Guest Blogger–Pastor Mike Montegomery

mike and susie montgomery

I’m glad to have my friend Pastor Mike Montegomery guest blogging on Reagan Review. I’ve learned over the last few years that he is a dedicated Pastor who loves his people, is dedicated to preaching God’s Word, and has a passion for souls. He is as true a friend as could one could be. He was the one who moved in our home while we were in Tennessee a week soon after my wife became paralyzed and tore a closet out of our bedroom replacing it with an accessible bathroom. He even raised the funds for the project. Needless to say, his Christianity is of the real variety. We love his entire family. He is also a reader and I love to hear his take on books he has read. 

He has his own blog at

http://philippians216.blogspot.com/

Brothers We Are Not Professionals

Boardman Holman Publisher

By: John Piper

First Published in 2002

286 pages

Overview

This book is a thought provoking look at the ministry and the personal walk of the pastor. Mr. Piper writes with passion and beauty. He does a great job of keeping your interest and always makes you think.

The purpose of the book is clear in the preface. Pg. xi “The aim of this book is to spread a radical, pastoral passion for the supremacy of and centrality of the crucified and risen God-Man, Jesus Christ, in every sphere of life and ministry and culture.” As far as this reader is concerned he hits what he aims at.

High notes

Mr. Piper repeatedly encourages the study of the pastor. He challenges you to be well read and well prepared. His writing reminds me often of A.W. Tozer in that it is often passionately spiritual and deeply rooted in the Word of God. He exalts the Scripture and calls for the Scripture to speak through the preacher in the pulpit. He leaves the reader with the understanding that the source of a sermon is Scripture, not the mind of the preacher. This book is never boring and will stir your soul as well as your mind. He willingly and boldly confronts misconceptions within the local church polity and theology.  He also emphatically stands on the Scripture for men only in the pastoral ministry. Mr. Piper closes the book with a strong plea for pastors to strengthen their own marriage, and in light of times, this cannot be echoed too often.

Low Points

Mr. Piper is a staunch Calvinist and it does come through in the book. Most of his emphasis is for the sovereignty of God and of course we can agree that God is sovereign. Chapter Fifteen I felt he had waded into a realm of doctrine that I believe is quicksand. In Chapter Eighteen he covers the importance of baptism. Though we agree on the time and method I feel he gives too much wiggle room to paedobaptism.

Summary

All in all, the entire book is a great read and any pastor will walk away from each chapter with at least one convicting and stirring truth. I would put this book at the top your stack!

 

I’ll Never Understand It

I have watched the scene play out many times. Someone stares the reality of not being acceptable to God in the face. The truth of sin can not be avoided any longer and yet Christ is rejected. I don’t get it. I’ve been born again for 32 years now so maybe I am too far removed to remember what might entice someone to resist the Person of Jesus Christ.

Here’s how it looks to me now. I’m wrong with God, I’ve chosen darkness over His light, and my deeds are inexcusably evil. There is no way I can atone for my sins, no way I can bridge the chasm that I caused between me and God, and my future is eternally horrible.

In that helpless state, He moved to rescue me when I am the one in the wrong. Rescuing me came at tremendous cost to Him. Jesus left the splendors of heaven, came and suffered the humiliation of taking on a body, lived a giving life of hardship, came to a grotesque cross, bled, died, was buried and rose again–all for me! If I but accept His payment made on my behalf, my sins are forgiven, my eternal future secure, and the rift between us is healed.

To top it off, He offered to me at no cost. No cost to me at least! He even went so far as to send others to tell me about Himself and what He wants to do for me. So, to reject that–I’ll never understand!

I watched many people, though, do that very thing. Like as told in this poem:

JESUS WEPT

I saw a man

With Christ on the veranda of his soul

As gentle as a mare over a coal

Jesus knocked.

I heard a man

Who ignored the overtures to his heart

And said that he wanted no part

Jesus sought.

I watched a man

With no sense of impending doom

And of the judgement that did loom

Jesus pleaded.

I saw a man

Who thought he could delay

As if there were always another day

Jesus tugged.

 I heard a man

With all around him a swirling flood

And then trifle with the Blood

Jesus gave.

 I watched a man

Who could have triumphed over strife

And have received eternal life

Jesus loved.

 I felt for a man

Who stood on sinking sand

And overlooked a nail-scarred hand

Jesus wept.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes A Day by Garry Morgan

Do you ever catch yourself wondering what exactly other religions believe? Do you  wonder if your one sentence understanding is actually accurate? Do you then go look at a bookshelf of books on world religions and notice that they are all 500 pages or more and chicken out? Well, likely this is the book you have been looking for. It’s given in 180 readable, easy pages and as the title implies, your time is taken into consideration.

He begins by defining “religion”. He keys on a systematic set of beliefs that speaks to ultimate questions about life’s meaning. He will with this logical definition be able to legitimately address secular humanism as a religion.

He addresses Christianity first in one short chapter accurately focusing on the fact that Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship. Well, according to his definition, it is one, but I appreciate how he found a way to show that the Christian “religion” is fully unique in how it answers life’s questions and the dealing with sin. When looked out from this vantage point, it is amazing, at least to me, what puts all other beliefs in the same fold-a solution tied up in works.

Then he dives into Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical Christianity. I might find it a weakness in his trying to present Christianity objectively to the point of not overtly stating its superiority, but I’m sure it was so designed to reach a broader audience. You do see, though, that covertly he is a believer.

