Lester Harper

About Lester Harper

Lester's Blog
Lester is a writer, and the Pastor of Reilly Springs SBC in Sulphur Springs, Texas. He obtained a Master of Theology and a Bachelor of Science in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University. He is married to his wonderful Wife Heather of 21 years and they have 5 beautiful children together. He loves to read, play music, and spend time in God's beautiful creation with his family. Sola Fide. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.-1 Corinthians 10:31



No More Regrets

One of the most predominant issues I see as a pastor when dealing with Christian brothers and sisters has to be regret.  It is one thing to have lived through a terrible period in your life. Maybe it was drugs, alcohol, unfaithfulness, adultery, but, as the Scriptures state, we are made new in Christ!

 The Psalmist wrote, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”-(Psalm 51:2) I believe that Christ cleanses the dirtiest soul as if it were never stained to begin with. I have never been so dirty and then taken a shower and cleansed my body only to go back and dwell in my filthiness. So why do Christians do this?No More Regrets

Well, I believe Isaiah provided a good example of this subject. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

The first thing we as Christians can learn from this is that our past does not define our future. However, I have sat and watched Christians get constantly reminded of their past. I believe that Satan lives in the past. He wants people to dwell on their past, so he will use every opportunity to throw it back in the believers face, to make them feel a state of regret.

This is why Isaiah says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old…” Christ does not focus on your past; He only wants your attention to be on the things of the future. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

If you find yourself constantly feeling the pressure of your past, remember that the voice you are hearing is not of God reminding you of your past. And if there is any doubt to this, simply repent of any sin that may be dwelling within and get back on track. The apostle Paul clarifies this for Christians, saying, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) If you are born again, then your past is nowhere to be found, because Christ lives in you!

Satan lives in the past because he has no future! His future was already sealed by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! The serpents head is crushed and all he can do is take as many people as he can with him on a downward spiral. In Isaiah 43:19 he says, “I am doing a new thing…” As a Christian, you have felt the brokenness of sin. You have felt the despair that leaves you crippled and kneeling before a Holy God. You have cried out such as David, “Create in me a clean heart!” And because Christ is faithful and righteous he has cleansed you from all iniquity, He has removed all shame, He has left you white as snow, without blemish. So then why do we dwell on the past?

The only answer to this simple question is that either we have unconfessed sin that needs to be brought before Christ for forgiveness, or we are allowing Satan to torture our minds with past regret. Look to Hebrews 8:12: “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Our wonderful, merciful Savior not only forgives sin that is confessed but, He forgets it, too!

Christian brothers and sisters, do not dwell upon the things of old. Do not allow the enemy to divide and conquer your mind and soul. You are a child of the one true God, one of His elect! He does not want nor expects you to dwell on past mistakes. He wants you to believe and live!

Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever Because He delights in unchanging love.”

Who is this God we speak of? He is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The Way, the Truth, and the Life! He came so that you can have life and have it more abundantly. He lived to provide the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sins so that we could have the keys to the kingdom of heaven! Our past does not define us, but our Savior does!

RECOMMENDED READING

By | 2018-04-01T23:24:45+00:00 March 27th, 2018|

Grow Book Review

Grow Book Review

Grow

by Justin Huffman
Length: To read (95 pages).
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Spiritual growth should be at the very top of any Christian’s list of measurable success in Christ. “Grow” offers a very practical approach and solution to one of the essential questions that one could ask of themselves, “Am I growing spiritually?”

Who should read this?

“Grow” was written in such a manner that every Christian should own a copy and begin applying the material inside. Anyone who desperately wants to grow closer to Christ needs a copy in their personal library.

Grow Book Review 1

SUMMARY

The How:

I loved the personal touch and tonality of “Grow”. Justin displayed the perfect pastoral heart when he wrote “Grow”. Many of the books you read with the plethora of wealth that “Grow” possesses have the tendency to be written at scholarly levels. There is nothing wrong with a scholarly book every so often, but I really appreciate Justin’s voice within the pages. It is as if you are sitting around the table having a cup of coffee and discussing things such as Spiritual growth.

