Al Mohler Recommends Some Christian Biographies

April 16, 2007

Here is a helpful link from an avid Christian reader. It recommends and introduces 10 Christian biographies.

If you are wondering which one to start with, Mohler recommends the one on Martin Luther.

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Growing Up Christian — A Review

February 9, 2007

Growing Up Christian is a book I wish I could have written. I wasn’t a “church kid” growing up. But, I have spent the past ten years around “church kids.” For those of you who don’t know, a church kid is someone who has grown up in the church. According to Graustein, “they come from Christian homes, have Christian parents, and have attended church their entire lives. They live in a Christian culture surrounded by Christians at home, church, and often school.” Karl Gruastein addresses the unique issues “church kids” face better than anyone I’ve come across.

Graustein understands both the privileges and dangers of growing up in the church. He begins by addressing the dangers of false assurance, taking God’s grace for granted, and wanting to be like everyone else. He issues a strong call for teenagers to be sure of their own faith and not just coast along with their parents. Graustein then spends five chapters helping teenagers to build a biblical worldview of humility, conviction and thankfulness based in a love for the Scriptures and God. He finishes with three chapters on Christian living that focus on battling sin, growing spiritually and using your talents. Throughout it all, he keeps the gospel directly in view.

Graustein does an excellent job of encouraging teenagers to evaluate themselves in the light of Gods’ Word and then act on what they see. He also includes helpful discussion and reflection questions. His two page chart comparing what the world says to what God says regarding a number of areas is a great help (pp. 72-73)

I highly recommend this book. Every teenager in the church would greatly benefit from carefully reading and considering what this book has to say. This book will also help those who work with Christian teens to refocus on the particular issues they face. I believe that if more “church kids,” their parents and pastors heeded the lessons of this book we wouldn’t see as many people abandoning their faith when they get out of High School.

 

You can order the book here: Growing Up Christian


Review: The Peacemaking Pastor

February 1, 2007

The Peacemaking Pastor is was written by Alfred Poirier, the pastor of Rocky Mountain Community Church in Billings, Montana and the chairman of the board for Peacemaker Ministries. Poirier issues a stirring call for pastors to redefine their role to include Biblical Peacemaking as one of their chief responsibilities.

The book is organized in three main sections: who we are as people in conflict; who God is as a reconciling God, and how pastors are to effectively respond in shepherding their people.

Practically, he gives sound instruction on the nature of conflict, confession, forgiveness, conflict resolution within the church and the heart and practice of church discipline. He approaches all of these issues with sound Biblical insight, gracious humility and wise pastoral counsel. You will learn much as this seasoned pastor guides you down the paths of peace. He closes with some suggestions on how to develop a peacemaking culture in your church.

I found the chapters on church discipline and his explanation of how and why his church welcomed a convicted child molester into membership particularly helpful.

If you are a leader in your church, you should read this book. It is challenging, convicting and helpful. It will renew and restore your vision of what the Church of Jesus Christ should and can be.

If you are not a pastor, considering getting this book for your pastor. You may also be interested in The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande. It presents the same practical Biblical principles for both church leaders and lay people.

You can order the book by clicking here.


R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God–A Review

July 24, 2006

If God is holy at all, if God has an ounce of justice in His character, indeed if God exists as God, how could He possibly be anything but angry with us?  We violate his holiness; we insult His justice; we make light of His grace.  These things can hardly be pleasing to Him.

In his classic book, The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul relentlessly hammers home the reality of these truths.  He takes us into the trembling, smoke-filled
Temple as Isaiah unravels in the presence of a Holy God.  He shocks us with the sudden deaths of two rising priests, Nahab and Abihu.  He displays Uzzah, sprawled dead in the mud, after touching the Ark of God.  R.C. takes us to the edge of hell to show us the reality of God’s just wrath. 
          

Praise God, he doesn’t leave us there!  R.C. knows and loves the gospel of God’s grace.  Through his pen, the cool breeze of God’s mercy will wash over you as you lean over Luther’s shoulder and discover that God’s justice is “that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith.” You will know the peace of being comfortable in God’s presence.

R.C. is an engaging writer.  He has a knack for bringing deep theological truth alive in vivid and simple, but profound ways.  His illustrations move from terribly dark, to laugh out loud funny.  But, his point is inescapable.  I am thankful for the headache that drove him to contemplate the holiness of God.  He has performed a great service by reminding us that God is Holy. He is just.  We must not assume grace or presume upon His mercy.  Yet, we can find mercy freely offered in Jesus Christ.

This is a must read book that will deepen your love for God.  It will heighten your respect for Him.  And, it will give you a profound love and appreciation for what Jesus did on your behalf.

Please feel free to use these study questions to deepen your interaction with this book.  Click here for the questions.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Holiness of God Study Questions

July 24, 2006

Here are some study questions for use with R.C. Sproul’s, Holiness of God.

Chapter 1

1.      As he opens his book, R.C. Sproul depicts a tremendous encounter with the presence of God that radically changed him.  What prompted this encounter? 

