Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, The New Creation and the End of Poverty (Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation and the End of Poverty) is written by Aaron Armstrong, preacher, blogger, author, and writer for an international Christian ministry focused on caring for the needs of the poor. Out of his experience caring for the needs of the poor through writing, and ministering to them; he has written a book that gets to the heart of the matter on poverty by focusing on the Gospel and its implications.
As I read through this book, I was struck by how Aaron continually brought me back to the Gospel. The real problem as Aaron rightly describes in this book is that most discussions on poverty miss any mention of sin. Sin is the problem, and its effects are felt whether one is rich or poor. Having previous served the poor on the streets and in homeless shelters; I can tell you that the real problem is as Aaron describes in this book, sin. The solution to the problem of poverty isn’t more programs while they can be helpful at times; the solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As Aaron walks through the biblical teaching on poverty he does so in a way that is convincing and challenging. It would all too easy to point fingers on an issue like poverty and say, “The government or charity organizations aren’t doing their jobs,” but Aaron never succumbs to this; instead he points his readers towards the Bible, and grounds them in the Gospel of God.
There were several statements scattered throughout the book that stood out to me. At the end of chapter three, Aaron states, “The ultimate answer to poverty is circumcised hearts, hearts that know the God who forms and keeps covenant with poor, undeserving sinners.” In chapter six Aaron makes two observations, “We cannot separate what we believe from what we do” and “we are called to care for the poor because God is glorified in our doing so.” The Lord God takes what is dead and makes it new; giving the believer new desires and new affections for Himself, for the purpose of advancing His kingdom with the Gospel. As a result of being saved the believer will care for the poor, the sick, the widow, the broken and the least of these. These desires flow from the new birth, which is to say God gives His people the desire to obey Him, and live on mission for Him because of the new birth.
Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, The New Creation and the End of Poverty is a very well-written, thoughtful and Gospel-saturated explanation on poverty. It is not often that I read a book in under twenty-four hours, but I could not put this book down, once I picked it up because Aaron writes in such a way as to draw the reader into what he is saying by engaging them with the Gospel. I encourage you to pick up Awaiting a Savior by Aaron Armstrong because it will teach you not only to have a biblical worldview on the topic of poverty, but also to minister to the poor because of the Gospel.
Author: Aaron Armstrong
Publisher: Cruciform (2011)
A few people and I have been discussing having a blog conversation about topics related to men. The big idea is to have a weekly topic that we discuss, and then have one of the men write up a post on that topic. After the blog post is posted; any and all the men would respond to the post giving their thoughts, and feedback on the topic being discussed. The goal is to probe deeper into God’s Word together as men; holding one another accountable and to pray for one another.
Here is what I’ve proposed so far to a few but now publically. I’m willing to host this weekly blog/conversation here on Servantsofgrace. While I’m thinking out loud here I would love your feedback, suggestions, ideas and anything else you can think of. The goal here isn’t about driving more traffic to one site, etc; it is to grow together as men in Christ, so that men can be strengthened in the Gospel and local churches can be strengthened in the work of the Great Commission. I look forward to any and all questions, ideas, and feedback.
Welcome to the Story: Reading, Loving, and Living God’s Word is written by Dr. Stephen J. Nichols research professor of Christianity and culture at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. In this book, Dr. Nichols outlines the story of the Bible in four words: creation, fall, redemption and restoration. This book isn’t about just how creation, fall, redemption and restoration fit the storyline of the Bible, but rather goes beyond that to show why this story is fundamental to making sense of our own story. Everyone has a story full of different life experiences, but ultimately there is One story that supersedes all stories, and that is the story of the redemptive work of Christ.
Welcome to the Story does not stop at just explaining biblical or theological concepts, but rather teaches how one can read the Bible and understand the redemptive story of God reconciling people to Himself. Personally, I found Dr. Nichols book to be helpful as he proposes how the storyline of Scripture (creation, fall, redemption and restoration) ought to affect how we read the Bible, and love and live God’s Word. I appreciated the fact that even when the author gets practical he keeps the storyline of the Scriptures before his readers and applies that storyline to what God’s story does to us, and how it affects the way we live for Him.
