Kraig Lowell Pullam

My thoughts. My reflections. My journey…. On pastoring, preaching, leading & learning.

Archive for the category “Christian Education”

The Entitlement Cure

 
I’ve just finished reading John Townsend’s book “The Entitlement Cure”. After hearing and reading several stellar reviews, along with seeing the intriguing title, I wanted this book in hand. And while the subtitle sparked my interest more than the title, I knew I needed to read it…amid my difficulty in reading all things Townsend. I don’t know what it is; but I’ve always found the writings of John Townsend a chore and bore…to the extent of having to play music in the background not to fall asleep. Admittedly, I realize this is an unfair criticism; and something I would hate for anyone to say about my writing. After all, Townsend is a well-respected author and the co-mastermind behind New York Time’s bestselling “How People Grow”, a book I have used during my days of Christian Education in our Book Club. The fact is…Townsend is not a wordsmith. But getting beyond the style, there is substance couched in “The Entitlement Cure.” Therefore, I wouldn’t 1) Discard this book as irrelevant 2) Misdiagnose this book as a prompt of any political propaganda 3) Write off this volume as being unworthy of investment. 
“The Entitlement Cure” addresses a prevailing problem that now infiltrates every vital organ in relational life as we’ve come to know it. Whether it is in the church, marriage, home-life, work-environment…Townsend asserts that we are all infected by the disease of entitlement. In fact, entitlement is a byproduct (well, he shows how it pre-dates human creation) of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Townsend contends that entitlement is the belief that “….I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment…”, and that the problems in human society stem from this crippling disposition. In this volume, the author not only analyzes, but also speaks to both the culprit and enablers of the entitled on how to jettison this attitude of being special, being owed, refusing to take responsibility and blaming others.

Hitting at the core of the book, I realized I actually love Townsend’s style of writing! Addressing the relational patterns that drive entitlement (Chapter 2), he gives the practical markers of how we often feed the entitlement monster and thereby foster attitudes of entitlement (example: praising what takes no effort; praising what is required; praising what is not based on reality; etcetera). Unfolding five principles that can restore the problem ALL of us have with entitlement (some more than others.) While all five principles are of notable mention, I do think one of the components outlined by Townsend is how denial, perfectionism and narcissism attribute to the pressure, stress and emptiness that accompany their intended. Entitlement limits our good and our growth, according to the author. I do agree! 

One of the very central themes in this volume is Townsend’s description of feeling deserving to taking responsibility. He says that there is a right way to deserve and there is a wrong way to deserve; and explains how responsibility is not only right, but the practical ways to assume responsibility (Chapter 8). One of the things I like is Townsend’s conventional use of what he calls “NHT”. In short, this means “Next Hard Thing.” Townsend argues that our NHT is the choice we all need to make that moves us beyond the difficulty. In a real sense, what separates the good from the great, the best from all things average…is the ability and willingness to move past the proverbial areas of discomfort. According to the author, this requires 1) Carving out time 2) Going against the flow of life 3) Going against other’s expectations 4) Starting a ground zero (ie – “at the bottom”), etc. In this recourse, there are two (2) specific dynamics I would like to spotlight here in conclusion. One is saying when you are wrong (Chapter 13) and facing the pain that gets you somewhere (Chapter 14). I think that these two chapters and dynamics are key to understanding Townsend’s entire point. 

In summary, I would suggest this as a read for anyone who is looking to practically stop being an enabler to those who are highly entitled; and as a practical guide to taming the entitled monster who lives inside of us all. I give the book two thumbs up; and a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. I would also suggest this as a great read for parents, couples and church leaders. 

 

John MacArthur’s Parables (Review)

imageThis week I got my hands on a copy of John MacArthur’s most recent volume on “Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told.” As is MacArthur’s trademark, this particular work of his is candid in style and thorough in content.

