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Basic Christianity by John Stott
John Stott (1921 – 2011) was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London and a world renown preacher and teacher.
There is something about the Christian classics that have stood the test of time. They certainly are worth reading and sharing with others. This is one of those books every Christian should read and discuss with others.
Stott’s book, Basic Christianity, has sold more than 2 million copies since the original publication in 1958. It was named one of the top 100 Books of the Millennium by World Magazine.
In 1952, Cambridge University asked Stott to be one of the key speakers at a Missions Conference at the University of St. Mary’s. Stott endeavored to lay before the audience the following systematic unfolding of the Gospel: The Divine – Human Person of Christ Jesus; the Significance of His death and the Evidence for the Resurrection; the Paradox of our Humanness – made in the image of God but fallen; the Possibility of a New Birth; the Challenge of Personal Commitment; and the Cost of Discipleship. These lectures became his book, Basic Christianity.
We are living in a day and age where Christians increasingly do not know the Word of Truth (Scriptures) well and do not know what they believe or why! This book helps both the new and older Christian to know what and how to believe. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
We will be using this book as a study guide in our Small Groups this year.
I highly recommend the older disciple using this book as a discipleship guide in working with new disciples or persons exploring Christianity!
Many Christians struggle with their prayer lives. That is why I am excited to promote a tool that can actually help the Follower of Christ in their personal prayer lives and also in their public prayers.
The author states in his introduction that “spiritual growth is impossible apart from the practice of prayer”.
“Handbook to Prayer” was designed to make prayer a more enriching and satisfying experience by providing both form and freedom in the practice of prayer.
The Handbook is structured around eight forms of prayer that are based on the model of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):
“Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
The eight forms of prayer are Adoration, Confession, Renewal, Petition, Intercession, Affirmation, Thanksgiving, and Closing Prayer.
How To Use This Handbook:
We, as Believers in the Lord, must be willing to admit our need for help in our prayer life. The young disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
Also, please take a moment to read the article, “Who Killed the Prayer Meeting? (https://www.crossway.org/articles/who-killed-the-prayer-meeting/)
If we desire to see change in our lives and churches and the nations, it must start with our humble and earnest prayers. (Matthew 9:38)
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went to a desolate place and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Let us grow in this grace of prayer both individually and as His Church.
“If my people…humble themselves and pray and seek my face…” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
I believe this tool can help equip you and guide you into a growing and regular practice in prayer.
“A Field Guide on False Teaching”
By Ligonier Ministries
When I was recently preaching through I and II Timothy and Titus, Paul’s famous Pastoral Epistles, it became very obvious to me that the Apostle had great concern for the local churches that were started by Paul and his team members. He repeatedly warned both Timothy and Titus to be “on guard” against false teachers and teachings!
Read Paul’s opening words to Timothy in I Timothy 1:3,” As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…”
Read Pauls’ opening words to Titus, “Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he (Elders) may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who can contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers, and deceivers…” (Titus 1:9-10)
False teaching and teachers have been around since the Fall of Man and when sin entered the world. In this short and very useful book, the author attempts to help the Christian be prepared to make a defense of the Gospel. (Apologia – Greek) (See I Peter 3:15)
The book is divided into three headings:
This is a great resource for any serious believer, helping them to become more fully equipped to know how to answer someone who asks you why you believe as you do.
Train yourself how to recognize error and respond with truth!
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy who was left in Ephesus to pastor and shepherd the flock. His letters, First and Second Timothy gives the reader some warnings, instructions, and reminders. No doubt the Church of Jesus Christ has come on some hard times recently. The average church in America is approximately 80 in number. COVID has also
had some devastating effects on the Church, with some members choosing not to return.
We get a close-up view of what the Early Apostolic Church looked like from the writings of 1st and 2nd Timothy. Do our churches today resemble the early Church at all?
Here are some Warnings, Instructions, and Reminders given to young Timothy and us today:
• First, the great Apostle Paul who planted the Church in Ephesus and labored there approximately two years had some very specific warnings for Timothy. Even as Paul was departing from Miletus, he sent for the Elders of the Church in Ephesus and gave this warning – “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you Overseers to care for the Church of God…I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking ‘twisted things’, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30)
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy often of the dangers of false teachers infiltrating the Church of God. (See I Timothy 1:3-4, 20 and 2 Timothy 4:14-15)
False teachers with their teachings were evident then as they are now (see Matthew 7:15-20). Therefore, we must be vigilant in Christ’s Church, especially Pastors and Elders.
