A Review of “Simply Jesus” by Dr. Joseph Stowell

In today’s age of consumerism and complexity, Dr. Joseph Stowell’s book “Simply Jesus” Simply Jesus bookis a welcome invitation to simplify our relationship with the one who loved us enough to die on the cross in our place. This book is a thoughtful and concise call to experience Jesus. From the perspective of the author’s own experience, we are given a glimpse into his own personal journey of a relationship with a loving God and a Savior who not only loves us, but wants a meaningful relationship with us. Throughought these short nine chapters, Stowell uses thought-provoking personal illustrations to bring the vast, unfathomable riches of God’s love within the reach of those who may not feel as close to Him as they could be.

This book encourages those who desire to follow Jesus to draw near to their loving Savior instead of simply going through the motions of conventional Christian tradition. It is amazing how academic and behavior-oriented we can make Christianity. This book is sure to encourage readers in their journey to a vibrant, moment by moment friendship and intimate relationship with Jesus.

This book is not a difficult read, but is packed with Scripture references and appropriate illustrations. This book mirrors its title. It is a simple and refreshing read and is appropriate for new believers as well as more mature followers of Jesus needing a reminder to get back to a simpler, day by day, moment by moment dependence upon their loving Savior.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who yearns to experience a personal and close relationship with Jesus.

* I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review, as part of their Blogging for Books program. All views expressed are strictly my own.

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Join us for Vacation Bible School 2012

This summer, July 23 – 27, watch amazing things happen as your kids encounter God like never before. Your child will tour some of the world’s most marvelous natural wonders and learn to trust and recognize God as they explore His awesome power.

Faith Bible Church VBS 2012 LogoAmazing Wonders Aviation is your child’s ticket to an exciting week of exploring God’s wonders of creation and power.

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Living a Courageous Life Teaching Series – Lake Charles Family Church

Living Courageous Parenting Teaching Series

Living a Courageous Life Series

Join us for our Teaching series follow-up to Courageous the Movie. This is a Special Parenting series from January 22 – February 12, 2012 at 10:15 AM each Sunday.

January 22


 January 29


 February 5


 February 12


 Four men, one calling: to serve and protect.  As law enforcement officers they are confident and focused, standing up to the worst the streets have to offer. Yet at the end of the day they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.

 When tragedy strikes home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?

 Protecting the streets is second nature. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That takes courage.

 Courageous … honor begins at home.

We hope to see you here!

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Courageous the Movie Free Showing – Faith of Lake Charles

Courageous Movie - Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles ImageFREE SHOWING

Did you miss it while it was at the theater? Would you like to see it again. Do you know someone else who should see it?

Don’t worry – come and be our guest on Friday night January 6th, 2012 at 7:00 pm and enjoy it with your friends and family on our large theater screen in HD.

You can also munch on free popcorn and soft drinks while watching the movie!

Don’t miss it! We are in South Lake Charles on the corner of Corbina Rd and Gauthier Rd, 3 miles East of Burton Coliseum. Click here for a map.

Click here to view the movie trailer.

Don’t forget to invite your friends also.

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Day 37 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:21-23

Are we getting a little uncomfortable yet? Don’t fight it. It’s good for us to undergo a healthy self-examination every now and then. Today’s devotion is a continuation of last Thursday and Friday’s sections of the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus introduced the narrow, difficult way to life with God. He also said there are few who go that way.

But Jesus is still giving the invitation for all those who will come to Him in simple faith. He is calling people from false religion to the true kingdom. The path to life with God, the path devoid of human works and effort, is the complete opposite of religion. This path requires going through alone and naked, taking no possessions, no works, no pride, and no self-righteousness.

