Killing Reagan Review – Sept 29, 2015

Killing Reagan CoverI have just finished reading the new O’Reilly/Dugard book “Killing Reagan”. It’s the first book that I’ve read in the series of “Killing” books by O’Reilly. I picked it up at a store recently and was immediately impressed with the delivery. It is a well organized and fascinating read from beginning to end. I believe you will agree if you choose to get a copy of the book that it is a great read.

So let me speak first to delivery of the book – it’s well written and the progression of the book is wonderful. I read the book in three sittings (which is not typical for my reading habits). The story is well-crafted and the snippets of history throughout Reagan’s rise are truly fascinating (Nixon, Ford, Carter, etc). In a short book, you really get a cross-section of history. You will feel like you’re on a fast track through presidential history. Given the fact that we’re in an election cycle, it was a great quick tour in anticipation of next year’s election.

As far as the message of the book, O’Reilly reveals the harsh realities of Reagan’s early days and marital troubles. He reveals an acting career on the decline contrasted against Reagan’s rise in politics. Throughout the book, you will read of Nancy Reagan’s powerful hand leading her husband toward the dream of him serving one day as president. O’Reilly presents much of this rise in power to Nancy’s refusal to live a lifestyle outside of the high life of Hollywood. She wanted only the best and the finest! But, if you develop a harsh view of her throughout the book, the ending will forgive it all as she is faithful to stand by her husband through his fading days. The book will lead you to tears as you walk through the final years, days, and hours (as so many of us have seen the impact of the disease of Alzheimer’s).

So I highly recommend the book. There is crude language in several chapters of the book and content in some chapters that you would not want younger kids reading (maybe there will be a younger kids adaptation of the book later). Still, I think it’s a great book and I’m glad I picked it up and finished it! You can add your thoughts later as you read the book.

NEW Podcast Episode – Luke 14 Part II

Today is podcast 2 of 3 in the Luke 14 series. This is a strong chapter challenging the idea of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Our Thursday morning prayer group recently spent time discussing this chapter and the consensus around the room was that we had just selected a rather difficult subject! There’s no doubt that this is a challenging chapter and I appreciate your willingness to jump into this podcast series with me as we accept that challenge.

Here’s the link for today’s podcast. You can comment there on Spreaker or on Facebook. Thank you for sharing the podcast among your friends.

Podcast Devotional & Discussion – NEW Today

I was reading a July 2014 article at the website of “The Gospel Coalition”. I’d encourage you to check out their website []. In this particular article entitled, “In Praise of the Quiet Time”, it stated that “while 56 percent of Americans believe the Bible to be “the actual or inspired word of God,” only 37 percent read it at least once a week.”

Now obviously I don’t have to add any commentary on those numbers to help you see how those are not very encouraging. They speak for themselves and it sets up perfectly what I’m attempting here. You see, if those numbers are accurate – we are just not engaging God’s Word on a regular basis.

Let me ask you – “Are you busy?” I imagine you are! We are going in 10 different directions before the lunch hour hits, and taking in God’s Word just isn’t on the radar. But when I talk to people, I hear a desire to go deeper than that. I really do think people want to go deeper in their walk with God – – but far too many have no idea where to start.

Well that’s where this podcast falls. I know there are lots of resources out there – I’m not trying to replace all of those. Where this podcast falls is in the area of encouraging consistency and providing some simple/basic tools for personal discipleship.

Check out episode ONE right here – – – – – thank you for being willing to join me as I get started with this opportunity for discipleship.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 115

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Psalm 115

The Futility of Idols and the Trustworthiness of God

115 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”

But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.

O Israel, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.

Link for today’s worship song:

In our world focused on self and personal gain, it’s hard for us to even enter into this prayer time without quickly thinking about ourselves. It’s all about our needs and our wants. But today, as I read this psalm and reflect in prayer, I recognize that it’s all for You. This prayer time is all about You. You are worthy of our praise and our total attention today. Lord, as the psalmist declared, You are our hope and our shield. If I truly believe what I have just declared…it is going to show up in the way I live today. Prayer and seeking You won’t be an afterthought – it will be my first thought. Seeking Your guidance and direction won’t be what I will do if all else fails – it will be from the outset. You are my help and my shield. Lord, the heaven and the earth is Yours. Because You have given me life for another day, let me praise You because You are worthy of every word, note, and lyric!

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 108

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Psalm 108

A Song. A Psalm of David.

O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your mercy is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth;
That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and hear me.

Link for today’s worship song:

Note: I chose the worship song listed above because it is a song about worshiping God even through pain. It is a worship song by Shane and Shane and it’s one that I have listened to many times as a great reminder. So many of the Psalms are about worship in the midst of suffering, pain, and doubt. Still, the psalms are filled with worship as well. So with that in mind, I saw this as the perfect song to plug into today’s Praying the Psalms.

