Were’s Quilly Now?

Seems like she is always gone. Hrumph!

Actually I am right here online. Well, not HERE. Here, at Book’em Quilly, where I have just signed up to post every day for the next 14 weeks.  That’s quite a chunk of commitment and it might take even more time away from you, but it is my Bible Study, so I know you will agree it is important.

You might be wondering what my Bible Study posts are doing on my book review website, but the Bible is a book, right?  Okay, okay, technically it is an anthology, but that’s still a book.  Besides, that’s the place I was led to post it.

Next you might be wondering what brought this on.  Well, it started with Beth.  No, wait, it started with prayer.  Our Community Women’s Bible Study just ended and I need to find another study.  I bowed my head in prayer and asked God for something I could do alone, but that had accountability so I wouldn’t get busy and put it off like the four week Bible Study last summer that took me four months to finish.  In response, God nudged me to read the Gospels.  I replied (because I often argue with God), “Just read them? But that’s boring.  Besides, I need something that will lead me to study and think or I’ll just end up skimming.”  At which point I turned off my bedside lamp and snuggled down to sleep.  I had every intention of looking online for a nice four month week Bible Study the next morning.

In fact, when I got to my computer the next morning that was the first thing on my agenda — after email and Facebook, of course.  This is where Beth comes in.  She posted her intention to join Blogging Through the Gospels and post her study on Faith Walk.  I checked out her Faith Walk post, then I went to Mom’s Toolbox and discovered Amy, who designed and is leading this awesome study.

I want you to note that God got his way.  I am studying the Gospels.  He must have had a reason for instructing me to do so; however for once my arguing paid off.  The study involves contemplation and application, and — because he understands my failings — the study involves accountability as well.

So, when you can’t find me here, take a peek over there.  I hope you will be blessed by what you find.

Studying Nehemiah

If you’ve not already figured it out, I am a fan of  Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s work.  His Bible Studies are among the best on the market.  Dr. Wiersbe reveals scripture and encourages us to interact with it and form our own connections and beliefs. Participants in a Weirsbe Bible study are treated like thinking, rational students and not told what to think or believe.

God wants a personal relationship with each and everyone of us.  He cannot have that if we don’t form our own thoughts and opinions.  Weirsbe Bible Studies clarify scripture and provide thoughtful often tough questions that makes participants think about, clarify and own his/her own spiritual beliefs.   If you’re looking to know yourself, the Bible and God a little bit better, I highly recommend any Weirsbe Bible Study and any of his reference materials.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Wiersbe Bible Study Series Nehemiah

David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Nehemiah was an ordinary man given an impossible task: to rebuild the war-torn city of Jerusalem. This Bible study examines the life, legacy, and perseverance of Nehemiah.

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140455X
ISBN-13: 978-0781404556

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Caring Attitude

(NEHEMIAH 1—2)

Before you begin …

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Nehemiah 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Determined. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” George Bernard Shaw put those words into the mouth of the Rev. Anthony Anderson in the second act of his play The Devil’s Disciple. The statement certainly summarizes what Jesus taught in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), and it rebukes all those who fold their arms complacently, smile benignly, and say somewhat sarcastically, “Ask me if I care!”

1. What are some of the evidences in Nehemiah 1 that Nehemiah was a person who cared? Why are care and concern important traits for leaders? How might the lack of care and concern affect a leader’s ability to lead?

More to Consider: Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to the great Artaxerxes Longimanus, who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 BC. Nehemiah’s name means “The Lord has comforted.” What is the significance of Nehemiah’s name in relation to the task God has for him? Why do you think he mentions abruptly that he was the cupbearer to the king (Neh. 1:11)?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Nehemiah 1—2 that stands out to you. This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem and the Jews living there because he had a caring heart. When we truly care about people, we want the facts, no matter how painful they may be. “Practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” American historian Henry Adams said, but Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Closing our eyes and ears to the truth could be the first step toward tragedy for ourselves as well as for others.

