Same Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life by: Ed Shaw

Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate LifeSame-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life by Ed Shaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So the current controversies over sexuality should excite rather than dismay us-it is from times of profound disagreement that our Sovereign God has often brought a return to radical biblical clarity in the church’s theology and practices. It forces us to examine the plausibility of scripture and the design of God.

I appreciate the teaching and the life of Ed Shaw. A pastor that knows and lives the plausibility of a celibate life. It is not a drudgery but a expression of joy. It has brought him closer to the heart of God than most because of the sacrifice he has made to live a life of celibacy. The question you might ask yourself is why would deny yourself love.

Shaw opens up with two very real people. Maybe you know them. A young man that is going to college that his gay and he is a Christian. He questions why can’t he enjoy the love of another man and be still be a Christian. Or a young woman that has been divorced and is developing a friendship with another woman that has turned into more. She questions the church about the relationship, and the church is clear on where it stands with that relationship. How can the word of God be plausible to what these two people are dealing with and how can we be plausible with how we love and express the gospel to them.

Shaw walks thru 9 Missteps that applies to the Gospel. I want to be clear on this as a reader-THIS IS NOT JUST A SAME SEX ISSUE, this applies to the GOSPEL and our relationship with a living God.

1) Misstep#1-Your identity is your sexuality -How we can we ensure our identities are defined by God’s word and not by the world around us.

2) Misstep #2 – A family is mom, dad and 2.4 children-How can we all make sure that talk of church family isn’t just talk?

3)Misstep #3 If you are born gay, it can’t be wrong to be gay-How can we better communicate that a natural instinct to do something doesn’t mean it must be right?

4)Misstep #4 If it makes you happy, it must be right! – How can we all keep checking that our decisions aren’t more governed by what we feel than what God’s says is good for us?

5)Misstep #5- Sex is where true intimacy is found-How can we all develop more intimate friendships?

6)Misstep #6- Women and Men are equal and interchangeable- How can we better explain the need for sexual differences in the union of marriage?

7)Misstep #7 -Godliness is heterosexuality-How can we all make sure that we aren’t appearing to be sexually self-righteousness?

8)Celibacy is bad for you. – How can we all be as affirming of singleness as the Bible is?

9)Suffering is to be avoided-How can we help each other appreciate the good results of suffering in our lives?

Each of these missteps are answered and can be applied on how we live out the Gospel. It is a thoughtful and insightful read that is gospel centered. I highly recommend.

A Special Thank You to InterVarsity Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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God’s Design by: Sally Michael

God's DesignGod’s Design by Sally Michael
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God’s Design is a complementary study for your family to grow together as family. It is a strong foundation that begins with understanding what complementary means. I loved the definition that was given to complement something is to make it complete. So many families today are competing with other creating chaos instead of peace. God’s design is for the family to
complete each other by embracing and understanding their gender roles. By this, we share as families what God is like and display the gospel.

Starting from the beginning in Genesis which is always a good start, your family together will discuss, read the scripture and apply with a family activity. Each chapter reveals the glory of God’s design for his creation. It is a proclamation of His glory and how we as a men and women can share his love by these roles. Along with the proclamation in this study, we also must understand and express with our children how our roles as male and female reflect the image of God. It is evil that sets out to destroy that very image. To destroy what God has made.

I highly recommend this book and the series of book that Desiring God ministries has brought to families to cherish God’s word together as you learn together who God is. It is by knowing God we can find satisfaction in Him. What strength it will be for families to be committed to value what God values.

A Special Thank You to P & R Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Two Folded Gift

A two folded gift of faith and suffering is a packaged deal with true Christianity. When our lives are centered around living for Christ, we will be given the gift of faith and the other side of suffering on the flip side.

What defines suffering? Is our suffering rooted in love of the gospel? What defines faith? Is Jesus an ideal? A good man? A concept? Does Jesus become your reality as you live in your every day decisions?

Philippians 1:27-30English Standard Version (ESV)

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy[a] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have

Paul is writing to the believers not to Distort, Dismiss or Diminish the Gospel.

