Thursday, September 3, 2015

With the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word by Susan Heck

With the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word: A Ladies' Bible Study on First JohnWith the Master Before the Mirror of God's Word: A Ladies' Bible Study on First John by Susan J. Heck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have heard wonderful things about Susan Heck's Bible study so was eager to dive into this study of hers for ladies on the book of 1 John. And I was not disappointed! Susan dives right into the text of Scripture and explains it in an easy-to-read manner yet still plumbing the rich depths that is God's Word. Each chapter has study questions at the end, often with many cross-references to search other Scriptures that go along with the verse studies in that particular chapter. In many ways this study is a commentary on the book of 1 John.

This is not a book that you can just sit down and casually read through. It needs to be digested and pondered. While it is easy to read and understand, it is also "meaty" and needs to be thought through in order to gain the most benefit. I would highly recommend this for a ladies' study that wants to dig deeper into God's Word. Once having done one of Susan Heck's studies, you will want to do her other ones. I am looking forward to the study on Ephesians that she will be publishing soon.

Susan starts out with the background of the book before diving into the text itself. This is an important part of Bible study to better understand what the author is communicating. I appreciated her careful detail and methodical approach. I'm looking forward to doing other studies by Susan and hope to be able to use this in a future ladies study.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Focus Publishing in exchange for my review.

Friday, August 28, 2015

God's Kingdom through God's Covenants by Gentry and Wellum

God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical TheologyGod's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology by Peter J. Gentry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have the book Kingdom through Covenant by these authors but have not read it yet (after all, it is over 800 pages). So when I saw this book was coming out, I wondered if perhaps this was a revised version. It is an abridged version of the larger work, with a lot of the technical discussion edited out and designed to be more accessible for the layperson to read and understand. It is easy to read.
However, for some reason, it just wasn't grabbing me at this time. I do think I want to continue reading it, but now may not be the right time to do so. Sometimes books have to be put off and tried again at a later date in order to better appreciate them. So for now, I'm shelving this one to try again later.
For those interested in this subject, it is an easy to read book (and much less daunting at around 300 pages). So I would recommend giving it a try if you want to explore the theology of the covenants.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Introducing Solid Food Ministries

While I still plan to post book reviews on this blog, I have shifted my focus somewhat to a ministry that's been a desire of mine for a long time. Now that I have more time to devote to it, I have started a blog and Twitter account, and am more active on its Facebook page. What is this ministry, you ask? :-)

Solid Food Ministries is a ministry to provide sound biblical resources (solid food) for the growing and mature believer. It is based on Hebrews 5:12-14 which says in ESV, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." So the goal is to provide resources and to encourage believers to grow in their faith from milk to meat.

Check it out!

The Blog

Facebook Page

Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Holiness

Over the last year or so God has been really teaching me regarding His holiness and how I view sin. With the study of Moses and the Israelites, reading through Leviticus and Numbers, God's holiness is prominent throughout these books. Then a ladies group I'm in read through Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit of Holiness together. Quite the convicting book! We don't often think about how horribly awful our sin is to a holy God. One of the areas that God has been showing me is in the area of television and movies. Sexual innuendo is rampant throughout most TV shows these days. And celebration of sex outside of marriage is commonplace. These are not okay to a holy God. Jesus died a horrible death to pay for these sins that we casually watch on our TV screens. I have found that I no longer have interest in most movies or TV shows now as they portray sin as a normal part of life and even celebrate it.
The battle to be holy is constant and relentless, particularly in the world we live in. Guarding our minds is a challenge. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about the following things: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." In the battle for holiness, this is a good reminder. What we read, what we watch, the things that we dwell on - are these things that are helping us to be more holy? If not, shouldn't we eliminate them from our lives?

Some quotes to consider from the book Holiness by J.C. Ryle:
"It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord' (Heb. 12:14)."

"Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul who can think of all that Jesus suffered, and yet cling to those sins for which that suffering was undergone."

"He sees his own many sins, his weak heart, a tempting world, a busy devil; and if he looked only at them, he might well despair. But he sees also a mighty Savior, an interceding Savior, a sympathizing Savior - His blood, His righteousness, His everlasting priesthood - and he believes that all this is his own. He sees Jesus and casts his whole weight on Him."

