His Birth in Me.

“‘Of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you’ (Gal. 4:19). Just as Our Lord came into human history from outside, so He must come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the Son of God? I cannot enter into the realm of the Kingdom of God unless I am born from above by a birth totally unlike natural birth. ‘Ye must be born again.’ This is not a command, it is a foundation fact. The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me. Immediately Christ is formed in me. His nature begins to work through me.”

From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for December 25th.

What does God do with our sins?

A review of

A Dozen Things God Did With Your Sin (And Three Things He’ll Never Do)

by Sam Storms

Ray Ortlund says in the forward, “without confidence that God is both morally serious and mercifully generous, our consciences will never leave us in peace.” Storms takes up the challenge of helping us understand what God has done for us in redemption and the forgiveness of our sins.

In the initial chapter, Storms explains that God has laid our judicial guilt on His Son Jesus, and that we no longer are subject to punishment for our sins, past, present, and future. Storms comments at the beginning of the second chapter, that the remainder of the book is an explanation of the pictures that Scripture uses to describe our relationship to God and to our sin.

Some of those ways God views our sin are: He has cleansed us of sin; covered our sin; passed over our sin; cast our sin into the sea; and forgotten our sin and refuses to remember it, to name a few of the twelve things God does with our sin.

Before ending the book with a chapter on the Gospel, what it is and why it is important, Storms lists three things God doesn’t and never will do with our sin. One of those things is remember them.

One question that Storms deals with is what effect sins have on our lives after we commit them. Even though God doesn’t remember them and has covered our sins, don’t our sins still influence us? His answer is that there is a difference between our eternal union with God in which our sins play no part, and the experiential communion with Him. Our sins cause us to lose enjoyment, feeling, and sense of God’s presence, but not our eternal union with Him.

I found the book easy to read, engaging in style, and at the same time challenging. Having grown up in a home that focused on performance and acceptance based on that performance, it was easy for me to transfer that same attitude into my relationship with God. Now I know that my eternal union with God is safe, but the feelings of enjoyment of Him when I sin can cause me to lose joy.

I can’t recommend the book more highly. Storms’ writing style is personal while challenging, like a good friend who cares for you while telling you the hard truth.

Crossway was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book for an unbiased review.

Advent

Henri Nouwen: “It is hard to believe that God would reveal his divine presence to us in the self-emptying, humble way of the man from Nazareth. So much in me seeks influence, power, success, and popularity. But the way of Jesus is the way of hiddenness, powerlessness, and littleness. It does not seem a very appealing way. Yet when I enter into true, deep communion with Jesus, I will find that it is this small way that leads to real peace and joy.”

“By hearing Thee I am happy; because of Thy voice I am happy.” Augustine

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. (Psalm 119:147)

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)

Pilgrim Road

Walking down the road just south of the Temple Mount, you would not imagine that below your feet was an ancient road and below that road was a drainage channel. Jerusalem is an amazing place the constantly surprises. Soon, I hope, we’ll be able to walk this ancient road.

Do You Believe by Paul David Tripp–A Review

Somewhere in life, probably from my father, I picked up the sentence, “Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear the words you’re saying.” It’s possible to think of at least a few examples of this dichotomy in the lives of some famous people.
Tripp would describe the dilemma as dissonance between biblical theology and functional theology. By functional theology, Tripp means the way we live out our beliefs, usually based on our own preferences and ideas, rather than the transcendent intention of God. To correct the dissonance problem, Tripp tackles twelve biblical doctrines, and following a brief explanation of each one, writes a chapter on how that doctrine should be lived out in life.
Following a chapter on what Tripp calls “The Dangerous Dichotomy,” he deals with the doctrines of scripture, God, holiness of God, sovereignty, omnipotence, creation, the image of God in man, sin, justification, sanctification, perseverance and glorification of the saints, and eternity. The book ends with a general and scripture index.
Throughout the book, Tripp uses examples from his personal life and from his interactions with those whom he has counseled. These examples help the reader to understand the dichotomy between a biblical and functional theology.
“All of us have constructed a superstructure of life assumptions that functions as the instrument we use to make sense out of life. So, all of us are theologians, all of us are philosophers, all of us are counselors, and all of us are archeologists who dig through the past to understand what was. And here’s what is vital to understand: your thoughts always precede and determine your activity” (p. 33).

James writes, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15 NLT). A similar idea is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

If I could speculate, Tripp’s desire is that the destiny we reap would be one that is honoring and glorifying to God. It would be so because we had followed a biblical theology throughout our lives.

Tripp’s books are always stimulating and engaging. Do You Believe is another of those books. I will read it again and most likely with a group of people who wish to journey in a God-honoring way by thinking biblical.

Crossway was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book without cost in exchange for an unbiased review.

A pernicious foe


A review of Pure in Heart by J. Garrett Kell

Sin’s influence is pernicious. God’s grace is magnificent. If only the first statement was true, I would be in a world of hurt. I’m thankful that the second statement is truer and more available to me.

Kell tells his story of early in life being influenced by pornography and the destructive road that exposure led to. Kell’s story is like mine, and unfortunately, if the data is to be believed, like many other men in our country, including many in full-time ministry.

The book is divided into two sections. I’m grateful that Kell starts with a section on the promise of purity. His second section talks about the various pathways that can be taken that lead to purity. Interwoven in each chapter are stories of failure, followed oftentimes by success.

“Today, Jesus lays before your heart a more compelling beauty than the seductress. Yes, sin’s offering like it will fulfill you, but God’s offering will.”

Kell defines purity as “an orientation of the faith-filled heart that flees the pleasures of sin and pursues the pleasures of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Purity is thus not just a list of rules but an orientation toward God and a God-like character.

The best recommendation I can give to a book is to say that I will read it twice, and the second time will be with a group of men. In our sex-saturated culture, we need a new look at purity and a dedication to draw closer to God who exemplifies and is true purity.

Crossway was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review.

The great reversal

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,

cast off that I might be brought in,

trodden down as an enemy

that I might be welcomed as a friend,

surrendered to hell’s worst

that I might attain heaven’s best,

stripped that I might be clothed,

wounded that I might be healed,

athirst that I might drink,

tormented that I might be comforted,

made a shame that I might inherit glory,

entered darkness that I might have eternal light,

My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,

groaned that I might have endless song,

endured all pain that I might have unfading health,

bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem,

bowed his head that I might uplift mine,

experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,

closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,

expired that I might forever live.

from The Valley of Vision