The Why:

Justin’s purpose for such a book I believe comes from the command to the apostle Peter to grow spiritually in 2 Peter 3:18. To quote Justin, “We are to apply ourselves to some Biblical principles that God promises will lead to spiritual growth.”(Pg. 10) He calls us to grow in grace and encourages his readers to interact with the text through questions at the end of each chapter.

For just a moment let us be honest with ourselves. How many times are we truly measuring our spiritual growth and reflecting on ways to grow more like our Savior? There are examples all through “Grow” that really cause us to examine ourselves and be honest with our daily routines of growth.

It is my personal opinion that Justin deeply desires to see what any pastor wants to see growth amongst God’s people. With all of the self-help books in the world today Christians need something written like “Grow” to encourage them that spiritual growth does not have to be rocket science. I believe Justin really portrays this truth with elegance and ease. Spiritual growth leads the believer to the everlasting joy that can only be found in the depths of Christ.

The What:

In a book like “Grow” The author Justin grabs a hold of the main subject being spiritual growth and expounds upon the topic in such a manner that any Christian young or old can navigate through its pages with ease. Justin doesn’t simply state his opinion throughout “Grow” he took great time to back every argument with Scripture and logical explanation. This makes the book so practical for every Christian.

However, I do not want to take away from the vast amount of knowledge and study that went into writing the book. There is no lack of substance within the pages of Grow. From the beginning, Justin covers topics such as prayer, devotions, disciplining yourself, being doers of the word, and making disciples in relation to our spiritual growth.

“Let your life and your words be your expression of gratitude to Jesus.” (Pg.44) Phrases like these stand out in this wonderful book expressing an urgency and a sincerity for true Christian growth. The apostle Paul encouraged believers everywhere to be like-minded with Christ, Grow is encouraging us to do the same!

ANALYSIS

My personal perspective of “Grow” is simple, it is a must-have in my library. I love the simplicity and tonality that goes throughout the entire book. I literally received a copy of the book and did not put it down until I was finished. As a pastor myself I found the truth behind the intent and really loved to apply this to my personal life and look forward to using it for others within my congregation. If I am to be truly honest I would say that I am a bit biased to “Grow”. The author has been a pastor for over fifteen years, and I can relate well to his thought pattern within the book.

Many of you reading this are probably a lot like me with respect to finding a new book to read. I like to read the reviews and then glance at the author’s intent. If the author’s intent grabs my attention I usually read the book. I have read a lot of great books on Spiritual growth and discipleship and many of them I would read over again, “Grow” has made it to that list. Justin stated his purpose and then drove the point home in such a manner that you can’t put it down. I think he did an excellent job of stating a purpose and following through in a concise manner.

You have heard me say this book is simple to read, etc… This is not a shortcoming by any means. I have numerous books like “Grow” where the author uses terminology that far surpasses the intellect of a non-Doctoral education. Justin really did a superb presentation within his work. Nowhere does the author’s voice get removed from the pages, it is personal and that is very evident.

Strengths:

The author’s personal strengths absolutely convey in his writing. I mentioned before he is a pastor with a pastors heart. He sincerely cares for people. His writing style shows his compassion and understanding, even giving a glimpse into some of his personal life with adoption as an illustration of God and his love for people. I really believe his personality is known for his writing and I personally love books like this.

In the realm of Spiritual growth books, I find there are a lot of people who love to write about the topic but few really live it. I, of course like many of you reading this can find a book like “Grow” and might simply say, “another book on growth” but I can honestly say this is not just another book on growth. Grow is practical, applicable, and most importantly Biblical. I can tell by the writing style and voice Justin, practices what he preaches. To say that Justin has some superior knowledge on the topic would be unfair to a lot of really great author’s. I do feel that he has a way of driving a point home without leaving you exhausted from trying to understand what you just read.