3. Go through Nehemiah 1 and underline what Nehemiah learns about Jerusalem. What does this tell us about Nehemiah? About the Jews living in Jerusalem? About Jerusalem itself?

From the Commentary

The prayer in Nehemiah 1:5–10 is the first of twelve instances of prayer recorded in this book. (See 2:4; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 9:5ff.; 13:14, 22, 29, 31.) The book of Nehemiah opens and closes with prayer. It is obvious that Nehemiah was a man of faith who depended wholly on the Lord to help him accomplish the work He had called him to do. The Scottish novelist George MacDonald said, “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.” Nehemiah succeeded because he depended on God. Speaking about the church’s ministry today, the late Alan Redpath said, “There is too much working before men and too little waiting before God.” This prayer begins with ascription of praise to God (1:5). “God of heaven” is the title Cyrus used for the Lord when he announced that the Jews could return to their land (2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1:1–2). The heathen gods were but idols on the earth, but the God of the Jews was Lord in heaven. Ezra often used this divine title (5:11–12; 6:9; 7:12, 21, 23), and it is found four times in Nehemiah (1:4–5; 2:4, 20) and three times in Daniel (2:18–19, 44). Nehemiah began his prayer as we should begin our prayers: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

4. What’s the significance of addressing a prayer to “the God of heaven”? Why does Nehemiah begin his prayer this way? (See Neh. 1:5; see also 4:14; 8:6; 9:32.) What is the focus of Nehemiah’s prayer?

From Today’s World

Every few years, the church suffers through “media scandals” prompted by public revelations of leaders’ misconduct. Though the focus is usually on a single individual—or a tightly knit group of people in positions of influence— these media scandals can have a lasting effect on the church. Long after the details of the scandal have faded into the past, people with an axe to grind continue to point to these events as evidence that the church is at worst, corrupt, and at best, a place for hypocrites and fools.

5. Why does the media give so much screen time to church-related scandals? What makes scandals newsworthy? What impact does this sort of event have on the local churches? Church leaders? Believers in general? What are some positive ways to respond to such scandals?

It has well been said that prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven but getting God’s will done on earth. However, for God’s will to be done on earth, He needs people to be available for Him to use. God does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20 NKJV). If God is going to answer prayer, He must start by working in the one doing the praying! He works in us and through us to help us see our prayers answered. While Nehemiah was praying, his burden for Jerusalem became greater and his vision of what needed to be done became clearer. Real prayer keeps your heart and your head in balance so your burden doesn’t make you impatient to run ahead of the Lord and ruin everything. As we pray, God tells us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, and all are important to the accomplishing of the will of God. Some Christian workers are like Lord Ronald in one of Stephen Leacock’s short stories who “flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

Nehemiah planned to volunteer to go to Jerusalem to supervise the rebuilding of the walls. He didn’t pray for God to send somebody else, nor did he argue that he was ill-equipped for such a difficult task. He simply said, “Here am I—send me!”

6. What are some of the lessons we can glean from Nehemiah’s prayer? What is significant about his use of “we” in the prayer? What does this say about Nehemiah as a person? As a leader?

From the Commentary

Unknown to him, Nehemiah was about to join the glorious ranks of the “champions of faith,” and in the centuries to follow, his name would be included with heroes like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Deborah, and David. One person can make a big difference in this world, if that person knows God and really trusts in Him. Because faith makes a difference, we can make a difference in our world to the glory of God. “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace,” said Martin Luther. “It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

7. Read Mark 9:23–24 and Matthew 17:20. How do these verses apply to Nehemiah’s faith? How can they help inspire church leaders today?

From the Commentary

The king asked him, “What is it you want?” What an opportunity for Nehemiah! All the power and wealth of the kingdom were wrapped up in that question! As he was accustomed to do, Nehemiah sent one of his quick “telegraph prayers” to the Lord (4:4; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22, 29, 31). But keep in mind that these “emergency prayers” were backed up by four months of fasting and praying. If Nehemiah had not been diligent to pray in private, his “telegraph prayers” might have gone unanswered. “He had only an instant for that prayer,” wrote George Morrison. “Silence would have been misinterpreted. Had he closed his eyes and lingered in devotion, the king immediately would have suspected treason” (Morning Sermons, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1931, p. 243).

