Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: Lies Pastors Believe by Dayton Hartman

We are all constantly tempted to believe lies.  The lies we are typically tempted to believe are self-serving.  As Pastor Dayton Hartman explains in his latest book, Lies Pastors Believe, the shepherds among us are not immune to this temptation.  He explains:

"As each year of ministry passes, I'm amazed by the lies I have believed.  As I've matured, I've found that one of the best defenses against believing lies is knowing the kinds of lies that tempt me.  I'm on guard for them before I believe them, and so the temptation to believe and speak things I know are untrue has increasingly diminished.  But still, even with greater awareness, I'm continually identifying lies that I tell myself" [p. 2].

Through various conversations with other pastors, the author has also discovered that they too are tempted to believe many of these same lies.  And while Hartman does not pretend to have identified a comprehensive list of lies pastors are tempted to believe, his purpose in his latest work is to "lay bare" many of the common lies pastors are seduced by.  His hope is that this will keep pastors from being misled about themselves and their ministries.

The author further acknowledges that it can be difficult for the pastor to face the untruths they have been misled to believe, but he is emphatic that they must.  He writes:

"Ignoring the lies you've believed will not protect you, your family, or your church from the eventual fallout.  Therefore, you must begin rooting out the idols of your heart that give rise to the deceptions you so willingly embrace.  You cannot be passive in the war against self-deception.  Be on guard!"
[p. 4]

And Hartman is wise enough to recognize that simply identifying the lies is not enough.  As he contends:

"We must respond to our self-deception with corrective actions.  That is why I have suggested a series of actions steps to help you overcome the lies you've believed" [Ibid].

Chapter 1: The Visionary- "Jesus has called me to lead a movement."

 Many pastors today go into ministry with the desire to do big things for God.  They imagine themselves preaching to the masses and hundreds of people getting saved in the process.  They believe that their job is to cast their vision for God and become the next John Piper, Tim Keller, or R.C. Sproul.  However, as Hartman argues, being in the "pastoral ministry isn't flashy; it is faithful service.  It isn't about building a brand; it is about pointing people to Jesus.  It isn't about growing a platform; it is about advancing the kingdom...[o]ur job is not to cast our vision; our job is to announce Jesus's promise to save sinners and change nations" [p. 9-10].

Chapter 2: The Iron Chef- "No one has ever fed them like me."

Another lie pastors face is that they believe their own hype!  On a regular basis, they may have people around them telling them how great they preach and how gifted they are.  However, in the process, there exists a real danger that their sermons can become more about them and less about Jesus!  As the author notes:

"If you want empty sermons, make sure you and your personality take center stage...[w]hen we become focused primarily on what we have to say, we end up saying nothing at all" [p. 18].

Hartman goes on to offer pastors some practical ways to be sure their preaching focuses on "the only One who truly preaches with authority: Jesus" [p. 25].

Chapter 3: The Achiever- "Jesus loves me, this I earn."

Hartman continues in the next chapter by explaining how many pastors believe that they need to strive for God's approval.  Not only is this attitude personally destructive, but it is also anti-gospel! This reviewer took great comfort in the author's reminder that we have nothing to prove to God the Father.  I am in Christ so, "He already fully approved of me in Christ" [p. 34].

Furthermore, Hartman challenges the pastor with some difficult questions.  He asks:

"What will your response be if your ministry is largely anonymous, without any books, blogs, conference invites, or respected titles?  How you answer those questions will reveal a lot about why you are aspiring to be a pastor" [p. 35].

The church does not exist to fulfill the unmet emotional needs of the pastor, but to serve and glorify Jesus Christ.

Chapter 4: The Called- "I'm called to be a pastor"

As someone who has struggled with the question, "Am I called to be a pastor?," I found this chapter most helpful.  Pastor Hartman does a great job explaining how many have been deceived into believing that "one's calling was personal, subjective, and ultimately between that person and God"
[p. 40].

He concludes by laying out what the Bible has to say about men aspiring to serve the church in this capacity.