The most helpful chapter in the book is chapter ten. In chapter ten the author gives helpful counsel on how to get started reading, loving and living the Scriptures. The most important points the author makes in this chapter are that it’s important to pay attention to the big picture, context, to one’s life, as well as to how to dig deeper into the Scriptures. I recommend you read Welcome to the Story to learn the storyline of Scripture and how the Story of God intersects with your own story.
Author: Stephen J. Nichols
Publisher: Crossway (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review 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.”
While in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 Paul in 1st Thessalonians 5:12-15 has shown what should be the attitude of the Thessalonians toward their leaders, to fellow-members characterized by particular shortcomings, to those who have injured them, and finally to one another and to all, in verses 16-18 he sets forth what should be their inner attitude and how this inner attitude should express itself with reference to God. Hence, we now have the following three beautiful closely related and tersely expressed admonitions: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The Thessalonians were no strangers to the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8), the “great joy” which results from the incarnation of Christ and from the redemption wrought through his cross. Yet with persecution from without and disturbances within, there was a danger (human speaking) that this joy would disappear. Hence, Paul, who himself again and again rejoiced in the midst of persecution and hardship (3:7-9; Phil 3:1; 4:4, 10), urges his readers to rejoice always.
In seasons of distress and grief he alone is able to find relief and even be joyful (Rom. 8:28, 35-39) who at the Father’s throne makes all his wants and wishes known. Hence, the directive “rejoice always” is immediately followed by “pray without ceasing.” What Paul means is there must be no decline in the regularity of the habit of “taking hold of God” In the midst of all circumstances of life. The apostle could afford to say this, for he himself gave the example (3:10; 2 Thess. 1:11; Eph. 1:16; 3:14).
When a person prays without giving thanks, he has clipped the wrings of prayer so that it cannot rise. Hence, the trio of admonitions concludes with, “give thanks in all circumstances.” This phrase in all includes affliction for even in the mist of all these things (“tribulations, anguish, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril of sword”) believes are not merely conquerors but “more than conquerors”, inasmuch as all these things actually help them to reach their goal (Rom. 8:35-37).
“For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The will of God, as clearly set forth by means of the redemptive work and revelation of Jesus Christ, is this very thing, namely, that believers should always be joyful, should ceaselessly pray, and should in all circumstances give thanks.
This is sermon #86 in the Luke series. In this sermon on Luke 20:45-21:4 Dave preaches on hypocrisy, humility, the nature of Christian ministry, and the nature and demands of worship.
Every week I am going to take a question and answer it. If you have a question or questions feel free to submit it here: http://servantsofgrace.org/contact/ and it will be answered either on the website or privately.
This week’s question is, ”Why do many people tell new converts to begin reading the Gospel of John? and why is the Gospel of John so attractive to Jews?”
Dr. Hughes said, “John is unique in his powerful presentation of Jesus as the great Creator-God of the Universe. His massive vision of Christ has been used countless times to open the eyes of unbelievers to who Jesus is and the way of redemption. This Gospel’s continuing effect on Christians is equally profound because in John’s account believers find an ongoing source for expanding their concept of the Savior’s greatness.”
John’s Gospel account is simple to understand but its simplicity also gives us its greatest strength, which is its depth. The Apostle John is known for his ability to paint a picture. As an artist John takes his paint brush and paints a panoramic picture of Jesus. He also takes us into the life of Jesus but continues to weave the story so that we gain intimate knowledge of Jesus. John’s writing is easy to understand but plumbing the depths of his thought requires great effort. New converts are told to begin reading John because of this simplicity and because it is a key to understanding the other Gospels.
Dr. Andreas J. Kostenberger said, “Although it is the Gospel of Matthew that is widely known to focus on Jesus’ fulfillment of OT messianic expectations, John’s Gospel, too, roots Jesus’ mission firmly in OT conceptualities and specific texts. From the very beginning and throughout the prologue of his book, the Fourth Evangelist operates within a salvation-historical framework. In his references to the OT John spans the entire range from explicitly quotations to verifiable allusions and thematic connections. In keeping with John’s purpose statement, Jesus is identified as the Christ and Son of God and is set in relation to major figures in Israel’s history, whether Abraham, Jacob, or Moses, as well as the Prophet, by citations of or allusions to Scripture.”
