Thursday, November 28, 2013

Embrace Brasil Sponsorship Program


Review teens listed to begin your Deliverance journey

Be a part of Deliverance and share the love, grace, and hope Jesus offers by committing to pray daily for your child or teenager. You will commit to communicating by email at least twice a month with your chosen Deliverance child/teen. All emails will be filtered and translated by Embrace Brasil before sharing with recipients. Join and be blessed as you pour your heart into the life of one in need.

Choosing Your Sponsored Child/Teen

Review the participating students. Pray about which child/teen God wants you to sponsor. Complete the form. DELIVERANCE
Wait to receive your email and begin blessing the life of your chosen participant!

GROUP 1 (Age 6-10)

Wendeo da Silva

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  8 years old


Daniel

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10 years old

Italo da Silva

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14 years old

Wesley Luis

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9 years old


Group 2
(Age 11-15)

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Crislane Evilen

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12 years old

Mateus Dantas

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 1o years old


Reinan dos Santos

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15 years old

Caio Vitor de Souza 

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11 years old

Venicius de Jesus

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10 years old


Rodrigo dos Santos

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12 years old

Erica dos Santos Bispo

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13 years old

Caio Vitor da Silva

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15 years old

João Vitor

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14 years old

Rafael Ramos

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12 years old

Felipe Dantas

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12 years old


Eduardo Francisco

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13 years old


Thalia Batista

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13 years old

Erica Lima

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13 years old

Camila dos Santos

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15 years old

Camila Batista

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11 years old



Lucas da Conceição

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13 Years old

Gleidson Cruz

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15 years old



Leandro da Silva

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14 years old

Mauricio

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12 years old




MANY MORE STUDENTS TO BE ADDED SOON!!

Group 3 (Age 16+)

João Paulo

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20 years old

Marcelo

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Project Leader

Arriana

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Project Daycare Worker

Join us as we Embrace Brasil!

SIGN UP TO SPONSOR

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peace on Earth



Peace: Classic Readings for Christmas by Stephen J Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is Christmas about?  Is it about presents or a bearded obese man squeezing down chimneys or awkward meals or public school pageants that attempt to walk the PC road of inclusivity mixed with nostalgia-lite(all the fluff and none of the substance)?

Or is it about peace on Earth?  Or should I say, Peace on Earth.

Nichols recounts a story early on in this work about “The Miracle on the Western Front”.  I vaguely remembered pieces of the story but was struck anew by this recounting.  This Christmas truce of 1914 left opposing forces, who hours earlier would only rank “staying alive” higher on their to-do list than killing this enemy,  singing together and playing football together and enjoying peace in the midst of battle, if only for a short time.

But this peace was not lasting.  As any man-made peace is sure to do, this peace ended.  The violence and bloodshed resumed and the war, and wars, would proceed as usual.  Christmas is not about a truce.  It is not about a hiatus of bloodshed, it is about peace.  Peace with each other and peace with God, accomplished by His Son who came into the world via a virgin and a manger.

“The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace.”—Pope Leo I

But this story of peace does not begin in a manger and Nichols does well in showing this.  It does not begin with an angelic announcement, but rather the Christmas story has its roots in eternity and grows throughout history—from the “Let there be” of God, to the Garden of Eden and on.

Nichols takes the reader from promise, to fulfillment, to reflection—seeing the manger from Genesis to Revelation, the incarnation from cover to cover.  Nichols tells this story by blending Scripture readings, hymns and quotes.  The reader will be encouraged to worship by the beauty of the content and the presentation.

Nichols chapter on “Keeping Christmas” helps the reader to develop traditions to keep the focus of Christmas firmly set on the God of Christmas.  He gives some Scriptures to read alongside carols and introduces the practice of Advent with a month’s worth of Advent Sunday devotionals to do as a family.  He also leaves space for families to record traditions or future traditions that they desire to develop.