I believe there are numerous takeaways from reading Grow. Honesty stands out to me the most. Justin is honest with his readers, and “Grow” requires us to be honest with ourselves in respect of our own spiritual growth. As serious as this topic is in a world of watered down teaching and preaching, believers need this illumination of their spiritual lives to grow into Christlikeness and righteousness.

Weaknesses:

As with anything a person does in life we all have a weakness or some room for improvement. While I loved the simplicity of the read, I really wished at the end I could continue on with the study of “Grow”. I really was left with the impression this book just flew by. I pray that Justin releases a continuation of this book for future reading that may continue his wonderful work on the subject.   

CONCLUSION

 To conclude this review of “Grow” I simply want to share my heartfelt opinion. I love nothing more than picking up a great book and reading until I am lost in its pages. With Grow, I found myself lost in the plethora of great teaching.

 “Grow” encouraged me to take an honest and deep look into my personal growth and then provided ways to consider improving upon this matter. I believe this is the way Christ intends His teachings as well. He reveals to us our shortcomings with all sincerity and then He provides a way for us to overcome those shortcomings.

Justin Huffman really expresses what it is like to grow in God’s grace. He gives example after example, Biblically, and logically for each person who reads will be left with no excuse for not growing spiritually. Most importantly he doesn’t stop there, he then charges his readers into action with a Christlike vision and purpose to “Go” and make disciples!

Do your soul a favor and pick up a copy of Grow. Find yourself lost in its pages and rediscover what Spiritual growth means in your life!

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “Let your life and your words be your expression of gratitude to Jesus.” (Pg.44)

  • “Having been commanded to grow spiritually – for our own joy and for the glory of Jesus- we can rest assured that God has provided the means we will need for this worthy pursuit.” (Pg.9)

  • “Our growth in grace is so that to him will be the glory”(Pg.8)
five-stars
By | 2018-03-16T00:31:37+00:00 March 16th, 2018|

Be Joyful My Brethren

Pride and anger are just two facets of life that keep us from having the full joy of Christ. The beloved apostle Paul was writing to the church in Philippi when he encouraged them,

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil 2:3) This simple exhortation to the church reminds them to be humble in all areas of life. Oddly enough it really is that simple, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…”  

Let’s begin with a simple look at strife. Strife means to be angry or bitter over fundamental issues (Online Dictionary). The Scriptures state, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)  Paul and James both felt that to be unified with Christ, having the same mind, be of one accord, that if the Holy Spirit is to dwell, within you could not let your temper spiral out of control.

I know upon leaving the Army after nearly ten years of service that I had changed. I was calm and reserved at age seventeen when I first enlisted but after years of stress and military service, I had become a machine finely tuned for the intense life of combat. This, in turn, fueled my anger. I may have been calm when I enlisted but I was masking an anger issue that I could not suppress any longer.

The truth is my family had revealed the change to me. Shortly after leaving the service I surrendered to the call to pastoral ministry. A few things had to change; first my anger, and second I needed compassion. It wasn’t until I really began to study what makes a Christian so joyful that I discovered the wonderful works of Paul to the Philippian church. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…

I was easily angered and the ministry was going to require some thick skin because let’s face it, this is a people business and people are a fallen creation. Here is the apostle Paul in a Roman prison chained to guards and writing one of the most joyful letters ever written. I needed to possess what the apostle possessed. After many hours of being on my badly worn out knees in prayer, God answered and His Spirit created within me a new heart.    

Vainglory or pride in oneself combined with strife or anger is a deadly sin cocktail. It is interesting that the two are commonly referred to as being one with each other. They go hand in hand. However, if we Christians are to be joyful and to live a Spirit-filled life then anger and pride must be absent from the body.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”(Col.3:8) We must leave these things that separate us from God behind with the old man. For once we have the true forgiveness of Christ we are born again and made new. Those things of the past are long gone.

In Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

So if we are to be done with anger, put away all pride then the only possible avenue left is one of humility and selfless service. Paul countered this verse with a compare and contrast, if you are “A” then you cannot be “B”. Paul was a special man, the Hebrew of Hebrews, a scholar, a 110 percent kind of guy, but the one thing he is not, prideful.  Just in case you are like the believers in Philippi and say but Paul, Jesus our great example was the Son of God, and you Paul, are a beloved called Apostle, How can we simpletons follow those examples? Paul gives you two personal examples.

He gives you young Timothy (Phil.2:19-24) a Half-Jew Half Gentile, and Epaphroditus (Phil.2:25-30) a full-blown Gentile. These two examples are everyday Christians like you and me.

It is possible for the hardest of hearts to become soft, for the angriest to become meek and subtle. It is possible for the prideful to become humble, and until we are applying these principles in our personal experiences we may never experience the true Joy that lets a prisoner sing praises at night, and sets the broken-hearted a new.

By | 2018-02-19T05:34:47+00:00 February 23rd, 2018|

More Than Equals Book Review

More Than Equals Book Review

More Than Equals

by Chris Rice, Spencer Perkins
Length: 285 pages
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

“More than Equals” conquers one of the most prevalent issues of our time, racial reconciliation. The two authors, Perkins and Rice, cover the issue of bridging the gap between racial tension through the Gospel. It is a walk through the two lives of the authors who initially lived culturally divided lives and ended up as partners fighting one of the worlds largest problems.

Who should read this Book?

More Than Equals is a book every Christian looking to live a life that is truly Christ-centered should read. The practicality of this book will reveal to the Non-Christians that find this gold mind in their hands, and the Christian alike, the practical way to bring a source of resolution to the great division of our culture.

More than Equals Book Review 1

 

SUMMARY

   From the outset, Spencer Perkins personal stories of discrimination growing up in the South at the height of the civil rights movement began the plot for why any person would harbor hatred and angst. From witnessing his father Pastor John Perkins fight for civil rights and be beaten by the police, Spencer could never imagine being friends with a white person much less serving beside one. His anger raged even when his father continually sought for him to be more forgiving. It wasn’t until his work with the Voice of Calvary that his partnership with Chris would begin his own journey to reconciliation.

   However, when Chris Rice a white student decided to move to Mississippi from up North and join in with the Voice of Calvary things would begin to change for them both. The unlikely partnership of these two individuals from culturally different backgrounds led to some heated discussions and true heartfelt ministry. Their burdens and genuine concern for others led to what is unfolded within the pages of More than Equals.

   More Than Equals balances both perspectives and comes to one conclusion, “Who is thy neighbor?” (Pg 60) and “How can I love them more?”

That simple command from Christ to love thy neighbor had to ring true in these two Christian brothers or otherwise their faith was in vain. In the words of the author, “Nehemiah’s prayer began with a confession of his guilt, but it ended in an earnest commitment to correct the wrong.” (Pg. 146) America had been segregated for many years and the resolution for equality looked dim, and in some cases, it has not grown to fruition.

The authors are earnestly seeking to correct the wrong that has been established for years past. The answer while simple in nature is very complicated in action. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (pg.68, 1 John 3:17-18)

   From building a report with each other came the necessary action of reconciliation. To complete such a feat between two individuals required the two to dig into their psyche and be truthful about having “white blinders” or “Black residue” fueling their decisions to not love thy neighbor. Stemming the cultural lines and being honest with oneself proved to be no simple task but seeing as “silence is consent” they could not remain silent any longer.

   Respect for one another created an environment that progressed from angst to compassion. In the short of it all and at the heart of most problematic issues in our cultures forgiveness is the answer. Perkins and Rice share every dark detail of their lives together and the answer to how they believe the world could finally rid itself of racial division. Conquering something of this magnitude as the authors have plainly spelled it out takes commitment and dedication but most importantly the love of God.

