Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together

BOOK REVIEW

THE IMPERFECT DISCIPLE by Jared C. Wilson ( Baker Books; 2017)

This book is about discipleship but takes a different approach from most Christian books on this subject. The typical book by a pastor or Bible teacher who wants to explain how the Bible defines discipleship and how a person can become wholly sold out to Jesus — like the author! But this book is written by a former pastor who had to give up his pastorate due to stress, depression, and burnout. And he sets the goal for himself to write a book that encourages the average Christian who is trying to walk with Jesus while raising kids, going to school, and working long hours at a job that they are not exactly crazy about.

Wilson accomplishes this goal by openly admitting how messed up and thoroughly ordinary he is. He is no kind of example for other believers to follow. But this is the point, because until a believer is honest enough to admit how hopeless they are in trying to walk like Jesus on their own skills and willpower, the sooner they will be able to recognize the extraordinary grace found in the gospel. The author makes an interesting point that our Christian lives can be summed up in Romans 7 and 8 — that we fail in our sins daily, but God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of His intention to cause us to become like Christ through the efforts of the Spirit. And that God will not give up on us until we become glorified in heaven with Jesus and all of our spiritual brothers and sisters.

Wilson writes in a humorous and passionate style that is both engaging and encouraging. And he does a beautiful job in showing how spectacular and amazing God’s grace and love are and that any believer can live in confidence that by being a follower of Christ — even one who constantly stumbles — they are greatly loved and cared for by our heavenly Father. Highly recommended!

Encouragement for the Depressed from Charles Spurgeon — Randy Alcorn’s Blog

What could be better than wise words on depression from Charles Spurgeon and Randy Alcorn?

During this global pandemic, depression and suicidal thoughts are on the rise. That makes the release of the short book Encouragement for the Depressed, with a sermon from Charles Spurgeon, timely. The book description says, “Having battled depression and discouragement himself for most of his years in ministry, Spurgeon encourages the downtrodden to hold fast…

Encouragement for the Depressed from Charles Spurgeon — Randy Alcorn’s Blog

Finding Joy in a Broken World (Ecclesiastes 8:2-9:18) — DashHouse

Part of a series on the Book of Ecclesiates from DashHouse. There is a good reason for this book to be in the Bible, so let’s get wisdom! 🙂

Big Idea: Accept the harsh realities of a broken world. As you do, urgently enjoy every good gift that God gives you. Welcome to our sixth sermon on the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is one of the wisdom books of the Bible. It wants to help us learn how to live skillfully in this world.…

Finding Joy in a Broken World (Ecclesiastes 8:2-9:18) — DashHouse

Presuppositional Apologetics Links: Third Week of November 2020 — The Domain for Truth

Submitted for your apologetics resources. From Domain for Truth……………………..

These are links concerning Presuppositional apologetics gathered from November 15th-21st, 2020. 1.) Cave to the Cross’ Apologetics Ep. 98 – Truth In A Culture Of Doubt – Preface 2.) Bible Contradiction? How long did it take to create the heavens and the earth? 3.) Misotheists Dehumanizing Christians and Creationists 4.) Free PDF Apologetics’ Dissertation: Carl F. […]

Presuppositional Apologetics Links: Third Week of November 2020 — The Domain for Truth

God’s Sovereignty and Human Choice: The Examples of Paul, Elisha, and Daniel

In this article, Randy Alcorn gives some quick examples of how God’s sovereignty works “hand-in-hand” with the choices that people freely make, so that God remains truly sovereign over all people and history, yet people also have true freedom of choice. We don’t have to understand all of this divine mystery, just appreciate the awesomeness of God! From Eternal Perspectives Ministries……………

Seven Lessons from the Puritans

When I was a younger Christian, I totally bought into the stereotype of Puritans being stuffy, grumpy and legalistic. Now that I am a little more mature, I have come to appreciate the spirit of devotion to the Lord and the heart to worship and serve that marked their writings and their lives. Here is a quick look at what typified the Puritans by Puritan scholar Joel Beeke, by way of Randy Alcorn………………….

Men of the Bible — From The Darkness Into The Light

A short devotional as you learn some tidbits about Luke. From From the Darkness Into the Light………

LUKE His name means: “Light-Giving” His work: He was a Gentile by birth, a physician by trade, and a journalist by calling.His character: A humble man willing to be used rather than lauded.His sorrow: An eyewitness to the sinfulness and jealousy of the religious elite in their support of the torture and execution of many faithful believers.His triumph: The opportunity […]

Men of the Bible — From The Darkness Into The Light

Pour Out Your Heart … — Learning From God’s Word

Nice! From Learning From God’s Word………………

Genesis 2:12“aromatic resin and the shoham stone” “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).This is not only the story of Mary’s costly devotion. It’s […]

Pour Out Your Heart … — Learning From God’s Word

Finding Happiness (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6:6) — DashHouse

The article tells us the key to happiness for the believer is humble obedience and contentment. Not easy, but do-able with the help of the Holy Spirit! From DashHouse………………..