2.      What is the modern theory of creation?  Why is it more miraculous than the Biblical account?

3.      What problem does R.C. say he had as he began to know about God?

4.      Why is the study of God’s holiness important?  

Chapter 2

1.      What is the great hope of both the Jewish person and the Christian?  

2.      What is the significance of repeating “holy” three times in Isaiah 6:3?   

3.      How does Isaiah react to his vision of God?  

Chapter 3—The Fearful Mystery

1.      What does the word “holy” mean?  

2.      What is “transcendence”?  What does it have to do with God?  

3.      How does holiness relate to the other attributes of God?  

4.      What comes to your mind when you think of God’s holiness? What emotions do you experience?

Chapter 4—The Trauma of Holiness

1.      How do the disciples react when Jesus stills the storm? How does Peter react when he catches the huge catch of fish?  What do these reactions teach about holiness?

2.      What analogies does Sproul use to show our fear and dislike of the holy?   

Chapter 5—The Insanity of Luther

1.      What was the root of Luther’s “insanity”?  

2.      How does Luther’s understanding of the Law point to our problem with God’s holiness?  

Chapter 6—Holy Justice

1.      What is your reaction to the stories of Nahab, Abihu and Uzzah?

2.      According to Sproul, what don’t we understand that causes us to react with offense and surprise at God killing these men?  

3.      Why does Sproul say that the Old Testament Law is a law of “astonishing grace”?  

Chapter 7—War and Peace

1.      What did Jacob, Job, Habakkuk and Paul have in common?  What was the result in each of their lives?  

2.      What fruit of justification does Sproul emphasize in this chapter?  What is the surprising result of this fruit?  

Chapter 8—Be Ye Holy

1.      What does the Bible call believers?  Why are they called this?   

2.      What is our proper response to what Jesus has done for us?  

3.      Why is it important to grasp the call to be “transformed” as opposed to simple “non-conformity”?  What will be necessary if you want to be “transformed”?  

Chapter 9—God in the Hand of Angry Sinners

1.      How do we reveal our hatred of God?  

2.      According to Sproul what is the problem with semi-pelagian or arminian theology?   

3.  How can you love a holy God?

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Book Review–Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marraige and Family

July 14, 2006

Gender roles.  Parenting. Abortion. Contraception. Reproductive technologies. Spanking. Singleness. Homosexuality.  Divorce and remarriage.  Church Leadership.  Each one of these topics is a potential landmine.  In his book, God, Marriage, and Family, Köstenberger faithfully walks through the minefield, shining the light of the Bible in every darkened area.

This book is a foundational book.  It begins from the assumption that God made men and women in His own image, defines their roles and defines the institution of marriage.  However, Köstenberger doesn’t just assume these truths.  He shows where the Bible teaches them.  From this foundation, Köstenberger walks through the scriptures that speak to the many issues above either directly or by application.  You may not agree with every one of his conclusions, but you will benefit from the discussion.  You will understand the issues at stake and the scriptures involved. Köstenberger does a remarkable job of handling viewpoints fairly, even when he disagrees with them. 

God, Marriage, and Family is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand God’s intentions for the family. It will challenge you to think through your own understanding of family. It will equip you to enter the debates of the day intelligently and persuasively.  The book can get a little academic at times, but it is clear and intelligible.  Köstenberger also performs a great service by providing an extensive listing of further resources on each topic and a guide for both individual and group study.  I found his charts extremely helpful as well.

When you read this book, pay special attention to the discussion of spiritual warfare in marriage and the suggestions for young men and women.  For those of you who are newly married or contemplating marriage, the discussion regarding contraception and reproductive technologies is a must read as well. 

Enjoy this book, and may God bless you as you rebuild the Biblical foundations of family in your personal life, church and community.

In Christ

Pastor Mike

You can find the book by clicking here.


Living the Cross Centered Life–a Review

June 20, 2006

There is no question about what the “main thing” in CJ Mahaney’s life is.  It is the Cross.  The gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for the salvation of sinners.

In the book, Living the Cross Centered Life, CJ Mahaney is relentless in his focus on the Cross.  This book will encourage you to be as well.  In a fast moving, direct, but gracious style CJ will take you into the heart of the mystery of Calvary.  He will remind you of the horror of sin, the justice of God, and the suffering of Jesus as your substitute.  His chapters on Gethsemane and Calvary present truths we are often too familiar with in an unforgettable way.  As I read this book, I was continually impacted by the horror of my own sin and the tremendous love of God as expressed in the death and resurrection of Jesus on my behalf.

If you read some of his posts at Together for the Gospel, you know that CJ is all about serving others.  With this book, he succeeds in performing another valuable service to us all in teaching us to deal with the temptations of subjectivism, legalism and condemnation.  He also gives sound advice on how to construct a cross-centered day and ultimately a cross-centered life. I encourage you to pay particular attention to Chapters 2, 11, 12 and 13 if you struggle with emotions, performance, or guilt.  God wants you to experience freedom and joy in Christ and CJ will help guide you through the Scriptures to find them.

As you can probably guess, I highly recommend reading this book.  It is short and easy to read.  But, it contains truth that will radically impact your relationship with God and understanding of the gospel.  You should know that this book combines two older books: Christ our Mediator and The Cross Centered Life, but if you don’t have them, I would recommend getting this one.  You can purchase it here.

In Christ

Pastor Mike