• Secondly, Paul gave instructions for the Church of Christ. This gives us some framework for what the Church then and now should be concerned with.
1. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (I Timothy 1:15) This is one of Paul’s trustworthy statements.
“God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved.” (I Timothy 2:4) The Church should be praying for the lost to be saved.
The Church is called to be His witness to a lost world (Acts 1:8).
2. The Church should be praying privately and corporately. Are we? (See I Timothy 2:1, 8; Matthew 6:5-15)
3. The Church should be a “pillar and foundation of the Truth.” (I Timothy 3;15)
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Does the Church know?
4. The Church should be a place that teaches and exemplifies godliness, character, and integrity. Christlikeness “in speech, conduct, love, faith, purity” – “practice these things” (I Timothy 4:12, 15)
Is the Church practicing these things?
5. The Church is to have order and structure through godly leadership. (I Timothy 3:1-13)
These qualified servants are to teach, equip, and serve the community of believers. “For our God is a God of order and peace.” (I Timothy 5:1-22)
• Thirdly, Paul gave reminders – Timothy was to remember his calling and his good confession before the Church (I Timothy 1:18-19)
Timothy, remember to “share in suffering as a good soldier.” (I Timothy 2:3)
Remember Jesus Christ risen form the dead.
Remind the people of these things and to charge them not to quarrel about words which do no good, but only ruins the hearers.” (I Timothy 4:2-3)
If this was the case back in their day (64-65 A.D.). How much more should we be careful of what goes on in Christ’s Church in 2022?
Let’s not reinvent the Church but instead learn from the early Church.
Living Before the Face of God
Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher
Despite warning signs, many American Christians fail to recognize the dangers and even fewer know what they can do to resist. Meanwhile men and women who survived communist oppression have been sounding the alarm that their souls and their liberties are already at stake.
In his excellent book, “Live Not by Lies”, Rod Dreher explains why it is so hard for us to recognize the threat of totalitarianism in our own time. He lays out the steps for resistance and shares stories of modern-day dissidents who preserved their faith and their integrity during a time of tyranny.
Dreher, based his title from Russia’s Aleksander Solzhenitsyn words and writings, “How to Live Not by Lies”. The basis for this book is found in the opening pages, “We cannot hope to resist the coming ‘soft totalitarianism’ if we do not have our spiritual lives in order.” This is the message of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the great anti-communist dissident, Nobel Laureate, and Orthodox Christian. He believed the core of the crisis that created and sustained communism was not political but spiritual.
I highly recommend all Americans and Christian believers read this book and be informed to act.
“When A Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany” (Part 2)
By Erwin Lutzer
In Lesson #1, “When God is separated from government, judgment follows.
Lutzer quotes Hitler’s remarks to Rev. Martin Niemoller, “You confine yourself to the Church. I’ll take care of the German people.”
It should be noted that one of the great dangers to any nation, then and now, is for Christian citizens to become distracted or preoccupied with oneself or the Church thus allowing, permitting government officials no accountability to its citizens they serve.
The following is an eyewitness account of how some members in the Church in Germany reacted to Nazism in their time. Ask yourself the question, “what would you have done?”
“I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it because, what could anyone do to stop it? A railroad track behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. we became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us. We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow, we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.
Years have passed and no one talks about it anymore. But I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.”
Lutzer then quotes A. Dostoevsky, the former Russian writer and Christian thinker, “When God does not exist, anything is possible.”
We, as citizens in America, are quickly entering into a new realm of a godless society and loss of freedoms. Will we wake up before it is too late? – that is the question.
May we once again ponder the words, of Sir Edmond Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil – is that good men do nothing.”
Early in Jesus’ ministry, he spoke the following words to a small group of His disciples describing how they and we should live:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
When A Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany (Part 1)
By Erwin Lutzer
This little book of 141 pages was given to my wife from a friend to read and return. I ended up reading it cover to cover in a few days. I made the mistake of reading it with my highlighter in hand. I have since bought a replacement copy from Moody Press to return to her friend.
I have always enjoyed listening to Erwin Lutzer speak and his writings. His historical research in this compelling book is amazing.
“Soul searching, troubling, challenging, concerning…” All words that come to mind as I read this book. If you are into a good romance novel to allow your mind to escape to another time, this book is not for you! But if you are a concerned Christian citizen of America, concerned for the Church, concerned for your future and the future of your children – then this book is a MUST read!
We are living in the day when history is being re-written and revised to reflect what some on the left would have us believe and embrace. A people that “forgets” or are “ignorant” of past history are bound to permit and repeat the same mistakes. This book is about learning from the history of the German people and the German church.