According to Jesus, many who are on the broad, religiously popular way think they are alright with God and will be surprised one day when God does not accept them into heaven. Now please don’t get this wrong here. Jesus is not talking here of wicked, vile, horrible people who wanted nothing to do with God while on earth. He is not speaking to irreligious people, to atheists or agnostics. He is speaking specifically to people who are devotedly religious. They were probably going to the temple every day, offering the finest of sacrifices while the priest did his duties at the altar, thinking everything was good. Our Lord says they are deluded in thinking they are on the road to heaven when they are really on the broad road to hell. Jesus says they are suffering from self-deception.

The New Testament gives many warnings about spiritual self-deception in regard to salvation. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells of the five foolish virgins who pretended devotion to the bridegroom but missed meeting him because of their unpreparedness (vv. 1-12), and of those professed believers (symbolized as goats) who are surprised that the Lord rejects them because they never truly served Him (vv. 32-33, 41-46).

The Bible encourages healthy self-examination. We are told to examine our lives and our motives (1 Cor. 11:28). The Apostle Paul tells us, “Test yourselves to see if your are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Certain things we do may foster self-deception. One can be an unwarranted concentration on religious activity. Attending church, hearing sermons, singing songs of the faith, reading the Bible, attending Bible studies, and many other perfectly good and helpful activities can actually insulate a person from the very God he is supposedly worshiping and serving. Those things can cause a person to think he is being faithful and obedient, when in reality he may not be; and they can cause a person to think he is right with God, when in reality he is not.

Another cause of self-deception is what may be called the fair exchange, or balancing out, approach. Instead of confessing and asking forgiveness for his sins, a person may give himself the benefit of the doubt and rationalize his salvation by thinking that the good things he does balance out the bad, that the positive cancels the negative. But in the first place, apart from God it is impossible to do anything that is truly good, because “there is none who does good, there is not even one,” Paul tells us (Rom. 3:12), quoting David (Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-3). In the second place, it is the sin itself—not an excess or imbalance of it—that separates us from God and brings death and damnation (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Whatever good we might somehow accomplish would not cancel those consequences of sin, any more than eating right and exercising will save the life of a person infected with a deadly disease. His only hope is in receiving a cure for the disease, not in trying to balance off its deadly effect by keeping his body otherwise healthy. Isaiah said that the best deeds of men before God are as “a filthy garment” that is, a menstrual cloth (Isa. 64:6).

Possibly the question that should be consuming you right now is, What about me?To determine the answer, the following questions may help:

· Have I chosen the correct gate?

· Am I traveling the right road?

· Does my tree bear the right fruit?

· Am I following those who teach the truth?

· Is my faith being demonstrated in good deeds?

· Do I truly know God through Jesus Christ?

If you have not already done so, I urge you now to turn to Him in simple faith. Not faith in religion. Not faith in your church. Not faith in your heritage. That my friend is religion. I’m referring to a real relationship with the Savior. An authentic inner transformation brought about through vital faith in Christ.

Simple faith begins with Jesus.

Have a Great Day!

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Day 36 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

Well, here we are at the last of the eight powerful sayings of Jesus that we know as the Beatitudes. Each of these sayings of Jesus run counter to the way of the world, and many religious people, and even many of those who call themselves Christians. We like standards of performance we can gauge. Especially when we can choose which ones we believe to be the right ones. It makes things much easier. Jesus calls us to a simple life of faith in His Sermon on the Mount, but not necessarily an easy life.

Of all the sayings of Jesus, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world doesn’t associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking. It associates happiness with persecution even less.

We must face a sobering reality: those who faithfully live according to the first seven Beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Those who live for God will inevitably be persecuted for it.

How will it happen? Jesus says they will “cast insults at you.” They will also persecute you. The word translated persecutedmeans “to pursue to the end.” They will hunt you down. They will say all kinds of evil things about you. They may even kill you. That has happened before to others, and it will happen again. They do this because they don’t understand the person who lives for God. People are afraid of those who are different. And the emotion of fear is often turned outward as anger.

So how should we respond? Jesus says, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Why? For two reasons. First, because “your reward in heaven is great.” And second, because “so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” You’re not alone. You’re in good company.

