A Big Deal

Few would dare to sit outside on an August day in South Carolina, but we found a table close to the building that kept the worst of the heat at bay. The sun was getting ready to go to bed but still had plenty of power to exude – and we had plenty to discuss.

“You say that in the Old Testament, salvation was by ‘faith in God,’ but in the New Testament it is by ‘faith in Jesus.’ So the way has been changed – a completely new way in the New Testament that none of the older prophets would have known. They didn’t even know the name of Jesus! But we believe in a long succession of prophets that all had the same exact message.”

This is a summary of his argument for me. I must say, he was well-researched and well-spoken. This was the third time we’d met – and the third time we discussed much of the same thing: who was Jesus? Merely a prophet or merely God Himself as a man.

Recently, I thought about (and preached on) the need to know who Jesus is. After all, as Tozour would say, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” And that is certainly true.

But beyond that, couldn’t we say, “What you think about Christ is the most important thing about you?”

After all, if Jesus is God, then He has shown us exactly who God is and what He is like and how to come to Him. But if He’s not, then we don’t even really need to factor Him into the equation – we just need to go straight to God, the Almighty, the Most High, and figure out a way to reach Him.

This “quest” to discover who Jesus is and what He was like has been on my mind recently. I watched a great series of YouTube videos that are “doodles” of CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and I was reminded there of Lewis’ excellent points on the identity of Christ – He can either be a liar, a lunatic, or a lord, never just a “great moral teacher.” I also have been reading two books on Jesus and His identity and parables and again have been struck by our need to know who He is.

Plus, of course, my conversations outside the coffee shop on the hot summer nights.

“You’re right that it is ‘faith in God’ then ‘faith in Jesus’ – but we believe Jesus is God, and thus those two are the same thing!”

The identity of Jesus is a big deal. He is a big deal – the most important person who ever lived!

And yet how often does He come up in my thoughts? How often does what He says affect my day and my schedule? How often does my loyalty to Him alone cause me to abhor the things that pull me away from Him?

We are far too apathetic about this Man. I can argue about His identity – I can read about it – I can watch good arguments about it. But can I live like He really is God? Can I love like it’s true?

That is the part of the quest I’m on. Join me.

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks;
He summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.” -Psalm 50:1

Even as it set there on our conversation about who this Mighty One was.

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The Door-Knocker

Based on conversations with friends of another religion.

(You hear a knock at the door.)

You: I wonder who that could be?

Atheist: What’s that?

You: Did you hear that knock at the door? Someone is out there.

Atheist: Hmmm. I heard a type of knock, but I don’t think anyone is there.

Muslim: Of course someone is there – there was a knock! Something had to cause the knock.

Atheist: No, I don’t think so. I think the door knocked on itself.

Christian: Huh?

Atheist: Yes, natural causes caused the knock – perhaps a tree branch or a very strong branch. There is no one out there at all.

You: That doesn’t make much sense to me.

Muslim: Of course not! There is Someone out there!

You: Who?

Muslim: It is Allah!

You: How do you know?

Muslim: Because the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went up to the door and met an angel on the way who showed him behind the door. It was Allah, the one true God.

You: Well, that makes a little more sense.

Jew: Close, but I don’t think it’s quite right. There is the one true God behind the door, but it is Yahweh, the God of Israel.

Muslim: What’s your evidence for that?

Jew: Many, many prophets, including many of the ones you believe in, have gone to the door and seen who was behind it. They have told us about it in the Tanakh.

Muslim: Well, I agree with that, but they saw it was Allah and you are leaving out the last of the prophets, Muhammad, who told us exactly what the One who knocked was like.

Atheist: You see? Believing someone knocked on the door leads to all sorts of confusion! The door knocked on itself!

Christian: Guys, I think I have a different idea.

You: Oh good, this is getting a bit much!

Christian: Yes, Someone has gone and opened the door wide and let the One who knocked into the room.

Jew: Oh really?

Muslim: No one can open the door and let the Knocker in!

