Month: April 2013

Preview of “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude.” Part 1

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PMTo celebrate the official launch of my new book  “Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude” (May  5th ) throughout the course of this week,  I am going to be sharing the entire first chapter.  I hope that you will enjoy this free preview of the book and that you will help me by doing three things:

1 .) Purchase a copy for yourself– if you live in near Metropolis, IL just stop by First Baptist Church this Sunday and buy a copy.  If you live outside of my local area you can order the book by clicking here or through  Please remember that during the month of May all the profits from the sale of the book are going to be donated to the Haiti Missions Fund at First Baptist Church to help feed orphans.  


2.) Spread the word– share the links to this blog on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This is the single best way to help me get the word out about the book.  So please take a moment to share it right now.

3.) Pray for the release of the book– that may might sound strange but I earnestly believe that the ideas for this book was given to me by God and that the Spiritual truth that you will find in it can be life changing.  Pray for God to use this book in countless numbers of lives.



Attitudes, Actions, and Character

When I was growing up, one of my favorite television shows was The A-Team. There was a character on that show whose name was B. A. Baracus. We learned in the show that the initials B. A. stood for “bad attitude.” No matter what was going on around him, B. A. always had a scowl on his face and appeared to be angry. Whenever he had the chance to offer his opinions, they were always negative. He never gave anyone a compliment nor did he ever think a plan would actually work. He never saw the bright side of any situation; in short, he epitomized what it means to have a bad attitude.

We all know someone like B. A. Baracus: someone who exhibits a bad attitude no matter what the situation. Hopefully, however, we also know people who are just the opposite: someone who always seems to have a smile on his or her face and who exhibits a pleasant attitude.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of working with a man a named David, who served as my associate pastor when I was pastoring a church in Richmond, Virginia. David is the kind of person who always has an encouraging and uplifting word to say, and every time I gave him a task to complete, he took it on without grumbling or complaining. It seemed that no matter what the situation was around him, David always had a pleasant attitude. Anyone who worked with or encountered David would agree that it was a joy to be around and serve with him. Do you know that kind of person? If you do, then you already know the importance of having a positive attitude. But my goal in this book is to go a step further, to go beyond merely having a good attitude.

What I want to show you is how to develop an attitude shaped by the gospel, which, when cultivated over time, will result in a Christlike character. What makes my friend David such a blessing to be around is that he exhibits the character of Jesus in so many ways. But he did not develop this kind of character overnight. Developing a Christlike character is the result of consistently allowing the gospel to shape the way you look at the world and conduct your life. In David’s life, years of cultivating a gospel-shaped attitude have resulted in other people recognizing the character of Christ in his life. In this book, I want to show you how to develop an attitude shaped by the gospel so that, over time, other people will come to recognize the character of Christ in your life.

Simply put, our character is the sum of our attitudes and actions over time. In mathematical terms we could say, Attitude + Actions + Time = Character. The key to developing a Christlike character is to first cultivate a gospel-shaped attitude. Attempting to exhibit a Christlike character without first adjusting our attitudes would be like trying climb Mt. Everest without learning to tie ropes, use snow shoes, or climb smaller mountains. The trouble is that most of our efforts in discipleship have focused on producing Christlike character without first dealing with the more fundamental issue of our attitudes. There are no shortcuts in the process; there are no quick paths that will get us to Christlikeness. Character is the product of displaying the right attitudes and making the right decisions over a period of time. With this in mind, I would like to submit that our formula for developing a Christlike character should look like this:

 A Gospel-Shaped          + Christ-Honoring          = Christlike
Attitude Actions Character
Cultivated over time Exhibited over time 

Our pathway for developing a gospel-shaped attitude is found in Matthew 5:1–11, or as this passage is more commonly called, the Beatitudes. These eight attitudes form the opening section of Jesus’ most famous sermon: the Sermon on the Mount. In the subsequent chapters, we will break down the individual beatitudes to discover how each of them is grounded in the character of Christ and the gospel, but for now I want to call your attention to the way in which these attitudes, when cultivated over time, will lead us to a Christlike character.