Our manner of life is worthy of the Gospel. This is all encompassing. This includes everything. This is all! This is a high bar of living. It is only reached by the grace of the gospel. Not by our lists of do and don’ts but applying the Gospel.

Do we live life as citizens of the Kingdom of God?   There is something better. There is something that lasts for eternity. In Jesus there is life. There is forever. There is rest.

Do we life our life reflecting our identity in Christ?   Do my decisions define who I am in Christ? Feasting on the words of God with others in community, help me in maturity in the Christian walk.

Christians must be seen and heard with the gospel in front and center. We must avoid treating others as projects.   Jesus does not make nice people but new people in the gospel.

We do not have to operate our faith out of fear. God uses our suffering to proclaim his faithfulness as we place our hope to the future.

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo.  Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment.  Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and give us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image; through Jesus Christ in the light of the world.  Amen

God’s Gospel (Making Him Known Series) by: Jill Nelson

God's Gospel (Making Him Known)God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We must always put things in the right order, and it is Truth first…the heart is always to be influenced through the understanding –the mind, then the heart, then the will…but God forbid that anyone should think that it ends with the intellect. It starts there, but it goes on. It then moves the heart and finally the man yields his will. He obeys, not grudgingly or unwillingly, but with the whole heart. The Christian life is a glorious perfect life that takes up and captivates the entire personality.

Embracing the truth of God and His will is a desire for many Christian parents for their children. This book is a tool to not only embrace that truth but how does that apply where faith can grow. Major parts of the bible from creation to the resurrection is shared in a simple terms that is applicable for a young mind to grasp. With questions, you and your child discover truth for yourself as you learn more about the Great God that loves you together. Questions like “Why is it important for God to punish sin? These questions develop critical thinking that can encourage faith to grow deeper.

This devotion is rich in theology more so than many adult devotionals. It speaks to you and not above you.

Favorite excerpts…

You See Adam and Eve-people like you and me-were created to be able to enjoy God’s world in ways that rocks and plants, and animals never could. But as much as Adam and Eve could enjoy all the wonderful things God has made, God knew that these good things could not make Adam and Eve truly happy. What gave Adam and Eve the most happiness at the “super-duper, best party ever” was being in the presence of God himself!

Cain and Abel were helpless sinners who could not fix their hearts. Could Dad and Mom help them? No. Only God, who is rich in mercy, could help them. But in order for them to be forgiven, God has decided that sinners must respond to His mercy in the right way. What is the right way? To answer that, we can look at Cain and Abel for an example.

A tool for discipleship that reveals the deeper problem of the heart that together will turn our hearts to our greater need for a Savior. I am excited for this book as I will be a grandma in March and just the importance of building a relationship on the good news of the Gospel is something I am looking forward to. I have put the rest of the series on my wish list.

A Special Thank You to P & R Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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What Are You Known For?

The problem of humanity all comes to this statement.  It is not that we lack knowledge, but we lack love.  It is not that we lack resources, but we lack love.    It is not that we lack who we know, but we lack love.

Paul was known for his zeal for the Gospel.  He was known for his love for the church.    What was the source of the passion of Paul for the church?

What was the substance of Paul’s prayer for the church of Philippi?

 

Paul and Timothy, servants[a] of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers[b] and deacons:[c]

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul’s passion is a celebration of what God has done.  His joy had the mindset of God and his work of the Gospel.    A mindset that sees, understands and seeks God’s power and his work.

Paul’s substance of prayer was the partnership of the church.  A partnership that works together for the gospel.  A partnership that births affection.  A partnerships that develops partakers.   A partnership is the core of who God is (the triune) and is the center of Christianity.  (relationships, discipleship,)

It is in love that knowledge abounds.  The partnerships grows, where the gospel grows.  Relational problems are not a knowledge problem but a affection problem.  Where do your affections lie?  Do I get in the way of love?  Does love pit knowledge against truth?

