Is Money a god or a Gift?

Money: Gift or God?Jamie Munson tackles that very question in his book, Money – God or Gift. Jamie’s book is intended for use as a Bible study for either small groups or individuals. The really good side of the format is that Jamie gets right to the point in every chapter with a biblical principle and real life illustrations.

This book is for people who love money, hate money, new Christians, old Christians, and people who don’t have a relationship with Christ at all. It’s both biblical and practical at the same time. He tackles tough questions about debt, get-rich-quick-schemes, retirement, and how God’s economy really functions.

If you’re looking for help in the area of finances and a biblical viewpoint on stewardship, grab Money – God or Gift!

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Mini-Book Release: Using Twitter for Ministry

Twitter for MinistryI’ve had this thought for a year now, I’d love to release a little book with some information on using Twitter for Ministry, but a hectic schedule has prevented me from doing so. But here it is – Twitter for Ministry.

I recount the story of how Twitter has affected my own life and a few of the unique opportunities that have opened up as a result of using it. I also offer some basic “getting started” tips, some guiding principles, and some explanation about how I’m using built-in Twitter tools for ministry purposes.

I’m offering it for $10 giving it away. So take a look…

Twitter for Ministry

If you’ve read it, feel free to rave about it below or share a testimony of how Twitter has been useful in your ministry.

Attention: The Priceless Commodity of Marketing

Attention MarketingI won a book, Attention! This Book Will Make You Money!. It’s a book about how to use attention-getting online marketing to increase your revenue, by Jim Kukral. I read it in a couple of hours and it held my attention throughout, which is a really good start for a book on this topic!

Jim tells a pretty neat story about his attempt to get the attention of a well-known wealthy guy you may have heard of before – Mark Cuban. It worked, and it’s one of dozens of great examples Jim uses throughout the book of how to seize the attention of your intended audience/reader/consumer. It occurred to me just how important attention is, not only for marketing and earning revenue, but for publishing any kind of message.

You see, if no one is listening, it doesn’t matter how great our message is. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, nobody really cares whether it makes a sound or not. We’re just glad we didn’t get smashed.

I’ve heard plenty of times, in connection with the church that we should be “entertaining” people, but the very word entertain simply means to hold someone’s attention. Brainstorm with me. How can we get attention in ways that are meaningful, positive, and ethical? For the gospel, for our message, or even for our product, what works? What’s acceptable?

I’m going to address these questions and more over a few posts, but wanted to hear your feedback first. So, how does the concept of attention marketing grab you?

Finding Faith at the Top of Mount Everest

The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest's Death ZoneLast week, I read The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest's Death Zone and I must say, it was a cliffhanger! Eric Alexander took a team of people to the peak of Mount Everest, including a blind man. Then, I got to interview Eric about his book (you’ll hear that when we launch the podcast soon), and I can tell you, Eric is one exciting guy to talk to.

The Summit chronicles a climb as well as the descent and you’ll need to get the book to hear all of the amazing details, but what I really love about the book is the format of it. Eric spends each chapter detailing the events of the day and then closes every chapter with what he terms “Deadpoint Reflections.” These reflections include a “Crux,” which refers to moments of decision, crisis, or suspense. Then the “Hold” is the truth of God that answers the Crux. And finally the “Anchor” is the portion of Scripture to which we can cling when we’re facing those tough moments.

Eric’s story is pretty amazing, but his insights are even more so. He now has the opportunity to speak all over the country, not only about the journey to the top of Everest and back, but also about his faith in Jesus Christ. You can find out more about Eric at his website, Higher Summits. I hope you’ll check it out, and I hope you’ll grab the book. It will keep you on edge, but it won’t leave you hanging.

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Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for review, but was not asked to give a positive review. The links to above are affiliate links and I would earn a commission from any purchases made through them. Also, I apologize for the corny jokes about this book being a “cliffhanger,” etc.

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When Love Comes to Town – Paul Louis Metzger on John's Gospel

Paul Louis Metzger on the Gospel of JohnI’ve preached through the gospel of John a couple of times in my ministry, and each time, I bought more commentaries. The Book of John is pure profundity wrapped in simplicity. It’s deeply complex and linguistically simple at the same time. Very few commentaries dive deeper than the simplicity of the text itself.