Christmas is about the Lord and how He made peace with a rebellious creation.  Nichols work leads the reader to this and leaves them worshiping in the midst of this truth.  This is a great book to bring out every November and leave on the coffee table throughout the holiday season and a work to enjoy throughout the year.

I received a copy of this book to review.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Pastoral Introduction to Biblical Theology



What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patterns by James M Hamilton  Jr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment is a book I have wanted to read for a long time.  Actually, it is a book I have wanted to and attempted to read multiple times.  It has just been a bit overwhelming.  It is long and it covers a topic, biblical theology, that is a bit foreign to me.  I have been intrigued by the topic and especially his premise of the unifying theme of Scripture.  But it has just been a mountain of a book that I have not been willing/able to ascend.

Boy was I excited when I heard about Hamilton’s new book, What is Biblical Theology.  I was excited to see a short book written as an introduction to Biblical Theology from Hamilton’s perspective.  This was a book that I had high expectations of and I was not disappointed.
As in his extensive biblical theology, Hamilton argues that the theme of the entire Bible is the glory of god on salvation through judgement.  Bur before we understand this, it would be good to know just what Hamilton means when he says “biblical theology”.

To summarize, by the phrase biblical theology I mean the interpretive perspective reflected in the way the biblical authors have  presented  their  understanding  of  earlier  Scripture,  redemptive history, and the events they are describing, recounting, celebrating, or addressing in narratives, poems, proverbs, letters, and apocalypses.


This is not some abstract theological study for seminarians and book reviewers who read just because.  Biblical theology is the study of how the Bible authors interpret the Bible and, thus, how all Christians should interpret the Bible.

What  I’m  suggesting  is  that  the  Bible  teaches  Christians how  the  Bible  should  be  read.  Studying biblical theology is the best way to learn how to read the Bible as a Christian should. By the same token, studying the Bible is the best way to learn biblical theology.


Hamilton divides his book up into three parts: the Bible’s big story, the Bible’s symbolic universe, and the Bible’s love story—story, symbol, and church.  Not only does Hamilton cover the narratives of Scripture, he shows how the Bible’s stories and our stories fit within God’s story.  The narratives in the Bible are placed within the narrative of the Bible to help show the unity and purpose of all that is and to help remind us that all creation is the theatre of God, created to display His glory.  Hamilton shows the setting, characters, and plot of God’s great story and how this relates to us and our life.

This might be a good place to emphasize how pastoral this book is.  Is this book written by an academic?  Certainly.  Dr. Hamilton is a top-notch theologian and you can tell in this work and others.  But this work is also written by a pastor and his pastor’s heart shows up throughout.  This is not a book that deals solely in speculation and theory, What is Biblical Theology is academically stimulating, but it is immensely practical and pastoral.  There are numerous occasions where Dr. Hamilton will be covering an aspect of typology or imagery or expounding on a certain plotline of Scripture and the pastor in him bursts through the academia and his desire to exhort the reader to greater faith, love, obedience, confidence, etc. is expressed with clear passion and concern.  In this way it reminds me of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence but with Hamilton’s emphasis on the theme of God’s glory in salvation through judgment as central to interpretation.

As I emphasize the academic nature of the work I definitely have to clarify.  Hamilton has written this for the Christian, not the academic.  He does not bog the reader down with jargon and debate and he does not dive into complexities and nuance.  This work is not exhaustive so it is not exhausting.  If you want to dive into the deep end of Biblical theology, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment is what you want.  If you, like most of us, feel the need to wade in and test the waters, What is Biblical Theology will definitely give you a taste for biblical theology and whet your appetite for more of this discipline and this author.

I received a copy of this book to review.
View all my reviews

I just saw this interview posted about the book so it might be of use as well....fun to read at least!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Gosh, what a book": My Thoughts on Secret Thoughts


I cannot remember where I first heard about this book.  I skim about 15 blogs a day and have Twitter and Facebook friends who post cool items all the time, so it is escaping me as to where I first learned about this book.  And I am pretty sad about that because I feel an overwhelming urge to thank that person.  Maybe it was here, or here, or here.  Nonetheless, God, through Mrs. Butterfield and through that recommendation, truly blessed me.  Greatly.  Immensely.  Amazingly.