8. Review Nehemiah 2:4–8. Why is it significant that Nehemiah took a moment to pray before answering? What lessons can we learn from this small action? How did God answer his prayer?

More to Consider: Jewish rabbis often answer a question with a question, and Nehemiah followed that example. Instead of telling the king what he planned to do, he aroused the king’s sympathy and interest with a question regarding how he should feel about the sad plight of his ancestral city and the graves of his forefathers. Why do you think he chose this approach?

From the Commentary

Nehemiah is a good example of how believers should relate to unsaved officials as they seek to do the work of God. Nehemiah respected the king and sought to work within the lines of authority that existed in the empire. He didn’t say, “I have a commission from the Lord to go to Jerusalem, and I’m going whether you like it or not!” When it comes to matters of conscience, we must always obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), but even then, we must show respect for authority (see Rom. 13 and 1 Peter 2:11–25). Daniel and his friends took the same approach as did Nehemiah, and God honored them as well (Dan. 1).

9. How might the king’s reaction have been different if Nehemiah had spoken in more “religious” terms about his commission? What are some examples in today’s church where leaders have related well to nonbelievers in positions of authority? What are some bad examples of this? How can believers today apply Nehemiah’s wisdom in their dealings with non- Christian bosses or other authority figures they relate to in daily life?

From the Commentary

After his long, difficult journey, Nehemiah took time to rest, for leaders must take care of themselves if they are going to be able to serve the Lord (Mark 6:31). He also took time to get “the lay of the land” without arousing the concern of the enemy. A good leader doesn’t rush into his work but patiently gathers the facts firsthand and then plans his strategy (Prov. 18:13). We must be “wise as serpents” because the Enemy is always watching and waiting to attack. Leaders are often awake when others are asleep, and

working when others are resting. Nehemiah didn’t want the enemy to know what he was doing, so he investigated the ruins by night. By keeping his counsel to himself, Nehemiah prevented Tobiah’s friends from getting information they could pass along to Sanballat.…

As he surveyed the situation, he moved from west to south to east, concentrating on the southern section of the city. It was just as his brother had reported: The walls were broken down and the gates were burned (Neh. 2:13; 1:3).

10. Review Nehemiah 2:11–16. Why did Nehemiah not want the enemy to know what he was doing? In what ways was Nehemiah practicing what it means to be a good leader? What role did his “secret survey” play in his plan to rebuild the city?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of Nehemiah 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all,

be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press for people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.

11. What are some ways you show your care and concern for your local church? How do you show respect for tradition while also being sensitive to today’s needs? Are you more of an encourager or a complainer? If the latter, why? How can you be more constructive in your relationship with your church?

12. Nehemiah puts a great deal of emphasis on prayer from the very outset of his plan to rebuild the city. What role does prayer play in your plans? How much emphasis do you place on the importance of prayer before, during, and after a plan is put into effect in your life?

13. What aspects of Nehemiah’s leadership appeal to you most? In what ways are you like him? What are some things you’d like to work on in order to be a better servant leader?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try). Do you need to work on expanding your prayer life? Is there a particular matter you need to pray about, perhaps for an extended period of time? Be specific. Go back through Nehemiah 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: One of the key features of Nehemiah’s leadership was his deliberate prayer life. Take a few minutes to consider the various plans you have for your own life (and your family’s life). This could be anything from plans for a summer vacation to educational goals to career plans for you and every other family member. Now, think about how your prayer life intersects with these plans. What are some ways you can be more deliberate in your prayer life about these things? Make practical plans for how to become more prayerful, then commit to those plans.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read

and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read Nehemiah 3—4. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 3 and 4, “Wall-to-Wall Workers” and “Workers and Warriors,” in Be Determined.

