Book Review – This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years

For quite some time I have anxiously awaited a book to be released in the Christian publishing genre geared towards teenagers and the plethora of issues they deal with on a daily basis. There are certainly many books on the market regarding issues such as dating for example, but few if any that explore in a manner accessible to teenagers how the message of the gospel and its application to their lives is nothing short of transformative. Such a book has arrived on the scene, that of Jaquelle Crowe’s This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. This is a book written by a teen (well okay a 19 year old) for teens.

I have a teenage daughter. As a teenager myself in the distant past, I can relate to the struggles she faces. While technological advances have increased over the years, teenagers face the same array of problems I faced at that age – peer pressure, understanding the need for your relationship with God to not just be your parent’s religion, the complicated struggle between a desire to be a child and enjoy the teenage years and the urge to want to be an adult, just to name a few. What is often forgotten is Scripture speaks to all these issues. Furthermore, the truth of the gospel can and must transform how teens approach those matters.

Jaquelle saliently engages vital topics such as forming a biblical identity, grasping how our story fits into the larger gospel story, matters of community, dealing with sin, spiritual disciples, spiritual growth, time management, and building godly relationships. At the conclusion of each chapter, she provides three discussion questions that will help the reader apply the information learned.

This is a book we are currently using as part of our homeschool curriculum, both as part of Bible class and as part of our daughter’s reading assignment. We have allowed her to select one of the discussion questions and to write a response to that question, being sure to personalize the answer rather than merely regurgitating the facts presented by the author. I can relay that some valuable discussions have taken place as a result of our child journeying through this book.

Teenagers do not spend a good deal of effort pondering their worldview. While they certainly form one, often as a result of peer pressure or perhaps by embracing their parent’s perspective on life on a surface level, truly grasping a biblical worldview is often lost among so many other attention grabbers in their lives. For that matter, spending time assessing spiritual disciples or time management at this age is also something that more often than not does not take place, let alone how the gospel speaks to all these life issues.

This is why a book such as This Changes Everything is so helpful. A book written from the perspective of a teenager for teenagers, is a massive help for parents. So many times parents get the rolling of the eyes when they try and share about the matters addressed by Jaquelle Crowe in her book. Hearing what parents are hopefully trying so hard to get across from the point of view of an age peer, is of great value and will go a long way to supporting, promoting, and strengthening the efforts of parents.

Furthermore, I see great value in this book being used in youth groups, specifically in a small group setting where the questions can be asked and explored in more detail than perhaps could take place in a larger group setting. Given the immense importance of the subject matter and again the fact this book is written by an age peer, I highly encourage youth leaders to consider using this as a teaching tool.

It has been a long time coming in my opinion for a book that will be of tremendous help to teenagers, parents, and youth leaders. Jaquelle Crowe has done a marvelous job of engaging teenagers in a way they can understand and of bringing to bear gospel truth to issues our young people are facing and which they need to ponder at this formative stage of their life. I recommend picking up a copy and I highly recommend checking out the videos Crossway has been sharing on their website of late in support of this book.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old and New Testament

biblical-theological-intro-to-ot-and-nt-ed-by-pelt-and-kruger

I have owned or own numerous single volume or collected sets of introductions to the Bible. Some have been quite helpful in my studies, personal or academic, and others have been shall we say a bit lackluster and somewhat disappointing. Given the plethora of biblical introduction style commentaries that have made their way in and out of the market, I am always interested to see what a new addition has to offer, if anything, to the discussion.

Recently, two such additions made their way to the new release offerings and I figured why not take a look. These new releases are A Biblical-Theological Introduction the Old Testament and A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament edited by Miles Van Pelt and Michael Kruger respectively with contributions from numerous heavyweights in Old and New Testament scholarship. With an admitted bit of skepticism which I typically have with books of this type, I dug into the material. Let me just say my original attitude of skepticism was very quickly replaced with appreciation for the excellent work provided by the contributors.

For starters, these are not minor contributions to the biblical introduction category of study. At over 1200 pages combined, they contain serious scholarship. Now mind you mere size does not determine the quality of scholarship as an author or editor can include a lot of fluff, big words, and concepts that are of no use or that are quite frankly wholly incorrect. One will not find useless fluff and incorrect biblical theology in these efforts. This is serious, quality, purposeful, and important biblical scholarship.

