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

He Preserved His Word

I'm taking a Biblical Hermeneutics class this semester in seminary. One of my favorite parts of the class so far has been some reading that I had to do regarding how we came to have the Bible that we currently have. One of the points that the author (James White) made was that when Scripture was written and distributed in the first and second century A.D., there was never a point when one group had controlling access of all of the copies that were available. Copies of all of the books were spread across Africa, Asia and Europe. As a result, no one person was able to suppress portions of Scripture that they didn't like or agree with - there was accountability, because there were always other people who had a copy to point out major errors or changes.

In contrast, after Muhammad died, every copy of the Koran was collected by one man who created an "authorized version" that he then sent back to all of the different mosques. He could add or delete anything that he liked, because he destroyed every copy that had existed previously and didn't match his own.

How thankful I am for the sovereignty of God that has preserved his Word for us throughout the ages that we might truly see His glory and the glory of His Son!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Judges for You

A few months, I had the chance to review Galatians for You by Tim Keller, and I was really encouraged by it. So when I had the opportunity to review his new commentary Judges for You, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.

If you listen to Keller preach, it quickly becomes clear that two themes run through everything he says and does. First is the idea of gospel centrality - that not only is the gospel central to all of Scripture, but to all of life. Second is his contention that humans are, at our core, idolaters, and that our biggest problem relating to God is that we worship other things instead of Christ.

In Judges for You, both of these ideas are central themes. Judges is harsh and raw. It is not an easy book to read or to understand. Keller states his overarching theme early on: " Ultimately, there is only one hero in this book, and He's divine." It quickly becomes apparent how true this really is.

One of the things that I like most about this commentary is that Keller doesn't shy away from the difficult issues of Judges, such as how Deborah's judging should relate to our views of women in ministry or Jephthah's vow that ultimately led to the death of his daughter or the fact that God commands what we would call genocide. But while he Biblically addresses these challenging points, Keller never strays from his main point: that the book of Judges is intended to point us to Christ, the true and better Savior.

Judges for You is not hard reading, nor is it long. But I walked away after reading it with a fresh conviction of the sin and idolatry in my own heart and an assurance that is only found in Jesus. In my past readings of Judges, it has been easy for me to say that I would have acted differently than the Israelites. But the reality is that my heart apart from Christ is just as idolatrous as theirs. Keller's commentary helped me to see this, and then pointed me to Jesus.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When You Have a Big Decision...

...It's important to remember that God is sovereign. Always and absolutely. While His sovereignty doesn't release you from your responsibility to make wise and thoughtful decisions, it does ensure one thing: you cannot mess up the Lord's plans. And what that does is give you the confidence you need to make this decision. Pray, read Scripture, obtain wise counsel, and then make your decision knowing that a man plans his way, but the Lord always establishes his steps. There is no need to worry about tomorrow.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sleep and Self-Sufficiency

My roommate is getting married this week, making our house wedding central. In addition, it has just been a busy week at work and with friends. I haven't been sleeping as much as I should, and yesterday, I started to feel it.

I can go for a few days without enough sleep and I don't feel the affects. But any more than that, and all of the sudden it hits me, and I am furious or hurt about the littlest things, things that shouldn't be an issue. Yesterday was the day that everything hit me. I fell apart last night about the smallest things, and felt awful because of it.

When I initially choose pleasure or work over rest, I feel fine. I am self-sufficient, not even needing sleep. But then I realize the truth: I cannot sustain myself. Rest is a necessary part of the way that the Lord created me.

It is when I sleep that I remember that I need the Lord's sustaining power and sovereignty. It is a way of saying that I cannot do it all. It is a reminder that I am ultimately completely dependent on the One who created me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

He Anchors Me with His Grace Abounding

It's profound with all these sinking ships around me, peace surrounds me and He anchors me with His grace abounding. - Josh Garrels and Beautiful Eulogy, "Anchor of My Soul"
Last month, I waited in a security line at the airport to have my ID checked as I headed to see my grandma for the last time. It had been less than 36 hours since I had returned from Thailand, and in that time I had worked two full days, done laundry, unpacked and repacked, and slept for a few hours. I was jet-lagged, and adding another 3 hour time difference to my already confused body, still on the typical missions trip "high", but heading to say goodbye for the last time to my grandma who doesn't know the Lord. I was a tangled mess of emotions.

But there was a peace...a peace in knowing Him who is greater than this world. A knowledge that He is an anchor for my soul in every storm. And so as I waited in the security line, I didn't feel quite as drained as I probably truly was.

When I reached the TSA guard, I handed him my ticket and passport, smiled and asked how his night was going.

"Very well," he answered, smiling back at me, an abnormal response from almost any California TSA agents, but particularly those working the night shift. They aren't exactly known for their pleasantness.

He looked at my ticket for a moment, and then looked up at me again. "You're looking very joyful, Miss Joyce." Then he handed me my ticket and I walked on to the next portion of security.

What he will never know is what those words meant that night. My middle name is Joyce. I am named for my grandma, the very grandma I was going to say goodbye to and who I had been praying for. I was exhausted and had every reason to be frustrated and full of grief. But the Lord had given me a confidence in who He is, and I did find rest in Him.The TSA guard's words, although he will never know that, were a reminder to me of the joy that I have in Christ,  in the One who anchors my soul in every storm with His abundant grace. I was indeed feeling joyful that night.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lay Aside Every Weight

In my Bible study, we are finishing up the book of Hebrews. I was struck last week by a verse in chapter 12: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles..."

Did you catch that? There is a distinction between weight and sin. Sometimes, we are asked to lay aside neutral or even good things for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God. Sometimes that means turning off that TV show to spend time with a lonely friend. Sometimes it means setting aside time with friends in order to spend time with the Lord. Sometimes it means choosing to not buy a new car so that you the opportunity to spend that money in other places. Sometimes it means you leave the place and people you love and move halfway across the world to preach the gospel to people who haven't heard it.

These weights look different for everyone. This isn't a formula. What this requires is to obey the command that follows: "looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." It is only when you look to Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. that you will lay aside every weight. When you look at Jesus, the only proper response is to count everything else as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.