 

In His Image

Father, I come before you now longing to know you better. As I read your Word today, as I approach you in prayer, reveal not just your truth to me, but tune my heart to beat with yours.

Draw me close and make me more like you. Help me to see through your eyes, to think your thoughts, to act according to your wisdom, compelled by your call to love.  Amen (p.144)

The In His Image Devotional Bible NLT sets itself apart from many other devotional Bibles by not directing our energies toward being better men, women, spouses, princesses, fathers, mothers, or prayer warriors, but by focusing us on who God is, and educating us on what it means to live in his image.  We all know if we only focus on God and live in obedience to his command, we will become better men, women, spouses, etc., what we don’t know is what that should look like!  This Bible points the way.

I want to tell you, I received this Bible quite some time ago and should have done the review long ago, but the In His  Image Devotional Bible fit my current Bible study so well that I put it with my study materials instead of on my review shelf. If I hadn’t been reviewing my reading records, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to remember — not because this Bible is forgettable, but because it fit my study needs so well I thought of it as part of the set!

Special Features:

  • New Living Translation
  • God’s Character (articles that expand on God’s attributes in conjunction with scripture readings to provide us with a clearer understanding of God’s character)
  • Book Introductions (highlight the Divine Attributes central to each theme)
  • Prayerful Readings (devotionals designed to help us quiet our hearts and listen to God)
  • Prayerful Reading Index (which allows you to focus on an follow each of God’s 15 divine attributes all the way through the Bible, study them in Biblical sequence or one at a time)
  • Response to God (articles that look at the attributes of God)
  • Response to God Article Index (helps us focus on applying the truth about God and his character to our everyday lives)
  • God’s Names & Titles (the meaning behind them)
  • God’s Names and Title Index (follow all references to one name or title through the Bible)
  • Divine Attributes Master Index (for a full scope and sequence view of God)
  • In His Image Reading Guide (all 327 devotionals listed from Genesis to Revelation to help us seek God on a daily basis 6 days a week for a year)

I have the hardback version of the Bible.  It has a silky-smooth matte finish with raised, high-gloss lettering.  The spine is cloth bound and well sewn.  The type-face is a good size, easy to read and is printed on off-white, lightweight, yet substantial paper. The main text is in black while book titles, chapters and other headings are in blue.  Everything about this book is quality.

Note: The purpose of the notes and inserts in this Bible are not to better acquaint you with the time, the culture, the topography, or the tradition of Biblical times.  This Bible is dedicated to bringing us closer to God.  Even though this is not a study Bible per se, it is a book that belongs in every disciple’s study library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Pause for Power: A 365 Day Journey in the Scriptures, by Warren Wiersbe

My Thoughts:
Pause for Power: A 365-Day Journey through the Scriptures is a well-designed, thought provoking devotional. Each devotion is one small page with a scripture verse and a thought. It takes no more than a few minutes to read so I began reading it at bedtime, just before lights out and prayers. The only thing was, often the readings, though very brief, were thought provoking and raised questions, so I would go poking through other translations, grab Bibles to check alternate translations and/or commentary notes, or even go to the computer for some research. That really isn’t very conductive to going to sleep. Rather than changing my devotion time, I have a notebook for recording my thoughts. If a passage warrants more reading I pick it up again in the morning.

Warren Wiersbe’s name is one I trust when it comes to Biblical teaching and resources. His book, With the Word, is one of my most cherished reference books. I also have and have reviewed several books from The Wiersbe Bible Study Series. If you are looking for Biblical theology and thought provoking studies of substance that are still written in a straight-forward, easy to understand style, I recommend this devotional and anything else by Warren Weirsbe that catches your eye.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Pause for Power A 365 Day Journey in the Scriptures

David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140374X
ISBN-13: 978-0781403740

AND NOW…THE FIRST WEEK OF DEVOTIONS:

A Year in the Word

In the pages that follow, you’ll hear Isaiah’s invitation to wayward hearts, wrestle with Job’s dilemma, examine what Hebrews says about the breathtaking work of Christ, and listen in as Paul writes letters to infant churches. Such a task might seem daunting at first, but with the help of Pause for Power, it will take you only a few minutes a day. And here’s the best part: Over the course of a year, you’ll have read fifteen books of the Bible.

