Monthly Archives: December 2011

Book Review: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Historians over the last century have ranked Abraham Lincoln has one of the top two presidents in the history of the United States—most rank him first by a long shot. On the surface, the reason many cite is that his presidency coincided with the great turmoil and struggle in our history: the U.S. Civil War.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author and historian extraordinaire, has penned a classic that could be classified not simply under “History > American History > Civil War,” but could stand as one of the finest books on leadership in print. Here is a description of the book from the Team of Rivals website:

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by life experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history.

According to the website, Steven Spielberg is making a movie based on this book, focusing on the last four months of Lincoln’s life and presidency.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Lincoln demonstrates how to reconcile and work with those who are not merely different from him in personality and ambition, but are indeed rivals—each having believed at one point they deserved the presidency more than he. The way he earned their respect and loyalty is something to behold.

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Christmas Has Its Cradle

Christmas has its cradle,
where a baby cried
Did the lantern’s shadow
show Him crucified?
Did He forsee darkly
His life’s willing loss?

Christmas has its cradle
and Easter has its cross
Christmas has its cradle,
shepherds came to see
Little Son of Mary,
Lamb of God to be
Had His Father warned Him,
none would spare Him room
Save in the Christmas cradle
or in the Easter tomb

Christmas has its cradle,
wise men came to bring
Myrr and gold and incense,
off’rings for a King
Myrrh alone stayed with Him,
death’s balm for this Boy
From the Christmas cradle
and to His Easter joy

Christmas has its cradle,
where that Baby cried
In the Easter garden,
Christ lay, crucified
When death’s pow’r was conquered,
God’s life through Him poured
Christmas has its cradle
and Easter has its Lord!

(Rae Whitney)

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Lottie Moon International Missions Emphasis 2011: His Heart, His Hands, His Voice

Tomorrow begins the Week of Prayer for International Missions as called for by the SBC’s International Mission Board (IMB).  Many churches are being very creative in how they raise funds for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  This past Friday night, Arapahoe Road Baptist Church’s senior adults held an auction of homemade donated items that did really well and was for a great cause.  (What have some of your churches done to raise money for missions?)

Below are some statistics given by IMB to give us an idea of what Southern Baptists are doing—but also the work that’s ahead to reach all the unreached people groups for Christ.  (For more Fast Facts, click here.)


Field personnel under appointment (11/16/11): 4,887

   Career/apprentices:  4,254

   2-yr. ISC/Journeymen/Masters: 633

Field personnel appointed 2010: 381

   Career/associates/apprentices: 215

   2-yr. ISC/Journeymen/Masters: 166

Student volunteers 2010: 4,100

Overseas baptisms 2010*: 360,879

Overseas churches 2010*: 163,756

Overseas church membership 2010*: 3.1 million

New churches 2010*: 29,237

People groups engaged**: 763

Unreached People Groups not Engaged**: 3,629

World population 2010**: 6.8 billion


The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) goal for Christmas 2010 is $175 million.

LMCO receipts for Christmas 2010 was $145.6 million.

*data from 2010 Annual Statistical Report, reflecting status end of 2009
**data from Global Status of Evangelical Christianity August 2011


These statistics bring home the fact that much work needs to be done in reaching the unreached people groups of the world.  It’s more than simply making a one-week trip, but it’s about making an investment.

I’m grateful to the International Missions Board for their dedication to promoting, rallying, equipping, and sending missionaries to the nations.  But the main weapon God uses and will use in reaching the unreached is our local churches.  No longer can American Christians simply throw money at the issue (as much as that is needed to fund those who are called), but we need to rally and rise up to reach the nations.

The Nations are our Neighbors

Today, I had the chance to meet with nine others at a church member’s house to hear Wes Tucker who has a passion to reach Muslim college students for Christ.  He goes up and down the range in Colorado, making good inroads at Colorado State University, and hopes to make inroads in area colleges here. 

Over and over, it kept coming up that the nations are our neighbors due to the great influx of international students coming to study here. 

At my previous church (Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in Lexington, KY), J.D. Payne came to speak at our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday on how the nations are our neighbors.  He notes: “The United States is the world’s largest migrant receiving nation–absorbing 20% of the world’s annual international migrants.”  I recommend you going and reading up on his presentations about this issue.  Maybe God will stir your hearts to be neighbors to the nations among us. 

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What the Rocky Mountains Bring to My Mind


1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

(Psalm 121)

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