Paul Louis Metzger, however, has done an amazing job of probing not only the gospel of John, but the human heart as well in his new commentary, The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town (Resonate Series). From the very preface of the book, I was engaged. As I skipped along to sections covering my favorite chapters and portions, I was delighted by new insights at every turn.

A good friend of mine often says that everyone has a desire to be “deeply known and loved,” and Metzger makes the point that the incarnation of Jesus (the arrival of the God-man in flesh on earth) was God’s ultimate way of touching the very deepest needs in the human heart. John brings us to the culmination of this loving touch in the cross and resurrection, to which he surprisingly devotes half of his entire evangelistic record.

There are plenty of commentaries on John available, but what I yearned for in my own preaching were books that would help me connect the text to the lives of the people in the pew, and that’s what the Resonate Series seems to do. This is the first commentary in the series that has crossed my desk, but I’m definitely looking forward to more!

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Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for review, but was not asked to give a positive review. The links above are affiliate links and I would earn a small commission from any purchases made using them.

Costly Grace: One of My New Favorite Books on Discipleship

Costly GraceI have well over 1,000 books in my library, but just a handful come to mind when I think of books that are able to define discipleship well. They would include Jim Berg’s Changed Into His Image, Clyde Cranford’s Because We Love Him, and of course, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. Now, I’m adding another to that short list – Jon Walker’s Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.

I suppose it’s ironic, first of all, that my short list of favorite books on discipleship includes works that probably contradict each other in many places. Jim Berg is methodical in his approach, presenting a great outline of a life of discipleship. Cranford is more poetic and philosophical while Rick Warren is extremely practical, real, and down-to-earth. It’s also ironic that I’ve never read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, which is the classic work that serves as the basis for Jon’s new book. The original was even listed by Christianity Today as one of the ten most influential books of the last century. Even without having read Bonhoeffer’s classic, I grew in my understanding of discipleship simply by digesting Walker’s observations and conclusions. For example…

Continue reading Costly Grace: One of My New Favorite Books on Discipleship

7 Ways to Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado
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I’ve just finished reading Max Lucado’snewest book, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference, and I feel… challenged! The premise of the book is that we have a choice to do things that will make an impact that outlasts us. Life is a temporary assignment, but the effects of our lives are permanent.

Lucado begs the question over and over again, what are you doing to outlive your life? What are you doing that matters in eternity? How are you investing yourself and giving yourself away? And as I read through each chapter, I was faced with new questions and new issues. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many ways to outlive our lives, including…

  1. Pray. A lot. Prayer affects eternity. As Spurgeon said, “prayer moves the arm that moves the world.” Do it without ceasing.
  2. Be hospitable and welcoming. Welfare and food stamp programs can help assuage the physical problem of hunger, but opening ourselves to others addresses much deeper issues.
  3. Stand up for Christ, even in the face of persecution and criticism.
  4. Loosen your grip on your goods. It’s not that you have to give everything away, it’s that everything needs to be available at all times since it all belongs to God anyway.
  5. Come out of your shell. It’s easy to pull a mental curtain around us so we can block out the images we see of suffering, but we need to open our eyes to the hurt and pain of the world.
  6. Always be investing in someone.
  7. You can dine in and give your steak dinner money to buy a meal for someone.

When it comes to helping people in need, we do all kinds of things to protect ourselves from having to open our eyes and our hearts. We have our stock answers ready… well we can’t help everyone… those people should help themselves… I’m not going to enable them… they’re probably criminals… But when Peter and John met the lame man at the gate called Beautiful, they didn’t run a background check. They also didn’t give him any money. They healed him, in Jesus’ name, and watched him leaping and praising God as a witness to other hopeless people.

This is a tough post to write. Why? Because I’m not doing enough to outlive my own life. So I’m taking a bit of a risk in having readers question me on what I’m doing, and I might very well come up short. But here’s the thing, I’ve never met a truly generous, giving person who spent time questioning the giving of others. Challenging others to give? Perhaps. But let each one of us look within and ask, what is God leading me to do to outlive my life?

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for review, but was not asked to give a positive review. And the Amazon links above are affiliate links. I would earn a small commission from any sales generated through them.