Evangelicals are not heretics, at least not consciously. If we ask whether the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant Word of God, most will answer affirmatively, at least if the question is asked in traditional ways. Is the Bible God’s Word? Of course! All evangelicals know that. Is it authoritative? Yes, that too. Inerrant? Most evangelicals will affirm inerrancy. But many evangelicals have abandoned the Bible all the same simply because they do not think it is adequate for the challenges we face today. They do not think it is sufficient for winning people to Christ in this age, so they turn to felt-need sermons or entertainment or “signs and wonders” instead. They do not think the Bible is sufficient for achieving Christian growth, so they turn to therapy groups or Christian counseling. They do not think it is sufficient for making God’s will known, so they look for external signs or revelations. They do not think it is adequate for changing our society, so they establish evangelical political groups and work to elect “Christian” congressmen, senators, presidents, and other officials. They seek change by power politics and money.
—James Montgomery Boice
Books and Reading
Here you will find book quotes, book reviews, and everything else related to the pleasure and discipline of reading.
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”
We must never think that godliness will insulate us against pain. Love does not make us numb; it makes us feel losses all the more. We are wrong to think that submission means no tears, no breaking of the heart, no inward struggles, and no troubling questions. Job did not tear his clothes and shave his head merely out of custom. He tore his robe because his heart was torn to pieces. He cut his hair because all his hopes for his children were cut off. Can you imagine what it would be like to bury all your children in one day?
—Terry Slachter, Joel Beeke: Encouragement for Today’s Pastors
Faithful ministers may expect from the Lord Jesus Christ all those supplies of both skill and strength that they need in order to fulfill their ministry…. He will teach their fingers to fight, and the arms of their hands shall be made strong by the mighty God of Jacob. He will anoint them with fresh oil, and renew their bow in their hand. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit, give power to them when they are faint, and when they have no might he will give an increase of strength. They who wait upon the Lord, who wait on their ministry, shall renew their strength as the eagles and mount up with wings [Isa. 40:31]…. Ministers are his ambassadors, and as long as they act by His authority and keep to their credentials, He will bear them up and bear them out.
— Thomas Foxcroft
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity:
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.
Eugene Peterson. Run With Horses: The Quest for Life At Its Best. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2009
One of the supreme tasks of the faith community is to announce to us early and clearly the kind of life into which we can grow, to help us set our sights on what it means to be a human being. Not one of us, at this moment, is complete. In another hour, another day, we will have changed. We are in the process of becoming either less or more. There are a million chemical and electrical interchanges going on in each of us this very moment. There are intricate moral decisions and spiritual transactions taking place. What are we becoming? Less or more?
New birth does not simply change us by giving us a new power to do the same things we always wanted to do. It changes us by getting down underneath even the very level of our desires and changing what we want. Sovereign, regenerating grace does not enable us to do what we don’t want to do. More deeply, it brings us to want to do what we should want to do. Regenerating grace is grace that softens us way down deep at the core of who we are. This is taste-bud transformation. In a miracle that can never be humanly manufactured, we find ourselves, strangely, delighting to love God. We are changed. The will itself is renovated. We see things as they really are.
How does a man who never typed an e-mail or drove a car or swung a golf club or watched a Super Bowl or blogged or tweeted or Skyped help me live my twenty-first-century Christian life? Not much if what matters essentially in Christian living is what we do. A lot if what matters essentially in Christian living is what we are.
Edwards walks us through the wardrobe into Narnia. We are given glasses– not sunglasses, which dim everything, but their opposite: lenses that brighten everything.
January 1. It’s that time of the year again when people sit down to list down goals that need to be accomplished in the next 365 days. These are my reading goals for this year. I don’t want to burden myself with unrealistic expectations so I’d just aim for a few books:
1.) Read my ESV Bible from cover to cover. I know I haven’t been successful at doing this in the past but I still want to do this anyway. I am choosing Jason DeRouchie’s Kingdom Bible Reading Plan this year. If you are using OliveTree Bible App on iOS, you can download the reading plan on your mobile device. If you need other options, Justin Taylor’s post might be helpful to you. [Read more…] about Dare to Read Difficult Books
Mike Cosper’s new book “The Stories We Tell” is a very fascinating analysis of why we love stories. For the first time I understood why I really wanted Professor Snape to be redeemed even if I hated him.