Christian: Yes, Someone has. And that Someone is both the Door-opener and the Door-knocker. He knocked on the door and opened it!

You: Whoa, this is getting really confusing now.

Christian: Yes, His name is Jesus. He has revealed God to us, the God of the Bible, which tells us this is so. It’s the Word of truth.

Muslim: Well, if He has let the Knocker in, what is the Knocker like, huh?

Christian: Well, for starters, the Knocker is the Creator of everything we see.

Jew: Well, that I can agree with.

Muslim: Yes, me too.

Atheist: I’m a hard no on that one. We had no designer – nature naturally caused all this! Isn’t that glorious?

You: Not really. Go on, Christian.

Christian: Yes, and because He created us, He has the right to set the rules. He is perfectly holy and righteous and has called His creation, we humans, to be holy too.

Muslim: Okay, I’m following you.

Christian: But we have all broken those rules. We cannot keep them perfectly.

Jew: Well, we are trying very hard to!

Christian: So, He is also our Savior. The Knocker became the Opener so that He could die for our sins and so that we could be forgiven by the Knocker. So that the door could be opened between us.

Muslim: Whoa, whoa, whoa – are you saying the Most Blessed became a mere man? Weak, nasty, messy humans like us?! Far be it from Him! He is too glorious!

Jew: I agree!

Christian: But becoming a Savior, becoming the Opener brought Him great glory! He was willing to become a man because He loves us so much and wants to forgive us. Sin had to be punished in order for Him to be holy, which you all agreed with. But the Knocker decided to become a man Himself and be punished for our sins in our place.

You: Wow, that is pretty crazy…

Muslim: Crazy blasphemy! It’s not true. I agree He’s Creator and holy – but not our Savior! He forgives us if we do good deeds more than bad.

Jew: Yes, something like that…

Christian: That is where we all become different. You all believe the Knocker was revealed by human prophets, but the Knocker is still outside. I believe the Knocker has come here – because He is also the Great Door-Opener.

You: Hmm, maybe we should go to the door and find out…

Mark & Jesus’ Divinity

I’ve had interesting conversations of late with a friend of another religion who claimed that Jesus never claimed to be God. That later Christians corrupted His teaching and made Him into God, when He would’ve claimed no such thing.

I’ve picked back up a study of Mark recently, and as part of that, I wanted to examine the book to see if that claim holds any weight.

Discounting “later” books like the Gospel of John, where Jesus’ divinity is more clear, we want to see if the “red letters” of what Jesus said in what is likely the earliest Gospel made Him out to be something other than God. Something even other than just the Messiah. Someone divine and equal with God.

Well, I’m only two chapters in, but I think the case has already been made from this Gospel that Jesus did in fact claim to be God and made it rather obvious. Here’s my evidence:

  1. Verse one calls Jesus the “Son of God.” That sounds divine to me, but some would object by saying that we could all call ourselves “sons of God” in one sense. Okay, so let’s keep going…
  2. Verse 3 quotes a prophecy about John the Baptist where he is “preparing the way of the Lord” – then goes on to describe John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus Himself. Not explicit yet, but becoming clearer.
  3. Verse 7-8 has John describing Jesus as someone much “worthier” and “mightier” than he and one who baptizes “with the Holy Spirit.” Could a mere man baptize with the Holy Spirit? Still not obvious because Jesus hasn’t spoken yet? Let’s keep going…
  4. Verse 11 has a voice from Heaven claiming Jesus as His Son.
  5. Verse 24 has a demon affirming Jesus is the “Holy One of God.” That sounds very divine. But Jesus rebukes him and tells him to be quiet. Does this mean Jesus is rejecting such a title? On the contrary. This is the first example of the “Messianic secret,” where Jesus keeps secret His identity for a time in order to not attract opposition before the time of His crucifixion.
  6. Verse 41-42, Jesus touches a leper and instead of being contaminated Himself, He contaminates the leper with cleanliness. This was an important part of the OT Law – cleanliness – and Jesus has demonstrated that He is the ultimate cleanser.
  7. Finally, we get to chapter 2 to what I think is the most obvious thus far. Jesus is in a crowded place and four men lower a paralytic guy through the roof to see Jesus. What does Jesus do? “Son, your sins are forgiven” (2:5). The scribes are rightly offended – “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” they wonder in a huff. Exactly – only God can forgive sins. Jesus reads their thoughts, but instead of rejecting such a label, He demonstrates that He has “authority on earth to forgive sins” by healing the paralytic. In other words, He claimed to be God Himself.