Chapter 5: The Holy Man- "My perceived holiness is more important than my pursuit of holiness"

Whether you are a pastor or not, most Christians are tempted at one time or another to put forth a facade of sinlessness, all the while struggling in our private life.  Hartman believes that the first step in changing this atmosphere of perceived holiness is for the pastor himself to concede that he is also a sinner...from the pulpit.  After all, as he explains, "If the pastor is broken, messed up, and sinful" [p. 51], then the congregation will be more willing to admit that they are as well.

He also goes on to explain the dangers of believing the "Holy Man Myth" and offers tips on how pastors can seek true, rather than false, holiness.

Chapter 6: The Anti-Family Man- "I must sacrifice my home life for my ministry life"

Readers of this blog may know that this particular chapter has had a personal impact on my own life.
As I noted here, it was through reading this particular section of Hartman's book that I realized that I was guilty of chasing after certain ministry goals and aspirations at the expense of my own family.

The author argues that while the pastor may be tempted to spend the majority of their time shepherding their church, they are wise to focus on their family first and foremost:

"...prioritizing the church may appear more urgent and more rewarding.  But in the long term, prioritizing our families will produce greater fruit- both in our own families and, through our example, in others" [p. 64].

Hartman continues by suggesting practical ways a pastor can be sure they are cultivating their marriage and their relationships with their children.

Chapter 7: The Castaway- "I'm the only one on this island"

Relationships are central to a successful Christian walk.  In fact, as the author argues, "...one of the ways we most clearly reflect the image of God is our innate longing for relationships.  God is a perfect community of divine relationships within his triune nature of Father, Son, and Spirit.  Thus, the human desire to have meaningful relationships reflects our longing to be like our Creator" [p. 78].

However, in Hartman's experience, pastors are often guilty of distances themselves from their congregations.  Sometimes, this is actually due to some poor advice they have been given!  However, according to the author, this is a grave mistake.  He writes:

"We [pastors] told ourselves that common Christians need community, relationships, and friends, but pastors do not.  This is a lie that denies our own humanity.  God's triune nature, and our bearing of the image of God" [p. 79].

Pastors must seek to befriend members of their own congregation and would be wise to seek friendships with other local pastors.

Chapter 8: "The Invention of Lying"

As Hartman brings his work to an close, he suggests 3 "Actions Steps" for those pastors who have discovered that they are believing lies about themselves, their ministry or their family.

His closing advice certainly rings true with this reviewer:

"Rest in grace.  Make Jesus the hero of your life and the hero of your ministry.  Point your family and your church toward Jesus" [p. 92].

Conclusion

Whether by design or providence, one of the most helpful features of Dayton's Hartman's books are their short-length [106 pgs].  I mention this only because I know from experience that most pastors are very busy.  Outside of their own study time, some have little time to spare for personal reading. Hartman's books are both concisely written and short in length so that even the busiest shepherd can find the time to benefit from the truths therein.

Furthermore, having had the opportunity to personally fellowship or work along side numerous pastors, I know from experience that Hartman addresses many of the struggles pastors deal with on a daily basis.

If you are a pastor and you are looking for an honest, Christ-centered assessment of your ministry priorities and personal motives, Lies Pastors Believe is the book for you!

I highly recommend this work!

You can get your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Book Review: Church History for Modern Ministry by Dayton Hartman

Dayton Hartman on Pastors and Apologetics

An Interview with Dayton Hartman

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

The Sex-Change Revolution Is Based on Ideology, Not Science

Lawmaker Shares Why She Chose Life for Her Child When Doctors Said She Should Abort

Pro-life Democrats becoming an endangered species

Women in Apologetics 2018 Inaugural Conference “Take-Aways”

Swimming bacteria defy Darwin

Tebow’s Mother to March for Life: Doctors Said to Abort Tim

President Trump proclaims January 22 National Sanctity of Human Life Day

Meet the abortionist who committed 75,000 abortions before becoming pro-life

Update: Nets Cover Women’s March Nearly 7X More Than March for Life

Don’t Blame Homeschooling For Child Abuse Cases Like The Turpins’

The story of how ‘Jane Roe’ of Roe v. Wade became pro-life

Dead Sea Scrolls discovery: Obscure fragments deciphered

Chad

Last week's edition can be found here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Teaching Your Kids the Absurdity of Life Without God


I once heard philosopher J.P. Moreland share how he often would talk to his own children about what life would be like if God did not exist.  He actually advocated teaching children atheism!  Moreland contended that when kids contrasted a world in which God existed with a world without God, they would be drawn to the beauty and coherence of the Christianity worldview.  