Here is the publisher's description of the book: 
Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a "train wreck" at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.

This book is encouraging and moving.  It is startling in its honesty and its perspective.  This book is a quote machine but it does not sacrifice substance for pith.  It addresses a wide range of contemporary issues, not the least of which is how God moved her from Lesbianism and, even more importantly, a post modern skepticism that had left her disillusioned with the central truth claims of Biblical Christianity.  The story of her conversion is messy, sad, encouraging and exciting.  It is brilliantly written and greatly God-honoring.

I did have a solitary problem with the book.  I was concerned with, and put off at times with, how the Regulative Principle of worship was handled.  Two issues concerned me.  First, the Regulative Principle was presented as the only viable, Biblical approach to Christian worship and that it was definitely the only one that faithfully lived out Sola Scriptura.

Secondly, and much more of an issue, was the fact that I was bewildered to see such an extensive discussion on this topic in this text.  I feel it does a disservice to the book and will cause many who take up reading it to put it down and not return.  I, personally, love reading about topics such as this and I was still tempted to abandon it because of the time spent on the topic and the manner in which it was approached.  Which is sad.  The remaining pages are filled with Gospel-drenched counsel, encouraging stories and a call to reach the unloved unlike any I have ever seen.  It encouraged me to continue in the path God has placed before me and my family and challenged me in how I reach out to the hurting and the unloved.  I praise God that I pressed through on the Regulative Principle pages and saw the gold awaiting me at the end of this book.

Doug Wilson, on his blog, noted something special about the book.
...while the book is relatively short, it is jammed with passing observations that are priceless. She is a wise woman with a good eye. Not only does she have a good eye, she has a trained outsider's eye. She was converted out of the world, and grafted into Christ. Her description of that is glorious. But she was also converted out of one tribe, and grafted into another tribe, a reality which gave her a good perspective on which aspects of our behavior (in the conservative Reformed world) were about Jesus, and which ones were merely tribal . . . and kind of odd. Consequently, there are observational gems throughout the book, usually just a sentence or two, but which could be developed into chapters or books all on their own. Pay attention to those.
I cannot think of a better endorsement than the fact that I have already gifted a copy of this book.  And, though my "To Be Read" list is immense(and ridiculously impossible, to be honest),  I will read this book again.  It is that good.  To quote Doug Wilson, "Gosh, what a book."
And Carl Trueman's take is equally appropriate(from a GREAT review of the book),
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I do not agree with everything she says; but I did learn from everything she wrote. It deserves the widest possible readership.
 Couldn't say it better myself.

Here is an extensive interview with the author.  Enjoy.



World of Worldviews

What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big QuestionsWhat's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions by James N. Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is awesome!  I am so tempted to string 18 exclamation points together to attempt and convey just how cool this book is.  “Cool” is a good word for my thoughts about this book, although I am having a hard time expressing fully just what I feel.

Are there better books on worldview?  Well that all depends on how you define “better”.  If by “better”, you mean, “Are there books on worldview that are more extensive and academic?” then then answer is “certainly”.  I am sure it would not take us long to peruse the world of academia to find a work that deals more fully and forcefully with each individual worldview and the concept of worldview as a whole.  I am certain we could find a Plantinga or a Schaffer or Poythress or Mcgrath or (insert your particular favorite here) that would do a greater service to one who were inclined to dive in feet first.  But, will their work be read by skeptics?  And I am not talking about the skeptics of academia.  They will read the academics and will read academic texts.  But what about the skeptic on the street?