The devotions are undated, so you can start any day of the year. They’re also blended, so you can enjoy a variety of biblical voices and themes each week. One day you might contemplate Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and the next you might consider a wise saying from Ecclesiastes.

To get started, simply turn to Day 1, read the associated Bible passage in your favorite translation, spend time with the devotion, then ponder the question of the day. Repeat daily. In twelve months you’ll have studied Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John. But more importantly, you’ll have gained insight into God’s Word—insight that will bring you closer to the Author Himself.

Day 1

Consistent Actions

Read Romans 2:1—3:20

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 2:7–8

God had given Israel great material and spiritual riches: a wonderful land, a righteous law, a temple and priesthood, God’s providential care, and many more blessings. God had patiently endured Israel’s many sins and rebellions, and had even sent them His Son to be their Messiah. Even after Israel crucified Christ, God gave the nation nearly forty more years of grace and withheld His judgment. It is not the judgment of God that leads people to repentance, but the goodness of God; but Israel did not repent.

In Romans 2:6–11, Paul was explaining a basic principle of God’s judgment: God judges according to deeds, just as He judges according to truth. Paul was dealing here with the consistent actions of people’s lives, the total impact of their character and conduct.

True saving faith results in obedience and godly living, even though there may be occasional falls. When God measured the deeds of the Jews, He found them to be as wicked as those of the Gentiles.

Something to Ponder

Is it possible for people to grow to have consistently good (not perfect) character and conduct? If so, how? How does this fit with Paul’s claim that no one is righteous apart from Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 3:9–10)?

Day 2

Devoted to Devotions

Read Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth. Prayer is not telling God what to do or what to give. Prayer is asking God for that which He wants to do and give, according to His will (1 John 5:14–15). As we read the Word and fellowship with our Father, we discover His will and then boldly ask Him to do what He has planned. Richard Trench (1807–1886), archbishop of Dublin, said it perfectly: “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness.”

Of course, it is possible to pray in our hearts and never use the gift of speech (1 Sam. 1:13), but we are using words even if we don’t say them audibly. True prayer must first come from the heart, whether the words are spoken or not.

Something to Ponder

As you pray, in what ways are you “watchful”? In what ways are you “thankful”?

Day 3

The Mark of Maturity

Read Philippians 1:6–10

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

Philippians 1:9–10

Paul found joy in his memories of the friends at Philippi and in his growing love for them. He also found joy in remembering them before the throne of grace in prayer.

This is a prayer for maturity, and Paul began it with love. He prayed that they might experience abounding love and discerning love. Christian love is not blind! The heart and mind work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment.

The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity. When a baby learns to speak, he or she may call every four-legged animal a “bowwow.” But then the child discovers that there are cats, mice, cows, and other four-legged creatures.

One of the sure marks of maturity is discerning love and loving discernment.

Something to Ponder

With daily decisions, do you tend to seek what is good, or do you try to discern what is truly best?

Day 4

Avoiding Oblivion

Read 1 John 2:17

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:17

Every great nation in history has become decadent and has finally been conquered by another nation. Some nineteen world civilizations have slipped into oblivion. There is no reason why we should think that our present civilization will endure forever. “Change and decay in all around I see,” wrote Henry F. Lyte (1793–1847), and if our civilization is not eroded by change and decay, it will certainly be swept away and replaced by a new order of things at the coming of Christ.

Slowly but inevitably, and perhaps sooner than even we Christians think, the world is passing away, but those who do God’s will abide forever. Long after this world system—with its vaunted culture, its proud philosophies, its egocentric intellectualism, and its godless materialism—has been forgotten, and long after this planet has been replaced by the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1), God’s faithful servants will remain, sharing the glory of God for all eternity. And this prospect is not limited to Moody, Spurgeon, Luther, or Wesley and their likes—it is open to each and every humble believer. If you are trusting Christ, it is for you.