"If any reader of this message really feels that he has counted the cost and taken up the cross, I bid him persevere and press on. I dare say you often feel your heart faint and are sorely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow, you hardly know what to do. But still I say, persevere and press on."

"The nearer he draws to God and the more he sees of God's holiness and perfections, the more thoroughly is he sensible of his own countless imperfections."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review of Precepts study - Hebrews, Part 1

I have wanted to do a Precept study for years. I've done the Kay Arthur inductive study guides and enjoyed them but longed to dig deeper and do an actual Precept study. It just never worked out to be part of one. Earlier this year when I knew I would not be doing Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in the Fall, I was eager to finally join a Precept study at a church a few miles from our home. However, they were going to be doing part 2 of Hebrews. So I decided to do part 1 on my own over the summer so I wouldn't be lost. As I did the study over the summer, I came to the realization that I would not be able to keep up with the Precept study in the fall, as I would be leading a ladies' study on Wed. mornings and for 6 weeks be also teaching a Sunday School class (not to mention a 2 weeks missions trip). At that point, I decided to continue doing the study even though I wouldn't be able to continue with it in the fall.
Starting off, I absolutely LOVED the Precept study of Hebrews. The first few weeks involve reading through the whole book of Hebrews several times. This is how Bible study should be! Immersing yourself in the book, getting the full context. But as the study progressed and started digging into the individual chapters, there began to be a lot of cross-referencing. Now cross-referencing is important while studying the Bible; it's important to compare Scripture with Scripture. But this seemed to be excessive and unnecessary. I finally began skipping some of the cross-referencing, feeling like it was taking away from the Hebrews passage rather than adding to it. As I neared the end of the study, I also noticed that it seemed like the cross-references were being used to push a particular meaning on the passage and to try to steer the studier towards a particular interpretation, rather than letting the text speak for itself. That is a problem with study guides, the theology of the writer can bleed through and affect the person studying.
I wouldn't necessarily not recommend a Precept study at this point, but I'm not eager to do another one. I would caution when doing one to be mindful of an agenda or particular interpretation being pushed on the passage. It's important to know how to study the Bible for oneself so one isn't dependent on others or on study guides to study the Bible. For a brief overview of the inductive study method, here is a series of posts on How to Study the Bible.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Living in the Now

My life is pretty good. I have a wonderful husband, a great home, a cute kitty and many other wonderful blessings. Yet sometimes I still struggle with being discontent. I think this is partly due to the fact that this world is not my home. I was made for more. My heart longs for heaven and perfection. But while I am still on this earth, as a Christian, I'm called to be content with where I'm at. It is the tension of living between the now and the not-yet of my future home.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms


Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit
by Sam Storms
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read several of the Theologians on the Christian Life series, this is the first one about someone who is still living. Not a biography, rather this book takes a look at the comprehensive amount of material that Packer has published and what his views are on theology and living the Christian life. The book starts off with his view of the atonement and then discusses other aspects of Packer's teaching through the years. He is extensively quoted throughout the book. Teaching on prayer and finding God's will are discussed as well as the huge impact that the Puritans, particularly John Owen had on Packer's own theology development. Overall this was an excellent resource summarizing Packer's teaching through the years.

"...he insists that God's ultimate end in his dealings with his children is not simply their happiness but his own glory. The purpose of the Christian life is God's glory, not ours."
"Knowing God is of central importance in living a life that is both productive for oneself and pleasing to God."

And the gospel summarized: "First, God's holiness and justice require that rebellion against his perfect law be dealt with retributively, namely, in the suffering of both spiritual and physical death. Second, we humans can do nothing about this. We are helpless to atone for self and are thus wholly at a loss to escape the wrath of God that our sin has incurred. Third, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, has taken our place under judgment and received in himself the penalty that was our sentence, thereby laying the foundation for our pardon and immunity from divine prosecution. Fourth, each human must look in faith outside and away from self to Christ and his cross as the sole ground of forgiveness and future hope."

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.