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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Unashamed by: Lecrae Moore

UnashamedUnashamed by Lecrae Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become salves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6…It was like a blindfold fell off my eyes. I’d been celebrating the things I should have been ashamed of, and I had been ashamed of what I should have been celebrating. I had been set free, but I was still living like a slave to my old life and old habits and old ways. I had been liberated from slavery, but slavery had not been liberated from me. I saw Jesus as my Savior, but not my Lord. I thought because God had given me grace, I could do whatever I wanted. But doing whatever I pleased was only going to bring death. Surrendering to God was the key to receiving life.

I have been a big fan of Lecrae for several years. I have gone to several of his concerts that are high energy. What I enjoy about his concerts that families come together, they dance, and they hear the word of God. I would go further to say that his music can be a whole sermon. That his theology is sound. He is working out his salvation by surrendering to who God is and who he (Lecrae) is not. This is his story. How he grew up in fatherless home, a mom that never gave up on him, and how he came to know the truth. How he fights temptation and pride. His struggle with acceptance and how the Gospel truly saved him. How is music as revolved to not being relevant to us but how we are relevant to the Gospel.

Listen to his music and be encouraged by his story and be unashamed by the Gospel. It is only by being unashamed of the gospel can we live freely. By engaging the culture for God’s glory, we make the gospel available. That is the journey that the Lord has given to Lecrae

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

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us [and Why That's a Good Thing]None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us [and Why That’s a Good Thing] by Jen Wilkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Psalm 139 is not a psalm about me, fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a psalm about my Maker, fearful and wonderful. It is a psalm to inspire awe.

None Like Him is a study about knowing God. “Know that I am God and so that you may worship me.” It is in worship that we truly love others and God is revealed in his majesty. It is when we are in awe of the God and what he has done, we put the focus off our selves. So how do we get there? Jen Wilken brings us to the basics of who God is. Have you thought about your limitations? Do you know God’s limitations and what they mean. It starts by knowing God is not measurable. It is about how much we desire to measure to have control. We limited humans are lovers of measurement; we number and county, quantify and track Because of our limits and our believe that we are limitless, we strife against our maker.

The 10 different ways that God is different is life changing to the one who embraces these changes. When embracing the 10 different ways, we actually live and worship God in truth. I so appreciate Jen Wilkin’s teaching. She is solid and she puts the focus on who God is. I just addressed one the ways that God is different but each one progresses to the next one. It starts by addressing our limitations and that God is not measurable. That we cannot control Him. He is faithful is his own holy attributes. Each chapter starts with a quote and in a conversational tone, she leads the reader to the throne of God. You can’t help but worship him. That is what I want.

A Special Thank You to Crossway and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post 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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Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies by: Erwin W. Lutzer

Who Are You to Judge?: Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and LiesWho Are You to Judge?: Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies by Erwin W. Lutzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Judgements are both necessary and needed. Our task is to make wise judgments in a nonjudgmental world.

We have heard it before; Who are you to judge? Only God can judge me. etc. etc. It can be difficult to have a conversation with others when sharing their need for salvation and the work of Christ on the cross. This read is for those who desire to share the Good News and to hold on to the firm foundation of the truth that makes way to the road less traveled. The definition of truth is exclusive and many ways does not lead to truth. Judgment is getting to the truth and keeping the truth. Judgment is how justice is displayed. We all define truth by what is wrong and what is right.

Jesus challenged the culture by understanding the culture. This book helps the Christian challenge themselves as well as the culture. Why it is important on both accounts. We must have a understanding of how the culture (the world) affects us. We can easily be intimated if we do not have a good understanding on the value of discernment. In not understanding, we can lose the effectiveness of the Gospel. The effectiveness is lost when we listen to the voice of Did God really say? When properly understood and the gospel is lived out, sacrifice becomes the culture of the church. The better of others to further the kingdom. It cannot be done with lies and without discernment. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth

The study is complete with what needs our discernments and why and the ultimate price for those discernments. It will strengthen your faith and ultimately allow you to love others truly.

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

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Happiness by: Randy Alcorn

HappinessHappiness by Randy Alcorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.

If you are a Christian, you may have heard or even said the following. God is not concerned with your happiness but your holiness. Happiness and Joy are not the same. I know for myself, I have thought this very same thing because many have been taught our happiness is selfish and not God-centered. Randy Alcorn gives a wonderful argument on that. It is our happiness in Christ that we express salvation to the lost. It is our happiness in Christ, that we give glory to God.

If you are note fiend, you will love the over 900 notes and references. Happiness is a big subject and it is a doctrine of God. With all that the bible has said about happiness and the great teachers from reformed to popular teachers today, there is much ado about happiness. Happiness in Christ is what draws us to the gospel.

Our happiness or lack of happiness is what we draw from. What is our source? The battle of happiness is our primary and what is our secondary. When God is our primary source of happiness, we can enjoy the secondary. Maybe you have heard this line. “God wants me to be happy! Because my spouse doesn’t make me happy so I have found happiness in another! What is the primary and what is the secondary? Of course these kind of statements are not easy to deal with, but they do reveal our hearts and how we love others well or in this case not so well.