The rest of Mark contains other passages that make it more obvious. But here’s just a sampling in the first two chapters that proves that Jesus claimed to be divine from the earliest account of His life.

A different sort of blog today, but one I hope is helpful for those wrestling with tough questions like this either in your own mind or in a conversation with a friend.

Have no doubt. Jesus claimed to be God. And He proved it. And because He is God, He has power to forgive sins and give you hope and save your soul.

The Stronghold of Your Life

Recently, the topic of fear has come up in my life – a friend mentioned struggling with fear of late and my church is doing a series on the topic.

My immediate thought was – “Oh good, a topic I’m not really struggling with.”

To be honest, I had a hard time thinking of things I was currently afraid of. Sure, I struggled with fear in the past – paralyzing fear of the unknown, of the future, of getting outside my comfort zone.

But now? Nah, that’s behind. I’m now cool and confident…oh wait.

I think I really have grown by the Spirit in my fear and worry over the years. But I seem to have downplayed and excused away and redefined my current fears so that I thought I didn’t have a problem with it anymore.

I’ve heard so many Christian songs of late addressing the problem of fear. And quite frankly, I’ve kinda made fun of them – what’s the big deal with fear? They should be singing about how God is delivering them from their own sin and selfishness, not from fear.

How prideful. How blind to my own struggles and to the Bible’s recognition that life is full of fears.

The Psalms are awakening me to this – you can’t make fun of the Psalmist’s fears when they are literally running for their lives from killers or facing a national invasion. Pretty good excuses for fear, if you ask me.

But instead of dwelling on such fears, they describe them to the only one who can help – their God.

Psalm 27 stands out in this regard.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
whom should I dread?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart will not be afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
I will still be confident.

-Psalm 27:1-3

The Psalmist here gives excuses NOT to fear, instead of excuses to fear in his circumstances. Indeed, IN SPITE OF his very real fearful circumstances (vs. 2), he says he won’t fear. Even if faced with a whole army (vs. 3)!

Why? His excuses not to fear are found in the character of God – three descriptions:

  1. MY LIGHT – what’s more fearful than the dark! Even if we’re too macho for such a fear, it’s a great picture of the unknown, the future that we can’t control and can’t see. And what is God? He is our light who shines into every corner, every portion of the unrevealed future. When all is dark and scary, He is the flashlight that illumines the whole path before us.
  2. MY SALVATION – another big fear is that we will fail and fall and no one will catch us or rescue us. But God is our salvation – he will not let us slip through and be helpless. He is there to catch us, no matter how steep the drop off before us.
  3. THE STRONGHOLD OF MY LIFE – what a cool phrase. Sounds like a great job interview question. “What would you describe as the stronghold of your life? In other words, when everything else fails and collapses, what is your firm foundation?” Life is constantly changing and with those shifts come many dangers. Some imagined dangers are irrational, but many are valid and terrifying. But no matter what danger may face us – even death itself – God is the one place we can run that won’t be overtaken or pillaged or destroyed. He is our life’s stronghold.

With a God like this, why, asks the Psalmist, should I fear? Who is out there that could really threaten me? An army? Not likely with an army-crushing God on my side.

That is reason for confidence. Not fake confidence where I excuse away my fears and paranoia and try not to think about it. Real confidence is something that is really reality – a stable God in an unstable universe.

Near vs. Fear

I am very easily scared person. I’m cautious and don’t like to go out on a limb ever – literally or figuratively. I hate roller coasters and horror movies – why would I pay to make myself afraid?

