website encourages readers to commit to reading a certain number of books for the year, so I say, "Are you up for the challenge?  I am!"

So what will I plan to read this year?  I have created a list in Evernote and these books won't be read in this order, but they are the ones that are on my Kindle and I have started to read them, but just haven't finished.  I'm no where near finishing any of these books either, to accomplish my reading list more easily either.

Here are my proposed books to read in 2017:

  1. The Way of Pentecost by Samuel Chadwick
  2. The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones by Steven Lawson
  3. Esther by Chuck Swindoll
  4. The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall
  5. Slave by John MacArthur
  6. The Marine Corps Way to Win on Wall Street by Ken Marlin
  7. The Cross of Christ by John Stott
  8. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper
  9. The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink
  10. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
  11. Text-Driven Preaching by David Allen
  12. The Third Target by Joel Rosenberg
  13. The First Hostage by Joel Rosenberg
  14. Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds
  15. Experiencing the Presence of God by A.W. Tozer
  16. Prayer and Praying Men by E.M. Bounds
  17. Discovering the Power of Christ’s Prayer Life by Charles Spurgeon
  18. Setting Our Affections Upon Glory by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  19. Preaching That Speaks to Women by Alice P. Matthew
  20. I Am N: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists
When I was on my first deployment to Okinawa (1992-1993), when I served as a United States Marine, the first long book I read was The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy.

This book was 914 pages and I was never one to enjoy reading books with that many pages, but when I began reading that book, it was great and held me very captive to the story and just continued reading it every day.

I don't remember how long it took me to finish the book, but it might have been a month.  After working and then eating chow, maybe doing some PT in the evening, all I had was time and just occupied myself with reading, instead of possibly getting into trouble, or drinking too much.  Thankfully, I was reading.

I enjoyed reading The Sum of All Fears so much that I then found Clear and Present Danger again by Tom Clancy and read that book, 704 pages and that one might have been on my second deployment (1994-1995).

So, now as a pastor, I've got quite a library of books to read.  A lot of theology related paperback and hardcover books.  Quite a few commentaries and I'm grateful for those books that I've received as gifts from various people too.

I remember when I first visited the library at the ATS seminary, I saw a who set of Charles Spurgeon's commentary, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit and was just in awe of not only this literary work by Spurgeon, but the number of other books that were there, providing a wealth of knowledge for me to experience and learn.

So, what will you be reading in the New Year?  Will you challenge yourself to read more?  Will you participate in the Reading Challenge?  I hope you will.

Have a great New Year!

Pastor Kurt

December 16, 2016

An Open Letter to Sandy Hook, by Amber McCarty

The following post was written by Amber McCarty over at TheOdessyonline.com.  It's a very real perspective from a young woman who lives not far from Newtown, CT.

My wife and I first met her and her family a few years ago when I began serving as a pastoral assistant at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, CT, under Pastor Phil Morgan and 
Amber has given me permission to share this post that she wrote last year, in remembrance of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Earth has no sorrow...that heaven cannot heal.