This can be done by simply asking your kids some simple questions.  Moreland offered the example of Martin Luther King, Jr.  His child had come home from school with a paper about King and they began talking about the importance of King's legacy.  Then, Moreland simply asked something like, "Do you agree with King?  That everyone should be treated equally?"  The child affirmed that she did. They went on to discuss why everyone should be treated equally.  The conversation concluded by Moreland and his daughter discussing if racial equality made more sense on theism or atheism.

I believe that if we as parents look for these types of opportunities, we will be surprised how many present themselves.  For example, children are always pointing out marvels in nature or in the night sky.  Simply asking them, "Do you think that came about by accident or does it appear to be designed?" can get them thinking about the existence of a Creator. 

In the above video, William Lane Craig shares some thoughts that parents can use as a springboard to begin having these types of conversations with their own children.

For those who want to learn more, you can find some of Dr. Craig's writing on this topic here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Raising Your Kids for Christ

As a proud father of two young girls, I understand that I have the responsibility to train up my children in the Lord [Proverbs 22:6].

Here are some things that I have found helpful in carrying out that incredibly important task.



1. Family Devotions/Worship Time


It is my conviction that families should try to have a scheduled time each day to sit down, read and discuss the scriptures, and to pray and praise the Lord.  This will look different for each family.  In our house, we do catechism questions1 with the girls during dessert.  Before bed we read an account from the scriptures or learn about one of God's attributes.2  Lastly, we end our devotional time praying for others. Further, I sometimes lead the family in praise on my guitar.

2. Stop sharing "stories" with your kids

In my house we don't read Bible "stories."  We read Bible accounts.  I want to convey to my children that there are good reasons to believe that the events recorded in the Bible actually happened in space and time.  The Bible is not full of "stories" in the same way Cinderella is a "story," but gives an accurate account of history.  Therefore, I refer to it as such.  When my children ask me a Bible question I try to remember to say, "Let's check what the record says."

 3. Share what you are learning

As parents we need to be actively learning how to make a case for the Christian faith and then share those arguments and evidences with our family.3  This can happen while driving in the car or over a meal.

4. Learn a new language

In addition to using words like faith and hope with our little ones, it important that when we talk about our Christian convictions, we include words like trust, evidence and logic.  Our children need to understand that Christianity is grounded in what is true.  Therefore, when discussing our trust in Christ, we should emphasize the importance of sound thinking and reasonable conclusions.

5. Think out loud with your kids

I remember when my 7 year old daughter came to the realization that there are many other so called "gods."  I pointed out that there are indeed numerous people who have worshiped all kinds of things as God and I asked her the following question- "If there are so many people worshiping all these other so-called gods, how can we know that our God is the true God?"  She thought for a moment and said, "Because our God gave us the Bible!"  I thought that was a fairly good answer for a young child. As she gets older, we will talk about other good reasons to hold this conviction.

Challenge your kids with questions and think out loud with them regarding the answer.  If you don't know the answer, research it with them!

6. Teach Your Kids to Seek Answers to Their Questions

My daughters often ask me questions about the Christian faith or the existence of God and I'll freely admit that sometimes I don't know the answer.  When this happens, I will answer the question to the best of my ability and then let them know that I am going to look into it for them.  Then, I research the question and share the answer I found with them.  In doing so, it is my goal to not only provide them with an answer to their question, but also to model a diligent search for truth.  As my children grow older, my goal is to research answers to their questions with them so that they may ultimately learn to be independent seekers of truth.