Christians believe an audacious fact. At the heart of our faith is the bold claim that in a world full of stories, with a world’s worth of heroes, villains, comedies, tragedies, twists of fate, and surprise endings , there is really only one story. One grand narrative subsumes and encompasses all the other comings and goings of every creature— real or fictitious— on the earth. Theologians call it “redemption history”; my grandfather called it the “old, old story.” [Read more…] about The Stories We Tell
Without introductions, let’s dive!
1. Grace Awakening (Charles Swindoll). This is the first proper Christian book that I read from cover to cover and for that reason, I will always think of it as my number one favorite next to the Bible, even if my taste has changed and my understanding has grown ever since. Swindoll opened my eyes to the wonderful concept of grace.
2. Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien). This is the most difficult series I read so far and that’s mainly because of the kind of English Tolkien used. I read all four books before I switched to electronic reading so I literally had to carry a dictionary around to help me with my vocabulary. It was difficult and tedious but it felt like I entered into a magical world. Tolkien’s skill with words is unmatched. He could describe the falling of the morning dew in exquisite detail like it was the most glorious thing in the world. When he described the natural beauty of Lothlorien, it sounded like he was describing heaven.
This scene from Allegiant is haunting:
The plane is silent around me except for the steady roar of the engine.
“Whoa,” says Uriah.
“Shh,” Christina replies.
“How big is it compared to the rest of the world?” Peter says from across the plane. He sounds like he’s choking on each word.
“Our city, I mean. In terms of land area. What percentage?”
“Chicago takes up about two hundred twenty-seven square miles,” says Zoe.
“The land area of the planet is a little less than two hundred million square miles. The percentage is . . . so small as to be negligible.”
[Read more…] about So Small as to be Negligible (Allegiant)
Life never lacks for improvement—in ourselves, in our relationships, in just about everything. But all our brave stabs at getting better, if they ever change anything, are incomplete at best, complete failures at worst. Sometimes much worse.
Unless . . .
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the great “unless” of life—both for those who already believe (but can’t believe the messes they’re still capable of making), as well as those who don’t yet believe but just know their way isn’t working.
Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger and Josh Patterson:
[We] have slowly lost our awe for Jesus and His finished work. Intellectually, of course, we still hold firmly to the gospel. [We] could easily share a snapshot of its truths without thinking hard— a brief, biblical presentation of Jesus and His gracious gift of salvation. Yet we’ve learned to rely on other things to form the center of our daily work, to motivate the life and activity of our churches. Our drift has not been one of overt rebellion but of an inner twisting of the heart, a loss of appreciation for the gospel and all its ramifications. We could articulate the gospel well, but we don’t view the essence of the gospel as the foundation for all of ministry.
And that’s a huge difference— the difference between knowing the gospel and being consumed by the gospel, being defined by the gospel, being driven by the gospel. It’s one thing to see the gospel as an important facet of one’s ministry. It’s quite another to hold firmly to it as the centerpiece for all a church is and does, to completely orbit around it. [Read more…] about Being Consumed by the Gospel
Few days ago, I finished reading Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger’s book The Final Days of Jesus. In between loads of laundry, I turned to the book and was gripped again and again with the events of the final week of Jesus.
I’ve probably read the gospels a few dozen times since I became a Christian and have studied some parts of it in detail but nothing prepared me for the sense of clarity that I got by reading the story again in chronological order. That, I think, is the biggest strength of this book. I have always tried to ignore the “inconsistencies” of the gospel accounts of the final week of Jesus because I could not figure out how to reconcile them. For example, Jesus’ triumphal entry in Matthew 21 concluded with him overturning the tables of money-changers in the temple. In Mark, however, he simply looked around and went home to Bethany. Which one is correct? Or take the resurrection story as another example. How many women went to the tomb? And how many angels were there? Matthew and Mark mentioned only one angel while Luke said there were two. The authors showed that these details are not inconsistencies but marks of authenticity of the accounts. Even in modern investigations, no two witnesses say the same exact things.