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This post is an excerpt from Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor. Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. (Quoting CCEL biographical sketch)

We must labor, in a special manner, for the conversion of the unconverted.

The work of conversion is the first and great thing we must drive at; after this we must labor with all our might. Alas! the misery of the unconverted is so great, that it calleth loudest to us for compassion. If a truly converted sinner do fall, it will be but into sin which will be pardoned, and he is not in that hazard of damnation by it as others are. Not but that God hateth their sins as well as others’, or that he will bring them to heaven, let them live ever so wickedly; but the spirit that is within them will not suffer them to live wickedly, nor to sin as the ungodly do. But with the unconverted it is far otherwise. They ‘are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity,’ and have yet no part nor fellowship in the pardon of their sins, or the hope of glory. We have, therefore, a work of greater necessity to do or them, even ‘to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified.’ He that seeth one man sick of a mortal disease, and another only pained with the toothache, will be moved more to compassionate the former, than the latter;  and will surely make more haste to help him, though he were a stranger, and the other a brother or a son. It is so sad a case to see men in a state of damnation, wherein, if they should die, they are lost forever, that methinks we should not be able to let them alone, either in public or private, whatever other work we may have to do. I confess, I am frequently forced to neglect that which should tend to the further increase of knowledge in the godly, because of the lamentable necessity of the unconverted. Who is able to talk of controversies, or of nice unnecessary points, or even of truths of a lower degree of necessity, how excellent soever, while he seeth a company of ignorant, carnal, miserable sinners before his eyes, who must be changed or damned? Methinks I even see them entering upon their final woe! Methinks I hear them crying out for help, for speediest help! Their misery speaks the louder, because they have not hearts to ask for themselves.

 

DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy. Nashville: Crossway, 2013. 124 pages.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

crazy busyI haven’t posted something in just over 3 months. I have been crazy busy, as DeYoung would say. I haven’t dropped off of the planet, but as I have prioritized my time, I have realized that blogging can’t be at the top of that list right now. Largely, a new baby, adjustments to our family patterns, and demanding ministry leadership have made it to the forefront as of late. Given that, this book came at a perfect time for me, and helped me to see that maybe I’m not as out of line as I really thought I was.

DeYoung, with great honesty and humility, essentially writes a book about himself. As you scan the pages, you’ll realize how much like him you probably are. He wrestles with margin, appropriate time with family, temptations to overwork, and the forces of technology. I enjoyed the structure of the book. He spends the first eight chapters dissecting the badge of honor many of us wear called “busyness.” [Spoiler alert] Then, as he closes, he actually tells you to be busy, but not for the sake of that which we are busy these days. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I really liked this book for several reasons. First, it was short. At less than 130 pages, with a moderate amount of white space, you really can read this book in 2-3 sittings. I’d say that’s a motivating factor for a busy person to read a book that confronts their busyness problem. Secondly, Kevin writes authentically, as someone who admits to the same struggles, but also shows the experience of someone who is starting to overcome this 21st century plight.

Thirdly, I’m grateful for the author’s reminder that we are to be busy so long as we are busy around the work of the Lord. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden to be busy with it, to tend it and take care of it. Work and obligation are not a curse, but a gift of God that we distort when we don’t choose the “better portion.”

This book, however, is light on day-to-day tips or tools for maintaining the right level of busyness in your life. That would be my one critique. A chapter on organization, scheduling, prioritizing, social media habits, and the like would have been well accepted. Perhaps, since DeYoung is writing this from such a personal perspective, he doesn’t have all of that worked out yet, and therefore, was reluctant to share.

Given all of that, if you fall into the trap of saying yes to too many things, find yourself controlled by the gadgets or devices in your life, or run from place to place, never having any margin of time for impromptu conversations or ministry opportunities, then I commend this book to you. You will profit from it and be challenged by it.

Our Kids and Fun

October 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

From Laura Parker’s blog on Why “Did you have fun?” is the Wrong Question

…every time my kids have gotten in the car after soccer practice or a school day, a playdate with friends or even a night spent with impoverished girls in SE Asia, my default question has always been about their own personal fun.  I’m typically asking, first, about their good time, the friends they hung out with, the general awesomeness of the event itself.

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via Adoption Journey

It is not enough to know that Jesus is a Person worthy of trust; it is also necessary to know that He is willing to have us trust Him. It is not enough that He saved others; we need to know also that He has saved us. That knowledge is given in the story of the Cross. For us Jesus does not merely place His fingers in the ears and say, “Be opened”; for us He does not merely say “Arise and walk.” For us He has done a greater thing–for us He died. Our dreadful guilt, the condemnation of God’s law–it was wiped out by an act of grace. That is the message which brings Jesus near to us, and makes Him not merely the Savior of the men of Galilee long ago, but the Savior of you and me.
-J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

Gerald Sittser, in his book, Water from a Deep Well, provides a unique look at Christianity throughout history. I would highly recommend his book, which ties church history, historical theology, biography, and spiritual formation in a tidy 364 page package. He summarizes his work in these terms:

The magnificent history of Christian spirituality…provides us with a wide variety of traditions from which to learn. The martyrs call us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and the desert saints to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. The early church challenges us to create a community of belonging for broken, displaced, disconnected people. Medieval monks invite us to abide by healthy rhythms, mendicants to imitate the life of Christ and mystics to seek union with God. The Reformers urge us to listen to the Word of God, evangelicals to surrender our lives to it and missionaries to proclaim it to the world. The stories of these saints are at our disposal to enlarge, enrich and warn us. “There is more!” they tell us. “So much more.”

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AWANA has done a complete revamp of their Preschool Cubbies curriculum and they sent me a sampling of the material to review. Being a fan, not only of AWANA, but more importantly of scripture memorization, I told them I’d be glad to look at this ESV based curriculum a well as give a prize pack worth over $300 of curriculum and Cubbies goodies away!

Awana has been helping churches and parents raise children and youth to know, love and serve
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Brooks, Rice. God’s Not Dead. 2013,  Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 279 pages.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, after receiving a copy of Broock’s book God’s Not Dead, I was a bit skeptical. A book that is seemingly named after a popular contemporary Christian song peaked a mild alert. Would this work be very original? Is it going to come across as a bit contrived? Will it seem too mainstream?

The answer to these questions,
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465875_10151195579627325_2024786172_oWell, I don’t have a 12 year old…yet. I have an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and a 2 month old. For my first two children, I wrote them a letter that I wanted them to open on their 12th birthday. Since I didn’t have a blog back then, and frankly since I haven’t posted since May and needed some easy material, I wanted to post my newest letter. This is to my newborn, Dorothy. I hope it will encourage you and even be a potential resource for other dad’s who desire to leave the same legacy I’m shooting for.

Dorothy,

Happy 12th birthday! I’m thankful for you. You have been a great blessing to our family. I’m writing this as you are a baby in your Continue Reading…

faith

Shepherding what I call “Second Generation Christians,” children who show an affinity to the gospel in a home where parents are believers, is perhaps one of the greatest spiritual leadership challenges I face on a week-by-week basis. Were I to take a more “nurturing” stance on soteriology, I would really have no problems. You say you love Jesus? You want to live your life for him? Great! Let’s go for baptism and get you in the new believer’s class.

However, I think Scripture paints for us a stream of soteriology that is much more “conversionistic.” What I mean is that the gospel shows us the black and white nature of redemption. You are either children of wrath or lambs who hear his voice. You are either captured by the dominion of darkness or a citizen of the Kingdom of His beloved Son. You are either Continue Reading…