7. Model Self-Control in Conflict Resolution

As the father of two young ladies, drama is in no short supply in the Gross household!  However, my girls know that my wife and I will not help them resolve a conflict or have a discussion with them until they have calmed down and are able to speak to us calmly.  Further, when we are having  a disagreement with them, we both try to remain calm and offer reasonable grounds for the decisions we have made.  This hopefully models for them how to engage in not only sound conflict resolution, but will also transfer into their Christian defense as they get older.

8. Dialogue with your Kids

My daughter and I were in a store awhile ago and she pointed out a Barbie doll that caught her eye and she said, "That Barbie is not dressed appropriately."  I continued by asking her why the outfit was inappropriate. She said, "Because her belly is showing."  I said, "What is wrong with that?"  She said that was only for God to see!  Ha!  We discussed the importance of dressing modestly and moved on.  But here is the point: I realized she said that because her mom and I have taught her what is appropriate for ladies to wear and what is not; however, I want her to understand why we hold these convictions.  Otherwise, she is merely parroting what we are saying and ultimately that is not going to teach her to own her worldview.  I don't want to just pass my faith on to my kids.  My goal is to equip them with the tools necessary for them to evaluate Christianity objectively.  Then, by the grace of God, they will understand that it is evidentially true.  Then, they will hopefully feel compelled to live it out!

What about you?  What do you do with your own family?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. We use Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt.
2. We use William Lane Craig's excellent children's book series What is God Like? to discuss God's attributes.
3. If you are just beginning to learn the arguments and evidences I recommend William Lane Craig's On Guard, J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity and Greg Koukl's Tactics.

Related Posts

Apologetics Books for Elementary Age Children to Read

Truthbomb's Top 10 Books Every Christian Parent Should Read

Video: How Do You Do Family Worship? by Donald Whitney

Friday, January 19, 2018

21 Days of Prayer for Life



Breakpoint.org has developed a free prayer guide entitled "21 Days of Prayer for Life."  The guide is available here and can also be downloaded as a digital app.

The guide is authored by Scott Klusendorf and John Stonestreet and has two objectives: 1) To help Christians pray with understanding and 2) Equip Christians to engage others in true and loving conversation.

Please take the time to check out this great resource!

God Bless,




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Apologetics Books for Elementary Age Children to Read

Last week, we featured a list of books for parents to read to equip themselves with the tools they need to teach their children apologetics.  Below is a list of books that elementary age children can read on their own!  My daughters have read the majority of them so they are kid-tested!

1. Cold-Case Christianity for Kids by J. Warner Wallace (Our review is here.)

2. God's Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace (My daughter discusses this book here.)

3. The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel

4. The Case for Faith for Kids by Lee Strobel

5. The Case for a Creator for Kids by Lee Strobel

6. The Awesome Book of Bible Answers for Kids! by Josh McDowell and Kevin Johnson

7. Dr. Craig's "What is God Like?" God is Spirit by Dr. William Lane Craig- This book is the first in a series that teaches the attributes of God.  You can checkout the entire series here.

8. How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis

9. How Do We Know God Created Life? by Melissa Cain Travis

10. How Do We Know Jesus is Alive? by Melissa Cain Travis

How about you?  Are there any apologetics books your child enjoys that didn't make our list?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Book Review: Talking with Your Kids About God by Natasha Crain

Article: 5 Ways to Help Keep Your Kids From Becoming Secularized Worshipers by Alisa Childers

Article: 30 Things You Can Do This Summer to Deepen Your Kids’ Faith by Natasha Crain

Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. on Love

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

For those of you who have never taken the time to listen to Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream..." speech, you can do so here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Truthbomb's Top 10 Books Every Christian Parent Should Read

A thoughtful reader on Facebook asked me if Truthbomb had a "Top 10" Book List.  I confessed that we did not, but agreed to put one together...so, here you go!

Please keep in mind that these books are aimed toward parents who desire to train their kids to understand what they believe and why they believe it.  Further, it should be noted that these are NOT in any special order.