One fear that particularly troubles me is the fear of not knowing what to do or how to do something. I’ve faced that a lot as we’ve bought a new house and there have been many things I’ve had to do that I’ve never had to do before – installing light fixtures, taking down a wall and repairing the holes, etc., etc., and awful etc.

I hate it – projects I have to do that I have no clue how to do. It makes me terrified!

But the most blessed thing is when someone who knows what they’re doing volunteers to help me. I’ve had this happen with my various projects and those people are angels to me. Helpers who are experts and experienced – suddenly, my fear is assuaged in the presence of an expert who is near.

Desperation

That’s what David describes in Psalm 22. I always saw this Psalm as a depressing Psalm – after all, it’s the Psalm Jesus quoted from and fulfilled in multiple ways on the cross – from having lots cast for his clothing to being pierced to crying out with verse 1 –

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

Sounds like a Psalm of desperation and abandonment – God has left Him, turned His back.

Well, certainly. But I was surprised to find so many verses of hope and trust in the midst of feeling alone and abandoned.

  • In contrast to his feeling abandoned by God, the Psalmist knows He’s holy (vs. 3).
  • The Psalmist looks to the past and sees how his ancestors trusted in God and He always came through for them (vs. 4-5).
  • He acknowledges that he is in a bad place and that people are mocking him for trusting in God (vs. 6-8) – ironically, these are the same words the religious leaders taunt Christ with (Matt. 27:43).
  • Yet, he looks to his own past and sees that God has been trustworthy and there for him since he was in the womb (vs. 9-10).

All this leads to his request in verse 11:

Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.

God, be close to me! Why? Because trouble is also close – and there’s no other options!

What a moment of faith.

Don’t Fear – He’s Near

When we are fearful of the future, fearful of the unknown, fearful of how life will work itself out, whether for major things or minor, we must look to God. He is trustworthy. He is reliable.

Yes, trouble is near to you. But you have an Expert who is near as well. Yes, there may be no earthly helpers – but your God is standing right there, near to you. He’s ready to help! In fact, He loves to help!

He was trustworthy for your ancestors. He was trustworthy since your birth. He’s trustworthy now.

Christ, even when dying on the cross, had such confidence in His Father. Ultimately, God did turn from Christ – He did not draw near to His own Son, so that He could forever be near to us in a relationship of perfection.

That’s really, really good news for scaredy cats like me.

Christian Socialism

Socialism is in these days. The unfairness of some people making more and owning more irritates people more and more, especially millennials who have too much debt and too little spending money for frappuccinos and rent.

So the answer is for the government to take all the “stuff” and redistribute it evenly to all. Complete and total fairness, arbitrated by a fair third party that all can trust – the federal government. Given my recent experiences with the DMV and the amount of potholes I drove over today…I have a hard time believing this will work out.

Look, I’m a millennial but no fan of socialism. Watching the first Democratic debates this week solidified this understanding – as it becomes more and more popular, I like it less and less.

Still, I can commiserate with the concerns of many that the wealthy are greedy and not helping the poor. I don’t want to swing to the other extreme and be such a fan of capitalism that I have a burning desire for more and more money and not share it.

Enter what I call “Christian socialism.”

What’s that? What am I talking about? Not that crazy idea that the early church was a socialist commune that the American democracy should emulate???

Well, I’ve been thinking about this since my church’s study through Acts 1-12 this year and after my recent reading of 2 Corinthians 8. Here’s the relevant passage from there (read carefully and with an open heart, ye socialists and capitalists):

“I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich…For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. It is not that there should be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality. At the present time your surplus is available for their need, so that their abundance may in turn meet your need, in order that there may be equality. As it is written: The person who had much did not have too much, and the person who had little did not have too little.”