The work of the gospel is completion that begins and ends with Jesus (vs. 5)

The work of the gospel is our affection that begins and ends with Jesus (vs. 8)

The work of the gospel is the glory of God that begins and ends with Jesus (vs. 14)

Unleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ by: Eric Mason

Unleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of ChristUnleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ by Eric Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Specifically speaking of unleashing the transformation offered to those who follow Christ by faith-of both justification and sanctification-we must not see our journey with Jesus beginning and ending with a past moment, but as a continuous journey began by God in the gospel, sustained by God in the Gospel and completed by God in the Gospel. God both begins and ends our journey. (Phil. 1:6) We don’t do any of the above, but we must be responsible with the journey that God has begun.

Unleashing is the work of sanctification of our Christian walk. Sanctification is pursuing holiness and the impact that it has on our daily life. What does that look like? What is my responsibility? What is God’s? Is it important? To that question is say an a resounding YES! Our sanctification is our life line. Sanctification is our faith growing and it is unleashing the power of God in our life. The end result is not my glory, but God’s.

Ten Chapters you will discover your growth in sanctification starting with the Gospel. The Holy Spirit, Faith and Repentance, The word of God, Prayer, the Strongholds that hinder growth, Marriage and the local church. Each chapter is rich with the discovery of the work of sanctification. Our sanctification brings us closer to God with a heart that worships.

Several chapters went into deep word study on submission and repentance. A great insight of repentance is that it edifies the work of God in a sinner’s life. That it takes faith to walk in repentance. Submission is the key faith and is a partnership of love and the greater good. Submission is a means of grace, not destruction. I loved that!

The author got personal with his struggle of strongholds listing the different strongholds that we all struggle with. Racism is a stronghold brought on by the cultural and how it continues even today. This is an important as it stunts our growth and ability to love others. It keeps us in bondage.

With clarity and the love of the Gospel, sanctification is a doctrine that should be embraced and celebrated. This study did that!

A Special Thank You to B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley for ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Awe: Why it Matters for Everything we Think, Say and Do by: Paul David Tripp

Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and DoAwe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You have been called to the high position of making the invisible glory of God visible to people who quickly lose sight of God’s glory and begin to look for glories elsewhere.

Our hearts are prone to wander, to be distracted, to be hijacked and in doing so we lose the awe of who God is. We have an awe problem. Our awe problem is focused on self instead of the grandeur of God. Paul Tripp gets to the root of a heart problem like no other teacher today by identifying the problem and offering a solution. Is your heart willing to be changed? The awe of God brings us to a worship lifestyle that shapes our thoughts, desires, words, choices, and actions in the situations and relationships that make up our everyday life. We are wired to be awed. What makes you excited? Now ask yourself if your awe is based on who God is? Do you have peace in your life? Do you have security? Confidence? Rest? What motivates our wonder in life? What gives us hope?

Tripp in stressing our awe problem is somewhat repetitive however, in the repetitive style, he brings different circumstances such as work, ministry, marriage, etc. in how we lose our focus on who God is. We have a daily struggle of awe of ourselves or awe of God.

Some of his quotes…

Our problem is not the size or difficulty of the things we face. No, our problem is AWN and the havoc it wreaks on our daily living. AWN will cause you to fear things that you need to defeat. AWN will cause you to deny reality because you are afraid to face what is true. AWN will cause you to fret over people and situations. AWN will cause you to attempt to control what you cannot control because you think that it is out of control. AWN will never lead you anywhere good.

When you are blown away by the glory of the Savior and his cross, you will be driven to that cross for the character and strength you need to represent the Savior well in the lives of those around you. You won’t be so quick to pontificate. You will be quick to admit your need. You will be obsessed not by how much people respect you, but how much they worship their Redeemer. Fear is only ever defeated by fear. Only awe of God puts you in your place in ministry, and it will keep you there. Once you know who God is and rightly access who you are, you will be able to minister with humility, hope and courage.

This is a treasure of resource. A book that I will be reading every year. To remind me of the awe of God and to strengthen my heart toward Him in worship.

A Special thank you to Crossway Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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