Books I’ve Recently Read

51VQyOca-kL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Respectable Sin by Jerry Bridges. One of the authors God has used to shape my spiritual life is Jerry Bridges. His book Pursuit of Holiness was huge in helping me understand personal holiness.  His other writings have helped me as well grow in my understanding and love for the Lord. Recently I picked up a copy of his book Respectable Sins. In this book, Bridges walks through various sins we as Christians tend to see as not that big of a deal. These are sins we often overlook in light of the “big” sins we see in the world around us. Bridges calls these sins we don’t take seriously and often overlook “respectable sins.” Some of the sins he deals with are anxiety, pride, discontentment, unthankfulness, anger, and judgmentalism. There are several other sins he covers in this book. What I loved about this book was how Bridges didn’t hold back in addressing the seriousness of each of these sins. He shows the reader what God says about these things from His Word. However, Bridges doesn’t stop there. He helps the reader understand how they can fight each sin in very practical ways. I’d encourage every Christian to read this book and allow God to use it to expose overlooked sins in their life.

Heaven_2015_update_with_over_1_million_sold__73625.1427149103.300.400Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This book has been on my list for a few years. I wish I would have read it earlier because after reading it I was amazed at how many misconceptions I had about heaven. As Christians, we all believe in heaven and know the Bible talks about it but often we just don’t have a really good picture of what heaven is and what it will be like. I was one of those  Christians. In this book, Alcorn helps us understand what heaven is and what it will be like. He spends some time dealing with the intermediate heaven (where believers now go when they die) and then the majority of the book deals with the new earth, which we commonly call heaven (where all believers will spend eternity). Alcorn deals with the theology of heaven, common questions people ask about heaven, and how we should live in light of heaven. What I loved about this book was how detailed Alcorn was in explaining heaven and what the Bible says. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He backs up everything he says with Scripture and careful study of it. One of the big things Alcorn helps the reader see in this book is that heaven is not some mystical place above the clouds where we will spend forever as disembodied spirits. In fact, heaven (or better yet the “new earth”) will be a physical place where we will spend forever with our Lord in resurrected bodies. The new earth is much like the present earth but with the curse lifted and the physical presence of God. The new earth (or heaven) will be a restoration of how things were before the curse, how things were meant to be. This book did two big things for me. First, it removed many misconceptions I had about heaven. Second, it gave me a clear picture of what heaven will be like, which created in me a fresh desire for it. I believe every Christian should read this book. It will give you a fresh view and desire for our eternal home.

51wjG9qHY9L._AC_UL320_SR212,320_Four Views on the Book of Revelation by Various Authors. Revelation is one of the most interesting and debated books in the Bible. When it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation, there are various views. In this book, four major views of discussed: preterist, idealist, progressive dispensational, and classic dispensational. Each view is explained and defended by someone who holds to that view. No matter where you fall on the interpretation of Revelation, this book will help you understand each view and why people hold to that view. In summary, the preterist view sees Revelation has been historical (the events already happened, specifically with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.), the idealist view sees Revelation has being a “spiritualized picture” of the ongoing fight between good and evil, the progressive dispensational view sees the events of Revelation happening in the future and doesn’t hold to much of a distinction between Israel and the church, and the classic dispensational view sees the events of Revelation happening in the future but sees a clear distinction between Israel and the church (their view would see most of the events of Revelation being centered around Israel, since the church would be raptured before the tribulation). I was familiar with a few of these views before reading this book but after reading it I learned a lot about the other views. This book help me to see the strengths and weaknesses of each view.

Another book I recently read but chose not to review is Onward by Russell Moore. I am currently reading We Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler and Soul Detox by Craig Groeshel.

Intentional Christian Living (Part 2)

A few months ago the Lord was working in my heart about being more intentional in my walk with Him. Through Scripture and books I was reading at the time God really helped me see that the Christian life is an intentional pursuit. I started a series of posts called “Intentional Christian Living” and posted part one here. In that post I said I wanted to talk about being intentional in three areas: fighting sin, giving to the poor, and prayer life. In this second part of this series of post I want to talk about being intentional in our fight against sin.

This past year I was talking to one of my good friends about his struggle with sin. I was encouraging him to fight the sin and not just allow himself to get into the habit of committing this certain sin. I gave him the following example: When a boxer goes into the ring to fight, does he wait until his opponent starts to throw punches and then he starts fighting? NO! A boxer gets in the ring for one reason, to win the fight. He is not going to waste time and let his opponent beat him up before he starts fighting back. He throws punches, he gets into the fight, he gets in the ring to win.

