Greetings in Christ,
A few days ago I posted my “top ten” books I read this year. In the spirit of that post, I’m posting the top ten most read blog posts on the website starting from #10 to #1.
#10- The Decline of Christianity in Europe- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/17/the-decline-of-christianity-in-europe/
#9- What is Justification?- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/11/03/what-is-justification/
#8- Spending Quality time in the Word of God Part 1 http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/21/spending-quality-time-in-the-word-of-god-part-1/ and Part 2- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/22/spending-quality-time-in-the-word-of-god-part-2/
#7- The Destiny of the Unevangelized and the Nature of Hell- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/08/the-destiny-of-the-unevangelized-and-the-nature-of-hell/
#6- Towards a Biblical Sexuality- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/10/13/towards-a-biblical-sexuality/
#5- The Growth of Christianity in Uganda- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/18/the-growth-of-christianity-in-uganda/
#4- The Triumphant Resurrection of Christ- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/10/04/the-triumphant-resurrection-of-christ/
#3- Book Review of Marriage Matters- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/12/15/review-of-marriage-matters/
#2- Burning the Quran, 9/11 and Islam- http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/09/burning-the-quran-911-and-islam/
1) The role of spiritual warfare in spiritual growth http://servantsofgrace.org/2010/09/23/the-role-of-spiritual-warfare-in-spiritual-growth/
New Years Eve and Day are fast approaching us once again. During this time of year I like to think back on all that has happened in the past year in my life, marriage and ministry. Like you, I like to make New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are not bad. In fact resolutions themselves are good and healthy activities that we should engage in. Jonathan Edwards the famous Pastor-Theologian is famous for his list of resolutions.
The problem with resolutions is that often we are not really committed to living out the resolutions we make. One of the chief issues with resolutions is that we have no accountability. One of the other issues with resolutions is that they are not realistic resolutions to make in the first place.
One of the chief issues with the resolutions is that the resolutions we make are often not grounded in the Gospel or the Word of God. Most of our resolutions often times are grounded more in what we want or think we need to become than what God has said we need to grow to be like as His children. There’s a huge difference between what we want, or think we need, and what God expects.
Resolutions as I said are good things. Things like “losing weight”, “improving one’s diet” and such are good things but when they are based merely on “what we do” rather than on “who we are in Christ” there becomes a problem. The problem is that we can’t change by ourselves. The Lord God knowing the need for His children to grow in His image and knowing the depravity of our hearts- gave His children the Word of God, the Gospel and the Church as means for our growth in Christ.
Over this past summer my wife and I agreed that I would only take two classes in the Fall Semester for seminary. The reason for this break was to rest and relax for a few months from school. While this was the original intention the Lord has used this time in my own life to show my need to better take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually. This break has been a time of great clarity, and renewed passion. The Lord has even used this time to draw my wife and I closer together.
Life comes at each one of us a million miles an hour. We get busy with our careers. We get busy with helping out at church. We get busy with friends. We get busy with our hobbies or even helping out in the community. This can so easily happen that we become numb to taking care of ourselves, our spouses, and even our own spiritual growth.
Resolutions are good things and can be used as means to aid in our growth in Christians. Our resolutions ought to be thoroughly grounded in the Word of God and the work of the Gospel. Here are some suggestions as you think through what resolutions you’re going to make
First, in the next year what steps are you going to take to grow in the Gospel? Ask yourself here, “How are you preaching the Gospel to yourself?” Have you already committed to a Bible reading plan for 2011? Do you have a list of books outside the Bible you’re going to read this year?
Second, what steps in the next year are you going to take to improve your marriage (if you’re married)? What steps need to be taken to address areas of brokenness in your marriage? Are you and your wife spending quality time in prayer together? Do you and your spouse spend time in the Word of God together?
Third, what steps in the next year are you going to take to help out in your local church? Are you praying for the leadership of your local church? Are you involved in serving in your local church?
Finally, I suggest that at least a few of your resolutions involve a commitment to regular Bible reading, regular time of prayer, church attendance and ministry in your local church and community.
These are just some things you could think about as you prepare for the New Year but they are not the only things you could make into resolutions in the New Year. The above suggestions should be modified to fit your own life situation. My intention is to get you to think through and examine your life in the light of the Word of God and the Gospel.
I urge you to make resolutions grounded firmly in the Gospel. Decide to have an accountability partner or preferably accountability partners hold you accountable for the New Year’s resolutions you make this year. Commit yourself afresh to the work of the Gospel and the reading and studying of the Word of God. I look forward to growing with you in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Greetings in Christ,
Many of you will not be surprised that one of my favorite activities to do outside of spending time with my wife or playing golf is reading. This past year I read 145 books but here are some of my favorites that I think you should check out. Many of the books on this list were not published in 2010 but they are still well worth your attention.