ANALYSIS

I was encouraged and challenged to be a part of a group of pastors in our area in Texas to study “More Than Equals” and to begin the work of racial reconciliation in our area.  I was apprehensive at first as I thought another book on reconciliation. If anything this is not another book on reconciliation. The group was diverse and challenging even for us. The day I grasped a copy of the book in my hands and began to read the introduction I was hooked. I began to weep over the stories that I was reading my heart much like my Spirit was broken. This book spoke to me in ways that I have not felt in any other study of racial division.

   My personal perspective of this book is heartbreaking and true. If we as pastors could have such a difficult time trying to wrap our brains around the vast honesty and truths being proclaimed then how would everyone else feel? The truth is this book speaks of simple Christian truths but when put into perspective they were not always being followed.

   More Than Equals is compelling and beautifully written. After thumbing the pages of theological books for months on end this was a pleasant book to read. Having both sides of the story allows anyone to be connected to the authors intent. Which is why the book speaks to me personally. I felt a connection to the authors serving in the “VOC” as if I was there with them.

I feel that anyone can grab a copy of More Than Equals and instantly find yourself engaged into the emotional rollercoaster of racial reconciliation. Following the footsteps of a young Spencer Perkins as he was one of the first children to be force integrated into the public school system, having a father who was a  pastor, who was a black activist for civil rights, and becoming a strong force in the reconciliation process will absolutely leave you considering “how can I be the next leader of change.”    

   This is a book that will require an open heart to read because of the severity of the issues it deals with. Finding not just the truths that are being displayed before our own eyes but the truths of an application into our own hearts.

I cannot express the urgency for all Christians to add More Than Equals to their library for a modern look into how to live out the Gospel. “Without the conviction that what the Bible says is true and right, we would have long abandoned any passion for racial reconciliation.” (Pg.147)  I believe at the heart of all the issues within the pages of More Than Equals it is this conviction of truth that compelled Perkins and Rice to commit themselves to such a grand cause.

   As one can tell there are numerous reasons for picking up a copy of More Than Equals for their personal library. For me, it was the strong Biblical backing behind the intent of the book. I found page after page to be filled with a proper exegesis of the Scriptures. I loved the passion of the authors and the conviction that dwelt within its pages. I was literally moved to tears when Perkins recollected the events that shaped his life. I was also overwhelmed with joy to see how God used two men to share such a bold truth to try and make headway into the realm of segregation.

   Writing the book was not just the author’s intent one can tell by simply reading the book, but more importantly, it should be used as a guide for Perkins and Rice, give you resources and steps to aid in making a difference.      

   I believe that everyone can use improvement in some shape or form. The pages of More Than Equals flow seamlessly, but it will leave you wanting more. For us pastors who began studying this book together, it led to another book study on the same topic. As wonderful of a read this was for me, it will act upon the emotions of the reader. I do pray that Rice will continue to release his progress with racial reconciliation after Perkins untimely death in 1998. His work can be even of more use in our current society.

CONCLUSION

   An emotional conviction of truth! “If racial reconciliation is to be a reality, one giant ox hooked to one enormous yoke will not be enough. Instead, we’ll need scores of life-size pairs of yoked-together blacks and whites pulling at the crooks and curves that are the nitty-gritty of race.” (Pg.228) More Than Equals has become one tool that will guide others to yoke together in the progress of unity amongst believers and non-believers alike. If I had just one other book to tackle something like racial reconciliation other than the Holy Scriptures, I would have “More than Equals”. If you are reading this and considering whether or not you should purchase the book, take a step of faith and trust that it will change how you view racial division in the modern free world.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “Unfortunately, the racial progress America has made cannot simply wash away the effects of our negative history.” (Pg.93) 
  • “But in all of my forty-four years of evangelical teaching, I never understood until now that God intended for grace to be a way of life for His followers.” (Pg.242) 
  • “At our relationship’s weakest moment Chris and I saw, as clearly as anything we had ever seen before. that only by giving each other grace could we find healing and restoration.” (Pg.242) 
  • “It’s crucial that black Christians continue to step forward and partner with white Christians who share our vision.” (Pg.236)
five-stars
By | 2018-02-06T10:53:40+00:00 February 6th, 2018|

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