W&BT #1: Name Above All Names (week 6)

posted in: Books, Women & Books Together | 0

This was another impactful chapter from Begg and Ferguson’s book Name Above All Names.  I have learned that what I am experiencing in life helps determine how I will read a book – this one is no diferent.  Here are some highlights from the “Suffering Servant” chapter:

1.  Isaiah 53: “He carried our sorows” – Sin plays a harsh role in this world.  Our sorrows are born from the sin in this world.  But, we don’t need to carry them all by ourselves.  We have communities: friends, blog readers (y’all), pastors, family members (some), but most of all we have a willing Jesus who already has born all of our sorrows and will continue to do so until He returns – (then we won’t have any because we’ll be perfect) – as He intercedes for us next to the throne of the Father.  This is such a reassuring thought!

2.  “How is it possible for the purpose of God to be at the heart of all this?  How can Isaiah say – however reverently – that God is in control of it all, that it “was the will of the Lord to crush Him” (pg 140).  This is an important doctrinal lesson to know and believe. If you can’t believe this fact – that God the Father was in charge of the darkest moment of history – then why would you believe that God is in charge of the darkest moments of your life?

3.  “Our Lord’s outward posture here is expressive of the passion within” (pg 144).  Though this quote is not talking about musical worship – I think the same principle applies.  If we are passionate about God within – won’t we come to worship and participate in worship in an outward manner?  That may mean different things like singing with a smile on our faces – singing loudly and expressively.  It may mean getting on our knees or lifting our hands as far they can go and not caring about who sees (and also not being distracted by those who choose to worship in this manner).  It may mean lifting our hands in prayer giving up our private worship to the God who sees.  It will look different for different people – but we are all worshipers.

4.  “All three persons would always be involved in everything God was doing.  The Father would plan salvation, the Son would come to procure it, and the Spirit would be sent to apply it” (pg 144).  Another important doctrine is the one of the Trinity.  We can’t forget one of the persons of the Trinity in the work of salvation.  I’ve learned a lot of this from Dr. Bruce Ware, a professor at SBTS, a gentle, humble, and brilliant father, husband, professor, and author.  Our prayer life will change when we learn and love this doctrine.  Our prayers of thanksgiving will change when we know and live this doctrine.  Our corporate will worship will change when we see the magnificence of all the persons of the Trinity.

5.  “My soul is overwhelmed” (pg 146).  Jesus was a vulnerable Savior.  He didn’t hide His true feelings.  He was real with the disciples at the hardest moment of His life (up to this point).  He wasn’t pithy or unreal with His disciples.  He said He was overwhelmed.  He ultimately knows that it is the will of His Father to crush Him – but He doesn’t hide His emotions (real, true, honest, not sinful) from those around Him.  This is part of what makes Him the perfect Suffering Servant.

6.  “It is this theology of the cross that we find here.  God grant that in seeing Christ as the Suffering Servant we will be done once and for all with the superficial triumphalism that sadly emanates from too many Christian organizations and churches” (pg 155).  How are you real and vulnerable with those in your church?  How do you show compassion and true life with those in your church?  Does everyone think you have it all together?  I hope not.  Because we are all sinners and have damaged lives but who are greatly redeemed by a compassioned Savior.  Let us not diminish the work of Christ on the cross by having others think we have it all together.

Join me next week as we finish up the book!  It’s been a great one for me!

Book Review: Warfield on the Christian Life

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This book combines two of my loves in literature: biography and theology

Zaspel completed a short summary of Warfield’s life that didn’t drag you down into the ins and outs, but gave you a clear and concise, personal look into the professor and writer’s life.  He gave you enough to feel like you weren’t a stranger and could understand some of what shaped this thinker’s life.

The other part of the book is like a theology book that is thinner and more applicable.  He highlights some of Warfield’s main thoughts and gives you reason and application into the Christian life.  Topics range from the incarnation to the authority of the Bible. 

My favorite quote:

“Ultimately his was a first for the gospel.  Consistently at the center of Warfield’s attention was the glorious message of the divine rescue for sinners.  If the attack was on the person of Christ, his concern was not academic only but soteriological – that we would be left without a Savior and without a gospel.  If the attack was concerning the integrity of the Scriptures, his concern was not one of party spirit.  It was that in the end we would be left without witness to Christ and, indeed, with a Christ who is himself mistaken as to the nature and authority of the book that was written about Him.  If the attack was an Arminian one, his concern was that the gospel would be so watered down as to devalue Christ and render him much less than the mighty Savior He is.” – pg 31

Book 6 of 52: God is Great (Toddler Storybook Bible): Larsen

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

Crossway continues to nail theology and produce Gospel-centered resources for the church and families.  I LOVE this publishing company!

