Book Review

I had the privilege of reviewing Discovering A Biblical Worldview for Lifeway Pastor’s page. Go check it out.

“A worldview is like our hearts, everyone has one. Just as our heart functions and pumps life through our bodies, our worldview becomes the source of how a person “understands…” http://www.lifeway.com/pastorstoday/2015/04/24/pastors-library-developing-a-biblical-worldview/

The People of Yahweh: A Celebratory People

Have you experienced a celebratory moment? Or have you been a part of a joyous occasion that causes an eruption of celebration? We get a picture of this in sports, think back to the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks were on the one yard line, ready to go for the go ahead score and seal the game. Russell Wilson hikes the ball, all watch in silence, Wilson throws to the receiver and the Patriot defender intercepts the ball and all the Patriots and their fans erupt in a celebration of joy. There was leaping, shouting and overall joy in the victory.

Celebratory moments are a great picture of how the people of Yahweh should be. In the book of Zephaniah we see this. Before we look at the passage allow me to give me some background. Zephaniah has just prophesied judgement on Judah which is coming because of their covenant breaking ways. Zephaniah proclaims the day of the Lord is coming and the Lord will unleash His wrath. Judah strayed away from the Lord time and time again and the Lord’s patience is finally coming to an end. For two plus chapters Zephaniah prophesied judgement over Israel. Finally in chapter three, the Lord through Zephaniah begins to prophesy of a time of hope. In this time of hope, Zephaniah calls for the people of Yahweh to celebrate,

Sing for joy, Daughter Zion; shout loudly, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14)

In Zephaniah three, the Lord through Zephaniah begins to speak of a time of restoration. In this time of restoration, Zephaniah gives us a description of the people of Yahweh being a celebratory people. He specifically mentions four characteristics of their celebration. The people of Yahweh,

  1. Sing For Joy- The people of Yahweh sing for joy because of the Lord they serve. He has restored them. The people of Yahweh sing for joy because of the triumph He brings to them.
  2. Shout loudly- The people of Yahweh shout loudly as if to sound an alarm of the Lord’s victory and restoration. Shouting Joyfully.
  3. Glad- The disposition of the people of Yahweh is one of gladness because the Lord has restored them and caused them to triumph.
  4. Full of Rejoicing- The word which Zephaniah uses here is one which pictures some one jumping for joy. They are so full of joy they cannot contain it.

The people of Yahweh should be a celebratory people and Zephaniah tells us why, which we will look at in our next post. But for now if you are a believer you are a person of Yahweh. Celebrate my friend

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria


 

Book Review: Heaven How I Got Here: The Story Of The Thief On The Cross

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Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story Of The Thief On The Cross, Colin S. Smith. Christian Focus Publications. Kindle Paperback

“Jesus’ I said ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom’…

There was no mistaking His enthusiasm. Joy filled His eyes as He looked at me. 

 It was as if He had been waiting for me to ask, as if His answer to my request was bound up with why He was there. It felt to me as if His arms, which were pinned to the cross, were reaching out to me with the same love and forgiveness that He had offered to the guards.”

Heaven How I Got Here is the riveting story of the thief on the cross and how he moved from sinner to saint in a matter of hours. Colin Smith takes readers on a compelling journey through the mind of the the thief on the cross as he started out on the day that changed the world. In this fast paced, easy to read, dramatic story, Colin weaves in history, theology and the Gospel as he tells the tale of how the thief got to heaven.

Colin gives readers a great picture of what could have been the mental state of the thief who became a believer. As he writes from a first person perspective, we get glimpses into the the life of the thief as he moves through the various hours, and sometimes minutes, of the day Christ was crucified between two thieves. Colin tells a gripping tale and wastes little time in this page turner.

Heaven How I Got Here was an easy to read, fast paced book. A great historical fiction book about the thief who became a saint. Written in a style in which people from all ages could read and enjoy. Through the account of the thief, we find the Gospel, the story of a man who bridges the gap between sinners and a holy God, the Story of Jesus. Heaven, How I Got Here is a great read and a great Easter resource.