This is Nate, one of my preacher boys who bought the very first copy of the book.



The First Five Books Every Young Pastor/Bible Teacher Needs

This morning I want to write about one of my favorite subjects- Books.  Specifically, I want to share my


Library--New Testament Studies
Library–New Testament Studies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


recommendations for the first five books that every young pastor needs to purchase.  As Pastors, we rely heavily on a number of tools that help us to examine and understand the Scriptures.  Like a carpenter’s tool belt, the Pastor’s library represents the tools of his trade.  Here are my suggestions on the first five books that will help you to get started reading, interpreting and preaching the Scriptures.  Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments sections:


1.) Thompson Chain Reference Bible– There is an amazing number of good study Bibles on the market today but my favorite is still the Thompson’s Chain Reference.  There are two reasons I say this: First, the Thompson’s is easy to use.  Literally you can learn to use it in about five minutes.  Second, it gives you access to the best commentary ever written – The Bible.  Rather than giving you lengthy notes, the Thompson’s simply points you to other Scripture passages related to the passage and allows the Scripture to interpret Scripture.


2.) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance- It may seem simple but this is still one of the best tools for digging into the Scripture.  Once you learn how to use the numbering system you will be able to do deeper word studies.   This is the single most used tool in my Library besides my Bible.  Once you have a good study Bible, make this your second purchase and then learn how to use it.


3.) Holman Bible Dictionary- When reading or studying the Bible you will sometimes come across names of people, places and things that are unfamiliar.  When this happens you need a good Bible dictionary to help you.  The Holman Bible Dictionary is my favorite go to resource when this happens.


4.) Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament– Once again there is an incredible amount of resources available for the Preacher when it comes to doing Word study, but one of the easiest and most accessible is still the Vine’s.  The benefit of the Vine’s is that you do not need knowledge of Greek or Hebrew to use it.  The words are keyed to the Strong’s Concordance number


5.) Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology- This is a tool that I find myself going back to often.  Once I have discovered the theological issues and topics in a passage I will often need additional information.  Grudem is my go to resource for these instances.  His glossary and subject index are thorough and make this a very accessible volume.


Once you have these five books on your desk you are ready to add others and to build your Library throughout your career.

Let my close this post with a word about commentaries.  You will notice that there are no commentaries listed here.  I would strongly suggest assembling these tools before going out and purchasing commentaries, but once the basic tool kit is assembled you will want to start adding some of the best works by Bible commentators.  I would suggest buying commentaries on specific books as you preach/teach through various books.  So for instance, if you are going to preach/teach through Genesis, go out and find three or four of the best commentaries on Genesis and buy them. As you work through the Scripture continue to build your Library.

MY NEW BOOK ON THE BEATITUDES IS AVAILABLE NOW:  For more information click on the link below:

Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude: Understanding and Living the Beatitudes”


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“Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude” is Available to Order Now

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.21.03 PM  Please take a moment right now to order your copy of my new book “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude” so that you will have it by the official release date on May 5th.  The paperback version is available for $14.99 from Crossbooks and the Kindle edition is available from Amazon for $5.99,  All of the profits from the sale of the book from now until the end of May will go to support missions work in Haiti, so please take time to click on the link below to order your copy today (or visit


Click Here to Order the Kindle Version

Here are a few short excerpts from the book sharing why every Christian needs to study the Beatitudes please click on the following links:

Once you have ordered your copy please take a moment to email me ( so that I can send you updates about our video cast of the sermon series and the upcoming study guide that will go with the book.

Here’s what others are saying:

Nate Martin is one of my preacher boys and purchased the first copy of the book.

