Christ And The Desert Tabernacle–A Book To Help Through The Maze

Admit it. All those chapters in Exodus and Leviticus on the Tabernacle really confuse you. I imagine you read them rather quickly when you are in that part of the Bible. What does this mean? Not that there is something wrong with you, but that we just need help. Enter this volume by J. V. Fesko and published by EP Books.

In 12 chapters he covers the building materials, the furniture (often a chapter for each piece), and ends with 2 chapters on Oholiab/Bezalel and the Sabbath respectively. In every chapter he tries to draw out the New Testament truth being taught in the Tabernacle.

Hardly any place in the Bible is so rife with typology. That’s what makes it difficult. Sometimes the New Testament, particularly in Hebrews, will spell it all out for us. At other times, we are on our own. The value in this book is that he makes appropriate suggestions for us. Whether we agree with his conclusion or not, he at least shows us not to be overly fanciful. We should tie the typology into the larger truths, not minute things. No suggestion he made seemed outrageous to me.

I appreciate his reminding us several times that this wasn’t just typological teaching, but a representation of a Tabernacle in Heaven. I fully agree with Mr. Fesko on that count.

This book will not be the definitive volume on the Tabernacle as long as we can still get to Soltau, Slemming, Haldeman, and Brown among others, but it is helpful. It might be all most families would need on the subject. I, for one, am glad to have it.

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 . 

Understanding Theology In 15 Minutes A Day–Really!

Here’s real help! You are surely aware of the theological illiteracy of our day. Christians are often easy prey for cults because they so little know what they believe. Hand them the usual systematic theology book and they panic, or at least lay it aside quickly. Would you agree that we need more easily-digestible materials  to rescue confused Christians? This book written by Daryl Aaron and published by Bethany House meets a real need.

I’ll just admit it–I’m totally impressed with how well Mr. Aaron brought theology so clearly to us in this volume. I went in thinking that superficiality would drown this volume because of its daunting task to make us understand theology in a little over 200 pages, but that is not the case. This book is good, really good.

The strengths  of this book include understandable definitions, information on important divisions in Christian thought, and a clear love of Christ, His Word, and the theology that springs from it. It also succeeds in communication as many things are well put. I found myself underlining something in every chapter.

The book was at it weakest when in controversy. Particularly anything that touched  the Calvinism-Arminianism debate took a much more cautious approach. I suspect that was more the publishers guideline than the authors choice. Still, there is value in presenting both sides as objectively as possible and letting we readers decide for ourselves. The only big criticism I could make of this book is the lack of an index.

This book will be a real boon to younger Christians. For those of us who have most of the many works on systematic theology, this book is still a real asset. In my own studies I enjoy reading the larger works for understanding, but reading volumes like this to suggest how to teach it is helpful. I’d love for Christians everywhere to read this 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 . 

Last month I reviewed another fine book in this series called Understanding World Religions In 15 Minutes A Day.

 

It Is An Evil Time

What do you think of the days in which we live? More importantly, what should you and I do about it? As Christians, what exactly does it mean for us when we state the obvious “It is an evil time?” Are we to sink into despair and hopelessness?

The Bible has more to say than many think; not only what constitutes evil days, but how we should approach them as well. Look at Amos and the dark days he lived.  It was in Amos 5:13 that the statement itself was made: “It is an evil time.”

Those days were filled with injustice. Official judgments were pathetic. Those who were supposed to rule righteously, judge fairly, and protect the helpless were failing at every level for their own selfish ends. Sound familiar?

We live in times of such injustices coming at every level. Whether it’s the local official taking care of his buddy, or a high-ranking official fleecing a multitude, or a court failing to protect the helpless, it’s the norm of our times. The severely disabled, the elderly, the unborn, and the poor live without the common decency that should be afforded them. I just heard of a court approving a parent’s request for surgery to alter their severely disabled daughter for their convenience. They made it where she couldn’t grow anymore, gave her a hysterectomy to avoid any sort of monthly inconvenience, and the ethics committee of the hospital approved it! Yes, it is an evil time.

Our text laid it out plainly, but I am so glad the Lord has more to say. In Amos 5: 14-15 we are told: Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

The trouble with most of us is that we don’t have more to say. We moan and say “It is an evil time.” That’s it. If that were really all of it, it would be the most hopeless, depressing message imaginable. The Lord tells us what to do and moaning has nothing to do with it.

