Pastor Keith’s TOP 10 List

“And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14)

First of all, I apologize for my long absence. LIFE often gets in the way of doing some of the fun things I like to do — like writing. Oh well…thanks for your continued prayers and support.

At the end of his letter to Titus, Paul reminds Titus to encourage the people to LEARN so that they can be more effective in their ministry to others. I’ve found through the years that reading helps me learn so I can have a more effective ministry. Of course reading the Bible is most important, but in addition to God’s Word, I have come up with a list of the TOP 10 books that have influenced my life and ministry over the last 32 years. The good thing about these kinds of lists is everybody is entitled to their own influential books. I’m sure I’ll leave off some classic Christian works, but again, these are the books that have influenced me most throughout my ministry. Over the next few days, I will share these books with you.  I hope by my sharing, you will examine your own list or you will go out and perhaps read some of the ones on my list. Keep on learning!

10. How to Get Along with Difficult People
William J. Diehm

Can I just be honest for a second? Some people are just hard to get along with! Maybe you don’t have that problem in your life — but I can assure you most of us have several people that cause us to have a little heartburn when we have to deal with them.

This is a practical book that teaches you how to get along with…
*Nitpickers
*Complainers
*Overly aggressive
*Depressed and unhappy

I know this would never apply to any of us — BUT if sometimes you are a little difficult to get along with, this book will give you some tips on how to improve your own behavior and attitude.

9. When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences
Norman Geisler & Ron Brooks

I Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

More than ever before, Christians need to know WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it. This book by Norm Geisler and Ron Brooks provides Biblical answers to questions you will encounter when talking to people about your faith.

Geisler writes, “The objections that unbelievers raise are usually not trivial. They often cut deep into the heart of the Christian faith and challenge its very foundations. If miracles are not possible, then why should we believe Christ was God? If God can’t control evil, is He really worthy of worship? Face it: if these objections can’t be answered, then we may as well believe in fairy tales. These are reasonable questions which deserve reasonable answers.”

This is a great resource that will strengthen your faith and give you the boldness to answer the skeptic who challenges the existence of God.

8. Heaven
Randy Alcorn

Throughout my 32 years of ministry, I have probably been asked more often about Heaven than any other single subject. “What is Heaven going to be like?” “What will we look like in Heaven?” “What will we do when we get to Heaven?” “Will there be any animals in Heaven?”

Everybody has questions about Heaven. In this book, Alcorn seeks to give us answers directly from Scripture. You won’t agree with every interpretation or application he makes, but I guarantee he will get you to think and study your Bible more! I can promise you this is a resource you will return to over and over again for encouragement and answers. Stu Weber said, “Other than the Bible itself, this may well be the single most life-changing book you’ll ever read.”

7. The Power of Desperation: Breakthroughs in our Brokenness
Michael Catt

You are familiar with Michael Catt because of movies like Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  Michael is the pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. He is passionate about revival and prayer in the life of the church.

The first sentence in the Introduction says, “Most of us never seek the Lord until we are forced to.”

For many years, I have preached that you are in one of three places right now. You either are going in to a storm, in the middle of a storm or coming out of a storm. In the midst of the storms of my life, I have most often encountered God in a new way that causes me to grow and depend on Him even more. When I am weak — He is strong. When I am desperate for God to work in my life — He shows up in a mighty way to remind me that He is in control.

This is a book about renewal. For revival to come to the church — it must first come in my own heart. In the forward to the book, Tom Elliff writes, “This is a book for all of us because all of us will become desperate at some point, either from the drift of faithlessness or from the dive of faith. Maybe you’re at that point right now. If so, dig in. This book holds gems of truth that will revolutionize your walk with God.”

In those desperate times in your life when you don’t know what to do — read this book! When we are desperate — God has our attention — and He works in mighty and miraculous ways.

Have a great day. Keep learning!

Thank You Daddy

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“A wise son brings joy to his father…” (Proverbs 10:1)

Take a look at the picture above. It is a picture from my son’s wedding in June 2013. Take a good look. You see a bride and a groom in their early 20’s, bridesmaids, all young and beautiful, groomsmen, handsome and fun-loving. Look closer…see that man right beside the groom? That man was 76 years old — the oldest one in the picture by far. He was the groom’s best man. That man is my daddy. NOBODY had more fun that day (with the exception of the groom) than my daddy.

“Pastor, what in the world is a 76 year old man doing in that picture with all those young people?”

I told you…he was the best man. I performed the ceremony — but even if I had not, he still would have been the best man — and rightly so. He and Dustin had a special relationship unlike any I have ever seen in life. My daddy truly was the “best man!”

Last week, I made the trip that I had dreaded for a long time. I went back over the mountains to North Carolina to say goodbye (at least for now) to my daddy. I knew this day was coming and I thought I had prepared myself for what was inevitable. My daddy had cancer and COPD and the combination of the two was too much for him and last Sunday (2/22), my daddy went to heaven. Telling him goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

We were all around his bed and we all said our goodbyes. He had always told us that he didn’t want us to cry when he died. He wanted us to have a party. As we stood around that bed, somebody told a funny story about my daddy and somebody else repeated a funny saying that daddy would have said. While all that laughing was going on, I looked down and my daddy took his very last breath on this earth and his first breath in heaven. I told my momma that daddy left this world at just the time we were all laughing. He knew if we could somehow laugh — we would be ok.

My sister and I have been greatly blessed having the parents we have. They were married for 56 years and I never remember my daddy leaving the house without telling momma that he loved her. I learned very early in life how a man was supposed to treat a woman by watching my daddy and momma.

My parents love Jesus. I learned that early as well. My daddy’s funeral service was a testimony to the impact he had not only on my life and Brenda’s life — but the lives of so many others. In the past few years, everywhere daddy went, he carried a pocket full of little red stones. Whenever he started talking to someone — a doctor, a nurse, a clerk in a store — it didn’t matter — he would take one of those stones and give it to that person and then says this…

“This red stone represents the blood of Jesus. Just one drop of that blood was enough to save you and me from our sins. If you don’t know about this salvation, I’d love to take a minute and explain it to you. If you are saved, I hope you will take this little stone and carry it with you and be reminded every time you see it just how much Jesus loves you.”

At daddy’s funeral, we made sure that everyone there had a red stone.

Several weeks ago, my momma had some surgery. Brenda came from Fayetteville and carried momma to the hospital and stayed with her there. I went to Jackson and stayed with daddy. After it was all over, several people commented to my momma about how wonderful it was that she had two children who would come and take care of them that way.

Brenda and I didn’t even think about it that way. We did what we believed any children would do for their parents. We watched our parents take care of their parents and we knew that’s what family does. No accolades are necessary when you are doing what you are supposed to do.

I love that picture from Dustin’s wedding. My daddy couldn’t jump up in the air like everybody else did — but there he is — right in the middle of those young people — having the time of his life.

If I can just be half the man my daddy was…I will have achieved much. Thank you daddy for loving us and showing us the love of God. You did good — real good! You truly were THE BEST MAN — not only at Dustin’s wedding but in life.

I love you.