Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power by John Piper

Living in the Light: Money, Sex and PowerLiving in the Light: Money, Sex and Power by John Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When God’s glory is revealed and treasured most, the power of sinful attraction/desires are broken. The brightness of the sun makes the darkness of sin vanish. So when it comes to our desire, the issue is this: Do we see the glory of God?

Vintage John Piper at the center of Living in the Light is what do we value? What do we treasure? Why money, sex and power? Because in these three areas of living, our hearts are revealed. What we value and what we treasure. Usually Piper can be difficult to read in that you may have to read a paragraph twice or more to get what he is applying. You don’t want to miss the beauty because of misunderstanding or not grasping the glory.

This book is easy to read and to grasp. He starts with definitions and foundations of money, sex and power. In other words, another foundational reality we have to deal with is that money, sex and power are, from the beginning, gifts of God- good gifts of God. And if they sink us, it isn’t because God gave us bad gifts; it’s because something happened inside us to turn gifts of grace into instruments of sin, into altars and incense in the temple of pride. So the first thing we need to do is talk about definitions which lead us to see certain foundational realities that are far deeper-and far bigger than the dangerous icebergs or the floating reassure-islands of money

It gets to the root. We also encounter the dangers of money, sex and power. But the good news is the gospel delivers. It not only delivers but teaches us to enjoy the gifts. In his own words-Definitions and foundations. Dangers and how to defeat them. Potentials and how to deploy them. The 3 D’s- Define, Defeat, Deploy.

Some of the quotes that I found inspiring.
In our ungodliness, we do what ungodliness does-it suppresses the truth that God is to be treasured as supremely glorious and generous. Our sinful nature hates the light of God’s supremacy and runs to the darkness, where we feel supreme.

Sin is any feeling or thought or action that comes form a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. The bottom of sin, the root of all sins, is such a heart-a heart that prefers anything above God; a heart that does not treasure God over everything else, and everyone else.

Before Christ, sin is not an alien power in us. Sin our preference for anything over God. Sin is our disapproval of God. Sin is our exchange of his glory for substitutes. Sin is our suppression of the truth of God. Sin is our heart’s hostility to God. It is who we are to the to bottom of our hearts. Until CHRIST.

We need to know the battle we are in and know how to engage it. It is not a book to be read only once but to be reminded of that battle that is worth the stand. To behold the glory of God and treasure him above all else.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

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Welcome Back by: Lin Stepp

Welcome BackWelcome Back by Lin Stepp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cowardice can never step free of the past, only bravery can.

With her daughter’s plea to come back home, Lydia is comes back with no expectations to the daughter and husband she left behind. Because of the manipulation and emotional abuse of her mother-in-law, Lydia took her two sons and moved from the clutches of her mother-in-law. Her daughter is now grown up with twin boys of her own and her husband is continuing the family business of farming. Her son’s do not support the ideal of Lydia coming back to the husband that did not stop the abuse of his mother to their family.

A story of pain when living under oppression and picking up the pieces and years later redeeming the time of pain and misunderstanding. Lydia’s husband John must prove himself to his family for not leading and protecting the family that fell under the manipulation of his mother. The relationship between Lydia and her husband had to be rebuilt but I felt that more could have been done to the relationship between mother and daughter. The daughter had chosen to stay with her father and not leave with her mother. There was more to that disconnect that could have upped the narration a bit. It was a good read on the vulnerability of relationships and what needs to be done to repair what has been damaged.

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

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The Blessing of Humility: Walk Within Your Calling by: Jerry Bridges

The Blessing of Humility: Walk Within Your CallingThe Blessing of Humility: Walk Within Your Calling by Jerry Bridges
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would say that it is impossible to truly walk in humility without to some degree appropriating the truth of the gospel every day.

Jerry Bridges leaves a legacy of good solid bible teaching. I have been blessed with his teaching and I would strongly recommend all of his books for those that desire to study the word of God. With his recent passing, I was excited to see this book offered on Netgalley and I hope many will desire the blessing of humility that is found in the beatitudes. This is a teaching of the beatitudes and how the beatitudes reflect the humility of the gospel. The beatitudes is how we respond to who God is and how each of the beatitudes build on the other. It is not only how we respond to God and his work, but also to each other. You cannot mourn unless you are poor in spirit and you cannot be meek without morning and so on. Each of the beatitudes are beautifully exalted in this study.