1) What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. This is an important book that clearly articulates what the Gospel is and its importance for the Christian life. This is an especially important book given the popularity of the terms “Gospel-Centered” and “Christ-Centered”. This book clearly articulates what it means to be Gospel-Centered and Christ-Centered. You can pick up a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/What-Gospel-9Marks-Greg-Gilbert/
2) Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. This is one of the best books on ministry I’ve read. In this book the authors explain the importance of what a ministry grounded thoroughly in the Gospel looks like and how to train disciples and pastors to be trainers for the sake of the Gospel. You can pick up a copy of the book at http://www.amazon.com/Trellis-Vine-Ministry-Mind-Shift-Everything
3) Deep things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders. This is a book that should be read by every Christian who is serious about studying the Bible. Dr. Sanders in this book clearly articulates how the Trinity is thoroughly Gospel centered and saturated. You can pick up the book at http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Things-God-Trinity-Everything/
4) For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper is a book that needs to be read slowly and prayerfully. This book is written by a “who’s who” in the evangelical world. It is written for the purpose of honoring the ministry service of Dr. John Piper and his contributions to the Body of Christ. You can pick up the book at http://www.amazon.com/Fame-Gods-Name-Essays-Honor/
5) How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp is one of the best books I read this year. If you’ve tried, failed in your Christian life you need to read this book. This book clearly sets forth the biblical pattern for change that doesn’t minimize Scripture but is thoroughly Scripture-saturated. You can pick up this book at http://www.amazon.com/How-People-Change-Timothy-Lane/
6) What did you expect? by Paul David Tripp is a book that every married couple needs to read. This book takes the Bible seriously and rigorously applies the Gospel to every area of one’s marriage. Reading book will help you to learn how to live with your spouse in a way that honors God. You can pick up this book at http://www.amazon.com/What-Did-You-Expect-Redeeming/
7) Marriage matters by Winston Smith is one of the best marriage books I’ve ever read. In this book Winston Smith outlines not only what marriage is but how to have a marriage that is thoroughly grounded in the Gospel, and how to live out the Gospel in one’s marriage. You can buy this book at http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Matters-Extraordinary-Through-Ordinary/
8- God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment by James Hamilton is an outstanding contribution to the field of biblical theology. Reading this book will help you to learn how God’s glory in judgment is played out throughout the Bible. You can buy this book at http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Glory-Salvation-through-Judgment/
9) Bonheoffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy by Eric Metaxas is one of the best written biographies I’ve ever read. In this book, Eric explores the life and impact of Dietrich Bonheoffer. You can buy this book at: http://www.amazon.com/Bonhoeffer-Pastor-Martyr-Prophet-Spy/
10) A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a distracting world by Paul E. Miller is a very helpful book that will help you learn and grow in your prayer life. In this book, Paul discusses why most of us don’t pray and the importance of prayer. You can buy this book at: http://www.amazon.com/Praying-Life-Connecting-Distracting-World/
In this sermon on Luke 13:31-35 Dave will discuss the work of Jesus, the compassion of Jesus, and the mission of Jesus.
Marriage Matters is written by Dr. Winston Smith a counselor and faculty member at CCEF (Christian Counseling Education Foundation). Having read several books by New Growth Press, the publishing arm of CCEF, I eagerly awaited reading Marriage Matters and it did not disappoint. In fact, this book exceeded my expectation which is something that rarely every happens.
Having read widely on the topic of marriage, I can honestly say Marriage Matters is the one of the best marriage book I have ever read right along with Dr. Paul Tripp’s book, What did you expect?
Marriage Matters is a book that can be used in seminary classrooms, Sunday school class, or read for devotions. I recommend this book not only for married couples but also for singles to learn what a God honoring marriage is.
Typically most marriage books will focus on a few problems with marriages and then seek to offer solutions to those problems by appealing mostly to secular models. Marriage Matters; however, is different from vast majority of marriage books, I have read in that it does not load you down with self-help but rather explains what the Bible teaches on topics related to marriage. Along the way, Mr. Smith offers personal stories and examples from his own marriage which helpfully illustrate the point he is making.
It is not often that I read a book that is not only very well written as this is, but is also written from a biblical-theological framework that brings honor to Christ and accomplishes its intended purpose. Marriage Matters not only accomplishes its goal, but in the view of this reviewer exceeds it. Marriage Matters simply put is one of the best books I have read on marriage ever, as well as one of the best books I have read all year.
Beware of reading Marriage Matters! It will confront the issues of your heart with the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a book I will be recommending to all my married and single friends. Whether you are newly married or you’ve been married a long time, I recommend you read this book for the sake of your sanctification individually and for the sanctification of your marriage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the New Growth Press book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”
This is sermon #20 in the Job series. In this sermon Dave will discuss the character and attributes of God, depravity of man, and the problem with a hopeless theology.