-2 Corinthians 8:8-9, 12-15

Based on this passage, here’s what “Christian socialism” is:

  • NOT Mandatory – Paul says he’s asking the Corinthians to contribute to the church in Jerusalem, but NOT as a command. Instead, the motivation is what they’ve experienced of Christ’s riches of grace. It’s Gospel-motivated, not government-mandatory. He says they should have the desire for it, not under compulsion.
  • Based on what you have – this is not putting a burden on everyone for the same amount. Some people have more, some less. It’s “according to what he has,” not according to what you don’t have. We shouldn’t feel guilty that we don’t have more to give.
  • Equal – Paul does not want them to give so much so that then they have “hardship” and the need for financial help themselves to survive. Rather, he wants this to be a matter of equality. “At the present time,” the Corinthians have more and excess to give away. But one day, it may be reversed and the Jerusalem Christians may need to turn around and give toward the Corinthians. He quotes from the manna passage in Exodus as an example – every Israelite got the amount they needed. It’s a matter of fairness and equality, though certainly it is sacrificial simultaneously.

These principles are shocking and confronting both to capitalistic greedy people and socialistic government-loving millennials. For we who prefer capitalism, we see the Pauline principle of “equality” where everyone should have what they need to survive. For socialists, we see this has nothing to do with the government nor is it compulsory. Nor do we find any condemnation in Scripture of wealth in principle – yes, there are added temptations, but not guilt by being rich.

So really, this isn’t “socialism” at all, but rather just a Christian principle of sharing with those in need in the body of Christ. I just called it socialism because that compels someone to read the article (classic blogger move).

And apparently this principle works! Acts 4:34 shockingly says that “there was not a needy person among them.” Wow – that’s crazy effective! Acts 2 and 4 and other passages describe a radical generosity among God’s people for each other. But what does this look like in 21st century America? A couple of ideas for application:

  • American Christians should be sharing their material blessings with Christians around the world who need help. Obviously, there are dangers with making other Christians dependent on the benevolence of Americans, but we see clearly a cross-cultural sharing of resources in Paul. We have been blessed with exorbitant wealth here in America – according to Paul, we have a principle to “equalize” our excess by giving willingly to help those who do not have as much.
  • On a more practical note, this may look like you lending a tool you have to a Christian who needs one. I experienced this recently after moving and realizing I have very few tools to be a homeowner but had many people come to my aid with time and tools. This is beautiful!
  • Inviting over Christians who do not have as much money for a good meal or out to eat, paying for a meal at a place they could never afford. This is a great act of love.

The sky’s the limit with the opportunities to bless other Christians with generosity. We don’t have to become Bernie-bros to embrace a sharing of our resources and wealth. This idea was invented long before socialism was even a word, and it has nothing to do with government. It has everything to do with what Christ has done for us in the Gospel and our response to Him.

Hope this gives you some things to think and pray about this week!

Default Thought

Where does your mind go to rest? To what topic does it naturally turn when there’s nothing to think about? When you’re on an elevator or driving down the road or in the shower? What is your default thought?

For me, when I was a kid, I’d often start thinking about my being a superhero or a powerful wizard or something. Okay, sometimes I still think about that.

I was meditating on Psalm 63 and something struck me – David, the author, is obsessed with God. He can’t get his mind off him. God is everything to him. You can sense the level of desire David has for God in the stunning first verse:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

He has a passionate desire for his God. What makes this even more shocking is the context – based on the title of this psalm, it’s likely written during David’s second big wilderness experience – running from his son Absalom and his army of David’s former friends, allies, and counselors – back-stabbers, all of them. David leaves Jerusalem, leaves behind the Ark of the Covenant, leaves behind the place God said He’d dwell.

And what does he beg for in a psalm written during this time? Not for deliverance (although later verses and other Psalms make that request plain). Not for a solution to his problem. No, he starts with a simple desire – he just wants God! Even more than a thirsty man for water!

What a strong desire – God was his passion. He was what his mind turned toward, even when his life was spiraling out of control.

Listen to later verses:

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

-vs. 5-8

Though David thirsted for God, he also knew God was satisfying him – and he could rejoice! But notice David’s description of what he thinks about when he has nothing to think about, when all is quiet and he is left to his thoughts (vs. 6).

He meditates on God! On His satisfaction, His help, His covering. That’s his default thought. No wonder he had such confidence and such peace in the midst of trials. No wonder he had such a desire for God – he thought about Him all the time!

