May you know and experience the Lord’s blessings this weekend.
(Yesterday on the blog: Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021 Deal for Christians)
Today’s Kindle deals include some classics for now and perhaps some others in the morning.
Stephen Witmer: “Despite the beauty and blessedness of true intimacy, I’ve encountered numerous obstacles to it — both in my own marriage, and in years of counseling married couples. One of the most common is busyness.”
“Are there any qualities or characteristics that are true of Christians only and make them to be different from the rest of mankind? Or are we just like the rest, each embracing their respective club of belonging. I think there is a distinction between a Christian and a non-Christian.”
This sweet little video from ADF carries an important message.
H.B. Charles calls us to live by the book.
Peter Krol: “I am very grateful to the Lord for the rich diversity of literature contained within the Bible. Not only do we have the narratives of Israel’s history and Jesus’ ministry, or the discourses of the law and letters, but we also have the wildly foreign yet lovely verse of the prophets and poets. Let me pull back the curtain for you on my own process for Bible study.”
“In this video, we asked Jonathan Leeman what advice he would give to Christians who feel exhausted by the division and discourse in today’s Evangelicalism.”
Our God is not some distant ruler exercising indifferent authority over the universe but a present helper in our times of trouble — our every time of trouble.
What God commissions, he sees through to the end. He will not forsake us in the work he has given us. —Gloria Furman
You Might also like
By Tim Challies — 10 months ago
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you today.
There are some new Kindle deals for you this morning.
No Word For Grace
“How do you preach the gospel in a tribe where there is no word for grace?” What an interesting challenge!
Hearts Strangely Warmed at Asbury
I really appreciate this charitable take on the recent revival from Fred Sanders and Joe Henderson.
Doing what is right without needing a new word from the Lord
“…sometimes we make the service of God a little too mystical. We look for guidance and pray for God to open doors. Some might ask God for a sign before they do something, or expect a special word from God for them personally telling them the right decision to make. Some seek a sense of peace about a decision. While this does exhibit faith in believing that God can do this, it is not a Biblical expectation.”
Unexpected English Idioms (Phil 3:5)
Bill Mounce provides an example of a case in which a very literal translation can actually hinder understanding.
Turkish Christians Plead: Don’t Distribute Bibles After Earthquake
CT reports on Christian relief efforts in Turkey. “The Protestant Association of Turkey (TeK) has been hard at work to establish guidelines. Last week, after expressing a ‘debt of gratitude’ to all who have prayed and given to support relief efforts, it issued six directives.”
Your House is on Fire
Kristin wrote this one specifically for pastors’ wives, but it is applicable far beyond that.
Flashback: Little Seeds that Split Great Rocks
…each Christian must be on constant watch against little seeds of dispute that fall into little fissures of disunity. For little disputes have their ways of growing into big disputes, their ways of becoming far greater than we would ever have thought, would ever have imagined.
For God’s people to truly love and obey him, they needed more than rules. They needed new hearts—hearts with his good law written right on them. God had to transform his people from the inside out. —Gloria Furman
By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
I recently spent some time studying one of the simplest verses in the New Testament: “blessed are the peacemakers.” There are no tricky words in this verse, no difficult Greek to parse. To be blessed means to be happy or to experience God’s favor; to be a peacemaker is to (wait for it!) make peace. But though the words are simple, the application takes some work. Essentially, Jesus is saying that peace with God leads us to make peace like God. But how do we actually do that?
It strikes me that there are at least three ways that each of us can serve as a peacemaker: we can make peace between God and man; we can make peace between man and man; and we can make peace between church and church.
Peace Between Man and God
Once we come to peace with God we naturally want to see others come to peace with him as well. What we call “evangelism” is simply this—telling others about the good news of the gospel and encouraging them to turn to Christ in repentance and faith—encouraging them to accept God’s terms of peace.
Do you do that? Are you sharing the gospel with other people? And are you asking them, or encouraging them, or pleading with them to turn to Christ? This is a serious and sacred calling God has given us. And I fear that of all Christians, Reformed Christians are among those most likely to neglect this task.
There are so many ways to share the gospel. You can speak to people at work and home and in your neighborhood. You can speak to your Uber driver and hairdresser. You can distribute tracts and Bibles. You can reach into the online communities you are part of. You can participate in formal programs of evangelism. Less important than how you do it is the fact that you do do it.
The peacemaker is the evangelist—the one who longs to see peace between God and man, and the one who then shares the gospel and calls people to it.
Peace Between Man and Man
The second kind of peace we can bring is peace between man and man. Everywhere you go you find people who are in conflict with one another and as a peacemaker you can help bring them to a state of harmony.