Jerry Vines, Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL and two-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention says that:

“Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude” by Joe Buchanan is a much-needed addition to the literature on the Beatitudes. There are many good works available. Dr. Buchanan’s is unique in that it shows how the gospel impacts our attitudes, actions and character. Read it with blessing and practical application.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr. Chancellor and President Liberty University:

“There is no shortage of books in this world based on the general premise that, if we adjust or eliminate our bad attitudes, our quality of life will improve.  In Cultivating a Gospel-Centered Attitude, Dr. Buchanan moves beyond feel-good rhetoric to focus instead on the source of a healthy attitude  – in a heart aligned with the desires and teachings of Christ.”

Nate Adams Executive Director, Illinois Baptist State Association Author of The Acts 1:8 Challenge (LifeWay) and The Home Team (Revell):

“In Cultivating a Gospel Shaped Attitude Joe Buchanan delivers encouraging, practical, and highly readable insight into Christian character development, and the heart attitudes that Jesus teaches are at the core of that development.  By showing us the inner attitudes that make the actions of faith more natural, Joe offers new freedom and victory to those of us who may be frustrated in our efforts to be more like Christ.”

 Brandon Cox, Pastor at Grace Hills Church, Editor at

“There are plenty of books that will help you to have a positive attitude, but most of them are missing what Joe Buchanan brings to the discussion – how the gospel shapes our attitudes and in turn, our actions, to produce in us a Christlike character. My mind and heart are in a better place because of Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude, and yours will be too! Buy it, read it, and give a copy away!”

FINALLY,  I need everyone’s help in spreading the word about this book. Please help me by taking a moment to send this post to all of your friends through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Email. Just click on the social media buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word to all of your friends.

How to Minister from the Overflow of Your Life

Fresh Bread

images As Pastors and church leaders we must always minister from the overflow of our lives.  What I mean is that there must be a constant inflow of the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the blessings of God to empower and equip us for the work of ministry.  Simply put, if we rely on our own strength and abilities our lives will quickly run dry and our ministry will die.  In John 15:5 Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  We should pay close attention to that last phrase, “for apart from me you can do nothing.”  The moment we cease drawing our sustenance and power from Jesus, we fail in the ministry.  We have nothing…

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American Idolatry

Hoarders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A few months ago I was introduced for the first time to the television show “Hoarders.”  For those of you who have not seen the show let me explain what it is.   The show features the true stories of people who can’t let go of their stuff.  They have a compulsive need to collect and store things like dolls, newspapers or food.  During the show, loved ones, psychologists and organizational experts are brought in to try to help the hoarders to stop hoarding.


On one episode a middle age hoarder named Phyllis had collected so many dolls and other belongings that she literally had to crawl over mounds of garbage in order to reach the recliner where she eats and sleeps.  Her children became so concerned about her behavior and well being that they threatened to contact Adult Protective Services.  Other episodes have shown a man who had collected such a large stash of games, action figures, books, and novelties that it was nearly impossible to move through his home and automobile lover who faced several million dollars worth of fines if he didn’t get rid of hundreds of junked cars on his property.


Most people who watch this show have the same reaction: they can’t believe people won’t let go of the stuff that is slowly sabotaging important relationships and harming themselves.  Sadly, most people who watch the show miss the greater message of the show.  In some way or another all of us have the potential of acting like hoarders when it comes to our spiritual lives.


One of the fundamental problems a hoarder makes is to place too high a value of something that in reality is nearly worthless.  Sadly, at times they can place an item that most people would regard as garbage in the place of ultimate importance in their lives.  Therefore, what began as an innocent hobby becomes an all-consuming obsession.


In our spiritual lives we have to be on constant guard lest we become the equivalent of a spiritual hoarder.  The Bible has a word for this- it is called idolatry and the Apostle John gives us a special warning about this sin as he concludes his first letter saying, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”


We  need to see something very important here – Satan and the world system he controls have conspired against your soul and want to trap you into exchanging your allegiance to God for something less.  What is even more challenging is that Satan has rigged things so that it is sometimes hard to tell when you are moving towards idolatry.  Augustine had it right when he said, “The heart is an idol factory.”  We can take anything and turn it into an idol in our lives.  In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller says that :


 “A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lost it, your life would feel hardly worth living.  An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.  It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing.  It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in Christian ministry.  When your meaning in life is to someone else’s life, we may call it “co-dependency” but it is really idolatry.  An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”


If we are honest we have to admit that all of us are idolaters.  We all have idols that need to be torn down in our lives.  Jesus said that the greatest of all commandments is “To love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind.”