Our reward? Our repayment is out of this world. And it doesn’t compare with anything this world could give. Not every believer is rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But every believer is rewarded in this life with the comfort, strength, and joy of His indwelling Lord. He is also blessed with the assurance that no service or sacrifice for the Lord will be in vain.

As a sequel to his book Peace Child, Don Richardson has written Lords of the Earth(Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1977). He tells the story of Stan Dale, another missionary to Irian Jaya, Indonesia, who ministered to the Yali tribe in the Snow Mountains. The Yali had one of the strictest known religions in the world. For a tribe member even to question, much less disobey, one of its tenets brought instant death. There could never be any change or modification. The Yali had many sacred spots scattered throughout their territory. If even a small child were to crawl onto one of those sacred pieces of ground, he was considered defiled and cursed. To keep the whole village from being involved in that curse, the child would he thrown into the rushing Heluk River to drown and be washed downstream.

When Stan Dale came with his wife and four children to that cannibalistic people he was not long tolerated. He was attacked one night and miraculously survived being shot with five arrows. After treatment in a hospital he immediately returned to the Yali. He worked unsuccessfully for several years, and the resentment and hatred of the tribal priests increased. One day as he, another missionary named Phil Masters, and a Dani tribesman named Yemu were facing what they knew was an imminent attack, the Yali suddenly came upon them. As the others ran for safety, Stan and Yemu remained back, hoping somehow to dissuade the Yali from their murderous plans. As Stan confronted his attackers, they shot him with dozens of arrows. As the arrows entered his flesh he would pull them out and break them in two. Eventually he no longer had the strength to pull the arrows out, but he remained standing.

Yemu ran back to where Phil was standing, and Phil persuaded him to keep running. With his eyes fixed on Stan, who was still standing with some fifty arrows in his body, Phil remained where he was and was himself soon surrounded by warriors. The attack had begun with hilarity, but it turned to fear and desperation when they saw that Stan did not fall. Their fear increased when it took nearly as many arrows to down Phil as it had Stan. They dismembered the bodies and scattered them about the forest in an attempt to prevent the resurrection of which they had heard the missionaries speak. But the back of their “unbreakable” pagan system was broken, and through the witness of the two men who were not afraid to die in order to bring the gospel to this lost and violent people, the Yali tribe and many others in the surrounding territory came to Jesus Christ. Even Stan’s fifth child, a baby at the time of this incident, was saved reading the book about his father.

Stan and Phil were not rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But they seem to have been double-blessed with the comfort, strength, and joy of their indwelling Lord—and the absolute confidence that their sacrifice for Him would not be in vain.

The life lived for God is the only life worth living. Both here and now, and forever.

Have a Great Day!

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Day 35 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20

Counterfeit Christians. Like counterfeit bills, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the real from the fake. Jesus warns that not everyone who claims to belong to God and to speak for Him actually does so.

Why is this important to know? There are many who will compete for your attention as well as your money. Be careful not to be fooled by all the externals: charisma, charm, that exotic accent, beautiful buildings, slick marketing, large audiences, etc. None of these matter and are not sure indications of genuineness. The discerning follower of Jesus must know what God teaches in order to distinguish the real from the fake. Bank tellers are trained to detect counterfeit bills by studying the real thing.

The difference between the fake the genuine is usually subtle, rarely glaring. Chuck Swindoll tells the story about an unforgettable evening when a friend of his ate dog food. It was probably not what you think. He was not starving, nor was he being initiated into a fraternity. Rather, it happened at an elegant doctor’s home near Miami. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. It was Hors d’oeuvres a la Alpo!

The deed was not perpetrated by an enemy, but by a good friend. With friends like that, who needs enemies! The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided she would put her skills to the ultimate test… and did she ever. After doctoring up (no pun intended) those miserable morsels of Alpo, she placed them on a silver tray. With a sly grin she watched them disappear. Swindoll’s friend could not get enough. He was wolfing them down and kept coming back for more. Evidently the woman’s friends were a pretty laid-back group because everyone had a good laugh when she told them what they had been eating.