Essentially, MacArthur’s work in this volume is threefold: 1) Clearly present factions in Christ’s immediate culture that sparked His use of parables and its purpose; debunking the common notions of why Jesus used this form of teaching. 2) Show how Christ’s key parables are fleshed out in parable, explanation, purpose, point, culture and application. 3) Contend that the parables are tools with which Christ used to teach and defend the truth as a teller of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

The above summary, in and of itself, seems difficult and complex. That’s because it is. There is nothing simple about MacArthur, in MY view. As with his preaching, like an Agatha Christi novel, if you miss a page, you may miss his point. But he does a stellar job of asking and answering: 1) What is a parable? and 2) How can we interpret the parables of Christ efficiently, effectively and correctly?

It is critical to note that MacArthur deflates the notion that Jesus used parables to make his teaching easy for all. MacArthur points out that this is not true. Jesus “tells” the story to reveal a doctrinal and eternal truth to those who received Him for Who He claimed to be; and to conceal this truth from those who would reject as an outcome of His judgment. Jesus did not, however, exalt the telling of a story at the neglect of doctrinal teaching. In Christ’s approach to communicating truth, as well as in His use of parables, He did not pit narrative against proposition or the story against doctrine, as if they were somehow mutually exclusive. It is clear, according to the author, that Christ uses this for a “telling the story” to enlighten those who have a heart of acceptance towards the truths of God, having the opposite effect on those who oppose and reject Christ. I believe MacArthur does a masterful job of underscoring that the milestone of Christ’s use of parables was fundamentally the assault against Truth. It’s culprit? The “Pharisaical Sabbath-enforcement squad” of His day. In Chapter 1, MacArthur classically communicates many insightful benchmarks in Matthew chapter 12 that ultimately spur this revolutionary and innovative approach to Christ’s preaching and His communication of the mysteries of the Kingdom.

What follows is an approach to Christ’s most prominent parables in a practical, scholarly and insightful style that is only characteristic of vintage John MacArthur.

Now, for a bit of critique. I love John MacArthur and his writings. But in this book, you sort of have to get where he’s going to get what he’s saying. As a fledgling scholar with degrees in Biblical Studies and Biblical Languages, I love him. As an honest layman with a c-average, he is hard for me to follow, on the surface.  If you couldn’t tell (as could I), even my summary bordered on the realm of being difficult to understand without a church encyclopedia. That was simply me trying to break down MacArthur complexity, to no avail.  Simply put, MacArthur is no Lucado or Swindoll or even (in my view) as simple to understand as a John Piper, at times. Now don’t get me wrong…if you can get beyond the scholarly highlights in chapters 2 through 10, you will find a GOLD MINE of preaching material, doctrinal nuggets and teaching points that will live and work well for teachers and students alike. That being said, this book (in my personal view) is not an easy-read; and not one you can speed-read through. I see it best as a volume one should read through slowly; develop a mental (or literal) file that can be used as a reference for future use when dealing with parables and illustrating the subjects/teachings/doctrines of [Receiving the Word, Discipleship, Justice and Grace, Neighborly Love, Justification by Faith, Faithfulness, Wisdom, Heaven and Hell, Persistence in Prayer.]

All in all, I would suggest having this book on one’s shelf as a handy reference in understanding the why, what and “aha” of Christ’s use of parables, and MacArthur walking you through the parables themselves. I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars for the layman; a 4 out of 5 for the scholar.

A Call to Biblical Literacy

I am concerned.

My concern stems from the growing trend of Biblical Illiteracy within the confines of the Christian Church. Permit me to clarify and debunk the notion that all Christians should be seminary-trained, academically-astute and emotionally-reserved. I am convinced that there is a distinction between being educated and trained over against being a student and steward of God’s Word. A seminarian who has no knowledge or desire to delve deeply into God’s Word beyond the textbook is merely an “educated fool.” In contrast, however, I strongly believe that the growing trend of simply not knowing what the Bible means by what it says is flooding the church and Christian community more than ever before.

In a world where Christians have access now to rapid informational technology through a smartphone, shouldn’t we know more? We have the ability to surf the net and download sermons and sermon helps and illustrations; where YouTube and Streaming technology has given us the ability to listen to sermons and studies from start to completion. My father used to tell his preaching comrades, “In a world with all of this technology, a preacher has no excuse for not preaching.” He was not attempting to lower the standard of sound and consistent study; but simply reminding us that the tools and information is readily available and there for the asking.