Seek the good. What the world is doing around you should have no effect on what you are doing. Despite the evil and death all around, you have the vibrant life of Christ and His fellowship. When the Lord in His holiness is forced to raise His hand in judgment, you can still be held close to His heart!  He “shall be with you.”

Then, hate the evil. Don’t be part of it. You treat those others fairly and provide honest and righteous judgement in everything. Yes, you will be the proverbial fish out of water in our culture, but what is at stake? Did you notice the last part of the above verses? (“ it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious…“) It may just be that you will extend God’s mercy to your own people. It’s not that you sway the Lord, or that He is indebted to you, but that you have made it so a Holy God can legitimately extend the mercy He wants to give.

Yes, things are a little bleak these days. Is our task just to gripe? No, we have much more to do now that “it is an evil time.”

Jesus: A Theography–A Remarkable Read

Would you like a juicy biography of Jesus Christ? How about one that brought the entire sweep of the Bible to bear on the subject? Then, you have what you are looking forward to in “Jesus: A Theography” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola and recently published by Thomas Nelson.

Unlike other volumes on the life of Christ, the authors here take us back to eternity past. They vividly paint the scene in Heaven as Jesus leaves to come to Earth for us too. You probably won’t find that between the covers of others books on your shelves.

When the authors discussed Christ in both macro and micro version, they were providing great insights. Throughout the book they met a real need in giving a larger view. That is where many such volumes fail. They are able to wade through a sea of details to pull out the key ones that fill the canvas of the composite picture of God’s Revelation. Remember, it is the synthesized view that most leads to understanding.

You also had to love how they unlocked Jesus from some of the ridiculous stereotypes that have been around at least as long as Hollywood has been making movies about Him. They made Him so alive. You see Him as He surely was–always without sin yet righteously angry, laughing, talking, loving, even being funny. They showed Him with emotion–properly controlled of course–but with emotion nonetheless.

You might not agree with every conclusion they make but His death, burial, and resurrection is given its rightful place and they have a strong Christology. To make it all even better they can both turn a phrase and separate the important from the not so important. I never heard of a theography before this book, but am now convinced that it is exactly what we need.

They make it clear that Christianity is Christ. This book is important and flat-out good. I highly recommend it!

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 .

Remember Peter!

The breaking of God is proportionate  to the quality of ministry one will have later in life” said a book I am reading.  From there the author showed how the Lord trained Peter with this in mind.

It was just what I needed! A reminder of what I’ve heard all through my Christian life and could quote with the best of them. Remember Peter!

Failures, less than stellar results, stumblings, shortcomings before a God you love, shortcomings before the people you love–these are the things that weigh you down. Why shouldn’t they? You caused them. At least I know that about myself. Then you add the fact that actions have consequences and you have your life. That is unmistakably our lives. A certain amount of brokenness surely attends to it.

Where does that leave us? That fortunately depends, with just a little cooperation, more on Christ than us. You and I must think before we decide what we will do, what exactly will Jesus do. Again I say, remember Peter.

Despite the fact that Peter was repeatedly exposed and failed his Lord many times, he was the object of Jesus’ unending love” continued the article.  You know the litany of Peter’s failures. Probably every one wondered why he was the leader of the Twelve. His failures came more often than his successes, at least for a long time. Probably the other eleven entertained thoughts on more than one occasion that he was a mess and they could do his role better. Of course no one can do better the role the Lord gave you–the spouse you are, the parent you are, the Christian worker you are-than you. Were it not so the Lord would have given the job to someone else. That doesn’t mean you or I are doing as well as we should or could, but it is still true. Enter Jesus.

He worked on Peter in ways Peter would have preferred to not be worked on, yet it took his life somewhere. The failures didn’t stop Christ either. You and I would have written Peter off after that third denial, if not before. Christ didn’t. It was Christ that met him when he was at his worst along the Sea of Galilee. He honestly had made a mess of everything! It was a life in disaster. There came Jesus.

Where am I today? Where are you? I’ll keep my failures to myself and give you the same courtesy. But where is Christ? He is here. No matter where we are today, He is not finished. That’s good to know. Peter had a future, a really good one, and so can you and I. Thanks to Jesus Christ!

