Scripture and Counseling God’s Word For Life In A Broken World

Posted by on Mar 28, 2015 in Church, Featured

Scripture and Counseling God’s Word For Life In A Broken World

downloadThe doctrine of Scripture is under attack today. Recently John MacArthur held an Inerrancy Summit with some of the top theological minds in the Church today. At this conference, these theologians instructed us about the doctrine of the Bible. One of the key pieces of the doctrine of Scripture is the sufficiency of the Bible. This is the idea that when the Bible speaks, people are to hear and obey it. In other words, the sufficiency of Scripture relates to the authority of the Bible. Since, the Bible is authoritative, God’s people are to implement what it says into every area of their lives. Yet, often times in the Church we say we believe this. Whether in sermons, books, articles or blog posts we pledge allegiance to the Bible in name but in practice we often minimize it. We think, “I need to give my opinion on that issue” and we may well need to speak to that particular issue, but we need to speak with the Bible. We need to speak what the Bible says and declare what it says. This is one way that the sufficiency of the Bible is under attack today. We also see the Bible under attack in the field of Christian counseling. Often times secular theories of psychology take the place of the Bible in our counseling. As the Church, we are seeing an erosion of the doctrine of Scripture in our generation. Since the pulpit is the spear of the local church’s ministry, the counseling office is the hospital. Both are critical as Scripture and Counseling God’s Word For Life In a Broken World show. As this book shows, Pastors and counselors can work together, and should work together to help people grow in their understanding of the Word (pulpit) and to address real world issues from pulpit with the purpose of seeing healing, deliverance and help (counseling) to aid His people in their spiritual growth and development.

This book has two parts. In part one, we come to learn how we view the Bible for life in a broken world. In the introduction Kevin DeYoung and one of his counselors at University Reformed Church, Pat Quinn demonstrate how the senior pastor and counselors can work together to help the church grow in Christ. In this section, we learn about the richness and relevance of God’s Word, the sufficiency of the Bible for life and godliness truth, psychology, applying the sufficiency of the Bible to our lives, the Christ-centeredness of biblical counseling, the great cloud of witnesses and counseling, a theology of the body, and the relevancy of the Bible in counseling. Part two considers how we use the Bible for life in a broken world. The authors consider the rich relevance of the Word of God. Along with this they consider the practicality of the Bible for becoming a church of biblical counseling, biblical counseling and small groups, speaking the truth in love, the competency of the biblical counseling, relating truth to life, biblical narrative in personal ministry, the place of wisdom literature in the personal ministry of the Word, using the Gospels in the personal ministry of the Word, using the epistles in the personal ministry of the Word, and lessons learned through counseling. The book has three appendixes that including the mission, vision, and passion of the biblical counseling coalition, the confessional statement of the biblical counseling coalition, and the doctrinal statement of the biblical counseling coalition.

Whether you’re a pastor, counselor or lay person this book has something for you. First, this book will help you understand the relationship of the pulpit ministry to the ministry of one another each other. Second, this book will help you to understand how Scripture relates to life. This book will help you to understand how to use the Word of God when helping others. This is no small thing because we all know people who need help but often times don’t know how to help. This book will help you to learn how to help and where to look in the Bible to help address people’s issues. Finally, this excellent book should be on the bookshelf of every pastor and counselor. I highly recommend this book and believe it should be required reading in every pastoral ministry class at every conservative Bible college and seminary in the country. My prayer is that this book and the other book in this series will gain a wide readership for in doing so we’ll see a recovery of the place of biblical counseling in the local church.

Buy the book at Amazon or WTS Books.

Title: Scripture and Counseling God’s Word For Life In A Broken World

Author: Bob Kellemen, General Editor, Jeff Forrey, managing Editor

Publisher: Zondervan

I received this book for free from Zondervan for this review. 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.”

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Why We Pray by William Phillip

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Christian Living

Why We Pray by William Phillip

9781433542862In January here at Servants of Grace, we considered the topic of prayer. I’m convinced that many Christians struggle with prayer because they struggle with guilt and shame. Prayer is essential to the Christian life. Jesus bled, died, rose, and now serves as High Priest, Intercessor, and Advocate for His people. The summons of Jesus is to come before His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). His throne is not one of judgment, but of grace. This is why I was encouraged to read Why We Pray by William Phillip, a book that doesn’t just help us think about why we should pray but focuses on four seasons that will help God’s people to pray. These four reasons are: We pray because God is a speaking God, we are Sons of God, God is sovereign, and because we have the Spirit of God.