Now: on to the book at hand:

Most faithful readers of this blog know that I love the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  This Bible for children is a Jesus-pointed, engaging read for families and children to read together.  Every story points the reader to Jesus, the Hero of the Bible.

Carolyn Larsen has written a Bible very similar to Lloyd-Jones for toddlers.  What a great gift for new parents, or for a child’s 2nd birthday.  What better way to start them out on a journey toward Jesus then to give them this Bible with beautiful illustrations and theology.

Things I love about Larsen’s God is Great:

1.  Succinct.  There are only 17 Bible stories in this toddler Bible.  For toddlers, this is pretty good.  It is digestible.  It is repeatable.  It is simple.

2.  Color.  Toddlers love bright colors.  It helps the pages comes alive!  Caron Turk does a splendid job of using her God-given talents on this project.

3.  Theology.  Larsen bee-lines to GOD in each story.  This Bible is not about how to make your child a better child, neighbor, sister, or brother, son, or daughter.  This Bible takes them where they need to be headed: to GOD.  This Bible, in child-terms, teaches: the eternality of God, God’s righteousness, His goodness, His Sovereignty, His guidance, His truth, His power, etc. Your children need to know these truths.  This is a resource that can help you teach it!

Do you want more resources as parents:

1.  Jesus Storybook Bible – linked above

2.  Catechisms for Young Children

3.  Leading Little Ones to God – Schoolland

And some I have found fabulous for parents:

1.  ApParent Privilege – Steve Wright/Chris Graves

2.  Big Truths for Young Hearts – Bruce Ware

3.  Instructing a Child’s Heart – Tripp

Best of 2010: Books I Read

posted in: Books | 8

“Read or get out of the ministry” was a quote a I learned when I started seminary at SEBTS 11 years ago this month.  Yes, I do like to read, but I’m not a fast reader.  Love actual books – not electronic reading.  Love a pen in hand, book in hand, maybe a drink in hand – its a good life!  I read 28 books in 2010.  My goal for 2011 is 52.  We’ll see.  Goals are goals.  They take work.  Here are some of my favorites:

1.  Mudhouse Sabbath: Lauren Winners.  Thanks to Janel for introducing me to this book.  Great Christian look at her Jewish upbringing and how she can still live the traditions and laws under the new grace of Jesus.

2.  What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert.  The coolest thing about this little book is that Greg, and his wife, Moriah, live out what he wrote in this helpful book.  Always a winner.

3.  Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  So nourishing for the soul and especially to have walked through it over breakfasts with Becca.

4.  Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian.  Biblical truths for living out God’s Word in today’s world.

5.  Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware.  Especially if you are a parent, or new in your faith – ok, everyone.  You need to read this book.  Theology 101 – or 99 – or 50. 

6.  Surprised by Grace by Tullian.  Meaningful commentary and life application on the book of Jonah.  You’ll never read Jonah the same again.

7.  Radical by David Platt.  I know this will be in almost everyone’s top 10 for 2010.  But, what are you going to do with what you read?

What are your reading goals for 2011?  What are your favorite books?  Do you have favorite authors?  What are you reading right now?

Female Theologians and the Church (Guest Post)

posted in: Books, Women | 0
There is a really sweet couple in my life who I have had the privilege to minister with, get to know, hang out with, serve with over the last 8 months. Brittany is a joy and a blessing to me. I am hoping her blog post will be a blessing to you:

A few weeks ago I was on a Q&A panel at SEBTS for prospective students and I was asked a really good question that sparked my thinking. Before I jump into the topic, let me give you a little background information.

Since marrying the Hubby, I’ve switched churches. When we first started dating, we were at two different churches and neither of us wanted to switch until our commitment was official. Once we were engaged, I slowly started letting go of responsibilities at my church and started “merging” over to Ben’s church. Now that we’re married, we’re fully at his church and I’m working on switching my membership over to his. During this process I’ve been searching for a solid older married woman (30+, but preferably 40+) to disciple me.

A few weeks ago, we heard one of our church’s pastors speaking and I turned to Ben and said, “I want to be discipled by him, but I’m a girl… and that would be awkward.” He quickly agreed. But this pastor is a phenomenal thinker and his knowledge of Scriptures consistently impresses me. I love how he is consistently reading a variety of books and how he relays pertinent information in such a way that everyone can understand. He is such a gifted teacher and I would love to sit under his teaching! Ben and I both agreed, me being discipled by an older man would not be the wisest of situations, but it brings me to my topic… Where are the brilliant female theologians in our churches?