Help my heart to be steadfast. As I come to this prayer time today, I read this psalm and I truly want to worship You no matter what is happening all around me. That isn’t in my nature. In fact, my nature is to praise You when all is good and question when things are bad. So God, today I need to live the lesson – You are worthy of praise no matter the story! This is a psalm of deliverance…a psalm of praising God after the trial. Lord, may I praise You both before, during, and after the trials that are sure to come. I don’t know what someone might be enduring who has been walking through this prayer journey today. Whatever it is they are facing, Lord I pray that they will come to You in praise regardless of their challenge today. “Yet I will worship” – make that my praise today.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 106

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Psalm 106

Joy in Forgiveness of Israel’s Sins

Praise the Lord!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?
Who can declare all His praise?
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!

Link for today’s worship song:

Thank you for a love that endures forever. It’s beyond anything that I can comprehend and I cannot even begin to voice enough gratitude for your love and grace. What I can do today is worship. May my gratitude be demonstrated just as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 106 – in joy and praise to You. There are so many different ways that I can describe how worthy You are of my worship – let that be evident in my praise! As I recognize Your eternal/unchanging nature, may it give me the boldness to live in Your grace today and in the week ahead. Rather than stress over my past failures, help me to live in Your freedom. Rather than feel unworthy of serving You, help me to embrace Your eternal promises and serve You boldly today. I will give thanks to the Lord for YOU are good.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 105

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Psalm 105:1-4

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!

Let it start with me. Those words that I have just listened to in the worship song for today captures so much of what I believe You are saying through Psalm 105. You haven’t returned yet – so there must be more You are wanting us to do. Your Word says that you are patient, not wanting any to perish. So Lord, use me to “make known His deeds among the peoples”. Use our church, churches all around the country, our associations, our conventions, our missionaries, and our church members. Help us to open our mouths to begin talking of “all His wondrous works”. Open my eyes to see what You are doing in me, around me, and through me…and then open my mouth to talk about that work with those around me so that they will know You as Savior. As I am Praying the Psalms today, let it start with me.

Bonus Worship Song for Today
This is a song that was used as a promotional for our International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012. The group is Selah. I pray that God will use the worship songs for today to capture God’s call to go to the nations. It’s not a vacation or sightseeing adventure – it’s a call to take the hope of Christ to all nations.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 103

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Thank you for joining me in this return to Praying the Psalms. I wrote this blog series in the spring of 2014 as an accountability time in my own prayer life. In the process, I decided to capture that journey in these blogs. I pray that this has been a blessing to you. I’m grateful for those of you who shared your kind words in the first offering of this prayer journey last year. I hope that it has led many of you into a deeper and more consistent prayer life in 2015.

Psalm 103

A Psalm of David.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Dear Lord,
Today, I am returning to this prayer journey through the Psalms. It began out of a desire to be faithful in my own prayer life and to hopefully bring a few along with me in the journey. Even those these have been just short readings and short prayers, I have been encouraged and challenged in so many ways. I pray You will do that work in others. As I read this psalm today, and as I seek to give voice to some prayer that will reflect on this psalm, I ask You to not allow me to ever get over the fact that You saved me! Help me to never take for granted that You forgave and continue to forgive me. Help my joy over being saved to be just as fresh today as it was the very first day You saved me! Help me to experience revival – flying like an eagle! Lord, this psalm is the song of a person experiencing revival – they just want to praise God, to bless the Lord. May that be my song…and the song of those who are joining me in this journey.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 100

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Psalm 100

New King James Version (NKJV)

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Link for today’s worship song:

What a blessing it has been this week to just pray the Psalms. What a blessing it is just to read YOUR Word and allow it to lift me up as I start a new day. The truth is – You have made me glad! You saved me – redeemed me – and You are shaping me daily. That’s reason to be glad. Thank you that this week I’ve been reminded of JOY! And as You have reminded me of that joy that’s available in You…You have given me the posture of entering into Your gates. It’s with thanksgiving, singing, and blessing! Your truth never changes and I have reason to worship today. Lord, I pray for those who are joining me in this journey of Praying the Psalms. I ask that You will lift them up too! Give them reason to rejoice today. Lead us to enter Your gates with thanksgiving…but help that also to show up in the way we interact with others today. Give us hearts filled with thanks and praise today.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 98

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 Psalm 98

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!

For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.

Link for today’s worship song:

Today as I read this psalm, one word stood out to me over and over – joy! The psalmist captured it in variations of the same word – rejoice, joyful, joy. The reality is, the first verse gives every reason for joy and rejoicing. The fact that you have done marvelous things gives me every reason to rejoice today. So let my joy be all about YOU today and not about me. It’s not about how I feel, how I slept, or how my situations are good or bad. The joy that I am longing for today is all about YOU – not me. Lift me up today by turning my focus on YOU and all that You have done and off of me today. I will shout joyfully today before the Lord.

Thank you Lord that this is a shout of joy that I will lift up alongside believers in every area of the globe! This week we are reminded of believers serving You all around the world and we lift up a voice of praise alongside those servants and the believers they work alongside. Thank you that Your name is being praised in countless languages right this moment. Help me to be one of those voices each day – rejoicing in You!