Top Five Books on Preaching

imagesThis morning, I want to share with you a handful of books that I have found very helpful in learning how to prepare and deliver sermons. These are books that have blessed me personally and that have proven to be very helpful for those who are just learning how to preach. Here is the list with a few comments about each one of them. (Click on the titles to go to Amazon)

CLICK HERE to check out my new book “Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude”

1.) “Power in the Pulpit” by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix (Moody, 1999) Dr. Vines is one of the best expository preachers that you will ever hear and he has worked with Jim Shaddix, who serves as a preaching professor New Orleans Baptist Seminary, to produce one of the most helpful books that you will ever read on sermon preparation and delivery. This is the first book that I would recommend that you buy and read. They will take you through every step of the preparation process and then offer tremendous advice on delivery. This is a must read for every preacher in my mind.

Thinking about preaching through the Beatitudes?  Please click here to check out my new book “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude: Understanding and Living the Beatitudes.” 

2.) “Expository Preaching” by Harold Bryson (Broadman and Holman, 1995) This book will help you to develop the skills to preach through a book of the Bible. I highly recommend that you consider preaching through entire books of the BIble as the major part of your preaching ministry. You will find that over time this is the very best way to help your people develop a Biblical mindset and it will force you to deal with a range of subjects. Bryson’s book is the best manual for how to do this that I have come across.  If you are interested in preaching through books of the Bible you might want to read my article entitled “Preparing to Preach Through a Book of the Bible.”

3.) “Christ Centered Preaching by Brian Chapell (Baker Academic, 2005) Jesus is the central figure in

Cover of "Christ-Centered Preaching: Rede...
Cover via Amazon

all the BIble and all Christian preaching must, therefore, be centered upon His person and work. Chapell’s book will help you to see how to apply a Christ-centered theology to every sermon that you preach and how to find Christ in any passage.

4.) “Preaching” by Calvin Miller.  Dr. Miller just passed away a few weeks ago and I was fortunate to be able to study with him during a doctoral seminar. Miller shows in his book how to use a narrative strategy in preaching. It is one of the best books that I know of to help you learn how to preach in a way that will both honor the text and capture the imagination. Before reading the book, I would recommend you to listen to some of Dr. Miller’s messages online. Once you have heard how he preaches, you will understand the book a little better.  To read see my review of Dr. Miller’s book click here.

5.) “Planning Your Preaching” by Stephen Rummage) Once again, I had the privilege of being in a doctoral seminar with Dr. Rummage and to learn first hand about how he goes about preparing the message. This book will walk you through the steps of putting together a preaching plan for the entire year. For some, this may seem to deny the Holy Spirit but I will assure you that this method will actually lead you to a much deeper experience of the Holy Spirit working in you as you plan and prepare.  I have summarized and adapted some of Dr. Rummage’s thoughts in my post “How to Plan Your Preaching for All of 2013.”

These are the five basic books that I would recommend that every Pastor read about their preaching ministry. read each of them several times and have started to go back each year and read one of them during the month of January and another in the Summer (usually August). During the rest of the year I will usually try to read at least 2-3 other books on sermon preparation. I do this because I want to constantly be growing in this area of my life. God has called me to preach and I want to be the very best preacher that I can possible be. I hope that you will pick up these five basic books and read them.

