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.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

For the Love of God's Word


For the Love of God's Word: an Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
by Andreas J. Kostenberger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Easy to read book on Bible interpretation. A good portion of the book is spent on the different literary genres of the Bible and how this affects interpretation. Each chapter starts off with the chapter objectives and a chapter outline and ends with key resources and key words. There are also lists of things to consider when interpreting a particular genre of the Bible. For the most part, the book was understandable but got a little technical in some parts. A lot of unfamiliar words were introduced, but there is a glossary in the back of the book to help with definitions.
Starting off with an overview of the whole Bible and the importance of history and how the historical context affects interpretation, the majority of the book then discusses the canon of the Bible, then the different types of genre, and finally how language affects meaning. For someone who is just learning how to study the Bible, this book would probably be a bit overwhelming, but for those who have read a book or two on Bible study and the inductive study method and the idea of hermeneutics, this book is excellent to continue understanding how to best interpret the Bible. The basis behind this book is the hermeneutical triad of history, literature and theology. The final section of the book discusses biblical theology and how that is derived from our study of Scripture.
The last chapter of the book brings it all together and that the whole idea behind interpreting the Bible is to arrive at application and allow what we've read to change our lives and make us more like Christ. Being able to interpret the Bible correctly is necessary but it is not the end goal, rather, application resulting in a changed life is the goal. "Will you check off reading this book on some list and continue to interpret the Bible exactly the way you did before? Or will you apply what you've learned and let these principles transform your study of Scripture so that Scripture, in turn, will change your life and the lives of those with whom you will share what you've learned?" Various resources are listed for help in studying the Bible, such as concordances, atlases, dictionaries and commentaries. Also included are guidelines for application.
Overall, an excellent book and resource for helping to better understand and study the Bible.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Miracle Drug by Richard Mabry

Miracle DrugMiracle Drug by Richard L. Mabry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since I like books having to do with a virus or bacteria strain gone amok, this one sounded up my alley. Sure enough, I was soon into the storyline and turning pages to find out what would happen. The story developed quickly and kept my interest. Imagine being in a position of being the personal physician of an ex-president who then develops a fatal illness. That is untreatable. Except perhaps by an experimental drug that was not approved by the FDA and thus discarded, so only a small amount of it remains. And another person, who is also your girlfriend, is affected with the same illness and you only have a small amount of the drug to administer. Do you give one dose to each and hope it works? Or two doses to one for that person to have a better chance? Not an easy position to be in and one that the main character faces in this story.
For those who like mysteries, particularly with a medical theme, this was an interesting and quick read. I read it within a day.

*I received a copy of this book free through Netgalley from the publisher Abingdon Press in exchange for my review.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

True Woman 201: Interior Design

True Woman 201: Interior Design - Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood (True Woman)True Woman 201: Interior Design - Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood by Mary A. Kassian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read True Woman 101 by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I was interested to read the sequel and see what it was about. While having read True Woman 101, it is not necessary to read that first before doing True Woman 201. It lays the foundation but the books can stand alone. In this second book, the authors dive more deeply into Titus 2 and what a godly woman looks like. Each week a separate character trait is looked at. This book is designed to be used as a Bible study guide with a small group though it can also be done on one's own.
Some of the character traits discussed, ones that are counter-cultural to the world we live in, are discernment, reverence, and love for one's husband and children. On a side-note, it was rather surreal to be reading in the chapter on children and have a Christian blogger quoted, where I stopped and was like, wait - that looks like something I wrote! So I checked the endnotes and sure enough, one of my blog posts was quoted! However, it was not quoted favorably but rather used as a negative example. Still a bit of a shock to see myself quoted in a book! (I did not request this book for review because of being quoted in it; I had no idea I was quoted!)
The lessons are designed to do 5 days a week, so it's a manageable study for women to do. It would be excellent to use this with teens or in pre-marital counseling with women. Another great place to use this study would be in a mentoring ministry. As each week looks at a different trait mentioned in Titus 2, the study draws upon other Scriptures that also talk about these traits. The authors aren't afraid to tackle some of the harder subjects, such as the phrase in Titus 2, "workers at home", though they don't go into a ton of detail on the issues.
I would recommend this study, particularly with a small group of women that are mixed in age of younger and older, even teens. It is a 10-week study so could even be done over a summer break.

*I was sent a copy of this book free from the publisher Moody Press in exchange for my review.