In chapter one, the author explains, “We pray because God is a speaking God. Prayer derives from who and what God is, and the great feature of the God of the Bible, the God of the Bible, the God of the Christian faith, is that he is a speaking God” (21-22). In this chapter, we’re taken on a tour de force through the creation story. Along the way, the author points man’s rebellion and the hope of Christ. Each chapter ends with reflection questions that are worth thinking through as they will help address areas in your life and what you’re learning as you read this book. Chapter two sets forth that, “the very essence of prayer is simply answering God in the call that comes to us in Jesus Christ. Prayer is responding to Jesus. We can pray because God is a speaking God, because we have been created to respond to him, and because through Jesus Christ we have been redeemed that we might again respond to him” (42). The rest of this chapter looks at the relationship of our adoption in Christ and how this doctrine affects our prayer lives. Chapter three considers the topic of a sovereign of God by looking at the logic of God’s sovereignty in salvation and in prayer. Here the author notes, “The sheer privilege of prayer, which is granted to us—to be involved in God’s great purpose of salvation as partners in his family business, because he is sovereign, and because he will accomplish everything he has purposed by his grace. We have been given the inestimable privilege of being part of the team that will not only accomplish the purpose but also share in the glory” (78). The author also helps us understand the purpose of prayer when he explains, “God wants us to be on his pitch, thinking his thoughts after him, playing our part in a certain, glorious victory, the bringing in of the kingdom of his Son. And the more we think his thoughts after him, the more we’ll rejoice in talking about those thoughts with him, and with one another, in prayer” (80). The final chapter helps us to consider the Holy Spirit and our prayer lives. Here the author teaches that “Only the Holy Spirit can make us real pray-ers” (85).

Why We Pray is an excellent book on prayer. This book doesn’t major on “how-to” advice on prayer. Instead, it shows us the relationship of God’s Word to our prayer lives. In other words, this help book will help readers to apply God’s Word to our prayer lives. The Puritans were well-known for helping God’s people apply God’s Word to their lives so that they would become like Christ. This is what Why We Pray does so well. It will help you to apply what you believe from God’s Word to your prayer life. Trust me when I say this is not a small thing—it is foundational and paradigm shifting. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord would powerfully use it to help you grow in your walk with God.

Buy the book at Amazon or from WTS Books.

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Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Book Reviews, Christian Living, Featured

Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb

TEARS+COLOR+BIG+300 Why do bad things happen? Perhaps the sting of pain is most distinctly felt in the loss of a child, particularly the loss of a child through miscarriage. The cessation of that unborn life before there was the chance to break forth from the womb and for the parents to enjoy raising up their child assuredly is a heart-wrenching and devastating event. Is there good to be found in such tragedy? Is God still in control in the midst of such sorrow and grief? Jessalyn Hutto, in her powerful new book Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb, shares her experience with miscarriages and how she came to realize that in the midst of life’s storms, God is always there and remains sovereign.

The pain of miscarriage is quite evident and Jessalyn shares quite vividly the pain she experienced. I can only imagine what it must be like to have lost a child at such an early stage of pregnancy and what it must be like to come back to a church setting where it seems every other woman in the building is experiencing the joy of their baby boy or girl. This topic is something I have heard little spoken about in church, perhaps because as Jessalyn notes, most people do not know how to respond to someone who has gone through the pain of miscarriage. Perhaps this is because most do not have a good grasp on the sovereignty of God.

It is that very topic and how Jessalyn unpacks that important theological subject against the background of her own experiences that makes this book so powerful and important. Even if dealing with a miscarriage is not something you have experienced or are currently experiencing, the fact of the matter is at some point in life, you will face tragedy. Whether that is the loss of a loved one either expectedly or unexpectedly, the loss of your job, financial woes, health issues or any number of problems, in this life we will have trouble. Scripture makes it quite clear that in a world dealing with the problem of sin, we will all come face to face with tragedy and sorrow.

How we handle such situations is key. Jessalyn aptly notes “Our holy God not only knows each and every event that will occur in our lives before it happens, he actually plans our lives down to the smallest detail – again, for our good and his glory.” Many will balk at such a statement, claiming that makes us robots or declaring that means God causes evil. Jessalyn recognizes the difficulty for a finite creation (humanity) to understand the ways of an infinitely holy, just, and righteous God who is our creator and sustainer. In response to those who take issue with her previous statement, she saliently comments, “What we must struggle to understand, of course, is how his goodness can also be expressed through the suffering he allows to enter our lives…we must assume that even something as horrible as miscarriage can be considered good as it passes through the Lord’s sovereign hand for his good purposes.”

Jessalyn also reminds the reader that we serve a Savior who is acquainted with grief. He came to earth and died on the cross for us. He experienced rejection. He shed tears of blood. Through that sacrifice, He has provided a solution to this sin and death problem. It is that glorious future that Jessalyn concludes her book with, reminding the reader that the “suffering we face presently will be overshadowed by the glorious inheritance yet to come. This is a battle we fight through faith. And as we fight, experiencing glimmers of our eternal reality along the way, our souls will be happy in Jesus.”