What about the skeptic in the high school classroom who doesn’t know that their apathy is driven by a nihilistic worldview and doesn’t understand that their rejection of meaning in the world based on their rejection of truth leads to the worldview they espouse, even if their espousing is never formalized in their thought or verbalized to their family or peers.  Their worldview still drives their interpretation of everything and it is key to see how we arrive at a worldview and where that worldview eventually takes us.  Shaffer can tell us that very well.  So can Poythress or McGrath.  But, will the kid at the homeless shelter I have worked at read Shaffer?  Not probably.  But I feel quite encouraged that a few of them would love this book.

Why?  The concept of this book is just plain fun.  This is a Choose Your Own Adventure Book for philosophical worldviews…yep.  If you are unfamiliar, a CYOA book is where as you work through the narrative of the work, different choices will drive you to different pages and thus alter the entirety of the narrative itself giving the reader multiple possible stories to follow through the book.  It is the same theory behind open-world role-playing games.  And Anderson has applied this concept to the World of Worldviews…sorry, had to slip a MMORPG joke in…even if it was just for me.

Anderson lists the goals for this book:
•  To help you identify and clarify your worldview.
•  To encourage you to consider the big questions and to think through some of the implications of various answers.
•  To help you appreciate that there are important differences between worldviews—and that not all worldviews are created equal!



Anderson explains how the book works in his introduction.
You’ll be presented with a series of questions that are designed to be answered yes or no. (Don’t worry if you’re not really sure how to answer a particular question. Just go with the answer that best reflects your current beliefs, the answer that seems to you most likely to be true. You can always go back and choose a different answer later if you want to.) The question will be stated in a box at the top of the page, and the rest of the page will give an explanation of the question to make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asked.
Depending on your answer to the question, you’ll be directed to another page, where you’ll find one of the following:
•  A brief commentary on your answer and its implications.
•  A further question, to narrow down the remaining options.
•  A final worldview page.

The last of these will have “Worldview” in the page heading. If you land on one of these pages, you’ve hit the end of the trail you have followed. There you’ll find a summary of the type of worldview you have, based on all the answers you gave, along with some commentary designed to provoke further thought. You’ll also have the option to go back up the trail, so to speak, by returning to one of the earlier question pages.


I love this book.  Love it.  It is fun and informative.  Beyond that, it just makes the reader think. This book is excellent in the concept, the execution, and the content.  It reaches its intended audience with truth and allows the reader to see what they trutly believe and what the consequences of these beliefs are.  This book is….well, I guess I’ll go with “cool”!  Really cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-D

I received a copy of this book to review.
View all my reviews

Friday, November 22, 2013

Classic Sermon: God Justified, Though Man Believes Not by C.H. Spurgeon

God Justified, Though Man Believes Not



For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. - Romans 3:3-4

The seed of Israel had great privileges even before the coming of Christ. God had promised by covenant that they should have those privileges; and they did enjoy them. They had a revelation and a light divine, while all the world beside sat in heathen darkness. Yet so many Jews did not believe, that, as a whole, the nation missed the promised blessing. A great multitude of them only saw the outward symbols, and never understood their spiritual meaning. They lived and died without the blessing promised to their fathers. Did this make the covenant of God to be void? Did this make the faithfulness of God to be a matter of question? "No, no," says Paul, "if some did not believe, and so did not gain the blessing, this was their own fault; but the covenant of God stood fast, and did not change because men were untrue." He remained just as true as ever; and he will be able to justify all that he has said, and all that he has done, and he will do so even to the end. When the great drama of human history shall have been played out, the net result will be that the ways of God shall be vindicated notwithstanding all the unbelief of men.

I am going to talk of our text, at this time, first, as giving to us a sorrowful reminder: "For what if some did not believe?" It is sad to be reminded that there always have been some who did not believe. Next, here is a horrible inference, which some have drawn from this grievous fact, that is, because some did not believe, it has been hinted that their unbelief would make the faith of God or the faithfulness of God without effect; to which, in the third place, the apostle gives an indignant reply: "God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justifies in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."