I want that level of desire. I want my thoughts to naturally turn toward God and His character, instead of to myself and my selfish problems. I want Him to be my one desire.

Lord, I desire to desire You! Help me – place a desire for You within me.

 

Three Awkward but Awesome Things

Life is awkward. It’s a fundamental truth. And the faster you learn to embrace it, the better off you’ll be.

I used to deny that I was weird or awkward. But after getting married, I can’t deny it anymore (mostly because my wife tells me so). But what can I say? That’s just how I grew up!

In fact, my family’s so weird we have a weird word for being weird – being a “bird.” The bird emoji comes in handy in many texting conversations.

But awkward moments in life, as unavoidable as they are, are sometimes the best moments.

In fact, the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus often means things that are a bit awkward. If we’re on the path to denying ourselves and possible persecution and death, why should we be surprised if things get awkward along the way? If we’re going to have to literally sacrifice everything in light of knowing Christ (Philippians 3), shouldn’t we have to sacrifice our comfort zone of staying away from awkwardness?

Those awkward moments are sometimes the most awesome. Don’t believe me. Consider these three scenarios:

  1. Sharing the Gospel with someone. Nothing is more awkward than telling someone their entire worldview is messed up and they are heading toward eternal punishment – and that they deserve it! Telling people they are sinners is awkward. But it’s also awesome – because along with telling them that they stink, we also tell them that they have a Savior who invites them to come to Him for forgiveness! The most powerful message in the universe, the best good news ever, and God has entrusted it to awkward, stammering, cowering Christians like me. I’ll never understand why – but it’s awesome. And yes, awkward.
  2. Discipling someone. The only thing more awkward than sharing the Gospel with someone is sharing it with them every single day, along with its implications, after they’ve accepted it. Coming alongside another believer and doing life with them is abundantly awkward. Even going up and asking someone to do a Bible study with you is awkward – how much more meeting with them regularly, being transparent about your own sin with them, and then having to confront them about their sins. But it’s also awesome – seeing them grow in the Gospel, watching the Spirit change them, and watching Him change YOU along the way. It’s an incredible privilege – why God uses awkward, don’t-know-what-to-say, scared-cats to grow His people is incredible and beyond me!
  3. Getting married. Yep, it can be awkward, especially those first few months. Realizing your spouse’s weirdness and quirks that you didn’t see before the wedding. Having to live with them and their awkwardness every day. Combining two totally different families and backgrounds and merging it into one way of living is like watching Jello collide with pudding. Messy. Sin and selfishness will be exposed. Anger will arise. Hopefully, the love of Christ that transcends differences will be apparent and awe-inspiring. How could these two awkward people love each other? Because God loved them despite their sin! Marriage is so awesome. Why God chooses two awko-taco sinners to smash together in a lifelong covenant is amazing!

The call to follow Christ is the call to sometimes encounter awkwardness. And it’s a call that Paul says often goes out to the most awkward of the world (1 Cor. 1). Why? Because Christ is glorified when awkward people proclaim an awesome message about an Almighty God.

Why Read Books?

An interesting question posed in our Sunday Class curriculum at church (an excellent series Capitol Hill Baptist church puts out for churches to use for free – on Discipling) is this:

Why read books besides the Bible?

If the Bible has all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3) and is profitable for training believers (2 Tim. 3:16-17), why would we need any other book besides it?

By reading other books, are we saying the Bible isn’t good enough? It doesn’t have all the wisdom we need, and so we have to go consult other sources?

It’s an intriguing question, especially for a book nerd like me.