Additionally, these are gospel focused texts. I realize the term “gospel-(insert word)” is a popular title these days and is often just that, namely just a set of words that carries little if any meaning. When I state these texts are gospel focused, it means they actually use as a start and end point the message of the gospel as expressed in the front and back halves of Scripture.

An example of the focus on the gospel found in these helpful biblical introductions and more specifically the reality that the core message of Scripture is the promise, coming, and future return of or Redeemer can be observed in the introduction of the Old Testament volume:
“Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. This means that the person and work of Jesus as presented in the New Testament (including his birth, life, teachings, death, resurrection, ascension, and return) constitute the singular reality that unifies and explains everything that appears in the Old Testament.”

Far too often the Old Testament is skimmed over in an effort to skip right to the Gospels or writings of Paul. Without establishing the foundation found in the front of Scripture and recognizing the connectedness of the whole of Scripture as it relays the message of redemption, understanding Scripture’s coherent and unified message will be difficult if not impossible. The contributors do not fall prey to the temptation to spit apart as unrelated the Old and New Testament texts. Conversely, they aptly outline for the reader a sound biblical, gospel-centric approach.

Each book of the Bible is engaged with the all-important elements of background information, authorship, literary analysis, structure and outline, message and theology, with any relevant major themes of each book receiving in-depth discussion. Something I am always appreciative of are helpful bibliographies. Okay….call me a book nerd, but I am a stickler for authors both referencing the work of other scholars and providing helpful tools for further study. At the end of each book of the Bible that is engaged in these volumes the reader will find a great list of resources. Also provided are some very interesting appendices that discuss anything from Daniel’s 70 weeks to New Testament Textual Criticism.

To put it simply, these are excellent works that I encourage not just seminary students and pastors to consider purchasing. It would be a shame if these books only found their way to the shelves of the academic minded individuals. They are truly useful for the average laymen as well in their study of Scripture. In fact, I recommend splurging a little and purchasing both volumes as a set. You will not be disappointed and I submit you will greatly appreciate the amount of sound scholarship provided and more importantly, I am confident you will grow in your knowledge of Scripture and in your relationship with God as a result using these helpful tools as part of your Bible study repertoire.

These books are available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here and here.

I received these books for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Matthew Harmon – Why Study the Book of Jeremiah?

why-study-jeremiah

Why Study Jeremiah?

On one level, the answer to the question “Why study Jeremiah?” is straightforward. On the day of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his startled disciples as they hid from the authorities (Luke 24:36-49). In that appearance, Jesus reminded them of what he taught them before his death and resurrection: “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Paul explained to the Romans that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). So we should study Jeremiah because we want to know Christ better and see God deepen our endurance in the gospel so that our hope in God and his promises will grow.

But that is true of every book of the Bible. So what are some specific ways that the book of Jeremiah produces endurance and deepens our hope? Let me just mention four.

1. Jeremiah shows us the fullness of God’s character.

We live in a world that has an impoverished view of God. Jeremiah challenges us by putting on display the full range of God’s character. In contrast to the false gods and idols that the nations worship, the LORD is the only true God (Jer. 10:1–16). God is sovereignly working out his purposes for human history. Before Jeremiah was even born God had set him apart to be his mouthpiece (Jer. 1:1–19). Through this prophet, God announces his plans to raise up and destroy nations (Jer 1:10), as well as his plans for his people (Jer. 29:1–23). The LORD sits in judgment over his own people as well as the nations, pouring out his wrath on their rebellion (Jer. 25:1–38; 46:1–52:34).

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – The Lordship of Christ

Lordship of Christ

Jesus is Lord. This is a common proclamation by believers. However, do we truly understand what Jesus as Lord means in our life? If he is Lord, what does that look like on a practical level and how does it impact everything we do? Or does it? We certainly claim it does by declaring Jesus is Lord. In his excellent new book The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior all of the Time, in all of Life, with all our Heart , author and theologian Vern Poythress outlines just what Jesus being Lord means and why we should care.

I am a big fan of Vern Poythress so let me get that out in the open at the outset of this review. What I appreciate most about his writings revolves around the depth by which he engages topics. Admittedly there have been times when his perspicuity on a subject leaves my head spinning just a bit, especially when it comes to matters of math and science. With that said, this book is supremely practical and I found myself yelling a silent (and sometimes verbal) yes as I read it. Let me explain why.