1. A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle  (Review is here.)

2. Keeping Your Kids On God's Side by Natasha Crain (My wife's review is here.)

3. Talking with Your Kids About God by Natasha Crain (Review is here.)

4. The Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona

5. Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace (Review is here.)

6. God's Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace (Review is here.)

7. Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace (Review is here.)

8. A New Kind of Apologist edited by Sean McDowell (Review is here.)

9. On Guard by William Lane Craig

10. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christians Convictions by Greg Koukl (Review is here.)

Many more could be suggested, but these are some of our favorites!

Please feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Future Apologist Interview: Emma Gross Discusses "God's Crime Scene for Kids"

Article: 5 Ways to Help Keep Your Kids From Becoming Secularized Worshipers by Alisa Childers

Book Preview: Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens By Tom Gilson

Monday, January 08, 2018

Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters

Brian Fisher of Human Coalition writes the following in the subject blog post (his first of 2018).

Let 2018 be the year that we, as a massive movement of people who are concerned for true justice, rise up and restore the weak, the downtrodden, and the victimized – all for the glory of our God in whom true justice lives and breathes.

May God grant those of us concerned for the well being of families (men especially) the courage, motivation, and ability to do the above more so than ever this year.

You can read Fisher's entire post here

Stand firm in Christ and firm for the pre-born,
Chase

Friday, January 05, 2018

Chip Ingram: Strong Families in a Broken World


In this sermon series, Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge Ministries presents God's prescription for a strong family from Deuteronomy chapter 6.  

God Bless,

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

A Note to Readers- A Shift in Ministry Focus

It is hard to believe that I have been blogging here at Truthbomb for 10 years!  I remember when the ministry started and I had grand aspirations of becoming a full-time apologist.  Much has changed since then.  Danielle and I are the proud parents of two wonderful girls and we continue to be blessed beyond what either of us deserve.

It has been a blessing to watch Truthbomb grow as well.  We have had the opportunity to speak in various venues, review books by some of the most prominent apologists writing today and our writing has been featured on leading websites such as The Poached Egg and Apologetics315. Recently, we even had an article published in the newest, updated Apologetics Study Bible for Students!  I confess this is more than I ever imagined would happen when I started Truthbomb all those years ago!

Lately, I have been reading Dayton Hartman newest book Lies Pastors Believe.  In this book, Hartman asserts the following:

"The most important flock you will ever shepherd sleeps under your roof, sits on your lap, and has your eyes.  Shepherd them first, even to the detriment of your ministry dreams and goals" [p. 74].

Have you ever been listening to a sermon and it seemed like the pastor was speaking directly to you? As I read these lines, I had a similar experience.  And upon reflection, I had to confess to myself that I am many times guilty of putting my "ministry dreams and goals" ahead of my "most important flock."  Too often than I would like to admit.  This ought not be.  This cannot be.

However, I am convinced that God desires me to continue writing and blogging, so where do I go from here?  Simply put, in a effort to more effectively shepherd "my important flock," I plan on beginning to blog more on how families can help their children become more effective case makers, how husbands can better lead their families and how we as men can be more focused on shepherding our wives and children for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Now, you may be thinking, "Okay Chad.  That sounds great!  But what does that mean for Truthbomb?"  Great question!  I suppose the biggest change will be that it will no longer be a goal for me to post daily.  I realize that we often post materials from other apologists; however, it still takes time to create the posts and preview the material.  This is time that I now want to give back to my family.  Further, you would be surprised how much mental bandwidth is taken up when trying to figure out what to post from day to day! Also, most of the posts I will be featuring will deal with the topics I mentioned above or will include book reviews and features by not only myself, but also from my wife and daughters.  Basically, in all ways possible, I want to make Truthbomb a family affair!

I greatly appreciate your readership and hope you will join us on this new adventure!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Article: 30 Things You Can Do This Summer to Deepen Your Kids’ Faith by Natasha Crain

Book Review: Keeping Your Kids on God's Side

Book Review- A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle

Monday, January 01, 2018

A.W. Tozer on the New Year

"I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference. Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation."1

Happy New Year!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. A.W. Tozer, The Warfare of the Spirit.