Do we believe that God is happy? What does that mean for us and what does that look like? The pursuit of God’s glory answers these questions well as they pertain to his attributes as God.

The prodigal son and the older brother reflect the heart in regards to happiness. I loved this insight. Yet the older brother, offended by grace and poisoned by ingratitude remained unhappy. It leaves me asking, am I offended by grace. How the offense of grace is a bitter pill that we swallow.

How many of us look at happiness inward instead of outward. I again was encouraged by the testimony of the spouse who says no to temptation and cares for the spouse with Alzheimer’s. Is that spouse sacrificing happiness for faithfulness? It is choosing a path of greater happiness through faithfulness.

Some of the quotes and they are many (get your highlighter out) that encourage a tired weary soul.

Gratitude unleashes the freedom to live content in the moment, rather than being anxious about the future or regretting the past.

Holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure.

Suffering is the icy cold splash that wakes us up from the complacency of living this life.

I believe prosperity theology is straight from the pit of hell. Centered on giving people what they want, this worldview treats God as a genie or a cosmic slot machine; insert a positive confession, pull the lever, catch the winnings.

Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness, you will get your own happiness.

To better know, follow, worship and love Christ, produces happiness in Christ.

He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages.

The Puritan’s understood their source of happiness. A prayer that reflects

O Lord
Help me never to expect any happiness from the world, but only in thee.
Let me not think that I shall more happy by living to myself.
For I can only be happy if employeed for thee.
Teach me that if i do not live a life that satisfies thee,
I shall not live a life that will satisfy myself.

As you can see from this review, there is much ado to say about happiness. We all want it. Where are we getting it? If you struggle with the tension of happiness or want to express the happiness of Christ to others, you will be happy reading this wonderful, descriptive, soulful study on happiness. We need more happy people for the Kingdom. Can I get an Amen!

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

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God’s Glory Alone – The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers taught and Why it Still Matters by: David VanDrunen

God's Glory Alone---The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught...and Why It Still MattersGod’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters by David VanDrunen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Soli Deo Gloria-Glory to God alone. – It is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. Martin Luther.

The 5 sola’s of the reformed faith..
Glory to God Alone is not just Christianeeze, it is not pie in the sky, or a good ideal, it is seeing and knowing who God is in all his glory. Glory is also not an egoistical attribute that some might claim but it is the glory of God that is for our good. The beautiful sunrise this morning displays God’s glory. The mountain view, the ocean tide, – starting with creation, we all know God’s glory. God is creator and holds all together.

To better understand the 5 sola’s of the reformed faith it is the magnification of Christ, grace, faith, Scripture, and God’s glory-and these alone-suffused their theology and ethics, their worship and piety. Christ alone, and no other redeemer, is the mediator of our salvation. Grace alone, and not any human contribution, saves us. Faith alone, and no other human action, is the instrument by which we’re saved. Scripture, and no merely human word, is our ultimate standard of authority. God’s glory alone, and that of no creature is the supreme end of all things
The 5 sola’s are not independent of each other but compliment and in relationship with each other expresses the joy of our salvation and the majesty of God. It reminds us that we are not God. It keeps the focus off us and our self-glorification to proper worship with the purpose of God’s glory. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.

The book covers what the Glory of God is and what it is not. The teaching of the great reformers of the Glory of God in salvation. What self-denial is and how narcissism ultimately not only steals glory from God but us as well. God’s glory displays all the attributes of God for our redemption in a fallen evil world. What is the Glory of God in worship and why it matters. We only have to look at Exodus to see why it matters in their exchange for God’s glory to worthless idols. It is the Glory of God that we see the good of others and serve to strengthen the church.

Some quotes that I found encouraging and helpful.

In God’s glory is our dignity. In God’s glory is our delight. Our glorification lies in ascribing all glory in heaven and earth to him.

The glory of God alone implies the right purpose of all of life-a God centered purpose. All who share this radical view of Christianity make the ultimate purpose of life God’s glory, not their own self-fulfillment or self-realization.

Worship is a distinct activity in which we set aside other tasks and set our minds and hearts fully upon the Lord in order to receive his word and to respond to him with prayer in song.

Soli Deo Gloria is about God and how he glorifies himself, but on magnificent way God glorifies himself is through glorifying us and enabling us to glorify him through faith, worship, and whole-hearted service to him and our neighbors. What a bounteous God we have who has authored this story of divine glory and invited us to be such a vital part of it-by faith alone, by grace alone, and by Christ alone.

Glory to God is not in our conduct but in our worship and prayer, we put ourselves in a great foundation of faith that we seek to live righteously. The only thing that I struggled with and by God’s grace alone, was the joy versus happiness. While reading this text, I am also reading Happiness which gives a great argument that joy and happiness are the same. I hope if you are considering reading this book you will also select this one. It goes well in giving Glory to God.

You cannot go wrong in the study of the solas. They are rich and satisfy while hungering to know more.

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

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