Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: The Spirit-Filled Life by Charles Stanley

If you say the name Charles Stanley in the south you will get a variety of responses such who is he or yeah I heard of him. In the South, especially in the church, his name is well known. Stanley is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA and the featured speaker of InTouch Ministries. He is also the father of Andy Stanley.

His book, The Spirit-Filled Life is a revised edition to his classic, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, which I must admit during my early days as a Christian, I wanted to read because I watched Stanley from time to time. This book is basically about who the Holy Spirit is and how He is an "integral part of our Christian experience" (pg. 17). My first question is, since when did the Christian life and walking with Jesus become an experience? Experiences can come and go. Walking with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit is a life that is to be lived out everyday not an experience that fads away like the rush you get when coming off a roller coaster.

Stanley continues on to write about the gifts of the Spirit and how He gives the Christians gifts to be used in the church. Stanley speaks on how the Holy Spirit aids us in decision making. He also addresses the baptism of the Holy Spirit which I thought was spot on because there is confusion over what that means.

Overall, if you watch Charles Stanley preach on TV, that is how he writes as well. No depth and not much theology. I was a little shocked that he quoted R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer in a couple of places because last time I checked, Stanley is not a reformed theologian. If you want a book that really digs deep into who the Holy Spirit is and what He does, this is not the book for you. If you are a Stanley fan, then you might like this book.

Thanks BookLook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Music Monday: Prepare Him Room by Sovereign Grace Music

It's that of the year where the most important question must be answered: When is it a good time to play Christmas music? If you are like me, you might say on the day after Thanksgiving or on the first day of November especially if you have a spouse that loves Hallmark Christmas movies. Today, Sovereign Grace music has released their first Christmas album full of traditional Christmas songs and new ones.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Keep On Praying

This morning, thousands of students gathered around their school's flagpole for a time of prayer for their school, their leaders, our nation, and it's leaders. This annual event is known as See You At The Pole (SYATP). It is a big deal because it is a time for all Christians on campus to come together to pray. Not just students but faculty and teachers as well. I had the privilege of leading a group of 80 plus students at my high school during my senior year.

As I thought about this event that took place today, I kept thinking about over days that people are called to pray such as the National Day of Prayer which is held in May and in our city where a pastor challenged his congregation to pray at 10:01 am & pm claiming the promise of Zechariah 10:1. I wonder if on these days or other days as a time for prayer are the only days some Christians pray. I think a lot of Christians think prayer is to formal for them so they just don't do it or they wait until Sunday to pray with their church.

What does the Bible say about prayer and how often should it be done? One of the most obvious places is Paul's first letter to the Thessalonian church, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Verse 17 says it all, "pray without ceasing." Pray without stopping. Many theologians, past and present, have said that prayer for the Christian is like breathing for the human body. If we stop breathing what happens? We suffocate. Our body becomes deprived of oxygen. Prayer is the breath of life for the Christian. I believe it is Matthew Henry who said, the Bible is God's letter to us, while prayer is our letter to God.

How often should we pray? If I were to answer that question based on 1 Thessalonians 5:17, I would say, all the time. Pray as you work. Pray as you go on a date with your spouse. Pray as you watch TV. Pray as you drive (please have your eyes opened). If you see an ambulance go by, pray. When you hear of a celebrity who lost a loved one, pray.

There are always opportunities to pray. The problem we have is we sometimes think that prayer has to be done in a church building during the worship hour. The Bible tells about Jesus' prayer life, "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed" (Mark 1:35). Was it in the temple? No. Was it during a worship service? No. It was early in the morning. So if you are wondering what time to pray, yes early in the morning is beneficial, but you can pray anytime and anywhere. Keep on praying. Don't wait for times of prayer in church or a day set on the calendar, which there is nothing wrong with any of those. Pray without ceasing.

Recommended Reading:

A Hunger for God by John Piper

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer

The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre

The Prayer of The Lord by R.C. Sproul

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: Can I Really Trust The Bible? by Barry Cooper

We live in an era where trust is an issue. Lately, people have trust in the politicians they have voted for. They have also lost trust in athletes were suppose to be role models for children. Christians have lost trust in their pastors because of secret sins have become public.