Meditation Monday

Meditation Monday is where I share my thoughts and reflections from the sermons at my home church, Watson Chapel Baptist Church, Pastor Todd Howard. (Watson Chapel Baptist Church Podcast)

During the introduction of the sermon Pastor Todd shared about an Olympic race the Greeks had where the goal was to finish the race with the torch lit. In this conclusion to the Corinthian Church, Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to finish the race with the torch lit.

As believers we live in an already/but not yet world. A believer’s salvation is secure, as God’s grace sustains us to the end, yet at the same time we are admonished to endure to the end (2 Tim 2:12). Our salvation is complete but will not be completed until Christ comes back. A believer is a victor over sin and yet at the same time struggles with the sinful flesh. Believers live in an already/but not yet world and because the Apostle Paul knows and understands this he exhorts the Corinthian church in his farewell with some important and key commands.

Finally, brothers,rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. (2 Cor 13:11-13)

The two commands that jumped off the page to me as I was listening to the sermon are be joyful and aim for restoration. Paul tells the Corinthians to rejoice and is telling us to rejoice as Christ’s church. Among the fellowship of believers, it is so exciting to see God’s people living joyful, no matter the circumstance. Joyful believers is an attractive quality in a church and believers have more to be joyful about than anybody. Living in this world can get some one down in the dumps quick but a believer must remember that we are passing through this world, this world is not our final destination. Our focus must be on the goal, the prize, to live and enjoy the presence of God forever.

“The wheels of your life can be coming off but if you are a believer, you have every reason to be joyful.” T. Howard

The next exhortation to jump off the page is aim for restoration. Restoration means bring together, to be made complete. Continually we need to be restored or resynced because of the fallen world we live. This restoration is on two levels, the first is to sync and resync with God by the power of His Spirit through the Word. We stay in sync with the Lord through prayer, reading, meditating and obeying his Word. This is crucial, especially if we are to aim for restoration with eachother.

One our tasks as the church, is you working on you, dealing with your sin issues and being restored. Todd Howard

The second level we aim for restoration is with eachother, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Disagreements, fights and quarrels happen, we can’t ignore that fact, but they shouldn’t linger in the body of Christ. If we as believers have restoration on our minds, whether we are the offender or the person being offended, restoration always comes. The problem comes when one or both parties lose sight of Paul’s command to aim for restoration.

May God help us be joyful maturing believers.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

Book Review: God’s Battle Plan For The Mind by David W. Saxton

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God’s Battle Plan For The Mind: The Puritan Practice Of Biblical Meditation, David W. Saxton. Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Paperback

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

The Biblical mandate to meditate is clear from Scripture. God commands us to meditate, other believers may have exhorted you to meditate. David Saxton points out, “few things in life are more frustrating than when we are told to do something without receiving a practical explanation of how it is to be done” (pg. 51). In God’s Battle Plan For The Mind, Saxton provides readers with the “what” and “how” of Biblical meditation. Saxton does this by using Scripture as his source and the examples of Puritans “who regularly wrote, taught, and exhorted God’s people to a life of meditation” (pg. 2).

God’s Battle Plan For The Mind is a theology of biblical meditation and Saxton contends that God’s battle plan for the mind is the practice of biblical meditation. He lays out the importance of biblical meditation by showing the readers how it aids the believer in integrating doctrine with living. Pointing out a growing and healthy believer is one who meditates on God’s Word.

In the remainder of the book Saxton takes the readers on a journey through the art and science of biblical meditation. Teaching us how, what, when and occasions to meditate. Pointing out unbiblical forms of meditation which believers need to beware of. He provides for us the reasons, benefits and enemies of biblical meditation.

God’s Battle Plan For The Mind was an excellent, thorough and crucial book for our fast paced, 21st century world. I whole heatedly recommend this book for you, your family and your churches. All who read this will benefit from the theology of meditation and the history which are incorporated into this book.