Big Idea: Don’t try to find happiness in religion, power, and money. Find joy in humble obedience and contentment. I’ve got some good news for you today: God wants you to be happy. I really believe that. That is so different from what I used to believe: that following God meant walking away from happiness…

Finding Happiness (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6:6) — DashHouse

How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding of the Old Testament

READING THE BIBLE WITH RABBI JESUS by Lois Tverberg is another addition to her fine series on using insights from Jewish and 1st Century AD Middle Eastern life for modern readers to better understand the Bible. This particular book focuses on the Old Testament — which, of course, was the Bible for all Jews in the time of Jesus — and how Jesus would have read and interpreted what was written in those texts that were already over 1000 years old by the time He arrived on the scene.

As in other books she has written, Tverberg first helps the reader to understand that the Greco-Roman culture that gave rise to European and then North American culture and soceity is really very different from the worldview of the ancient Israelites, as well as Jesus and His disciples. She shows how this is important in examples like the word “walk.” In Greek and English, it simply means to travel by foot, but in Hebrew the way one “walks” reflects your moral character. Then, Part Three, the author uses the foundation built up by the previous sections to bring greater clarity and insight to various familiar passages and parts of the Old Testament.

Since very few believers will ever travel to Israel or learn biblical Hebrew, Tverberg provides an invaluable service to Christian readers who want to better appreciate the Old Testament, so that it truly is the source of information about God’s holiness, grace and love that it is meant to be. Highly recommended!

Cultivating the Presence of God

I have so much to learn in this aspect of following Christ! I guess the point is to first know that I have access to God at any time, but there are things in my heart and mind to get in line so that His presence becomes more evident and impactful to me. A valuable article from Place for Truth………..

10 Key Bible Verses on God’s Sovereignty

Out of all of God’s wonderful attributes, I believe this particular attribute/fact is the most reassuring for me. Here is a collection on Bible passages that focus on this fact from Crossway……………………

Bible Study Tools and Process

One of the main reasons for this blog is to help point people to other writers and websites that are doing good work for the Kingdom, but some might be unfamiliar with. This article is from Knowable Word, and here, the author of this blog/website goes over his personal process from gathring Bible study tools and then how he begins to unpack the passage he is studying. I hope you find it helpful!!

Planning and Living for the Glory of God

BOOK REVIEW

REIMAGINE RETIREMENT by C. J. Cagle (B & H Publishers; 2019)

This book is written by a Christian financial specialist, as well as being a recent retiree himself. But unlike a lot of other financial planning books I have read, Cagle does not make the reader feel foolish or a loser if they don’t have a million dollars already set aside for themselves.

Cagle first looks at how our modern world defines retirement and then compares that to a review of the biblical outlook on retirement. And, of course, the Bible knows nothing about retirement as presently experienced in the Western world. In Part Two, the author gets more into the numbers and wise strategies of preparing for and beginning to set your financial house in order. Then, in Part Three, Cagle emphasizes how to live out your retirement in a manner that demonstrates a trust and dependence on God, while also looking for various ways to continue to serve Him and mentor younger people.

This book is extremely practical and easy to understand for even clueless financial people like myself! Again, I found this book to be an encouragement even though I do not have a retirement nest egg personally. Highly recommended!

Is it ok for a Christian to take antidepressants?

Defeating depression is not simply a matter of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Don’t let any nay-sayers add to your pain by telling you that you “just need Jesus” to stop being depressed. God has given us medications and good doctors as part of His grace! From The Grace Alliance………………

Don’t Adopt That One!

One of the most precious facts of our Christian lives, but one that is often glossed over, is that God has adopted us into His family. I am the father of my dear adopted daughter, and I cannot even imagine how I could love any more than if she was my natural-born little girl. She is simply my daughter, and she is my constant delight. And so are you in your heavenly Father’s eyes! From The Gospel Coalition……………….

Top 10 Theology Books for Beginners

10 Best Recommended Theology Books for Newbies

[EDITOR’S NOTE]:  The original version of this article was written in June 2019, several weeks before the news about the recent divorce and repudiation of Christianity by Joshua Harris; one of his books I had originally recommended.  In light of these recent developments, I offer a new suggestion for #10

Theology is a term and subject that can scare off many a young Christian (not to mention most seasoned believers, too!).  But theology is really nothing more than the “study of God” [paraphrased dictionary definition], and as such should be of interest to every Christian who wants to learn more about our Heavenly Father and how He relates to the world and His creation — mankind.  As R. C. Sproul once famously declared, “Everyone is a theologian” — because everyone; believers and non-believers alike, need to try to make some sense of the world we live in.  And for the Christian, a good theology book simply serves to take the vast but complicated information found in the Bible, and attempt to synthesize that information into understandable and palatable portions that help make sense of what the Bible teaches.  One can find theology books that have print as small as the Bible itself, and nearly as many pages in some cases!  But there are a plethora of books that are much easier to handle, and even devotional and encouraging in tone and content.  The following is a list of ten recommended theology books that should not be overwhelming for new believers, and that would also prove useful for more mature believers who would like resources in helping them to lead Sunday school classes, home study groups, or mentoring younger believers.  So, in no particular order, here is my list:

Top 10 Theology Books for beginners:

  1. Knowing God by J. I. Packer (Intervarsity Press; 1973)

This book has been in print constantly since its first publication in the 1970’s, and was named by Christianity Today, as one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals in the 20th Century.  Packer is an eminent scholar, theologian, and teacher, but his writing is unusually clear and practical; and instructs readers in two eminent subjects — knowing about God, and also knowing God intimately through knowing Jesus “closer than a brother.”  You cannot go wrong with this sublime book.