While we need to be careful not to involve ourselves in conflicts that are none of our business and conflicts we can really do nothing to help, there are times where we can helpfully intervene in a conflict and assist the two sides in coming to terms with one another. That’s especially true when the conflict is between two Christians and perhaps most important of all when it’s between two members of the same church.
To bring peace between two people doesn’t mean to merely act as appeasers, people who try to paper over conflict without actually resolving it. To be a peacemaker is to bring God’s own truth to bear on a situation of conflict and then to appeal to the different parties to do what God says. This is always the question we need to be asking: What does the Bible say about this, and how am I going to apply those Scriptural truths to this particular situation?
You may come into contact with a husband and wife who are just not getting along, who are always irritated with one another. And they ask you for help. Maybe you can begin by simply opening up Ephesians 5:33 and reading what God says: “Let each one of you (husbands) love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” And beginning right there you can help him think about how to love her and help her think about how to respect him. That may not bring full resolution, but it will at least get the process underway.
You may come into contact with two church members who have had a falling out. Perhaps one has sinned against the other and is denying it. You can speak to the one who has been sinned against and open up Proverbs 19:11 to remind that person, “It is the glory of a man to overlook an offense.” Can you overlook this offense—can you set it aside and continue to relate to that person as if it never happened? If not, then you can take that person to Matthew 18:15 and help him understand the process God gives us to resolve conflict: Go to that person alone, describe the offense, and see if they will ask your forgiveness; if not, take one or two other people and do it again; and if even then they won’t repent, take it to the church.
Of course maybe it’s you who needs to obey God when he says, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Would it be said of you that you live at peace with everyone?
In these ways and so many others, you can imitate God by serving as a peacemaker. You can bring peace between man and man.
Peace Between Church and Church
And then I think there is also a way in which we together as the members of a local church can bring peace between church and church. It’s a sad fact that churches often end up isolating themselves or becoming suspicious of other congregations. We can even become competitive with one another when it comes to growing our numbers.
There is a sweet ministry of being a church that loves other churches—that makes peace with them and that fosters peace with them. You can read about one of these churches in 1 Thessalonians 4—a church that was commended for its love of other churches. There was no competition and no hard feelings. There was just love—love for other churches that were imperfect but on the same side, imperfect but carrying out the same labor and working toward the same cause. It is a beautiful thing when churches dwell together in love, trust, and unity.
We are called to be peacemakers, not mere peace-lovers or peace-attempters. And yet ultimately we need to acknowledge that the results are not up to us. We must do our utmost to make peace—but we must also then leave the results in the hands of God, trusting that he is wise and good. Sometimes, for his purposes, he will bring full resolution; sometimes, for his purposes, he will not. We can trust him with the results.
Then it’s important that we consider this: If we are called to make peace, why is there so much conflict? Why is there so much conflict even in the church, even between Christians? The simple reason is that we face strong enemies that hate peace and love war. The world around us, our own flesh, and the devil himself are all arrayed against us. They all tend toward the chaos of fighting, not the order of peace. And so we need to pray for peace—pray for peace in our own hearts, pray for peace in the world, pray for peace within the church. And then, having prayed, we need to labor for it. We need to make peace.
So, are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker? Are you a son of God in making peace, or are you a son of the devil in undermining or destroying peace? The clear calling for those who have come to peace with God is to make peace like God. The beautiful calling of the gospel is to imitate God in being one who loves peace, who values peace, and who makes peace.
By Tim Challies — 1 month ago
October has been an excellent month when it comes to releases of Christian books. I sorted through the huge stacks that came my way this month and ended up with this list of 12 new and especially noteworthy picks. In each case I have provided the editorial description so you can have a bit of information about it. I hope there’s something here that catches your eye!