Dear Sandy Hook,

The intercom came on in the middle of class. It never comes on in the middle of class. The principal’s voice booms over the loudspeaker: “There has been a shooting at the elementary school in Sandy Hook. We are currently on lockdown.” Eyes look around astonished searching for explanation. Hearts beat fast and everyone is at a loss for words. Questions race through each mind in the room, each mind in the school. And soon they start slipping out of our mouths: Why an elementary school? Why here? Who would do such a thing? But the gravest question was kept silent: How many lives were taken today? Rumors flew around and as the day continued, the full story was starting to form. The remainder of the day went by slower than time ever had. Televisions were broadcasting the news in the library, students were on the phone with parents and family members, and there was a looming cloud of fright over the entire school.
When I returned home that day, the news was on our television and my family was watching with intent, teary eyes. The numbers had increased since I last heard. From 10 children to 20 children. And from one teacher to six. Innocent lives had been taken in a blink of an eye: children who had their whole lives ahead of them, and adults who had families to come home to.
One word I can use to describe December 14 of 2012 was anxiousness. The feeling of not knowing was unbearable: not knowing who the shooter was or what his motives were, not knowing the amount of students and faculty who had their lives taken, and not knowing if any of those students or staff were someone I knew. My anxiety was at great heights but I cannot imagine the pain that the parents were feeling while awaiting reunions with their children. And I cannot imagine the pain felt by those who never received that last hug.
Needless to say, I didn’t know anyone who was killed that day. I had no personal connections in any way. But I would like to let the town of Sandy Hook know that I felt your pain…and I still do to this day. This world has become a place where lives of the innocent are taken daily. It’s hard to understand and I will never come to comprehend the reasoning behind some human being’s actions. But on December 14th, 2012, the world felt your pain. Losing a child in such a way is something no parent should ever have to go through. Heaven received the bravest angels that day…angels that became a symbol of hope for this world.
Ever since that day, the term community took on a new meaning in my eyes. The most unlikely people came together that day. Communities all over the world mourned the loss of 26 beautiful souls. A beautiful tribute was painted onto a bridge in my town, one that lasted until this past year. My family made it a tradition to place 26 ribbons with the names of the victims on our tree each Christmas season. My school made cards for the families in Sandy Hook for Valentine’s Day. And 26 Days of Kindness has become an annual tradition in honor of the children and staff.
Life has changed since that day. For me, it has become more of a mission to give to others. A simple act of kindness, they say, can go a long way. For many, that has now become a motto to live by.
Each day is a blessing. We must remember to cherish them. We never know when they will be gone. Not only should we cherish each day, but also every loved one in our lives. There may be a day where you won’t get that last hug, or kiss on the cheek. There may be a day that you won’t see that beautiful smile, or hear that beloved voice, again. Treat each moment like it’s the last. Because one day it will be.
Three years later, our hearts still reach out to you. There is no way we can feel the pain that you feel but we can continue to stand with you. Each child’s face plays in my mind this day, so innocent, so pure, yet so brave. The lasting twinkle in their eyes and the crooked smiles displayed across their faces are what they will be remembered by. The beauty of their simple lives are infinite. Sandy Hook, you are strong - stronger than you know. I pray for you this day that you have peace in your hearts and you’re striving to have the memory of your beautiful sons and daughters live on in your lives forever.

December 15, 2016

4 Years Later - Grief Counseling at The Home Depot

Early this morning at around 8:25 a.m., I received a phone call from one of the managers at The Home Depot in Danbury where I work, asking if I would be able to come in and assist with providing counseling, for anyone who wished to meet with me.

A psychologist was there from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. I arrived around 10:15 a.m., and stayed until 1:30 p.m.

I'm not a psychologist, so there is no way that I could have assisted under that capacity.  I think just about everyone whom I work with knows that I'm a pastor and this is why I was called.  To help answer any questions about the horrific incident at the Sandy Hook Elementary School the day before. 

When I arrived, I got myself situated in the employee locker room, positioning the chairs where I could sit and listen to anyone who wanted to sit down and talk about what they were grieving about.  None of the people I spoke to, or work with were directly affected by the tragedy, but they were all affected by the loss of such innocent children, which reminded many of them of their own children, or grandchildren in some cases.

One of the questions that was asked, but not really looking for an answer was this one, "How dark does someone's soul have to get to do something like this, to a defenseless little child?"

November 29, 2016

Quotes from Charles Spurgeon's book, All of Grace

I've read this book by Charles Spurgeon before, although I can't recall if I've read the entire book.  My Kindle highlights show that I've read portions of the book as far back as 6 years ago too.

But I'm reading the book now, as part of my teaching series at church concerning the grace of God found in Scripture.

A few months ago, I had taught a series of expositions concerning the Ten Commandments and then, I began a new series on the grace of God without realizing the great balance this teaching would bring to our congregation and anyone who would listen to our podcast in the future.

Here is a recent short list of studies thus far that you may find on the church's website to listen online, or add to your iTunes podcast.