He gives the most detail on Islam as it is on our minds these days. Six chapters cover the variety that is out there in the Muslim world. He makes the complexities digestible and is all most would want to read on it. He also explains the confusing differences with Hinduism, Buddhism and the Baha’i faith.

He also covers eastern religions that, though rarer, make their way to us in popular culture in movies and current bestselling books. New Age and transcendental meditation are even covered.

He tries to define the difference in a cult and a religion. Some groups called cults in our day are addressed as well.

This book is a solid addition to Bible study. It’s length is a winner and it is understandable without being heavy. It’s most cases it will answer your questions satisfactorily. I recommend it to Christian laymen, homeschooling families, and pastors who need a quick review or overview.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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 . 

What Is The Future Of Guys?

Well, what is the future for us guys? For men in general? And finally, since it naturally follows, society in general? I can’t get away from the subject. I just did a book review about a book that addresses the struggles of Christian men         (Man Alive by Patrick Morley). Then I read a couple of interesting blog posts by Marc Cortez that brings to light some surprising information he gleaned from psychologist Philip Zimbardo among others.

Would you believe that your daughter is now more likely to get a college degree of any level than your son as well as do excel in school from start to finish? If you view those stats from 1970 to the projected amounts for 2020, an alarming shift is underway. It’s nothing against daughters (I have 3 of them), but what does this bespeak of my sons’ future (I have 3 of them too)? I don’t want to be obsessed with the idea that manhood is under full-scale attack, but something is up!

What I read only got more disturbing. Beyond academic chaos, guys are “wiping out relationally with girls, and sexually with women.”  Mr. Zimbardo is a little blunt in his remarks, but makes sense. To what does he attribute this downward slide? He says “excessive internet use, excessive video gaming, and ‘porning'” are the real culprit.

Mr. Cortez, in his fine blog post, focused on “arousal addictions” as the common thread of those 3 reasons. It’s the unreality of the virtual world overtaking the reality of life, the inability to find fun in real life activities, and the inability to distinguish an encounter from a relationship or what intimacy even is. For example, it’s much more work to make a relationship thrive than to satisfy a desire. The sad misunderstanding is that real relationship and intimacy even pays off in most thoroughly fulfilling desires.

The problem is I want it now. It wreaks its way through our society. We don’t want to invest time into anything no matter how worthwhile. I want arousal of my senses on every level. He even spoke of men spending more and more time together even if it costs them romance with a lady. (I’m for keeping the women myself, but that’s just me.) He said that there’s a trend of men preferring games over intimacy with a woman!

It takes effort to get a degree for your life’s work, but  we are not into the long term. You know, that’s so non-arousing! This only serves to push men away from the very roles where they are most needed. Irresponsibility murders responsibility.

I suppose here you would expect a pastor to begin a list of do’s and don’t’s, but that will not be the case. Our high-speed, connected world is here to stay. To wax eloquent against it would be like carrying on about electricity a generation or so ago. Moderation, or a Spirit-led life, would, I suppose, be in order. I’ll not define that for you, and I’d prefer you not define it for me, but it is a fair question between me and the Lord.

Then there is what you watch. Pornography, I hope we all agree, is out of bounds and safeguards in our one-click age are a must. Beyond that, the need is not that I tell you what you can watch or where you watch it. The first issue is no help at all because you’d be stuck if I had never said if it were fine to watch or not. The second misses the point because it holds up the appearance of my reputation over the reality of my character. If I keep my character I’ll probably be able to hold on to my reputation to some degree.

We lament these trends among men. The best thing I can do is be a real man. Next I can raise my sons to be the opposite of the age. Finally, I can encourage many of you who are fighting to keep Biblical manhood where it should be. May the Lord help you and me.

Man Alive by Patrick Morley

Here’s a winning addition to the growing shelves of Christian books for men.  There’s no lack of need since men as a general rule are lagging behind in spiritual advancement. Frankly, we need the help.

Mr. Morley talks a language you can understand. It’s where we live–good or bad.  He says “…as many as 90 percent of Christian men lead lukewarm, stagnant, often defeated lives. They’re mired in spiritual mediocrity–and they hate it.” True on both counts, wouldn’t you agree?

The book arranges around what he calls the seven primal needs of men. You might think some of them selfish, or addressing brokenness, but they are undeniably the fabric of men’s lives. We don’t want to live life alone despite the male tendency for aloof isolation. Our actions, like being swallowed by a career, pull us away from meeting our real need. See the difference in approach? Not spend time with your family because it’s a good thing, but because it meets your own deepest needs. We so often misunderstand ourselves.

In our complete misunderstanding we run from God and the fellowship of other believers in a local church when that is our very need. We need the “transforming” mentioned in Romans 12:2.  He distinguishes between heart transformation and behavior modification. Which do we need? But where do we put our emphasis? No wonder we have such a hard time. Learning that the Father really loves me, individually me, is another. He explains how the tendency for macho behavior among men is at its core just a cover up in this area.

We also must believe our life has purpose. Sadly, most of us do not. He gives practical insight that can help. He progresses to explain our need to break free from destructive behaviors, which likely spring from the aforementioned. Needs 6 and 7 seem, to me, to be found in the earlier mentioned ones, but they are critical enough to be worthy of the extra effort to grasp.The 8th one is a good summary–To make a contribution and make the world a better place. That’s not as selfish as it sounds, and I imagine, is where Christ would be glad (on His terms of course) to help us. There’s psychology here, but the Bible lurks in the wings as well. I recommend the book.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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 .