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Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category


Jerram Barrs strikes again!  His book The Heart of Evangelism is a fantastic look at evangelism that truly gets to the heart of the matter.  He brings the same humble, gracious style to the subject of prayer with The Heart of Prayer: What Jesus Teaches Us.  He addresses topics that often seem to be guilt-inducing.  But he recognizes the internal and external obstacles to both evangelism and prayer.  He writes as a fellow struggler sitting at the feet of Jesus instead of as an expert practicioner.

Jerram focuses on Jesus’ teaching on prayer, so this book serves as a nice counterpart of D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation, which focuses on Paul’s prayers.  These 2 men are very different, and both books are excellent though different.  This book is very accessible to lay people.  He tackles issues like public and private prayer, fasting, persevering in prayer, and Jesus’ prayers for His people.  He includes an appendix on mysticism.

This is an encouraging book.  It is also a humbling book.  That is a great combination.

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Here are some of the quotes I ran across as I looked at this parable.  The parable is simple, yet humbling in so many ways.  It exposes our tendency toward self-righteousness, and points to God’s incredible disposition towards mercy toward the humble.

From Turning Your World Upside Down by Richard Phillips

“Pride is one of the greatest and most deeply embedded sins in human nature.”  Richard Phillips

“Pride is the worst viper in the heart … nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the spirit of the gospel, or of so dangerous consequence…”  Jonathan Edwards

“The Pharisee is self-righteous because his standard of comparison is other people, and especially those who stand out in depravity.”  Richard Phillips

From Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller

“Self-righteousness is like bad breath.  Others can smell it but you can’t.”

“Getting in touch with your inner tax collector makes room for God’s energy in your life.”

Jerram Barrs’ book The Heart of Prayer provided this great one.

“The most basic of all sins is seeking to live independently of God: to live pretending that we do not need him, to live as if we owned the world, to live as if we could make happen whatever we desire, to live as if we were in full control of our lives.”

And lastly there is this gem from Concerning the True Care of Souls by Martin Bucer.  It bears much meditation and attention, though it is quite simple.

“Thus the health and life of the inner man consists in a true living faith in the mercifulness of God and a sure confidence in the forgiveness of sin which Christ the Lord has acquired and earned for us.”

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With a slight let up in work, I can get to work on the new box of books that just arrived from the Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore.  Here’s what I got:

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This Sunday I’ll be preaching on the Spirit’s work in sanctification out of Galatians 5.  I wish I had more time this week to thumb thru some of the great books I have on this work of the Spirit, and the Spirit of this gracious work.

Here are my favs:

  • Keep in Step with the Spirit by J.I. Packer.  The focus on this great book is sanctification, and the Spirit’s role.  I read this as a young Christian, and it was very helpful for me, grounding me in a biblical understanding of sanctification.
  • The Holy Spirit: His Gifts and His Power by John Owen.  I read this separately before owning it as part of his Works.  Great stuff!  It was one of the first books by Owen that I read, and helped me major on the majors instead of being caught in excess as a younger Christian.
  • The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson.  It is a bit more technical than most of his books.  But that is fine by me.  More people need to read this to avoid the abundance of confusion that is out there today.  There are so many ways in which the Spirit works in our lives, but we focus on the spectacular and extraordinary.  He’s heavily dependent on John Owen, who is one of his favorite theologians.

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This week’s text in Galatians focuses on adoption, God’s adoption of sinners as His sons as a result of Jesus’ work of redemption for us.  J.I. Packer comments that you can’t really understand Christianity unless you understand adoption.  John Calvin says you aren’t really a Christian unless, by the work of the Spirit, you call God your Father.

There are not many books on this topic.  It is a much neglected topic- but there are a few great books just the same.

Great Books I’ve Read:

Children of the Living God: Delighting in the Father’s Love by Sinclair Ferguson.  It is not a big book, but it is a great book.  Ferguson does what Ferguson does best, put the cookies on the shelf so lesser beings can enjoy them.  I can’t recommend this book enough.

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert Peterson.  It comes recommended by Packer, Ferguson, and Steve Brown among others.  It is a very good book.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer.  Though not on the topic of adoption, there is a great chapter on the topic.  This is one of the great books which influenced me as a young Christian.  That chapter is just one of the reasons.

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray.  He includes a chapter on adoption as one aspect of the application of our redemption.

Books I’d Like to Read:

Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor by Trevor Burke.  Part of the New Studies in Biblical Theology Series, this is a more academic look at this topic (which exceeds use by Paul).

Heirs with Christ: Puritans on Adoption by Joel Beeke.  That should be an interesting read.

John Calvin and the Good News of Adoption by Timothy Trumper.  It is 2 CDs with lectures by Trumper.  Interesting…

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Yes, John Piper has another new book out (I’m already behind).  It is called Finally Alive, and it explores the biblical doctrine of regeneration, being born again.  This is a much needed book since there is so much misunderstanding about what it means, and how it radically affects our lives.

You can look at sample pages.

Not sure about that cover.  Yeah, I know it is about the leaves blowing as a sign of the wind, and regeneration a sign of the Spirit’s work in our lives.  Still … unless you’re already biblically literate it’s lost on you.

Here is some more info from WTS Books:

“I cannot too strongly celebrate the publication of this book.” – D. A. Carson

Publisher’s Description: When Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again’, the devout and learned religious leader was unsure what Jesus meant. It would seem nothing has changed. Today ‘born again Christians’ fill churches that are seen as ineffectual at best, and even characterised by the ‘mosaic’ generation as ‘unchristian’.

The term ‘born again’ has been devalued both in society and in the church. Those claiming to be ‘born again’ live lives that are indistinguishable from those who don’t; they sin the same, embrace injustice the same, covert the same, do almost everything the same.

Being ‘born again’ is now defined by what people say they believe. The New Testament however defines Christians very differently.

“When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), he was not sharing interesting and unimportant information. He was leading him to eternal life… If he does that for you (or if he already has), then you are (or you will be) truly, invincibly, finally alive.” (John Piper)

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In the fourth section of A Proverbs-Driven Life author Anthony Selvaggio addresses friends.  Proverbs has much to say about friends and their influence upon our lives (and us upon them as well).

Most of us have had a sketchy track record with friends.  I know I did before I became a Christian.  I lived in a normal middle-class suburban neighborhood, but found that many of my friends were a less than positive influence me.  We found opportunities to sin, sometimes just for the hell of it (to paraphrase Augustine).

Yet I remember disconnecting myself from one important relationship over the issue of drugs.  I tried pot, but decided that was not how I wanted to live (praise God for common grace).  It cost me a friendship.  But now I can see the toll drugs took on his life.  I made a wise choice.  But I made so many poor ones too- choices that would plague me for years.

Yes, we need God to give us wisdom about friends.  Selvaggio summarizes it as “a Proverbs-driven life knows that friendship is intended to be redemptive.”  He and I share a love for The Lord of the Rings, and one of the main themes in that book is friendship.  He focuses on Sam and Frodo, but you also see the ties between Aragorn, Legolas & Gimli as well as Merry and Pippen.

Friends, as Selvaggio notes, are hard to gain and even harder to keep.

“We so readily sin against one another, take offense where none was intended, or permit neglect to creep in.  Left to ourselves, it can be difficult to know what words and deeds will strengthen and maintain our most vital relationships.”

(more…)

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