While on the panel at SEBTS I was asked a question about being female at a Southern Baptist seminary. In summary the lady wanted to know whether or not women were treated as second class citizens. Were women viewed solely as future preacher’s wives? I’m not going to delve into that question here, but the short answer is no. But regardless, even if the opposite was true, should we allow an unbiblical idea stop us from becoming good theologians? There is a shortage of good female theologians in our churches and I’m wondering why.

Regardless of your stance on whether women should be “teaching” in the pulpit, in Sunday school rooms, deacons, etc., we can all agree that older women are called to disciple others, the Great Commission is not gender exclusive. So in light of this, I’m trying to process a few thoughts… Humor me and help me develop my thinking.

1. All Christians should be Christian Theologians. We should all be “studiers of God.” If we believe in the Gospel, shouldn’t we all be good learners of the Scripture and strive to think and live rightly in this world, both men and women alike?

If this is true, then…

2. The studying of Christian theology should NOT only take place in seminaries. It should NOT be only taught from the pulpits. It should not only be well understood by men. It needs to be taught in our homes, in our friendships, in our families. This practice must permeate every sphere of our lives. Shame on us if we push off our responsibility to “academia” or solely to men. The Bible is for the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the brilliant, the not-so-brilliant, and for male & female. Each of us have the responsibility to be good stewards of Scripture.


3. Christian women, you are called to study Scriptures and to disciple others. It’s not optional. The Great Commission was not for men alone. If you feel called to seminary and you let a few men who have an inappropriate view of complementarianism get in your way of learning, shame on you. Who cares what they think? You have a responsibility to learn Scriptures well.

Which leads me to point #4…

4. In regards to learning Scriptures well… Ladies, no offense to Beth Moore (and seriously, I mean no offense), but we are fully capable of reading the same books that our brothers in Christ are reading. Our understanding of the Gospel needs to be equally robust as theirs. Be well rounded in what you read.

And lastly, this final point is mainly for me…

5. For those of you who are working through women’s issues in a more conservative church than you’d prefer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure your attitude is in the right place. Recognize that you, like every other member, have submitted yourself to the authority of the church. Ask good questions, learn from the leadership that you’ve placed yourself under, and try to develop a spirit of humility. Pride is a dangerous thing and it seems to show itself frequently in Christian debates. Be open to the Holy Spirit changing your heart just as you would pray that the Holy Spirit would change the hearts of your pastors and elders.

Alright yall, those are my thoughts… I’m still growing, learning, failing, and then starting the process again so feel free to reprimand my thinking if I’m off.

Jaron and the Theology of Country Music

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Ah – the joy of learning your theology from country music.  I love country music – but this song made me want to puke – but I was in a rental car so I didn’t think that was such a good idea.

What other country music songs make you think twice about the base of your theology?  how do you handle praying for your enemies?

Luke 7.27-36 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

DeYoung on the Heidelberg Catechism

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Kevin DeYoung definitely has been the author of the hour the past few years.  He is the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in Michigan.  His books, such as Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church have received many accolades and awards and are widely read – mainly among seminary students and ministry teams.

This book, The Good News We Almost Forgot, takes a pastoral spin on the 16th Century Heidelberg Catechism.  If I were learning catechisms, or wanting to teach them to my children (if I had them), I wouldn’t start with this one.  It is wordy and long (breaking 129 Q/As into 52 Lord’s Day sections).  And I am not in agreement with everything that it says. 

But, this book is full of pastoral theology and is quite readable (broken into small chapters).  And my copy is underlined well.

“From what I’ve seen and read, the interest in missions among young people is trending away from saving souls and toward saving the world.  The interest is too often social to the exclusion of spiritual.  The two don’t have to be at odds with each other.  Those who deal with the spiritual must not ignore the social and those who engage the social must fully embrace the spiritual.  Every Christian engaged in mission – be it medical, educational, agricultural, or just plain being a good neighbor – should care about real-life pain and long for opportunities to share the good news that every person needs to hear.” p 37

“Jesus saves us from our sins.  The point of the gospel is not that Jesus saves us from low self-esteem, or from singleness, or from our crummy job.  Sin is our deepest, most fundamental, most pervasive problem.” p 64

“We’d probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God.” p 196

“Perhaps the biggest reason why God has us pray is for His own glory.  God is glorified when He is seen clearly to be the giver of what we asked for in prayer.  If we didn’t have to ask, we might not notice the answer, and we might forget the one who gave us the blessing.  God is glorified in prayer by the expression of our dependence on Him.  He is glorified by the faith we put in Him to ask for things.  He is glorified when we learn to recognize that every good gift comes down from our Father of Lights.” p 212

Community, Trinity, Love and DeYoung

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Ever read one of those paragraphs…that you want to read aloud to whoever is in the room and it expresses a new way of thinking or a new way of understanding a complex thought? Sorta an “aha” moment.
Here is one:
I am reading Kevin DeYoung’s book The Good News We Almost ForgotRediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. Basically, Kevin takes the Heidelberg Catechism and applies the gospel found in it to modern day. Putting this hard to read or understand or even say in a fluid pattern – something in paragraph form and explaining it. Quite good. More of that later though.