This story is a classic illustration of what goes on in another realm, namely, the realm of spiritual deception. Phony preachers and teachers continue to market their wares on shiny platters decorated in such a way that people do not know what they are really getting. Their dishes are topped with pious religious clichés and buzzwords and are being eagerly consumed by the tragically grateful. The duped even pay for these deceptions by the millions of dollars. This should never happen, and certainly the Lord does not want it to happen, but the flock of God is still being fleeced. That is why, as Jesus proceeds with the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He gives counsel and caution about wolves in sheep’s clothing, otherwise known as false prophets.

Our day has more than its share of Christ merchants. Through books, radio, television, recordings, in churches, conferences, seminars, crusades, and by various other means they package and sell the gospel in much the same way that Madison Avenue sells cars and soap. They are insincere peddlers of the Word of God who corrupt it for their own ends (2 Cor. 2:17).

Be careful who you follow. Ultimately, Jesus is the only one worthy of following.

Have a Great Day!

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Day 34 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Life is full of choices. Some choices are simple and relatively inconsequential. What to eat. What to wear. What to buy. Other choices are essential and life-changing. Our life’s work. Career choices. Who we will marry. Will we have children or not. There are also decisions that will determine whether we live or die. Life…Death… Serious decisions.

On July 20, 1993, while cutting down oaks in a Pennsylvania forest, Don Wyman got his leg pinned beneath a fallen tree. No one could hear his yells for help. After digging for more than an hour to try to free his bleeding, shattered leg, he hit stone. He would bleed to death unless he did something drastic.

Wyman made his decision. Using a wrench and the starter cord from his chain saw as a tourniquet, he cut off the flow of blood to his shin. Somehow he had the fortitude to make the choice to amputate his own leg below the knee with his pocket knife. He crawled to his vehicle and drove to a farmer’s home. The farmer got him the help that saved his life.

Life is full of tough choices. But the most critical of all our potential choices is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Like Don Wyman, our choice of eternal destiny is very narrow. It’s either the easy, comfortable way which leads to destruction or the narrow, difficult way which leads to life.

Jesus has been moving toward this appeal from the beginning of this hillside teaching. He gives the choice now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. His teachings have always been about application, not simply information.

When it comes to choosing our eternal destination, Jesus does not ask His followers to “make a few minor adjustments” or “try a little bit harder to be more religious.” He calls for a radical transformation.

The choice is between the one and the many—the one right and the many wrongs, the one true way and the many false ways. As John Stott points out, in Matthew 7:13-14 “Jesus cuts across our easy-going syncretism” (Christian Counter-Culture [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1978], p. 193). There are not many roads to heaven, but one. There are not many good religions, but only one. Man cannot come to God in anyof the ways that man himself devises, but only in the one way that God Himself has provided.

The contrast Jesus makes is not between religion and irreligion, or between the higher religions and the lower ones. It’s not a contrast between nice and upright people and vile and degraded ones. It is a contrast between divine righteousness and human righteousness, all of which is unrighteousness. It is a contrast between divine revelation and human religion, between divine truth and human falsehood, between trusting in God and trusting in self. It is the contrast between God’s grace and man’s works. All religions of the world are based on what humans can do to get right with their God. Except for Christianity. We may do what we thinkis right, but only what God requires is what matters.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”- Proverbs 14:12

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.”- Proverbs 12:15

“There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.”
- Proverbs 30:12

So what is the narrow way? It’s definitely not living a good life or following a laundry list of restrictive rules and regulations. Jesus made that very clear in the previous section of this teaching. The narrow way is through Jesus Christ. This is what He says about the narrow way:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

While the gate is narrow and unpopular, it is available to all who are willing to go through in God’s way, in repentance for their sins and in trust in Jesus Christ to save them. God’s grace is unlimited. It’s Jesus’ earnest desire “for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Every person who will come to Jesus Christ can come to Jesus Christ. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Jesus assures us, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:37, 40).