This is a book I highly recommend for anyone dealing with pain and sorrow in their life or who has questions about God’s sovereignty. Jessalyn Hutto does an excellent job of orienting the conversation to what God tells in His Word about His sovereignty and His plans for us. She shares these truths from the perspective of one who has gone through trials, and who has been able to see God’s sovereignty work in her own life, even in the midst of the sorrow of miscarriage.

This book is available for purchase from Cruciform Press by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Cruciform Press for this review. 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.”

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Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Book Reviews, Christian Living, Featured

Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids

Show Them Jesus On occasion, I have tried my hand at leading or helping in the Children’s Church and Middle School youth programs at church. I cannot always say those efforts have turned out like I envisioned while at other times it seems as if at least something got across to my audience of impressionable minds. Presenting the gospel in a manner that is effective for our children without dumbing it down to the point where no meat of the Word is provided is highly important, perhaps now more than ever. Thus, strategies and methods for effectively teaching the message of Scripture are tools all believers should have at their disposal, regardless of whether they serve in an official teaching function at church or not. At some point in life, we will be teaching children biblical truth and we need to be prepared. Jack Klumpenhower, in his excellent book Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids, provides a helpful, common sense, and firmly biblical sound approach to doing just what the title of his book speaks of, teaching kids about the message of the gospel.

What struck me first and foremost about this book is the author’s passion for helping the reader keep Jesus as the centerpiece of any instruction given to children. Klumpenhower rightly notes “the content of the message matters; it must be about Jesus.” Furthermore, he states “the cross of Christ applies to the entire Christian life”, even the life of the smallest of children. Moreover, Klumpenhower avers “faith in this message comes from God.” Thus, we need to speak the message of the gospel in the way God intended, by declaring it from the pages of Scripture at every opportunity.

I have often been quite surprised at how many church curriculum is entertainment based as if elementary, middle school, and high school aged children are completely incapable of grasping biblical concepts. It seems as if the important issues of life, namely sin and the message of salvation are buried under comedic acts on a video. Klumpenhower rejects such silliness, instead declaring that a “good-news teacher must not sugarcoat God’s demands. The Bible describes sin as our willful rebellion against God and all that’s delightful in the universe.” It is absolutely necessary for children to understand that sobering fact. It is also important to share the solution to that problem – the shed blood of Christ that paid the penalty for our sin.

I also appreciated that Klumpenhower recommends that the message of the gospel must permeate every aspect of children’s ministry. The proclamation of the truth of the saving message of the gospel cannot be reserved for a special “Gospel-day”. In an effort to help parents and teachers walk their children through the message of the gospel, Klumpenhower provides a plethora of ways to take biblical stories and to demonstrate from those stories the message of the gospel. For example, he provides the reader with tools on how to take the story of Esther and to show children God’s saving work in the life of the people of Israel. Such a discussion is a perfect springboard for a discussion on Jesus and the salvation He brings. Klumpenhower even uses the story of Balaam and his talking donkey as an example of how to show kids Jesus.

As a parent who homeschools their child, I can also see applications for this book in that environment. For instance, as I work with my daughter on the history of the people of Israel as outlined in Scripture, there are multiple opportunities in that storyline to teach my daughter about God’s grace, deliverance, and salvation of His people. Using the techniques and tools outlined by Klumpenhower in this book will go a long way to finding even more ways and additional opportunities to drive home the message of the gospel even in a subject such as social studies.

I highly recommend this book for all believers, especially those who minister in Sunday School or who work with middle and high school aged kids. This book will also be profitable for all parents and even grandparents. We must be devoted to teaching our kids about Jesus to include those difficult subjects such as sin. Avoiding those hard discussions is not what God desires and Klumpenhower provides the reader with valuable tools to effectively show kids Jesus. In an age where too many churches have gone the route of entertainment based instruction, this book redirects the approach of teaching back to where it belongs – rooted in the pages of Scripture with a focus and passion for declaring to our kids the message of the Gospel.

This book is available for purchase from New Growth Press by clicking here.

I received this book for free from New Growth Press for this review. 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.”

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Heaven, How I Got Here The Story of The Thief On The Cross

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Featured, Theology

Heaven, How I Got Here The Story of The Thief On The Cross

9781781915585Stories captivate the mind and stir the heart. Whether it’s in movies or the biblical story found in the Word of God, stories have a shaping influence on our lives and the broader culture. Stories have the power to change lives. Ultimately every story finds it’s fulfillment in the finished work of Christ. Jesus is the Story above all stories. His story reorients all other stories. The story of the thief on the cross is one of the most powerful stories in the Gospels. It is the story of a man who committed a crime against Rome and met Jesus, when he died crucifixion style next to Jesus. This is the basis for Colin Smith’s new book Heaven, How I Got Here the Story of the Thief On The Cross. The only twist about this book is rather than walking through the biblical text, the author gives a first-person account of the life of the thief on the cross.