Poythress divides this book into four parts, each engaging an important element of how we are to understand and apply what this whole Lordship of Christ thing is all about. When we discuss Jesus, especially his Lordship over our lives, it is quite tempting to race straight to the cross or the writings of Paul. While there is nothing wrong with such an approach, I think Poythress rightly starts his discussion in a more proper location, namely identifying why Jesus is Lord, what he came to do, and how that is the foundation of the entire biblical drama.

God created everything, the sin of Adam messed everything up, thus the need for a Redeemer to fix this mess. We certainly know that bit of theology, but we perhaps forget how it factors into Jesus being Lord. As Poythress so aptly notes, “We are obliged to accept the authority of Christ because he is God and is Lord of all.” Furthermore, “If Christ is our Master and we are his servants, we must obey him.” This Lordship/obedience combination is an absolute must to grasp and Poythress does an excellent job of using this as the all-important springboard for the rest of his discussion.

Since Jesus is Lord and as his people/servants/bride/children of God, we are to be an obedient people to the commands outlined in Scripture that speak of how we are to love God and others. Poythress unpacks a number of helpful resources, both current and historical for understanding how to serve Jesus, ways in which we can serve, and traps we must avoid as we engage in service to the King.

Since Jesus is Lord, his Lordship impacts everything we do from the minute we get up in the morning to the time when we close our eyes for sleep. Poythress helps the reader in a very practical manner grasp what the Lordship of Jesus looks like in daily life. For instance, when we are at work, we are representatives of our King. No matter what our vocation is or how much money we earn, we are to do it all to the glory of God.

In life there comes temptations and pitfalls placed in our path by the enemy to distract us. A practical book on the Lordship of Christ necessarily should have a discussion of how to deal with these issues and Poythress does not disappoint in that area. Going back to the example of serving Jesus as Lord in our vocation, I know from personal experience work can bring its share of despair and the temptation to do work hastily and haphazard is tremendous. Poythress provides some helpful and practical ways to avoid such traps.

I love how Poythress concludes this book. He wraps up all of the excellent biblically rooted wisdom he has shared thus far with the reminder and declaration that “Christ is our glorious Savior and Lord, who is worthy all our allegiance.” Notice the use of the word all in that statement. He is not just Lord during a worship service. He is not just Lord when it is convenient. He is Lord at all times and this in turn must have a defined impact on our lives. The walk of the believer is not an easy road. The straight and narrow path is that way for a reason. We serve a Savior who is worthy of all praise and furthermore in recognition of Jesus as Lord, we must each and every day serve him with all we have.

The Lordship of Christ by Very Poythress is a must read primer on what this means in our lives. I highly recommend it for the new believer trying to understand what this Jesus being Lord thing is about and I firmly believe even the most seasoned believer will receive a needed reminder of what faithfulness to Jesus as Lord means in their life. I know I often need a gentle and even a firm reminder of that truth. If you are like me and I venture to say you are, give this book a read.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – Theologians You Should Know

Theologians You Should Know

As self-titled book nerd and Seminary survivor, I can humbly state there are many, many theologians for which I have at least a passing familiarity. It seems everyone gravitates towards certain scholars/theologians for a variety of reasons ranging from the subject matter that formed the locus of the author’s writings, to perhaps the way the theologian framed their points. Given the wide range of individuals one can rightly claim had a lasting influence and thus should be paid attention to, it is somewhat difficult to narrow down the list to a select few. Michael Reeves takes a stab at doing just that in his informative book Theologians You Should Know.

Over the course of thirteen chapters, Reeves explores the lives and thought of some top notch and very influential theologians. He begins his investigation by looking at the Apostolic Fathers. For those not familiar with who the Apostolic Fathers are, they are the individuals that immediately followed the Apostles and who wrote and ministered from the end of the first century to the middle of the second century A.D. Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John is arguably one of the more well-known figures in this period.

Next on the list is Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, two men who lived, wrote, and ministered during the tumultuous period of the latter half of the second century A.D. Reeves aptly notes the various heresies these men battled against during this period, perhaps most notably Gnosticism. I appreciated the fact Reeves shares some free tools by which to engage the writings of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as well as providing some other helpful resources such as the venerable Ante-Nicene series as well as some other works by authors who specialize in areas of these men’s works.

Reeves also explores the life and writings of men such as Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and well-known theologians such as Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Barth, and J. I. Packer. I would submit that outside of Athanasius, Anselm, and perhaps Barth, most are at least somewhat familiar with this group of men. One person whom Reeves discusses I believe many are not familiar with and who had a noted influence is Friedrich Schleiermacher, a man often known as the father of theological liberalism.