Until Next Time
Solo Deo Gloria

Book Review: Romans 8-16 For You by Timothy Keller

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Romans 8-16 For You, Timothy Keller. The Good Book Company. Hardcover Kindle

The series, God’s Word For You has done a great job in breaking down books of the Bible in a fast paced, easy to understand format. Although the series is not an exhaustive commentary, they do an excellent job in explaining the text and assisting the reader to understand, contemplate and show how the Scripture still applies to us in the twenty first century. In Romans 8-16 For You, Timothy Keller continues in the same mold and manner of previous books in the God’s Word For You series.

In the Introduction of the book Keller writes,

We need to learn how to meditate and think about the Gospel until it becomes real in our hearts and the foundation of everything we do.

Romans 8-16 For You does just exactly what Timothy Keller sets out to do in this book. From beginning to end Timothy Keller is helping the reader meditate, think and learn how the Gospel has transformed us internally (in our salvation) and how it should transform us externally (how we should live now). Keller does an excellent job in explaining the the doctrines of Grace which Paul writes about and shows how Romans 8-16 is chain linked together.

Romans 8-16 For You, like the other God’s Word For You books in the series, is usable on various levels. I enjoyed it as a personal study and reflection. This book would be excellent as a family study or small group study, with built in study questions. It would also help pastors and teachers, if they plan on doing a study or sermon series through Romans.

Meditation Monday: Our Greatest Need is Him

Meditation Monday is where I share my thoughts and reflections from the sermons at my home church, Watson Chapel Baptist Church, Pastor Todd Howard. This week Meditation Monday is on Tuesday due to a youth Super Bowl Party and a busy day at work. On Sunday evening we had a guest speaker Bro. Sonny Simpson. To be honest, I text my Pastor earlier in the day mentioning it was a bad idea to have a guest speaker on Super Bowl Sunday, boy was I wrong.

Bro. Sonny preached from Isaiah 64:1,

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,

that the mountains might quake at your presence

 Isaiah is breathing a prayer for his people. He has been prophesying that judgement from God is coming. In this passage Isaiah begins to cry for God to visit His people once again.

Don’t Forget The “Oh”

Bro. Sonny pointed out not to skip the “oh”. The “Oh” at the beginning of this passage helps us see and feel the burden Isaiah was feeling. His groan was for God to come and revive the hearts of Israel. This groan from Isaiah helps us feel the burden Isaiah was feeling. Isaiah was feeling the gap sin was causing between God and His people. Sin had distanced the people from God so much, His judgement was coming and Isaiah knew it, felt it and prayed. So many times we talk about our world and how we are so desperately in need of God, but I wonder do we feel it like Isaiah does? Is the burden so large in our hearts that are prayers become groans?

Invade Us With Your Presence

Isaiah’s prayer continues by asking God to break open the skies and visit His people once again. When Isaiah breathes this prayer, my mind immediately goes to Isaiah 6. In Isaiah 6, we read about Isaiah’s vision of the Holiness of God. This vision rocks his world and exposes the sinfulness in him and the culture around. If we could interview Isaiah now, I am pretty sure he would say, “on that day God broke open the skies and came down.” In a very real sense Isaiah is praying for God to show up like He did with him. Bro. Sonny said,

There is a difference between knowing the omnipresence of God and experiencing the manifestation of God’s presence… The missing element in our churches is the manifestation of His presence.

God make the manifestation of your presence a real element in our churches. When God manifests Himself the mountains of sin in your life will shake and crumble in His presence. When God manifests himself, the fruit of repentance will be seen. We see this happen to Isaiah,

“Woe is me!For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5)

Isaiah sinfulness crumbles before the manifestation of God’s presence and leads to repentance and a yearning to be holy, different and changed. You know what, God changed Isaiah and He can change you.

Another reality when God’s manifest presence comes, is we begin to see the destruction of the sinfulness around us. Isaiah seen it in chapter 6 when He cries out, “I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” The manifestation of God’s presence brought about an internal change, the fruit of repentance and a pursuit of holiness. But the manifestation of God’s presence also brought an external focus, Isaiah began to be concerned for the sinfulness of others. He was burdened for God to change the lives of others.

God doesn’t come down to change your life so you can live in a vacuum. The manifestation of God’s presence is contagious. We can learn much from Isaiah, Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence

Until next time
Soli Deo Gloria