“The Trinity matters for relationships. We worship a God who is in a constant and eternal relationship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Community is a buzz word in American culture, but it is only in a Christian framework that communion and interpersonal community are seen as expressions of the eternal nature of God. Likewise, it is only with a Trinitarian God that love can be an eternal attribute of God. Without a plurality of persons in the Godhead, we would be forced to think taht God created humands so that He might show love and know love, thereby making love a created thing (and God a needy deity). But with a biblical understanding of the Trinity, we can say that God did not create in order to be loved, but rather, created out of the overflow of the perfect love that had always existed among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who ever live in perfect and mutual relationship and delight.” (p 52)

Love this. God didn’t create us because He needed us. My friend, Sean Cordell, preached on this topic as well a few weeks ago at Treasuring Christ here in Raleigh: Pursuing Community. You can not know true community without the knowledge of the true Creator of Community.
We must know love and community only through an intimate relationship with the one who desires to be in community and sent Jesus to die to make that possible.

Book Review: Ware's Big Truths for Young Hearts

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Most people would not pick up this book and think of a seminary text book on theology (for example: Grudem, Erickson) – but this book is just as potent – just in paperback form!

Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Ware at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was definitely a highlight for me during my time there. Seeing the humility and focus on the gospel in which he and his wife lived their lives was a light. The best part of the book, in a way, was the forward which was written by Ware’s daughters. They provided insight into long road trips and family dinners they had with their Dad. Dr. Ware lives this theology book. He just doesn’t teach it in the classroom or preach it from the pulpit; he and his wife model it for their children, even now as they are grown women. They have had a godly example from which to pattern their lives after and as they raise their children by teaching them Big Truths for Young Hearts.

There are multiple uses for this book (and no, one of them is not hand it to a 10 year old and have them give you a book report on it in a month):
1. Read it. Especially if you are a new believer, or know new believers, Dr. Ware puts many difficult theological concepts in terms and with illustrations to make them easier to comprehend.
2. If you are a Dad: read it, share it with your family – even a chapter a week – at family devotion time. It would be a source of encouragement and edification for you. Read the chapter (short 2-4 pages mostly), then have discussion. Makes family worship easier. The end of each chapter even has questions for discussion (so you don’t have to come up with those on your own either). This would be a great tool for Family Worship.
3. Praise. Many times at the end of each chapter, Dr. Ware breaks into a doxology of sorts. The idea that he models here for his readers is that knowing who God is (and Christ, the Spirit, the Church, Man, Salvation, End Times) should warrant our utmost praise! Maybe even break into song!

What I loved about this book is that it gave me broad segments of theology, didn’t try to cover everything, was readable, had Scripture within the text, and gave me many “pierce the heart” moments of conviction. Here are some:
“How foolish we are when we forget to read and study this book. But how wise and blessed we are when we go to this book constantly for instruction, guidance, correction, and help with living life as God wants.” (p 23 – The Bible)
“A grumbling spirit is sinful, because it fails to recognize God’s goodness and kindness in providing for us every good thing in life that we enjoy.” (p 69 – God Provides)
“If our punishment is a small thing, then when we learn that Jesus took our punishment upon himself, we think little of this. But, when we see our punishment as the great and weighty and horrible thing that it is, then it becomes a wonder and a marvel to us that Jesus took that punishment upon himself for us.” (p 99 – Punishment for Sin)
“The Spirit will have a great influence and will provide more direction in our lives as God’s Word “dwells” more and more within us. Our reading of his Word, our time spend memorizing and meditating on Scripture, is one of the main tools that the Spirit uses to help us think, feel, speak, and act in ways that are more and more pleasing to Christ.” (p 167 – Spirit)
“We love many things in this world that we shouldn’t love, yet we don’t love God as we should.” (p 171 – God’s Kindness and Wisdom)
Believe me, there are many other sentences and paragraphs underlined in my copy. Read it. May it be an encouragement to you and may it be a tool you can use to help lead your family in knowing God deeper.