The Beatitudes Help Us Understand the Mission

Over the past two days I have been discussing the importance of the Beatitudes.  So far we have seen that the Beatitudes help us understand our salvation and that they form the basis for our spiritual formation.  Today, I want to conclude this series by showing you that the Beatitudes also help us to understand our mission. If you have enjoyed these posts I hope you will purchase my book about the Beatitudes entitled “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude.”photo


Click here to to check out my book


In the verses immediately following the Beatitudes, Jesus defined the mission of the church. In Matthew 5:13–16, He says, 


You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the word. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


Jesus defines the mission of the church in terms of being “salt” and “light.” Salt had a variety of uses in the first century, but it is generally understood that Jesus uses this image to refer to the preserving or purifying effect of the church on the world. Sometimes the “salt” ministry of the church has been understood in terms of political or social activism, and certainly these have their place in the overall work of the church, but given what Jesus says in the Beatitudes, I suggest we should understand the image of salt primarily in terms of personal character and devotion to God.


There has been, in every age, a tendency for the church to conform to the world around it, but if we really lived out the Beatitudes, just the opposite would be true. The Beatitudes are diametrically opposed to the attitudes and values of the world. There is a lesson to be learned here: our greatest impact is not made by the ways that we are like the world, but in the ways that we are different from it. Martyn Lloyd-Jones summed this up when he said, “The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.”[1] Sometimes this concept of being separate from the world has been reduced to mere external factors such as styles of dress, worship preferences, or political views. But I want to show you that being different from the world begins with our attitudes, which are then fleshed out through our actions. As these actions are exhibited over time, they will eventually form our character.


Click here to to check out my book


The church serves as “the light of the world” as it proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. If we are to do the work of evangelism, we must first be transformed by the message of the cross. I have in mind here more than merely professing belief in the gospel. The genuineness of our conversion is not proven by what we say but by how we live. Genuine conversion always results in the transformation of people’s lives; therefore, it is the change in our lives that serves as the greatest evidence of our salvation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The attitudes listed by Jesus in the Beatitudes reflect the changes that occur in the life of a believer as a result of the gospel. These inner attitudes manifest themselves as tangible behaviors, which in turn provide evidence of our conversion. The people around us will see these changes and will react in one of two ways: they will either hate us or be attracted to us.



Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...


There will always be those in the world who react to believers with hatred and violence. Jesus does not hide or downplay this reaction. In the final beatitude, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). In order to reinforce this statement, in verses11–12 Jesus adds, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kings of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward it great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” These verses serve to remind us that persecution and opposition are normal parts of the Christian life. If we follow Christ and live out the gospel in the midst of a sinful world, we will face persecution. But this is not the only reaction to the gospel: there is a second way people respond to Christian character and the preaching of the gospel.


While some will react to the gospel with violence, others will see our Christian character and respond with faith and repentance. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We cannot separate our attitudes and character from the preaching of the gospel, especially when we consider how jaded and skeptical many people in our culture have become toward Christians. We hate to admit it, but the truth is that when people look at the church today, they do not always hold it in high regard, and in part, we can’t really blame them. We all have witnessed the well-publicized and tragic scandals that have been far too common within the church over the past two or three decades. These scandals have caused many in our society to conclude there is no truth in the gospel. Sadly, these failures have come to define Christianity in the minds of many unbelievers.


Click here to to check out my book


There are basically three ways we can react to this situation. First, we could stick our heads in the sand and pretend people still think of the church the way they did in the 1950s. In other words, we can pretend nothing is wrong and hope the good ole days will come back. Many churches have embraced this option and have either closed their doors already or will within the next few years.


Or second, we could take the position that since the world is always going to oppose the church, we should just keep on doing what we are doing and spiritualize the problem. This is a tempting option and is partially supported by the Bible because, as we have already noted, the Bible tells us that the church will be persecuted. Unfortunately, this option can blind us to real problems within the church and cause us to ignore the biblical mandate to be both salt and light. Sadly, those who hold this view often develop a martyr’s mentality and refuse to listen to anyone who may challenge their behavior.


Finally, we can take the biblical position that through the gospel we must be transformed in our attitude and behavior in order to validate the message we preach. This is the position I am advocating in this book. With this in mind, let us turn our attention to the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).


[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972), 28.