I. Well now, first, we have here A SORROWFUL REMINDER. There always have been some who have not believed.

When God devised the great plan of salvation by grace; when he gave his own Son to die as the Substitute for guilty men; when he proclaimed that whosoever believed in Jesus Christ should have everlasting life; you would have thought that everybody would have been glad to hear such good news, and that they would all have hastened to believe it. Christ is so suitable to the sinner. Why does not the sinner accept him? The way of salvation is so simple, so suitable to guilty men, it is altogether so glorious, so grand, that if we did not know the depravity of the human heart, we should expect that every sinner would at once believe the gospel, and receive its boons. But, alas, some have not believed!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Care About Jesus More


Legislation will never change hearts and it will never save souls.

I struggle with the circus surrounding politics.  I struggle with the intermingling of Christianity and American patriotism.  I struggle with the seeming interdependence of american evangelicalism and right-wing politics.  From having a "pastor" tell me that he didn't think you could be a Christian and vote Democrat to seeing famous "pastors" abandon any semblance of Biblical authority on issues of morality, this politics-religion hybrid throws me for a spin.

I am not patriotic.  I'll come out and say that.  I do not think the USA is the end-all and be-all.  I do not see the US in any biblical texts and easily can see it crumbling well-before the return of Christ.  I do not see this as God's country anymore that any of the other countries in the world.  This country has been a blessing to the people of God and to the world, but at times it has also been a curse.

So, maybe there is a bit of anti-patriotism that shades my thinking and how I deal with issues like the evangelical uproar over same-sex civil unions.  That being said, I do feel I have some genuine concerns over the Christian response to these types of situations.  My struggle is manifold, but a couple of issues creep to the front.

First, as Christians, we have to make sure the things on the periphery never become central.  It is so easy, as a Christian and as a human in general, to "major in the minors".  It is such a crippling temptation to take things that are important and make them "of first importance." Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is what we are to focus on.  The Gospel message is "of first importance".  All other issues must be addressed in light of the risen Messiah.  All other causes, all other efforts, all other distributions of our time must be looked on in light of this.  We have a sincere and Biblical desire to see change, but only He can bring true change in the life of a person and the life of a nation and that is by the power of His Gospel, not our efforts and not legislation.

A big part of my reservations is the utter hypocrisy of both sides on  issues like this.  I always wonder why those on the right are never as incensed over the plague of divorce and the attack it is on the institution of marriage as they are with the evils of same-sex civil unions.  Government endorsed civil unions, as far as I can see, bear little threat to the institution of marriage.(Maybe there is a "slippery slope" argument to be made, I'll grant that).  Yet, the greatest threat that has faced the institution of marriage is the act of divorce.  Why is this so accepted and same-sex unions so derided?  Why aren't we spending as much time, energy and credibility, attacking the plague of divorce, especially Christian divorce?  I am afraid the answer is all too obvious.  Divorce effects far more evangelical Christians than gay-marriage ever could.  And if this is the reason that same-sex unions have become an evangelical whipping boy, that the hypocrisy is too much to bear.

I am equally as put off with those on the left who present equality for all as tantamount, unless you happen to still be residing in the uterus of another person, in which case your very existence hinges on whether one person thinks you are worthy to be born.  To scream and cry about equality, equal rights, injustice, etc... while promulgating policy that results in the extermination of the most helpless among us, is the cruelest form of hypocrisy that I have ever seen.

I do not see political activism in the life of Jesus.  I do not see it in the book of Acts or the early church.  They seemed to be too way too engrossed in the mission to get the Gospel to the ends of the earth to get bogged down in worldly debates and politics.  This might not be a bad model to emulate.

That is not to say Christians have no place in politics.  But the question is, "What is your involvement meant to accomplish?"  If all you are aiming for is that homosexuals do not get to marry because it is weird, icky, or immoral, then I think you have missed the Gospel purpose of this cause.  If you are so caught up with defending the sanctity of marriage that you never actually express why marriage is supposed to be sanctified(because it is a shadow of the relationship between God and His people), then what have you really accomplished other than defending your traditions and culture?