Schleiermacher was a well-written theological, penning works on the writings of Plato, preaching numerous sermons, writing New Testament studies and various texts on hermeneutics to name just a few of his achievements. Reeves rightly notes that many have a hard time trying to figure out Schleiermacher and after reading the chapter on him, I can see why there is so much difficulty understanding exactly where he stood on many theological topics. I am not sure I will make the effort to dig into the works of Schleiermacher in the near future, but if I do, I will definitely start with the primer Reeves has provided as otherwise, I would be quite lost on the basics of Schleiermacher’s positions on Scripture.

If you have a desire to obtain a quick yet helpful grasp of where some of the great theological minds from the first century A.D. to present stood and the period in which they lived, wrote, and ministered, then I highly recommend Theologians You Should Know by Michael Reeves. Once can certainly argue their case that others could or should have been included, but I think Reeves did a great job with his selections. This book is informative, is full of valuable information, provides helpful timelines and suggestions for further study, and thus is a book I know I will return to in the future should I need some tidbits of information on these men. Check it out. I think you will enjoy learning about these particular theologians and this book might just whet your appetite for further study on one or all of these important figures of theology.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – History: A Student’s Guide

History_A Student's Guide

I enjoy history. Not the boring, droning of mere facts and figures, but rather, digging into history, finding out the way and why of our past in an effort to inform our approach and understanding of the present. This is really what doing history is all about, an approach that is often not what is at the forefront of our minds when the word history is stated. Understanding the past is vital and Nathan Finn, in his book History: A Student’s Guide, provides the reader with an introductory presentation of what it means to correctly engage the past.

This book is part of Crossway’s Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series, a collection of books intended to serve as a gateway to the topic each book discusses. This is not a lengthy treatise on the nature and purpose of historical studies by any stretch. Conversely, this series and Finn’s book on history in particular are meant to provide the reader with the basics. In this case, Finn focuses on the basic construct of understanding history, historical interpretation, and how history relates intimately with matters of faith.

The typical audience for this book is at the undergraduate level. With that said, there is much within this book that everyone at all levels of historical understanding will find useful. For instance, I appreciated Finn’s salient reminder that history is not just about the past. The past includes the reading of the last sentence I just typed. There is an important distinction to be made between the past and history. Finn aptly notes, “history is the discipline of reconstructing and interpreting the past.”

After building a helpful foundation on just what history is, Finn then outlines the various methods by which historians interpret history. Everyone has a particular lens that impacts how they understand events in history. Furthermore, depending on the historical discipline, certain events can be approached from a variety of methods and angles.

I will submit a slight point of disagreement that Scripture points more to a linear path than a cyclical one. We see throughout Scripture processes/cycles. The largest cycle is the movement of history back to the Garden, the return to a state of restoration and redemption that was lost due to sin. As Finn rightly noted, we see the cycle of obedience and rebellion in the book of Judges and I might add in all of history. It would seem then that while there is forward movement (i.e. linear history) taking place, such a movement takes place within the construct of a larger cycle (perfection to redemption) and numerous life processes and cycles that take place daily, weekly, yearly, and so forth.

Finn’s commitment to noting the importance of a biblical worldview as we engage history is noteworthy and valuable. This involves something Finn notes throughout his book and that is the need to do history with all manner of integrity, faithfully investigating the facts, and helping people grasp history through the framework of God’s divine plan for humanity. This is where history and the faith truly intersect, thus the need for what Finn’s labels as “bilingual historians”.

History is not just something that academics do in their so-called ivory towers. History is important for all local gatherings of believers, for all believers personally, and for the world at large. While we are not all professional historians, we should take note the important truths Finn relays in this book because at some point in our lives, we will actively engage in interpreting history, whether it is something we are reading, in conversations with friends and family, or perhaps more importantly, as we combat the revisionist tendencies that are taught in schools today.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible

Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible

The Bible is a collection of individual books that collectively relay a singular message, namely that of redemption and restoration through the Messiah. Each individual book shares this message, some more overt than others, through the genre and the literary patterns subsumed within that style of writing. Thus, understanding matters of a literary nature are vital to grasping the manner by which each book of the Bible declares the aforementioned underlying message.

In his latest book aptly titled Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible, Leland Ryken explores the important issue of literary style, walking the reader through the various themes, patterns, and mannerisms or techniques by which the biblical authors, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declare God’s message of salvation to the world.