Those authors said one more thing rather causally, but let’s seize it for ourselves: “In times of failure keep two words in mind: Remember Peter.”

Traveling The King’s Highway

It’s the road I’m traveling–the King’s Highway. I sure enjoy traveling it. I’m glad to know so many others traveling it as well. A life of loving and serving the King surely is a nice journey. I’ve spent the day studying God’s Word. That was my pleasant task–I hope you found yours as pleasant as I did mine. If I ever have a hard day, I just remember where this road is taking me.

I started traveling this road through unknown territory when I was 10 years old and the King Himself put me on it. I wasn’t royalty and had no access before He got involved. But I’m glad to be on it now!

There was a King’s Highway in Moses’ day. There is a road in modern-day Jordan that pretty much follows the ancient route and carries still the old name. When I made my solo trip there 2 years ago, I made a point to drive that way. (That’s a portion of it in the picture above). The signage was poor and I accidentally got off in Muslim towns several times. I have a tendency to do that on the King’s Highway. Unlike that King’s Highway in Jordan, there is still a King on the one I’m traveling and He helps every mile of the way.

Here’s a poem I wrote that sums up my thoughts on the Kings’s Highway:

Traveling The King’s Highway

The road of life is rocky                                                                                   Obstacles lay in the way,                                                                                          But you’ll make it if you go,                                                                           Traveling the King’s Highway.

You may lose sight of the goal,                                                                               Mired in evil this day,                                                                                     But look up, weary pilgrim,                                                                     Traveling the King’s Highway.

You think the scenery is strange?                                                            Unpleasant you even say?                                                                              But think where you’re going!                                                                         Traveling the King’s Highway.

So you want to park awhile?                                                                           Relax and rest if you may?                                                                             But remember some are not,                                                                          Traveling the King’s Highway.

Riddled by a lack of faith?                                                                               No strength to stay the right way?                                                                              Trust the One Who paid the fare,                                                                      Traveling the King’s Highway.

You Know the company is good,                                                                                As we journey each day,                                                                                        And the pavement turns to gold,                                                                     Traveling the King’s Highway!

–Jimmy Reagan

A Book To Introduce Your Children To Great Missionaries

Wouldn’t you love to have a book to acquaint your children with great missionaries? This is your book then–Great For God by David Shibley and published by New Leaf Publishing. Twenty-six missionaries are pleasantly written of in this helpful volume. Some you may not know as well as others, but the most famous ones are here. You’ll learn of a few you didn’t know as well.

A synopsis begins each entry with key dates, legacy, and a famous quote. This is a great way to introduce a 6 or 7 page chapter. In my opinion, they are very well written and hold attention. I put the book to the ultimate test. I had my children gather around the table and I read several chapters aloud to them. Then I asked the hardest, most-detailed questions I could think of. My kids didn’t miss one question. Even my 5-year-old Macey nailed several questions. That is the ultimate proof to me that this is a quality book for families.

I want my children to know about missionaries. To tell the truth, these type of biographies greatly encourage and challenge me personally. This book is one of the best I’ve seen of the missionary biography books covering multiple missionaries. I give this book the highest recommendation. It’s perfect for what it intends to be and I’m glad the Reagans have it at our disposal.

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 .

Great Blogs You Ought Know About

There’s many worthwhile blogs out there these days. Some with outstanding content.

I’d like to introduce you to Partners For The Gospel (P4G). It’s the brainchild of Pastor Patrick Nix that he modeled after the Gospel Coalition blog. It puts out new content every day. I’ve been honored to be a contributor, but it’s not just pastors writing there. You’ll find a variety that gives a broader perspective. The blog has gotten off to a good start. I’d recommend you check it out!

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about a new blog for ladies called Living On PB & J. The idea for it was born with our friend Joy Boyer who has had her own blog for some time called The Boyer Story. They have quite a collection of wives and mothers contributing on there including my wife Alicia. I’m not reading it myself (except my own Sweetie’s articles) since it’s for ladies, but I’m seeing it all over Facebook. They must be having a good time on there.

I came across a blog I’m already enjoying following called The Christian Pundit. Several people I know shared an article about the importance of whom you marry for daughters. It was really good. After I looked into it, the blog turned out not to be a ladies blog, but one put out by a husband-and-wife team named William and Rebecca VanDoodewaard. Together they put out a broad range of helpful material. They are great writers and I look forward to following them in the future on this very well-done blog.