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ lived and died to set sinners free.  Straight sinners, gay sinners, left-leaning tree hugging hippy sinner, right wing gun-toting redneck sinners, and all us hypocrites in-between, he died so that we might live.  If we hold this as truth, lets never let it get shoved to the background.

Care about politics.  Care about the goings on of the world.  But Christian, we most certainly must care about Jesus, and our neighbors, more.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

More thoughts on antinomianism

After reading and reviewing Antinomianism, I went looking for more material and found a couple of gems that I wanted to share.

From the WHI Blog:

Fear is a powerful motivator. We’ve grown used to it being used in politics to argue for (or against) certain economic, immigration, or military proposals. We sometimes don’t recognize its misuse in the church.  This week, the fear of antinomianism (which means the rejection of God’s Law as a standard of righteous action required of God’s covenant people) has been raised.  There have been genuine antinomians in church history.  There are many today, who set aside God’s law as the standard for God’s righteous judgment, usually substituting their own prescriptions.  However, accusations have been raised over the last few days that target people who are decidedly not antinomian.  In a recent Christianity Today  article by Jason Hood, the antinomian charge was directed at contemporary Reformed preachers and writers.  Elsewhere, the White Horse Inn was rebuked for encouraging this false teaching.
Click for the rest of the article.


And from the great Mrs. Fitzpatrick.

Dear Mr. Antinomian,
Forgive me for writing to you in such an open forum but I’ve been trying to meet you for years and we just never seem to connect. While it’s true that I live in a little corner of the States and while it’s true that I am, well, a woman, I did assume that I would meet you at some point in my decades old counseling practice. But alas, neither you nor any of your (must be) thousands of brothers and sisters have ever shown up for my help…So again, please do pardon my writing in such a public manner but, you see, I’ve got a few things to say to you and I think it’s time I got them off my chest.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Licensed to Kill-A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin by Brian Hedges

Cruciform Press is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. These little books, usually around 110 pages, are packed full of Gospel truth and clear and practical application. The latest book published by Cruciform Press is Licensed to Kill-A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin by Brian Hedges. There have not been many modern books that have kept me riveted as PM rolled into AM but this little book by Hedges definitely did the trick.

Great resource for youth and youth workers

The Doctrines of Grace: Student EditionThe Doctrines of Grace: Student Edition by Shane Lems
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shane Lems and P&R have produced a gift for the Church.  This introduction to the Doctrines of Grace is formatted to be a Sunday School/group study guide.  Lems takes 12 lessons to go over the basic reformed teaching of TULIP and grounds the student quite well in reformed soteriology.

The format is basic yet effective with review questions and memory verses after a couple of pages of teaching.  The reading itself would be enough to cover a short time of study, but it looks quite appropriate for pre-study material that can be expounded upon by a teacher in a group setting.

One thing you will notice as you progress through this work is that it is quite obvious that Lems has worked with students and has worked through this very material with students.  Common questions and confusions are cut off in the path as Lems answers objections as they naturally arise.  Times of “But what about…?” are answered as soon as they would be asked.  This doesn’t mean that all possible issues are addressed, but certainly the very common ones are taken care of in the text itself, allowing a teacher to not have to sort through the most common objections and questions in the teaching time...hopefully!

I appreciate how the book starts with Apostle’s Creed and a lesson over it.  The appendices are great for students to have as well.  One appendix on the Canons of Dordt, one appendix on TULIP in the Confessions, and an appendix on Scriptures referenced in the work itself.   This would be a great book for students to work through and then clear a spot on their bookshelf to keep for future reference.

If you are a Presbyterian/Reformed minister to youth, this is an invaluable resource.  If you are a Southern Baptist youth minister looking for a great way to share wonderful Gospel truth and hasten your exit from your particular church, this is a great resource for you. :-D  Seriously though, Lems and P&R have done a service for all those who work with youth and for the church at large by putting this together.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in order to offer a review.