Don’t Follow Your Heart: Boldly Breaking the Ten Commandments of Self-Worship by Thaddeus Williams. “Today we are told to be true to ourselves, look within for answers, and follow our hearts. But when we put our own happiness first, we experience record-breaking levels of aimlessness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Self-centeredness always fails to deliver the fulfillment we’re seeking. In Don’t Follow Your Heart, Thaddeus Williams debunks the ‘ten commandments of self-worship,’ which include popular propaganda, like: #liveyourbestlife: Thou shalt always act in accord with your chief end—to glorify and enjoy yourself forever. #followyourheart: Thou shalt obey your emotions at all costs. #yolo: Thou shalt pursue the rush of boundary-free experience. Williams builds a case that this type of self-worship is not authentic, satisfying, or edgy. Instead, its rehashing what is literally humanity’s oldest lie. He calls on a new generation of mavericks and renegades, heretics who refuse to march in unison with the self-obsessed herd. With a fascinating blend of theology, philosophy, science, psychology, and pop culture, Williams points us to a life beyond self-defeating dogmas to a more meaningful life centered on Someone infinitely more interesting, satisfying, and awesome than ourselves.” (Buy it at Amazon or ChristianBook.com)
Sunday Matters: 52 Devotionals to Prepare Your Heart for Church by Paul David Tripp. “Christians understand the importance of attending church, but many find their attention being pulled away from worship because of family, schedule, work, finances, and other distractions. With so much on their minds, how can churchgoers prepare their hearts to offer God the worship he deserves? In Sunday Matters, Paul David Tripp shares 52 devotions about the beauty and significance of church, helping Christians engage in vibrant gathered worship each week. Each short, accessible meditation highlights an essential spiritual topic, including divine grace, gratitude, our identity in Christ, and dependence on the Lord. Over the course of a year, Sunday Matters will strengthen each believer’s personal relationship with God and fill churches with joyful, engaged, and passionate worshipers.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBooks.com, or Westminster Books)
Remade: Embracing Your Complete Identity in Christ by Paul Tautges. “Do you know who you are? Often our self-perception, even as Christians, is fragmented or incomplete—we struggle to grasp the richly faceted identity we’ve been given in Christ. When our evaluation of ourselves, our sin, and our circumstances is misaligned with God’s view, we don’t live with the comfort and motivation Christ offers. In this Scripture-saturated devotional, pastor and biblical counselor Paul Tautges provides 90 meditations on your complete identity before God in Christ. You are a saint in good standing before God, yet you are simultaneously a sinner who must battle with your desires and a sufferer who undergoes hardship. Day by day, discover how grasping this threefold biblical reality centers your thoughts and affections on the Savior and prepares you to stay on God’s good path as you live in a broken world.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
The Lord of Psalm 23: Jesus Our Shepherd, Companion, and Host by David Gibson. “Psalm 23 is one of the most recognizable passages in the whole Bible. Though relatively short, this poetic depiction of God’s love epitomizes Christ’s goodness and provision as he leads his children. Even lifelong Christians will find fresh encouragement by closely studying these familiar words. David Gibson walks through each verse in Psalm 23, thoroughly examining its 3 depictions of the believer’s union with Christ as sheep and shepherd, traveler and companion, and guest and host. Gibson provides canonical context for the Psalm’s beautiful imagery, inspiring praise and wonder as readers reflect on the loving Shepherd who meets every need.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
Midnight Mercies: Walking with God Through Depression in Motherhood by Christine Chappell. “Are you a mother who feels stuck in depression? You’re not the only Christian woman who knows what this darkness is like. When feelings of hopelessness, weariness, sadness, anger, anxiety, shame, and loneliness feel impossible to bear, it can seem like God is nowhere to be found. But there’s more to the story than you can presently perceive. Biblical counselor Christine Chappell has walked these dark paths herself—and she wants to help you to see God’s heart for you more clearly as you endure sorrow and pain. As Christine recounts her own midnight journey through depression and explores stories of desperate sufferers who experienced God’s mercy in the Scriptures, she shows how God meets us in our despair and helps us toward his light—one step at a time. Each chapter concludes with immediate help in the form of simple next steps, a Scripture verse for contemplation and comfort, and questions for journaling.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
Critical Dilemma: The Rise of Critical Theories and Social Justice Ideology-Implications for the Church and Society by Neil Shenvi & Pat Sawyer. “Critical theory and its expression in fields such as critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and queer theory are having a profound impact on our culture. Contemporary critical theory’s ideas about race, class, gender, identity, and justice have dramatically shaped how people think, act, and view one another—in Christian and secular spheres alike. In Critical Dilemma, authors Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer illuminate the origins and influences of contemporary critical theory, considering it in the light of clear reason and biblical orthodoxy. While acknowledging that it can provide some legitimate insights regarding race, class, and gender, Critical Dilemma exposes the false assumptions at the heart of critical theory, arguing that it poses a serious threat to both the church and society at large. Drawing on exhaustive research and careful analysis, Shenvi and Sawyer condemn racism, urge Christians to seek justice, and offer a path forward for racial healing and unity while also opposing critical theory’s manifold errors.” (Buy it at Amazon or ChristianBook.com)
