Saturday, March 26, 2016

Do Ask, Do Tell Book Review

One issue that I have long been passionate about is the way that the church handles interactions with those struggling with same sex attraction (SSA). Brad Hambrick's new book from Cruciform Press called Do Ask, Do Tell, Let's Talk is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to both remain faithful to Scripture's call to holiness and yet have an effective care and witness for those around them who are struggling with SSA. This is not a book about the church as a whole, but primarily is a book for individuals who want to know how to honor Christ in their relationships with those who are SSA.

Hambrick begins by addressing many of the problems with the way those in the church have handled the issue of homosexuality: by judging or condemning, isolating themselves from it, or reducing and recategorizing it. The church often errs either on the side of truth-telling or on the side of compassion. There is rarely a biblical balance of love and truth.

By giving clear definitions, many examples, and wise advice, Hambrick addresses many of the fears, obstacles and biases that make Christians afraid to interact well with homosexuals. He helps readers to see their weaknesses in the way they think about SSA and encourages them to think biblically about relating to those who struggle with it. Finally, he gives clear examples of ways to pursue relationships with those experiencing SSA in a way that honors them as people, is faithful to Scripture, and provides many gospel opportunities.

This is a short book, but a very helpful, practical resource for believers who want to live and preach the gospel well in this area.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Begrudge the Generosity of God

I love when I see the Lord's generosity towards me, in the big or little things. Whether it be my job, a friend to talk to, a beautiful sunrise or a verse that reminds of the glories of Christ, God has been so gracious towards me. And He has done so solely because of who He is, and not because of who I am. This should leave me humbled and grateful. I am usually grateful; humbled...well, not so much.

I know this because when I see His generosity in the lives of others, my response is not usually one of joy for them - it's one of jealousy. I see what He has given them, and rather than celebrating His generosity, my response is usually, "Why not me, Lord?" Usually, I follow up that question by listing all of the reasons that I deserve His generosity in that area more than they do.

My heart is so easily deceived. Though I know that the gospel declares my brokenness apart from Christ, I often practically convince myself that I have something to offer God. But the truth is simple: I don't. He has been so good to me. And He has so good to all of His children. I don't need to begrudge God His generosity - there is more than enough to go around. In His infinite wisdom, He always gives us exactly what we need. It is in this knowledge that I can begin to see His generosity towards my brothers and sisters as a joyful truth rather than a frustrating discouragement.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He Gives Beautiful Gifts

Last week, summer decided to finally arrive, and we had weather that was incredibly warm. I did not appreciate this when our house was still almost 90 degrees when I was trying to go to sleep. However...the redeeming part of the week was the most glorious sunrises and sunsets. A friend borrowed my camera, or I would post pictures here. But each morning and night, the clouds were stunning and when the sun reflected off of them it painted the most beautiful picture.

It reminded me that God doesn't just give us necessary gifts - His Son, justification, sanctification, grace to walk through trails. He also gives beautiful ones. Sunrises and sunsets, the way a violin sounds layered with piano, trees and flowers and hills and mountains. None of these things are necessary! But they are beautiful. What a good God who gives us not only everything that is necessary for life and godliness, but also gives us things that bring us joy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Perish Every Fond Ambition

"Perish every fond ambition, all I've sought or hoped or known. Yet how rich is my condition - God and heaven are still my own." - Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
My Bible study finished Hebrews last Sunday, and as we did it became very clear that one thing should mark the life of a believer: an active forsaking of everything here in order to gain Christ and our heavenly inheritance. We are told that the believers of old desired "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (Heb. 11:16). Abraham was left all that he knew to follow God's commands because "he was looking forward the city that has foundations, who designer and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10). Moses chose to be mistreated with the people of God because "he considered the reproach of Christ greater wealthy than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (Heb. 11:27).

Then, in chapter 12, we are commanded to run our race with endurance as we look to Jesus. And in so doing, we are told to lay aside not just sins, but weights that slow us down. They aren't bad things - they are good things that are distracting from the best thing: Jesus. Then we are reminded of what we are running towards: Mt. Zion, which can never be shaken, angels in celebration, the Living God, the assembly of the righteous, and to Jesus. To Jesus - this is the most glorious part.

And finally we come to chapter 13. This is where it gets difficult.
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. - Hebrews 13:12-14
Let us go to Him, outside the camp, and bear His reproach. This is a call to intentionally lay aside our comfort, the good things of this earth, and our desires, to follow Christ wherever He leads. There are many things in my life that are precious gifts from the Lord - friends, family, experiences, travel. These are not wrong to enjoy! But sometimes we are called to move away from those things in order to run towards Christ.

The hymn Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken has been on my mind a lot lately, especially the line I have quoted above. This is my prayer - that I would be willing to give every desire that I have held so dear in order to know Christ and be found in Him. And that as I go to Him outside the camp, I would see how rich my condition is - the Lord is still my own. May that always be more than enough for us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Jesus on Every Page

A few years ago, I first had the opportunity to read The Jesus Storybook Bible, and I began to see how present Christ is in the Old Testament. Since then, I have struggled with how to see and find Jesus in all of Scripture. It's one thing to know that I should be able to find Jesus in the whole Bible; it's an entirely different thing to actually do so. I'm so thankful that I was recently given the opportunity to read and review David Murray's new book Jesus on Every Page.

Jesus on Every Page is concise, practical, as well as easy to understand and read. It is an introduction to studying the Old Testament in light of the work of Jesus; it is in no way a complete guide to doing so. But David certainly achieves his goal of equipping readers to study the Old Testament, and he does so in a helpful and engaging way.

The book begins with David's story of how he came to see Jesus in all of Scripture, and then moves into helping the reader see Christ in 10 different areas of the Old Testament:

1. Christ's Planet
2. Christ's People
3. Christ's Presence
4. Christ's Precepts
5. Christ's Past
6. Christ's Prophets
7. Christ's Pictures
8. Christ's Promises
9. Christ's Proverbs
10. Christ's Poets

Each chapter includes a myriad of Scripture references, principles for interpretation, and examples of specific ways that each principle is applied. The overarching theme that helped clarify so much for me was this: "Old Testament faith was shadow faith, but shadow implies at least some light." Jesus has always has been the hope of His people, whether or not they understood the fullness of who He was. Jesus on Every Page helps readers to see the light of Christ that the Lord gave in the Old Testament. 

While this book is both practical and clear, I benefited from more than just principles for studying the Old Testament. David does a wonderful job of giving his readers a view of the glory of Jesus through all time. I walked away from reading this book thankful for the gift of all of Scripture - a gift that demonstrates the greatness of God's plans, the greatness of Jesus, and the unity of Christianity. 

Jesus on Every Page is a valuable resource for any believer who wants to better be able to love Jesus by studying all of Scripture. I heartily recommend it! 

If you purchase this book before August 31, you can receive over $100 of free Old Testament Resources!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fully to Enjoy God...

"To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives or children or the company of any, or all, earthly friends. These are but shadows, but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams but God is the sun. These are but drops but God is the ocean." - Jonathan Edwards