View all my reviews

Friday, November 15, 2013

My thoughts on Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid

This is a book that is hard to read.  At least it was for me.  And, I am not saying “hard to read” in the manner of, “I just don't understand what she is saying!”  No, I understood perfectly throughout.  Mrs. Duguid is a brilliant writer.  She conveys her points beautifully and clearly and leaves no worldly obstacles to overcome in understanding what she is saying.  Her writing is fun and fluid and filled with humor, heaviness, and heart.    

But it is hard to read.  The content she covers is shocking.  She leads the reader through some territory that is uncharted for many readers, Christian or non.  She does so with a boldness and ease that can be quite disorienting to the reader.  Frankly, at times, the subject she covers and the manner in which she does so is downright offensive.  There were times I argued out loud with this book.  And I am so happy, and eternally blessed, that the objections I offered arose from my flesh and not the Spirit who is in me.  

“Perhaps our greatest problem (as Christians) is not the reality of our sin, but our unbiblical expectations of what Christian growth should look like.” 
 
This “perhaps” finds itself to be shown to be a resounding “most definitely” throughout Extravagant Grace.  Why did God choose to sanctify believers progressively?  If His only goal in sanctification is for us to sin less, why doesn't He remove all temptations, struggles, sinful desires, etc...to ensure our sinless Christian life?  If I am His and He is sovereign and His sole desire is for me to stop sinning, then why do I still sin at all?  
Duguid answers these questions with a theology of sanctification that is wholly biblical and  historically orthodox yet, for some odd reason, is relatively an alien and offensive concept to so many believers today.

Duguid seamlessly weaves the theology of John Newton on sanctification with Scripture and her experience to produce a work that, for so many of us, is shocking and new.  Salvation is by grace alone, apart from works.  Anyone who holds to the ultimate sufficiency and authority of Scripture has to affirm this truth.  God's work of salvation is an act of His goodness, His kindness, His merit.  He earned it and He gives it.  But how does that apply our life as Christians?  Is grace the door into salvation and then works and obedience and our merit the means unto greater holiness?  Is salvation all of grace or only part of grace?  

Impromptu Gospel Presentation

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thy Word is Still Truth

Wow.  Really.  I wish I knew of a word that could capture and express what this book seeks to, and certainly will, accomplish.  Thy Word is Still Truth...that may express it perfectly.

The introduction to the book explains it perfectly, so I will quote from it extensively.

In recent years, this understanding of God’s Word has been repeatedly challenged—not simply by those in the liberal Protestant tradition, but also by those in the broad evangelical perspective. In fact, in the past few years, Westminster addressed related issues in its own theological crisis, which was motivated by differing hermeneutical perspectives and broader understandings of confessional boundaries. Resolving the conflict required an extensive and often painful process of theological clarification, historical reappraisal, and financial risks, because the debate impacted friends of the seminary who took varying perspectives on the issues involved.
Having resolved this conflict and having begun to articulate once again a clear and historic witness to this core value, Westminster now gives to the world a theological testimony of the integrity of our views that we believe are grounded in the long and august Reformed tradition on the doctrine of Scripture.

In this context, Thy Word Is Still Truth offers a selection of texts on the doctrine of Scripture. The purpose of this book is to demonstrate that the conclusions reached in this controversy, whose focal point was at Westminster, are nothing less than the continuing flowering of the reformational views of Luther, Calvin, Bullinger, and the Reformed confessions on the doctrine of Scripture. Building on this foundation, the ongoing reflection and contributions of theologians from various traditions and confessions of the Reformed faith, we believe, led us ultimately to the Westminster Confession of Faith’s conclusion as confirmed by this debate at Westminster Seminary.The union of the many voices included in this volume that come together to support this conclusion is what makes the argument compelling. The selections included build a sweeping and elegant case for the conclusion that Westminster Seminary reached in this controversy.
The climax of the debate was reached in a document entitled “Affirmations and Denials Regarding Recent Issues,” which is one of the final pieces in this theological anthology.