A balanced study of the gospel that shows the good news of the Gospel.

A Special Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines by: David Mathis

Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual DisciplinesHabits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Because of grace unmeasured, boundless, free, now our once dead hearts beat and our once lifeless lungs breathe. Only through grace do we believe (Acts 18:27) and only in grace do we receive “repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25).

Developing habits of grace come by hearing His voice thru His word and having His ear through prayer. These disciplines though we may know them as head knowledge become difficult to live out because of distractions and life. Our hearts are prone to wonder. David Mathis has a way of communicating these truths that I found myself seeing them as a way to draw myself closer to the heart of God. That is not a duty of a Christian but a joy because of grace. It is only by hearing his voice thru his word and by prayer that the Holy Spirit can work in our hearts.

He clearly teaches that grace sanctifies, justifies and glorifies. How do we practice grace? How do we discover the power of grace? It starts with the desires of the heart. Desiring more of God that leads us to have a contagious grace. I have found when we do have a good understanding and practice of grace, we have humility.

I don’t think we will ever have a thorough understanding of grace however, it is too important not to pursue grace. In the disciplines of reading and praying, the study will strengthen your faith as you value the doctrine of grace.

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

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Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams are Delayed by: Betsy Childs Howard

Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are DelayedSeasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

He, the Giver, longs to give Himself and to satisfy the soul with His goodness. It is just for this reason that He often withholds the gifts, and that the time of waiting is made so long. He is constantly seeking to win the heart of His child for Himself.

It is in the waiting I can reflect my heart and tune it to God’s. A time to be in the word and prayer. A time to gather friends, family, church to pray with me. It is a time to see what my heart is really made of. The Lord knows our heart can lose hope when we wait. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12. It can be easier to stop hoping than to have your heart hurt. This is the passive the way (the way many times I go) but there is a better way. Waiting can expose what we worship. We can make waiting about worshipping the Living God.

Howard takes several stories that we may know or have experienced. The waiting for a child, a husband, or a health issue. Each of these issues are issues that have been already lived in the word of God to direct us to worship God.

Some of the quotes I found inspiring.

God gives us material for sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice makes little sense to others.

Grieving at the brokenness of this world points beyond to the life to come. If all our desires were satisfied here, why would we want Christ to return and establish his Kingdom?

It is not beyond God’s power to tell his story through you. It is only by digging deeply into God’s story that we can hope to understand our own.

The lessons learned in waiting is eternal.
You will cherish the discipline of waiting and find it an opportunity to worship and know that God is God.

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

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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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Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide by: Cameron Cole

Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical GuideGospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide by Cameron Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It argues the gospel serves as the catalyst for fostering lasting change in the lives of teens and in the redemption of the world. It encourages youth wordkers and volunteers to place the gospel at the center of their ministries. What does this mean? How does this look like?

It is easy for the gospel to get lost in the life of any ministry. This is the heart of this book. It is for ministry leaders, parents, and anyone working with youth. One thing that I was encouraged by this book was the student ministry was not replacing church. The student ministry is a bridge between the church and the youth. With so many young people leaving the church, we must be more diligent about making the student ministry about the gospel. There are seven foundations in this book. Gospel Centrality, Discipleship, Expository teaching, Relationships, Community, Partnering with Parents, Generational integration. The study does not only explain each foundation but how to apply and why it is important. What makes this a gospel issue.

Do our students have a right understanding of who God and who we are? Do our students embrace the goodness and holiness of God. Expository teaching focuses on the gospel instead of self-help or moralism. With expository teaching the teacher/pastor can lead others to see their FCF (Fallen Condition Focus). It is not about how God is relevant in our life but how we are relevant in His plan of redemption. When good teaching occurs, then good service will follow. The service of ministry. Why we do what we do. Having a heart for different cultures that are united in the Gospel. Our service does not become a pride issue when are trusting God for the work. This comes from the leadership. I also was encouraged by serving others in dignity by encouraging participation. We rob them of joy and create a entitlement culture by not including those that we are serving. This is where real comes in.

There is nothing bad that I could say about this book. I personally think all Christians should read this book just to be reminded of what the gospel is about.

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

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