For starters, this is a very helpful book. Ryken, by virtue of his academic credentials, if quite adept at exploring such a topic. He saliently addresses the issues of each biblical book in a manner that will be of great service to scholar and laymen alike. If you are wholly unfamiliar with for example the apocalyptic genre, after reading this book, you will better understand why Revelation is written in the manner we find it in Scripture. If you have studied such things for years, I am quite confident you will discover some additional nugget of truth and insight after reading Ryken’s contribution to this subject area.

Ryken engages each book of Scripture in a consistent manner which helps the reader know what to expect in each chapter. He begins with a bit of orientation to the book. This is indeed helpful as there are arguably many books in the Bible that are lesser known than others. For instance, I would venture to say that we spend a great deal more time reading the Psalms than we do reading Habakkuk. Ryken then provides some general concepts about the book that constitute a broad based overview of the message the author of that book is trying to get across. If applicable, unique topics associated with each book are then addressed along with a helpful chart that outlines the major themes. As he works through each book, separate discussions over important genres, forms, and techniques are explored. Each chapter concludes with a summary section titled “Literary Form and Religious Vision” that engages the books literary intentions, a summary of what the literary form contained in the book means for our lives, and some helpful literary tips for reading and studying the book given the increased knowledge one will know have on the topic of literary genre.

There was much to find interesting in this book. A prime example is in Ryken’s discussion of the historical books such as 1 Kings. We typically view such books as nothing more than a history book basing our approach on how we typically interact with history books – a collection of facts about events and the people involved and not much more. Ryken shares with the reader the genres of court history, hero stories, and dedicatory prayers that comprise 1 Kings. Each of these individual genre that fall under the overarching umbrella of historical narrative, help us further understand the specific event taking place and how they relate to the history of Israel and more importantly, what God is doing in history to bring about His divine plan of redemption and restoration.

I highly recommend this book for all believers. As a homeschooling parent, I will be using this book as a tool for Bible class. It is written from the mind of a scholar who is adept at relaying scholarly information in a manner than can be understood and appreciated by all. If you desire to know more about the literary genre of Scripture and why it is important, give this book a read and keep it close by as you journey through God’s Word.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – Praying the Bible

Praying the Bible

Okay I admit it. My prayer life is often duller than that knife I have out in the garage that will not even cut through warm butter. I have often felt guilty about my prayer life or lack of one. It is not as though I do not have a lot to speak with God about as there is always something going on that needs to be brought before the throne of the Father in prayer. There just seems to be something about the exercise of prayer, knowing what to say without feeling repetitious or my mind not staying focused.

If you are in the same pickle as I am regarding your prayer life, let me suggest reading Donald Whitney’s excellent book titled Praying the Bible. Whitney aptly notes the biggest issue with our prayer lives is the aforementioned repetition, namely “saying the same things about the same things” which leads to our attention span taking a hit which leads to our overall prayer life taking a serious hit. Ultimately, we end up feeling guilty, defeated, and frustrated with prayer, often getting to the point where we honestly hope we are not even asked to pray in public or in private.

There is a solution to this rut. Whitney suggest praying through the Bible. At first I was not sure how this would work. Pray through the Bible? I get there are prayers in the Bible that we can use, even use verbatim, but would that not qualify as getting into the repetitious mode we are trying to avoid? Whitney aptly addresses that issue, noting the idea is not to pray the Bible as a means of shall we say cheating. The purpose of praying the Bible is it is chock full of ready-made, God inspired truth that is relevant to each and every situation in our life.

Whitney recommends the best place to start praying the Bible is in the Psalms. They are 150 chapters laden with the issues of life. While certainly the Psalms are often viewed as praises to God, they also can easily be turned into prayers by simply reading the text, and praying about what comes to mind as we read the words of the Psalms, in particular the specific issues the Psalmist addresses that are impactful to our own situations. Given the sheer amount of Psalms available, the fear of getting into repetitious word usage will be replaced with a plethora of discussion points with God.

The reader is also presented by Whitney with ways to pray other texts of Scripture to include what constitutes the majority of the Bible, that of narrative. We can read a section of narrative, reflect on what took place, and then go to God in prayer regarding how the actions in that periscope relate to something we experiencing, something family related, in our culture at large, or those on the other side of the world. Praying the Bible not only helps with our prayer life, it forces us to meditate on the passage we are reading – a true two for one bonus.