We also live in an age where people outside the Christian faith as well as those inside are lacking trust in the Bible. We expect non-Christians to have no trust in the Bible but now we are seeing Christians who have attended church all their life not putting their full trust in the Word of God. Yes, the Bible has been written over thousands of years ago, but can we as Christians living in the 21st century still trust an ancient book?

Barry Cooper addresses the trustworthiness of the Bible in his book, Can I Really Trust The Bible?. Cooper addresses what Jesus thought of the Bible which he "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). Cooper also talks about what is in the Bible and how a Christian cannot know God apart from the Bible.

Cooper continues by addressing the controversies of the Bible as talk about what is claimed to be contradictions. He talks about how the Canon of the Old and New Testaments came together as well as what makes up those testaments. At the end of the book, Cooper gives a challenge to those who question the Bible to simply take a look into it. Its like trying something new to eat. You are not sure if it is good until you try and then you become glad you did.

This book is part of the "Questions Christians Ask" series that been a great benefit to those who have read them as they talk about tough questions in 21st century living. I love the fact these books have been very short with feeling the reader will not understand what the author is saying because this is a great series not just for new Christians but also for those outside the faith. Cooper's book is no exception. I recommend this book to those who have questioned the trustworthiness and validity of the Bible.

Thanks Good Book Company for letting me review this book.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Music Monday: I Know by Kings Kaleidoscope

This is a lyric video of a song on Kings Kaleidoscope's upcoming album that will be released on October 27.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Around The Web-September 19, 2014

South Carolina Pastor Receives Jail Time for Church Service Noise Complaints

God is Our Endgame by Jeff Medders

Loving One Another by Dave Jenkins

Crossway Announces Direct-to-Church

Acts 29 will begin a new podcast

Tullian Tchividjian explains why the gospel is a new operating system.

Donald Sweeting, president of Reformed Theological Seminary, talks with Mark Mellinger about bringing equipping the church to bring theology to life.

The guys at The Reformed Pubcast asked Chad Gardner of Kings Kaleidoscope the meaning behind the band name in this audio video.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Set Apart Before Birth

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus (Galatians 1:15-17)

In Galatians 1 we read how Paul was so amazed that the Galatian church was so quick to desert the gospel. The Galatian church decided to go to a teaching that was not salvation by grace through faith. Rather, their the teaching they embraced was salvation based on their own merit.

The Apostle Paul then goes on to defend the gospel of grace using his own story. He did not receive the gospel based on anyone's teaching nor did someone make it up, but it was giving to him by Jesus. Paul went on to say that he persecuted the church and even gladly received the teachings of his fathers.

This is where we pick up with Galatians 1:15, which says that Paul was set apart before he was born. Lets stop and think about that for a minute. We have all heard the passage in Jeremiah where God told the Prophet, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). God knew these men before they were born and set them apart to do a mighty work. Was it because God saw potential in them? Not at all. Paul goes on to say that God called him "by his grace" and "was pleased to reveal his Son to me" (Galatians 1:15). Not because of anything Paul has done. Paul wrote to Timothy,

But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:13-16).

It was because of grace. Paul became a display of God's patience. Paul was set apart before birth to be a display of God's patience and grace. Same thing goes for all of us who profess Christ as Lord. We may not have the same testimony as Paul but we are all set apart before we were born, called by God's grace, and charged with proclaiming the gospel. Think about what the events prior to your salvation. Did you start seeking God? It was God working in your life so that the glorious news of the gospel will shine in your heart and the Holy Spirit worked in your life so you can respond to Christ in faith and repentance.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: A Vine-Ripened Life By Stanley D Gale

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). What did Jesus mean by bearing fruit? Many people have associated bearing fruit to evangelism. If you are not leading people to Jesus, you are not bearing fruit therefore you may not be a Christian. While evangelism is the call for all Christian to observe, there will be times you will not lead anyone to Jesus because of the hardness of their hearts.

John 15 is a great passage that deals with our union with Christ, which has been so misinterpreted and misunderstood. Our union with Christ is about bearing fruit but this fruit is directly related to the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 which Stanley D. Gale addresses in his book, A Vine-Ripened Life. Gale wrote, "The fruit of the Spirit works in us is not apart from Christ, but is bound up in Christ. We abound in that fruit through abiding in Christ. The fruit of new life comes through union with Christ that flows from the inside out. It grows from the good soil of a changed heart that is transformed by God's Spirit" (pg.5).