     2.  The Attributes of God by A. W. Tozer (Wingspread; newest edition, 2007)

Like Packer’s book above, this work by Tozer is not strictly a systematic theology; but like Packer’s book, it has been in continual print since first published in the 1950’s, and also is often cited as a formative influence on numerous pastors, authors and lay people alike.  Tozer writes with passion and clarity on 10 of the most attributes that make God the “only God.”

3.  Bible Doctrine:  Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne

            Grudem (Zondervan Academic; 1999)

This volume is a major abridgement of Grudem’s full-fledged systematic theology 

 titled oddly enough Systematic Theology, but even at a little over 500 pages, is still less than a third of the size of the full textbook.  Like a true systematic theology, this work by Grudem covers all the main aspects of a systematic theology — God; the Bible; Man; Christ; redemption (salvation); the Church; and the End Times.  Grudem is an able scholar, but as a teacher and pastor for many years, he knows how to communicate hard truths into easily digestible nuggets.

4.  The Cross of Christ by John Stott (Intervarsity Press; newest edition,         2006)

  John Stott was one of the most revered authors, evangelist, and Christian statesman of    the 20th Century, and again, this book makes the list of practically all lists of top    Christian books; because it is generally so well-reasoned, thoroughly biblical, and yet    eminently applicable for today.  As the title implies, the volume focuses on the central  meaning of the Cross in Christianity — deliverance from sin, but most beautifully as the  greatest possible expression and demonstration of God’s love for His children.

5.  The Reason for God:  Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller  (Penguin Books; 2008)

Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the heart of New York City;  and his preaching and teaching has attracted many thousands of young, upwardly mobile  seekers, with his down-to-earth yet heartfelt illustrations and his special gift of teaching  biblical truths in a manner both accessible and life-changing to thousands weekly, and  scores more through his writings.  While not really a theology book, per se, he aptly  demonstrates that belief in the Bible and the God of the Bible is both rational and  reasonable.

6.  Everyone’s a Theologian by R. C. Sproul (Reformation Trust Publishing;  2014)

R. C. Sproul was a well-known author, teacher, pastor and radio personality until his  recent passing in 2018.  As this title trumpets, anyone who thinks about the Bible and tries  to understand it, is engaging in theology.  Once Sproul gets this point across, he then goes  through all of the classical theological subheadings.  But because his teaching ministry  began teaching small groups of laymen in his living room, eventually growing into a  multi-national radio program and Christian resource repository, Sproul is more than  capable to the task to make theology both understandable life-changing.

7.  Systematic Theology:  An Introduction to Christian Belief by John Frame 

            (P&R Publishing; 2013)

As one reviewer put it:  “It would be nearly impossible to read this volume without being    drawn into fellowship and conversation with the God who is at its center….this is perhaps one of the most practical systematic theologies ever penned!.”  Enough said.

8.  God is Love:  A Biblical and Systematic Theology by Gerald Bray  (Crossway Books; 2012)

Bray delivers on his promise to teach Christians on the God who is love, and shows consistently how God’s love all hangs together in God’s story of the Good News given by Christ.

9.  According to Plan:  The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by      Graeme Goldsworthy (IVP Academic; 2002)

This book by Goldsworthy is acknowledged by the majority of scholars and pastors as     one of the very best books on the unity of the Bible and the overarching message that      runs from Genesis to Revelation — thus making the message of each individual book      more meaningful.

10.  Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof (Eerdmans Publishing; 1938)

This work is older but still is in print and highly readable (publisher describes it as being written originally for high school students), but covers all the basics parts of theology in under 200 pages.

So, this is one pilgrim’s recommendations, but is by no means definitive or complete; but perhaps is a good place for someone to start with.  I would invite your thoughts and comments.  Happy exploring and growing closer to God!

Let’s Stop Stirring the Pot

Arguing is not a fruit of the Spirit!

Theology and Life

Imagine with me for a moment. You have an unbelieving friend, Johnny. Johnny is a known atheist who in his spare time enjoys mocking the Christian faith. One day, Johnny posts a status on Facebook that is clearly a cry for attention. He posts: “God is just as much real as the tooth fairy. You might as well believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

You’ve been friends with Johnny since junior high, so you know his personality like nobody else. You know this guy is just bored. In short, you know you probably shouldn’t give it the time of day. But the apologetics-loving part of you couldn’t resist. You reply—the rest is history. After an hours-long debate over the existence of God, you finally give up after realizing that Johnny’s goal has been accomplished: he got you to take the bait and you wound up looking like a fool on…

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