Christianity and New Religious Movements: An Introduction to the World’s Newest Faiths by Derek Cooper. “Every major religion has produced hundreds of offshoots. Although sometimes disparaged as cults or sects, these new religious movements are often culturally accepted and claim to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle. We may have heard of them, but many of us know little about them. For Christians, this makes it difficult for us to engage with their adherents wisely and well. Derek Cooper, a professor of global Christianity, delves into ten of the most historic, most prominent, and most recognizable new religious movements, focusing on ones with members whom people have a higher chance of meeting. Writing from a confessional yet compassionate Christian perspective, he provides an overview of religions such as Jainism, Nation of Islam, Mormonism, and Scientology―their origins, religious writings, beliefs, practices―and describes effective points of contact for Christians. Includes discussion questions and suggestions for further reading.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
The Surprising Genius of Jesus: What the Gospels Reveal about the Greatest Teacher by Peter J. Williams. “When someone thinks of Jesus, “genius” is not likely the first word that comes to mind. But when studied in detail, Jesus’s teachings and interactions with others combined high levels of knowledge and insight, verbal skill, and simplicity—showing his genius. In The Surprising Genius of Jesus, Peter J. Williams examines the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 to show the genius, creativity, and wisdom of Jesus’s teachings. He used simple but powerful stories to confront the Pharisees and scribes of the day, drawing on his knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures to teach his audience through complex layers and themes. Williams challenges those who question whether Jesus really was the source of the parables recorded in the Gospels, pointing readers to the truth of who Jesus is and why that matters for them today.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
A Day’s Journey: Stories of Hope and Death-Defying Joy by Tim Keesee. “Tim Keesee spent years crisscrossing the globe, documenting the gospel’s advance in regions of war and persecution through his writing and films. But double blows from terminal cancer diagnoses in 2019 and 2021 brought his travels to a halt. In A Day’s Journey, Tim takes up his pen to write dispatches from a smaller, more intimate world. He writes of Christian brothers and sisters who have taught him so much about a day well spent: the way they work and worship, the way they pray and sing, the way they love their neighbors and their enemies, even when beaten black and blue for the sake of Christ. In this book you’ll have the privilege to walk with Tim through days of pain and hard questions, but also days of grace, wonder, and death-defying joy. Poignant, inspiring, and beautifully written, these stories model the courage we need, the joy we have, the gospel we love, the cross we bear, and the hope we embrace until faith becomes sight.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
Genesis by Richard Phillips (Reformed Expository Commentary), 2-Volumes. “The book of Genesis lays the essential foundations of the Christian faith. In its first few chapters, we meet God the Creator and witness his first covenant with man. When Adam sins and God responds with a gospel promise, the stage is set for the grand narrative of redemptive history. Through his devotional commentary, Richard Phillips guides readers to better understand God, themselves, their world, and the redemptive, Christ-directed trajectory of history. In the upheaval of the flood and of Babel, and in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, God does not forsake his creation or his plan for its redemption through the incarnate Son. As he delves deep into the wonders of Genesis, Phillips invites you first and foremost to worship the God who keeps his covenant promises—both to those in past generations who longed for Christ’s coming and to you who now wait for his return. As are all Reformed Expository Commentaries, this book is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
Expository Outlines and Observations on Romans: Hints and Helps for Preachers and Teachers by Rob Ventura. “The book of Romans is rich in doctrinal truth. In Expository Outlines and Observations on Romans Rob Ventura mines these truths and offers quick, accessible, expository nuggets for preachers and teachers. With a thoroughly Reformed view, Ventura has taken each passage of Romans and helps pastors prepare sermons that will help congregations dig deep into this excellent book. The exegesis of the original Greek is beneficial without being highly technical, and readers are aided on their journey by some of church history’s finest, including Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, and Lloyd Jones. For each passage Ventura highlights: A central theme; A homiletical outline; Exegetical and practical insights; Applications for the church; Applications for non–believers. An excellent addition to any preacher’s bookshelf, this book will not only enrich your preaching, but also cause your own heart to marvel anew at the grace of God.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)
The Truth About Lies: Why Jesus Is More Relevant than You Think by Mack Stiles. “Society tells us all sorts of lies: ‘I’ve got my truth, you’ve got yours’; ‘Death is the end’; ‘I can’t ever change’; ‘Jesus isn’t relevant.’ By approaching these common-held beliefs, author and evangelist J. Mack Stiles comes alongside readers to explain the flaw in society’s thinking and shows how Jesus responds to these untruths. Each lie is held alongside an encounter that Jesus had in the Gospels and takes the reader directly to Jesus words and actions. Aimed at the questioning inquirer, this book will help readers understand the relevance of Jesus in today’s culture.” (Buy it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, or Westminster Books)