Additionally, I’d like to tell you about a blog by a great friend of mine called Philippians216.blogspot.com. It’s by Pastor Mike Montegomery. He’s had the blog for a while mostly writing little things for his church, but now he’s tackling larger subjects with great insights. He’s really been on a roll!

Finally, if you know me, you probably know who my favorite blogger is. This blogger often writes her blog posts in the late evening while lying beside me. Her blog is in no way a ladies-only blog as she writes on many things through her unique eyes. Of course love would compel me to love her blog no matter what, but I genuinely love her writing. She sets the bar high when I go to write an entry for Reagan Review! The other day she wrote an exceptionally good one that epitomized her style called Rubbernecking.

There’s many worthwhile blogs out there competing to be read in our busy lives. Thanks for reading Reagan Review!

“Unstoppable” By The Inspiring Nick Vujicic

You’ve surely seen a video by Mr. Vujicic. If you are like me, I imagine it held your attention. He’s a Christian and an advocate for folks with disability to live life to the fullest, to reject the stereotypes that disabled individuals often face, and live beyond discouragement.

This is his second book, here published by Waterbrook Press, that follows up his very successful first volume Life Without Limits. The cover gives you an idea of what you might be in for with this book and Mr. Vujicic. The subtitle”The Incredible Power of Faith in Action” accurately defines the ground he covers.

The book begins with him telling you how successful and busy he has been. If that were to hit you wrongly, he will quickly mute it when he tells you the emotional crisis he has gone through the last few years. He relates that although the first book and speaking ministry have been successful, his company almost crashed at the low point of our economy. This shortly after he had expanded the company, hired new people, and let his parents pull up stakes to move here from Australia to help. His Dad is an accountant and a classic believer in fiscal responsibility! He fell into deep depression and really spares none of the gory details when he tells the story. What he learned and how he dealt with it is worthy reading. He relates to a secret suicide attempt in childhood because of the sadness of what he imagined his life would be. He encourages us in showing how he, a motivational speaker, had to relearn a lesson he should have known well. I can relate to the relearning thing for sure.

In another story he tells about the highs and lows of the journey of God bringing his wonderful wife to him. It is as gripping as a novel, except he draws out real life lessons from the ordeal. You find yourself cheering when he gets her.

The rest of the book is not as good, but he addresses practical matters illustrated by stories of people he met along the way of his ministry. His dealing with bullies, since he had much experience with it, was well done.

The book is in no way theological. It is motivational, with a big you-can-do-it push. It does declare on several occasions that the Lord is also critical to handling adversity, but that is not so carefully brought out. Still, for what this book tries to do, it really succeeds. You will be inspired!

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 .

Reflections On 9 Years As Pastor Of First Baptist Church

It seems like yesterday that we came in that moving truck from Tennessee to West Union, Ohio. 9 years! I can’t fathom it really. We beat the statistics at least in that the average pastorate is around 18 months at the last count I heard.

I laugh when I think of the naivety I brought with me. Leaving the banking world really brought little help in the new life the Lord called me into. When our church surprised me with a celebration today, it really got me thinking.

Pastoring is tougher than I imagined for sure. I’ve got the bumps and bruises to prove it. I’ve seen the days when everyone thought I was the greatest pastor around and the days where I was the most incompetent pastor that ever walked behind the pulpit. I’ve lived through the harder days when the choices I felt required of God to make cost me much to the days now where I am just Jimmy and my people love me while knowing I have feet of clay.

As I type, I’m weighing it all out. Yes, it’s difficult, but if I could go back 9 years, would I do anything differently? Not on your life! I don’t care that some plans flopped, or some planned big days were small potatoes at best. I still consider the call of God on my life the greatest life of all.

To get to shepherd, with God’s help, other believers, to get to stand and preach, and to get spend my days in God’s Word, still washes away the worst debris of the ministry as if it never happened.

So thank you dear folks of First Baptist Church for the privilege of being your pastor. And thank you Lord for condescending to call one as unworthy as me to the greatest work I could ever imagine. All I want for the rest of my life is to continue this honor of serving my Lord.