Something to Ponder

If you are expecting to share the glory of God for all eternity, what things are you doing now to prepare for such an encounter?

Day 5

Sovereignty and Responsibility

Read Romans 9:14–33

Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Romans 9:14–15

Moses was a Jew; Pharaoh was a Gentile, yet both were sinners. In fact, both were murderers! Both saw God’s wonders. Yet Moses was saved and Pharaoh was lost. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave, yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God—because God willed it that way. Nobody can condemn God for the way He extends His mercy, because God is righteous in His judgments (see Ps. 19:9 KJV).

Paul wrote of divine sovereignty and then human responsibility. Here is a paradox: The Jews sought for righteousness but did not find it, while the Gentiles, who were not searching for it, found it! The reason? Israel tried to be saved by works and not by faith. They rejected “grace righteousness” and tried to please God with “law righteousness.” The Jews thought that the Gentiles had to come up to Israel’s level to be saved, when actually the Jews had to go down to the level of the Gentiles to be saved.

Something to Ponder

When you can’t fully understand God’s working, what do you do to maintain your faith?

Day 6

Sins of the Saints

Read Hebrews 2:3–9

This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Hebrews 2:3

We have the idea that believers today “under grace” can escape the chastening hand of God that was so evident “under law.” But to whom much is given, much shall be required (Luke 12:48). Not only have we received the Word from the Son of God, but that Word has been confirmed by “signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:4). The phrase “signs and wonders” here refers to the miracles that witnessed to the Word and gave confirmation that it was true. Today we have the completed Word of God, so there is no need for these apostolic miracles. God now bears witness through His Spirit using the Word. The Spirit also gives spiritual gifts to God’s people so that they may minister in the church (1 Cor. 12:1–11).

I have often told the story about the pastor who preached a series of sermons on “the sins of the saints.” He was severely reprimanded by a church member. “After all,” said the member, “sin in the lives of Christians is different from sin in the lives of other people.”

“Yes,” replied the pastor, “it’s worse!”

Something to Ponder

Do you agree that sin in the lives of Christians is worse than sin in the lives of other people? Why?

Day 7

Heart Gifts

Read 2 Corinthians 8:10–24

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.

2 Corinthians 8:11

During my years of ministry, I have endured many offering appeals. I have listened to pathetic tales about unbelievable needs. I have forced myself to laugh at old jokes that were supposed to make it easier for me to part with my money. I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened, and I must confess that none of these approaches has ever stirred me to give more than I planned to give.

We must be careful here not to confuse willing with doing, because the two must go together. If the willing is sincere and in the will of God, then there must be a “completion of it” (2 Cor. 8:11; see Phil. 2:12–13). Paul did not say that willing was a substitute for doing, because it is not. But if our giving is motivated by grace, we will give more willingly.

God sees the “heart gift” and not the “hand gift.” If the heart wants to give more, but is unable to do so, God sees it and records it accordingly. But if the hand gives more than the heart wants to give, God records what is in the heart, no matter how big the offering in the hand may be.

Something to Ponder

Think about a time you gave willingly and a time you gave grudgingly. What made the difference?

Leading from the Lion’s Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible by Tom R. Harper

My Thoughts:
Even though in this current season of my life, I am no longer a youth leader, I am a Christian striving to live my life in a way that leads people to Christ. In Leading from the Lion’s Den, Harper defines a way of life, not just a form of business leadership. Each chapter of the book is based on a Bible verse and teaches key Bible precepts, good for every part of a Christ-centered life, even if one prefers to be a follower. I chose to use this book as a one chapter per day study guide and am quite enjoying it. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to improve their interpersonal skills.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Leading from the Lion’s Den:

Leadership Principles from

Every Book of the Bible

B&H Books (September 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Harper is president of the online church leadership community Church Central as well as Net World Alliance, a leading business-to-business media communications company. He lives with his wife and children in Louisville, Kentucky.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805444424
ISBN-13: 978-0805444421

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction:
Lionhearted Leaders

A king’s rage is like a lion’s roar;
but his favor is like dew on the grass.