As believers, we often allow sin to beat us up and then we want to pray and fight back, but by then the sin has already entangled us and we feel defeated. I have good new, God has already won the battle against sin and has given us everything we need to fight sin practically in our life’s! Don’t wait until sin has entangled you before you start fighting, intentionally fight the sin the moment it raises its ugly head in your life. Everyone knows we are in a fight with sin. Everyone understands what it’s like to get in the cage with a sin that “owns” you and find yourself face down on the mat, time and time again. There is no question sin is a very tough and incredibly strong opponent. Yancey Arrington said this, “Everyone knows we are in a fight with sin. Everyone understands what it’s like to get in the cage with a sin that “owns” you and find yourself face down on the mat, time and time again. There is no question sin is a very tough and incredibly strong opponent.” If you are a believer, you know this feeling.

In closing think about this. Jesus overcame temptation using two things: power from the Spirit and Scripture. Why did he just use those? He wanted to use the two means that we have today as an example for us. We too, can intentionally fight sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and by Scripture.

Additional Resources: Fight Sin Well blog post from Resurgence, Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and Mortification of Sin by John Owen.

Kiddie Pool Christianity

If you look around the Christian world today you will notice one thing, there are far too many shallow Christians. Before we point our fingers at others, if we are all honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we ourselves are shallow, kiddie pool Christians. This is a problem I struggle with more than I would like to admit and I see it as a huge problem in our Christian world today. I was reminded about this problem both in my life and the life of others the past few days as I was reading a chapter in the book What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile. In this book, the author talks about characteristics of a healthy church member. This book goes a long with Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. One of the last chapters in What is a Healthy Church Member the author talks about a healthy church member, or better yet a healthy Christian, is a growing Christian. We become shallow, kiddie pool Christians when we stop growing. We need to understand that God is clear in His Word that Christians are supposed to be growing individuals in their walk with Him (Hebrews 5:11-13; 6:1; Philippians 3:12-14). Thabiti Anyabwile says, “it is normal for Christians to grow, to work for growth, and to expect increasing spiritual maturity.” He also goes on to say that our spiritual growth is not really accomplished by us, it is God working through the Holy Spirit in us, but we have the privilege to strive and pursue spiritual growth as God works in us. Christians who are growing are normal and expected by God, but Christians who are not growing are becoming more and more popular in our Christian world. As I have been thinking about this, three main things have stood out that as Christians we must see properly in order to see spiritual growth in our lives. There are numerous things that we as Christians can do to promote growth in our lives, but these three things are just some major themes I have seen in my life and the lives of Christians around me. These three things can get us out of the kiddie pool and into the deep waters of spiritual growth and maturity.

See Church as a community. Far too many Christians see church as a building and a place. No where in the Bible does it talk about church being a place or a building. What the Bible does say is church is a community. Does that community meet a specific times and maybe at a specific place? YES! But that does not mean the church is the place or building, it means that the church is the people. I have met so many Christians who define their Christianity by what they do on Sundays. Your Christianity is more defined by what you do Monday thru Saturday. Why do Christians see church as just a building or where we go on Sundays? I would suggest it is because we have sectioned God off to a specific time and place of our lives and also because our culture is now so man centered the church is just another “activity” or “place to be.” The atmosphere of our churches is becoming so man-centered and entertainment-oriented that the saints now must be amused and not amazed,” says Donald Llewellyn Roberts. We need to get back to what the early church in Acts saw, the church is not a place, but a community. We were saved and put into a community, the body of Christ, and we have the privilege to take part in the local communities of believers around us. When we see church as a weekly event and not a constant community we are in danger of being in the kiddie pool of Christianity.

See prayer as a constant part of our lives. In our culture, it is rare to see someone without a cell phone. Most of us carry our cell phones everywhere and if they are not in our hands and we are texting or they are to our ear and we are talking they might be in our pocket or purse where we can get to them within an arms reach. Prayer should be like that. Prayer should be a constant companion for all of us as Christians. The Bible is clear that prayer needs to be a constant part of our lives (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2, 12). When we do not see prayer as a constant part of our lives we are in danger of being in the kiddie pool of Christianity.

See the Christian life as an intentional pursuit. Many of us go through life and just “profess” to be Christians, but that profession never really shows in our life. We look exactly like the unsaved people around us and the only different about is we call ourselves “Christians.” The Christian life is a pursuit, not a label. Yes, as we pursue Christ and His Kingdom we will carry the label as Christians, but our Christianity is found in the pursuit not the label. I talked about this same idea in an earlier post called Intentional Christian Living so check it out and get a better understanding of this last idea. When we see our Christianity as a label and not a pursuit we are in danger of being in the kiddie pool of Christianity.

Recommended reading on this subject: What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile, Radical by David Platt, Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.