The bulk of the book deals with how abiding in Christ leads us to generate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. He goes through each fruit in order, which are, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). I am sure most of us can quote that in our sleep.

The book is very theological and written in user-friendly devotional format which new believers can read and understand. Also for those who have been in the faith for a while and have heard misinterpretations of John 15 as well as the fruit of the Spirit, this will also be a refreshing book to read and study.

Thanks Reformation Heritage Books for letting me review this book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Around the Web-September 12, 2014

Three Ways To Pray and Support Persecuted Christians by Dave Jenkins

Randy Alston shared what changes have been happening at his church

I have joined Tim Challies in reading (in my case rereading) John Owen's classic, The Mortification of Sin. Here are his summaries for Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. If you want read along with me and Tim, get the book get a copy of the book or you can get this one.

4 Ways to Apply Grace in Fight for Holiness by Steve Bezner

Jared C. Wilson on how should a pastor apply the finished work of Christ in his ministry.

A Conversation with Jared Wilson from MBTS on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coming Clean Before God

Does the Bible say we have to come clean before we become Christians? To this day, I have yet to find a passage that supports that claim. The Bible does tell us, "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Notice this passage says come even though your sins are red like scarlet. That is like saying, come even though you are an evil person who deserves judgment. The passage does not say, clean yourself up then come.

Too many times, Christians are told that you must be keep your confessions up to date in order for God to bless you or God cannot use you. This sounds like some form of prosperity gospel. Keep confessing and repenting then God will make you blessed beyond your widest dreams. Please do not misunderstand me, God does require his children to confess their sins and repent from them, but not to get something from him. Our confession and repentance is a response to the gospel.

Yes, we are told to come clean before God. The Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Though we are freed from the penalty of sin, we still have the presence of sin while we still live in our earthly bodies. Think about this, there are people in the Bible that God used that were not perfect nor were they clean before God came to them. Moses murdered an Egyptian yet God appeared to him in a burning bush. Peter was called to follow Jesus yet always wanted the last word, denied Jesus, and even was a racist. Paul murdered Christians and was on his way to arrest Christians when Jesus appeared to him. John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas that led to those two splitting up yet John Mark a.k.a. Mark because writer of one of the four gospels.

You do not have to clean yourself up to come to God. You come to him just as you and when you embrace Jesus, you want to confess your sins and repent from them. Martin Luther said, "All of the Christian life is faith and repentance." We need to confess our sins and repent everyday. Why? We have a Savior and we are his children while still living in our earthly bodies still dealing with sin. If we do sin, there is good news:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God Is The One Pursuing Us

Darrin Patrick:

When you’re reading the Bible, have you ever had that moment when you come across a spot in the text and just go “Uhh. That’s weird. That doesn’t make sense!” By the way, if you never have that experience, you aren’t reading the Bible!

The call of the first disciples is one of those moments. Jesus approaches two brothers, Andrew and Simon, as their fishing. He calls them to follow him because he’s going to make them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). And they immediately leave their nets and follow him. Who does that? Who just goes up to random people like that? And what possessed these brothers to follow?

Now, if you try to read that through the lens of our contemporary culture, that whole scene is puzzling. But there’s a context to this call to discipleship. In the first century, if you wanted to be mentored by a rabbi, you would go to his school. You’d immerse yourself in his training. You would memorize a ton of verses. You would have to discern the interpretive take the rabbi had on scripture. Then agree to it. And then, after a period of time, you would ask to be his disciple. If he agreed, you would be apprenticed where you would learn to live like that rabbi, believe like that rabbi, and apply that rabbi’s teaching to your life.

This is not a bad vision for discipleship, by the way. But here Jesus turns this entire process on its head. He doesn’t wait for the disciples to pursue him. He goes after them. He calls them. And this is consistent with many other verses, but one that especially comes to mind is John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

Jesus is the one that initiates, who seeks, who pursues. It’s his call. As much as you might want to trust Jesus and live like him, he wants it more. And that’s really good news, because it’s really not about our commitment to him. It’s about his commitment to us.

When you see that it’s God’s call, you’re able to relax your grip on life. We’re actually enabled to follow in Jesus’ strength. We love him, the Bible says, because why? He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus calls us before we call him.

Source: It's God's Call

Books by Darrin Patrick

Church Planter

Dude's Guide to Manhood

For The City with Matt Carter

Replant with Mark DeVine