By Grace Along: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Sinclair Ferguson. What a great little book. Ferguson has a glorious way of explaining the gospel that aids the Christian to rejoice in it and prepare their hearts for heaven. I can’t say anything much more greater about it than that.
Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things, by Michael McKinley. This a funny (laugh out-loud funny) and, still, very helpful for you pastor types like me. McKinley is thoughtful and smart. I’m glad for this book and for the opportunity to read it.
You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, by Tim Chester. More pastoral and practical than the CCEF/Biblical Counseling material, though, obviously relies upon the thinking of Paul Tripp, David Powilson, and others as its foundation. Its less conceptual, but is most helpful for biblical change since it rests upon the hope of the gospel. See my review at TGC Reviews.
Titus 2:11-12 explains that the gospel trains us for godliness. Are you a pupil of the gospel? Are you being trained by the gospel for godliness? Here are some motivations to be a pupil of the gospel:
- Constant study and contemplation of the gospel increases our faith in it. Hebrews 11:1 says that our faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Sin and worldliness darkens our minds and hearts to the not yet fully realized promises of God. Contemplating on the truths of the gospel puts a more abiding sense of the “things not seen.” In order to taste and see that the Lord is good, we must always be tasting and seeing.
- We will be in continual readiness for seasons of suffering. The gospel is the ultimate and only true help in seasons of suffering and need. Yet, if our hearts and minds are strangers to the truths of the gospel or not regularly being nurtured by it, we will find ourselves longing for the sustenance of the power we are not acquainted with. Striving for the “corruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25) and worldly pleasures equip us poorly for suffering.
Its always refreshing to see athletes who are able to articulate their faith clearly and biblically. Albert Pujols seems to have a very clear understanding of the Gospel and the chief end of his life. Below is a statement from his family’s website:
My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I would also rather be known as a great husband and father than an All-Star baseball player. Perhaps one day I could be honored with an invitation into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. That would certainly be a boyhood dream of mine come true, but it is a far greater honor that one day I will be in heaven with God to enjoy Him forever.
He also has a very biblically, straightforward statement of faith:
Today, “faith” can mean many different things, or sometimes nothing at all. When we speak of our Faith in Christ this is what we believe:
1. The Bible, in its entirety, is God’s Word to us. It is divine revelation and we submit to the authority of Holy Scripture. (Psalm 119:11, Matthew 5:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:15-17)
2. There is only one God, revealed to us in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He is all-knowing and all-powerful. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, John 1:1, 14, John 15:26, 16:7-14)
3. Human beings are made in the image of God and are, therefore, the pinnacle of all God’s creation. That includes all people, no matter what their race, occupation, status, economic level or disability. (Genesis 1:26-31)
4. Nevertheless, human beings are sinful creatures and as a result have all fallen into a state of moral corruption. This state of rebellion has estranged us from the Creator. (Isaiah 53:6, 64:6, Romans 1:25, 3:10, 3:23, 6:23)
5. God is absolutely holy; sin cannot abide in God’s presence. (Leviticus 19:2, Isaiah 6:1-5, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Revelation 4:8)
6. Without a mediator, human beings are forever separated from God by their sin. (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-9)
7. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father and substituted Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He became our mediator to bridge the gap between mankind and a Holy, Sinless God. (Rom. 5:8, 6:23, 8:3, 8:31-32, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
8. Trusting Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the payment of your sin is the only way human beings can be in perfect relationship with God the Father. Jesus Christ is not just “a way to God” he is “The way to God”. (Luke 19:10, John 3:16, John 11:25, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 12:2)
9. Everyone who receives Jesus Christ as Lord is now viewed as holy before God. Their sins are washed away and they become a ‘new creation’ in Christ. They are born again into the family of God and will live in His presence forever in Heaven. (John 3:16, John 20:31, Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 1:21-22, 1 John 5:13)
10. The church, made up of all believers, is the body of Christ and is commissioned to share the gospel of Christ until he returns again to consummate his Kingdom. (Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 5:22-32)
From every account that I have heard, its extremely difficult to remain faithful to Christ in the atmosphere of professional sports. It seems Pujols has mature leadership in his life. I do not want to elevate him above any other sinner saved by grace, but it is an obvious opportunity to rejoice in God’s power at work in one of his children’s life in an arena of constant spiritual attack.
You Can Change is hope-filled. It does not give hope based upon the myth of the unfailing determination of the human spirit, but upon the real unfailing promises of the gospel. Pastors, leaders, and laymen will be nurtured by Chester’s book and will, in turn, nurture others in the power of the gospel.
Adding to the list of already great Christian Biographies for children from Reformation Heritage, John Owen by Simonetta Carr, is available for pre-order. Expected ship date is October 2010.
John Owen was a great Puritan preacher who lived in England. In this book, Simonetta Carr informs readers about Owen’s life, revealing some of the things that interested him while in school, the care he showed to people when he became a pastor, and the influential books that he wrote. Readers will also come to understand the difficult times in which Owen lived, and how he handled the terrors of war and religious persecution. Full of illustrations and fascinating information, this is an ideal way for young readers to learn history.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Growing and Studying in Difficult Times
Chapter 2: A Pastor and Writer
Chapter 3: From Battlefield to the University Halls
Chapter 4: Winds of Persecution
Chapter 5: England’s Dark Hour
Chapter 6: Owen’s Last Years
Did You Know?
A Modern Version of John Owen’s Lesser Catechism
Simonetta Car was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. A former elementary school teacher, she has home-schooled her eight children for many years. She has written for newspapers and magazines around the world and has translated the works of several Christian authors into Italian. Presently, she lives in San Diego with her husband Thomas and family. She is a member and Sunday School teacher at Christ United Reformed Church.
Matt Abraxas has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art. He enjoys creating and teaching art, and currently exhibits his work at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder Colorado. Matt lives with his wife Rebecca and two sons, Zorba and Rainer, in Lafayette, Colorado.
William Tyndale has some strong words on the dangers of being a worldly pastor that should provoke anyone to think deeply of where his affections, intentions, and ambitions lie:
The worldly [preacher] is one of the first that seeth the light, and cometh and preacheth Christ awhile, and seeketh his own glory in Christ’s gospel. But when he sees that there will be no glory unto that preaching, then getteth him to the contrary part, and professeth himself an open enemy, if he cannot disguise himself, and hide the angle of his poisoned heresy under a bait of true doctrine.
This is certainly a late arrival, but below is the book log and some notes from March 2010:
- You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, Chester, Tim. I can’t say enough about this book. Pastors should have stacks of it ready to hand out. You Can Change is a gospel-centered guide for biblical change, based upon life-giving theology.
- On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Knowlton Zinsser. Its a classic that I’ve read before, but was reminded afresh of all my bad writing habits. Zinsser has the ability to show you how bad of a writer you are and, then, make you laugh about it – for whatever thats worth.
- Trials of Theology, The: Becoming a ‘proven worker’ in a dangerous business, Andrew Cameron. A good, meaty book to hand a high schooler or college student who is considering or getting ready to enter theological studies for the pastorate.
- The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church, Timothy Witmer. Wise and practical counsel for those few men who will have to give an account for those whom they shepherd. Its one of those books that every serious pastor should read and re-read. I’m really happy I read it.
- Leaders Who Last (Re: Lit Books), Dave Kraft. My friend, David Murray, loved this book. I was less than impressed with it (Zinsser, see above, probably wouldn’t have liked that sentence). I felt like I was reading the manuscript of a motivational speech the entire time. Some good content, though.