John’s purpose in this Gospel is to show both Jesus’ public ministry and his cross-death fulfilled scriptural patterns and prophecies. The Gospel of John begins with the story of Creation, and grounds all of history in the person and work of Jesus. John wants people to see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. While Matthew is aimed at the Jews; John is aimed at the world. John is attractive to the Jews because it spends considerable amount of time relating in one way or another to various Jewish religious festivals.
Hughes, R. Kent. John: That You May Believe: Crossway Books, 1999.
G.K. Beale, D.A Carson. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Baker Academic, 2007.
The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story is written by Mark Tabb with the Ed Thomas Family. Ed Thomas was a man who love the Lord Jesus Christ and his family. Ed was a man who lived what he believed and made an incredibly impact on his family, his community and in his career as both an athletic director and high school football coach. Early one morning while helping out his football team with weight training Ed was gunned down by one of his former players who had mental issues and who apparently had issues with Ed.
As I read this story I was struck with the forthrightness of the authors about Ed’s life and the impact his life made on authors. Many people wonder why bad things happen to good people, and what purpose they serve. The Ed Thomas story does not seek to answer these questions but to demonstrate what a life lived well on mission for God looks like, and the impact such a life can have on others.
As I finished the book, I prayed the Lord would raise up more men like Ed. Sacred Acre is a story that will pull at your heart strings. It is the story not only of a man who loved God, but also loved Christ’s Church. Ed faithfully served as an elder at his local church for thirty plus years. The key to Ed making an impact in his community was his being grounded in the Word of God and prayer, which the family notes he did everyday. Ed modeled what he believed in and proclaimed it without fear or trembling.
The message of Ed’s life should be the message of every believer’s life that adversity in life reveals our character. Adversity Ed taught gives us the opportunity like nothing else to show what kind of person we are. I believe Ed’s story will resonate with many as it did with me. Everyone goes through hard times but it is how we face those hard times that reveal who we are and what we stand for. I encourage you to pick up Sacred Acre and be challenged by the life of Ed Thomas who lived his life on mission, for God, His kingdom, and His Gospel.
Author: Mark Tabb and the Ed Thomas Family
Publisher: Zondervan (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This is sermon #85 in the Luke series. In this sermon on Luke 20:39-44 Dave preaches on how Jesus deals with questions, the deity of Christ, Jesus use of the Old Testament, and the lordship of Jesus.
This year has seen the influx of a number of truly great books on santiication. In this post, I want to highlight three books that are edifying, convicting and challenging in the area of the believers’ sanctification.
One of the best books I’ve ever read on sanctification is written by Joe Thorn. Joe’s book is titled Note to Self The Discipline of preaching the Gospel to yourself. This book will help you to learn how to preach the law and Gospel to yourself as well as give you Joe’s notes on how he preaches the Gospel to himself on issues related to God, others and oneself. You can get the book on amazon at Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re:Lit)
You can also read my review at http://servantsofgrace.org/2011/05/26/review-of-note-to-self-the-disciple-of-preaching-to-yourself/ I also recommend you check out Joe’s blog as he posts a lot of helpful material at http://www.joethorn.net/
The second book is Tempted and Tried by Dr. Russell Moore. In Tempted and Tried Dr. Moore explores the temptation of Christ, misconceptions about temptation and how to overcome through Christ. You can get the book on amazon at Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ
I also recommend you check out Dr. Moore’s blog at http://www.russellmoore.com/
The final book is Licensed to Kill A field manual for mortifying sin by Brian Hedges. In this book Brian Hedges explores misconceptions about what mortifying is, and explains how the believer can mortify their sin. You can buy the book at amazon at: Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin
You can also read my review of this book at: http://servantsofgrace.org/2011/09/12/book-review-licensed-to-kill/
I also recommend you check out Brian’s blog at http://www.brianghedges.com/
What books have you read this year that you’ve found challenging, convicting and edifying?
This is sermon #15 in the Psalm series. In this sermon on Psalm 15 Dave preaches on preparing to worship God, the nature of worship, growing in personal holiness unto the Lord and the holiness of God.