—Proverbs 19:12

All successful leaders are lion tamers. Over time they learn how to calm the roaring beasts, and in those rare instances when a pride  attacks or  a big cat goes berserk, they find a way to survive.

Have you ever found yourself suddenly surrounded by carnivorous critics, competitors, or coworkers materializing from the bushes? Perhaps a snide remark in a meeting or a biting e-mail ruined your day.

This book is a leadership manual on how to deal with the lions in your life, and how to successfully lead in this unpredictable world. When people don’t say what they mean and things aren’t what they seem, we have to rely on leadership principles that never change.

In these pages, you will discover sixty-six powerful leadership concepts from every book of the Bible. The ancient Scriptures speak of conflict management, motivation, planning, psychology, persuasion, passion, relationship-building, training, and sacrifice—a myriad of skills every leader needs in his or her toolbox.

These biblical leadership techniques have worked for thousands of years—but sadly, many leaders ignore them today. Maybe that’s because they’re not quick roads to power, fame, or wealth. Instead, they lead to a life well lived, to true success. And to less pain along the way.

If you master them, you will master your lions.

Lion imagery appears everywhere in the Bible. Even the Lord says of Himself, “He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west” (Hos. 11:10). Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Judah. He said, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34).

As leaders, we must become like lions ourselves—roaring when necessary, feared by our followers, yet calm and gentle in the heat of the day. And when our people fall into their own lions’ dens, we need to go in and get them out.

The Gems in This Book

Over the past few years, I’ve read each book of the Bible in search of fresh lessons for leaders. This has led me to some amazing discoveries.

For example, I thought the twelve books of the Minor Prophets primarily contained prophetic messages of doom. Little did I know they held secrets to motivating people, turning our careers around, business planning, fighting superior force, and customer research.

When I got to the Gospels, I didn’t think I’d find anything new there, either. I thought everything about Jesus’ leadership tactics had been written. But fresh insights emerged: Matthew demonstrated how to connect with my people the way Jesus did. Luke taught how to discover someone’s true character with three tests. In John, I found three tactics to raise my leadership profile among my peers and followers.

I’ve sought to discover the freshest, most pertinent leadership lesson in every book. When strung together, these sixty-six concepts reveal a meta-narrative about how to lead people. While human research and wisdom are fallible and change depending on time and culture, a plethora of modern research supports the Bible’s forty authors, who themselves were separated by centuries and cultures.

I don’t pretend to have found every divine leadership principle. Many didn’t make it into my manuscript, since the goal was to choose only one from each book. Doubtless some of them won’t be new to you and others will go against the advice of well-known authors. You’ll find many more if you do your own digging.

Perhaps the most significant revelation I found was echoed by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All of my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”

The Conclusion of History

Throughout the millennia, non-Christian writers have offered valuable wisdom, like Sun Tzu in The Art of War, the famous sixth-century BC Chinese treatise on battlefield prowess. Many modern military institutions require their students to read it. Though it’s one of the oldest known books on military strategy, thousands of leaders have successfully applied it to the tech-accelerated marketplace of today.

The Bible, of course, is even more ancient. It has provided guidance and wisdom for countless leaders throughout history:1

Robert E. Lee—“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”

Theodore Roosevelt—“A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.”

Woodrow Wilson—“I am sorry for men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and pleasure.”

Abraham Lincoln—“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.”

Napoleon Bonaparte—“The Bible is no mere book, but it’s a living creature with a power that conquers all who oppose it.”