If you are struggling in your prayer life, give this book an immediate read. Put into practice the tools Whitney shares throughout and I can guarantee your prayer life will experience a kick-start back in the right direction. The former doldrums of praying will be replaced with earnest, faithful, and joyous prayer as you bring to God through the words of Scripture what is on your heart and mind and I can assure you that your mind will wander a lot less if you put into practice the valuable tips Whitney provides. This is a short book with an impact that will last a lifetime.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0

David Helm – Why Good Works Are Crucial for the Christian Life

why-good-works-1

Living As Worthy Citizens

What is required of us to live in this world as citizens worthy of all the wonders and relationships belonging to the next?

The Apostle Peter gives us his answer in two simple words in 1 Peter 2: abstain (v. 11) and keep (v. 12).

Abstain from the Passions of the Flesh

Peter’s first admonition comes in verse 11: “Beloved . . . abstain from the passions of the flesh.” To live in this world as citizens worthy of all the wonders and relationships belonging to the next, we must refrain from acting upon the impulses and desires of the flesh.

To understand what Peter has in mind when he exhorts us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh” we must reach all the way back to what he wrote in 1:14:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

Peter then went on to define what those passions were. He listed them as “malice,” “deceit,” “hypocrisy,” “envy,” and “slander” (2:1). These are the things a person in Christ puts away. These are the vices from which we abstain. They are the attitudes, actions, and way of life in which we once walked. They speak of the season when we were tethered to this world without God’s indwelling power to resist.

To put it simply, if Peter was alive and preaching today, each of us would sense the angst in his appeal and the emotion in his voice. We must abstain from the malicious desires of our mind that would feast on others as carcasses to be devoured, and we must renounce our tongue when it brings forth the dead wood of slander (2:1).

Further, we must learn to cover ourselves when tempted to go nakedly into the presence of the illusion that physical pleasure is the end of all things. To “abstain from the passions of the flesh” requires us to live with a renewed mind, a disciplined tongue, and a controlled body.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Book Review – Family Worship

Family Worship

As a father and a husband, I recognize both the need to lead my family in the things of God as well as the daily grind that demands so much of my attention and that of my wife and daughter. The command is quite clear in Scripture – husbands and fathers are to instruct their family about the things of God. This command is repeated throughout Scripture so there really is no excuse for being unaware of this requirement from God. But my oh my how things of life get in the way of doing what is aptly termed as family worship. How does one do family worship and is it really that important?

In his helpful book titled Family Worship, Donald Whitney answers those important questions, clearly demonstrating the importance of family worship as outlined in Scripture while providing biblical and historical examples of godly men who obeyed this important command. As noted, the Bible is full of examples of men who led their family in discussing and pondering the things of God. One might not find the exact phrase “family worship” in Scripture; however, as Whitney saliently reminds the reader, “the Bible clearly implies that God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.” We see men like Abraham and Joseph as well as Paul and Peter doing this very thing and exhorting others to follow suit. In church history, men such as Martin Luther and John Knox and more recent individuals such as Don Carson and John Piper have noted the value and importance of family worship.

So how does one go about doing family worship? Is there some secret formula? Whitney suggests three important activities – read, pray, and sing. In other words, read the Bible together in a purposeful manner, pray together either with the father leading the prayer time or having others take turns leading or joining in, and finally, singing praises to God be it classic hymns or even more modern day choices. The point is to be purposeful and consistent in this activity. Whitney suggests defining a specific time of day during which family worship will take place. This will look different for families depending on their schedules. Regardless whether it is in the morning, noon, or evening, find a time and a place where all can gather and go for it.

Whitney also addresses some unique situations that may arise such as the husband not being a believer or the unfortunate reality of no father/husband being in the home. In such cases, the wife/mother can lead the charge. Families with young children should not feel they are off the hook from doing family worship. Whitney aptly suggests some ways to do family worship that is age appropriate. I appreciated his statement that starting at a young age will often result in the child “believing that family worship is a normal part of life in the home, and as an adult won’t need a book like this one to teach him or her about the priority of family worship or how to conduct it.” It will be a natural and habitual part of life.

If you have neglected doing family worship, now is the perfect time to start. Don’t delay another day. Use this helpful book by Whitney to help you get started. Be encouraged that great men of God who have come before you have spent the time doing family worship. Don’t be discouraged should you miss a few days. As a husband and a father, I realize the importance of this family activity in my own home and Whitney’s book was just the kick start I needed to reinstitute this practice.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:
0