I pray you make the right choice.

Have a Great Day!

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Day 33 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

How then do we live? Jesus has spent much of His time during this teaching dealing with how notto live our lives. The rigid, tradition-steeped, external behavior-oriented system of the religious leaders of His day needed correcting. They were so stuck on and married to their traditions that they had lost sight of their original intent or purpose and were not willing to let go even when Jesus offered them a better way.

Jesus now offers the better way. For centuries, a variation of this principle was taught and is found in the literature of almost every major religion. But each time it was given, it was stated in the negative. For example, the Jewish rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to yourself do not to someone else.” The book of Tobit in the Apocrypha teaches, “What thou thyself hatest, to no man do.” Confucius taught, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” And the list goes on.

Those expressions go only as far as sinful man can go, and are essentially expressions not of love but of self-interest. The motivation is basically selfish—refraining from harming others in order that they will not harm us. Those negative forms of the rule are not golden, because they are primarily utilitarian and motivated by fear and self-preservation. As Scripture repeatedly tells us of fallen mankind, “There is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12; cf. Ps. 14:3); “each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).

Jesus turns this conventional, self-serving wisdom on its head and makes it a proactive way of life for the follower of Jesus. It’s no longer what we shouldn’t do; now it becomes a way to showlove to others even though they did nothing to prompt the positive action directed toward them.

Back to our opening statement: “How then do we live?” The following is a quote from Charles Swindoll’s book, Simple Faith.

You want to impact your family…your church…your community…your place of employment? You want to make a difference in the life of your mate, a family member, a friend (Christian or not), some person in the workplace? Demonstrate the characteristics of Christ. No need to drop gospel tracts from a low-flying airplane or display a bright red twenty-foot-square “Jesus Saves” flag over your house. No need to stick a fish-shaped symbol on your car or quote a lot of verses every day to your neighbor or rant and rave against all the ills of society down at city hall. Just take the distilled essence of the Christian message as contained in the words of the Golden Rule and live it out. Morning to night. Day after day. Week after week. Month in, month out. Spring, summer, fall and winter. As the prophet Micah put it: Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. You will be astounded at the impact that kind of simple-faith lifestyle will make.[1]

And when we live by the Golden Rule, it prevents the need for laying down an endless list of little rules and regulations to govern conduct. When we begin living that way we fulfill the essence of “the Law and the Prophets.”

Have a Great Day!

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Simple Faith (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2003), 222.

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Day 32 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” – Matthew 7:9-11

Do you worry? If you are like most people, you fall prey to that insidious “peace-killer” without thinking. If we are not careful, we may begin to doubt that God really wants what is best for us. Last week we heard Jesus telling us to ask, seek, and knock. And that those following these steps would receive, find, and have the door opened.

As we look into today’s verses we find a bit of playful humor from Jesus. Are you a parent? If so, then you have a bit of an inside track on understanding what Jesus is trying to say.

Children get hungry. Also, they don’t hesitate to ask you for something to eat. Let’s say your child is hungry and they ask you for a piece of bread, or maybe a grilled-cheese sandwich. Would you then go out to the driveway or look around the yard for a rock and say, “Here, kid, munch on this”? I don’t think so. We would never consider doing that to one of our children when they are hungry. Most parents would probably give them more than they need to be sure their hunger is satisfied.

Or to take it a step further, if your child really loves to fish and asked you to go fishing, where would you take them? Would you bring them to a mosquito infested swamp with no fish and say, “Have fun”? Of course not. You would do everything possible to provide a pleasant, unforgettable fishing trip. That’s just the way parents are.

And now it gets interesting. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Isn’t that awesome? Our perfect Father in heaven out gives all imperfect fathers on earth…over and over again.

So what does that tell you? Don’t worry. Trust God. He won’t short-change you. Keep on praying and trusting. Don’t be discouraged. He is faithful and good and generous and just.

Have a Great Day!

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