Here are, after some research and based on that curriculum, some reasons why we should read other books:

  1. The Bible itself tells us to look outside the Bible. John Piper writes about this in an “Ask Pastor John.” He points out that the Bible calls us to “look to the ant” (Prov. 6:6) and “consider the birds” and “lilies” (Matt. 6:26, 28). The Bible itself calls us to look at God’s creation for wisdom there. Is the Bible saying it doesn’t have enough wisdom and so to look outside? No, it’s simply saying that God has made the world so that principles of truth and wisdom are there for us to see upon observation. We must love the Word as the ultimate truth. But we can also see truth in creation – not contrary to the Word but in other areas. The Bible doesn’t speak in great detail to science, medicine, or world history. The Bible does not address historical figures like Napoleon or Churchill. But there are books out there for us to read on those subjects!
  2. The best Christian books are about the Bible anyway. We don’t know all there is to know about the Word. But there are many other Christians out there that we may not even know but have gifts from God for explaining the Word. We can read their books – things like commentaries, Christian living books, and others – and see God’s truth in His Word in a deeper way.
  3. The Bible calls us to deep searching for wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 calls us to a radical pursuit of wisdom and understanding with everything we’ve got. If we’re truly pursuing wisdom – God’s truth – with our whole heart, we will want to consult every resource we can. Of course, we will go to the Word first. But we will also pursue other sources that either help us understand the truth of the Word or have insights about Creation that the Bible does not address.

Just because we believe the Bible is sufficient does not mean we believe it is the only book we should ever read.

Should it have first place? Yes.

Should that keep us from reading other good books, Christian and not? No!

So see my last post for some good books to read and get reading! You’ve got all summer (Happy June!).

Summer Is for Reading

I like to read. Whether audiobook through Hoopla (played at 2x speed!) or on the Kindle app on my iPhone or an actual in-the-flesh paper book (who does that these days?), I enjoy a good read. Fiction – love it! Nonfiction – it doesn’t come as naturally but I’ve been working on it, especially for solid Christian books, grounded in Scripture and saturated with gospel living.

Most people do a lot of reading during the summer – you know, sprawled out in a beach chair with the salt water licking your legs or by the pool with an occasional wet page from a kid jumping into the deep end. I hope to get to do that myself.

But really, I’ve already done a good bit of summer reading…this spring! I’ve enjoyed several excellent books, and I’d like to take the time to recommend some to you for your summer reading. Just don’t borrow my copy if you plan for it to get wet!

  1. Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas – I haven’t read too many biographies (to my shame). Sometimes people’s lives are just…well, boring (I would include my own – although if you want to write a biography about me, I’d love it!). But this biography of 19th century British politician and firm believer William Wilberforce rocked my life. I haven’t felt such inspiration from someone else’s life in a long while. Read it and get whisked into the epic struggle to free slaves in the British Empire – an effort that unites some strange characters with diverse skills, including Wilberforce. It made me think – should we rally some odd characters today for a similar drive to abolish abortion?
  2. Praying the Bible by Don Whitney – I can’t recommend this one strongly enough! If your prayer life is less than perfect or just abysmal, as mine often is, then read this book and encounter an obvious but morning-shattering truth – why don’t we just pray God’s inspired Word back to Him in prayer? Stop praying the same boring things everyday – talk to your Heavenly Father with vibrancy, out of love and using His Word as a guide.
  3. The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield – this lady is epic. Radical, even! Rosaria takes the Bible seriously when it commands us to be hospitable. Her story, weaved in some of the best writing of any book I’ve ever read, will motivate, compel, and convict you about the need to reach out to strangers of every sort. A dangerous book to read if you like your lonely, boring life.
  4. Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower – who knew a book about teaching kids the Bible would affect all areas of my walk with God? But that’s what this book did. It’s one of those that after reading it, I just had to go around the office and recommend it to people. Like Praying the Bible, it’s simple but profound – if we truly believe Jesus is better than anything else, why do we teach our kids like He and His Word are super boring and need astronauts and jungle themes to spice His Story up? If you feel a need to drench yourself in the Gospel, read this book. I especially commend it to parents and children’s workers.

So what are you waiting for? There’s this thing called Amazon and they need your money in exchange for some good books! Fill your phone’s memory with good books. Use all the Hoopla “points” to get books for the month. Summer is knocking on the door (oh wait, he just let himself in with 93 degree heat!). Get out and read about the Gospel!

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