The Seven Lessons described in this book are as follows:
Lesson #1: When God is separated from government, judgement follows.
Lesson #2: It is always the economy.
Lesson #3: That which is legal might also be evil.
Lesson #4: Propaganda can challenge a nation.
Lesson #5: Parents – not the state- are responsible for a child’s training.
Lesson #6: Ordinary heroes can make a difference.
Lesson#7: We must exalt the Cross in the gathering darkness.
It is my desire to elaborate on these Seven Lessons from “When A Nation Forgets God” in upcoming articles.
What Christian is not familiar with the famous parting words of our Master before He ascended back to His throne in heaven:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” ~ Matthew 28:19
Throughout the centuries of the Christian Church, this has been referred to as the Great Commission. Jesus is commissioning His original eleven disciples who then passed the mantle of Disciple-Making to the Apostolic Church. But do we really believe it? If we do, wouldn’t we be making disciples on a regular basis? Has the Church in America fallen into the trap of expecting the “full-time” workers and staff to be taking care of this business while it is enough for the rest to just show up for the programs and sing along?
The Apostle Paul sheds even more light on what Disciple-Making should look like in the Church when he writes to his young protégé, Timothy:
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Let us break this down to try to understand what the Apostle Paul is saying to Timothy. We know that Paul had a unique mentoring relationship with Timothy who was now overseeing and putting in order the churches that Paul and the team had planted. Timothy is being encouraged to find “faithful men” to teach/disciple who in turn will teach/disciple others.
Let me illustrate with a relay race in the 400 X 4. The lead runner runs his race and passes the baton to the second runner who does his best to pass the baton to the third runner who also does his very best and passes the baton to the finisher who brings the baton home. The baton is the Gospel/Disciple-Making. This is how the early church grew in numbers even under the rule of the Roman Empire.
Apostle Paul → Timothy → Faithful Men → Others
My question to you is where are you in the relay race of Disciple-Making? Are you in this relay race called Disciple-Making or are you cheering others from the sidelines?
Why not ask the Lord to direct you to someone who needs Christ and the Good News and then give yourself away in Disciple-Making.
Of course, you must know Him first and it certainly helps to know His Word of Truth. Therefore, pay attention to the preaching of the Word and give yourself to reading and meditating on the Word of God regularly. Be part of a local church that teaches the Bible!
Let’s get to work!
Make Your Own Bed (Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe The World) by Admiral William McRaven
This book is a New York Times Best-Seller!
Admiral McRaven served in the Navy with great distinction. Thirty=seven years as a Navy Seal, he commanded at every level.
This is a summary of his commencement remarks shared with the 2014 Graduates of the University of Texas in Austin.
Admiral McRaven shares 10 Lessons he learned from basic Seal Training that can be of value to you as you move forward in life.
I am going to mention 5 of these lessons that impressed me the most and that will pique your interest!
Lesson #1: Start Making Your Bed
If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. The Seal Trainees would have their beds inspected every morning by their drill instructors.
Lesson #2: If You Want To Change The World, Find Someone To Help You Paddle
During Seal Training, the students were assigned boat crews, consisting of three students on each side of the rubber dingy with the coxswain to guide the boat. You cannot successfully paddle alone! You need the help of others and you cannot change the world alone!
Lesson #3: Measure A Person By The Size of Their Heart, Not The Size of Their Flippers
It was not always the biggest guys or the strongest that finished at the lead. It was the heart and will of the man. Often times it was the smallest Seal students with the biggest hearts!
Lesson #4: If You Want To Change The World – Don’t Back Down From Sharks
The author describes the stage of training in which the trainees are flown down to San Clemente Island, off the coast of San Diego. They must complete a series of long swims, one of which is at night. According to their instructor, the only thing they have to look out for is the great White Sharks! This is a known breeding ground! The instructor assured the young trainees that no student has ever been eaten by a shark -at least not recently!
McRaven writes, “There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.”
Lesson #5: The Seal Training Brass Bell
In Seal Training, there is a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell!
** Ring the Bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 AM.
** Ring the Bell and you no longer have to do freezing cold swims.
** Ring the Bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the physical training.
** Just Ring the Bell!
The instructor told the trainees, “If you quit and ring the bell, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Quitting never makes anything easier.”
Of all the lessons McRaven learned, this one was them most important. Never quit, never ring the bell!
McRaven lists 10 Lessons, which are applicable to most of us no matter how young or old we are, in his #1 New York Times Best Seller.
I highly recommend this great read to learn more about these important 10 Lessons.