George Washington—“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Andrew Jackson—“That Book is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

Sir Isaac Newton—“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”

Charles Dickens—“The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”

Well-known marketplace leaders like S. Truett Cathy, founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, and David Novak, CEO of Yum! and author of The Education of an Accidental CEO (Crown Business, 2007), build their lives and work on a biblical foundation. Author Zig Ziglar credits the Bible with making him who he is today. Ditto John Maxwell, the prolific leadership guru, author of more than thirty books, and former pastor. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (HarperCollins), found that his so-called “level 5 leader” matched the description of Jesus Christ.

Whatever your vocation, whether you teach, manage, protect, heal, serve the elderly, volunteer, pilot a plane, clean, compete, coach, preach, or parent, it is my hope that the concepts throughout this book will hone your leadership skills and help you find true success in work and life.

And the next time you find yourself in a lion’s den, may the sharpest teeth be your own.

1

Spark Creativity One Brain at a Time—Genesis

“Creativity is to think more efficiently.”

—Pierre Reverdy, French poet

W

hen I was a kid, a man who worked with my dad called him the most creative businessman he’d ever known. But Dad could barely draw a stick man. Though he never professed or demonstrated what I considered creativity, he had a knack for artfully solving business and people problems.

Most people don’t think their abilities resemble creativity, either. But I’ve seen a financial executive present bland financial data in the form of a compelling story. I’ve watched in awe as a sales exec adjusted his language to lead a prospect from arms-folded resistance to acceptance.

What does creativity mean to you? Many people think artistry. Others think innovation. Still others go a level deeper. Alberto Alessi, CEO of the Alessi product design firm, said, “We consider our core activity to be mediating between, on one side, the best possible expressions of product design from all over the world and, on the other side, the final customer’s dreams.”2 Another example of creative innovation is NineSigma.com, which connects companies with inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students through an online match-making service. These ad hoc teams create groundbreaking new products and solutions. Many organizations foster creative teamwork through collaborative instant messaging, chat windows, discussion boards, and project groups.

Though online cooperation might appear to be a new kind of brainstorming, it’s actually based on an ancient model of creativity. The concept is simple: the best creative thinking is done when individuals have a chance to think before they collaborate. Not everyone thinks well in groups. Especially introverts like me. We need time to cogitate and organize our thoughts before verbalizing them.

The original act of divine creativity in Genesis was executed by one mind (notwithstanding the Trinity). God didn’t wait to ask us what we wanted. His vision was clear. Later, humans had their chance to invent and originate, but not until the Lord had completed His foundational work.

Throughout the Bible, as you will see, God and His handpicked people model different aspects of leadership. In Genesis, He also models the perfect work and rest ethic. Why shouldn’t He be our model for creativity, too?

We can infer from God’s method of creativity that teams shouldn’t necessarily be exalted over individuals. For example, when most executives are faced with significant problems, they resort to group brainstorming sessions. The problem with these, say social researchers, is brainstorming in a group setting rarely enhances the quantity or quality of ideas. One reason is the fear of peer evaluation. Plus, listening to other ideas can cause us to forget our own. Sometimes people simply don’t have enough time to think of anything.

Another reason group creativity doesn’t work is “social loafing,” when some in the group go silent because they think their contributions aren’t valued, or because they can’t compete with the bolder group members. As a result, the quieter people’s ideas go unspoken. A simple solution is to collect everyone’s thoughts before the meeting, freeing them to think without distractions, anxiety, or time constraints. The leader collects the ideas and e-mails the anonymous list to the group. After refinement, the team meets in person to expand or combine the top-voted ideas.

When you need a creative solution, remember the Genesis model. First analyze the issue without group influence. You’ll then be able to lead your team through the creative process at maximum efficiency, with all the best ideas on the table. If you rally the troops too early for collaborative thinking, too many dysfunctional dynamics and distractions will neuter the creativity, especially with larger groups.

You as the leader are the genesis of creativity in your organization. By encouraging individual thought among your people, groupthink will never have a chance to birth mediocrity.

Leadership Principle #1 (Genesis)

Creative leaders coax the best thinking out of individuals before calling a brainstorming session to combine the minds.

“In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)