Tragically, we are doing a poor job; and it shows.
– It shows in the church community through our quotes, concepts and ideologies.
– It shows in ‘gospel’ music.
– It shows in how we misquote the scriptures.

It starts with the preacher! With age should come maturity. I’ll be a little older in a few weeks. And one of my goals going forward is to make God’s Word as clear as I possibly can; and communicate what He means in the clearest manner I can, consistent with sound doctrine, biblical truth and a God-centered Christology.
How can we possibly approach such a tall feat?

1. Spend time with God in prayer.
Nothing of eternal significance can happen without prayer. Prayer is the channel to which we turn in order to establish a connection and frequency with God that diminishes all of the strange noises we keep hearing in our worldly ears. I encourage myself and everyone to take time and learn the art of Kneeology. Of course, there is always the temptation to miss our time with God, in lieu of schedules, jobs, people and responsibilities. But God is merciful and gracious. As soon as we finish all of that, He is still waiting to hear from us and talk to us.

2. Spend time in the scripture.
It is important to read the scriptures devotionally. It is also important to read the scriptures systematically. When one reads the scripture systematically, one should spend quality time asking God to speak to them. After all, it is His book; and He knows the exact meaning of what He wrote, what He said or why He allowed it to be a part of the historical canon.

3. Spend time studying the scripture.
One can spend time in the scripture, and even plan a great outline of sermon ideas and scheduling. But reading the scriptures and studying them are two sides of the same coin. One should ask several questions when studying the scriptures (these are just my views, in the moment. I’m sure there may be others I fail to spotlight):

1. What is God saying in this text?
2. What is God saying to the recipients in this text?
3. What does it MEAN to the recipients in this text?
4. What does this mean to God in the text?
5. What are the major doctrines and themes in this text?
6. What does the scripture say that affirms this text?
7. What is the tension in the text?
8. Who is the antagonist, subject, protagonist, etc. in this text?
9. Where am I (and the human race) in this text?
10. How am I to live out the principles, message and truth communicated in this text?

4. Spend time reflecting and living the scriptures you’ve read.
The greatest sermon many will ever preach will require no words. Much of theology is biography and autobiography. As a preacher of God’s Word, I should be trying to live right, even if I fail to hit the mark every time. Others are watching me; but most importantly, GOD is watching me; and He will honor the one who seeks to follow His Word.

5. Spend time integrating the scriptures into the overall arena of your world.
Every Christian should have a way they see and view the world. I wear glasses because I don’t have perfect vision. The Bible, for the Christian, is our spectacle, because we have worldly views with our imperfect eyes. We should view every hot topic, crisis, issue, problem, disagreement, controversy through the lens of God’s Word.
When we do this, I believe it will lead others around us to build on the firm foundation of God’s Word; and we can empower and equip others and ourselves in becoming strong couriers of God’s truth. This, in turn and result, will lead to a Biblically Literate people who aren’t intimidated or phased by any wind of doctrine.

20140728-122556-44756427.jpg

Post Navigation

Loving God on purpose

A blog on developing an intimate relationship with God

Thoughts9367

We inspire, help and encourage people to become successful by changing their mindset because we all need that little push to success.

Logical Quotes

Logical and Inspirational quotes

En the Mirror

transparent reflections from the heart

The Geographist

Geography, Now.

J. Ricci Energy

From where you are now, to where you want to be

Be Inspired..!!

Listen to your inner self..it has all the answers..

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

unbolt me

the literary asylum

What I Write

The Adventures of an Erotica Author

Uldis blog

The only way to get love is to be lovable. It's very irritating if you have a lot of money. You'd like to think you could write a check: 'I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love.' But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get. - Warren Buffet

Konveksi Tas

Produsen Tas 2015

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Humanity777's Blog

The Church of Christ

Stepping Out Of The Fog

Journey From Depression To Clarity