This book contains all the major catechisms and confessions of the reformed faith and articles on Scripture from everyone...well, maybe not everyone, but pretty close to it.  Contributors include:

Oswald T. Allis, William Ames, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof, Henry Bullinger, John Calvin, Edmund P. Clowney, William Cunningham, Raymond B. Dillard, Jonathan Edwards, Sinclair B. Ferguson, John M. Frame, Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Louis Gaussen, Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, Archibald Alexander Hodge, Charles Hodge, John Knox, Peter A. Lillback, Martin Luther, J. Gresham Machen, Adolphe Monod, John Murray, John Owen, Vern S. Poythress, Moisés Silva, Charles H. Spurgeon, Ned B. Stonehouse, Francis Turretin, Zacharias Ursinus, Cornelius Van Til, Geerhardus Vos, Bruce K. Waltke, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, John Witherspoon, Edward J. Young, and Ulrich Zwingli.

I am tempted to just say everyone!  This is a wonderful book that should find its way into the home of every Christian.  At the very least, it should have an empty spot on every pastor's bookshelf.  The spot should be empty because it should probably just hang out on the pastor's desk to be referenced and enjoyed on a regular basis.  

WTS bookstore has this book available at a good price.  Get yourself one, bless your pastor with one.  In fact, there is a limited number of donor books available.  Bless your pastor with a beautiful copy of the book and bless the Church by supporting Westminster Theological Seminary. 





I received a review copy of the first three chapters of this book in order to provide an honest review.  I look forward to purchasing my own copy to finish and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As light that passes through the colored glass of a cathedral window, we are told, is light from heaven, but is stained by the tints of the glass through which it passes; so any word of God which is passed through the mind and soul of a man must come out discolored by the personality through which it is given, and just to that degree ceases to be the pure word of God. But what if this personality has itself been formed by God into precisely the personality it is, for the express purpose of communicating to the word given through it just the coloring which it gives it? What if the colors of the stained-glass window have been designed by the architect for the express purpose of giving to the light that floods the cathedral precisely the tone and quality it receives from them? What if the word of God that comes to His people is framed by God into the word of God it is, precisely by means of the qualities of the men formed by Him for the purpose, through which it is given? When we think of God the Lord giving by His Spirit a body of authoritative Scriptures to His people, we must remember that He is the God of providence and of grace as well as of revelation and inspiration, and that He holds all the lines of preparation as fully under His direction as He does the specific operation which we call technically, in the narrow sense, by the name of “inspiration.” BB Warfield

Jesus Calling

From the Ref 21 Blog:

I keep hoping that the fascination with Sarah Young's bestseller Jesus Calling will fade away. If you are not familiar with Jesus Calling, it is a book of 365 daily devotions that the author claims are messages from Jesus spoken directly to her. In fact the book is written in the first person from Jesus. If this troubles you at all then you are not alone. If you have spoken up about it you have very likely encountered the wrath of well meaning brothers and sisters who no doubt wonder how in the world you could speak against such a sincere offering. For the sake of clarity allow me to make a few things clear. First, I do not know Sara Young and therefore gladly assume that her motives are good. I do not believe that she wrote Jesus Calling to confuse anyone or cause division in the church. I believe that she believes Jesus speaks directly to her outside of the Bible. Second, I have not spoken to Sara Young and do not plan on contacting her personally. She has not sinned against me. I point this out so that no one will misapply Matthew 18. Miss Young has written an enormous bestseller. Her books are read by millions of men and women around the world. Therefore it is appropriate for critiques to be offered publically. And since I believe Jesus Calling to be unhelpful, misleading, and even dangerous, it is my responsibility as a pastor to say so. As I see it Sarah Young commits at least three errors in Jesus Calling:
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Also check out these reviews of Jesus Calling.
Challies
Keller
Horton