This is one of the most interesting, refreshing, and helpful books I’ve read in awhile. This book is fictional in that it doesn’t follow the biblical storyline of the thief on the cross. With that said there is plenty of biblical engagement in that the author makes clear reference to what the two people next to Jesus on the cross said and did, along with what others said and did around the cross. If you’re like me and heard the story of the thief a lot over the years and read the story, many, many times then you’ll want to read this book. It will open your eyes afresh to this story.

If you’re a long-time Christian you know how easy it is to say, “I know this story”, and that’s true. After all, you should know the story if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time. Yet, we live in a day when biblical ignorance is rampant. Even if we know the story we need to hear it again as for the first time. This is what Heaven, I Got Here does so well. It will help the reader to hear the story of the thief on the cross, as for the first time. This book will help you to understand what Jesus went through and what He did for you on the cross, and in the resurrection.  If you’re like me, you need books like this. You need to be reawakened to the wonder of the cross. You need to be reminded of your ongoing need for mercy and grace found in Jesus Christ.

As we march towards Easter, take some time consider the death of Jesus in our place and for our sins, and His resurrection which is the promise of our salvation, I encourage you to pick up and read this book. Maybe you’re going through a dry season in your walk with God, or perhaps you’re doing great in your walk with God. We all need to be reminded of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We need to gather around the cross, look and behold the Son of God in His bloody death in our place for our sin, to know the tomb is empty, Christ has risen, and now serves as our High Priest, Intercessor, Mediator, and Advocate. This excellent book, while fictional will make you think. It will help stir you up this Easter season to consider afresh the claims of Jesus on your life as a Christian. I highly recommend this book and pray you’ll pick it up and pass it on to others who need it.

Buy the book at Amazon,or from WTS Books,

Title: Heaven, How I Got Here The Story of The Thief On The Cross

Author: Colin S. Smith

Publisher: Christian Focus

I received this book for free from Christian Focus for this review. 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.”

 

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Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1, 2 & 3 John

Posted by on Mar 21, 2015 in Featured, Theology

Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1, 2 & 3 John

9780805496659_cvr_webThe general epistles have a long history in the Church of helping Christians understand the work of Christ and how to apply His life into all of life. In particular, the book of 1 John is helpful for Christians on a variety of fronts. First reading, studying, and understanding 1 John will help Christians understand the need for ongoing repentance, confession of sin, assurance of salvation, and much more. 2-3 John is particularly instructive for ministry leaders including dealing with false teachers. For this and other reasons, I was excited when I received a new commentary on 1-3 John in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series looking at Exalting Jesus in 1-3 John.

This series seeks to look at each book with a view to understanding how it fits into redemptive history. This is not a technical commentary or a series by any stretch of the imagination, but it does engage keywords from the original languages, offers helpful exegesis, and is chalk full of practical application. As I read this commentary by Dr. Akin I thought he did an especially good job dealing with the need for ongoing repentance in the Christian life and his teaching on assurance was also very helpful.

Many Christians struggle with the issue of assurance. Reading and studying 1 John is helpful in this regard since it discusses the source of our assurance, and the confidence we can have as God’s people for our assurance in Christ. As you read this commentary I believe that readers struggling with assurance will be helped. One of the main problems in our day in regards to this issue is many people believe they can live; however they want to. The book of 1 John is helpful in this regard because it says that this idea is wrong. The person who thinks they can live, however, they want and have eternal life John says is “deceived” (1 John 1:6-7). The one who confesses their need of Jesus often and sees it as an ongoing need “confesses” their sin and Christ washes them of it (1 John 1:9). Whether you’re struggling with assurance or doubt or a variety of other issues, 1 John is one of the most helpful and neglected books in the New Testament.

Whether you’re studying the book of 1 John or 2-3 John, I highly recommend this book to Sunday school teachers, and for pastor/teachers. This book combines excellent exegesis, with mature theological reflection, and practical guidance for the Christian life. The best pastoral commentaries always excel at all three, and this commentary is no exception in this regard. I believe every Christian interested in knowing and studying the Bible should read this commentary and check out the other volumes in the series, I know I will be!

Buy the book at Amazon, WTS Books, or from B&H Academic.

Title: Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1, 2 & 3 John

Author: Daniel L. Akin

Publisher: B&H Academic

I received this book for free from B&H for this review. 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.”

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